Homemade kayak ergometer from Nordic Track ski machine

Some of you know that back in 2013 I shared a YouTube video that showed my design for a kayak ergometer made from a Nordic Track ski machine. It was the first such design, to my knowledge, that introduced rockers to the ergometer.

It actually combined elements from both my first kayak ergometer “bench” style design along with my balance trainer. All of which I also shared. You can see all three in the video below.

Since then I’ve been refining and redesigning the ergometer.

And also since then people have used my videos to build their own units and now some of these people are actually trying to sell the plans to MY design that I freely shared with the kayaking community.

I feel that’s not right. Maybe not illegal but certainly not right.

Toward the end of last year I built a new design for celebrity fitness trainer Vinnie Tortorich so he could do indoor training in his office in preparation for a 100-mile trip down Bayou LaFourche in Louisiana this Spring. I knew he had limited space in his office so I set out to make the ergometer much shorter in overall length.

I accomplished that mission by moving the flywheel under the paddler’s legs which also had the side benefit of making the feel of the device much smoother while paddling.


My “kayaker’s selfie” with Vinnie Tortorich upon delivery of his ergometer

Later I heard from Vinnie that he started to have some troubles with the forward rollers. Vinnie is a legendary ultra athlete and generally an animal when it comes to training so I knew he would put wear and tear on the unit like it has never seen before.


Vinnie Tortorich with Serena Scott Thomas sporting DTK hats

So after mulling that over in my brain for a while, I went back into my garage over the weekend with a new design for the forward rollers in mind, and built two more kayak ergometers with subtle variations in the design between the two to see which is better and/or easier to build. These happened to be the 5th and 6th units I’ve ever built. (Well, honestly, I probably built and rebuilt the first two at least 10 times each until I was happy with them!) I’ve only made a few of these for close paddling friends.

These two new units have square legs so mere mortals can paddle them, but this design allows rockers to be easily attached and detached as desired.



The final design in action

The result of my weekend in the garage. 1 unit complete and the other one 90% complete

I spent hours in the garage not only building the two units but also recording video of each build so I can edit and produce a “how to” video and then make it available for sale since so many people have reached out to me over the years to inquire about either purchasing a unit or buying the instructions from me.

I’ve greatly simplified the design and now use only hardware and parts that are stock and can be bought off-the-shelf at most hardware stores. The build is much, much simpler than the first few so I feel now the design is at a point where I can effectively communicate how to build your own and you can build one from those instructions rather easily.

It is also the first design I feel is so unique and innovative in the way its built that I’m not so willing to freely share it because there is a little “secret sauce” that I’ve learned through years of trial and error.

When the “How to build it” video is ready I will sell it for $20 since that is the price most people have told me is reasonable and that they’d expect to pay. I believe that is a fair price based on the number of hours I’ve spent building and refining the design to make it as compact as possible, easy to build, and fun to paddle.

Let me know what you think and please let me know if you would like to buy one of these 2 fully completed units (Central mid-Atlantic of the U.S. only.)

Happy paddling!


These plans assume you will be able to obtain an older style Nordic Track ski machine made from a wooden frame as you will be using some of the mechanical and wooden parts from it.  You might want to check on local availability first, but this video will also offer tips on how to get one for a great price or even free.

Buy the “How to Build” video with parts list now for $20 USD.

Update March 2, 2018:
The “How to build” video is now ready for purchase!

The device can be built with either the square legs or the rounded ones and the video discusses both approaches.

These plans assume you will be able to obtain an older style Nordic Track ski machine made from a wooden frame as you will be using some of the mechanical and wooden parts from it.  You might want to check on the availability of this first.

Once you purchase, I’ll send you an email with links to the parts list and instructional video.

Testimonial: “Wanted to reach out with a big thumbs up on the ergometer. Put it together this weekend and it works great. Its smooth at the catch and really does feel like paddling. Now all I need is a 3 hour video of water and I’ll be all set for winter.” – Daniel C.

Buy the video plans with parts list now for $20!

The device can be built with either the square legs or the rounded ones and the video discusses both approaches.



  1. Hi Dave.
    We don’t have Nordic Track machines where I live (north of Russia), and nobody had heard about them. We have lots of snow though 🙂
    Do you have any ideas what could work to implement you design using parts from a hardware store or car parts store?
    Thank you!


    1. In other words, assuming the skiing machine was needed for the flywheel and freehubs, what are the parameters for those? Just to check if it’s possible to obtain anything ~same in the hardware stores.


      1. I threw one on the scale and it came in at 7.1lbs or 3.2kg. I wish we lived near each other because I’be got 5 of these things. Send me an email to dave~at_cvillepaddlers(dot)com and I’ll send you a preview of the video. And here is a page with spare parts for the Nordic Track. Not all are used for the ergometer build, mostly just the flywheel, bearings and rollers and some of the washers and side rails. http://www.nordicparts.com/vshop/cart.php?target=category&category_id=2


    1. Thank you. It takes me straight to PP so to clarify, i’d Be getting the plans for the up to date model that also “rocks.”


      1. I’m confused. I just paid with PP yet there seems to be only a video. Won’t we get written plans?


      2. Yes, just a “How to build” video plus a written parts list. I thought that was clear. If that wasn’t clear would that have affected your decision? If so I’ll make it right.


  2. Dave: I’m a paraplegic T-12 (which means I’ve got all my trunk muscles) and have had some experience kayaking. Was looking to start some traini9ng at home. Saw your videos and thought I could do most of it. The seat would be the problem. My lower body doesn’t work so I would need some sort of way of keeping my lower body stable. Also would it just be cheaper and easier to buy a tractor seat from Concept 2 or a seat from a kayak shop?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Larry, if I’m understanding correctly, you need a bucket-style seat or something that cradles your bottom end for stability? Where are you located? I’d love to understand your situation better, do a little research, and come up with a solution for you. If you live within driving range I’ll build it and deliver for only my materials cost.

      Better yet, send me an email to dave (at} cvillepaddlers~dot~com and provide your phone number. I’d be happy to talk with you to figure out something that would work for you.


  3. OK Dave – I’ve got a Nordic Track skier already. Can I incorporate my old skier into your new design? Does it use the tensioner too? Don’t mean to be a P.I.T.A., but I’m just a gal who needs good step-by-step instructions to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, yes, the older skiiers will work just fine. Keep the tensioning strap with spring (and everything else except the metal frame.) I’m probably 1/4 through editing the video and it should definitely be available before March 1.


      1. Fantastic. My husband doesn’t quite understand why I went out and paid $25 for a Nordic Track that’s just occupying space in my office. Good luck with the editing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Brian, thank you. I just sent you an email with the instructions for the video and parts list. Your order actually come through on PayPal *after* you posted this message and sent me an email, so you are even faster than PayPal! I’m sure you’ll now become an even faster paddler. 🙂


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