Chariots of Tire(s): Crazy Big-Wheeled Commuting Skates

When inline skates were first introduced, lovers of the traditional roller-skate model thought they looked dangerous. Rollerbladers may suffer the same reaction when they see the Chariot Skates, which recently won the “People’s Choice award” on an episode of the ABC show New Inventors. They ride less like skates – or even rollerblades, for that matter – and more like skis, or even a stripped down, rearranged bike.

The large wheels have supports for the feet below the axles, meaning that the feet don’t go into restrictive boots. The legs and feet are free to move more fluidly and naturally. The big wheels let riders explore a wider variety of terrains, while the lower center of gravity makes the ride feel stable. Riders can stop with any of the time-tested braking techniques roller skaters and rollerbladers have been using for decades, or simply reach down with gloved hands to slow the wheels’ spinning.

There’s an additional, smaller wheel on the back of each skate to provide additional stability. The inventors claim that the motion provided by the knee-high large wheel and unique suspension of the feet feels more like skiing than skating. The company is promoting them as a commuting tool rather than sport equipment, so we may soon be seeing executives cruising down the sidewalks in their Chariot Skates. There’s no exact release date (or price) yet, but their website indicates they’re expecting to release them sometime in the summer of 2010.

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See more in Home & Personal or under Gadgets. January, 2010.