SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Time Off For Good Behaviour

Posted: Monday, 31 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Today was still balmy and warm with clear skies, up on the Jura mountains, my local snow gauge, it looks like the snow line is heading up to around to the peaks at 1300m or 4000 feet. In previous years it has been right down to the base about now. I saw some alto cirrus or mares tail clouds yesterday, often a sign that there is a change in the jet stream that powers the weather systems.
Much as I would still like to go out today, my hands are stiff, much aches and I have a fine display of fresh bruises to display, so I am giving my rattly old bones a chance to recover. The flat looks like a squatter hovel, so a little housekeeping is in order too. One benefit of the tidy up is that I have found my camera's USB lead, so I will be able to sort out some pictures for you.

Skibiking has been featured on evening prime time TV here, I have been promised a link so that I can see it, but for copyright reasons I won't be allowed to share it with you :-(
Furthermore, an English health magazine are to feature skibiking at Le Grand Bornand, although sadly not till autumn.

On our recent days trips it was interesting to see that the lifties are no longer freaked out by skibikes, let us ride alongside all the other sliders and allow us to demonstrate the best way of fitting onto the chairlifts. This is a massive improvement on the situation just two years ago when they insisted at one resort that it was just one skibike per chairlift. It is also interesting to see how other snow users no longer seem to give us as wide a berth, some cutting in dangerously close at times. For my part I have been riding over cautiously on the crowded slopes to avoid collisions, luckily I didn't have any, although I might have left some in my wake.

Have a Happy New Year SkiBikers there will be more to come in 2013.

SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Flaine Happy Days

Posted: Sunday, 30 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Today was the last skibike ride with Carl Day as he will be heading back to blighty tomorrow. We started the day playing a game of catch up as I worked my way round the lift network with Carl about 15 minutes behind me at every link.

The pistes were just as busy as yesterday so we tried to pick out the lesser used runs and head off piste to the many open snowfields still on offer. As the day wore on the snow softened and had a lovely buttery quality, but there was always the danger of hitting one of the scraped icy patches just under the surface. You could see the caterpillar tracks in them, not good. This area badly needs a cold snap and a fresh dump of snow or it will be a very short season.

The day offered some great last day highlights; watching Carl emerge from a pisted tunnel spectacularly sideways, then later seeing him drop off a ledge at speed, become fully airborne, then land it without crashing. To say that he is happy with his new Lenz Brawler would be an understatement. That he has progressed so far in under two weeks of freestyle skibike riding is exemplary.

Sad though I am to see him go, I can look forward to some food, rest and a good lie in tomorrow.

Heading back to Morillon - last run of the day

SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Flaine with Four

Posted: Saturday, 29 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

This morning I braved some brutally icy runs down to Les Carroz for my rendezvous with Carl, Serge and Thierry. The easy blue run was like one of those specially prepared slalom slopes. Luckily it was much better higher up on the sunlit peaks.

Serge Mermillod brought one of the new production versions of the Firem VS512, whilst Thierry riding some very neat skibikes of his own design and construction. One had utilised a Cannondale Lefty mono tube fork.

4 very different skibikes

My riding got some firm but fair assessment from the other skibikers:
Firstly, I now appear to be riding even slower than last year; true but I like control and accuracy not speed.
Secondly, I enjoy drifting much more than carving. Apparently I should be retro fitting my skibikes with Russian skis without any edges. Right ho lads, you got any for sale, let me at 'em.

As is traditional on a Gallic ride we had a simple but fine lunch, with crisp Haute Savoie wine from near Chambery and a selection of picnic munchies. Carl Day has now been converted and will be expecting this every day in future.

A superb blood red sunset over Flaine, worth missing the last lift home for

The enjoyment of the ride was somewhat ruined by huge queues for almost all the lifts. It seemed that the entire populations of France and England combined were in front of us at every occasion. Having to wait for 15-20 minutes with not so good natured jostling from all and sundry. I don't know whether the Grand Massif lift system had reached overload point, but it made me appreciate how lucky I have been in the past whilst skibiking in the off season.
The delays caused me to miss the last link back to Samoens, so I was force to divert to neighbouring Morillon and had a 3km night time walk through the woods back to the car, I'm so glad I don't ride a 20kg skibob now.

SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Flaine with Three

Posted: Friday, 28 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

After yesterday's soaking and a rare early night, I was up just after 5am to collect all my skibike stuff drying on every radiator in the flat. I then forced down two cups of coffee and some excellent Galette des Rois, a tasty almond flavoured cake traditionally served at Christmas, not dissimilar to the English Bakewell Tart.

Then to my surprise it was gone 7am and time to hit the road in order to get on the first lift from Morillon at 9am. There was quite a bottle neck trying to get over the hill to Les Carroz to meet Carl for our day's riding. Fortunately the weather had improved, but some of the pistes were boiler plate hard, good to practice that carving technique.

Once Carl and I had made our rendezvous we ventured over towards Flaine where the snow was considerably better and improved markedly as the day wore on. We both found a sweet spot where our riding became both fluid and rhythmic, got to keep some of that mojo going at all cost. We were able to meet up with the man who bought Carl's first skibike and had an impromptu coaching session with him.
We completely forgot the passage of time and had to make a mad dash back to our respective base camps before the mountain shut down for the night. I could have used a headlight on my skibike for the last run and wasn't back at the car till 6pm.

And tomorrow we ride, with Serge Mermillod and his friend Thierry and there will be four of us, which I think is a skibike first.

  A mad dash back to our respective base camps before the mountain shut down for the night

SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Flaine With Two

Posted: Thursday, 27 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

When I first discovered a passion for skiing, I surprised myself months later by having my first ski dream...
I had put my skis on at a Scottish, possibly English or even Welsh ski station (something I had never experienced at the time) and it was raining heavily from grey leaden skies. There was a Poma drag lift, with a narrow snake of Dendix dry slope material leading up a gloomy, heather covered and totally snow free hillside. "Don't worry mate" the cheerful liftie told me "It's snowing up on the mountain"...
Perhaps it was a metaphor for the afterlife, some old scab from a childhood filled with Catholic dogma, or perhaps it was prescient of what was to come many years later?

