Background

Skibikes, known as skibobs in Europe, are as old as the sport of downhill skiing, yet after all that time are still an obscure ski equipment niche. Perhaps the key difference between traditional methods and skibiking, is that skibiking does not demand the same high levels of skill or physical conditioning. Thus, skibikes have long been used in few adaptive ski programs, such as the National Sports Center for the Disabled, Winter Park, Colorado. Until now, skibikes have always been manufactured only for general use, and available commercial models have significant barriers making adaptive use difficult. iSkiBike is here to change that. We make skibikes into much more than just recreational toys. Our skibikes help people with disabilities regain their freedom on the slopes.

Our Story

Robert Skiing

In January 2008, iSkibike was established by Robert Kolesar, and took on the challenge, both technical and financial, of making a skibike for disabled individuals and adaptive ski programs. The reasons for taking on the adaptive skibike challenge were personal. In 1989, while hiking in the Pioneer Mountains of Montana, Kolesar’s wife, Ellyn Murphy, suffered a head injury in an enormous rock-fall that swept her over a 35 foot cliff. The fall left her weak on her left side, with poor balance. Using a standard commercial skibike from Europe, Ellyn was skibiking on her own before she could walk independently. With the strength and coordination skills she learned while skibiking, Ellyn eventually regained her walking skills. Unfortunately, her balance and left-side strength never recovered enough to allow her to ski standing-up. Additionally, carrying a traditional skibike, while loading and using ski lifts, was also a significant challenge. To make things worse, skibike manufacturers were not using downhill mountain bike technologies to build a true downhill skibike for the 21st century. Seeing this huge adaptive skiing technology gap, an adaptive skibike design was formulated, patented, and licensed to iSkibike for manufacturing and marketing. Here’s how we did it.

Circa spring 2007, on-snow skibike design theories were tested at Moonlight Basin, Montana, with the frame of a Kona downhill mountain bike, attached to skis. Thus the Konabob prototype was born.

konabob

During the summer of 2007, ski lift riding theories were developed and refined with a plywood version of the iSkibike [knick-named the PlywoodBob]; which was loaded and unloaded from an old Riblet ski lift chair attached to an old barn.

Plywoodbob

The first prototype of the iSkibike design was tested on snow at Moonlight Basin, Montana in December of 2007.

early iSkibike prototype

In January of 2008, the the prototype iSkibike appeared at the annual American Skibike Festival at the Purgatory Ski Resort, outside of Durango, Colorado. Festival participants rated the iSkibike design the best and most unique new skibike design ever seen.

iSkiBike prototype

Thus, during February and March of 2008, the prototype design was modified and improved, so that iSkibikes could be offered for public sale. During April of 2008, the new iSkibike design was first shown to the public at Lake Tahoe ski areas in California.

Ellyn

While Ellyn was iSkibike’s first customer, many others are now enjoying this truly remarkable 21st century adaptive skibike. iSkibike’s customers include individuals with spinal injury, brain injury, amputations, worn-out knees, or just a few too many years gone by. The iSkibike is really fun, a different way to get around the mountain, and you can ski just about anywhere, providing accessibility that is just fantastic.

iSkibike is fully owned and operated by Kolesar, who holds a B.S. Degree in Engineering from Montana Sate University in Bozeman, Montana, and a J.D. Degree in Law from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. Kolesar also has training and experience in emergency medicine and avalanche hazard evaluation. For the last 45 years, Kolesar has skied extensively both at ‘front country’ ski areas and resorts, and at ‘back country’ sites throughout the U.S., including helicopter skiing out of Valdez, Alaska. Kolesar combined his engineering training with his knowledge of skiing techniques to develop the iSkibike design, and enable the skibike skis to carve turns exactly like a downhill skier. No good ski equipment should stand still, because important technical and functional improvements are always possible. iSkibike is now the best skibike on the planet, and iSkibike’s company philosophy demands that not change. Thus, iSkibike will continue to improve its accessible design and features to ever improve the product.