This pedal-powered canoe is a truly wholesome amphibian

I am oddly compelled by this canoe-cumbent

I recently completed a canoe trip with my dad and brother to celebrate Papa Luke’s 60th birthday and, in the comments of an Instagram post about the trip, I was alerted to the existence of this charming pedal-powered open canoe. 


The canoe was constructed by Rob Trowell, and both the contraption and the video make it probably the most wholesome thing I have ever seen on YouTube. 

The remarkably well made amphibious craft is propelled like a regular canoe on open water (I too was devastated that Rob had not crafted some kind of performance pedalo) but, when taken onto dry land, three wheels are fitted to create a canoe-cum-recumbent… thing. We’ll call it the canoe-cumbent. 

Propulsion for the canoe-cumbent comes from a crank positioned in the bow, which drives a Shimano Alfine internal gear hub. This is in turn connected to a pair of wheels positioned on either side of the boat in a paddle steamer-like arrangement. Braking is delivered by a set of Avid mechanic disc brakes attached directly to the wheels’ axle. 

Steering is provided by an ingenious setup that is (I think, tell me if I’m wrong) best described as a closed-loop pulley system. This is controlled by levers that are, charmingly, made from brazed copper plumping piping.

I can’t imagine the canoe-cumbent would be much use on anything but surfaced roads and paths, and I dread to think how it would handle in any kind of sharp corner but, speaking from (very recent) experience, I find myself oddly compelled. 

Canoe portaging
With the canoe-cumbent, this sort of nonsense could be a thing of the past!
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

As I’ve discovered, dragging — or portaging to use the correct term — a canoe overland is a fairly hateful experience. While this particular build seems best suited to an unladen expedition, for day-to-day canoodling, it looks like a right hoot. One less car and all that as well, eh? 

Lastly, as silly as the whole thing may seem, there’s absolutely no denying that it appears to be extraordinarily well made and if you can watch the video without smiling, you officially have no heart. 


As an aside, we actually have a history of reporting on pedal-powered boats here on BikeRadar. Highlights include the Schiller Sports X1 and the more recent e-assisted Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1. With so many options out there, a group test must surely be inevitable!