I had made made arrangements to meet with my number 1 skibiking buddy, Mr Carl Day. He was to be taking a short vacation in the attractive resort of Les Carroz, just over the hill from not so attractive Flaine. I drove out from Geneva to the linked resort of Morillon and arrived at base station in the pouring rain.
I have never been at a ski base station in rain before, not even in Scotland, wet snow perhaps, but rain never. The weather might have been damp, but my spirits were high, in fact the nervous anticipation had reduced my intestinal fortitude somewhat and I had to make an urgent toilet stop.

As it turned out Carl was equally excited and hadn't slept at all and with good reason too. He was about to make his very first runs on a Lenz Brawler, possibly one of the best freestyle skibikes money can buy, although my French buddy Serge Mermillod would disagree.

Our plan was to meet up and use the interconnecting links of the "Grand Massif" to visit Flaine and its wonderful high altitude monster descents. But unusually all the interconnecting links were shut by high winds, so we had to move to a sudden plan B.
I was still able to make my way over to Les Carroz from the Morillon sector and together we spent a happy, but very taxing few hours sliding about and crashing out on the sheltered tree lined runs above Les Carroz.
In spite of the conditions we soldiered on, Carl smashing part of his helmet during a spectacular high speed crash and both of us getting thoroughly soaked through in the grossly damp conditions. There wasn't even the opportunity to take photographs, it was too wet at the bottom of the hill and (wet) blizzard conditions at the top.

Skibiker Carl Day - bruised and battered

With sagely wisdom Carl called time around 3:30 in the afternoon, which was just as well. My return trip to Morillon was somewhat obtuse and took me the best part of an hour, in quite horrible conditions of; high winds, low visibility and poor light.

Uncharacteristically I returned to my car before the last lift had stopped running, it had been somewhat brutal for a first day of the season and the start of The SkiBiker SkiBike Blog Tour 2013.

SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Free Time

Posted: Wednesday, 26 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

I had some free time today, so have updated the "How to SkiBike" page. There's no way I could explain everything on a single page, but it should give anyone planning to try out skibiking a rough idea of what you should be learning. Some people learn skibiking very quickly and would find themselves doing the advanced techniques by the end of their first day.
Tomorrow I am heading out to Les Carroz to do some riding with Carl Day, it has been a while, I hope my body remembers what to do as well as my brain remembers me doing it.

SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Made It!

Posted: Tuesday, 25 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

Well I've made it to Geneva and I really had my doubts, arriving here at 15 minutes past midnight on Christmas Day. Why am I always caught out by last minute disasters that conspire to make for such a mad rush on the lead up to departure day?
On this occasion it was Uncle Fester my tired old Ford Fiesta who threw me a curved ball when one the wheel bearings seized up last week. Most galling was this was not down to neglect, but as a consequence of poor servicing technique on my part a month ago. So my precious pre-Christmas skibike building week was reduced to a mad scramble to source and fit more replacement parts. Exactly the very last thing I needed before a gruelling 700 mile journey across some tough and remote terrain.

Uncle Fester - travelling light in 2010

That sorted, I approached the assembly of a spare skibike with some gusto and blasted through it in a few days, transforming a pile of disparate bits into quite a tasty looking machine. There will be more on this subject soon, once I have had a chance to test it out, see how it behaves and draw some conclusions. Thanks to this manic output, for once I was waxing skis on the evening before the ferry and not the same morning.

I am beginning to think that Uncle Fester is a member of UKIP (a UK Euro Sceptic political party) as every time I hit foreign soil he throws a tantrum. Having crossed the channel, just past Brussels, I could hear a vague whirring noise from behind me. Sure enough once I had stopped and checked, the other wheel bearing was showing signs of a rapid demise. This was around mid-day on Christmas Eve and in continental Europe it is more important than Christmas Day itself. I stopped by a garage where the proprietor was still working and he confirmed that I was well and truly shafted.
I had a think and not wanting to spend all Christmas stuck in Brussels, I decided to keep going and see how far I could get. After all it was only another 450 miles to Geneva, what could go wrong? Keeping my speed below 50 mph the noise level was tolerable, although progress was painfully slow. By the time I reached Geneva the sound was akin to a Lancaster bomber on final approach, but defying my own risk estimate, I had made it to civilisation and a bed for the night.

Skibike Conversion Kit - Bike The Slopes!

Posted: Saturday, 8 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

A couple of days ago I had a message through from Charles "Chic" Tyson of  Bike The Slopes who wanted to let the World know that there is another option for diy skibike conversion kits.
On offer is a conversion kit priced at 199 Canadian Dollars, which certainly puts it on par with offerings from both the South side of the 49th parallel and also here in Europe. Furthermore, I have been able to confirm that this is no "coming this winter season" hype, the kits are on the shelf and ready to go.

So if there are any Canucks out there Jonesing for some skibike action straight away, consider yourself tipped off.

Mountain Bike - Tour Around London

Posted: Saturday, 1 December 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

With just a few weeks to go before the 2012-13 SkiBike Tour kicks off, this is no time to let my fitness levels fade. So an opportunity to meet up with pals from RetroBike and enjoy an extended ride around London was not to be missed. Best of all the planned route was my idea and I would be doing the guiding.

The ride should have been a week earlier, but we had to abandon the idea due to torrential rain and substantial wind. A week later the conditions couldn't have been more different. It was a dry but icy cold start to the day, whizzing down the hill to Purley Cross certainly woke me up and made me feel alive. A quick couple of miles warmed me up and got me to the meeting point for the start of the run.

East Croydon - 60s modernist architecture

East Croydon railway station, is a soulless spot, surrounded by the worst excesses of 60s modernist architecture. Luckily I soon found the Whatleymeister and Godders, grabbed a quick snap in front of the NLA tower and we were off for a pleasant run through South London's suburbs. Following a number of trails that follow disused railway lines and former industrial area reclaimed into parkland, Godders commented "who would have thought you could find all this in the middle of a city".
At Lewisham we headed up onto Blackheath and over to The Royal Observatory for a view of the vista over to Docklands. Then it was a flat out blast downhill to the Cutty Sark and a rendezvous with jonnyboy666 who had made his way from an overnight stay in Kilburn some 10 miles away.

