The creators of a groundbreaking new sledge that has been designed and made in Stone will find out what the speed-crazy presenters of The Gadget Show think of it in a special TV test on Monday night.
Keith and Elly Handy have spent the last couple of years getting the Bobski – a super-cool cross between a sledge and a snowboard – ready for the market. It’s already caused a stir at ski and snowboard shows across the country this year and now it’s caught the eye of The Gadget Show presenters.
On Monday 19th December at 7pm on Channel 5, the Bobski will take on 14 other sledges on the show’s winter special. There’s a preview here from The Gadget Show website.
The recognition of The Gadget Show is testament to Keith and Elly’s hard work and commitment over the last few years, and they’ve certainly got their fingers crossed for the speed test.
Keith said: “We know it’s fast, so we’re pretty confident. We just hope it makes the top five. Then we’ll have more exposure and the Bobski will feature on The Gadget Show website. We’ll see what happens on Monday. The speed test was filmed a few weeks ago but we’ve got no idea how the bobski has done. It’ll be nervewracking watching it, that’s for sure!”
The Bobski isn’t just for speed freaks, though.
Elly said: “The great thing about it is that the Bobski works really well on gentle slopes where other sledges just won’t work. Also, it hardly weighs a thing so little ones can easily pull it back up again. It’s suitable for all ages.”
The Bobski has certainly been a long time in the making.
We have to go back to the 1980s, to the south Downs in Sussex, where Keith and Elly were living with their young (now eldest) son Christopher. Keith, a designer by profession, built a sledge which had all the design principles of the sledge that is on The Gadget Show on Monday. The Bobski was born!
It’s only recently, however, in January 2009, that the couple decided to invest in tooling and development to start selling the Bobski. But they knew they were on to a winner when they took eight rough prototypes up to the Common Plott for testing in the winter of 2009.
Elly said: “We could have sold them on the Common Plott right there and then! We gave them to people who were already out sledging to try and they couldn’t believe the difference. The Bobskis kept on going long after their sledges had ground to a halt.”
Keith added: “They also don’t need much snow to work. We’ve even had reports that they work really well when there’s been a heavy frost.”
Keith talks passionately about the design principles and materials that have been used to create the Bobski. PolarPol, a special plastic which is used for the main body, is extremely durable and the way it is moulded avoids stress points that can become weak at low temperatures, he says.
He said: “It’s so tough and durable. We actually did a test where I reversed my car up a Bobski, which was propped up on some stone to make a ramp. My car actually came off worse! The bobski didn’t break but it bent and got wedged under the car.”
There’s a video on the bobskis website as proof, as well as lots of other videos showing the Bobski in action.
It’s this durability and expert design that Keith says puts the Bobski head and shoulders above cheaper plastic sledges.
“Unlike many cheaper sledges that you see cracked and broken,” he said, “Bobskis are tough and durable. They’re designed to give you years of use, not just a couple of trips to the slopes.”
Unfortunately for the couple, the finished product was not quite ready for the snow we had last year but it’s now raring to go and is being shipped all over the country, from Keith and Elly’s workshop in Stone.
And the great thing about the bobski is that it’s truly Made in Stone. Apart from two bits of the sledge, everything is sourced and manufactured in Stone and Staffordshire before being assembled at the workshop by Keith and Elly.
Panda Press print the green labels that you can see on the bobskis, as well as the instruction books. Drill bits have been made by Sabit and Stonetech, TD Thermal and Wrenishaw, all based in Stone, have contributed. Firms in Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent have also been involved.
So a real little bit of Stone will be showcased on The Gadget Show on Monday night. Fingers crossed that it does well!!
You can find out lots more about the Bobski and place your order before the snow arrives at the official website – www.bobskis.com. They’re also on sale at the Outdoor Pursuits Cooperative in Radford Street. Prices start at £45.