We’re big fans of small electric outboards on tenders. They are so much cleaner, quieter, easier to store and less hassle to use than a petrol one.
The only thing that might still put you off is the price (around double the cost of a petrol one) and weight (the same or a bit more).
However, this new Kicker electric outboard, from Norwegian brand Thrustme, challenges both those preconceptions.
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But perhaps the bigger surprise is how little it weighs, just 4.4kg including the battery, compared to 19.3kg for the Spirit and 17.3kg for the Torqeedo.
It’s not an entirely fair comparison because although the Thrustme Kicker features a similarly powerful 1kW motor, its built-in battery is only rated at 259kWh compared to 915Wh for the Torqeedo and 1,276Wh for the ePropulsion so it won’t last as long at full power (30 minutes is the claim).
Sadly, it arrived too late for our recent group test of electric and petrol outboards but I did borrow one for a week over the summer to get a proper feel for what it can do.
It is supplied in a very neat travel bag which holds the motor, charger, magnetic kill cord, a spare plastic propeller and a really clear, well illustrated instruction book.
It’s worth spending time studying this and adjusting the mount’s collar height so the shaft length is set at the ideal level for your transom. There’s also some important charging and storage information to help maximise its lifespan.
The motor itself is almost disconcertingly light, easily light enough to carry one-handed, and the plastic propeller looks so small that it’s hard to believe it will push anything other than a toy boat.
Do not be deceived, much like Candela’s new C-Pod, by revving faster it develops similar power to larger ones – a claimed 16kg of thrust in forward gear.
To make it that light, the transom bracket, tilt mechanism and steering collar are all made of ABS plastic rather than metal. They are plenty tough enough for the job but lack the more robust feel and smoother action of metal ones.
The tiller extension is made of lightweight aluminium tubing with a telescopic mechanism to adjust its length. Instead of a twist throttle, it has a remote speed controller, which you can wear round your wrist or tuck into a neoprene sleeve on the tiller.
There’s also a magnetic slot on the motor for recharging it. Three buttons select forward, reverse or stop with each press increasing power in six preset steps.
In calm conditions with little wind or tide and one person on board, the Thrustme Kicker did a remarkably good job of powering my 2.3m inflatable boat, touching 4 knots at full revs.
At half power it still managed to achieve a steady 2-3 knots in almost complete silence. On this setting you should get 90 minutes of running time, giving a range of 4-5nm.
On a longer trip round Poole Harbour I did find myself having to use full power to punch the tide on occasions but still managed to average 1.5 knots while covering 1.6nm in just over an hour with 35% battery power remaining.
It’s only when you need to cope with a headwind or tide and two or more people on board that power and range start to become an issue. It doesn’t feel like it has the grunt to match the Torqeedo or ePropulsion in these more challenging conditions.
For people like me, who only use a tender to get to and from their boat over a short distance, it’s an ideal solution. The Thrustme Kicker is incredibly light, compact and easy to use.
The only downside is that you need to take the whole motor home to recharge it rather than just the battery (unless you can recharge it in situ).
For those with bigger tenders needing to cover a longer distance with two or three people on board in tidal waters, you may be better off going for something with a bit more power.
Price: £1,250 (inc. VAT)
MBY rating: 4/5
First published in the December 2021 issue of MBY.
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