A breathtaking of adrenaline-producing winter and
summer toys has debuted on the slopes in recent years, making skiing and
snowboarding just two of the many forms of fun to be had at America's
According to SnowSports Industries
America (SIA), the nonprofit trade association representing ski, snowboard
and other winter outdoor companies, that array includes snowbikes, which
look much like bicycles with seats and handlebars but have runners instead
of wheels and no pedals; mountain sleds with wheels that can tackle
virtually any terrain no matter how steep and mountainboards, which have
gained worldwide recognition through the annual summertime Gravity Games.
And for next winter, the field will
include products from K2, heretofore known for its skis, snowboards,
inline skates and bikes. The Washington State manufacturer is unveiling
the Belly Bomber Sledboard and the Snowcycle, the first products in its
“Gravity Tools” collection.
Consumer safety is a high priority
for manufacturers of these winter alternative and warm-weather products.
All of the companies’ designers have focused on braking systems and
mechanical control. Most of these companies have been testing their
products for years, and many have introduced their products through pilot
programs with mountain resorts.
As with all speed sports,
accessories that enhance safety are strongly recommended for riders. Those
products include helmets, kneepads, elbow pads, wrist guards and gloves.
Some companies also sell safety accessories.
While some of the summer toys are
better suited to terrain parks, single-track biking trails or specially
designed terrain, others can be used on any of the slopes a ski resort
During the summer of 2000, Diggler’s
Original Mountain Scooter and Cement Mixxer models, which combine aspects
of snowboarding, mountain biking and skateboarding, made quite a splash in
the mountains. They were offered as rental gear and for retail sale in
mountain bike programs at about two dozen resorts, including Vail,
Snowmass, Winter Park, Mammoth and Park City. The scooters also were
available for free, on-site demos by attendees at ESPN’s X-Games and NBC’s
Resembling a short mountain bike
with a skateboard in the middle, the Original Mountain Scooter is designed
to negotiate long, steep trails. Featuring a cro-moly frame, it uses
linear-pull mountain bike brakes and upright handlebars combined with a
pair of BMX wheels and wide, knobby tires.
The standing surface, positioned
below the wheels’ axles, is said to provide “unmatched balance and
stability.” The Diggler Jib Plate, molded to the underside of the frame,
allows riders to perform slides and grinds. The Cement Mixxer is a
lightweight freestyle model geared to urban environments and skate parks.
New from Diggler for 2001-2002 is
the Dirt-Dawg model for “tweens and teens,” according to the company.
K2’s new “Gravity Control Devices”
are the Belly Bomber Sledboard and Snowcycle. “K2 is committed to helping
more people experience the sensation of sliding on snow,” said Tim Petrick,
the company’s Vice President and General Manager. “It’s all about the
elemental joy of gliding down snow-covered mountains, and we believe these
new Gravity Tools are a great way to introduce people to the experience.”
“These products offer the rider the
opportunity to make controlled descents by making turns down the slope,”
Petrick said. Unlike tubes, saucers or traditional sleds, K2 Gravity Tools
are true ‘directional control’ devices that put the participant in the
driver’s seat. Like skiing or snowboarding, there are basic skills you
need to learn, yet riding the Belly Bomber or the Snowcycle is very
intuitive for most people.”
The Bomber Sledboard has patents
pending on its runners, steering and shape. Its steering system features
aircraft-grade aluminum runners that bend into a smooth curve along their
entire length, as well as a braking system controlled by the rider’s legs.
The body of the sledboard is made of cross-linked, high-density
polyethylene. The Belly Bomber comes in adult ($450 suggested retail) and
junior ($425) models.
“The Belly Bomber brings to mind the
passion we all had for the ‘Flexible Flyer’,” said David Levy, the
designer who worked with K2 engineers to bring this new product to market.
“We have taken the experience to a new level by incorporating modern
The Snowcycle 1.0, invented by Luke
von Maldegen, is a modern version of the original “Ski Bob,” a steerable
snow scooter. K2 says it's the first snow bike to use shaped skis,
providing superior control and easier turning and carving. K2 engineers
utilized suspension technology from K2 mountain bikes, providing a
smoother, more comfortable ride in variable terrain. Snowcycle models in
adult and junior sizes will be available in the fall for a suggested
retail of $850.
Due to limited manufacturing
capacity initially, K2’s new products will be allocated primarily to
resort rental operations in the fall for use on-mountain during winter