What ever happend to the gripSPEEDER?

The gripSPEEDER was a 5-wheel speed skate that had 2 large wheels on the ends and 3 small wheels in the middle. The two larger and harder speed wheels were mounted on flexible horizontal titanium forks at the front and rear.


German company funMACHINES was the company behind the development of the skate. The company described the benefits of the skate as follows: When the user is in the glide phase of their skating, the grip wheels are left dangling 4 mm above the ground – this means that only the speed wheels are in contact with the road at that point, minimizing friction. When the user pushes off to accelerate, or they dive into corners, however, the suspension provided by the flexy forks is compressed, allowing the grip wheels to temporarily provide extra traction by making contact with the ground. Additionally, the designers state that by having the feet located closer to the ground (down between the two speed wheels, instead of up above a row of them), users can go faster by pushing more directly against the road.


As avid speed skaters, there were a few glaring problems with the concept. 

  1. A speed skate is only as fast as its smallest wheel. Adding small wheels in the middle limited the speed of the skate in the turn when the wheels touch the ground. 

  2. Adding suspension is a really bad idea on an inline skate because it absorbs power and stops it being transferred to the road. 

  3. The skate travels in a straight line on only 2 wheels. 2 wheels skates are very slow because they fall into every nook and cranny on the road. When a 4 or 5 wheel skate travels over bitumen, if there is a crack, 3 wheels will stay on the road keeping the skate out of the hole. With a 2 wheel skate, it hits every, single, hole causing the skate to slow down. 

 The company was offering the skates for an eye-watering €949 (about US$1,178). Thats four times more than a traditional speed skate that would be faster than this concept. 


Other outstanding features were that the carbon base was not actually carbon and looked to be made by Powerslide, and the wheels looked like a Bont 125mm knockoff. 


The skate won the future mobility award at ISPO, which really makes you wonder what ISPO was thinking. The Kickstarter campaign flopped, raising just $12,222

pledged of its  $43,511 goal, and it is no wonder why. This is the result of designers not understanding the underlying principles of what makes a speed skate go fast. 



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