The StreetSurfer
November 9, 2005 3:55 AM   Subscribe

More than a BMX - The StreetSurfer is a patented pedal-driven vehicle (think BMX) that you ride like a surfboard in an urban setting. It consists of a normal bike frame, a rear wheel (duh) and four mini wheels on the front. These littler front wheels apparently track the surface of the ground better than a traditional bicycle and therefore give the rider a smoother, more controlled ride. More info via the StreetSurfer's awfully designed website (ugly Flash warning), although there's two chunky videos to download that also help to explain the product in further detail. Via Beyond Tomorrow.
posted by sjvilla79 (48 comments total)
okay, maybe they could've optimized those videos?
I like the idea of downloading a DVD image to watch, but maybe something under 50MB evem to give an idea of how the hell it works?

Neat concept, though. I think.
posted by Busithoth at 4:26 AM on November 9, 2005

Those aren't actually "complete DVDs" just <10mb wmv files. Nifty idea, but the bikes look kind of silly and those small front wheels aren't going to go over any obstacle by themselves but I suppose that's less of a problem on a BMX bike where you're lifting the front end often anyways.
posted by lazy-ville at 4:36 AM on November 9, 2005

Uh, yeah, that's an endo to faceplant just waiting to happen.

Sorry to bring down the hammer of negativity and criticism on this, but this is dumb.

Watching the videos, I really can't see any benefit to this system, other than to sell needless and proprietary hardware. I seriously wonder if the inventer of this just thought that "reinventing the wheel" was a challenge or something and not a cautionary tale.

The wheels don't track. Sure, it looks like they do on the videos and pictures, but the angle of lean I'm seeing on that contraption is about 1/4th what you get on a good street BMX bike with slicks or semi-slicks. I can easily get two to three times the lean on my mountain bike with knobbies on either dirt or street, and even in loose sand.

If you watch the videos carefully, you can see multiple instances of the wheels losing contact and catamaraning. There's a segment on the stairs that cuts away that I'm certain ended in an endo, as the front wheels lock up on one of the stairsteps. Watching the riders, they're totally fighting the thing. The center of gravity is way too high and the steering looks squirrelly and unresponsive. Smaller wheels equals less rideable terrain, too. I don't care if there's four wheels. Show me someone riding it on real chunky dirt.

The "training" video also reveals immediate and dangerous flaws in the design as well. The most obvious is that all it's going to take is for one of those wheels to come off while at speed and you're probably going to end up in the hospital. Also, the "And remember, never ride into obstacles at right angles" bit is a hoot.

No self respecting or serious dirt, street or vert BMX rider is going to buy that thing. Not just because it looks stupid - and it certainly does - and not just because it's not going to keep up with the pre-existing performance curve - which it wont - but simply because it's not going to put up with the amount of abuse these guys dish out to their bikes.

Yawn. Wow, you rolled off a curb. Through a puddle, yay. Rolling down some stairs, joy. I used to do that backwards on rollerblades. I still do that on my mountain bike. Let's see them drop a 360 off the top of a house on one of those and not break it. Let's see some tailwhips or nosepicks on a pro vert ramp, not that smooth lightweight stuff they're showing in a bowl.

Anyways, there was some company that did something like this over 15 years ago. It was a cheap little half of a BMX frame with a full sized back wheel and a skateboard truck as a front wheel. It was billed as the next totally radical trick turning machine. It was unadultrated pure stupid. What I mostly saw neighborhood kids dumb/rich enough to buy one doing on it was hurting themselves while trying to be awesomely radical.

And there's certainly a market for this kind of crap. Spoiled suburban kids are going to insist that they have to have one. They'll ride it for a week, then it'll end up in the garage for a year, and then you'll see them in thrift shops in droves.
posted by loquacious at 4:52 AM on November 9, 2005

That thing seems pretty damn ridiculous to me. They can't be of much use on a non-paved surface. The four smaller wheels probably cause more friction that a regular narrowish wheel. This thing (including the massive fork needed) probably weigh more than a regular wheel and fork. I suspect the breaking isn't as effective.

What if you hit a pothole? A regular wheel will continue over it (giving you a bit of a fright in the process) but these might very well embed themselves into it (giving you a bit of need for reconstructive surgery).

