The ultimate mountainbike accessory

By Sonya Bateson

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Bikes can go anywhere - even in the water.

Floating around Pilot Bay yesterday was the Akwakat - an inflatable pontoon which can be attached to a mountainbike and used to pedal over a body of water.

Invented by Hamilton's Neil Vanner, the Akwakat water-bike kit attaches to a bike after the wheels have been removed.

Mr Vanner said the kit had been sold in 13 countries through the internet and it was another way for cycling enthusiasts to make the most of their bikes.

"It's really for existing mountainbike owners, it's like an accessory for your bike. It's just another aspect to enjoying your bike, being able to go and cycle around boats. It does feel like it would tip very easily but it's actually quite stable."

He said the original intention was to test the kit in the Tauranga surf, but plans had changed.

"We came here to try it on the surf but it was a bit rough out there, we'll wait for a day when it's a bit calmer."

Although Mr Vanner couldn't try the kit out on Pilot Bay himself, due to a leg injury, he said one day he would like to ride around Mauao.

The Akwakat had already been tested in other places throughout the country, including crossing Cook Strait and an experience riding with a group of about 500 dolphins in Kaikoura.

Mr Vanner said while the Akwakat was selling well in New Zealand and overseas, it was a hobby and all the members of the company had day jobs.

It had taken a long time to develop and a number of different prototypes had been created before they settled on the inflatable design.

"The prototype took a long time, the Cook Strait crossing was in 2006 and that was on an earlier model. We made it inflatable for ease of transport and shipping," he said.

Co-partner Greg Gibb had used the kit instead of a kayak in a multisport event.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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