ELECTRIC ROLLER BLADES
Petrol-powered roller skates could be handy in those annoying, rush-hour traffic jams
THE idea of powered roller skates is at least 60 years old, but since Peter Treadway showed plans for his spnKiX power skates in 2011, the market for a set of 4x2 shoes has all but exploded.
And the only reason it did not literally explode was because police in the United Kingdom confiscated 50 pairs of Chinese petrol-powered roller skates being delivered to an address in Bournemouth.
The Metro quoted Bournemouth Council trading standards officer David Morton saying: “The skates are so dangerous, we are too worried about putting them on to test them.”
Only the right boot is powered by a tiny, 25 cc petrol engine, controlled by a hand-throttle. The power skates are still exported to the United States, with the Absolutely Unbelievable website listing them for $400 (about R4 600).
The site claims: “PowerSkates can reach a speed of up to 30 miles per hour [48 kilometres], so you could weave in and out of rush-hour traffic jams, getting to work or home faster than ever before. You’ll be saving time, money and the environment when you use PowerSkates as your primary vehicle.”
Treadway’s much sleeker 2x2 electric shoes sell for just under $700 (about R8 100) as Acton RocketSkates.
If R8 100 sounds a lot of money for a pair of 2x2 powered skates, consider that at the time of writing, the cheapest pair of slip-on Jimmy Choo sandals on sale cost £195 (about R3 400), while a pair of killer heels listed for £1 197 (about R21 000).
Seems many did the comparison, for KickStarter showed the Acton RocketSkates had 10 times too many takers for the power shoes that went into production in October last year.
The new French Rollkers were officially launched last week and go on sale later in the year. They clip to any size and make of shoes with large wheels for bumpy surfaces.
Maker Dijon said Rollkers were developed to provide a healthier, more environmentally friendly form of transportation. The Rollkers are self-balancing and require no specific training.
The Rocketskates are by all accounts a bit more terrifying to ride on. The user starts by placing one foot forward, giving the skates a moment to wirelessly synchronise and then moving by tilting the lead skate forward. Slowing down requires lowering the heel. The motors of the nonlead skate simply copy whatever those in the lead one are doing.
Top speed on a pair of Rocketskates is about 19 km/h.
Final specs for the Rollkers are not yet available, but the makers said top speed is about 10 km/h. A trawl of YouTube showed the Chinese petrol-powered roller skates do not go anywhere very fast.
Rocketskates ride on two wheels. To slow and stop, the user leans forward.
May 11, 1961: Salesman Mike Dreschler has his motorised roller skates refuelled at a petrol station near Hartford, Connecticut. He has a single-horsepower, air-cooled engine strapped to his back and holds a clutch, accelerator and engine cut-off switch in his hand.
The Rollkers by French company Dijon promise to double the average person’s walking speed to 10 km/h.
Banned in the UK but still on sale in the U.S., these Chinese petrol-powered skates have a 25 cc engine on the right heel.