Pedal Boats Vs Paddle Boats

Are you wondering if is it a pedal boat or paddle boat? Well, don’t worry, as I have been there too.

As someone with a flair for pedal boating, I visited a local showroom to purchase my first pedal boat. It may seem strange, but I reacted a bit awkwardly when the manager asked: Do you want a paddle boat or pedal boat? 

Verbally, they both sound similar, and it catches my mind in confusion. After a slight conversation with the manager, I learned that there is indeed a world of difference between a pedal boat vs paddle boat.

Pedal boats and paddle boats are two distinct watercraft in terms of almost everything besides verbal pronunciation. A pedal boat is propelled by pedaling and is an ideal choice for sightseeing or low-impact workout. In comparison, paddle boats use oars or paddles to move and steer and are perfect for speedy rides.

Let’s dive deeper into the pedal boat vs paddle boat to see which option is better for you and your family.

FactorsPedal BoatPaddle Boat
Seating Capacity2-4 Adults2 Adults
Weight150 to 600 pounds250 to 800 pounds
Max Speed4 to 6 mph5 to 7 mph
Propelling MechanismBike Like MechanismPaddles

What is a Pedal Boat?

A pedal boat, often called a pedalo, is a little watercraft you can purchase or rent for recreational purposes. The working mechanism of a pedal craft is purely based on pedals and levers. You need to step on the pedals to get it going.

In terms of steering, you can either directly turn a rotor or use a flat sheet, usually located at the rear of the vessel.

Pedal Boat Vs Paddle Boat

As the watercraft doesn’t contain an in-built motor (you can install a trolling motor for pedal boat), fuel is unnecessary to propel in the lake.

Typically, pedal boats are available in various types and sizes. Some look like a tricycle with three pedal sets, while others come with a single pair of pedals.

Pedal craft is ideal for recreational purposes, including having fun, fishing, and exercise. However, you should avoid pedaling for an extended period, as it requires too much leg effort.

What is a Paddle Boat?

Verbally similar to the previous one, paddle boats require oars or paddles to glide across the water. You have to utilize your upper-body strength, including arms and shoulders.

Mainly, there are two nature paddle boats, recreational and competitive. Recreational paddle crafts are usually meant to be enjoyed outdoors, while competitive ones indicate racing.

paddle boat

Relatively, these vessels are a bit hard to use, requiring a skilled and muscular boater. For that reason, some people don’t like it. However, others thrive on getting a ride on this sort of watercraft, especially the racing enthusiast.

Importance of Choosing the Right Option Between Pedal Vs Paddle Boat

In general, both pedal and paddle boats are designed for specific activities. For instance, pedalos are a popular choice for sightseeing lakes, rivers, or beautiful bodies of water.

On the other hand, paddle boats often refer to a way to race with other riders on the lake. Plus, there are numerous differences between a pedal boat vs paddle boat in terms of construction, size, capacity, mechanism, usability, etc.

Picking one that doesn’t suit your needs, skills, or purpose is nothing more than just a waste of investment (if it has a no-return tag). For that reason, it’s vital to consider various factors and then pick a vessel that reflects a perfect match for your needs and budget.

Pedal Boat Vs Paddle Boat: A Brief Comparison

Are you confused about whether to choose a pedal boat or paddle boat? Well, don’t worry; my research aims to explore the difference between these two options in various factors so you can choose one that fits your preferences.

Pedal and paddle boats may sound similar, but they’re as different as a dolphin and a duck. Here’s a brief comparison between pedal boat vs paddle boat:

Propelling Mechanism

As mentioned, a pedalo uses leg power to spin the paddle lying beneath the surface of the water. In return, the paddle provides a push to the boat, resulting in a movement of the vessel.

This bicycle-like mechanism is ideal for sightseeing, fishing, or leisurely activities. However, you wouldn’t get a much boost in speed (unless you have muscular trunk-like legs).

On the flip side, you must employ oars or paddles to move the paddle craft. The oars throw the water back, moving the boat forward. Although it’s a perfect choice for speedy rides, you must put in more effort.


Moving to the average figures, paddle boats outpace their pedal-powered counterparts in speed. In general, a pedalo can travel at speeds ranging from 4 to 6 mph.

For that reason, the watercraft remains quite stable in calm waters. However, you couldn’t cover long distances in such a pedal-powered boat.

The scenario is exactly the opposite when it comes to paddle boats. You can race from it, cover long distances and do whatever wild you want. All it requires is a finesse rider with superior skills.

When it comes to the speed of a pedal boat or paddle boat, various factors come into play, such as model, number of passengers, type, etc.


Like all technical vehicles, maintenance is necessary for pedal or paddle boats. Of course, the level of attention needed to upkeep them is different.

Due to their simple design, paddle crafts are quite easy to maintain. Your main concern should be keeping oars and paddles in tip-top shape and checking for leaks after every ride.

While these vessels are a great convenience for those who don’t want to spend time or money on upkeep, their sturdiness can’t hold the candle to the lasting endurance of pedal boats.

