by Paul Williams
Ottawa area businessman and inventor Paul Clement is an avid skier. Lately, he’s been arriving at the slopes with something very interesting to other
“People see it on the car and approach me all the time,” says Mr. Clement. “They’re all asking where they can get one, too!”
He’s talking about a novel ski rack he’s designed called the Scorpion.
Most racks attach to the roof of your car using clamps. Many people bolt a box to the racks and use that to transport their skis. Typically, the heavy box stays on the car for the season.
Alternatively, companies like Thule and OSI also offer hitch-mounted racks. Their racks mount the skis vertically, perpendicular to the road. This may cause problems backing up, and entering underground parking lots.
The Scorpion is different, and the key to its effectiveness is its hitch-mount that permits skis to fit horizontally over the trunk and the car’s roof. Of course, snowboards can be substituted for skis.
The hitch fits neatly under the rear bumper and is barely visible when not in use. “It’s just the average, small hitch that you can buy at U-Haul or Canadian tire,” says Clement. “They run between $60.00 and $120.00.”
The rack is not too low, so you can still open and close your trunk, but nor is it too high, so it’s easy to load and unload. The design permits locking the skis in place, so they’re quite secure.
According to Clement, one of the main problems faced by skiers using currently available racks is that they damage your car. “Believe me, I’ve tried them all. I’ve got a garage full of racks and clamps and they all scuffed, scratched or chipped my car. It got really annoying.”
The Scorpion eliminates the potential for damage to the car because no part of it actually touches the car’s exterior.
Another problem associated with conventional racks is wind noise and increased fuel use. “If you’ve got noise, you’re displacing air, and if you’re displacing air you’re using extra fuel,” says Clement.
His design all but eliminates this problem. Even at a brisk 100km/h, two sets of skis and two snowboards were silent on my test-drive.
Basically, the Scorpion kills several birds with one stone. Not only are the rack and its payload silent, but also they are very stable at speed. The reason is the inherent aerodynamics of the design — as the air moves over the car, its flow pushes down on the skis, kind of like an aerofoil.
There’s yet another benefit to this: the skis stay clean.
“I used to transport the skis in bags, but I don’t bother anymore,” says Clement. “The air seems to pass right over them. They get a few specks on them in transit, but nothing, really.”
Furthermore, unlike heavy boxes, the rack is a breeze to remove. Just slide it out of the hitch and hang it on the wall of your garage. If you get another car, just add a hitch and you’re back in business. The whole thing only weighs around 13kg and is made to fit the hitch, not the car.
So what’s the downside? Well, the Scorpion’s not as pretty as products from the big companies, as it’s made from 4cm tubular steel. Also, it’s not available off the shelf, so you’ll have to order from the designer directly.
Cost is $172.00 for the Scorpion. You can use the four-day delivery time to get your hitch installed.
Contact Paul Clement directly at (613) 794-8402 in Vars, Ontario.