Also, from the Beyond Tomorrow link
Its world first suspension and forward four-wheels means you can lean as far as you dare and experience traction like never before.
What the duce? How does this increase traction? And why wouldn't you already dare to lean as far as you dare to lean?

Basically what loquacious said much better.
posted by rycee at 4:58 AM on November 9, 2005

I'm not sure why they're calling them DVDs. They're small WMV files in a ZIP archive.

I'm just going to chalk it up to extremely radical sport related blunt trauma brain damage.
posted by loquacious at 4:58 AM on November 9, 2005

Engineering? check
Marketing? check

I'd say it's time to go public.
posted by surplus at 5:16 AM on November 9, 2005

BMX Blue
posted by caddis at 5:22 AM on November 9, 2005

So that's what happened to Buddy bradley's truck.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:24 AM on November 9, 2005

Nice analysis from loaquacious.
posted by OmieWise at 5:27 AM on November 9, 2005

Jesus, I didin't even see the blurb on Beyond Tommorow until just now.
Move over BMX bikes and skateboards! Anna Choy has found Streetsurfer – the vehicle you ride like a surfboard in an urban setting! Its world first suspension and forward four-wheels means you can lean as far as you dare and experience traction like never before. Designed to capture not only the bike market, but also roller-skating, skate boarding, surfing, snow boarding and skiing.
Surfing, huh? And skiing? And snowboarding and rollerblading?
Y'know, considering they're in Australia, one would hope that they've actually seen or even heard of surfing. I'm suddenly reminded of the fateful moment when my friends, siblings and I thought it would be a really good idea to try and ride our bikes on top of skateboards with rollerskates on our feet. Doh. I still have scars from that.
Street Surfer: Engineered and styled for your passion release; your precision repertoire of the once only-imagined perfect sequence. NOW so EASY! NOW Street Surfer!!
What the hell does that even mean? And why does it sound vaguely dirty?

Here's a free clue to any company wanting to break into the extreme sports gear business. You want my money? Shape me a perfect ramp/vert skateboard for old fogeys. Keep it simple, but strong and light. Focus on quality. Give me strong, fast, smooth and water/grit proof bearings. Give me quality, precision trucks in an assortment of sizes, make sure they track true. Precision is key. Also, I'd like some pads and wrist guards that have better ventilation and more protection, and that are easily disassemble-able for washing. Again, keep it simple. They don't need to look like futuristic laser-combat robot armor or anything. They just need to work and not smell like a pile of dead dogs when I'm done skating. We don't need new skateboard-bike-surfboard-rollerskate Frankenstein monsters. There's still plenty of room to grow and explore in the sport. Just build good gear without the stupid hype and marketing, and help us build parks to ride in. That's it.

Sorry, sjvilla79, don't take my anguish and umbrage personally. It's not directed at you. It's directed at countless, clueless companies like this one that seem to fail to realize that sports like skateboarding are the product of decades of evolution, and that bikes are almost 200 years of evolution, and surfing even more then that. There's a reason why these sports take the forms they do, as the designs are often dictated and formed by the terrain involved.
posted by loquacious at 5:28 AM on November 9, 2005

loquacious, I understand. But you know that I haven't given my opinion of this thing yet either. I'm actually quite in favour of what you're getting at. But isn't that how MeFi works anyway? I mean the first post is fact (mostly) and then the original author gives his or her opinion somewhere later in the thread. Just trying to do the right thing here. Anyway, I'm in total need of sleep now, but will quickly say that my first impression of the StreetSurfer is that it's lame. I think, however, having a ride of it would be fun for all of an hour or two. Most things are worth a shot, I guess. But of course I think this thing appeared via paid placement on Beyond Tomorrow. I thought MeFi would be a good place for it (the story) though because the report said they were shipping these things OS (USA and UK) early next year. Watch out for StreetSurfers on a sidewalk near you! Gasp!
posted by sjvilla79 at 5:39 AM on November 9, 2005

sjvilla79: I wouldn't assume anything about your position on the five-wheeled thingamajig, just trying to make sure you didn't get stung by my torrential gout of supercritical piss.

Get some sleep, eh? Take it easy.
posted by loquacious at 5:42 AM on November 9, 2005 torrential gout of supercritical piss.

I liked it. Cheers.
posted by sjvilla79 at 5:46 AM on November 9, 2005

posted by scheptech at 6:04 AM on November 9, 2005

Man, that thing is awesomely radical!

