Charlottesville kayaker

DIY Kayak Ergometer Plans now available!


I recently completed the instructional video on how to build your own kayak ergometer from a Nordic Track ski machine. The plans and part list for this new, more compact design are available at the link below for $20 as I promised on Jan. 16, 2018:

And here is the final result:

Once you purchase, I’ll send you an email (usually within 24 hours) with links to the parts list and instructional video.

I’m the same guy who built and shared the original design online in 2013 and since then I’ve gone through several iterations of the design to get it as short and smooth as possible.

You will find other such DIY ergometers online but many of them are very long and look like they have bed frames attached to the front of the device which causes ropes to rub, require a lot of space, and are not really portable.

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.

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

Don’t be fooled.  Buy the video plans from the original designer!


Thank you!

Be sure to allow email from dave (at}

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.

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

If you are interested in reading the full story and evolution of this ergometer then you may read all about in this previous post.

Buy the parts list and video plans now for $20 USD



38 replies »

  1. I find your diy erg very intresting for winter training. Yet no nordic track machine available here in Finland. Could you possibly take measurements of the flywheel? Any spinny thing with similar inertia would work. So total weight of the wheel, outer diameter and width is intresting. Sourcing a new brake disc would be cheap. Or a old belt pulley from could do it. Oneway bearings are available. Shaft needs to be custom made but is within reasonable cost range.


    • The flywheel is 9″ (22.86cm) in diameter. I’ve been trying to think of a close substitute but really can’t think of anything. The only thing that comes to mind is the flywheel on a spin bike, but I have not looked into them and have a hunch they are too big.


  2. Hello,

    I have two question. With pleasure I would buy drawings but:
    – what the become budget of this ergometer (plywood or wood parts not a problem, but all rolls)
    – I am form Lihuania (Europe), is it all these componets will be available in Europe?

    By the way might be somebody selling already made version, with please I would buy



  3. Dave I’m curious about building one of these. 2 questions for you: 1. how similar is the motion to truly paddling a kayak? 2. Which nordic tracks provide the correct flywheels? I want to look around and see if we have any for sale in our area but I’m not 100% sure which models to look for. Thanks!


    • I’ve gotten the motion as close to paddling a real kayak as possible. As long as you cut the “paddle” to the right length for your body and adjust the rope to the proper length, it will be very, very close to the real thing. As for the models of Nordic Track skier, if it is an older ski model made with a wooden frame it will work. I’ve previously used the 505, Pro, Sequoia and Achiever models.


  4. How hard would it be to swap between the stable legs and the balance ones? As I get more comfortable with the setup I was thinking of switching up. I also have an old hydraulic rower I was thinking of scavenging the foot braces from. Would those be easy to incorporate or just get in the way? Just brought the nordic track home so I’m about ready to give this a go. For tools, would a drill and jigsaw be enough or are there others I might need?


    • It isn’t hard to swap out the legs. I’d actually suggest you build both sets initially and then when you graduate up to the rockers its just a matter of a few screws and re-running the rope. Or built it with the rockers and then use “wheel chocks” until you are ready to paddle without them (rolled up towels bent into a U-shape work nicely.) As for the foot braces from the rower, I don’t know. I’d have to see them. As for tools, yes, assuming you also have screwdrivers and a spade bit or two for your drill you should be fine. My biggest suggestion is to watch the video the whole way through first to get a good idea what you’ll need so you minimize trips to the hardware store. 😉 Please send me photos or video when you have it completed!


      • Thanks for the ideas for the rockers. Those sound a lot easier than swapping bases back’n’forth. Does the design incorporate any of the electronics from the nordictrack to track distance and whatnot? I’m used to more traditional rowers and trying to think of ways of tracking workouts besides a timer or heart rate monitor.


      • If you are lucky enough to have gotten one with working electronics then yes. I have the computer on my personal ergometer mounted using Velcro just in front of the flywheel. There is a magnet in a sleeve on the shaft that you must use and then mount the sensor close enough to it to detect the revolutions. (I accomplish this using a bend nail and some hot glue.) I don’t show this in the video because the computers on these things are widely variable and very few of them still work. Most people left batteries in them years ago and the internals are corroded. But yes, if you’ve got a working one use it!


    • No. As stated in the blog post, this assumes you will source and obtain a ski machine on your own to use many of its parts, including the flywheel. The video plans also include a written parts list of items that’s you’ll need in addition to those that will come from the ski machine. The video does, however, give you tips and techniques on how to get a ski machine for free or very little money.


  5. Hi,
    I purchased your plans a while back. I live in Ireland and well no one in Ireland seems to know what a nordic track thingy is and getting a second hand one seems impossible. We don’t do skiing in Ireland. Can you help me out I am not the most technical but I am willing to try anything because I really want this machine.


  6. Hey Dave. The foot position you use for your Kayak Ergometer has your feet almost touching together – looks like a surf ski type position to me. I paddle sea kayaks and my feet are more widely spread. What modification would I have to make to the ergometer to accommodate a wider foot spread? It seems that wider foot board might interfere with the ropes.


    • Dianne, Your email address was indeed captured and came through via PayPal and your ordered was just processed. Thank you so much! Please let me know if there is any problem with the email or the instructional video. Happy indoor paddling! Dave


      • The youtube video shows a device with a rounded bottom for balance training. It does not look like this one has that so I am confused as the link in the youtube video brought me here.


      • I am looking on craigslist for a Nordic Track ski machine there are many of them. How do I know which will work? Is there a list of models somewhere that have the correct parts? Is there a sticker on the Nordic Track ski machines that will help with this?




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