When it comes to inline speed skates (aka fast rollerblades), more wheels mean better grip on the road, but also more rolling resistance and thus less speed – fewer wheels mean more speed but less grip. German company funMACHINES is attempting to combine the best of both worlds, with its gripSPEEDER.
The skates' chassis contains five wheels: three small soft grip wheels in the middle, and two larger and harder speed wheels mounted on flexible horizontal titanium forks at the front and rear.
When the user is in the glide phase of their skating, the grip wheels are left dangling 4 mm above the ground – this means that only the speed wheels are in contact with the road at that point, minimizing friction.
When the user pushes off to accelerate or they dive into corners, however, the suspension provided by the flexy forks is compressed, allowing the grip wheels to temporarily provide extra traction by making contact with the ground.
Additionally, the designers state that by having the feet located closer to the ground (down between the two speed wheels, instead of up above a row of them), users can go faster by pushing more directly against the road.
If you're interested in getting a pair of the skates, they're currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Pledges for a set, complete with boots, start at €949 (about US$1,178). Assuming they reach production, shipping is estimated to take place in December.
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