Jeffrey Rapp at speed on a bike of his own creation...
I recently had the chance to get in a couple hours of saddle time on the new
Boomerang skibike at Beaver Creek, Colorado. This was a much anticipated demo, as
I had been conversing digitally with the builder for about a year. I have always
been attracted by uniqueness and originality in design, so this bike definitely had
my attention. Of course, the most unique factor is the utilization of a single bike-ski,
this is the first production mono-ski skibike for the masses. This was a chance for
a fresh, novel experience, and I was very curious as to the handling characteristics
of this new creation.
The builder is Jeffrey Rapp, an Adaptive rider from Louisiana. He had been
modifying existing 2-ski bikes since 2004 to accommodate his need for an auto-lift
loading frame design (see photo at bottom of page). He was looking forbetter ride
quality, and to simplify ski attachment and increase ski length. These aspirations
eventually led to the beginning of the prototyping process for the mono-ski concept
in 2014 (see photo at bottom of page). The rather long commute from Louisiana to
ski prompted the purchase of a condo in Colorado, making the slope-testing process
much more convenient. The end result of that process is these bikes:
*The bike is available in two versions, box frame (left) and tube frame (right).
*It is designed to be ridden with foot-skis. *Standard alpine bike-skis (w/standard
bindings) are utilized, ski mount position is adjustable 5". Typical ski lengths:
165-185cm. *Shock absorbers are Fox FLOAT 3 EVOL R snowmobile air shocks of varying
lengths providing up to 22" of suspension travel! Shock mounting is 6-way adjustable
for seat height, which is variable from aprox 26" to 36" (uncompressed). *Handlebars
are exchangeable. *Foot-rests and foot-skis are optional. *The box frame model features
a storage compartment.
*Category... Adult All Mountain *Model(s)... 2 *Weight... 18# / 21# w/o skis *Suspension...
Adjustable Air Shock *Frame... Aluminum *Bike-ski...Variable *Foot-skis...Variable
*Options... Foot-rests, Foot-skis *Warranty... 2 years *Retail... TBA- expected
to be comparable with mid to upper end skibobs. *MFG... USA
I rode the tube frame version of the bike, which is my personal preference.
It's simpler, smaller and lighter. It was set up with relatively short, soft 166cm
skis. The 17.5" shock provided about 16" of actual suspension travel.
Since I am acclimated to a standard 2-ski bike, the first impression is the
strange sensation of handlebars that don't turn! That definitely takes some getting
used to... Another unaccustomed feature is seating, static seat height started out
tall, but weighted it was set to sag 8" to about standard skibob height. Hmmm...
This is all adjustable, but more on that later.
The first order of business, the lift. We've all experienced the logistical
maneuvering required to lift-load a skibike. What if all of that could be eliminated?
One of the primary design concepts of this frame is to simplify this process. And,
simple it is. You stand straddling the bike in the load location, the chair then
scoops up the bike and you along with it. With some maneuvering, the safety bar can
then be deployed. You then cruise up the mountain sitting on the bike seat. No leash
should be required by the resort, the bike is absolutely secure. To unload, just
reverse the sequence, stand up and push away. An elegant solution, I have only one
thing to say — m-a-r-v-e-l-o-u-s. . .
Once out on the slope, the lesson begins. Without the accustomed counter-steering
effect of a 2-ski bike, making turns initially seemed ponderous. But, I soon realized
that the trick (for me) was to use all that suspension travel to pogo and weight/un-weight
the ski in turns, just like regular alpine skiing. I even tried standing up on the
foot-skis and swinging the tail back and forth, an interesting sensation.
My time in the saddle was limited, and spent on mild green/blue slopes. Consequently,
this appraisal should be considered preliminary...
*Turns > Once you figure out the technique, the bike will edge/carve competently.
I was impressed at how well it would hold a line in icy conditions. Skidded turns
were also smooth and predicable.
*Stability/Tracking > Good, it seemed to hold a line well at moderate/medium speeds.
* Powder > I only had a brief opportunity on an un-groomed section, just a few inches
deep but it seemed to handle it without issue. Deep powder would require a longer/wider
* Technical -Trees/Moguls/Jumps/Steeps > I didn't have a chance to conduct an intricate
evaluation on these types of terrain. I did jump in and out quickly on some short
tree trails parallel to the slopes, with a couple of small jumps thrown in. I would
prophesize that tight deep-woods riding is not the strong suit of this design, likewise
for moguls. Jumps could be interesting, the long-travel suspension could be quite
advantageous. I think it would require a longer, stiffer ski. It seemed to have a
tendency to pitch forward on the jumps I tried, although more familiarity with the
balance characteristics (and adjustment thereof) should yield improved results.
* Misc > The seat was comfortable, and the ergonomics were good. And, with all that
suspension travel, the ride was plush. My back and posterior were appreciative of
The bike has a very wide range of adjustability: The air-suspension setup is
almost infinitely variable, and the ski mount position can be altered 5" fore and
aft for balance. This is a critical factor on a mono-ski design, as is ski selection,
which is also easily modifiable. The bike can be custom-tailored to suit about any
riding style, although experimentation with all of those possible settings could
make getting it dialed in perfectly a rather time consuming process.
I feel that the Boomerang Mono-Bike provides several advantages over the prevailing
*Number one is the auto lift-load feature, this is essential for some adaptive riders,
and just very convenient for the rest of us. *The suspension is in a league of it's
own with massive travel. *The utilization of a standard alpine quick-change binding
opens up a plethora of options in ski selection, used downhill skis are very widely
available at bargain prices. This feature also allows the ski to be easily removed
for transportation purposes. *Another attribute is the light weight, only 18 lbs
for the tube frame model, plus a ski. Typically, a ski and binding will add 4-6 lbs.
*And last, but not least, is the uniqueness and originality of the Mono-Ski design,
you'll definitely stand out in the crowd.
The spirit of innovation is truly alive and well in the USA... This is a very
credible addition to the skibike universe.
~As of the date of this article, bikes have been placed in various ski area
instructional programs for evaluation. They are expected to be generally available
for purchase in the 2018-2019 season.www.boomerangskibikes.com
An auto- lift load conversion kit on a Brenter C-6...