SkiBike Footwear - Get Your Boots On!

Posted: Sunday, 30 November 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

I had an interesting enquiry from Dee recently...
"Can I wear good hiking or snow boots with a skibike, instead of ski/snowboard boots? If so, what type would be best"
If you are going to ride a skibike using the freestyle/pegger method i.e. without using foot skis, then your boots need to fulfil the following requirements:
  • Be well insulated and warm
  • Be water and snow proof
  • Have good grip in slippery situations
  • Provide some ankle support
  • Allow normal articulation for walking or getting off a chairlift
As Snowboard boots fulfil many of the above skibiking needs, are relatively inexpensive and readily available, they are the number one choice for most freestyle skibikers.

Snowboard boots - the choice of most skibikers

However some skibikers still prefer normal hiking boots, I tried them but ended up with wet feet, which apart from the discomfort, could cause health issues after prolonged exposure, such as frost bite or trench foot.
Alternatively; snowmobile, quad or dirt bike boots have been used by other freestyle skibikers with great success. Lastly, from personal experience, I can confirm that both downhill and ski touring "randonee" ski boots are totally unsuitable for this application and should be avoided at all costs, even spray painted Doctor Martens boots woud be better, get your boots on!

SkiBike Tour 2014-15 - Season Kick Off

Posted: Wednesday, 26 November 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Many years ago a young work colleague, with wisdom beyond his years, told me "There's no point working this hard if it's not for something". Throughout the summer and autumn, during all those long afternoons doing boring jobs, I've been day dreaming about this moment of freedom.
The purpose of this trip was to test out a nice selection of new (to me) items and to get my stiff and flabby body into some resemblance of order before the season proper starts in a months time.

My first port of call was to be Bottrop, near Essen, home to the Alpincenter, claimed to be Europe's longest indoor snow slope. You can read more about the slope and its facilities from my earlier visit. The trip from London to Essen was nearly all plain sailing till the last 30 miles, Germany is clearly aiming to be more British when it comes to totally blocking up the infrastructure with road works, don't do it Germany, it's not worth it.

Alpincenter - Europe's longest indoor snow slope

Arriving just after the 10am opening, I set about with a warm up on skiboards. My tools were a pair of Line skiboards, picked up a month or so ago for the princely sum of £10 from eBay, they even came with the proper carry bag. These were complimented with a pair of Raichle Flexon boots that I picked up in the early summer for £20 also off eBay. In absolutely mint condition and by jingo they fitted a treat too, the only downside is that they are very, pink. In the early 90s, such acid colours were all the rage, no doubt a lime green and purple ski suit plus a Chris Waddle power mullet wig would fully complete the look. Let's just say that for a man to wear pink boots you have to be very confident about your sexuality, one way or the other, nuff said.

Pink boots - you have to be confident about your sexuality

These two thrift store bargains made a great combo and I had a couple of happy hours warming up my rusty body with them, I anticipate they will be a good upgrade for this season, in resorts that don't allow skibiking or where filming duties are required.

Feeling toasty I pulled out my skibike, I had just made another modification to the front ski mount and was keen to see if it would stand up to real world use. I slipped straight into the grove from the first run and just kept getting more confident and fluid as the day progressed.

Before dusk arrived, I nipped out to the car park and swapped over to the 90cm NISM skibike skiboards, what sheer bliss, I didn't change back. They are on special offer here on the blog at the moment, but if no-one gets them soon, I can see me taking the plunge. In the clinical environment of an indoor centre you can really focus on technique, they are remarkable devices once you work out how to really get them on an edge.

It was an amazing day, I started just after 10am in the morning and stayed till closing time at 10pm, almost 12 hours on the snow. How tired and stiff would I be for day two though?

One noticeable change on this visit was a radical change to the canned music played, gone are the garish 80s selection, to be replaced by modern pop music, the sort were the singer sounds like a malfunctioning robot. I believe it is a genre called EDM by the cognoscenti. Yo motherfudgers, get turned up to death.


It was a bit much to expect my body to cope with the onslaught of so much activity without some recoil; never the less, the following morning I still managed to drag myself out of the sack and get properly scrubbed up for the short drive to the nearby town of Neuss, just outside of Düsseldorf. It's an area of open flatlands, making the distinctive silhouette of Allrounder mountain resort easy to spot from miles away.

The distinctive silhouette of Allrounder mountain resort - easy to spot for miles

Allrounder mountain resort is very glitzy compared to Bottrop, all stainless steel and glass, shiny, shiny. Following protocol I scouted out the slope on skis incognito, on paper it is quite a short slope, just 300m long, which is half the length of Bottrop. In reality, the usable length is the same and the presence of a full scale chairlift system is an outstanding feature, making for hassle free and speedy uplift.

A full scale chairlift system - an outstanding feature

The snow on the slope at Allrounder mountain resort was in excellent condition, if I understood the German correctly, the marketing blurb refers to it a powder snow, which might be going a bit far, but it was definitely deep, crisp and even. The temperature was distinctly chilly, yesterday I was riding in just a polo shirt and fleece, today I had to add another layer to stay warm and should really have dug out thicker gloves from the suitcase too.

I had previously contacted the management at Allrounder mountain resort to see how they regarded skibikes and received a favourable response; this was confirmed when I spotted a well worn Brenter skibob next to the engineering station and a baby one on the juniors play slope getting a good work out.

At lunchtime I slipped into skibiker mode and made my way to the chairlift, an operator shot out pretty quickly, I showed him my leash as I had been instructed, he grinned and disappeared back inside and that was that. I spent a very pleasant afternoon going over jumps, making wide carves, following the fall line and generally wiggling around to my heart's content.

At lunchtime I slipped into skibiker mode

Around 6pm I had to quit, I was tired and had to be heading off to my overnight accommodation in Belgium. It was very much a case of mission accomplished; I had tested out my kit successfully, given myself a valuable pre season warm up refresher course and even learnt a couple of new tricks along the way.

Best of all was to have found another potential year round skibike training camp at Allrounder mountain resort.

Skibikes at Allrounder mountain resort - mission accomplished