After YakAttack president Luther Cifers and long-time kayak designer Hans Nutz released the first Bonafide SS127, my first question was, “When are you going to design a pedal-powered version?”
Evidently, I wasn’t the only angler asking this question. The stable, sturdy and smart standup fishing kayak was screaming for a pedal system. After BIG Adventures, owner of Native Watercraft, took over the Bonafide brand, their first move was to pair the boat with Native’s proven Propel Pedal Drive System. When I heard about the prop-driven Bonafide P127, my first question was, “When can I get one?”
P127 is a Pedal-Powered Version of the Popular Full-Feature Kayak
Bonafide P127 Specs
Weight: 120 lbs
Capacity: 475 lbs
MSRP: $3,099 USD
Key Fishy Features
In 2016, Bonafide Kayaks burst onto the standup kayak scene with the SS127. Standup kayaks favor stability and comfort with a flat, open deck. The SS127 added acres of tackle and gear storage along with smart YakAttack-inspired accessories.
To squeeze every drop of performance out of the Bonafide hybrid cat hull, Cifers and Nutz cursed and sweated over the boat for a year. The paddle version offers legendary stability with best-in-class performance. Still, adding a pedal system makes the kayak easier to propel, and increases stability. The combination makes a great kayak even better.
At almost 13 feet long and 34 inches wide, the P127 is a full-size kayak designed to compete with the big boys. The build quality, components and performance put Bonafide’s flagship in battle with the Hobie Outback and Old Town Sportsman 120 PDL. These boats are fully capable fishing machines with exceptional performance, quality components and unlimited rigging options.
Rod holders make a fishing kayak. The P127 includes both horizontal and vertical rod storage. To pass under low-hanging limbs and shimmy through a culvert, lay the rods in horizontal channels molded into the gunwale. Plastic tubes at the bow protect the rod tips.
Behind the seat, molded vertical rod holders are angled for trolling or soaking baits. The rod holders provide an easy place to store a fishing rod while unhooking a fish or changing lures.
One of my favorite features is the P127’s bow hatch. The huge opening is covered with a hatch molded with channels to hold a rod or net. The hatch is attached with Bonafide’s Unilatch, double jointed hinges. I can quickly open the hatch from the front and back or remove it.
Inside the hatch, a molded insert holds a half-dozen tackle trays or three medium gear bags. Remove the insert to access the inside of the hull for more storage.
Bonafide’s extra-wide HiRise seat is the cherry on top. The stadium-style seat is overbuilt with a thick, padded, quick-dry cover and heavy-duty frame. For ultimate adjustability, the seat slides fore and aft on gear tracks. When I’m pedaling for hours, slight adjustments in the seat reduce fatigue.
Competing in the premium standup kayak category requires more than just cool features. Serious anglers want to rig electronics, rod holders, storage, lights, anchor system, battery power and electric motors.
In addition to the Propel Pedal Drive, the P127 is ready for motor power and an automatic anchor system. A mounting plate in the bow provides extra support for a Power-Pro Micro anchor or a small trolling motor.
In the stern, another mounting plate and a small access hatch are set up for an electric outboard motor or trolling motor. Even with a motor in the stern, there is space for a Power-Pole mount.
Attach the motor mount to the replaceable pad and secure the battery in the large cratewell. Then, use the access hatch to route the wires to the controls and the battery.
The huge cratewell is designed to cup a YakAttack BlackPak Pro. I can insert any size crate with rod holders on all sides. A bungee and S-clips hold the crate in place, but I like to install YakAttack Vertical Tie Down in the gear tracks by the cratewell and run a one-inch thick cam strap through the BlackPak’s tie-downs.
Adding electronics is easy, the P127 is pre-rigged with a through-hull opening to route cables to the transducer cavity. I mount the fish finder display to the cockpit gear track with a YakAttack LockNLoad mount. Run the wires through the hull to the transducer and to the battery in the cratewell. The fish finder display is easy to adjust and remove and the wires are stashed below deck.
