In-line skates have been known to the world for two centuries. In recent years, they have experienced a gradual increase in popularity. Thanks to its simplicity and unpretentious equipment, skating is sought after across age categories and sports performance. It is therefore surprising that the basic safety action: braking has been forgotten for so long during the development of skates.
Classic inline skates offer two basic stopping options. A rubber or plastic brake on the back of the skate or a so-called braking, where the skater swings one leg to a position perpendicular to the other and slowly brakes with a “plow”. For a long time, there was no alternative that resembled braking similar to bicycles or scooters.
The same was bothered by Mr. Jaroslav Černý from Olomouc, who, based on his own many years of experience, decided to invent a more efficient and safer way of braking. His simple but very original idea gave rise to the Czech start-up Stopskate. “None of the braking options is completely simple or safe. So I thought,” How come no one has come up with anything yet? “Based on that, I started thinking about the problem and ideas about invention began to materialize in my head,” says Jaroslav Černý.
Over the following years, he tried to come up with the most suitable solution. As a proper inventor, he started the experiments himself and his test track was his own apartment. In the beginning, he tried a purely mechanical solution using twine and bowden cables, but over time he realized that this would not be the way to go. “The crucial point was that the skates had to brake both at the same time, so it was necessary to insert some electronic elements into the device. Since I am not more educated in this field myself, I was looking for someone creative who knows the field. I found it in the form of Patrick Partsch. “
Together, they were able to build the first functional model of an electronic brake. This impulse gave rise to Stopskate itself. Gradually, several investors joined the company, who helped with the serial production of the electronic brake. “Thanks to investors such as Jan Tichý and Česlav Marek, we were able to start real production,” confirms Mr. Černý. And how do such brakes actually work?
An almost universal solution and a few surprising tweaks
The brake is applied to each skate separately. The company produces several variants that should fit most types of skates. “For now, we can guarantee compatibility with about 90% of all skates in the standard categories. In the future, we plan to include a larger portfolio of racing skates and, of course, children’s skates,” confirms Jaroslav Černý. Deployment is quite simple, it can be done by anyone who has basic manual skills. If you are not sure, the company is able to arrange the installation.
For the braking itself, there is a control that the skater holds in his hand. By pressing a button, it sends a signal to trigger the brake, which stops the skate using an aluminum segment. The button has a relatively large range of braking intensity, so it does not stop the skate on the spot. However, a short exercise is needed in which the skater balances the body’s balance with the intensity of the brake. An interesting function is the permanent blocking of wheels, which the skater will appreciate especially when descending stairs or crossing difficult terrain.
As already mentioned, the use of the brake requires a short exercise. Jaroslav Černý himself does not recommend the brake to complete beginners. “It’s good if you have at least some basis. It’s important to be able to keep the right balance on skates. But for many people, the electronic brake is a way to continue skating successfully. “For others, it is a suitable safety feature that can prevent a number of accidents.”
Electronic brakes: A surprising discovery at the CES conference
And the fact that this is a really meaningful solution was confirmed by the success from the beginning of 2020, when the electronic brake became a hit at the CES conference. Reuters even included her in the group “The Best of CES 2020”. The award gave the start-up the necessary impetus and, most importantly, spread its awareness to other countries. Thanks to this, current sales are split in half between Czech and foreign customers.
Currently, the company is establishing further cooperation and is trying to reach a wider portfolio of customers. “Currently, we have established cooperation with the company Tempish, which manufactures, among other things, inline skates, and thanks to which the customer can buy completely adjusted skate sets equipped with our brake,” adds Černý.
Plan for the future
The impulse that the company received thanks to the award at CES 2020 provided the necessary energy for further development. In the following years, we could look forward to the already mentioned children’s variants. An important aspect that will play a crucial role in the future is price. Due to the small series production, which takes place in our country in the Czech Republic, it remains relatively high. However, according to Jaroslav Černý, the company’s main goal for the coming years will be to reduce the production price so that the brake is more accessible to a wider range of users.
Source: author’s article in Czechsight magazine
Photo: Courtesy of Stopskate