Dan Baldwin, original inventor of the Scarpar, is continuing to build prototypes of his odd brainchild – the powerboard. Featuring two grippy, articulated tracks, both powered by an onboard motor and controlled through a hand-held throttle, powerboards give users the ability to traverse rough terrain - sand, creeks, rocks and even fallen logs - with a good degree of agility and speed. Baldwin has just released a series of videos showing his Ungoverned board in action.
Baldwin is an action man at heart. He grew up doing a ton of BMX stunting, wakeboarding, downhill mountain biking, and of course skateboarding and snowboarding. The idea for a twin-tracked powerboard came to him while chasing some much quicker buddies through a forest trail on dirt bikes – "I thought to myself, man, if I could build a board that rode over these logs, I'd smash these guys!"
It proved a hard idea to shake. For 20 years, Baldwin found himself staying awake at nights dreaming of a powerboard – something with twin grippy tracks, driven by a powerful motor and capable of gliding over just about any terrain. "Picture that classic rally corner on dry sand, with a car screaming past sideways, sand flying out as it comes around," says Baldwin, "now imagine that with a skateboard. That's the dream!"
This dream resulted in a prototype of the Scarpar all-terrain powerboard some 10 years ago. While the Scarpar has yet make it to market, Baldwin hasn't lost passion for the powerboard idea and has returned to building the vehicles for his own entertainment, banging away at new prototypes to bring the reality closer to the dream.
About a year ago he showed us his Ungoverned board – some 15 kg lighter and 60 mm lower to the ground than the Scarpar, and powered by a 125 cc, single cylinder motor from a Thumpstar dirt bike. However, Baldwin says he has recently shifted his focus to electric vehicles and suggests that we stay tuned on that front.
And now he's releasing a series of videos to show where the Ungoverned is at – motoring along through sand, over rocks and branches, crossing a creek and making light work of grassy fields.
Baldwin says he's only used the prototype in first gear up to a maximum of 30 km/h (18 mph), but getting into second and third should comfortably take him take beyond that mark. And how does it feel boarding over a log? "Well, you just sort of jump a bit ... unweight your body from the board and it'll go over most things. The front track grabs and drives upwards, the rear pushes forwards. With twin track drive I've got over logs that are 4 or 500 mm diameter."
Baldwin says we should see an electric powerboard sometime in the near future. Unfortunately for those of us who would love strap ourselves onto one of these boards, Dan says that right now these are personal use prototypes only.
More information: Ungoverned