Skibike History - The 1980's
The early eighties saw many other design and material changes made to the basic skibike design. Many of these changes were reflected in the next skibike Kevan built that used a pure floating rear ski. This bike was novel in many respects, most notably in the separation of materials for the compression and tension members of the ski bike frame.
The single steering column on this skibike was also lighter, and with the new quick release pin, allowed the skibike to be quickly dismantled for loading into a car. Even though this skibike was lighter overall, it was also stronger than the skibikes that preceeded it, and it was somewhat easier to build. This unique skibike was really a masterpiece of ingenuity, a one-of-a-kind machine that became the model for all future skibikes.
However, in the early eighties, Kevan also set his sights on another goal. The temptation of speed had continued to be an obsession for Kevan, but he felt that the early machines did not take full advantage of the potential that skibikes could offer in terms of extreme performance. He envisioned something far more radical.
The Speedbike Project So began his project in 1980, to build the worlds ultimate speed bike, an ultra-fast downhill racer intended to set speed records, and to go faster than any skibike had ever gone before.
This speed bike slowly took shape in late 1980 and 1981 in his Calgary shop. At the same time, Kevan and his friend Randy Best were also building helmets for the speed skiing community, and having the privilege of seeing several of them used in competition at the international level.
Construction of the racing skibike began when Kevan acquired a set of hydraulically dampened front forks, since he knew it would be necessary to use a ball bearing steering head. From this steering column, the rest of the skibike geometry took shape. Kevan also knew by this time that the skibike would use the relatively new floating rear ski concept.
However, since Kevan decided to support the frame on a large leaf spring attached to the rear ski, and then attach a redundant shock absorber from the frame to the front of the leaf spring, similar to what he had done with the first floating rear ski prototype, this rear ski was pretty solid.
In 1984, an opportunity arose to test out the capabilities of the speed bike when Kevan entered the North American Speed Skiing competition in Silverton, Colorado. Kevan took the finished speed bike with him to Colorado with the expectation of getting a shot at the skibike speed record.
Once in Colorado, Kevan was able to make some short trial runs, where the skibike performed admirably. However, just before the official timed trials were to take place, the race organizers took Kevan aside and told him they had decided against allowing him to make any further qualifying runs. His attempt at a speed record was put on hold.
After the race, an official commented to Kevan privately about why the decision had been made. The official told him that the main reason his speed attempt had been disallowed, was that Kevan had, "brought a cat to a dog show!" As a result, the full limits of this speed bike have yet to be fully tested.
So Kevan returned to Calgary and continued to build and refine the skibike design. Given the success of the floating rear ski, Kevan began to experiment with different ways of attaching the front ski. This ski had to be resilient and yet reasonably stiff, to conform to the hill and still provide some resistance in powder snow.
Several designs were tried with varying degrees of success. Eventually, a combination of curved spring steel cushioned with rubber blocks eventually proved to have the right qualities of dampening and flexibility. This also had the advantage of making the front ski more responsive and quieter, since it no longer had the noisy coil spring, and gave the skibike greater floatation in powder snow, where it had always been right at home.
In the late eighties, Kevan had an opportunity to compete in one of the annual European skibike races, the 1989 Weltmeister Shaften at Oberammergau, Germany. However there were restrictions on the skibike dimensions in place at the time, so Kevan could not bring one of his own skibikes. So instead he custom built a new skibike along the lines of European specifications, the only skibike ever known to have been built in Canada with foot pegs!