Most boat owners would agree that launching boats into the water down the beach or down the boat ramp is not an easy task. Just imagine how grueling it is to haul the entire boat along with your extra gear (motor, cooler batteries, etc.) on your own.
There is a great solution though: installing launch wheels on your SIB!
Installing launch wheels on your inflatable boat is really just an application that makes use of a simple mechanism which utilizes mechanical advantage to multiply force. (Yes, that’s basically straight from your Physics textbook back in high school.)
Simply put, these launch wheels can make everything simpler and much easier.
What Launch Wheels Do
A boat launching system is practically a set of wheels to help you launch your boat and transport it from one place to another. For example, from your car/trailer in the parking lot down to the water.
Launch wheels are installed on the transom of your inflatable dinghy and are a lot different from boat trailers.
With wheels attached to the outer side of your boat’s transom, you can easily transport your boat (and whatever you put into it) to and from land without much effort. They are specifically designed to reduce the amount of lifting in transporting your boat from point A to point B.
By installing launch wheels, you can also prevent your boat from getting damaged as you drag it back and forth over various surfaces.
Now you can see why launch wheels are basically the next best thing to sliced bread. At least from a SIB owner’s perspective.
What to Consider When Buying Launch Wheels
If you have already decided to upgrade your boat with launching wheels, there are a few things to consider:
Can they hold your boat’s weight? For larger and heavier boats, you may consider getting a boat trailer instead.
Most wheels commonly range between 10 to 15 inches in diameter and 2 to 4 inches wide. The bigger the wheels are, the easier it is to push over more difficult terrain, like sand. But other than this, smaller wheels can suffice, as well.
They need to be made from highly durable materials to enable them to withstand the long exposure to saltwater which causes corrosion. This is why most launching wheel frames are made from either aluminum or stainless steel.
Tires, on the other hand, are usually made from rubber and can either be solid or inflatable. Inflatable tires allow higher psi.
How to Install Launch Wheels
Many inflatable boat manufacturers nowadays leave markings or cut-outs intended for transom wheels’ bolts and brackets. However, if these markings are nowhere to be found, you will have to make some measurements and create holes into which your transom wheels will be placed.
Step 1: Positioning
Position the brackets on to your boat’s transom. As you make measurements, make sure that the wheels will be spaced widely enough as not to interfere with the motor. Also, see to it that they’ll be installed high enough so to avoid the motor from touching the ground.
Step 2: Drilling and gluing
After marking the mounting holes, you will then have to drill the bolts through the transom. Secure the brackets onto the transom using glue and bolts.
Step 3: Testing
Now that you’ve successfully installed the wheels, slide the legs of the wheels. Remember to secure them with lock pins, if provided. Make sure that they can be folded properly as you don’t want your wheels to go off when you’re in the waters.
Here is a helpful video on how to install launch wheels.
Top-Rated Inflatable Boat Launch Wheels
Since inflatable boats can be very heavy, adding a set of boat wheels is certainly a worthwhile investment. By choosing to install wheels on your vessel, you can do everything on your own without having to exert too much effort.
Your back will thank you!
There’s a wide selection of launching system available. Choosing the best launching wheels for your boat will depend on:
- the weight of your boat
- the terrain you generally push it on
- how much you are willing to shell out
To help you out, I have gathered some of the best launching wheels available on the market.
Seamax Deluxe 4 by 4 Boat Launching Dolly
This is my launch wheel of choice. It is made and designed by Seamax Marine has the following main features.
- 4 Swivel Positions (60 and 90 degrees, upward and downward)
- Adjustable Arm Length (4 length stages of 2.5-inch increments)
- Made from Top Quality Materials (T6 Aluminum Alloy and anodized coatings)
- It’s available on Amazon. I like ordering things there since if it doesn’t work out for some reason (fit), returns are easy.
There is a cheaper version of the Seamax Deluxe, called Seamax EZ Load. It’s very similar, it just supports a little less weight, so it might just do the job for you.
Brocraft Boat Launching Wheels
With Brocraft Boat Launching Wheels, you’ll wonder how you managed to move your boat all this time.
- Folds and locks easily.
- Less expensive than the Seamax on Amazon
- Made from marine grade materials (aluminum and pressurized wheels)
Saturn Inflatable Boat Launching Wheels
In the “made from aluminum” category, Saturn Inflatable Boat Launching Wheels are the most affordable.
- Cost efficient, available direct from Saturn
- Easy to install and store
- Made from heavy-duty marine grade materials (anodized aluminum and all-terrain wheels)
Aquos Aluminum Transom Launching Wheels
These launching wheels can do a great job on any kind of surface.
- Very affordable, probably the best priced launch wheels
- Large sized inflatable tires
- Made from an anodized aluminum frame
BRIS Stainless Steel Boat Transom Launching Wheels
This great product from BRIS allows better movability for a wide range of inflatable boats.
- Non-inflatable and solid tires
- Steel installation hardware
- Made from high-quality stainless steel
- Also has a low price tag
Davis Instruments Wheel-A-Weigh Extra-Duty Launching Wheels
- Easy to install
- Provides excellent load distribution
- Made from extra durable and corrosion resistant materials (316 steel frame)
- Also available from Amazon
|Launch Wheel||Wheel Size||Maximum Weight||Material|
|Seamax Deluxe 4 by 4 Boat Launching Dolly||600 lbs.||12 inches||Aluminum frame, inflatable rubber wheels|
|Brocraft Boat Launching Wheels||500 lbs.||12 inches||Aluminum frame, all-terrain inflatable rubber wheels|
|Saturn Inflatable Boat Launching Wheels||300 lbs.||12 inches||Aluminum frame, all-terrain inflatable rubber wheels|
|Aquos Aluminum Transom Launching Wheels||300 lbs||15 inches||Aluminum frame, inflatable rubber wheels|
|BRIS Stainless Steel Boat Transom Launching Wheels||300 lbs.||12 inches||Stainless Steel frame, non-inflatable solid rubber wheels|
|Davis Instruments Wheel-A-Weigh Extra-Duty Launching Wheels||330 lbs||14 inches||Stainless Steel frame, inflatable rubber wheels|
Launch wheels are probably the most useful accessories for your inflatable boat. Provided that you’ve chosen the right type of launching wheels and that you have installed them properly on your vessel, you will greatly reduce the time and effort needed to launch your boat.
Have you ever tried any pair from the inflatable launch wheels from my top picks?
How did they perform?
I would be glad to hear from you! Please don’t forget to share your experience in the comment section below.