First off, the performance of this motor is outstanding. I have NEVER owned such a smooth trolling motor. The Etec is fuel injected, not carbureted.On the tiller handle is a toggle switch allowing you to increase/decrease speed in 50 rpm increments. The Etec is super quiet as well. I still own a Mercury 4 stroke kicker on my 18' Alumacraft Trophy. There is NO comparison between the smoothness of the fuel injected Etec kicker and the gold standard carbureted 4 stroke Mercury kicker.
Performance aside, there are some issues that could impact YOUR decision on whether to buy an Etec 15hp HO Kicker.
#1: This is a BIG, heavy motor (187# or so) Much heavier than the Pro Kicker or any other 4 stroke. Before purchasing one, make sure that your transom can handle it.
#2: I think that the Pro's who guided Bombardier in the development of this kicker motor all fished for walleyes out of Rangers or similar boats where the kicker is steered using the tiller handle, instead of hooking the kicker up to the big motor using a steering bar.
Unlike the Pro Kicker, there is no factory accessory kit for easily mounting a steering bar to an Etec. Owners of Etec kickers have to build their own steering assembly utilizing Ace Hardware for parts & pieces.
#3 Probably because the genesis of this motor came from the advice of walleye pro's fishing from Ranger-type boats, the tiller handle is WAAAY too long to allow the Etec kicker to be completely tilted up out of the water in MANY deep transom welled salmon rigs. The transom splashwell on my 23' Crestliner is huge, yet the tiller handle is so LONG that I am barely able to tilt the Etec kicker high enough to clear the water when running in on the big motor. An easily fixed design flaw, (offering a shorter kicker handle) but Bombadier is not listening.
#4 The Etec kicker has a 60 amp alternator, but most of those amps are required to run the two fuel injectors. When I originally installed this motor, I ran the + lead through my battery switch. Big NO-NO with this motor. Why? When I raised a ball with the electric downriggers, the Amp draw from the downriggers would cause the Etec motor to slow down, as Amps were being drawn away from the injectors. (This is why I don't think that the Etec 15hp Kickers were field tested on a salmon boat with electric downriggers-that would have shown up in field testing)
The fix for last year is that I hooked the Etec kicker motor wires directly to one of the batteries, bypassing the main switch. Problem solved, but now the kicker motor is always hot. This year, I will be installing a separate battery switch for the Etec kicker to give me the option of running off of either battery and also turning off master power to the kicker.
I have been meaning to post this all winter in case any fellow Lake Linkers were thinking of purchasing an Etec Kicker motor. This motor has made me a "believer" in Etec technology, so much so that if/when my main motor, a 1996 Johnson V6 dies, I will likely replace it with an Etec made right here in SE Wisconsin.