inflatable-dinghy-launch-wheels

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!

Transom mounted launch wheels can make everything simpler and much easier. They are basically a must for 1 man boat launching.

What Transom Launch Wheels Do

A boat launching system is practically a set of wheels to help you:

  • Transport your boat from one place to another (like parking-lot to water),
  • Launch your boat straight into the water.

Launch wheels are installed on the transom of your inflatable dinghy and are a lot different from boat trailers.

inflatable-boat-launch-wheels

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:

Weight rating

Your launch wheels should support the weight of your boat, plus any gear you put into your boat when launching (motor, battery, cooler, etc.)

Low-end launch wheels can support around 300 lbs, with high-end wheels rated for 600 lbs.

For larger and heavier boats, you may consider getting a boat trailer instead.

Wheel size

Launch 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.

Material

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 high PSI inflating and are generally easier to push.

How to Install Boat Launch Wheels

Several inflatable boat manufacturers leave markings or cut-outs intended for transom launch wheels’ bolts and brackets.

However, if these markings are nowhere to be found, you will have to make some measurements and drill holes into which your dinghy’s transom wheels will be placed.

Here are instructions on how to install transom-mounted launch wheels in 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Position marking

Position the brackets onto 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 & gluing

After marking the mounting holes, you will have to drill the holes for the bolts through the transom.

Once drilled, bolt the bracket onto your transom and put masking tape around your brackets.

Now with the masking tape on the transom, remove the bolts and bracket, and apply 3 lines of a waterproof glue (this marine adhesive sealant preferred) where the bracket should be.

Step 3: Bolting the bracket

Place the brackets onto the transom and bolt them in place.

Wait for the glue to form a skin, but not fully cure before removing the masking tape around the bracket.

Step 4: Testing

Now that you’ve successfully installed the bracket, slide the legs of the wheels in place.

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 water.

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 systems 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 in 2020.

 Launch WheelDescriptionWhel size & capacityDetails
1.Seamax Deluxe 4x4 Boat Launching DollyBest Launch Wheels
Seamax Deluxe 4x4 Boat Launching Dolly
Aluminum frame, inflatable rubber wheels
14"
600 lbs
Details
2.Why you need launch wheels for your inflatable dinghy 12nd Choice
Seamax EZ Load Launching Wheels
Aluminum frame, inflatable rubber wheels
12"
500 lbs
Details
3.Brocraft Boat Launching WheelsBrocraft Boat Launching Wheels
Aluminum frame, inflatable rubber wheels
12"
500 lbs
Details
4.Aquos Aluminum Transom Launching WheelsCheapest
Aquos Transom Launch Wheels
Aluminum frame, inflatable rubber wheels
15"
300 lbs
Details
5.Bris Launch WheelsBris Launch Wheels
Stainless steel frame, plastic wheels
10"
300 lbs
Details

Here are the details on each.

Seamax Deluxe 4 by 4 Boat Launching Dolly

Seamax Deluxe 4x4 Boat Launching Dolly

Price check

This is my launch wheel of choice. It is designed & made by Seamax Marine, and 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, so it is seawater friendly)
  • It’s available on Amazon. I like ordering things there since if it doesn’t work out for some reason (fit), returns are easy.

Seamax EZ Load

Seamax Ez Load Launch Wheels

Price check

There is a cheaper version of the Seamax Deluxe, called Seamax EZ Load. It is very similar to its big brother, the Seamax Deluxe above.

The main difference is that this supports a little less weight, so it might just do the job for you.

Also, the wheels have a smaller diameter.

Brocraft Boat Launching Wheels

Brocraft Boat Launching Wheels

Price check

With Brocraft Boat Launching Wheels, you’ll wonder how you managed to move your boat all this time.

  • 2 levels of height adjustment
  • 2 swivel positions (upward & downward)
  • Folds and locks easily
  • Less expensive than the Seamax
  • Made from marine grade materials (aluminum and pressurized wheels)
  • 2-year warranty

Aquos Aluminum Transom Launching Wheels

Aquos Aluminum Transom Launching Wheels

Price check

These launch wheels by Aquos are probably the best-priced launch wheels on the market in 2020.

In exchange, they are simple. No height adjustments here, they just have an upward and downward position.

They can do a great job on any kind of surface, as the tires are big.

  • Large, 15″ diameter inflatable tires
  • Max weight relatively low: 300 lbs
  • Made from an anodized aluminum frame

The manufacturer doesn’t include instructions with these wheels, so follow my instructions above when installing.

BRIS Stainless Steel Boat Transom Launching Wheels

Bris Launch Wheels

Price check

The reason I am including these low priced launch wheels is because they have non-inflatable plastic tires, which might appeal to some.

  • Non-inflatable and solid tires
  • Steel installation hardware
  • Made from high-quality stainless steel
  • Also has a low price tag

Final thoughts

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.

Are you new to the world of inflatable boats? Then my Getting Started Guide is for you. You’ll find tips, tricks, and how-to articles to start off right.

6 thoughts on “Why you need launch wheels for your inflatable dinghy”

  1. Great article. Useful, thanks for posting it.

    Question, with all the wheels you’ve reviewed here, are any of them easily removable for when inflating the boat down and putting it back in it’s bag?

    I need some wheels, but worried that when I fit them, the boat might not pack away in the bag anymore. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi, yes, you can take the wheel & the bit that’s holding it out of the bracet base (which is drilled into the transom) on most models. Lockpins hold the swiveling wheels in place, you just pull the lockpins out and pack up.

      Here is a closeup of the Seamax bracket, so you can see how it works:
      seamax launch wheel brackets

  2. I have the Brocraft wheels installed and have used them for 2 years in salt water. The Brocrafts work great and are durable. It took a little time to install them and to make sure I got my brackets correct on the transom of my 11 ft inflatable. I used butyl rubber to seal up the transom holes. You just put the butyl underneath all of the metal bracket that attaches to the boat transom. You then also put a little snake shaped wrapping of butyl around the bolt on the thread side between the bracket hardware and the transom. I got a nice solid seal, no drips.

  3. Yes, wheels can definitely help, yet if you load up the boat with gas/outboard/stuff, it’s still quite heavy, especially going on and off the launch ramp. I am still searching for a solution so 1 person can launch the boat with all the stuff loaded, solutions such as FRONT wheels (yet to find one for inflatable), car launch (with the front of the inflatable rope-tie to the hitch, maybe?). If you have any good ideas, please do share. Thanks.

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