Unfortunately... I was looking for something that's radically awesome. Sorry, guess I won't be buying one.

PS - Loquacious: can I have your permission to call my band "Torrential Gout of Supercritical Piss"? It's just too awesome!
posted by antifuse at 6:05 AM on November 9, 2005

Did you see the awesome videos of it going down a 15cm curb?!!!
posted by signal at 7:02 AM on November 9, 2005

Reminds me of the Tyrrell 6-wheeled Formula 1 car.
posted by LordSludge at 7:11 AM on November 9, 2005

Unless if it has a coaster brake, I think you'll lose some serious braking power, as most of your actual braking is done with the one on the front wheel.

Color me meh.

And when did surfing involve pedaling anything.
posted by dial-tone at 7:18 AM on November 9, 2005

Loquacious nails it. This is xtreme hardcore the max.

I am really sick of the whole "xtreme sports" marketing culture.

When talking about freeride skiing or biking, I always cringe when the average person inevitably describes it as "xtreme". I always have to explain that no, It's not "xtreme", and while "extreme sports" described the culture in the early 90s, such terminology has been rendered fatally obsolete within the scene itself, mostly by asshole marketers trying to shill garbage like this.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:22 AM on November 9, 2005

I do not support this due to it not being called 'Xtreme Street Surfer.' Because everything I do/drink/eat/watch must be Xtreme.
posted by NationalKato at 7:46 AM on November 9, 2005

I guess my AdBlock extension decided the site was one big ad because I couldn't see a thing on it.

Dang. Maybe I'll go check the DVD links (hahaha, just like Steven Seagal's MP3 real audio files).
posted by fenriq at 7:46 AM on November 9, 2005

Like skateboarding in a speedo - it might feel good but your buddies are going to laugh....
posted by photoslob at 7:50 AM on November 9, 2005

I watched the video, not especially impressed. It looks like a BMX biker crashed into an old man with one of those four legged canes.

Nah, give me the AquaSkipper any day so I can go hump a lake.
posted by fenriq at 7:50 AM on November 9, 2005

I am really sick of the whole "xtreme sports" marketing culture.

Or anything with an X in it. The height of this particular annoyance was a movie called "XXX". Three whole X's, it's gotta be good!

Which, weirdly or not perhaps, also appeared to be utterly oblivious to the long-established pornographic meaning.
posted by scheptech at 8:13 AM on November 9, 2005

I've seen skate wheels on lowrider recumbents, but that was to improve aerodynamics.
posted by craniac at 8:27 AM on November 9, 2005

That film was xXx, not XXX. So no porn connotations at all, oh no.
posted by jack_mo at 8:35 AM on November 9, 2005

Well this would take all of about one minute before it tumped over and seriously mamed/injured the rider.

I always thought the FreeBoard was a lot cooler - a longboard/street snowboard type apparatus.
posted by fourstar at 8:36 AM on November 9, 2005

Excuse me, I meant freebOrd
posted by fourstar at 8:40 AM on November 9, 2005

Fourstar: this just seems to prove my point that "free" is the catchall descriptive word for people who actually understand this scene. And this does actually look really cool. It actually looks like he succeeded in bringing the motion of snowboarding to the streets.

The only issue that immediately comes to mind with this design would be how it performs on flats, or when you have to push.

Still, this looks like the ultimate tool for snowboard dryland training. I'm sure you could get good on one and make the switch with only a minimal learning curve.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:57 AM on November 9, 2005

I'll stick to my magical wheeled boots, thanks.
posted by rikabel at 9:26 AM on November 9, 2005

These littler front wheels apparently track the surface of the ground better than a traditional bicycle and therefore give the rider a smoother, more controlled ride.

Hm... I don't think I ever had a problem with tracking the surface before. But hey, while they are at it, why not tank tracks? Both in front and the rear?
posted by c13 at 9:52 AM on November 9, 2005

Awesome! The demonstration "DVD" is four and a half minutes long... and over a third of that is credits.
posted by chrominance at 10:11 AM on November 9, 2005

Tiny wheels: kind of silly.
posted by Jon-o at 10:31 AM on November 9, 2005

All the excitement and response of a shopping trolley.
posted by Joeforking at 12:25 PM on November 9, 2005

I had one of these guys, and actually had a lot of fun on it, despite it's insane learning curve, and overall hokey-ness.
posted by nomisxid at 1:09 PM on November 9, 2005

You're probably all the same naysayers who insisted the swing bike would never amount to anything, aren't you?

