For Sale - New $100 Economy Skibike Conversion Kits

Posted: Sunday, 12 October 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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For many skibikers their first skibike is a mountain bike conversion, for some the lure of creating a skibike utilising a scrap mountain bike frame and some home DIY materials, such as; lumber, wood screws and skateboard trucks proves irresistible.
Whilst it no doubt gives great pleasure to build such low budget ghetto skibike creations and ride them at the local sledging hill, it is unwise to take them to a proper mountain resort where they are very likely to be a danger to both yourself and other snow users.

Fortunately there is now a greater choice of skibike conversion kits than ever before and Bike the Slopes from Calgary in Canada have broken a new price point with a conversion kit for just $125 Canadian Dollars, a mere £69 at the time of writing.

This special deal will only be available for the 2014-15 winter season, with a total cost to UK based buyers of $225 Canadian dollars (approximately £125) including shipping in 8-10 days by air post.

All mounting hardware is included to easily convert your mountain bike to a skibike engineered to provide maximum comfort, handling and affordability.


Bike the Slopes - skibike conversion kit, just $100 CAD (plus delivery)

Buyers in Canada and the Continental United States - click below



Buyers in the United Kingdom, Europe and South America - click below


For Sale - Lenz Sport Alpine Brawler Freestyle Skibike - £1499

Posted: Saturday, 11 October 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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This is something you won't get to see every day, the big daddy of skibikes, a gorgeous hand made Lenz Sport Alpine Brawler, on sale, right here in the UK and at a knock down price to boot. If you haven't heard of Lenz Sport, where have you been for the last decade?
Already a well-respected manufacturer of high-end mountain bikes, Lenz Sport entered the ski bike market in 2004 after Devin Lenz, the owner of the company, traded two of his old mountain bike frames for some commercially made ski bike conversion kits.

The brand has been continuously evolving since then, most of the parts are manufactured in house to very high standards and Lenz Sport has become the benchmark against which many other brands are judged.

For Sale - Lenz Sport Alpine Brawler in Kawasaki green

This particular one is a large framed model, finished in a classic Kawasaki Green colour. It was purchased new directly from Devin Lenz a few years ago and for the owner it is a reluctant sale, he has had a lot of fun on it in the Alps, but now mostly skis with his kids.


Condition:

It is still in very good condition with just a few light scratches on the frame. There is some light rust on the ski edges, which will come right off once tuned up for next season and there is also a small hole in the seat cover (thanks to a rogue bungee hook).

For Sale - Lenz Sport Alpine Brawler


Specifications:
  • 8 inches of front travel with a Rockshox BoXXer Fork
  • 6 inches of rear travel
  • Lenz SECUREST chairlift managing system
  • Lenz precision machined ski mounting system
  • Long padded seat for comfort and protection
  • Fitted with “Monster” foot pegs for superior control 

Rockshox BoXXer - 8 inches of front travel

Collection:
 
Available for pick-up only in Headley, East Hampshire, UK which is about an hour from London down the A3, between Guildford and Petersfield.


Summary:

This is a premium specification skibike which retails at $3274 (over £2000) in the USA. Sterling may be strong against the Dollar currently, but nothing like this is currently available in the UK. Even if you can find similar items in the USA, don't be fooled by the price shown in Dollars. Once you have paid the courier costs (£75+), import duty (2.7% of value), VAT (20% of value) and sundry other "incidental" costs, the real price could be nearly doubled.

This Lenz Sport Alpine Brawler is right here in the UK, all ready for pick up, oh and don't assume it will still be here in January, the owner is considering taking it with him to Switzerland, don't let this rare opportunity slip away.

Lenz Sport Alpine Brawler - Securest™ chairlift system for easy loading

Contact:

Drop me a line through the contact form and I will make arrangements for inspection and payment.

As if you need any further inducement, here's a video of two Alpine Brawler skibikes, riding in Flaine, France, to whet your appetite...



UPDATES:

None so far

Oktoberfest surprise - 10% price reduction on ex-demo NISM skibike skiboards

Posted: Saturday, 4 October 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , ,
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Oktoberfest is a word that might not be in everyone's lexicon, so here's what the Wikipedia has to say about it:
Oktoberfest is the world's largest funfair held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a 16-day festival running from late September to the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often simply called Wiesn, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese) themselves. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modelled after the original Munich event.