View from The Royal Observatory

Next it was time to head down into the foot tunnel for the underwater route to the Isle of Dogs, as Whatleymeister pointed out, it was his first ever lift assisted RetroBike ride. Arriving at Island Gardens the sun briefly shone and we rapidly made our way towards Stratford and our 2nd rendezvous, this time with local boy Bike Man. He guided us around the perimeter of the former Olympics site, through Hakney Marshes and along the canals tow paths to Victoria Park. I generated considerable mirth from my fellow riders by using my painfully screechy front brake as a fog horn and clear a pathway through the many bimbling hipsters and sundry tourists.

By the Cutty Sark

Our next port of call was the Haggerston Park BMX track, an unexpected jem in an otherwise uninteresting area. We all had a go and as a novice I found it quite intimidating, but equally thrilling too. I learned the hard way that you don't use your brakes and would be tempted to go back, but maybe when there are no onlookers to watch my failures.

I had arranged a couple of prizes raided from my "conference freebee giveaway" cache, very Alan Partridge I know, so took the opportunity for a quick prize giving session, namely:

Farthest Distance Travelled To Attend - went to jonnyboy666 who had made the trip up all the way from Southampton.
The Riders' Choice RetroBike du Jour - went to Bike Man, who won by a whisker for having the most original and Retro of all the bike's present and boasting the ugliest forks too.

RetroBikes win prizes

It was now time to head for the centre of town, dodging buses and taxis for a photo stop at St. Paul's Cathedral. Godders found a puncture and deserves a prize for the fastest inner tube change in the West End.

Godders - fastest inner tube change in the West End

Then it was up the Strand, whizzing round Trafalgar Square in seconds flat and on to the final photo stop at Buckingham Palace. The queen was in, but didn't offer tea or scones, maybe next time?

Buckingham Palace - Tea with the Queen next time?

After this we bade farewell to jonnyboy666 who was heading back up to Kilburn whilst the rest of the party headed South to Vauxhall Cross. Outside the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Whatleymeister left to brave the delights of the South Circular for the short run to Clapham Junction, whilst Bike Man headed back East, which just left myself and Godders to make the trip back to Croydon.

Taking the scenic route; past the Oval Cricket Ground, through Loughborough Junction, Dulwich and on to the lung busting climb up to Crystal Palace, one of the highest spots anywhere in London. With only about another 15 minutes of riding left ahead of us we indulged in a swift pint and took in the view. The night was so crisp and frosty with phenomenal visibility, I believe we could see the radio tower on Wrotham Hill in Kent and the towers of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge at Dartford.

There was considerable post football chaos around Selhurst Park football ground, I began to wonder if the Croydon riots had resumed. A few nifty back street runs avoided the grid lock, got us back to Croydon and saw Godders off to catch his train with 2 minutes to spare.

Skibike Skis - New From NISM This Season

Posted: Sunday, 25 November 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

NISM have been building both skibikes and skibike components for the last 15 years and have taken the bold step of producing purpose made skis suitable for ski biking for the 2012-13 season. "No re-purposed ski blades here...these were made to run in line with each other instead of parallel" claims the NISM website.

NISM - No re-purposed ski blades here

What sets the new NISM Snow Bike Skis apart from normal skiboards is that they are asymmetrical, i.e. the tip is significantly wider than the tail. By using a front ski in the normal orientation and the rear ski back to front, you can create a shared sidecut profile between the front and back skis. This system enables both skis to work together as a single ski, claimed to give far better control and stability than any other system. Furthermore the NISM Snow Bike Skis feature a rockered base option to give quicker edge to edge response and a much larger sidecut radius than most skis of this length. The mounting hole pattern will work with most standard 40x40 and 50x100 mounts, used on the more well known skibikes. A robust construction is promised, intended to survive the hard landings and head on impacts known the break other brands.

NISM Snow Bike Skis are available for pre-order the first 25 customers will receive $100 off the regular price of $450 and a set have already been earmarked for extreme free style skibiker Raymond Georgsson, I know he will see that they are used to the limit of their performance envelope.

Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

Posted: Friday, 16 November 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , , ,

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a quotation often attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, the 19th century British Prime Minister. The source for this view is the autobiography of Mark Twain, where he makes that attribution.  The phrase is often used to describe the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments.

That aside, Randy Kimball from the American SkiBike Association released some interesting statistics this week, based upon their membership.
  • Average SkiBiker Age: 49 (range from 31-66 years old)
  • Average years these members have been SkiBiking: 9 years (1-39 years)
  • 59% were previous skiers/snowboarders with 4-45 years of skiing/snowboarding experience
  • 22% are still current skiers
  • 59% would not be able to ride on a ski hill without a SkiBike
  • Top 3 reasons they SkiBike and cannot ski or snowboard: Bad Knees, Age, Keep up with the children/grandchildren
  • Average days they SkiBiked last season: 18 (1-65 days)
  • 72% bring SkiBikers with them on ski trips
  • 50% bring Skiers with them on ski trips
  • 36% bring Snowboarders with them on ski trips
  • 77% are Male and 23% are Female
  • 59% average 3 or more days on a ski trip
  • 31% select slope side lodging
  • 69% select off slope lodging
  • 54% currently participate or want to participate in SkiBike race events
  • Top 3 states SkiBikers come from: Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma
If you are struggling to persuade your local ski resort to open access to skibikes, challenge predjudice or change the view that all skibikers are "Hell's Angels on skis", you may care to share these statistics with them.

SkiBikers somewhat below the average age (49)

News - SkiBike At Vail

Posted: Friday, 9 November 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

News just in from Devin Lenz, founder of Lenz Sport SkiBikes, Vail Colorado will grant access to skibikes in the forthcoming 2012/13 ski season. Not only is Vail a premier ski resort, Vail Resorts also own; Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.

Does this mean that skibiking has become respectable or is it just a cynical ploy to boost ticket sales in a faltering economy? For the moment, who cares, it's time to get your skibikes out there and have some fun this season.

In case you have never heard of Vail, PowderHounds have the following to say:

When one thinks about the legendary ski resorts around the world, a number immediately spring to mind. Vail is definitely one of those. Resorts don’t reach legendary status without good reason. Vail has it all - massive and varied terrain, a huge modern and efficient lift system, great vertical, tons of snow, classic après, vibrant nightlife and a booming “village” (, with all the services one would expect from a mega resort. Vail is the quintessential world class ski resort that many others try to imitate.

