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Monty Python and the Heely Grail plus Heelys Safety Claims

roadskater's picture

Well you know any kind of device can be dangerous, or most of them, anyway. See below for some comparisons among wheeled and non-wheeled sports. And while the backlash is beginning for the Heelys, check out the bids they get whenever they're on the skatebay.com most watched ebay skate items list (perhaps visible at the bottom of this page). They seem hot still to me. Much coveted. (Not by me I'll add, but I have not tried them, either!)

Anyway, as the Heelys catch it like skates have and bikes have too along the way, this article from The Sun (the one in the UK, which I thought was mostly shrouded in mist) has a photo of the inventor and some details on how Heelys came about. In the middle of a divorce after 21 years of marriage, and the self-described overworked overstressed psychologist was watching some kids skater on inlines when the eureka moment occured:

“I had an idea of a shoe that could roll on command by just shifting your body weight. It was like a flash. The hair stood up on the back of my neck.”

The first pair were a hack, he says:

“I cut up a pair of Nike running shoes, taking a hot butter knife and cutting out the heels."

The Sun story has more info and some warnings from "The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents." Where's Monty Python when you need it?

Regarding this safety issue, Heelys tools put up some data back in March of 2006 on the corporate website. Here are some snips of the company line... from here: http://www.heelys.com/media.aspx?articleid=1

The "study" here used Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) data on injury and participation levels for popular sports. The release doesn't really specify methodology, so consider the source. Having said that...

Based on an analysis of more than 1.5 million CPSC incident reports through CPSC's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) on product-related injuries from January 2001 through November 2005 and results from a NSGA survey of 10,000 households, product risk assessment consultants Heiden Associates determined that most wheeled sports are safer than other popular sports such as basketball, soccer, and baseball. For instance, the basketball injury rate of 2,184 injures annually per 100,000 participants was significantly higher than skateboarding (945 injuries per 100,000), in-line skating (358 injuries per 100,000), and wheeled shoes (33 injuries annually per 100,000 participants).
* * *

Looking further into the CPSC and NSGA data, the study found that some wheeled sports fared significantly better than others. Bicycles had the highest injury rate, while scooter riders and in-line skaters had 76 and 79 percent lower injury rates than bike riders, adjusting for the number of participants. Wheeled shoes had the best safety record of all wheeled sports, with an injury rate of only two percent of that for bike riding. (In fact, the study showed that wheeled footwear is safer than nearly all other popular sports with the exception of table tennis, billiards and bowling.)

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Actually, as these things get more popular, you can definitely expect the Spanish Inquisition. But check the stock too, HLYS.


roadskater's picture

Heelys Inventor Official Story

Here's the original source article for the piece in The Sun, it seems. My those sure are big Heelys he's holding there! Maybe those are for Shaq.


Adams is also mentioned here in the investors section of the company site:



eebee's picture

The Spanish Inquisition?!

I know I'm tempting fate by saying this, but I'd like to take those stats with me to the Doctor's office next time in the event of a bad injury, especially if he dares to suggest to me again that I'm an idiot for 'rowlerblayding at your age'. Huh! Is it because I'm too old, that some fool dumped a 6' x 6' x 3" load of sand onto the Silver Comet Trail? I'm actually considering printing and laminating those stats, like the copy of my driver's license, to keep in a jersey back pocket, and to whip out in any situation involving skating and emergency services, before the judgements start to fly.


People seem to associate 'rowlerblayding' with dramatic injuries, such as broken wrists and vast expanses of roadrash. But with the right protective gear and beginner lessons from a licensed pro, it's possible to skate down your driveway, and then some, without those stereotypical mishaps.

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