Recently, I was asked to evaluate a prototype of a new sea scooter called the Le Feet S1. I found the device interesting and it was fun to test. I made my comments and sent them to the company. Recently, I was sent one of the production models and was asked to review it.
Currently, the Le Feet S1 is available on the Kickstarter web page. Unlike many Kickstarter fundraisers, the Le Feet S1 started their fundraiser after the product was tested and a trial production run was completed. The unit I received is the same as what will be shipped to the customers.
The Le Feet S1 is a lightweight unit with a good amount of thrust and seems to have a reasonable run time. One of the points that the company stresses is that it is modular. I am not sure I would agree with the term modular, however, the Le Feet does have a range of accessories that can be added or swapped out that will change the function or the way you operate it.
The standard S1 comes set up to be used with two hands like most Diver Propulsion Vehicle. The right-hand grip has your speed control. There is an option to replace the two hand grip setup with one hand grip. Or you can get an accessory that will allow two units to be mounted together and controlled by one controller. Two units, twice the thrust. The company has a vision beyond snorkeling and scuba diving. They have a mount that will attach to a kayak or SUP. The propulsion unit can then be quickly attached to the mount, and the unit can be used for propulsion. The user will use a hand held to control the speed.
Before, I get to my experience with the unit, I want to mention about controlling the unit as it is one of the reasons there is the flexibility of options. On the propulsion unit itself is a control module. This controller has three settings selected by a push button. The first setting lights up an image of a turtle, the second a bice and the third looks a little like a rocket ship. This unit pairs with the hand grip controller by an RF signal. The hand grip has a trigger assembly that operated over a full range. Squeeze it slightly and you will have a little thrust. Squeeze it more for more thrust. The setting on the propulsion will set what your range of thrust will be. This RF connection is what will allow you to slave two units together and what will allow you to control the speed while using it as a kayak motor.
Using the Le Feet S1
Unfortunately, the production model arrived the day after I departed for a diving trip. Upon my return, I did get to use it in a dive pool. The size of the pool did not give me much opportunity for longer runs. I headed to the ocean to find the surf very high and not being allowed to scuba dive because of rip currents. However, there was a back up plan. It did not allow for any deep diving, but it did allow for long runs and a lot of fun. I found a nice bit of protected water between a barrier island and the mainland.
I do not frequently use a Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV), However, I have used a few different models over the years primarily models from Sea-Doo and Yamaha. My first observation of the Le Feet was it was much lighter than the units I have used before. The Le Feet weights in at 4.4 pounds (ca. 2 kilogram). Yamaha’s RDS250 and Sea-Doo’s Pro both come in at 18 pounds (ca. 8 kilogram). In the same line of thinking, it was much smaller.
When I got it in the dive pool, the Le Feet felt comfortable to use. The smaller size gave me a sense of control and it was not awkward to move around while it was off. Having it set on the slow “turtle” setting, it started to move me as I pulled the trigger. The transition was smooth, it did not seem to jerk me into motion. The slow setting was slow, I would estimate about the same speed as a fast swim. The bicep position also gave me a nice smooth start and the top speed was better. I would guess it would be about the same as the top speed of the Yamaha’s RDS250 and Sea-Doo’s Pro. I did not think using the unit at top speed in the pool would be safe. The pool was not very large. Overall, I spent about 20 minutes at 5 meters cruising the pool.
Getting it outdoors and into the bay was a joy. Carrying the S1 while entering from the shore was easy, the size and weight not being an issue. The water here was only about 10 feet at its deepest. I only used snorkeling gear plus my BCD. The BCD was more a safety device if I found that I would need more buoyancy. When I reached waist deep water, I turned it on and set it to the middle mode. Leaning forward, I slowly pulled the trigger and let the unit pull me along. I spent about ten minutes doing different movements some at the surface most under. I found I could maneuver very well and the operation was smooth. I finished this portion of the test with a five minute straight run. It was great.
The next segment of my test was at the “rocket” setting. Maybe because of my inexperience, I had a few set backs at the high speed. I found that I needed to keep both hands on the grips approaching full speed. Using just my right hand on the grip (the grip with the trigger) I found that it would pull me to the right. Keeping a light grip on both hand holds provide a smooth controlled ride. While I did not have one to test, my experience leads me to believe that the center mounted single grip would work well. The manufacturer states that top speed for a single unit is 3.5 MPH or 5.6 km/h. It did feel like a fast drift dive, so I will accept their information.
The battery on the Le Feet is removable. This makes it more convenient to recharge the battery. The battery is made up of 12 high energy lithium batteries. Under current commercial aircraft rules, the battery can be taken on board as a portion of your carry on luggage. The small weight and size of the Le Feet lends the entire unit to be carried on and would easily fit in that small space under the seat in front of you.
To remove the battery to recharge, you unscrew the front of the unit and pull the battery out. To replace is the reverse. Put the battery into the holder, press down to make sure the connection is made and secure the cap. The cap when tighten will create a water tight seal. The company does sell extra batteries, so you can swap out the battery after a dive and be ready for the next dive.
The charging unit is something I appreciated as well. It has a volt meter on it so you can see the charge. The battery is rated at 12.6 volts when it reaches that voltage the charger will alternate flashing the voltage level and “FUL”.
- Lightweight – 4.4 pounds (ca. 2 kilograms)
- Runtime up to 60 minutes
- Depth rated to 100 feet (ca. 30 meters)
- Powerful can reach a speed of 5.6 KMH/3.5 MPH
- Removable rechargeable battery. Takes only a minute to change a battery (extra battery purchased separately)
- Weight: 4.4 pounds (ca. 2 kg)
- Depth: 100 feet (ca. 30 m)
- Speed: 5.6 KMH/3.5 MPH
- Dimensions: 310mm x 302mm x 151mm
- Motor Power: 550W
- Charger and Battery
- Battery Capability: 99 wh
- Endurance: Up to 60 minutes
- Charger Input: 110 to 240VAC
- Voltage: 12.6 VDC
- Charging time: 5 hours
- Basic Le Feet S1 – RRP – $399 USD / ~£315 GBP / ~€350 EUR
- 2-in-1 Kit – RRP – $897 USD / ~£715 GBP / ~€790 EUR