Looking at 12-volt bow mount trolling motors from Minn Kota but only want the basics? If so, the PowerDrive model is a good choice. While it lacks a heading sensor and the improved “Lift-Assist” of the Riptide Terrova, you do get I-Pilot GPS. Some anglers prefer less technology as it translates to less possible issues. For these kinds of boaters, running a 17-foot skiff, the PowerDrive ticks a lot of boxes.
This model of the 12v PowerDrive has 55 pounds of thrust with a 54-inch shaft. It’s powerful and can fight typical currents and winds during inshore fishing. It doesn’t have lift-assist, but does have Minn Kotas older generation deploy pedal. Using it is heavy and cumbersome, for these reasons it makes sense that Minn Kota changed this system.
Minn Kota Riptide PowerDrive Advantages
Like the Terrova, the PowerDrive has the digital maximizer technology. Which as I explained in the Terrova review, is a variable speed motor instead of a classic fixed speed. This delivers power efficiency, which means you get five times longer of run time on a single battery charge. I took it out for four hours and the instant “stage of charge” didn’t change, that’s a plus.
Remember that while a digital maximizer is effective for trolling at slow speeds. Using a motor at constant high speed negates the digital maximizer technology.
Next, you get the same saltwater protection including encapsulated electronics. Plus the use of marine-grade alloys for the head unit. Under the water there’s a grit-blasted aluminum lower motor unit. Covering all the metal components is an armor plating. Over top, it’s finished with a powder coat paint. It should withstand any brackish water but to be honest, I rinse off my trolling motor after use.
Unlike the freshwater version, the riptide comes with a sacrificial anode. Using zinc, this anode absorbs galvanic corrosion so the rest of the lower motor doesn’t have to.
I like how stress-free fishing is next to the shore with the PowerDrive, due to the weedless wedge propeller. Likewise with all Minn Kotas, it has composite shaft with a lifetime guarantee. I can hit structures or docks and not wince at the thought of damaged components.
Minn Kota i-Pilot® GPS Steering Control
On the main piece of technology that comes with the PowerDrive 12-volt, the i-Pilot® GPS remote. This allows angler to move around the boat and still be able to control steering. For these models of 12v bow mount trolling motors, control is via only this remote.
If you are a new customer and not familiar with i-Pilot® GPS, below is a list of its great features.
- Spot-Lock. This is the Ipilot version of anchor mode. If the boat shifts over 5 feet (1.52 m), the motor turns on and moves the boat back into your anchor position.
- Go-To. Select any Spot-Lock or iTrack to go to. It activates your motor to take you right back to a preselected position.
- iTrack Record/Playback Route. Lets you trace a route, save it, and follow it again. Stores up to 16 iTracks, up to 2 miles (3.22 km) long each.
- Autopilot With CoPilot. Select a heading and stay on it without lifting a finger. Holds the boat in a straight line without moving off course. CoPliot adds speed, steering control, turns prop on/off, plus a high-speed bypass. Cruise Control. Keeps boat speed steady on the remote screen to help entice fish as you troll at 0.1 mile-per-hour increments.
I appreciate that Minn Kota provides an easy-to-read large LCD screen. It’s so simple to control speed, steering and GPS features. Keep in mind, if you want to integrate with Humminbird unit, upgrade to i-Pilot® Link™. The Link upgrade is what enables you to match your chartplotter to the trolling motor.
The main issue I have with this trolling motor is the noise and vibration that emits from the upper head unit. It’s way more than the Terrova or the offerings from MotorGuide or Haswing.
Next, as I mentioned earlier, if you don’t rise the motor down expect issues corrosion issues. While saltwater protection is a bonus it isn’t fault free, in fact some boaters have had powder coat peel off. This is prevalent with this specific model.
The third issue is common to i-pilot remotes, which is the intermittent blank screens. I didn’t experience it while out on the water but others have so it’s worth mentioning.
If you own a skiff less than 17 feet (5.18 m) in length and prefer simple 12-volt bow mount trolling motors, pick this model. While it’s loud above water, I was successful fishing using it. Bear in mind though, while it has less technology to go wrong, the other parts tend to break if not maintained.