Video: Torqeedo Ultralight 403 electric outboard motor review
Ever wondered about electric outboards? We rate and review the Torqeedo Ultralight 403 electric outboard motor on an Aquayak Ranger kayak.
The Torqeedo Ultralight 403 is a portable electric outboard motor. In early 2016, after spotting a kayak/Torqeedo electric outboard combo at the Melbourne Boat Show, we knew it could be a game-changer.
Torqeedo 403 Ultralight electric outboard
We recently had an opportunity to review a Torqeedo Ultralight 403 / Ranger kayak combo, supplied by local manufacturer Aquayak.
At around $3500 for a complete package that can hit a claimed 5.5kts and has a range up to 35km at cruise it had even me, a relatively young bloke, thinking of new horizons. The idea of getting up estuaries and further around headlands than I would normally paddle had me excited.
The Ultralight 403 electric outboard can convert 400W to about a 1hp equivalent, which should be plenty for a long hull like a kayak. The chosen model from Aquayak was a Ranger, one of its more popular fishing versions. It can be had with everything, including livebait tank and Esky rack, but our review package came simply optioned – paddle, seat padding, rego and PFD – as well as the complete integration of the Torqeedo 403 Ultralight. Highlights were plenty of storage and decent beam for good stability.
Different to the Travel series, more like the Cruise, the Torqeedo 403 Ultralight makes use of remote batteries but with only modest 400W consumption the batteries can be small – about the size of a motorcycle battery. But size isn’t everything and Torqeedo’s battery packs an impressive 320Wh. Control is by way of a simple binnacle for thrust, a pair of guided ropes to lift and lower the engine, and a foot steering system that uses the leg as a rudder. A total package, including one battery, weighs only 7.4kg so it doesn’t add too much to your wet weight.
Batteries can be charged by USB or wall adapter, or take power from solar or wind with the right converter. The full system is IP67 water resistant, which we unintentionally tested with a battery spending most of its time under water in a wet locker.
Power control is best using the app. Although the Torqeedo 403 Ultralight electric boat motor is a secondary mode of power for a ’yak we would be happy in knowing we were charged on departure, with a destination planned within our range.
We quickly found the 35km range was achievable but unlike the previous two tests on tenders, the 403 begged to be worked on the back of the Ranger. A 5km/h cruise gave a 20km range; this is faster than the factory recommends for best range yet the combo felt better at the faster speed as it was more stable. Although it’s not the full 35km, the idea of being able to head 5km to a secluded fishing spot, spend another few hours hunting before departing for home appeals more than taking the slow route there and back. Flat out we saw as much as 10km/h, more than enough for the hull.
If you already have a kayak and are looking to extend your on-water hours, mounts to suit most modern boats and an Ultralight 403 can be had for as little as $2750.
Charging a Torqeedo 403 Ultralight
For all Torqeedo batteries, charging options vary from USB to a Torqeedo-supplied solar kit but the most popular will be to plug in at home. Precaution labels on the batteries note they require a cool, ventilated area to allow heat to dissipate, so nothing overly concerning.
Although we didn’t quite hit the range claims, the AquaYak/Torqeedo electric outboard combo stands out as one of the most enjoyable and complete low-budget water adventure packages I have tested. Knowing that the electric marine engine is secondary to your paddle means you can push further on man-power with the Torqeedo there to reliably get your home. Enter in twilight years and you have a combo that will keep you waterborne effortlessly for years to come.
Torqeedo Ultralight 403 electric outboard price: $2750
Price as tested, excl Ranger Kayak
TYPE Direct-drive electric outboard motor
PROPELLER 11in plastic two-blade
10-12 Commercial Drive, Lynbrook, VIC, 3975
PH +61 (3) 9709 8500
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