As the design of mountain sleds has changed over the past few years to adapt to current riding styles, I’ve been left wondering why ski design has been left in the dark ages.
Now maybe you don’t think that the riding-on-one-ski, wrong-foot-forward riding methods are anything more than a fad. You probably don’t care about what I have to say anyway.
But after taking sawsalls and belt sanders to the outside edges of my skis for the past five years, I can’t help but wonder why some aftermarket company hasn’t picked up on it yet.
Think about it: If you spend the majority of your riding time crawling along steep sidehills, exploring untracked terrain, then you need to look at how your sled is interacting with the snow.
You basically have three contact points in the snow on a slow, “wrong-foot-forward” riding position: 1) inside rear section of the rear suspension, 2) inside ski, 3) your foot.
The rear suspension can greatly affect how the sled handles in this situation, but more on that later. Your foot is a continuous variable. But how the ski works and what it does is critical.
Break it down even further. On a sidehill, the outer edge and rear section of the ski are really where the contact is being made. How those aspects of the ski are designed dictates how the ski will hold the sidehill and if it will have tendencies to climb or fall off the slope. Also, the tail section of the ski dictates how the handlebars react in the rider’s hands and vice-versa. Too much material in the tail section will make the ski want to straighten out on a sidehill, pushing the ski tip into the snow which will make the ski want to climb up the slope.
There are a lot of design functions to consider, like rocker vs straight keel, where the keel is in regards to the centerline of the ski, where the keel is in regards to the spindle, how much material hangs out on each side of the keel, ski tip width, curve and shape, ski tail width, curve and shape… the list goes on.
But what I’m essentially getting at is that mountain sleds need specifically-designed left and right skis. It’s been tried in the past, but under the premise that both skis are contacting a flat plane. Obviously, that’s not how we’re riding.
Something to think about until it snows…