Skibobbing is a winter sport involving a bicycle frame attached to a set of foot skis instead of wheels. The use of foot skis is what actually defines ‘ski bobbing’. Though the original idea for a bicycle with skis was patented as early as 1892 (above), and skibobbing had been a form of transportation in the Alps, it was not until 1954 that the first international race was held. Seven years later, the FISB (Fédération Internationale de Skibob) was formed, which since 1967 has held an annual Skibobbing World Championship. Although skibobs are often called ski bikes or snow bikes they are completely separate, and the sport should not be confused with snowbiking, which is the sport or recreation of cycling on snow.
Originally, skibobbing was one of the few methods by which people without strength in their knees could alpine ski, but it soon became a popular sport amongst the physically able, too. The main attractions are the speeds attained – in some ski bob giant slalom races, speeds can be reached of up to 120 mph or more – and the feeling of jet skiing on snow. *
Over the years, ski bikes became popular over the years in Canada, the northern US states, northern Europe and Russia. The restored Rollfast Ski-bob featured here was a factory conversion, but I’ve not found any catalogue illustrations of the model, so presumably it was made to order.
1950s Rollfast Ski-Bob Bicycle
ROLLFAST (D.P. HARRIS Co)
Rollfast bicycles have a long and complex history with ties between two different companies. The D.P. Harris Hardware and Manufacturing Company originated the name in the 1890s. In the early 1900s they teamed up with the H.P. Snyder Manufacturing Company. Snyder was the primary manufacturer of the bicycles, while Harris provided some of the parts and marketed them. During the Great Depression, Snyder began manufacturing bicycles for other retailers such as Montgomery Ward who sold them under the Hawthorne name. Two particularly collectible Snyder-built Rollfast bicycles are the V-200 model and the Hopalong Cassidy bicycles. Snyder built Rollfast bicycles well into the 1970’s.
During the 1950s, cowboy themed merchandise became popular. Harris used a tie-in with Hopalong Cassidy to take advantage of this fascination. The bikes came in black with white and chrome trim. There were a pair of built-in pistols with jeweled holsters, horse hair grained saddle, fringed rear carrier, “Hopalong Cassidy” medallions on the tank, chrome studs on the Rocket Ray light, chain guard and fenders and a head badge in the shape of an upside down horse shoe. The first models – described below as ‘Juvenile Models’ – had 20″ and 24″ wheels.
The 20″ and 24″ Juveniles were followed by the ‘Velocipede’ tricycle and the 16″ ‘Playcycle.’
Ski-bikes – http://www.ski-bike.org/retro-bikes.html
Patents – http://onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/skates/1886-1889-velocipede-skates/