- Multiple Element Curving Skis
- Pilots just like a kite buggy
- Extremely fast!
- No sideslip
- 8m turning circle
You probably think the world already knows every possible way to make such a thing- well think again! This is really out of left field- and it will finally establish kite buggies for snow use- because it works!
The principle driving this development was simple- it’s just the solution that wasn’t.
Very shortly after developing the kite buggy in 1990 we fitted ice runners and snow skis to them. But big enough accessible areas of useable ice is rare- it gets snow on it – and just fitting skis to buggies in place of wheels never worked that well:
Firstly; because each ski didn’t, (couldn’t), lean over to just the precise angle required at every instant to hold their edge against the side load from the kite. Kite skiers are successful (442 km in just 24 hours recently across Greenland!) because they can do this, but they have the benefit of the finest feedback and control mechanism ever developed- excepting for the domestic cat’s management of their "owners".
Secondly, when turning,. the buggy’s ski’s had to sweep out a wider path through the snow, and their edges (being straight) no longer matched the curved edge of snow they were running against- so their drag increased hugely. Every time you turned even a smidgen it was like putting the brakes on. This remained a problem for all except very hard snow conditions even with the short wide V form ski’s with central ice blades that ourselves and others eventually developed for snow buggies. The consequence of these shortcomings has been that snow buggies have not developed any significant market, even while snow kiting began to explode.
The answer(s) we have found are to make the skis bend into curves for steering and to make them with a stepped cross section so as to be able to generate side force in hard and soft snow and without leaning. Getting the ski’s to bend enough to get a usefully tight turning circle was not easy (now down to 8m).
The solution was to make them of multiple longitudinal elements, connected together so that they can slide lengthways relative to each other a bit while remaining constrained vertically and laterally. See photos.
The name we have coined for this system is MECS; Multiple Element Curving Skis.
It’s the breakthrough we’ve sought for so long..
Turning is like being on rails- no sideslip, no slowing down- quite frighteningly fast.
It was also immediately obvious that this idea has applications far beyond kite traction.
Of course, when you see it working it’s such an obvious idea that I can’t help but wonder why it hasn’t already been done- but I’ve thought this about every one of our successful new ideas for 35 years.
As yet there’s no indication from anywhere that MECS aren’t original- but going public will be the best test of this assumption. We’ve now filed a patent application for the key features- so that licensing other applications can hopefully pay for the considerable investment that will be required in the manufacturing process we want to use for the ski elements (sintering) on production KiteSleds. Even if we’re prevented from getting IP on this by some obscure prior invention that I don’t know about yet, at least we should still be able to make and sell MECS equipped snow buggies- which is after all what matters for snow kiting.
In the short term each ski element will be machined from solid UHMW polyethylene bar- which takes longer, but allows for tinkering with shape.
Available now on order.
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