Vail is BIG and pretty much has something for everyone. If you want to ski cruisers all day - you can do it. If you want some in-bounds back country style skiing and then cook a steak on a BBQ at 3,527m elevation – you can. If you expect powder - it will happen. If you want to ski steep trees and moguls or jump off cornices - guess what - it’s there. If you want to eat at five star restaurants and shop in fur boutiques, or just get a roll from Subway - you can do that too. If you want to economise and shop at Safeway to cook in your self-contained accommodation, go right ahead.... read more here

Epic Moms at Vail - source

Sold - BullSkate Pre-Season Discounts

Posted: Friday, 2 November 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

BullSkate freestyle snowbikes have announced second hand skibikes for sale at knockout prices prior to the 2012-13 ski season.
The offer is a skibike for just $990 (£618 or €771- at current exchange rates).

The BullSkate snowbike website claims:

The frame is handmade in Taiwan, is powder coated and has an advanced downhill geometry. The rear damper includes rebound adjustment and allows for 154mm travel. For the front suspension we decided on the RST R1 double bridge downhill fork with 180mm of travel. With these two components the rider is assured of a comfortable and safe ride in any conditions while standing or seated and is able to rip in the park and absorb most obstacles on the slopes.
I rode BullSkate SnowBikes in early 2012 and found them to be a strong, plush and stable ride, well suited to both on and off piste riding. They would be of particular interest to any skibiker wanting to perform freestyle jumps and tricks or head into rougher, back mountain type terrain.
The only downside of the design, is that they are quite weighty, which might put off smaller, lighter or less physical riders.
If you are tempted, don't delay, the sale ends soon.

BullSkate freestyle snowbike sale - $990

Mountain Bike - Riding Oxleas Wood

Posted: Tuesday, 30 October 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

A change of plan last week meant that I took my godson on an epic ride (he's 11, so such things are relative) around the Shooters Hill area today in the suburbs of South East London. My ride was a restored Marin Muirwoods all terrain bike from the very early 1990s, a rigid bike with a steel frame. It's heavy, but dependable and perfect for a good yomp through the woods.

Marin Muirwoods - perfect for a good yomp through the woods.

The surprisingly enjoyable sections were through Oxleas Wood where it has been raining on and off for most of the last month. So it was a bit muddy in places, with some rooty climbs and plenty of squelchy leaves, however other sections were very quick and dry.

Part of the Green Chain Walk runs through Oxleas Wood

Oxleas Wood had plenty of trails ranging from wide avenues right down to narrow fox runs through the brambles. Technically, these are probably footpaths, but no one seemed to object and there were plenty of other wheel tracks dotted about.

The little tyke positively threw himself along the downhill sections with outrageous tail slides, I would love to get him on a skibike, maybe in a few years time.

Mountain Bike - Tour de Cake

Posted: Saturday, 20 October 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

This might be about skibikes, but I still like to keep the "bike" in skibiking very much alive. Normally this consists of many dreary commuting miles between my home in the suburbs and work based in the centre of London. Occasionally though something special happens, certainly the 1000 miles I racked up whilst working at the Olympics/Paralympics this summer will be with me to the end.

I also love to get in a few true recreational rides during the year, where the only goal is to soak up the sheer visceral pleasure to be gained from consuming miles of terrain, with nothing more than the breeze and the changing scenery to fill your consciousness.
For a city dweller, based in one of the most over inhabited corners of the planet, such trips are not only good for the body, but also for the soul.

The weather is almost unimportant, which was just as well, as the forecast looked distinctly iffy as I left for the train station, expecting autumnal gloom at best, heavy showers and torrential downpours at worst. I was heading for Purley train station and the brisk 40 mile train journey to Brighton on the English South Coast to join the local RetroBike riders for the amusingly named "Tour de Cake // Concourse du Café 2012". This was to be the second time I had been on this event; a genteel ride along the promenade from Shoreham on Sea to Rottingdean and back. With much admiration of an eclectic mix of obsolete bikes and the consumption of stupid quantities of tea and cake.

SkiBiker - immune to the temptations of cake

For my part I managed to get in plenty coffees en route, but was oddly not hungry, in spite of a missed breakfast, I seemed immune to the temptations of cake and only remembered I had two delicious Braeburn apples with me on the train journey home.

My poor appetite however didn't affect the boundless energy I seemed to possess. Apparently, I am "pretty fit (for an old bloke)" and "pretty fast for someone who doesn't wear a helmet" hmmm, I think there was a compliment in there somewhere!

Tour de Cake - An eclectic mix of obsolete bikes

The Latest UK Skibiker Heading To France

Posted: Thursday, 18 October 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

News just in from Al Wallace who is putting a skibike together for a trip to La Plagne in February 2013. I haven't heard anyone using La Plagne for skibiking yet, but according to my records, in 2009 they confirmed that they allow SkiBikes and SnowScoots providing you wear a safety leash.

This is what has to say about the resort:
The ski resort is one of the largest in the world and great for family ski holidays and group skiing holidays. The Vanoise Express cable car links the resort via les Coches and Plan Peisey in Les Arcs creating the combined ski area, Paradiski.
La Plagne itself is well known as a beginners’ and intermediates’ paradise. There is a huge number of easily accessible nursery slopes and miles of motorway pistes. The whole ski area is served by a massive inter-linking lift system. A network of snow-making machines covers many of the lower slopes as well as some higher altitude pistes.
Good luck Al, and don't forget the new moto for this blog "imagines aut nunquam accidit" - pics or it never happened!

La Plagne - well known as a beginners’ and intermediates’ paradise

Sold - Porsche 212 Design Arova Skibob

Posted: Wednesday, 10 October 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

Anyone who has waited for a bus knows the routine: you wait far longer than you should, then three come along at once, this seems to be the case with the current crop of classic Porsche skibobs coming up for sale.
Noel, from Pennsylvania USA, is the latest person trying to find a new home for a Porsche 212.
The current tally is 3 people with no fewer than 4 Porsche 212 ski bobs to sell between them. They are located in California, Pennsylvania and Ohio respectively.

