Skibike History - The Early Years
The first skibikes, sometimes also called "ski-bobs", seem to have appeared in the Alps in the late 1850's. Oil paintings from that era show people riding through winter snows on wooden-framed vehicles having a steerable front ski, handlebars, a seat and a second rear ski.
They were originally used as a means of practical winter transportation, first in Barvaria and soon throughout the Alps. With the addition of a short footski or "glider", it soon evolved into a sport now common throughout Europe.
There were many design variations over the next century and there is evidence that as early as 1875, a similar vehicle, with skis attached to a bicycle-like frame, had been built in North America, apparently without the knowledge of its earlier origins in Europe.
At the peak of the sports popularity in the 1960's, there were over forty manufacturers in Europe alone. Twenty-three countries were represented in the Federation Internationale de Skibob (F.I.S.B), the organization that controls the sport to this day.
The early history of skibikes in Canada is not well known, but it is thought that some European skibikes had actually been imported into Canada as far back as the early sixties.
This brief story however, describes another aspect of skibiking that has a particularly Canadian flavour, our own homegrown machines, and possibly, the most sophisticated high-performance skibikes ever built anywhere.