To celebrate this year's Oktoberfest NISM have agreed to drop the price of our ex-demo NISM skibike skiboards by 10% for the whole of the month of October.

The price for the NISM 100cm "All Mountain" skibike skiboards is now £211.50 delivered (were £235)


And the price for smaller NISM 90cm "Park" skibike skiboards is now £198.00 delivered (were £220)


Come on UK skibikers, what are you waiting for?

NISM skibike specific skiboards - 10% off in October

For Sale - NISM 100cm Skibike Skiboards - £211.50

Posted: Monday, 4 August 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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I am in the position of being able to offer a pair of ex demo NISM 100cm Snow Bike specific skis for sale. Marketed by NISM skibikes as an "all-mountain" ski, particularly suited to downhill mountain bike to skibike conversions. They will excite those riders who want to lock into a carve and achieve wheel like stability whilst on edge. They are a great to ride in all soft snow conditions, especially off-piste, those riders who want speed to be their top priority will not be disappointed with theis design of skibike specific skis.
In rigorous testing, right here on this site, they proved themselves to be a capable ski design for all mountain use.

For sale NISM 100cm snow bike skis - for those riders who want to carve

If you have only ever come across SnowBlade™ type skis then these will come as somewhat of a shock; they are considerably wider, giving the impression of being half way point between a normal ski and the snow board type commonly only seen on SnowScoots. I shouldn't have to tell you that these are skis specifically designed for use on a skibike and not as something that goes on your feet. Every aspect of the design is geared towards giving you the sort of riding experience that simply cannot be obtained with regular short skis.

They are fitted with both the standard 40 X 40mm skiboard binding mount pattern, as used on many popular skibike adapter systems and also one suitable for owners of LenzSport skibikes.

For sale NISM 100cm snow bike skis - perfect fo skibike conversions

For their size these NISM skis are amazingly light, we incorrectly assumed that they were foam cored. In reality they are constructed from vertically laminated poplar with a double layer of fibreglass for added strength and a white urethane fill between the wood core and the outside of the ski to protect and waterproof.

NISM 100cm snow bike skis - not skinny "SnowBlade™" style skis

As testament to the extensive nature of our testing process, some light damage has occurred to the top sheet where it caught between the skibike frame and ski. If you are overly concerned about appearances and given the matt nature of the NISM graphics, I would be very tempted to lay on a few coats of paint to match your skibike's colour scheme and be done with.

Please remember these are not skinny "SnowBlade™" style skis, they are wide skibike specific ski boards. I have checked on eBay and elsewhere, nothing like these are currently available in the UK. Even if you can find similar items in the USA, don't be fooled by low prices shown in Dollars. Once you have paid the courier costs (£25+), import duty (2.7% of value), VAT (20% of value) and sundry other "incidental" costs, the real price could be nearly doubled.


Skibike spares are not exactly plentiful in the UK, stocks are limited to just this one pair and it is highly unlikely that further items will be available, so don't tarry if this is what you need for your skibike project.

The cost is £211.50 for the pair, inclusive of delivery to any UK address.

For Sale - NISM 90cm Skibike Skiboards - £198

Posted: Saturday, 2 August 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Unusually, I am in the position of being able to offer a pair of ex demo NISM 90cm Snow Bike specific skis for sale. Although marketed by NISM skibikes as a "park" ski, particularly suited to BMX skibike conversions, in rigorous testing right here on this site, they proved to be both testers favourite NISM ski design for all mountain use.
Nimble, light and stable they are an absolute joy to ride in all soft snow conditions, whether on or off piste. They earned our top commendations off-piste, by turning any gully into a natural half-pipe to be joyfully exploited to its full potential.

NISM 90cm snow bike skis - a joy to ride in all soft snow conditions

If you have only ever come across SnowBlade™ type skis then these will come as somewhat of a shock; they are considerably wider, giving the impression of being half way point between a normal ski and the snow board type commonly only seen on SnowScoots. I shouldn't have to tell you that these are skis specifically designed for use on a skibike and not as something that goes on your feet. Every aspect of the design is geared towards giving you the sort of riding experience that simply cannot be obtained with regular short skis.

