Conceived by a Royal College of Art student, PoChih Lai, the Stair-Rover longboard features a distinctive eight-wheeled design with a unique mechanism that allows it to scuttle crab-like down flights of stairs.

The Stair-Rover was originally conceived as PoChih Lai’s final-year project at the Royal College of Art in London. It was a solution to his vision of creating a new sport that would combine aspects of longboarding and surfing, and prompt riders to look at their cities in a new way.

“The streets of London inspired me. In the same way that surfers see the wave as an expression of hidden energy, I saw the city’s architecture as a source of energy to be harnessed by skateboarders. Longboarders and skateboarders have already found countless ways to do this, but I dreamed of another way to enjoy its flow. And that’s how Stair-Rover came to be,” describes Lai.

Lai designed his longboard from the ground up. The board, which measures 88 x 27 x 15 centimetres and weighs 5 kilograms, features a unique eight-wheeled mechanism. Although on flat terrain it operates just like a traditional longboard, on rough cobblestones or stairs its V-frame design ensures a smooth ride. This is because the wheels bounce up and down independently and conform to the shape of each step.

With the aim of taking it to market, Lai teamed up with a small group of designers, strategists and marketers to form Stair-Rover. He has also tested his prototypes, of which 14 have been made so far, with different riders. Their feedback has helped fine tune his design and ensure the longboard meets the rigorous standards required of a commercial product.

“Stair-Rover really isn’t like anything we’ve seen before. It’s about daring people to explore their cities in a brand new way,” says Lai. “It is very distinctive looking, but people that have tried it tell us it feels natural – on flat ground, it performs a lot like a conventional longboard. The real difference is the amount of freedom you have on the Stair-Rover. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what our community of riders can do with that freedom.”

Following two years of development, Lai and his team recently launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hope that they can raise the £50,000 needed to manufacture the first run of boards. The Kickstarter project offers rewards to backers for investments of £8 to £600, including branded stickers and clothing and limited-edition Stair-Rovers. Both the standard Stair-Rover (maple deck + white chassis) and the upgraded Stair-Rover Pro (Black maple deck + black fibreglass + black chassis) are available via the Kickstarter project.

With manufacturing partners, suppliers and distributors set up, Lai and his team are hopeful that the campaign will reach its £50,000 target, which runs until 31 July 2013.

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