Will Wheelskates take off? Is the old faithful bicycle in trouble?

Matt Gow - Monday, April 26, 2010

For me, wheelskates are already a great success because I already have my pair! I find them to be one of the freest and most exhilarating ways to get around and exercise. For the inventor, the commercial viability is not the only driving factor. It is the spirit of adventure, of going into new territory to explore what has never been done before. Of course it is my desire to have others experience the same exhilaration and freedom and I look forward to the day when I can go wheelskating with more people at the same time. 

I started building my first prototype at the end of 2004 and built 3 prototypes in Adelaide. Apart from a deep sense that I was meant to do this, I was never really sure that it would take off until after the 5th prototype was finished in 2008. This prototype performed better than I ever expected when I first started. Even then, I was not as sure as I am now after the 6th & 7th prototype. These latest versions perform so well that sometimes, when I am out skating, I feel so free that I am not sure if I feel like crying or shouting. 
I still ride a bicycle. Bicycles are great because you just hop on and peddle, park and walk into a shop. They are easier to ride than skates and some people will not have the patience to learn to skate well. When in China I ride a bike from my apartment to our China office, as it is only five minutes down the road. If I go wheelskating, I always go for at least half an hour, usually two hours and sometimes for as long as four hours. If it is a case of having fun and a workout then Wheelskates are my first choice.  

I don’t think Wheelskates will replace or out-sell inline-skates, particularly at the entry level. Inline or roller skates are better suited to a skating rink or aggressive skating, whereas wheelskates are more suited for outside, recreational and long distance: different types of skates have different benefits in different environments.

A lot of things we take for granted today, were never expected to do so well:

  • Most people thought that cars would never replace horses. Cars were way too expensive. Horses on the other hand are good at breading so you don’t need to build factories and they consume grass or hay rather than expensive toxic petroleum.
  • People thought the Wright brothers were nuts. Flying was considered too dangerous (one of the Wright brothers died in a plane crash) and it was never expected to become commercially viable. Now millions of people fly every day with in-flight meals and movies.
  • Thomas J. Watson the President of IBM is quoted in many books and articles as saying in 1943: I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers.

Who knows what the future will hold for Wheelskates.