The story of the scooters, 1986-2013

by Marc Prager, formerly know as 'Mad Marc'.

In Summer 1986 I was spending my summer holiday with my parents at the 'Plansee' lake in Austria. The only thing I found interesting to do was ride my bike on the narrow pathways around the lake and hills but pretty soon it became very dull. I was bored and consequently became boring for my parents as I kept complaining. One day, they suggested I take a windsurfing course. They thought, this would be quite fun and occupy me for a week or so. Although I said 'yes' I was not too enthusiastic about windsurfing - in fact, I knew nothing about it - except a few scenes from the movie 'the white shark'. My parents could never have imagined that this suggestion would lead to the most fundamental change in my life.

I was taught how to windsurf and really enjoyed it, eventually my parents brought me some windsurf equipment (God was it heavy!). After 2 years sailing I had outgrown the equipment and it was no longer suitable. This became apparent, when a friendly windsurfer lent me a board, that started planing early and went much faster than mine. Although the holidays were over I could not forget that incredible 'speed buzz'. My parents bought me a 'Klepper 320' and later the very famous (green) 'Klepper 272'. I became more and more fanatical about windsurfing and did my first jump in 1989 in the South of France.

Everything became more difficult when I left home and started studying in Ulm as there are no suitable lakes around there. I spent my holidays at Heilbronn/Germany with my parents. One very rainy and stormy day in 1991 it happened: I was so frustrated and could not believe or accept that this wind could pass off without being used for windsurfing. I knew that a skateboard could not provide enough control at high speed. So despite the nasty(??) weather I went to the scrap yard in our village and searched/hoped for inspiration. I didn't get inspired at all, but wet all over instead, however I was caught by the idea of 'land surfing', the seed had been sown and the rain helped to germinate it.

It took me some days in my father's workplace until I had the idea of the two-wheel-board. Also, it took several weeks until the idea finally materialized. Eventually I held a 2 wheel board with 12½ " wheels in my hand with the steering mechanism made of 4 glass fibre joints. I looked outside and found there was a good wind; my heart started pumping, time to see if all my efforts were for nothing. With adrenalin pumping I put the board and a 4.2m² sail into the car and rushed to the top of a long gentle hill in our village. I was completely amazed by the enormous speed - it felt just like a planing surfboard!! I secretly called this first board a 'SkateRoller'. Since then I have spent nearly a decade land-sailing on narrow farm-roads with my SkateRoller. Wherever I moved, I took my SkateRoller with me. Since that first ride in 1991 I knew how much fun it is to ride this board, even if there is not enough area to do jibes and other moves. When there was good wind, I went land-sailing and reveled in the speed and sail-power for hours. Less than 1 person/year cared about me and my sport.

The WindScooter was invented in winter 1998/1999, on a sleepless night I had to spend in my car in Karlsruhe/Germany. It is similar to the SkateRoller, but is much sturdier, if not indestructible. With incredible effort I realized the first prototype within 2 months. I tested it a few times, but did not find an area to feel the full potential of the board. I was too busy with my job and the Windscooter disappeared again. In Jan 2000 I decided to patent the board. I was frustrated about my job and needed some change in my life. In March, I moved to Ulm (again), not only because of a new job but also because of an excellent concrete area suitable for windscooting,(the real reason!)

Since then, the WindScooter has evolved quite a lot. Only a short time later, the first 'CableScooter' was built (it crashed in summer 2000 during a very hot video-session in Munich). In Autumn the same year I spent my holidays with 3 friends in Southern France (Windsurfers Paradise) and besides some Windscooter high speed trips along the beach we had our first contact with kiting. Eventually I bought a kite and discovered that it was a lot of fun to ride a CableScooter with a kite in my hands. Foot straps emerged in Jan 2001, mainly as a requirement for a kite-board and the 'KiteScooter' was born. At this time, Gerold a kite-enthusiast and friend changed my focus from windsurfing to Kiting. In June 2001 I built my first flex-deck Scooter just at the time we were experimenting with the off road potential.

In winter 2001/2002 there was a lot of work done behind the scenes. I redesigned the Scooter and the steering mechanism and created an effective and affordable production process. Weight dropped dramatically from about 10kg down to 4.8 kg (in March 2003) and there's still some potential for a further reduction. This low weight allows high jumps with a kite. Now the biggest future potential besides Kiteboarding is all terrain boarding (ATB). The low weight, robustness, maneuverability and high speed control of the latest models have made the dream of summer snowboarding finally come true...

