The early origins of the skibike (aka snowbike and skibob) appear to date back nearly 150 years...
    They seem to have appeared in the European alps in the 1850's as a means of practical winter transportation, as evidenced by oil paintings from the era. They were quite large with heavy wooden framework. As often happens, invention occurs concurrently in different geographic locations. There is evidence that a similar vehicle had been constructed in North America in the 1870's. In 1892 a patent was granted to an American, a Mr. J. Stevens for his "Ice Velocopede". (>Photo: Right) It was basically a bicycle conversion with a single runner in front and  two in the rear. There is no evidence that it was ever produced. In 1911, the "Velogemel" was patented in Grindelwald, Switzerland. This is probably the first actual production skibike. Info
     Not much is known about skibike development during the next 38 years. However, an authenticated photo has recently surfaced from the 1939 MGM ski novelty movie "Ski-Birds", depicting a couple sitting on a fairly sophisticated metal skibike. This is something of a revelation, the "missing link" to later designs. Nothing is known regarding the origins of this bike. (>Photo: Right)
    Skibikes surfaced publicly again in the late 1940's. On March 10, 1949, Engelbert Brenter, an Austrian ski manufacturer, obtained a patent for his "Sit-Ski". (>Photo: Right) This device incorporated several innovative features. Prior to this time, skibikes were essentially transportation vehicles, a steer-able sledge with runners. Utilizing the principles of skiing, Mr. Brenter replaced the runners with real skis, added a suspension system and began utilizing short foot-skis. The end result of these changes was a slope useable device capable of skidded turns and speed control. These user- friendly attributes were a major contributing factor in the transformation of skibiking into the recreational “sport” that we know today. An improved version of this bike was a commercial success in the 1950's. The Brenter family continues to produce skibikes to this day.
    In 1950, the German engineer Ernst Reiss-Schmidt patented a design  later to become the "Gfaellerei". (>Photo: Right )
    Many designs emerged in the early 50's. Georg Gfaller Sr, a German engineer, produced the hoop-frame bike pictured on the right. (It is also depicted in the animation at the top of this page) This may have appeared as early as 1946/47, there are questions regarding the exact date. Pictured below it is a tube-framed version. In 1952, he patented a rocket powered winged hybrid, with the front ski replaced by two in parallel. (>Photo: Below) His son, Georg Jr, would later serve as President of the FISB, and it is said that he coined the expression "Skibob". This became the generally accepted term for these vehicles and is still in use today in Europe.
   With the proliferation of ski areas in the 50's, 60's and 70's the popularity of the sport continued to grow in Europe. At one time there were over 70 manufacturers. Organized competition also began during this time with the first race being held in Obertauern, Austria in 1954. The Federation International de Skibob (FISB) was formed in 1961. The first World Championship was held in 1967. From this period, through current times, skibiking has continued as a popular winter pastime in the European alps.
    In America, biking enjoyed a period of relative popularity during the late 60's through the mid 70's. There were many domestic manufacturers. A World Championship competition event was held at Mount Rose, Nevada in 1971. For further information see the USA-Retrospective page. Following this period, through cycles of change, a dedicated group of core enthusiasts has continued to keep the flag flying. An interesting parallel is snowmobiling. Sleds were very popular during this same period with around 100 manufacturers. By the early 1980's this number had fallen to only 4. Changing times...
    The late 1990's began the contemporary renaissance of skibiking in North and South America. The pendulum is swinging back around. There is a new progressive spirit, a desire for new experience as evidenced by the interest in alternative X-treme sports. The bike is back!
     As you can see from the photos on this page, the spirit of innovation has never been lacking among skibike builders!
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“Ice Velocopede” 1892
History > Menu
Brenter “Sit-Ski” 1949
The "Gfaller" (top & bottom)


1973 - Video

Vintage Skibiking Film Clips (1956-1969)

Memorabilia Collections:  #1   #2

The "Velogemel" 1911

A still from the 1939 movie "Ski-Birds" ^
Courtesy of: Dave Gonzalez

Broschart Ski-bob 1965

Russian Ski-Trike 1868
Courtesy of: Michael Coulson
Wooden Tandem Skibob
Photo: Henry Wuga

Skibikers in Switzerland - 1914!       Bike: Velogemel

Enlargement / Info

The "Velogemel"

Photo: Dave Agnew
Courtesy of: Michael Coulson
Published Colorado 1969 ^
Courtesy of: Canadian Skibike Assn
McCormick bourbon decanter commemorating the third World Skibob Championships held at Mount Rose, Nevada, USA in 1971 >
Courtesy of: Michael Coulson
60's Rebel Biker–Fred Petersen in the formative years...

A Beatle on a bob...

Lorenz Ertl, 50's skibiking pioneer   Story

Magazine ad - 1969     Enlargement

1974 ad that appeared in Playboy magazine - The skibob is a Hari    Enlargement

Skibob trading card-1979

Skibob post card-1969

Early 50's patent drawings. This version of the Gfaller was apparently  destined to be rocket powdered. >

Skibike Museum in Austria