Before he found international fame zooming around on a Green Goblin-style jet platform, Franky Zapata was a world jet-ski champion with a bright idea. The water jet thrust that propelled his jet skis, he thought, could easily be run through a hose and attached directly to a human.
The result was his original Flyboard, which strapped powerful water jets to your feet (and originally your arms, too), and was capable of rocketing people with strong core muscles up to 9 meters (30 ft) above the surface of the water using the massive power of today's jet ski motors.
The flyboard gave rise to the Hoverboard, which added a surfing-style element by vectoring the thrust off the back of a snowboard-sized board so you could carve waves or rise up in the air and do crazy flips. Zapata also built a jetpack style arrangement that offered similar flight dynamics that were a bit less demanding on the body.
Now there's the Flyride, which takes the tech to a new level.
The Flyride is a 2-seater device that looks like the shell of a small quad bike. It attaches to just about any jet ski using a tailored hose and jet capture system, and the water runs up the middle of the bike and is forced out through twin steerable jets at the front. Plugged in to a 300-horsepower jet ski, it'll take up to 200 kg (440 lb) of rider and passenger.
But the kicker here is Zapata's first self-balancing tech, a set of internal sensors and computers that micro-adjust to keep the bike upright whatever the rider's doing, so it should be a very accessible experience that most people can enjoy. Four selectable flight modes cater for kids right up to advanced users, there's throttle assistance and an automated takeoff routine if you're leery of managing that yourself.
If a self-balancing water hoverbike sounds a bit dull compared to mastering the flyboard, the Flyride has its own special sauce built in too – a barrel roll button that becomes active once you've got enough altitude. Pressing it spins you wildly around before returning you to vertical, and looks like a pretty crazy ride. In Advanced mode, you can spin the thing twice – and that'll really mess your hair up.
Beyond that, Zapata says it handles more or less like a flying jet ski, and that it's perfectly intuitive to get around on. You can take off or land the thing right on the beach if you've got a steady hand, and since it weighs only 33kg (72 lb) it'll be easy for two people to lift it and throw it in the back of a van.
The Flyride is on sale now, for €7,200 (US$8,600) including the hoses and attachments to stick it onto the jet ski of your choice. Check out the video below:
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