They are fitted with both the standard 40 X 40mm skiboard binding mount pattern, as used on many popular skibike adapter systems and also one suitable for owners of LenzSport skibikes.

NISM 90cm snow bike skis - fitted with both common mounting patterns

For their size these NISM skis are amazingly light, we incorrectly assumed that they were foam cored. In reality they are constructed from vertically laminated poplar with a double layer of fibreglass for added strength and a white urethane fill between the wood core and the outside of the ski to protect and waterproof.

NISM 90cm snow bike skis - some light damage has occurred

As testament to the extensive nature of our testing process, some light damage has occurred to the top sheet where it caught between the skibike frame and ski. If you are overly concerned about appearances and given the matt nature of the NISM graphics, I would be very tempted to lay on a few coats of paint to match your skibike's colour scheme and be done with.

NISM 90cm snow bike skis -  stocks are limited to just this one pair

Please remember these are not skinny "SnowBlade™" style skis, they are wide skibike specific ski boards. I have checked on eBay and elsewhere, nothing like these are currently available in the UK. Even if you can find similar items in the USA, don't be fooled by low prices shown in Dollars. Once you have paid the courier costs (£25+), import duty (2.7% of value), VAT (20% of value) and sundry other "incidental" costs, the real price could be nearly doubled.




Skibike spares are not exactly plentiful in the UK, stocks are limited to just this one pair and it is highly unlikely that further items will be available, so don't tarry if this is what you need for your skibike project.

The cost is £198 for the pair, inclusive of delivery to any UK address.


Skibiker Skibike Blog Tour 2014 - Conclusion

Posted: Sunday, 6 April 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,
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So that's the 2014 Skibiker Skibike Blog Tour for 2014 all wrapped up and what a success it proved to be. It didn't kick off till the beginning of February, but from then on it was a roller coaster ride for the best part of eight glorious, action packed and thoroughly exhausting weeks.


Week 1 - Getting back on the horse

The first week was the toughest; in spite of plenty of cycling practice over the winter, it was still testing to switch from a soft office job to riding the mountains for the best part of six hours a day. I spent the first few days hammering myself into shape at my "local" resorts in the Jura mountains, such as La Dole, Le Crozet and La Faucille. It was supposed to be an easy week of warming up and settling in, but the weather made for a tricky time. There was more fresh snow than I would have though possible, it was just a shame that for most part you could only see for a few feet in front of you.

Great snow in February - but poor visibility

Sadly I only managed one day with Carl & Andy in Flaine and that was probably only a couple of hours skibike riding at the most. All too soon they were homeward bound and Mark Bayston had arrived in Morillon.


Week 2 - Anglo French

Mark Bayston rode my black skibike for the week and we had a couple of fun days riding together. It was a better week for him than last year - injury free - well almost, he pulled a muscle in his shoulder walking!
I also managed to get in some solo rides at, Praz de Lys, Combloux and La Dole all of which have remained skibike friendly. I finished the week with a visit to Firem for some website tweaking and a ride at Grand Bornand, including a chance to try out the new VS 614 model.

Firem VS614 - It will put a smile on your face



Week 3 - Riding with Wayne

Wayne Richards returned to France after many year's self imposed exile and together with wife Lucille we got in a good few rides at various places. There was a fun ride with Team Firem VS at Combloux on the Saturday, with Thierry Avrillon on the Sunday comparing three strangely similar skibikes and finally cruising round the Grand Massif on the Monday. There were issues using the Grand Vans chairlift at Flaine, till this is resolved it is Au Revoir to Flaine, my hard earned Euros will be spent skibiking elsewhere.


Wayne Richard skibiking in France - what is the World coming to?



Week 4 - Back to the grindstone

Both refreshed and exhausted, I jumped on a plane for London and spent a few days working on a medical conference, but I did ride my push bike 30 miles a day to stay in shape for the following week's Balkan adventure.


