New intuitive release binding system separates riders from their board
By Darren Quick
November 27, 2011
Andy Keel, the man behind the Motorcrossboard, has developed a new binding system to minimize the risk of injury for not only riders of his company's vehicles, which he describes as essentially stand-on light motorcycles, but for participants in a range of boardsports. The intuitive release binding (IRB) system, which is designed for any boardsport that sees the rider connected securely to the board, features a binding that allows the rider to separate themselves from the board at will by releasing their grip on a handheld control.
While the Motorcrossboard can be ridden without any bindings at all, this is only recommended from beginners, with intermediate and advanced riders enjoying a higher level of control when attached to the board. The IRB systems developed by Keel provide this extra control with the improved safety of being able to quickly separate one's feet from the board with the simple and practically instinctive action of opening one's hand when falling.
While Keel designed the first IRB systems for use with the Motorcrossboard, he says they are an obvious fit for boardsports where the rider is already gripping a handle of some sort, such as power boarding, wakeboarding and windsurfing. However, he expects snowboarding to offer the biggest market potential. This is because the system not only makes it easy to separate from the board, but also to reattach, making previously impossible tricks achievable.
"Snowboarders may initially think they wouldn't want to hold the handle in their hand to keep connected to the snowboard. When they realize they can release the board instantaneously and do kickflips, shove its, etc. and then instantaneously connect securely to the board again, they'll likely warm to the idea." says Keel.
The IRB systems are customized for different types of boards, with the snowboard version incorporating the connect and release mechanism with the boot instead of the board and the handheld unit controlling the release mechanism via cable, hydraulics or electronics. This allows the cable connecting the handheld unit to to the boot to run up the rider's leg so the only part of the system fastened to the board is two cleats for the connect and release mechanism to connect to. In this way, Keel says the rider is able to release the board and move it freely in any direction.
The patent pending IRB systems will be available through the Performance Concepts Inc. (PCI) website early in 2012 and a prototype IRB system will be featured on the History Network's Modern Marvels, "Weird Machines" episode premiering this week, with another prototype system to be demonstrated on Discovery Channel Canada's Daily Planet in December.