What we wrote last year:
The prize for one of the more original innovations in cross country skiing goes to Donald Steeg, a “tool and dye maker from the Detroit area,” and, by all accounts, an avid skier. Back in 1970, Steeg had unveiled his SkiBee, “a propulsion unit for motorized skiing”.
Equipped with an eight-horsepower engine and a 24-inch propeller, SkiBee could accelerate the skier along the trail at the speed human propulsion is not quite capable of – neither then nor now.
The Detroit Free Press newspaper put it thus at the time:
“Now It’s the Super Fan To Aid the Uphill Skier! If you have $300, earplugs, a strong back, and the urge to go your own way, call Steeg Industries in Redford Township. The company sold 15 units last winter, and said it can catapult you across fields at speeds of up to 35 m.p.h!”
And when the summer came, one could also have used it as an outboard motor on a boat!
For reference: back in 1971, a brand-new Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 400 Sedan cost $3740, and a gallon of gas cost about 40 cents.
The best part? You can still get one of the original vintage SkiBees on eBay for a cool $2995, plus shipping:
If you buy one – invite us for a test, please!
TOP PHOTO: Courtesy of Hutchinson News
It turns out, Donald Steeg’s idea is not dead in the XXI century. Sergey Khvalin, a Russian inventor from the town of Dzerzhinsk, has come up with, effectively, another version of SkiBee.
Khvalin’s device is stronger – 15 horse powers, 3 liter petrol tank is enough for some 30 km as per inventor . No word on whether/how the Russian is planning to market his device.
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