Week 5 - Watch out for the Avalanches

Another plane took me to the spectacular seaside town of Thessaloniki on the edge of the Macedonian highlands where I met up with Team Avalanche. Together we ventured into Bulgaria along with the Real Balkan Spy and I rode Bucephalus at both Bansko and Borovets. We unexpectedly met Clive and Eddie on their SledgeHammer skibikes and made plenty of MacGyver repairs whilst on the slopes. The mountains, weather and the snow were all about as good as you can get and the prices way below normal. But there was something sleazy about Bulgarian resorts that spoiled their potential charm. All too soon it was time to get that flight home and make another quick turn around.

Team Avalanche Downhill Skibikes - I preferred the pink one

 

Week 6 - Three Valleys

Back in Geneva, I re-packed the car for my first visit to the Three Valleys area in two decades and my first time on a skibike there. First I gave my skibikes a shakedown in the Jura mountains before driving down to Brides-les-Bains to establish a base camp and form an expedition advance party. I met up with new boy John Andree and Cédric Sabatte and we found that Courchevel was the place to be. Meribel was a disappointment for many reasons and Val Thorens remained cut off from easy skibike access. 

Ace skibiker John Andree - joined the tour in Courchevel


Week 7 - Skibike Swiss Rolls

Fresh from the Three Valleys and with my salopettes in tatters it was time to pack some fresh clothes and head to Leysin where Carl Day had established a base camp. We braved the technical and icy black run descents from Glacier 3000 and in vain sought out the last fresh powder in Gstaad.

No powder left at Zweisimmen

We further explored Leysin, hot lapping the mountain and gathering some of the best skibike footage of 2014.
There was still time to ride with Kevin Dawson in Avoriaz and the following day skied Morzine in the rain and found the perimeter area where skibikes are allowed.


Week 8 - To The Very Last Drop

I managed an outrageously decadent day trip to BullSkate and rode two of the prototype models for the 2014/15 season. 

BullSkate - prototype models for the 2014/15 season

After much waiting, the NISM skis finally arrived for assessment, just in time for the last few days of the tour. They were put immediately to use on my first visit to Valmorel with "Mr A", it was so good we turned it into a two day trip and since I've been told that we are welcome back next season, yay! We gave the NISM skis a thorough going over and they proved to be the ideal off-piste tool.
On the last riding day we made a back breaking ascent of La Tournette, I had to employ every technique I could use to get both myself and my skibike to the top.


So What Next?

I was sad to reach the end of the tour but also very happy that the even the most hap-hazard of plans all came together so well. Unlike any previous year, so many virtual friends joined in and became real ones and we all got to ride together on the slopes of Europe like no previous season. We had a few new riders jump on and join in the fun too and so many enquiries for information that I had to make a second batch of cards.

A few people and places got missed out, next year I must build in some visits to the skibike friendly resorts in Italy and also those of the Auverne and Vosges mountains in France. We can only hope that mother nature will provide the medium for sliding.

Many, many thanks to all who took part, if you haven't been name checked, it is accidental and not deliberate. If you have read this blog and want to join in next season, don't be shy, all it takes is money to make it happen.
 
Next season you could be skibiking here too - all it takes is money to make it happen

Skibike Italy - Kronplatz

Posted: Thursday, 3 April 2014 by Waynemarlow in Labels: , , ,
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Ladin Country, Sud Tyrol, Italy. Kronplatz a new venue for us.

As you travel around the European Alps you come across areas which seem to belong to another era and others that speak a dialect so strange that although you can recognise the core language, it's simply impossible to even begin to understand what anyone is trying to tell you.
From France, where the locals speak so fast that I have no chance of any decryption, to Austria and Saalbach, where there has been so much foreign influence that the German is simple and easy going, enough to grab a quick word or two. Onto Alpbach where the dialect is hard Austrian and finally to Ladin country, where the language is all of its own and spoken only by 20000 people in total. Hear Ladin in full flow, it’s nice to hear, but totally in a world of its own.
 