Skibiker Duane Mullins, suggested another interesting alternative use for one of these collectibles; by using the body as a beer cooler.

Lastly, if you need to contact me, please make sure to include your e-mail address in the body of your message.

Sold - Porsche 212 Design Arova Skibobs

Posted: Sunday, 7 October 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

Chris, mailed me a while back as he spotted this article here on the Skibiker SkiBike Blog, whilst doing a search for ski bobs.  He is based in California, USA and has a couple Porsche Design Arova Ski Bobs for sale.

It is going to break his heart to part with them, but the harsh reality is that he's getting married and needs the cash. To the right are some photos of the skibobs in question.

Should they take your fancy and you would like to have one for your skibike collection, as a period accesory for a classic Porsche sports car or as a curious "conversation piece" to put in the den, please get in touch.
You can leave a comment below, or use the new Contact Page to send me an e-mail and I will make sure that Chris gets it.

Just in case you have never heard of the Porsche 212, here is some background with thanks to

For those of us who’ve always thought that the 912 or the 914 were some of the most unheralded members of the Porsche family, say hello to the 212 Skibob.

This small and collapsible skibob (basically a bike for the slopes) was built through collaboration by the Arvoa Company and Porsche design. Made in limited quantities for enthusiasts, the Porsche sled features a rather sophisticated setup (you know, for a skibob) of front and rear shock strut suspension. It’s also able to break apart, with the ski components stored inside of the hollow fiberglass body. Maybe most incredibly, despite its slight build, the 212 is made to carry two riders.



Limited production from 1970 and first announced in the February, 1970 PORSCHE CHRISTOPHORUS Magazine.

PORSCHE DESIGN in collaboration with the AROVA Company ventured into producing a limited supply of this revolutionary and patented snow glider. It was unique for it's time in several respects. It has both front and rear shock strut suspension. It also can be assembled from components contained within the hollow body in about 1 minute. The padded seat is able to hold two passengers.


Weight - 30 Lbs.
Length, folded - 44 inches.
Height, folded – 15 inches
Width – 5.5 inches.
Suspension – aluminum with angled shock-struts.
Body – Molded polyfoam, hollow for components storage.
Assemble time, est.- 1 + minute.
Other – 2 clamp-on shoe ski's.

Brighton to Eastbourne - South Downs Way

Posted: Saturday, 29 September 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

When not in skibiking mode I like to get in plenty of good old fashioned cycling, usually this takes the place of many miles of urban riding just trying to get to work and back in one piece.

But as an incorrigible escapist I am always on the hunt for bike adventure, no matter how small. When I spotted that one of the gents on the excellent RetroBike forum was planning a special birthday celebration ride from Brighton to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way, I committed to joining up immediately.

For those who don't know, the 160 kilometre long South Downs Way follows the old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the English South Downs. The route provides the visitor with the opportunity "to get away from it all" without having to travel too far in this busy part of England. The undulating route not only provides a wonderful trip for long distance riders but also provides interesting day trips and short breaks.

The South Downs Way

In the last decade I have covered many miles on road, canal tow paths and gravel trails, but apart from a few days in Gran Canaria in 2000 my experience of off-road riding is limited. Furthermore, my steed for the journey, was not to be a modern "all mountain" bike, but a traditional, rigid framed, 1991 Marin Muirwoods. A strong, heavy and hopefully dependable machine that I had assembled over the last couple of years for just this type of recreational riding.

1991 Marin Muirwoods - strong, heavy and dependable

I had my doubts about whether I would be up to the physical challenge. I knew from the recent months, that I can manage 40 miles a day, for weeks on end if necessary. But also appreciated, that there is a big difference between flat cycle commuting and proper grown up trail riding. Rather than loose any sleep over this dilemma, I chose to take a fatalistic attitude, I would find out on the day.

On the morning of the ride I heaved my bike into the boot of "Uncle Fester" the tired old Ford Fiesta and headed due South to the Devil's Dyke, located on the hills overlooking the South Coast above Brighton and Hove.
I arrived first, assembled my bike in glorious early morning sunlight and waited for my fellow RetroBikers to arrive. Before long we were off and I was able to get my first taste of riding on chalk. I thought that chalk being porous would provide a stable, dry surface all year round, I couldn't have been more wrong, in many places it was as slippery as ice.
Apparently, it gets worse in the winter, the porous chalk oozes excess moisture which freezes overnight. I realised there's more to this mountain biking than I had given it credit for,skibiking is easy by comparison, skis are designed to drift on slippery surfaces, tyres aren't. I found myself plunged into hedges more than once.

A few miles further on at Ditchling on a particularly bumpy section there was a loud crack, fortunately it wasn't my spine, but the saddle bolt had sheared off. I would have been ready to give up at this point and walk back, but some first class jury rigging by my companions saw the saddle rails tied to the top tube.
They suggested we ride on with a detour to the small town of Lewes, where I would find a bike shop and maybe a spare bolt. I rode the following 4 miles solely on the pegs BMX style, necessity is the mother of invention and fortunately, not as tiring as I was expecting.

Some first class jury rigging by the RetroBikers

At Lewes we located Lewes Cycleshack, tucked away inside a branch of the sports shop InterEurope. A few words with the workshop staff and a quick scrap bin rummage sourced a replacement bolt and top clamp piece. The resulting combo cobbled together was not totally secure, but at least something I could put my bodyweight on and not risk accidental impalement.

We still had two thirds of the route left to go and the real pain was about to begin, impossibly it seemed to be uphill all the way. I soon began to appreciate what a "technical climb" meant; trying to ride in granny gear up steep, narrow, brick and rock strewn lanes was horrid, in many places it was quicker to get off and walk. Irritatingly the oldest member and quickest ascending member of the group was riding single speed!

South Downs Way - lovely vistas

After a refreshment break for tea and scones at Alfriston village it was time for the final punishing climb, after which it was level all the way to the outskirts of Eastbourne. The ride down from Beachy Head was the thrill of the day, with my weight as far back as possible, lots of back brake, rear tyre locking up and skidding about, vision blurred and still gaining speed.

