An amazing thing happened at the weekend. I realised that my daughter had reached a level of proficiency on her scooter that meant we could go to the park as father and daughter in-motion - her on her scooter, me on my prototype Alive Board.
First, her scooter: the Mini Micro ‘T’ Bar. It’s what the plastic skateboard was to my generation; every kid had one to go to school on. Whoever it was that decided on two wheels for the front, needs recognition from the Queen. Without the Mini Micro my three-year old couldn’t propel herself to school or hang out on equal terms with the sophisticated four-year old next door – or, more the point, go out to the park with dad. Which reminds me, the Alive Board is the latest in a string of gadgets designed to improve on skateboards. I have to be honest, even as a keen boarder, I realise that the skateboard is an imperfect design. Whenever I see that Dyson advert on TV where everyone’s favourite British inventor demonstrates how four immoveable wheels are rubbish for turning corners (then explains why his ball-vacuum-thingy is so much better) I think to myself: What about the skateboard?
Dyson’s right of course, the skateboard is defective. That’s why when you watch skateboarders attempting to destroy a stretch of county council concrete with bowl-like or rail-riding characteristics – they fall off a lot. If you graphed ‘successful tricks versus wipeouts’ for your average fifteen-year old’s afternoon skateboard safari – the results would show what a washout the skateboard is in terms of design. Of course, none of this matters to the baggy-jean brigade – and in many ways, it’s the point of the whole operation, attempting to create something beautiful – a perfectly executed grind or a fluid spin - from a piece of plywood designed to kill you. All of this is one rather garrulous introduction to the latest attempt to re-engineer the skateboard –the Alive Board. The concept is simple, you keep both feet on both parts of the board at all times. Because you’re not releasing a foot to shunt you along, as is the practice on a conventional deck, you are a great deal more stable; so stable, that just about anyone over the age of seven, can climb aboard the Alive Board and master it in a matter of minutes. How do you move? By twisting your upper body from side to side, allowing the articulated knuckle between the two pieces of the board to snake along the tarmac. It’s an improvement on the hugely popular RipStik but made easier by virtue of four (as opposed to two) rollerblade-style wheels that are arranged in-line underneath the contraption. I can already sense my words beginning to muddy the waters of description so why not check out my video of the Alive Board in action of my blog.
If alternatives to skateboarding float your boat you might also like to check out Free-liners. Two separate metal squares, each with a single wheel on the bottom. Seemingly impossible to master, but once vanquished an exhilarating and challenging ride.
I’d like to finish this round up of innovative childrens’ transport by drawing your attention to the Like-a-Bike. As the name suggests, this all-wood, handmade bicycle for toddlers dispenses with certain key ‘bike-like’ elements – brakes, chain and pedals – in search of simplicity. Aided by dampened steering this is the perfect introduction to stabiliser-free cycling. There are also a range of great add-ons for the original wooden bike including a tow along wooden trailer and some rather snazzy frame pads and bike mounted rucksacks. If you’re one of those parents who appreciate quality hand-made products check out Like-a-Bike and it’s elegant peripherals in the link below.
For MiniMicro: www.micro-scooters.co.uk/
For Alive Board: www.online-toy-store.co.uk
For RipStick: www.rawk.com
For Free-Line: www.freeline-sport.co.uk/
For Like-a-Bike: www.likeabike.co.uk
Jason writes his own blog about gadgets and the latest advances in technology at www.jasonbradbury.com.
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