Why should we care about the SUPSKATE poles?
Over the years, we tried all sorts of sticks, paddles, gizmos and gimmicks. Our gear is designed by an experienced sports gear engineer and is way ahead of its time.
The fundamental design needs are:
- Isotropic response to strain (forgiving when you "miss")
- High axial stiffness (eliminate energy loss at the end of the stroke)
- Optimal transverse flex (comfortable load/unload potential energy)
- Minimal weight (design at the ragged edge of material science limits)
- Maximum road grip (minimize pusher tip slipping)
- Ergonomic T handle (top hand comfort)
- Size options (optimal fit)
- Reliable thumb lock (easy length adjustments without slipping)
- Interchangeable pusher tips
Almost a decade ago, we started with a one-piece and a two-piece straight fiberglass tube with a three inch diameter rubber ball glued onto the end. The first Street Sweeper was functional, but it was too stiff, had no whip, was too heavy and hurt my shoulder. The two-piece design kept shipping costs down, but the button "clicked" every time you planted it. We tried someone else's rubber SK8Pole® tip which was grippy, but it "gave out" (buckled) when you pushed hard. The molded eva handle was ergonomic but nowhere near strong enough. So, I sat down and wrote out the idealized attributes, sketched the concepts and built prototypes for testing. After filing the patent application disclosure, we started showing it off and getting feedback.
Here are illustrative charts from the first brief, provided to Patent Counsel.
I was proud of the first adjustable Street Sweeper® PRO skate poles (paddles) which had all the right elements; adjustable length, a tapered lower pole and a flexible tip that really gripped the ground and flexed without buckling or losing energy. New in 2021, the hybrid composite SUPSKATE® RACE and CUSTOM poles were much better, and we're not even close to done innovating.
In addition to understanding mechanics, materials science and practical manufacturing concerns, sports gear engineers design specific tools so that they can evaluate the performance of their gear. Users rely on gear manufacturers to make gear that's fit for use and safe. In order to do so, we need to understand the loads and strains of the use case and do our best to ensure that the gear is designed to be reasonably safe. The custom built flex tester (above) is used to evaluate strength and flex for all our poles. We design our poles to handle at least 100 lbf, when simply supported, and then we measure the flex deflection which needs to be in a range of comfort for the user. This analytical method is a work in progress, but this is how we measure the paddles attributes to know they are strong enough and flexible enough for use.