Oh, wait.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:48 PM on November 9, 2005

as pointless as a snowbike...
posted by RockyChrysler at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2005

Eh, I'd ride a snow bike. This is even more pointless.

I've ridden a swing bike. Those are really weird. And kind of cool. They're fun for just cruising around. Like an extremely relaxed beach cruiser.

Again, both of these bike examples have been around for quite some time, and have had at least some of the bugs worked out of them.

This five wheeled jalopy thing just has the bugs worked right into it. Patented bugs, no less.
posted by loquacious at 3:32 PM on November 9, 2005

Looks like a bike with training wheels on the front.
posted by CG at 3:38 PM on November 9, 2005

loquacious: Also, I'd like some pads and wrist guards that have better ventilation and more protection, and that are easily disassemble-able for washing.

This stuff should reach the market next year and could be huge. It's made from a material which flexes under normal movement but stiffens upon impact - think Silly Putty or custard powder mixed with water. These guys are putting it into knitted beanies but there are loads of other applications.
posted by blag at 5:53 PM on November 9, 2005

The Man has killed the fun. Not good. All that flying around the country must have gotten on his nerves.
posted by caddis at 6:26 PM on November 9, 2005

blag: Hell yeah! Reactive armor! Except that beanie thing looks way dorky. And the other stuff looks like laser combat robot armor, kinda. Maybe I'm just getting old.

But, yeah, shock reactive armor. Cool. Now where's my nanotech anti-pebble smart skateboard wheels?

That d3o stuff practically deserves it's own post with a little more background info.

Who says good stuff doesn't come out of whining about bad posts?
posted by loquacious at 8:15 PM on November 9, 2005

The Man has killed the fun.

Well, that's a shame.
posted by sjvilla79 at 10:43 PM on November 9, 2005


(This should be discussed)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:07 AM on November 10, 2005

As pointless as a railbike.
posted by fixedgear at 6:07 AM on November 10, 2005

loquacious: agree about the laser-combat styling but I think the whole point is to include them within the clothing. The stuff is only a few mm thick. You'll have skate pants with knee-protection built in, slalom suits with shin panels etc. as well as the 'traditional' strap-on pads.

I'd do a fpp but I've been working with them for a while so there's a conflict of interest (not to mention a fear of giving away commercial confidences). There have been a few articles on them this month, though: Time have already covered it, Newsweek and New Scientist have upcoming articles. And the South China Morning Post, bizarrely.
posted by blag at 6:33 AM on November 10, 2005

Fixedgear: I've always wanted to try out a railbike, as well.

Blag: Re: Conflict of interest. Fair enough.

In my experience with skating vert and parks, it's not so much the padding itself that matters, but the durability and the slipperiness of the shell caps and the fabric around the padding.

I have a set of adult Pro-Tec kneepads that are some pretty seriously burly chunks of armor. I can easily do a knee drop in them from a few feet above the ground right onto flat concrete without any noticable ill effects.

For my purposes they're probably overkill, as I'm only rarely very far above the coping on any transition, and when skating vert it's all about knowing how - and when - to fall and slide on them. They could probably be thinner and less padded, but it's better to have a little too much than not enough.

But for traditional and new applications I can see that stuff being totally revolutionary. The applications for shoes look great. For integrated armored clothing for skiing and other higher speed sports it looks awesome as well.

And I've certainly wished for hip and tailbone protection quite a few times when I've bailed the wrong way and slammed hippers into the ground or wall. I've seen other old fogey vert and park skaters that have gone as far as to sew hip and tailbone protection into their shorts. They just sew cheap-ish plain symmetrical kneepads into the hips and butt area of their shorts.

Sure, it looks totally stupid, but it works. And it really wasn't that long ago that pro skaters were using stuff like work gloves with the fingers cut off and plain foam/fabric volleyball type pads as protection, all while wearing neon shorts and mesh shirts no less. Who cares how you look, just shut up and skate.
posted by loquacious at 7:16 AM on November 10, 2005

And, needless to say, there is a lot of interest from the military as well...
posted by blag at 7:40 AM on November 10, 2005

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