Sport machines: Extraordinary gear for traversing dirt, snow, street and water
By C.C. Weiss
September 3, 2013
Back in February, Gizmag scoured the many halls of the ISPO Munich 2013 sports show for the latest and greatest in action, outdoor and snow sports gear. Recently we did the same at one of ISPO's American counterparts: Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Along the way we found numerous interesting, innovative and downright odd vehicles, vessels and machines designed for those specialist, sporty uses where standard equipment just doesn't cut it. With the summer winding down toward cooler weather (or vice versa for our southern readers), we thought it the perfect time to share this mix of snow, street, air and water gear.
BMW X1 Concept K2 Powder Ride
Introduced last fall and parked at K2's ISPO booth, the BMW K2 Powder Ride is a concept variant of the available X1 Powder Ride Edition. It's a noisy concept that combines loud Valencia Orange paint with a big, booming Harman Kardon sound system with 500-watt subwoofer built into the roof box. A microphone and lighting system are also integrated into the design, making it the ultimate hot hatch for an après ski tailgate. Special edition K2 skis finish the package off.
Outside of a name that should never be used for a child's toy, the Highwayfreak is an innovative little two-wheeler for small children. Designed for children between 3 and 5, the Highwayfreak combines a scooter and sit-atop bike into one vessel. Simply push the button and swing the body up for bike configuration or down for scooter set-up. Without pedals or a drivetrain, it's not exactly a fully functioning bicycle, but it should prove fun for small children teetering around the driveway. It was a BrandNew Award finalist at the ISPO winter show and a winner at the ISPO Bike show earlier this summer. It is available for just under €100 ($132).
Audi R8 "Douchebags Edition"
Professional skier and notorious car enthusiast Jon Olsson worked with PPI Automotive Design to dress up an Audi R8 for his ski luggage company Douchebags. The €420,000 ($550K) car includes a PPI 600-gram carbon fiber mesh body, a 5.2-liter supercharged V10 engine juiced to the tune of 800 horsepower, and 20-inch ADV.1 wheels. Douchebagsused this ultra-powerful, lightweight R8 as a centerpiece in showing the the Carbon Concept Prototype travel bag, a light, rugged bag constructed with a flexible carbon fiber.
More compact than some other stepper scooters we've covered, the Italian-designed Xteep works the legs, translating natural steps into forward motion. The scooter also includes front suspension and a drum brake with hand lever for a smoother commute. It folds down for transport and fits easily inside of a car. It will retail for €280 ($370).
Ro-Lands RUNWAVE Sled
In a world of uncomfortable sleds made out of wood and hard plastic, the RUNWAVE stands as a more inviting alternative. The German-designed vessel looks like a zero-gravity lounger built atop sled rails. A quick sit revealed that its rope-bound seat wasn't quite as luxurious as the elastic-strapped seats of zero-gravity loungers, but it was definitely more comfortable than other sleds we've been on. And, like a lounger, the backrest adjusts to several positions.
Ro-Lands says that the sled is capable of steep terrain. It includes a hand braking system that can also be used to add some sharpness to the body steering. The RUNWAVE collapses for transport via a series of removable pins. The MMB model is designed for use by handicapped riders and includes foot rests, added support and safety straps. The RUNWAVE starts at €332 (US$440), and the MMB version retails for €928 ($1,225).
We originally covered the Climblock Rotor last year, but this large, rotating climbing drum was much more impressive in person. The Rotor is designed to allow for indoor climbing in spaces that may not have the ceiling height for vertical ascents.
High Roller Adult Size Big Wheel
As a child I spent many a long summer day riding down the local grassy knoll on my Masters of the Universe Big Wheel trike. I haven't actually ridden one since I was about seven, but seeing High Roller's adult size version took me right back to that grassy knoll. I'm not sure that I'd pay 600 bucks for one, but I was certainly tempted to pedal it out of High Roller's Outdoor Retailer booth.
Volans2 row boat
The Dutch-built Volans2 rowing boat changes the mechanics of rowing: instead of a sliding seat, the boat uses a sliding rigger. Volans Rowing says that the design, which has its roots in competitive rowing where it was banned, allows for fast speed with a shorter boat length. The boat's stiff, lightweight resin construction was originally developed for Olympic sailing yachts and bobsleds.
Volans Rowing says the recreational vessel is "not much larger than a kayak" but has the feel of a racing skiff. Transport is easy, as the rigger separates from the boat in three steps, and the boat itself rides on the roof of a car. The €3,990 (US$5,270) boat was built as a collaborative project between a variety of parties, including Delft University of Technology, Amsterdam University and the Royal Dutch Rowing Federation. Volans Rowing hopes that the boat's stable, easy-to-use design will encourage more folks to get into rowing.
The cramped show-floor corner didn't provide adequate space for properly photographing the 18-foot (5.5-meter) boat, but the video above shows it in action.
Volkswagen Touareg rally car
Volkswagen won three straight Dakar Rallies with its fleet of beefed up Touareg racers, and the 2011 model was on display outside of ISPO.
Bon Hiver Freebase snowboard bindings
Snowboards don't move as naturally on flat ground as skis. So a rider spends his day unstrapping his rear binding to skate to the lift, then strapping his foot back in at the top. It's a tedious process that Bon Hiver wants to eliminate. Its two-part Freebase Binding System has a mounted base with a removable high back binding. You can simply lock and unlock the high back without touching the straps. The company claims the system is so easy to use, you can do it on the move without your hands.
A gnarly skateboard aimed at bringing skaters off smooth asphalt and onto rougher ground, the Rockboard Descender uses a set of four tracks in place of the usual wheels. Rockboard also displayed a step scooter at ISPO.
Another innovative Dutch design, the Prodaptive Snowboard is a sit-atop snowboard designed for disabled riders. The design allows the upper body to move the board, eliminating the reliance on lower body strength.
A different take on the scooter, the three-wheeled, Dutch-designed CURB includes a set of pedals that drive the wheels via a single gear. The pedals are also connected to the moving handles, getting the upper body involved in the action. The designers promise a full body workout in 30 minutes. At ISPO, they were seeking international manufacturing and distribution partners.
Blokart land sailers
New Zealand-based Blokart has been building land-sailing vessels since 1999. They're definitely a sight to behold. In May 2012, Mark Walters hit a speed of over 64 mph (103 km/h) in one while riding in Arizona.
Magic Donut Boat
Another monstrous, can't-miss display at OR, the Magic Donut Boat from Korean inflatables manufacturer Air Box is a different kind of flotation vessel. Made from a mixture of drop stitch fabric, polyester and PVC coating, the boat is like an outdoor dining set on water.
Anything to add to the list? We'd love to hear more about the specialist gear you strap on or step into in your sporting escapades. Let us know in the comments section.