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Thu, Sep 29, 2016
Torqeedo "Ultralight 403"

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Torqeedo "Ultralight 403"

Make & Model

Brand:
Torqeedo
Model:
Ultralight 403
MSRP ($):
1,799.00

The Torqeedo "Ultralight 403" is made to fit most popular brands. This ultralight kayak motor is sure to extend any kayak angler’s day of fishing. This motor can help relieve some of the effort and offers completely waterproof motor, battery, and remote throttle cable. 

User reviews

2 reviews

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Ratings (the higher the better)
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User Info
Pros & Cons
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1.0

Torqeedo 403 fragility

I'm a retired 65 yr old that needed a bit of help in moving my kayak especially in swift water. The Torqeedo Ultralight 403 answered my needs even though it was expensive. I've only had it about a year, and I only use low speed to conserve battery pwr and for max range, and I paddle to augment the speed which ends up averaging I would say about 3 mph. The first problem I had with my Torqeedo was an intermittent tilt sensor which would prevent the motor from turning. Sent it to Torqeedo Chicago repair shop, and it was repaired. Before sending it to them the tech at that repair place said sometimes it can be freed up by tapping on the motor. I did this several times and it always freed up the sensor and it worked good until the next time, so I sent it to them and they fixed it by taking apart the motor and repairing it. All was good for several months and then I got another error which I can't remember the number right now , but it indicated a Motor overcurrent condition, and would not operate at all. Torqeedo said to send it to the Pompano Beach Florida repair place. They called and told me that Torqeedo refused warranty coverage on the motor due to scratches on the motor housing and water in the motor. SCRATCHES. Not deep enough to cause water entry through the scratches but was indicative of hitting something which caused O rings to leak. WHAT????
The housing of the motor is made of a black composite type material which is light weight, but in my opinion scratches very easily.
So if you are thinking of getting one of these, DO NOT let anything SCRATCH the motor, because if the O rings leak then you will be out of luck when they refuse warranty service. If you make it through the warranty then you're out of luck anyway.
It will cost about $750 for me to get my motor back, and in my opinion the thing is not worth it. So I am out $1800 more or less. I could pay for the repair and unload it to recoup some losses, but I hate to do that to some unsuspecting boob.
I've bought cheap trolling motors from walmart and they lasted for decades with rough treatment, but the Torqeedo has been treated gently and look at the results. I wish there was a forum for those of us that want to warn potential buyers about the pitfalls.
Tom

User Info

Waters Fished:
  • Large Rivers
  • Small Creeks
  • Large Lakes
  • Small Ponds
  • Salwater Flats
Used:
16-30 times

Pros & Cons

Pros:
Range at low speed, lightweight
Cons:
Cost, reliability, poor reverse application, fragile motor construction, warranty issues because of fragility
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Not worth it...

Well I’ve had the Torqeedo for a year now. I’d say it is time for a full review. For reference, I’d run an electric kayak for 15 years prior to this one. A Wilderness Systems Pamlico Sport XL came complete with the motor for $999 (no battery). I put over 1,500 miles on that kayak and motor before spending a lot more on this one. I will reference this boat and motor combination again. Second, I tend to destroy things…if you want a review to reflect harsh use, this is it.

I mounted the Torqeedo on Jackson Kayak Big Rig. Installation was easy and straight forward. I think you could mount this on about anything.

PROS:

LIGHT
FAST
UNIVERSAL
EFFICIENT

CONS:

EXPENSIVE
NOT-DURABLE
NOT UPGRADE FRIENDLY
NOT USER FRIENDLY

My complaints are very long, especially considering the price paid for this. Remember this is based on my extreme use. This thing will work fine for trolling around most lakes and ponds without issue.

Upstream Use
My initial shake-down run was a near disaster. I planned on running upstream max throttle until the battery was down to 20%, floating back down using the remaining battery life simply for course correction. Now I did this in my old boat hundreds of times. I do shallow, rocky, rivers. Find the deep water, listen for prop strikes, cut the power, paddle hard a couple strokes and power back on. Cannot be done with this wonderful engineered piece of equipment. First off let’s start with the throttle, it has this five second time lag to ‘ramp up to power’ My old motor had a simple rocker switch…100% power in less than a second. Sounds minor, but going up and down a Class II river, 5 seconds is an eternity! Upstream or downstream you really need to think about your movements 5 seconds before you get to that rock or log. Second E45 ERROR! In order to protect the motor, when the prop strikes anything the motor automatically shuts down to protect itself – you get this message. You have to hold the power button down for 5 seconds, come off it, and then depress again for 5 seconds to ‘reboot’ and then you have the 5 second ramp up again after that. It is like booting up a Windows computer while moving 6-9 mph through the rapids. I did 1,500 miles on my old motor, broke 3 props in 15 years and maybe sheered a couple pins. I did bend the armature one time in some class III rapids, but sent it to Motor Guide and they fixed me up in a week or so. It is my job to protect my motor…15 seconds of reboot time could cost me a dumped boat or a 20” brown trout. Enough of that, I did make it upstream eventually maybe 2 miles against a 2 mph current prior to hitting 20%...ok…but not really what I had expected. Top speed with my monster yak was about 6.2 mph and this is actually pretty fast as she is very wide and heavy. The battery really does not have enough watts stored for my use. When I did finally stop I noticed that the steering bracket had shifted and was loose AND one of the cheap steering clips had bent almost falling off. Future repairs. I babied it downstream for the rest of the trip.