Propel Pedal Drive
The Propel Pedal Drive makes the P127 special. In addition to the great fishing features and efficient hull design, the P127 includes one of the most reliable pedal systems.
Native Watercraft was the first kayak company to develop a pedal drive. The Propel is the result of years of research and development making it light, tough and efficient.
All moving parts are sealed inside a powder-coated housing. Anodized aluminum cranks prevent corrosion and premium BMX pedals look cool.
The Propel is sleek and simple, making it easy to carry and store. Three clips hold the pedal system in the boat. The narrow propeller shaft fits through a scupper in the deck with a cover to reduce noise and turbulence.
On the Water Performance
The Bonafide P127 boasts a huge capacity, stable hull and multiple power options, but can the big boat handle the load?
That was my question as I launched the P127 at my favorite fishing spot. My plans included backwater fishing for trout and redfish along with a venture into the ocean to target Spanish mackerel and look for cobia and big red drum.
Loading and launching the kayak at the busy launch ramp required pre-rigging the boat and carting it to the water on my Malone Clipper TRX kayak cart. Replaceable skid pads on the stern of each pontoon allowed me to unload and drag the boat a short distance.
Once I entered the water and pushed off the shore, I dropped the propeller and released the rudder. It takes a couple seconds to close and bungee the pedal well hatch, but the cover makes the Propel one of the tightest and quietest drives I’ve tested.
The Propel Pedal Drive does a great job of pushing the kayak at a comfortable pace. It has a good balance of speed and torque to cover distance and buck the current and wind.
Once I adjusted the seat for the most comfortable pedaling position, I was off to the races pedaling at a leisurely pace.
The true test of a pedal kayak is the rudder. Turning a big, heavy kayak while pedaling at full speed is a tall order. The P127 uses a large, retractable rudder blade to get the job done.
The foldaway blade not only makes it easier to paddle in shallow water, but I can land the kayak, drag it up the launch ramp and load it into my truck without damaging the rudder.
To fish in shallow water, I retracted the rudder and propeller. In the up position, the narrow drive system takes up less space in the cockpit. Even with the rudder retracted, it offers some steering and improved tracking.
The large, wide pontoons keep the boat rock-solid. I was even able to stand on the seat. The wide, open EVA-padded deck is spacious and comfortable for long hours of standing and casting.
Best of all, the P127 maintains good control under paddle power. Standing and paddling didn’t turn into a wrestling match with the big boat. The pontoon hull produces sharp straight-line tracking and the balance improves turning performance.
I pedaled the P127 through the shallow marsh creeks and then headed into the open ocean. The comfortable seat and efficient pedal system eat up miles of water.
The aggressive bow and narrow entry handled light chop and I felt confident on open water. The P127 maintains stability in rough conditions with enough roll to take waves and cut through the current.
With considerable capacity, solid stability, a reliable pedal system and smart fishing features, Bonafide’s first pedal kayak was worth the wait.
Where to Buy
Bonafide Fishing Kayak Reviews
- First Look: Bonafide SKF 117
- ICAST First Look: Bonafide RVR 119
- Bonafide SS127 Fishing Kayak Review
- Fishing Kayak Review: Bonafide RS117
- Fishing Kayak Review: Bonafide EX123 Expedition
- Bonafide Kayaks Deeper Look
Pedal Fishing Kayak Reviews
- First Look: Vibe Uptown 100 Lite
- First Look: Native TitanX 12.5 With Adam Milstead
- First Look: Old Town BigWater ePDL+ 132
- Tandem Fishing Kayak Review: Hobie Mirage iTrek 14 Duo
- Fishing Kayak Review: SeaStream Angler 120 PD
- ICAST First Look: Feelfree Airship
- ICAST First Look: Jackson Kayak Knarr
- ICAST First Look: Hobie Passport R Series
- Walkthrough Of The New Jackson Kayak Knarr FD (Video)
- Fishing Kayak Review: NuCanoe Unlimited
Bonafide enters the pedal race with the P127, combining a pedal system and boat design that are proven winners. | Feature photo: Patrick Hayes