Kronplatz - wide open slopes

So to St Vigil, Sud Tyrol, Italy, Ladin Country, at the very head of a valley this lovely little town is a little gem if you want quiet and unsophisticated village life, it's bigger than you may imagine and is quite full of very high quality hotels ( check out Hotel Carmen a 3 star hotel punching well above its weight with its; 5 course meals, huge rooms, top wellness area and friendly staff, all for €78 a night, now if you want to impress the girls, lads !), small ski shops and better still, right on the edge of the Kronplatz ski area and with a 20 minute free bus ride, Alta Badia and the Sella Ronda the other way. The usual big church surrounded by a small number of shops and a limited number of bars and pizza style restaurant’s, typically Italian but with that Tyrol flavour. Got the picture, it’s nice, well worth a visit summer or winter. Do check out the local red wine, it’s stunning, available only locally and unfortunately not available in the UK, damn.

So what is the ski area of Kronplatz like for a skibiker? Well get your arses there and give it a go, if you are beginning to skibike and want a friendly easy area then you can’t go wrong; American boulevard skiing at its best, long blues and reds, all very flattering and carefully maintained. Black runs that are, well, tough reds in reality, are long and would be a challenge to the average skibiker, tough enough to test you but wide enough and with an escape route at the halfway points to let you off if needed.
Be careful of the St. Vigil side black run towards Piccolino, at the top it has a quite a steep pitch of about 200 metres, most skibikers would struggle, particularly in the mornings when it was very icy as we went down heading for the buses that would take us into the lifts of Alta Badia, which incidentally as far as I’m aware, are not skibike friendly.
 
So typical of the Dolomites

Add in all new bubble lifts everywhere, main line train stations built into the base of the lift system at Perche, a social après ski area at the base at Bruneck and loads of Tyrol style mountain restaurant’s, it’s quite a gem. Looking at the ski map it may look small, but the area is vast, some of the runs are over 8km long of 100m wide piste, real French 3 Valleys style, without the expense and vast numbers of people.

There are some downsides of course, the mountain is just like a big upturned ice cream cone with the lifts all ending at the top plateau ( where there is the Concordia 2000 peace bell,  one of the biggest active bells I have ever seen and well worth the wait at 12.00 o’clock to see it wind up and chime the requisite 12 chimes of noon ), its tree sparse at the top and the piste so wide that in poor weather it could be a problem. Equally because the piste are so wide and even, you find yourself thinking that you are skiing out the area quickly, although in reality you are just scratching the available area ( remember the Dolomite Superski of which Alta Badia is part of, is 1200kms of piste and over 400 lifts ) . Also because the pistes are wide, every available run is groomed and hence off piste is quite limited. Be careful also about when you want to visit, it’s quite a long way South and will close late March if Easter is late as per this year.
 
Concordia peace bell at the top of Kronplatz

All in all though a gem of a place for skibiking and well worth a visit.

NISM Ski Test - Less Is More

Posted: Monday, 31 March 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Introduction

The British can't help but love an underdog and in many ways NISM, based in the USA, are exactly that. Their approach to skibike related design is unconventional, in a market heavily biased towards a few big names, with a conservative attitude to skibikes. So I was very "chuffed" to be asked to give an opinion of the NISM brand skis and really wanted them to perform well. That said, I have always tried to be honest with my articles and if I rated something highly across the board, you would no doubt smell a rat and question my credibility.


About The Riders

I was to be one of the riders and my friend, who I shall simply refer to as Mr A, the other. Without wanting to cause offence, it might be worth noting that we most likely weigh less than the average American rider. I am probably just a smidgen below average weight for a European male of the same age, but Mr A is definitely in the Bantam class of rider. We have both been riding about the same amount of time, we enjoy all-mountain riding and cruising. We would generally keep out of the snow park and avoid icy black mogulled runs. Below are listed our vital statistics.

About the riders



About The Skibikes Used

For the test I would be riding a vintage Marin East Peak full suspension frame, fitted with Suntour XCR forks and a Fox coil spring rear shock. The skis were mounted to a pair of Russian made Ski-X-Bike adapters, which pay great "homage" to an earlier American design. The front adapter has been modified with a link to the fork's brake arch to limit the pitch of the ski when aggressively carving turns, the system was inspired by one of America's premium skibike brands and works admirably. This skibike is neither a race winner, nor an example of the state of the art of skibike design; but is a safe, user friendly and robust lightweight cruiser that covers many miles over the season without issues. Furthermore, it is very much the sort of skibike that many people will create in their sheds and garages for simple, low cost, winter fun.

