The Ice-Bat was invented by Steve Ellis (adventurer, polymath and Olympic rower). One icy morning in January 2010, a few friends were out on our mountain bikes attempting to cycle on a frozen canal. It sort of worked but inevitably one of us slid over, fortunately only breaking his bike. This was the moment Steve decided to design a bike for use on ice.
Usable natural ice is very illusive – either too thin, covered in snow, too uneven, etc – so straight away it was decided that the new design needed to be suitable for indoor ice. This added the requirement that it should not ruin the ice. The two machines that inspired the first design were “Decavitator” – the world’s fastest human powered boat – and the “Blokart” – a groovy ice yacht made in New Zealand.
By the time the winter of 2010/11 had arrived, the initial wheel based test bed had given way to a wood and aluminium prototype. The first laps of the ice rink were hopeless! Slow, no cornering ability and the chain fell off a lot. But the concept proved good. Within a few weeks the lap times had dropped from several minutes to 50s and without pausing for breath, 2 Ice-Bat v11s were commissioned from Sinner Bikes. These were ready for the inaugural races in January 2011 and the “World Championships” in March.
Buoyed by the rapid success, all sorts of developments, events and promotions were planned for the 2011/12 season using the upgraded Ice-Bat v12. It was a great season, culminating at the World Championships with more than 50 competitors and the new world record standing at 41s.
But then the wheels fell off – or rather the propeller. During a demonstration at an exhibition in the summer of 2012 the propeller hit a wall. It chipped the propeller but left a nasty slash in the wall. The new carbon propeller was great but obviously lethal and thus holding back the dream of filling ice ovals with 20 or more Ice-Bats at the same time. So almost over night the propeller was replaced by a wheel and the whole development started again at the bottom. Cornering was erratic and stability in a straight line was poor. But again, skate development, suspension geometry improvements and better weight distribution got the ICEBYK back up to speed. 2 new Icebyks were ordered from Sinner Bikes and the 2012/13 season ended with side by side racing with 4 Icebyks for the World Champs. The record for a 400m lap was down to 36s.
Jump forwards to 2016, and the flying lap record is down to 33s, the hour record is almost 36km and more that 170 Icebyk Drift Trikes, have been sold (all over Europe). The Icebyk Drift Trike is effectively the “BMX for ice rinks” – fun, easy to use, low maintenance and all sorts of stunts are within reach of even the cautious beginner.
ICEBYK is now the registered trade mark for Icebyk International. Ice Track Cycling is the sport. The aim is to use the Icebyks to promote the sport of Ice Track Cycling. A modern sport but based on traditional values; a new invention but one which works in existing facilities; suitable for racing or recreational use, disabled athletes, kids, in fact just about anyone as long as you like the idea of enjoying the wonderful feeling of gliding over ice!
Team Icebyk organises all sorts of ice track events and continues to develop the technology, both to make it faster and to simplify it for production, alongside the ongoing search for partners and opportunities.