Where can I ride a skibike...?
The type of terrain to be found in all ski resorts, is quite suitable for skibiking. It is fair to say that if you can ski or snowboard on a particular piste, then a skibike will perform equally well.
There are restrictions on the use of skibikes in some resorts, this is not due to the types of piste to be found in a particular area, it is more a political issue and is dictated by the hierarchy within the individual resorts. Some resorts welcome skibikers and have no restrictions, others forbid the use of skibikes, or limit their use to certain lifts or pistes. As with all new or unusual sports (snowboarding) etc., it can take time for it to gain popularity or acceptance.
America may well insist that the skibike originated there, and this may be the case but the US resorts that allow unrestricted skibike use appears to be rather limited at the moment.
We always check with the resort's tourist office before booking. It is unlikely that your local travel agent will have detailed, or up to date information on skibike use in a particular resort.
How much do they cost...?
Skibike hire is the best option for a first outing. We hope to provide a detailed list of suppliers of hire equipment, in the near future.
A good mountain bike (ATB) can be expensive, and the same goes for skibikes. It has to be born in mind the amount of stress that can be placed on the machine, even when negotiating sedate runs at slow speeds, you will have heard the old saying, "you only get what you pay for".
Who can skibike...?
Pretty much anybody really. My daughter started at the age of 10 years on a home made Bike, (courtesy of yours truly), and there was Baron Von Holliweg (Mops to his friends), who skibiked with an artificial leg. A gentleman by the name of Sir Henry Wooga, regularly takes parties of partially disabled army personnel to the alpine pistes, and has been featured on national TV in the UK.
If you can ride a bicycle, you are well on the way to being a skibiker.
How fit do I have to be...?
All physical sports require a degree of fitness, but if you can make it to your local pub 500 metres down the road in one go, or regularly walk the dog with no adverse side effects, then skibiking should not cause any problems.
Most winter sports enthusiasts do however, embark on some form of fitness regime, a few weeks prior to their departure, it is up to the individual to decide the level or intensity.
What clothing do I need...?
No special clothing, other than normal ski attire is needed, most items can be hired from reputable ski shops, and offer decent discounts if you choose to purchase the clothing on your return. Gloves, hats & goggles cannot usually be hired so you will need to purchase them in your local ski shop, or in the resort. We recommend you purchase these items in the resort because there is usually a larger selection to choose from.
Where can I get skibike instruction...?
Due to the lack of snow clad mountains within the UK, we are unable to give any firm advice on where to obtain suitable instruction. Most of the dry ski slopes dotted around the country welcome skibikes, but they do not usually have any equipment for hire.
There is no substitute for the real thing, (snow that is,) and we firmly recommend you to take your first venture through one of the skibike clubs, or go on one of the Brenter courses. We hear they are very good.
Do all resorts allow skibiking...?
Sadly the answer to that question is no. Resorts fall in to 3 categories:
(1) Resorts that allow unrestricted use of all lifts and pistes.
(2) Resorts that allow restricted use of skibikes on some of their lifts or pistes.
(3) Resorts that forbid skibike use completely.
Before booking our holiday, we always check with the village tourist office as to what lifts and runs can be used. Keep in mind that some resorts allow you to skibike on the pistes, but do not allow the use of the lifts. Fine if you are prepared to spend 4 or 5 hours carrying your skibike 2000 metres up the mountain, only to spend 30 minutes skibiking back down, this is not our idea of a good time, so check carefully.
Why is skibiking restricted in some resorts...?
A very good question, and one which is not easy to answer.
The resorts that either restrict, or forbid the use of skibikes, will usually quote either the unsuitability of their lift/piste system, or the dangers involved with skibike use.
In the 20 years or so, that we have been skibiking, we have encountered very few lifts or pistes that we could not negotiate with both safety to ourselves, and others. The ones we have come across on occasion, have proved to be intimidating to skiers as well as snowboarders, and tend to be little used by most parties.
Where can I buy equipment...?
In the past:
Brenter (Austria), Keeda (Germany), Porche (Germany), Hari and Jafca (England), all produced skibikes in some form or other. To our knowledge there are only 2 surviving European manufacturers.
Brenter GMBH, Arnsdorferstrabe 19-23, A-5110 Oberndorf, Austria.
Tel: 0043 (0)6272/7777-0 Fax: 0043 (0)6272/7777-22
Flachsmann, CH-8038 Zurich, Butzenstrasse 54/56, Switzerland.
Tel: 01/481/7877 Fax: 01/483/0039
K2 have now started producing skibikes, we do not have an address for them but their web site can be found in our Links Page.
Stalmach skibikes can also be found in our Links Page.
All companies, we believe, can arrange delivery of your equipment to a UK address, or to your chosen ski resort, prior to your departure.
Brenter Snowbikes (Austria) have Snowbikes for hire, and run very good instruction courses, their web site can be found in Links.
Is skibiking dangerous...?
As with all physical sports, there is always an element of risk, but the risk is far less than is the case with skiing and snowboarding. This is due to the low centre of gravity on a skibike, and it's 4 points of contact. Generally injuries are usually of the minor bruise variety.
Transporting a skibike...?
By air is the most common way to get your bike to the alpine slopes. Most tour operators are happy to transport your equipment for you, though some will charge a small fee due to that little bit of extra weight involved, when compared to a pair of skis, some will also insist on a protective bag of some kind, this is for safety reasons, we use light weight canvas bags.
By car is also very popular, this method is dependant on the distance to your chosen resort though. Driving to your resort gives you the advantage of having transport to go exploring your chosen region, should the occasional day of bad weather make skibiking less appealing.
Skibikes can be transported on roof racks, bike racks, and when broken down into their component parts, transported in the boot of your car. A small spanner and screw driver are usually all the tools that are required.
When is the best time to go skibiking...?
The European ski season has been a bit unpredictable in recent years due no doubt to global warming but is usually from mid November to late April, this can vary though, and is usually dependant on the altitude of your chosen resort, and the snow conditions that prevail at the time. February is a popular month, when both sun and snow are usually at their best, this is high season and holiday costs go up accordingly. We prefer the last 1 or 2 weeks prior to high season, the costs are substantially lower, but the conditions are usually very similar to high season.
There are a number ski resorts with glaciers, while it can prove rather costly, these resorts offer glacier skiing well into August and beyond. We have not personally indulged in summer glacier skiing, but we are advised that up to lunchtime the skiing can be superb, thereafter the snow tends to get rather wet and sticky.