Homemade DIY 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 2017 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. It was the first time I met him and I wasn’t smart enough to get a real picture with him.

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 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 used if 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 many hours in the garage not only building the two units but also recording video of each build so I could 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.

This 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.

You may purchase the plans below which consist of an instructional, online video and a parts list that I’ll email to you.

Happy paddling!


Update March 28, 2020: If you would like to buy my plans but live outside of the United States and cannot easily find a Nordic Track ski machine, please watch this video:

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 the instructional video also offers tips on how to get one for a great price or even free.

April 29, 2020 update: Please watch this video if you live outside the United States

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


A happy paddler!

The “How to build” video is now ready for purchase!


“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.

Thanks, Daniel. Almost everyone tells me they feel and paddle just like the real thing.  Oh, and I now have you covered with some extended kayaking video: https://bit.ly/32Y9TG6

“I’m impressed with how true-to-life the paddling stroke feels (at least for a wing paddle). Now to get fit for the summer races!” – Karen P.

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. I ordered your video and watched a few minutes but wasn’t ready to start the build. I tried to come back to watch it and can’t find it. Was I suppose to save it? Should I have received an email link to the video?


  2. Dave, just chanced access this and I’d love to build one. Is it any of the wooden NordicTrek ski machines or a specific model?


  3. I’m curious how easy would it be to adapt your plans to make a SUP erg? Preferably with the ability to change sides on the fly like on the commercially available SUP ergs. Thanks!


  4. 3-31-209: My contact in Belgium is making good progress and is going to share his parts list with us. I’m providing him some final measurements on various pieces and parts and he has ordered most others and is just waiting for them to arrive to do his “non-Nordic Track” build.


  5. Micha, Thanks for reaching out and thank you for your interest. I’m actually getting lots of emails and messages right now asking the same questions. My plans assumed you would start with a Nordic Track ski machine. I do not have a list of alternate or substitute parts nor do I sell parts. I personally have a small stockpile of parts for future builds, but they would be cost-prohibitive to ship internationally. I’m producing a video right now that addresses this issue so watch for it in the coming hours on my YouTube channel and on this blog. YouTube.com/rivannahipsnap


  6. Hi
    I want to build a rowing machine.
    I am interested in purchasing the video with the mounting instructions and purchase the mechanical parts like the wheels as well. Can it be purchased from you?
    Micha from Israel


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