Nordic skiing on the street with Skike bike-skates
When we first saw the term "Skike," we immediately thought "skate bike" (i.e. a scooter-like contraption combining bike components with skating action). We were probably thinking of the similarly named Trikke and its brother the Skki. The Skike does combine biking and skating, but it's a different kind of skating and a different kind of skate-bike. Essentially a roller skate with biking influences, the Skike is a tool for asphalt cross country skiing.
Unlike on the roller skates and inline skates we're used to seeing (or were used to seeing decades ago), Skikes use a pair of large 15-cm (5.9 in) wheels shod in inflatable tires – that's where the "bike" part comes in. They're also considerably longer than the foot, with the wheels placed at the very front and very back, connected by a lightweight frame. Instead of the full shoe of other skate designs, Skike's design is more open and light, using a series of three straps to secure foot to frame, and a braking system providing stopping power. They're designed to be used for both street and light off-road applications (think smooth paths).
One of the latest models, the Skike VX Twin adds a heel-lift system, giving Skikers the option of regular skating or diagonal stride skating. Skikers can open or lock the heel lift on the fly with a toggle switch.
Unlike the last generation of inline skates, which played heavily on the "extreme" nature and trick possibilities of the sport, Skikes are more for recreational users. They're billed as a sort of middle ground between the speed and adrenaline of classic inline skating and the slow, steady workout of Nordic walking. The skates are designed to be used with poles in a sort of warm-weather version of cross country/Nordic skiing. Company claims state that 90 percent of your muscle mass is worked, providing a fun, complete workout.
The original Skike was crafted by Austrian inventor Otto Edder in 1997. From there, the design was fine-tuned, and handcrafting gave way to a license deal with Hong Kong's Four Ace International, which has manufactured the skates since 2006.
While Skikes have been around for a while, it appears that the company is making a play at wider distribution and marketing. The skates were on display at last week's Outdoor Friedrichshafen show, and a slew of recently uploaded YouTube videos, including the one below, provide a closer look at Skike action. Skikes are available in a variety of markets, including more than 20 European countries, North America and Australia. There are several models, most of which range between US$200 and $450.