Marin conversion - the sort of skibike that people build for low cost  fun

Mr A would be riding a totally self-built skibike from the ground up, but I'm not talking about something held together with bungies, blocks of wood and glue. He is a master of artisanal metalworking and the build quality is on par with anything made by the top manufacturers. The components are all top quality too, the front fork is a modified Canondale Leftie and the rear, a DT Swiss Air Shock. It should be noted that even though it has 130mm of suspension travel, it weighs just 9 Kg. The skibike is also fitted with a "Bear Claw" style rear brake, but it wasn't employed bar a couple of emergency situations, more about that later.

ATSB - a totally self-built skibike from the ground up


About The Riding

We had arranged to spend a day at Valmorel, a mid-sized resort in the Savoie region of France which proved to be very skibike friendly. You can read more about Valmorel here. We had so much fun on day one that we extended it into a two day trip and on the third day took the skibikes on a gruelling back mountain expedition at La Turnette. We covered all grades of run and off-piste that ranged from easy traverses, through gullies to some tricky big mountain steep sections. On piste the snow varied from; European icy hard snow, through firm to buttery and finally slush. Off-piste we encountered; frozen crust, through powder to heavy snow and slush. Before we continue, I should qualify what I mean by European icy snow, as I suspect it might be illegal to ride it in the U.S.A. If you have ever stayed in a low budget hotel or apartment and opened the refrigerator's ice box, the stuff that grows on the cold metal surfaces is a bit like European icy snow, only softer and more yielding. I hope you get the picture now.

We covered all grades of runs and off-piste in all types of snow conditions


The Test

As this was a new resort to us, we needed a couple of hours to scope the place out and work out a test circuit. We could then follow the same route after changing skis and baring the effects of the sun, we would be as scientific as was practicable. We found some nice easy cruising pistes that lead to some very interesting off piste bowls and gullies. With the route decided, we headed back to the van to fit the NISM skis to our skibikes.

We found some very interesting off piste bowls and gullies for the test

Mr A got first pick and chose the larger NISM skis, running them in the "correct" orientation, I did likewise with the smaller model and we eagerly headed towards the chairlift. At the top we mounted up and had an easy first descent on a blue (intermediate) grade run down to the next chairlift. My first moments of "ooh this feels weird" soon morphed into "wow this is fantastic". Within a minute I was throwing my skibike around like never before, in the soft snow it was almost too easy, I could head down the fall line and wag the tail around like an eager puppy or rock the handlebars and carve like a slalom champion.
Meanwhile Mr A was having a lot less fun than I. He too had discovered the skis superior carve quality, but then found himself getting locked in at ever increasing speeds unable to break free and drift to loose speed. I saw him rocket off-piste and tentatively followed in his wake, I eventually tracked him down. The girth of the skis meant that he couldn't use his braking system and he just had to let gravity establish an equilibrium.

With the route decided, we headed back to the van to fit the NISM skis

Our next uplift took us to some delightful off-piste we had discovered earlier and nick-named "The Mountains of the Moon", large dome shaped hills that lead into natural half-pipe gullies. For some reason we appeared to be the first to have discovered this area and set about leaving plenty of tracks to mark it out as our own. The little NISM skis ripped through the smooth, but crusty surface making a noise like tearing calico. The gullies were a hoot to play with, inviting you to go ever higher and faster on a roller-coaster ride from side to side. There were occasional obstacles, like rocks and streams to dodge and the little skis gave the impression you were on wheels and not boards. Mr A had dialled in a bit better by now, but was still finding the long skis somewhat ponderous and unwieldy in comparison to mine.

Exploring the "Mountains of the Moon"

We then played alongside a black run with the snow making sudden changes from fresh powder, to skied out crud, to heavy and back again in moments. The skis performed exceptionally well in such situations, unperturbed by the rapid change in quality. At will I could dive out of the rough stuff, wiggle around some small moguls on the piste and whiz back into the rough.

On our final descent back to base camp. Some sections of the piste were now shaded and the snow had re-frozen into icy hardness. This proved to be both NISM skis Achilles' Heel and for some sections all one could do, was make massive slide slips and just try to hold everything together till the snow became softer again. It only needed a centimetre of scrapings to achieve a bit of grip, but without it you didn't have a hope of any meaningful control.

