Saturday 14 March 2015

Foot Peg Torture Device

I think somebody with a malicious streak in them came up with the foot peg system that came out standard with the pace 17 tour.  I paddle in bare feet so it could be argued that it is my own fault they are so uncomfortable, but I like to be able to feel the contact I have with my boat for when conditions get interesting.

I made the existing foot pegs a little more comfortable by adding a layer of Sikaflex and some thin closed cell foam, but after 6 months of paddling, that was starting to wear out whilst I was looking for an alternative solution that didn't mean major work on the kayak to install.

One of my friends spent a lot of time coming up with a ski type solution given there wasn't any options around at the time.  After some prototypes he ended up fitting a modified carbon Stella footplate to his Pace 17 which looks fantastic, and is light and strong.  My only issue with this is that I would need to put together the parts I need and do the modifications myself, and being a bit challenged in that area I was looking for an easier option.

Rob Mercer at Expedition Kayaks had been working on a similar solution to the same problem and has just released the resultant "Big Foot" foot plate to market (available from the Expedition Kayaks Online Store).  This was the easier option I was looking for.  The benefits for me was next day delivery of the footplate system and that it was a straight replacement with no modifications.

Installation was very simple and I had the new footplate installed within 20 minutes.  I took the opportunity to replace the wire cables with some braided Dyneema cord which all took less than an hour to achieve with zero modifications to the boat, as the rail attachment points were the same as the original setup.

To enable the footplate to fit different width boats, there are four screws on the foot plate itself which you need to loosen off.  These allow the attachment points to slide out to the required width so all you need to do is center the footplate and tighten the screws - installation done!

Note that the kit doesn't come with the nuts and bolts required to attach the rails, I assume the thought is that you will use the existing ones you are replacing - if you are updating your Pace 17 Tour, you will need to purchase the nuts as these are built into the rails you are replacing.  You can use the existing bolts.

So the whole exercise started on Thursday afternoon with phoning Expedition Kayaks and placing an order which turned up on Friday.  I installed them on Saturday morning and was on the water by lunch time for a 20 km cross/down wind paddle in 25-29 knots to give the new footplate a workout.

Even without additional padding, the footplate is very comfortable and you get as good as leg drive as you can in a Sea Kayak.  There is no comparison with the existing torture devices that come out standard with the Pace 17 so I am very happy with the result.

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