SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Tested To Breaking Point

Posted: Monday, 7 January 2013 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Today was a rare rest day, a chance recuperate, put on the washing, empty the bins and take stock of my skibike stable. As someone who loves technology and engineering, I find it fascinating to see how different components behave, especially at their limits, including the weakest link, that is me.

The number one cause for me to crash is if the front ski "tucks under", this is followed by a "superman ejection" something bikers might call a "high sider".
It is usually brought on by a patch of exceptionally hard snow/ice, the front ski starts to radically understeer, then suddenly WHAM it flips up, the forks slide out and you find yourself eating a snow sandwich. You shake yourself down, say a quick prayer of thanks to Saint Don of Koski, force the front ski level and ride off once again.

This is one of the limitations of the original Alpine SkiBikes adapter, the concept of the pig tail sprung self-levelling ski is elegant, but on the slopes is, with the greatest respect to Matt Hanson, overly engineered.
I have been told that traditional skibobs had very limited axial ski travel, just a few centimetres and modern designs from LenzSport and Firem use mechanical stops to limit the rise of the front ski beyond a certain point, even simpler designs rely on just friction alone. On recent rides, I can now sense when it is about to happen, occasionally I can even stop it. As my riding progresses will I have to consider a more robust skibike arrangement or should I learn to fine tune my balance skills further?

Meanwhile my £4 bargain supermarket saddle was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with each ride, I thought it was just a bit of saddle soreness till I noticed how "nose up" it was. At first I thought that the seat clamp had slipped, but on closer inspection I could see that both saddle rails have bent. So smooth are the bends it looked like some fancy factory geometry at first. To ViaVelo's credit they didn't break, but then I only weigh 80kg, which hardly puts me in the heifer class.

ViaVelo SkiBike saddle failure - both saddle rails have bent

And what of the fragile and well past its sell by date component that is me? Usually the lower half of my body takes a beating, but on this trip it is all happening on top. My left hand has finally stopped aching from my nastiest crash on day one. I twinged my shoulder twice falling on SnowBlades when putting out and arm to stop the fall. My lower back is grumbling and wasn't helped at all when I was knocked of my skis from behind by an out of control skier.
With the unexpected spring conditions I am very relieved to have been wearing; knee and wrist braces, as well as a full face MTB helmet. Perhaps I need a carbon fibre suit of armour for next season?