The following morning we followed the same circuit, this time Mr A had reversed the orientation of his rear ski to see if it would improve its ability to skid. He was pleased to report some improvement but was keen for us to swap over skis so he could get his turn on the little ones that had delivered so much fun yesterday. With my grown up skis fitted, I soon began to appreciate why you so often see SnowScoot riders with pained expressions of grim determination heading tentatively down the icier runs. It wasn't impossible, just very, very difficult to stay in control and on more than one occasion I ran out of slope and found myself thrust off-piste. A novice skibiker could really make a mess of things, flailing around wildly, in such conditions.

Back on the safety of the soft snow, there were no such problems, with these NISM skis you hardly need a piste map. You just look at the mountain to plan a route, look for the base station of the nearest chair-lift and head for it. At the top you don't need a piste, you build your own as you go, pretty much wherever the snow lies.

Our final challenge of the day was a huge un-patrolled bowl area left completely as nature intended. One again these skis made it easy, although I still found it very difficult to turn quickly in the heavy snow and had to opt for lots of wide traverses. Finishing late in the day, in order to make it back to base camp we had to make a huge traverse to a high point for the final descent. Mr A pointed out that the glide quality of these skis was poor and we lost altitude in order to make them glide forwards and had to climb about 30 meters back up the hill to compensate.

On the last day we visited a natural back country area and climbed 1400 meters on snow shoes to make our descent. Every gram counts when you have to carry it on your back to the top of the mountain. In this respect the NISM skis were the ideal choice as they are very light. We knew by now how good they would be coping with all types of unprepared snow and they delivered admirably. There were some big bumps and tumbles and the skis took it all in their stride.

Every gram counts when you have to carry the skibike on your back


Our Verdict

Sat in Mr A's comfy Alpine chalet over a glass of Anisette, we set about grading both types of NISM skis ability for the variety of situations you might encounter with them. We both gave our appraisal as a score out of ten and the results presented are the average.

NISM ski test - the judges' verdict


Conclusion

Both Mr A and I both preferred the smaller 90cm NISM skis over the larger version. Very little in the way of performance was sacrificed with the small ski, but the fun factor was so much higher. You could stand on the pegs and flick the tail around, sit down and carve at silly angles or head into a half pipe eager to push ever harder and faster. The large skis felt ponderous at times and although a tad quicker, you tended not to use the extra performance because you lacked the assurance that you could speed check later with a quick tail slide.
We both agreed that the durability of the skis was something to cause concern, after a few days the graphics were wearing off in places and where they had touched parts of the frame or fittings, light damage had already occurred. Mr A is even more of an anorak than I and felt that the quality of the material used for the base material could be improved, compared to our regular skis they were more prone to collecting scratches. He also noted that the quality of glide was below par for skibike specific skis at this price point.
We both concurred that the smaller 90cm ski could be beefed up with perhaps; a wood core, better base material and cap sheet protection. Providing the price stayed the same, it would be a market winner and first choice for a novice skibiker or perhaps for a more experienced one looking for a fun tool for off-piste or wherever soft snow was in abundance. It is currently such a competitive market that you will have to weigh the pros and cons carefully. That said, going into those gullies with those diddy 90cm skis was something from another universe, with those babies less really is more.

Before this report was published I let Royce MacDaniel of NISM see the draft copy, here are his comments and observations.


I talked with the manufacturer and he informed me that the top sheet damage should just be cosmetic. They were trying a new method for graphics this year, which is a direct print on graphic. They are seeing, across the board on all the skis using this method, that the graphics are not holding up and will not use it on future ski orders. The scratches will not effect the skis longevity unless you have gouges. In spite of their low weight, the skis are wood cored not foam cored. They are vertically laminated poplar cored with double layer of fibreglass for strength. There is also an urethane layer for the sidewall all the way around, to protect the wood core. The skis both have a 20m shared sidecut between the front and rear ski. The skis also have a universal hole pattern including both a 40mm x 40mm pattern which fits most current ski bikes and kits. As well as a 50 mm x 100mm pattern that will fit a Lenz Sport without any adapter plates needed.