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Old 07-19-2008, 08:35 AM
TomKirkman TomKirkman is offline
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Hobie Mirage Drive vs Native Watercraft Propeller Drive

Let me preface this by saying that I own a Hobie Outback with Mirage Drive and have fished from it for about 4 years now. I personally know and admire Andy Zimmerman at Native Watercraft. I pedaled his new boat and drive for about 30 minutes this morning.


EASE OF SET UP: A wash. Both units have to be dropped into place inside their respective hulls. There is virtually no time nor difficulty difference. If you can do one, you can do the other, in about the same time and with about the same effort.

SPEED AND ACCELERATION: A Wash. The comparison here is between the Hobie Outback (not Hobie’s fastest hull) and the single Native model. Surprisingly, the foot powered, propeller driven Native would seem to be the equal of the standard Hobie Outback and Mirage Drive with standard fins, in both speed and acceleration. I would not have thought this to be the case, but I found the Native was quick to get up to speed and could maintain a pace at least equal to the Hobie. In other words, the Native will “move” and move quite well. However...

EFFORT: This is where the two craft and drive systems part company. No contest - knot for knot, the Native requires much more effort than does the Hobie for the same speed and distance. The Native feels like you’re pedaling a bicycle in a high gear up a hill, while the Hobie gives you the same speed with a feel comparable to pedaling that same bicycle on level ground, if not slightly downhill. In a race, the two boats might match each other for a while, but eventually the pilot of the Native is going to give out while the Hobie pilot remains fresh for a long, long time. It is my opinion that the fin system on the Mirage Drive Unit is much more efficient than the propeller system on the Native.

REVERSE: The Hobie will not motivate in reverse unless you want to remove the drive unit and turn it around. Otherwise, you must put the rudder hard over and spin the boat in its length to go the other direction. The Native can be “back pedaled” and it will motivate in reverse as far as you care to go or can keep it straight.

SHALLOW WATER PERFORMANCE: The Hobie wins, hand down. You can feather the fins on the Mirage Drive unit up against the hull and float in very shallow water or... use partial strokes to continue to motivate. Once the Native reaches water that is less deep than the length of the drive unit, you will need to pull/lift the unit up and out of the way. You cannot operate the propeller in anything less than full extension or the prop will hit the hull of the boat. If you run either both completely aground, both will have to backed slightly to allow the drive units to free themselves from soft bottoms.

UNDERWATER OBSTRUCTIONS: Neither likes them. The Native will "dig in" on soft bottoms and it's tough to get it free. The drive unit does not "kick up" when it hits something - the angle of the attachment doesn't allow it to do that very easily and this is something I did not expect. Thankfully the drive unit is very solid and should take quite a beating before you'd be out of action. If you hit something with the Mirage Drive, you'll most likely bend a mast. If you're carrying a spare, you can fix it in minutes. I'd at odds as to which wins this category. The sudden stop and high impact jolt of the Native, or the bent but easily fixed mast of the Hobie. I'll let you decide.

STEERING: A wash. Both boats react quickly and surely to all rudder commands. Maintaining course in a headwind is no harder in one than the other. Both boats will come around quickly and surely when the rudder is put hard over at speed.

COMFORT: This a very subjective category. I find both boats to be very comfortable. My Hobie has never bothered my back even after long hours in it. The Native has a truly exceptional seat that is adjustable in a variety of directions. It’s almost like sitting in a lawn chair.
Due to the rotational needs of the Native propeller drive pedal system, the seat must be adjusted to sit you back at more of an angle than is required in the Hobie. Some may find that fishing and casting in this more laid back angle will be more difficult than the slightly more upright position allowed by the Hobie’s straight back and forth motion pedal system.

THE BETTER BOAT? For what I do, the Hobie is more suitable. But the Native is a great boat with more speed and capabilities than I would have thought. Depending on what your needs are, it could, in fact, be the better boat for you. My recommendation would be to try both, on the water, for at least 30 minutes to an hour each. Put them through your fishing routine as much as possible and determine which will serve you better.

Two great boats, the choice is yours. My feeling is that the future of kayak fishing, lies in foot powered, rather than paddled, craft.
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:31 AM
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hiking hiking is offline
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Thanks for the report, I found it very intresting.
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:39 AM
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Jesse. R Jesse. R is offline
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Tom


Thanks for your comparison. .


Jesse.R
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:15 PM
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sifisto sifisto is offline
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Tom, a two thumbs up report

Great review backed up by fact. I seen the Native propel system at KFS a few days ago, it looked interesting. The only concern I'd have with the craft is getting water inside the kayak.Where I fish, there's a lot of water coming over the hull; having a S.O.T. is a necessity.
The going in reverse is a huge plus, but the rest is up to the user as what they are looking for. Glad I still have two mirage drive kayaks.
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:51 PM
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Very nice report. I wonder if there is a prop selection to address the heavy load issue?

/bing
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:04 PM
TomKirkman TomKirkman is offline
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Bing,

Here is the problem with any human powered craft - the human body can only deliver so much power. In regard to the Native Propel system, you have a fairly small prop with a certain amount of pitch. It must be spun at a certain speed in order to achieve what I suppose would be considered the necessary speed for what most buyers will do with it. So, you can either spin bigger and higher pitch prop more slowly, or a smaller and less pitched prop faster. Either way, you will be required to put forth the same effort, in some manner or another.

Within the confines of the size prop and the pitch Native has chosen, it must spin at a certain speed. Thus, there is a gear box which turns one of your foot pedal revolutions into some number of prop revolutions (I should have counted, but I looked at it working and would guess it's maybe 1:50 or so).

If you move to a prop with less pitch, at the same ratio, it will require less effort but you won't go as fast, unless you're willing to pedal faster, at which point you're putting forth the same effort all over again, just in a different form.

I do think that Native achieve the best compromise between required pedal speed and effort that they possibly could have in order to have a system that was at least comparable to the Hobie in overall speed. But, the prop just isn't ever going to be as efficient as the Mirage Drive fins. Effort for effort, the Hobie is still king, and by a long shot.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:02 PM
Chekika Chekika is offline
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Excellent, hands-on report, Tom. Clearly, shows why the Hobie Mirage boats are so popular.

Keith
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:24 PM
ValFitzAndrew ValFitzAndrew is offline
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Up or Down, you get what you pay for! I love my Hobie but we will fin that people Love their U12Ps. Whatever, let's go fish er catc er whatever.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:38 PM
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Terri Terri is offline
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Excellent report. Thank you.
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:01 AM
ValFitzAndrew ValFitzAndrew is offline
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Please expand on the perceived "hull flex" issue.
Thanks.
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