The Flybar - think of a pogo stick on steroids
By Mike Hanlon
December 19, 2004
The pogo stick was invented in 1918 and hasn't changed much since- until now. The Flybar 1200 is like a pogo Stick on steroids, and was built to support the weight, strength, and demands of a world-class athlete. Fit co-ordinated humans can jump higher than five feet and people have been known to get nearly 8 feet of air using the aircraft-grade aluminium Flybar. Manufactured by the same company that invented the pogo stick, the "mobile exercise and stunt bar" uses an elastomeric spring system (12 big rubber bands to you) to capture and release energy and the springing feels similar to a trampoline in operation. As the elastomeric system is adjustable, the Flybar 1200 can be adjusted to accommodate riders of varying ages, weight and skill levels.
As with the original pogo, the Flybar is controlled by handle bars and foot pedals and is powered solely by a rider's leg strength and body weight.
History of Project "Flybar"
Since his first boyhood bounces on a pogo stick, pro skateboarder Andy Macdonald had a passion for the elevation, exhilaration and pure fun that the pogo offered. Even though Andy went on to become the world's top-ranked skateboarder (a title he still holds today), he never lost the desire to revisit that rush he knew as a young boy on his pogo. However, no product substantial enough to support the weight, strength, and demands of a world-class athlete existed. So in the summer of 2000, Andy embarked on an effort to find a manufacturing partner that could deliver on his vision for this next generation product.
Irwin Arginsky, president of SBI Enterprises, had shared that same vision and goal, but for even a longer time. SBI Enterprises has been manufacturing pogo sticks since 1918 and developed a reputation as the industry leader. In fact, the company is the original holder of the Hansburg Pogo patents. Although SBI experienced steady success over the years, Mr. Arginsky continually searched for an opportunity to develop a product that would bring the "excitement of elevation" to a new level.
It was this common quest for a product that could elevate adults, as well as children, to new levels and in new ways that ultimately lead to the unlikely partnership between Andy Macdonald and SBI Enterprises.
After countless meetings and false leads, Macdonald was about to abandon his quest, frustrated by the futility of his efforts to find a sporting goods manufacturer willing and able to develop this new product - until August 10, 2001. On that date, Macdonald spotted a story in The Wall Street Journal on the fad of new-fangled pogos on the market, ones that included bells and whistles but lacked any new technology or capabilities.
SBI's Irwin Arginsky was quoted in the article, making reference to a new technology that would revolutionize the concept of bouncing. Arginsky's goal was to create a new product category, not just a new fad.
Macdonald contacted Arginsky, who offered to share the beta prototype of a patented elastomer spring system pogo. After testing the system in a secret meeting with Arginsky in the shadows of the 2001 Gravity Games, Macdonald was convinced this was the real deal. A partnership was born as the two agreed to collaborate in developing and marketing the product known today as the Flybar 1200 model.
For three years, SBI collaborated with Macdonald to translate the patented system into a product capable of mass production. After investing more than a million dollars and innumerable man-hours, testing multiple prototypes and resisting temptations to rush to market, the Flybar 1200 (the first of several models planned for production) hit the market in mid 2004. The Flybar 1200 is the only model currently available and will ultimately be the top of the line as the range develops. The 1200 model number represents the pounds of thrust the spring can generate - which is tailored to stunt enthusiasts who weigh at least 80 pounds and have the strength and skill to ride it.
Over the next year, the Flybar 800 and Flybar 400 will be released. These models are tailored to intermediate and beginner riders, respectively and will be smaller, lighter and possess more limited height capabilities, although they will still provide the unique bouncing feel and reach relatively impressive heights.
The Flybar 1200 is available for purchase here for US$299.
Two additional models will be introduced in 2005 (the Flybar 800 and Flybar 400), tailored to intermediate riders and kids respectively, who don't require the same level of thrust as provided by the Flybar 1200. Those models will carry a lower price point.