The Years 2003 and 2004 were the most active. I spend much (all of my) money improving mainly the KiteScooter and I received great help of Martin Harris (UK). I participated in a few contests and my world turned mainly around kitescooting. It was a great time for a while. I greenly believed that a good invention and a patent would provide a basis for doing some business. I thought I was the only person who can further improve the scooters and I was willing to earn low money, so a slowly growing business should be possible. I was so wrong with this idea, I cannot tell you! I completely failed in the end. I ran out of money and stopped all activity from one day to another. I did know so much about physics, mechanics, calculations, machining and even microcontroller programming for automation of heat-treatment and CNC-manufacturing. But I did know nothing about man. Nothing about marketing. To sum it up in one sentence: my approach failed because I assumed the customer could think of his own and would appreciate good work and would be willing to pay a fair price. It turned out, that most customers are plain stupid, stingy to the extreme and behave as 'king customer' while I - the inventor and creator of a product - simply exist to kiss the customers ass!? There were a few very nice exceptions with names like Andrew, Andy, Sigurd, and a man in UAE (maybe I missed one or two) but the average customer is as described above, really. I also failed, because if erroneously assumed that contensts were fair events. Participating in races should be a good way to promote the product, right? Wrong! It's about sponsorship. It's about sensation mongering. At least in these years, bleeding knees, scarred elbows seemed to be kind of cool. To me it never was. I always used heavy protection to avoid injuries and I never risked too much. In the end it turned out I had the wrong product, the wrong approach to the customer, the wrong mindset in this sport. I stopped selling my scooters in September 2004.

In late 2004 I got back to the normal way of earning money and it was so much money compared to the time before! I do not regret my excourse into a 'not so serious' business like landboarding. On the contrary. I started my transition from a pure computer programming to more hardware-biased programming. 'windscooting' improved my skills in microcontroller programming and since then I moved on into this direction. Today I develog ARM-based microcontroller boards and do much programming on these devices. Not the OS-slowed-down type of programming, but the 'bare metal' type of programming.

In 2008 I bought a tiny old house and this started an 'experimental living' phase in my life, that lasts until today (2013) at least. By 'experimental living' I mean (simplified): No comfort (makes you a wimp), no hot water (makes you a wimp), few heating (makes you a wimp), no refrigerator, no TV (makes you a remotely controlled idiot).

In 2009 I met the greatest girl on earth. This site is about sports and I won't tell you about my girl except for her influence on me concerning sports. I don't believe, she's the windscooting type of girl. We do much mountainbiking and my endurance heavily improved since I met her.

2011 is the year I contemplated about my former activities and also the year I revived my windscooting activities. I believe the kiting hype moved me into a direction that was not advantagegeous. While the kite allowed to go offroad it pulled me away from the more move-oriented windscooting or the windscooting high speed fun. The windscooter was initially build to be able to do windsurfing far off the coast (I live in south Germany) and the first ride was great fun and it is still great fun. It's somehow funny, that only a few days ago it found a windscooter in my garage that was probably the last board I built in 2004 and I never rode it after building. It contains all improvements of the latest KiteScooter applied to sail-based system. 7 years after its creation it is tested. Today, October 19th, I rode for one hour in the evening after work and it was fun! The wind was light - 15..20km/h - by I reached a peak speed of 44.6km/h. I'm now itching to test the board on a large parking lot as this board was obviously NOT designed for speed but for 45°+ tilt and tight turns. Had I used a kite, I'd have returned angry, because the wind was gusty (it always is) and the kite would have dropped several times. Of course the wind was not strong enough to ride one of the many meadows here (with the KiteScooter). I can even imagine selling scooters again on a small scale.

In early 2012 me and the greatest girl on earth ended our relationship. Since that time I have a very strong opinion about females: they cannot love, they cannot think, they cannot respect men. Simply an oestrogene-driven spawning drone with a powerful rhetoric processor. A man is simply viewed as the resource to realize that simpleton's dreams. The more you respect them, the more you're only a resource. You need to be a macho, a dominating person to live with a girl or else you need to be a wimp. I'm neither of these. I refuse to fight in a relationship. I refuse to dominate. But I definitely refuse to be dominated. Especially by an inferior mind. Sorry, if this is so damn difficult to understand.

In 2013 I release my first open source Linux program. That has nothing to do with Scooters, you're right. But it shows I simply can't stop offering better solutions than existing ones. I apologize for beeing such a bad businessman, making it so hard for people to buy a windscooter/kitescooter. The point is: I don't need that money. I have enough for my style of living. If you buy a scooter I have to divert time to build that toy. But in the same time I make more money in my regular job which is an interesting one. To make it absolutely clear: if you manage to buy one I was doing you a favour. On the other hand, if I create and publish an open source program I maybe do you a favour for providing it. But I definitely do me a favour because all three of us - me, myself and I - do need that program in the first place!

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