Sledding grows up, with the Snolo carbon fiber sled
By C.C. Weiss
November 1, 2012
Carbon fiber is the choice material for fast vehicles of all types - from track-only race cars, to stunning concept cars, to ultralight bicycles and, apparently, to snow sleds. The Snolo Stealth-X is a high-performance carbon fiber sled for powder hounds that want to get their snow thrills sitting down.
Far more a serious piece of outdoor gear than a childhood snow saucer, the Stealth-X was designed in New Zealand over the course of six years. Built for speed, performance and thrills in powder or hard snow, the sled takes a more purposeful approach to a simple winter pastime. It features a sleek, body-hugging monocoque shell with a seat back, a front ski with foot pegs and an arm connecting the two. All three pieces are made of carbon fiber. The rider sits back and leans into corners "like a motorcycle" using his body and feet. He can slow and stop the sled by carving harder, similar to a snowboard.
"This sled is certainly no small child's toy," Snolo's Sean Boyd wrote us in an email. "It’s built for serious adult fun. It’s made sledding into a serious adult past time that wants to rub alongside the traditional winter sports of skiing and boarding."
An ultralight material like carbon fiber might seem like an odd choice for a sled, which spends its time soaring downhill (i.e. the extra weight could be beneficial for speed). Boyd told us that carbon fiber was chosen for several reasons. Its light weight is an advantage for carrying the sled uphill. The 9-pound (4-kg) Stealth-X splits into components with the removal of a nut and straps to your back on the trek up – much easier than dragging a heavy, wood-and-metal Flexible Flyer by a rope. The carbon fiber also makes for quick maneuvering and superior strength.
"Weight was used to make old sleds go fast, but the equation for speed is less friction + aerodynamics, everything the Stealth-X possesses," Boyd explained.
With a listed top speed of more than 40 mph (65 km/h), it would seem that Snolo's carbon fiber design is plenty fast.
Of course, you'll have to take sledding as seriously as Snolo if you want to own one of these sleds. The Stealth-X will cost US$2,999 when it slides onto the market just in time for the holidays on December 7. That's several times what you'd pay for a high-end pair of skis or snowboard, let alone an existing sled, so sledding had better be your thing.
Snolo is also working on a plastic version, which should be considerably cheaper if it makes it to market. That model is still in the concept stage.