Scones for tea

True men ride the same route back to Brighton, some do the whole South Downs Way in a single day, there are even god like creatures reported to have done the entire route both ways in a single hit. But for us the journey was done and the train would take us back to Brighton.
Back in Brighton I said good bye to the boys thinking the ride was over, how wrong could I be, I had another 5 miles to go to get back to the car and uphill too.

On wobbly legs I made the ride up to the A27 trunk road followed by a periloius ride along it to find the route back up to the car park on the Devil's Dyke. It was actually a lovely, quiet ride under a full moon for the last couple of miles, did you know that cows still eat during the night?
 I plonked the Marin in the boot of the car and made the quick 45 minute drive home, it was time for a well deserved beer.

Some do the whole South Downs Way in a single day!

Autumn Cleaning

Posted: Sunday, 16 September 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

"Autumn clean", no it just doesn't have the same ring to it as "Spring clean", but that's what I've been up to for the past few days. I have started to transfer almost all of the information stored at over to this blog to be archived as static web pages. I thought that this would be a few hours work, but as ever, it took much longer than expected as I realised some of the information could really do with updating and reformatting too.

So what are the changes?

Below the new and prettier header section, you will find links that should help answer 99% of the questions any skibiker newbie might ask, such as; "FAQs", "Where to SkiBike?", "How to SkiBike", "(How to) Build a SkiBike" or (Where to) "Buy a SkiBike".

There is now a contact page, with a proper mail form, any questions still left unanswered can be mailed to me, whilst avoiding having my email address available to the spammers.

I have also updated the lists of skibike manufacturers and skibike conversion kit suppliers, there should be a few new names yet to be added over the following weeks too.

I spent quite a while pouring over the list of skibike friendly resorts and have now given the countries with a lot of potential skibiking holiday destinations, such as; Austria and France their own individual pages. The list is very European centric currently, but I have pages for Canada and the USA waiting in the wings, which will need populating with information. I will harvest some information from the net, but there is nothing like a verified account from a local skibiker. I know that a fair share of the readership of this blog are from the USA and Canada, so please send the names of your local skibike friendly haunts for inclusion.

I have created a page for real world skibike clubs, there are only 3 national clubs that I know of, which cover, France, Great Britain and the USA. There is also a page listing skibike social networking sites, such as Facebook and discussion forums.

Lastly, as so many of the readership do not have English as their mother tongue, I have included a translation widget for their use.

Skibike Tour 2012-13 - Join Me For A Weeks Riding

Posted: Monday, 16 July 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

I have had an idea for a skibike touring holiday bubbling around in my head for the last couple of years, I imagined something very different to the typical package ski holiday. On my perfect skibike holiday you would visit not just one, but many resorts, without the need to ever ride the same run twice, unless you particularly wanted to. You would cover huge distances and see so much varied terrain, from mighty high peaks, down to gentle wooded valleys. Riding skibikes, one wouldn't get burned out in the way a skier or snowboarder would. Returning home at the end of the week, you could recite a list of of the places you visited, listeners would think you had spent a whole season away, rather than a mere week.

My ideal location would be somewhere in or close to the Portes du Soleil, 12 resorts spanning France and Switzerland and the largest international ski area in the world. It has an enormous variety of slopes both around the treeline and above. There are gentle, wide open runs for beginners, endless intermediate terrain and for advanced skiers, there are demanding bump runs, plus a huge choice of easily accessible off piste and many hidden gems.

Stunning views - source Haig Ski

A possible itinerary for the week might be something like this:

Sunday - Easy Riding for early bird arrivals at Lelex/Crozet, Monts Jura
Monday - Cruising and Novice Lessons at Grand Bornand, Aravis
Tuesday - Wide Blues and Fast Reds at Les Contamines and Hauteluce, Mont Blanc
Wednesday - Big Verticals at Avoriaz, Portes du Soleil
Thursday - Eating up the Miles at Samoens, Les Carroz and Flaine, Grand Massif
Friday - Heading off the Beaten Track at Praz de Lys and Sommand Taninges
Saturday - Comfortably Numb at Morzine or Combloux
Sunday - Last ride before the flight home at Les Haberes or La Chapelle d'Abondance

My ideal accommodation would be a cosy mountain chalet that offered breakfast in the morning, a slice of cake or two in the late afternoon and a hearty meal with wine in the evening. A secluded natural location with stunning views would be a bonus. It would need to be located roughly an hour from Geneva airport.

Cosy mountain chalet - source Haig Ski
Needless to say, transport would be necessary to get everyone around, a mini bus with a trailer for the skibikes would be the ideal vehicle. It would need to be available for transfers to and from Geneva airport.

Much research has lead me to Haig Ski who offer; half-board chalet accommodation, transport and guiding throughout the Portes du Soleil and environs. Based at the quiet village of Le Biot, they are just 80 minutes from the airport.

The proposed date for the first ever skibike touring week is Sunday 6th to Sunday 13th January 2013. This period leaves Christmas and New Year free for your familly activities. It is a great time of year to be on the slopes; there is little in the way of crowds or queues, the lift operators aren't stressed out and good snow is as near to guaranteed as is possible. The Portes du Soleil - Doors of the Sun often live up to their name, whilst better know resorts shiver, this area often experiences mild clement days in between fresh dumps of the white stuff.

Avoriaz in 2010 - clement December weather, read more here
Whilst costs are anticipated to be higher than a "High Street" package, direct comparison is unfair. On offer is a unique customised skibike centric holiday, in one of the World's finest winter playgrounds. As far as I know, something never available before. A breakdown of the anticipated costs would be:

Half Board Accommodation Cost - £450
Touring Transport Supplement - £40
Transfers to / from Geneva Airport - To Be Confirmed
Budget Flights from UK to Geneva - £150 (Easy Jet LGW to GVA, with 20kg baggage plus a "bike" carried as sports equipment.
SkiBike Guiding - Included
Lift Passes - estimated at £210
Lunches, drinks & miscellaneous sundry items - estimated at £150
Optional SkiBike Hire - To Be Confirmed
Optional SkiBike Tuition - ESF skibike teacher available

If you bring your own skibike, don't require lessons and don't intend to paint the town red every night, you would be looking at a budget of just under £1000. Remember, this is a fair estimate of your final cost, including all the hidden items that the glossy sales brochures omit to mention.
Prices have been calculated in Pounds Sterling, to convert to Euros or other currencies here is a handy on-line calculator.

