The fastest downhill skateboarder has invented portable ramps suitable for bicycle, scooter, in-line skate or skateboard use.
Roger Hickey's trial-and-error approach led to the creation of ramps using quarter-inch sheets of bright red ABS on a frame and ribbing of 16-gauge cold rolled steel.
``We have picked up sales in nine different countries,'' said Hickey, president of Freshpark Ramps LLC, based in Dana Point, Calif.
A traditional ramp ``weighed 400 pounds, cost us $300 in wood,'' was immovable and fared poorly with rain, he said. ``Why don't we make one of these to fold up?''
In extensive experiments, he found Skatelite phenolic fiber laminate ``was $200 a sheet and weighed a ton'' and PVC would crack after three months in the sun. His truck's well-beaten, vacuum formed ABS bedliner provided the material connection for him.
Initially, he made panels of black ABS, but heat expanded the panel, caused bowing and displaced the screws. ``It would want to grow a quarter inch,'' he said.
After settling on materials, Hickey found he needed to reconfigure the design to fit on a shipping pallet. ``I really didn't realize I was going to have to spend another $180,000 ... but I wasn't going to quit'' on the idea, he said.
Each panel measures 48 inches by 20 inches and can be combined to create a quarter pipe retailing for $220. ``The cheapest quarter pipe you can buy for this exact same size costs $600, weighs 400 pounds and does not fold up,'' he said. A Freshpark kit with two flat ramps, two grind rails and a quarter pipe retails for $300.
Hickey hired a Shanghai, China, bicycle plant for contract manufacturing.
Guinness Book of World Records 2004 says Hickey in a prone position rode a skateboard 78.37 miles per hour on a course near Los Angeles in March 1990.