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How the Flybar Works

        Entertainment | Toys

Using the Flybar
Fundamentally, using the Flybar is no different than using a traditional pogo stick. A rider simply grabs the handlebar and jumps on, placing his feet on the foot pegs. If he's standing correctly, his knees will be bent, his weight will be centered over the piston and the Flybar will be perpendicular to the ground. Then it's a matter of bouncing.

Riding the Flybar
Image courtesy SBI Enterprises, Inc./FLYBAR
Pro skateboarder Andy Macdonald on the Flybar.

Four factors affect the Flybar bounce: rider weight, leg strength, the number of thrusters engaged and the piston setting. The first of these four factors, of course, can't be changed, but by applying more force with the legs or engaging more thrusters, a rider can make the Flybar bounce higher.

The piston setting is also crucial to optimal bouncing. Piston length can be set to nine positions, from seven inches to 18 inches. The longer the piston is set, the higher the bounce. Most people can achieve a peak bounce height that is twice the piston length. For the average person, that means a bounce height of two to three feet. Some trained athletes, such as pro skateboarder Andy Macdonald, can bounce more than five feet off the ground. The record so far is nearly eight feet. With such height potential, the Flybar is turning traditional pogoing into an extreme sport with tricks and maneuvers. You can see a video of people doing Flybar tricks here.

Flybar Safety
Safety isn't as much of an issue with traditional pogo sticks because they don't bounce as high and are easier to control. Flybars, however, require more attention to safety. Helmets should be worn at all times. Before a jumping session, riders should check for hazards and make sure that the surface is solid, flat, dry and free from debris. A wide field of action is ideal for Flybar jumping, so riders should look for outdoor areas that give plenty of room to maneuver. Other hazards to avoid include:

A flybar trick
Image courtesy SBI Enterprises, Inc./FLYBAR
Pro skater Andy Macdonald on the Flybar.

  • Traffic
  • Pedestrians
  • Slippery ground
  • Overhead obstacles
  • Steep inclines
  • Soft or weak surfaces
  • Holes or uneven ground

Remember that while the Flybar bounce may be three to five feet off the ground, the rider's head can be 10 to 12 feet in the air. When the Flybar tip hits the ground, it can generate 1,000 pounds of pressure. That's why it's so important to check for wide, flat, solid areas free from low-hanging trees or wires.

Flybar Models
The Flybar 1200 was the first Flybar model marketed to the public. SBI Enterprises released it in September 2004 and designed it for experienced riders weighing up to 250 pounds. The name of the 1200 comes from its ability to generate up to 1200 pounds of thrust.

In the spring of 2006, SBI released the Flybar 800 for riders between 80 and 180 pounds. It can generate 800 pounds of thrust and launch riders up to four feet in the air. Less extreme than the 1200, the 800 is designed for teens and smaller, lighter adults. Children will soon have the Flybar 400.

Height Potential
Flybar 1200
21 pounds
1,200 pounds
five feet
Flybar 800
12 pounds
800 pounds
four feet
Flybar 400
400 pounds

With all of these models on the market, the Flybar is likely to capture the imagination of users across generations. Best of all, it carries on the spirit and tradition of the original pogo stick, which relied on a simple, elegant design to provide hours of entertainment. The traditional pogo stick had limitations because of its coil spring. The Flybar, with its elastomeric spring system, does away with those limitations without relying on pneumatic or artificial propulsion systems. It's a pogo stick for the 21st century.

For lots more information on the Flybar and related topics, check out the links on the next page.

Other New Pogo Sticks

The Pogomatic
Image courtesy UC Berkeley Human Engineering Laboratory
The Pogomatic

Image courtesy Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University
Over the years, inventors all over the world have taken on the challenge of building a better bouncing toy. The Pogomatic is a power-assisted pogo stick designed by Tim McGee and Justin Raade of the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory. It uses a pneumatic cylinder as the actuator for the pogo stick and is able to maintain a constant bounce height of several inches without requiring any energy input from the rider.

Another notable example of a design using elastic instead of springs is the BOWGO, a patented design that uses a fiber-reinforced composite spring that bends like a bow to store elastic energy. The BOWGO is a product of the Toy Robots Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. The bow spring was first developed as a resilient leg that could be placed on hopping and running robots. Compared to the steel coil spring of a traditional pogo stick, the bow spring stores two to five times as much energy per unit mass and enables the BOWGO to bounce as high as two feet off the ground. The BOWGO isn't commercially available at this time, but may be soon.