I have 6 skibikers who have already expressed an interest in joining this tour, if they all commit, this would leave only 1 space free, so if the idea of a skibike touring week appeals to you and you would like to join, please contact me as soon as possible.

Skibike touring in 2012 - read more here
Lastly, in the interest of fairness there are a few caveats to consider.

Accommodation costs are based on 2 people sharing a room.

There can never be a true guarantee of snow, but this area has a consistently good snow fall record and a micro climate influenced by its proximity to the Mont Blanc, which means "White Mountain" owing to its permanent snow cover, it is the highest mountain in Europe.

Resorts can be notorious fickle with regard to skibike access, it may be necessary to change plans at short notice to concentrate on skibike friendly resorts. Rest assured that I will be in the area in the weeks preceding the tour and will be able to verify what is practicable.

In order to take your skibike on a chairlift it will need to have an "AVEL" sticker; as of the 2011-12 season, these were available for some of the models produced by the following skibike manufacturers; Brenter, FiremVS, SnowScoot and Winter X Bike. If you are planning on bringing a skibike that doesn't have an AVEL sticker please contact me for further information.

Exchange rates vary, therefore the final cost of your trip may rise or fall substantially.

Skibike Chairlift Carrier - Skibike & SnowScoot Compatible

Posted: Monday, 11 June 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , , ,

Meanwhile in France... Firem have been testing out their retrofit chairlift skibike carrier for compatibility with the ever popular SnowScoot. They manufacture a hook/clamp combination which easily mounts to the chassis of a chairlift, I saw and rode the prototype in action during the 2011-12 season at Grand Bornand in France see here.
On the prototype system, the lift operators did the hard work of loading and unloading skibikes. At the time, there were only 3 brackets on the chain of 100 or so chairs. As a skibiker you had to wait to one side, then get quickly into place as the special chairs came round. The prototype chairlift ran up to some easy green and blue runs and provided a very safe environment for novices to learn Freestyle SkiBiking (myself included).
Once they had gained in experience and confidence, they were able to move to more demanding terrain. From what I gathered at the time, Grand Bornand were aiming to expand into Downhill Mountain Biking uplift for the summer season and making chairlift brackets a permanent feature.

SkiBike and SnowScoot chairlift carrier system - from Firem

Other resorts nearby, have hooks on the back of the chairlift frame to mount your MTB on the chairlift in front of you. Typically they take these off in the winter season to avoid risking clumsy skiers impaling themselves on them.  The beauty of the Firem system is that the skibike stays to the side of the chairlift and doesn't interfere with other snow users, nor does the lift need to slow down for loading. If Firem are testing them now, it bodes well, at least for the Alps in the 2013 season and potentially as research data for elsewhere.

DIY SkiBike Design Part 5 - By Wayne Richards

Posted: Saturday, 2 June 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

In this latest article, Wayne Richards, takes all the design considerations for building a DIY skibike and looks at what parts are on the market to build one.

OK we have looked at basic requirements, such as frame desirables, frame head angle, skis and a bit of advice about only building a ski bike if you think you can build it less than 10 kilos, with clearance over the rear swinging arm for the chairlift. Already a lot of you are saying “nah can’t be done, the manufacturer’s bikes are heavier than that and not all have clearance”. Spend your dollars, build that “clunker” and you will be disappointed, can’t say any more than that.

Shall we move on then to those who are prepared to be modern, use good design and end up with a 2012 model ski bike, it’s not difficult, you just need to pre-plan and think things through a bit.

Frames: really really think what donor frame you are going to use, it is the starting point for all the other bits and pieces. Think what you want to do on your ski bike and relate it to good Mtb build practice, if you want to jump and do tricks then get a more durable and tough frame, long cruising all day frame, think Enduro or XCountry frame, on piste cruiser, you can get away with a very light weight frame with 100mm or less rear suspension. Pick a good brand with a good quality rear shock, you may pay a few dollars more, but you will end up with an asset that can be resold.

Specialised Comp XC - an ideal candidate

A Specialised Comp XC would be an ideal candidate. The Saracen Raw, a cheap version with not such a good shock, but tough, well built and more importantly, with the downhill style forward of centre pivot I favour. On Ebay complete bikes are under £ 100.00 sometimes.

Saracen Raw - cheap but tough and well built

Another way to think about things is ask yourself if you would enjoy riding that bike when built up as a MTB, if not then why would you build it into a ski bike. The way we ride ski bikes is not un-similar to Mtbs, we just have skis instead of wheels.

Not all frames are suitable, even some of the more high end frames. Have a look at the Kona Coiler frame, high end well regarded Mtb frame, but as a ski bike, mmm you can see what I am getting at, those big sticky out things at the back, just ready to get caught on the base of the chairlift.

Kona - a great frame, shame about those big sticky out things

So pick a good frame with care, your local supermarket special just may do you ski bike career more harm than good. Do your research and look at the frame weights, if you are going to get into a porky frame, its going to be pretty tough to reduce all the other components weight to compensate.

Next thing to consider is front forks. I am sort of starting to side that 100mm is more than enough for most purposes on a ski bike, we just don’t have the drop offs in snow that we do in Mtb-ing. When we do drop off it tends to be onto a sloped run off where the slope dissipates most of the impact. So why do we need long travel. Well we need long travel ( more than 100mm ) to push the nose higher to increase the head angle ( think more stable steering feel ) and to give better clearance under the pegs. If possible buy a fork that has had the steerer tube uncut, put the spacers under the bottom bearing rather than above to push the nose up higher. Do make sure the spacer will locate the bearing properly though, some spacers will, others won’t.

I feel also that we can have the front travel much stiffer than we normally do in Mtbing, most bumps and jumps are pretty smooth and not sharp faced as per a rocky ledge or step, skiers without suspenders on go across these little undulations all day long. What’s good, unfortunately with suspension forks what you tend to pay for is what you get. Again check out the likes of eBay for second hand stuff that somebody's trading off, there are bargains to be had. Marzocchi Marathons at 1.5 kilos 100mm travel, stunning.

Check here before you buy anything though as to regards weights. Get above 1.6kilos for a front fork and you really have to think I can do better.

