Can Flexiskates kickstart a new pavement roller-skiing craze?
By Paul Ridden
June 5, 2013
Incorporate a tilting mechanism into a car, scooter or bike and not only have you just increased its wow factor by at least a thousand percent, but you've also greatly improved its stability and handling. Such is the case with Flexiskates, which boast the stability of quad skates and the speed of blades, while also catering for simulated alpine ski carving on pavement.
Though leaning into a deep turn is simply not an option with the chunky wheels of quad skates, and blades might very well slip away from beneath you, Flexiskates have been designed with gravity-defying high speed turns in mind. According to inventor Tomas Leszczynski out of Cortlandt Manor (NY), the Flexi self-adjusting balancing mechanism provides solid support on all four wheels, while also allowing users to transfer to two wheels for a turn akin to moving onto the edge of a ski as you weave down an alpine slope.
The current proof-of-concept prototypes are fashioned from CNC machined components and custom-created plastic parts. There's a rail bolted under each boot, from which sprout Flex mechanisms front and rear, with left and right 78-mm inline wheels attached to each. The springs are said to store energy during one turn and release it into the next, providing a similar kind of assistive kick to skis when they bend. Flexiskaters could also look forward to more relaxed ankles during turns and smoother overall handling of bumps and holes.
Having received many an appreciative nod from professional and recreational skiers and skaters during testing, Leszczynski and his small team of mechanical engineers and designers (which includes Marek E. Antkowiak, Janusz Liberkowski, John Martin, and Phil Leszczynski) are now planning to enter the retail space. The first consumer version will be a full boot in standard men's/women's sizes that includes a more advanced version of the Flexi mechanism with adjustable Flex force. A skating base that can be secured to sneakers or other flat shoes is also in the cards, as well as a skateboard that uses the Flex mechanism, to be called the FlexiBoard.
The team is currently in talks with manufacturers in China and Taiwan to supply bulk components, and has launched on Kickstarter for the final push toward commercial availability. There are a number of supporting pledges, but to get your hands on a pair of the first 50 Flexiskates off the production line in December, you'll need to stump up at least US$229. The next 50 are set at $249 each and after that, it looks like you'll have to wait for post-Kickstarter retail at a cost of $299.
Should the project fail to attract enough funding on Kickstarter, Leszczynski told us that he'll "be talking to investors, we have a huge experience in fund raising at our group."
There's some slalom and downhill Flexiskates action featured in the pitch video below.
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