Downstream Use
I must admit I was most excited about the reverse function when I purchased this motor. The ‘head of rapids’ stretch is target rich for smallies and to be able to hold there for 3-4 extra casts. It works out not so great. First while moving forward the pivot arm on the motor locks into place at exactly 90 degrees. This is great and gives a nice secure feel while steering with the foot pedals. While in reverse, the reverse cord needs to be locked into place and the motor is pulling against the cord. There is considerable line flex and the motor tends to pull up towards the surface. (Now again I have to have my prop set very shallow to even be able to run upstream) Now you get the full water spray out of the back of the boat and the steering is spongy because of the motor movement. With all that noise you can kiss the fish goodbye. Now you need to disconnect the reverse cable and pull up the normal motor pull up line as you start down the rapids. After two trips I’ve given up on reverse altogether. Again for lakes or ponds with sufficient prop depth you may be fine; it just does not work for me. I do LOVE the variable speed motor; I actually don’t know how I lived without it. The minimum setting for me is a 3 watt draw and I can correct my steering downriver the whole trip without putting down the fishing rod. I hate the throttle though…in addition to the 5 sec ramp up, when trying to hit the minimum setting you to push, push a little more, push a little more, by the time it does ‘start’ you may have pushed it too far forward and then you are backing it off. It would have been nice to have an ON click or something…It is just like a big joy stick. You can push it forward ¼” and the motor will still be off. Very irritating. Next complaint is NOISE…should be whisper quiet right?...not really. Way nosier than my Motor Guide I had for years. With the variable speeds the motor harmonics have some sweet spots and many ugly spots. While pulling 3 watts it is pretty quiet but still has a moan. 6-9 watts is downright ugly. 12 watts it starts to chirp a bit which is higher pitched but far more pleasant than the groan. When ‘haul-n’ it is pretty quiet. Again, the lower speeds are for course correction while fishing downstream. It is really pretty noisy for this purpose.

Transport
Well at the end of trip one I knew I had to fix a clip and tighten the steering bracket. I was not pleased, but OK. I went to load the boat (with the motor attached of course as there is no quick disconnect). Slipped and the back end of the boat hit the gravel parking lot and snapped the motor off right at the pivot bracket. My fault for sure, but my old motor had a simple disconnect pin and a trolling motor plug. No tools at all…3 clips, one pin, unplug the motor and it was off for secure transport. Not with this thing – you need a hex wrench to connect and disconnect the motor and then you still have to disconnect the cables. Anyway back home for the repair. The pivot bolt is aluminum!!!! All the weight and torque from the motor is designed for an aluminum bolt that can actually back out of the threads until it hits the motor shaft. What a bad design.

Other Issues
The stupid ‘wing’ on the back is designed to actually increase the leverage as you pull the motor up…it was great for catching on things, bending, and working its was loose. It does look ‘cool’ though. Since this thing runs on 29.6 volts you cannot run a fish finder, lights, etc. directly off it. Spare batteries are expensive and you just can’t ‘daisy’ them into the wiring. When you are in the middle of nowhere you cannot run into a Wal-Mart and get a spare prop. Parts and upgrades are generally expensive. The battery is really designed to be mounted on top of something. I mounted it to the underside of my deck on my SOT and it does not sit well because they rounded the top. It can only be mounted one way do to the GPS transmitter.

Modifications
After many more disaster trips I decided to totally modify the motor. First get rid of the reverse cable since it really does not work. Replace all the cheap clips with stainless spring snap hooks. Replace the plastic steering bracket with the aluminum one made by The Kayak Fishing Store. Take off the wing and install a Harken micro block with spring snap. Remove the shaft slide stop. (With the micro block and shaft slide stop removed the motor actually slides up on the back deck of the kayak now for protection down the rapids) Install a RAM mount on the throttle. I also placed washers in the mounting rod so that the pivot bracket no longer grips, but just slides on…and drilled a hole for a stainless steel hitch pin. Now I can totally disconnect the motor in less than 30 seconds without tools. I have a bag for the whole set-up and can take it right into charge. I still check that stupid pivot pin for tightness prior to each trip.

Final Thoughts
I’m still running it. Just did 5 days in high water for rainbows and browns with no issues. If I had it to do over again I would not. If I’m going to spend this kind of time I would have just gone with something like the BassYak OR made a bracket system identical to that of the original Wilderness Systems Pamlico. Here I am at a year, and I don’t think I even had to replace a prop on my original yak/motor for at least five years.

User Info

Waters Fished:
  • Large Rivers
  • Small Creeks
Used:
7-15 times

Pros & Cons

Pros:
See Comments
Cons:
See Comments
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