Ancillaries such as seats, seat posts, handlebars, pegs, you can so wrong so quickly as far as weights go. Do your research and use your budget wisely. Do you really need a big thick gel padded seat if you peg all the time. On a recent trip, one of the bikes seat pin broke. We took my seat off ( I peg ) and I rode without a seat for the whole day, didn’t really notice it missing to be honest. So fit the minimum weight your budget will allow without any recourse to comfort if you are a freestyler. If you ride easy rider style than a well padded seat is essential, don’t worry about the bit extra weight, just don’t have that extra two pints of beer on the way home.

Well that’s enough for the moment, but I can’t stress enough that there are some fundamental things to be aware of before converting a Mtb frame to a skibike. Minimum weight is just so important, clearance for the chairlift, design nouse to get the right peg height, design nouse pre-planning to be done guys and girls, get it right and you yourself will not only benefit, but the whole sport will benefit with you show casing your bike. Get it wrong and you will probably alienate the lift company who may ban all bikes.

Looking for parts to build a skibike? Or perhaps one ready to ride away? See our Parts For Sale page here.

Skibiker On A Covert Mission - Sneaky!

Posted: Thursday, 31 May 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

Today I had an undercover and quite thoroughly sneaky skibike session at SnoZone in Milton Keynes. It is an indoor snow slope only 100m long and with about 30m of vertical, but the joy is perfect conditions the whole year round. It is also the only indoor centre, so far, that doesn't have issue with experienced skibikers turning up and riding skibikes right in and amoungst all the other snow users.

I aim to get along every other month during the off season in an attempt to retain my frail skibike mojo. The great news, for me, was that the session went very well, I still had my mojo from the 1st run on, I felt as if I could have done the descent with my eyes closed, mostly standing, plus a couple of seated runs, with hockey stops, side slipping, short radius turns with tail swishing, etc.

The main thing I still found awkward was using the Poma drag lift. I am getting a bit tired of this and I want to investigate a skibike towing device using the same type of quick release snap shackle that the sit skiers use. If I can perfect the design indoors, I can see it being invaluable for both teaching purposes and those places that don't have chairlifts, Scotland springs to mind immediately.

Interestingly snap shackles are used in so many disparate sports and activities; sailing, climbing, kite surfing, dog sledding, horse riding. I will investigate further which size is appropriate for the job through Disability Snow Sport  and hopefully have a working prototype ready before my next visit.

Quick release snap shackle - used in many sports

Sold - Porsche 212 Arova Skibob

Posted: Sunday, 27 May 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I had a different type of unsolicited mail the other day, which makes a change from laser eye surgery and car leasing. Tom Fortner from Monroe Michigan, (just above Toledo Ohio) has an unusual Porsche 212 skibob to move on.
Note that these images are not of the item on offer and are for illustrative purposes only.

I can't find out too much about this model, possibly it was more of a promotional item than a serious tool and I can't imagine the ride would be a patch on even the cheapest of DIY skibikes. However, riding merits aside, is still the ultimate James Bond gadget, in a very 70s way.
I can just see Roger Moore stepping into the cable car in his dinner jacket with the suitcase under his arm. At the top he pops on his footskis, assembles the skibob and is off to fight to the death with baddies, before entertaining a babe for the night "More Champagne Darling?"

I have already passed someone his way who was very interested, but you never know. So if you fancy having this curious item in your collection drop me a line or leave a comment and I'll put you in touch with Tom.

Lost In Translation - Le "Doigt D'indexage"

Posted: Wednesday, 23 May 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

Things are afoot at French skibike manufacturer Firem, I've been tasked to translate the Operating Instructions, Safety & Maintenance Notes leaflet for their all new VS512 model due to reach the end of the production line in the next couple of weeks.

My school boy French often fails me though, it has taken 30 years to realise that I should have listened to my mother, turned off the television and done my homework. But what she didn't know back then, was that here in the future we have every bluffers own dynamic duo super-heroes, namely; the Internet and Google Translate.
These provided me with a translation of "doigt d'indexage" well sort of anyway, but I really needed to be sure and queried Serge from Firem. He came up with this alternative, "goupille de sécurité à verrouillage rapide", oh no, it was getting more complicated not simpler.
It was time to bring out my secret weapon, a gent by the name of Crispin who has not only spent far too much time biking in the Pyrenees, used to run a bike shop and devours language and grammar almost as fast as a good pudding.

He went quiet for a while but came back with "quick-lock safety stud", what a genius. This small component, is the key link that joins the head tube to the body of the VS512 and allows it to be split, to fit in the boot of a car or carried into one of those tiny bubble like gondola "tele-cabines" dotted around the Alps.

Le "doigt d'indexage"

The leaflet is now translated and the next item on the Firem hit list will be an on-line shop as there have already been sales enquiries from the United States.

10 Great Value SkiBike Essentials - # 1 Canterbury Knee Braces

Posted: Saturday, 19 May 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,

I want to pay tribute to 10 excellent items that I have used whilst skibiking, they didn't cost much and have all delivered fantastic value for money.
All of them cost under £60, to stay in budget, some had to be bought from secondhand from eBay, usually in nearly new condition having seen a weeks use or less. SkiBike related bargains are out there to be had, providing you buy at the end of the winter season right through to late September.

Item: Canterbury Knee Braces

Price Paid: £25 each

What was so good about this item then?

It was tough finding the number 1 skibiking essential of 2012, but on reflection I chose a product that is of great personal significance, but should prove valuable to skibikers young and old alike. Life is so full of irony, if I had worn knee braces when I first tried skiing, I might never have damaged my knees and found myself on a skibiking odyssey. Now, I wear them whenever I head for the slopes whether that's on a skibike or skis.
There have been a number of occasions where I have got into the sort of awkward twisting falls that in the past caused havoc and I have felt the metal side straps take the load and hold me together. I am certain that without these there would have been a fair few situations where injury would have compromised my skibiking enjoyment.

Any gripes or whinges about this item?

The are produced in a "one size fits all" design, which I believe will inevitably lead to some compromises in the fit. After roughly 6 weeks use the velcro straps are starting to loose their grip.

Canterbury Knee Braces - #1 skibiking essential