Conversely, pedalos have a more complex mechanical system, including pedals, propellers, and paddle wheels. Therefore, maintaining a pedal boat is a difficult and costly venture.


There are many materials that are being used for pedal boating, but typically, best pedal boats are made up of aluminum or PVC. These components are durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of regular use. However, you may face slight difficulty transporting the pedal boat due to its weighty mass.

In contrast, paddle boats are often crafted with high-quality fiberglass or polyethylene. They are lightweight, allowing you to transport and maneuver the boat without any trouble.

Seating Capacity

Now let’s move on to the weight limit of a pedal or paddle boat. Commonly, regular pedalos can fit a couple, while the higher-end models can seat up to four or five people.

A paddle boat’s seating capacity depends on its distinct types. For instance, a kayak can fit up to a single person snugly. However, row boats and canoes come in larger sizes with higher price tags, allowing a bunch of buddies to hop off. While, In terms of seating capacity between kayak vs pedal boat, the wpedal boat is surely a winner as it is a family water vessel that offers plenty of storage and seating space.

Also, the size and capacity depend on how much money you invest in your water vehicle.


Again, the cost of a pedal boat or paddle boat comes down to several variables, such as the model, quality and seating capacity.

Generally speaking, pedal boats hit the wallet with a starting price of 900$. However, the value is true as long as you opt for a two-seater vessel (expensive models can reach up to $7000).

Moving to the opposite side, paddle boats offer many options. It starts with a small inflatable paddle boat for $300 and ends with a luxurious cedar row boat reaching up to $10,000.


No doubt, pedal boats weigh more than paddle boats. It’s all due to a heavy frame to support the pedal and steering mechanism. The extra weight acts as a base support for the overall stability of water.

Paddle boats, on the other hand, are generally lighter, making them easier to transport and maneuver.

It benefits those requiring frequent transportation or storage in limited spaces. However, the lighter weight can make the boat more susceptible to wind and waves.

Average weight of a pedal boat: 200 to 300 pounds (90 to 136 kilograms)

Average weight of a paddle boat: 100 to 150 pounds (45 to 68 kilograms)


In general, pedal boats tend to be heavier and more difficult to transport than paddle boats. Their bulkier size and weight make them a challenge to transport.

In contrast, paddle boats are like the featherweights of the watercraft world, easy to lift and transport with minimal effort. You can throw them onto the roof of your car or toss them in the back of your truck and be on your way in no time.

Availability at Park/Lakes (Incase of Rentals)

Regarding renting the pedal or paddle boat at parks and lakes, rental availability can be a make-or-break factor in your water venture.

Due to the recreational popularity, you can rent a pedal boat at most lakes, parks or areas. However, their popularity can also be a double-edged sword, as they can book up fast during peak season.

In comparison, paddle boats are a classic staple of rental fleets and can often be found easily at most parks and lakes.


As mentioned, a pedalo contains a pedaling mechanism, meaning you must perform all the propelling with your legs. It frees your arms and hands to focus on casting and reeling in your catch.

In comparison, you must use your hands to propel a paddle boat. It means you couldn’t focus on catching an elusive fish as effectively.

Noise level

Pedal boats, as the name suggests, are propelled by pedaling. It means that they are generally quieter than paddle boats because there is no splashing noise from the paddles hitting the water.

Paddle boats, on the other hand, are powered by paddling. While they may not be as quiet as pedal boats, you may experience the rhythmic swish-swish of the paddles as you navigate the water.


Pedal boats come in various types and styles. Here are the major ones:

  • Manual Pedal Boat
  • Electric Pedal Boat
  • Hybrid Pedal Boat
  • Inflatable Pedal Boat
  • Folding Pedal Boat
  • Solar Pedal Boat

Paddle boats come in a wide range of types and styles, each with its own distinct features. Here are merely a few of the well-liked paddle boats:

  • Canoe
  • Kayak
  • Rowboat
  • Paddleboard
  • Sailboat


Pedal boats have a sleek and modern look with their amusing shape and colorful designs. Many models also feature a canopy or sunshade to protect you from the sun and add a touch of elegance.

Paddle boats, on the other hand, have a more traditional and rustic appearance. The wooden paddles and exposed mechanisms give them a nostalgic feel, evoking memories of a simpler time. Some models even have a classic paddle-wheel design.

My Verdict About Paddle Boat and Pedal Boat

Pedal boat vs paddle boat which is a perfect match for a water venture? As far as we discussed, pedal boats or paddle boats both have their pros and cons. Which one is better is entirely up to you and your needs.

If you want a more leisurely, low-impact activity, a pedal boat is the better choice. But if speed and money are your concern, the paddle boat is the way to go.

FAQs – Pedal Boats Vs Paddle Boats

What are pedal boats made of?

In common, manufacturers utilize aluminum or PVC to create pedal watercraft. These materials are heavy, supporting the pedal mechanism effectively.

Is it a pedal boat or a paddle boat?

Pedal boats or paddle boats are both verbally alike. However, there is a world of difference between these two watercraft in terms of construction, size, capacity, mechanism, usability, weight, etc.

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