Machine Design

Goin' Off Road

Gravel, bumps, and cracks are no problem for TrailSkate all-terrain skates.

The TrailSkate, dubbed the "mountain bike of the skating world," is an all-terrain skate that works on any type of surface including asphalt, dirt, grass, gravel, or mountain trails. The skates from GateSkate Inc., Richland, Wash., easily roll over bumps, cracks, and debris thanks to precision-molded, lightweight aluminum wheels and 8-in. high-pressure pneumatic tires, similar to mountain-bike tires. An adjustable binding system fits over any pair of shoes and is secured with latches and straps.

"The chassis on which the clamshell binding system sits is made of a carbon-fiber composite. It's lightweight, strong, and flexible, providing a smooth, safe ride on a platform with a low center of gravity," says John Butterfield, GateSkate CEO. Teamed with the low-center-ofgravity platform, the long wheelbase and large tires offer a more stable ride than the small, hard wheels of standard in-line skates, especially when skaters face rough, bumpy terrain.

Hand-controlled hydraulic brakes located in the rear wheel of each skate give speed and stopping control to skaters. One lever simultaneously actuates the hydraulic drum brakes. Extensive testing has shown that the braking power of the TrailSkate nearly equals that of bicycle brakes.

But the design process was not as smooth as the skates' ride. "Deciding on the optimum chassis and the engineering to accommodate the boot-binding system, brakes, tires, and hubs have all been challenges, not to mention trying to find the right mix of weight and strength, while keeping material costs down," Butterfield says.

The company thinks all-terrain skating will appeal to recreational-sports enthusiasts ranging from downhill and cross-country skiers to snowboarders and hikers. TrailSkating with poles simulates the same aerobic health benefits as cross-country skiing.

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