For more than a century, the Flexible Flyer has been the sled of choice for Americans. Its name synonymous with winter and its shape easily discernable, the sled quickly enkindles memories of a simpler time—even in such cold-hearted characters as Charles Foster “Citizen” Kane. But nostalgia can cloud a man’s mind to some basic drawbacks: the Flyer was heavy and its runners were suitable only to hard pack and ice. Hence we have a modern sledding marvel called the Hammerhead Pro XLD that eclipses it with new technology.
While the look of the Hammerhead Pro XLD ($349) is reminiscent of the Flexible Flyer, that’s about where the comparison ends. Whereas the original Flyer was constructed of wood and steel, the XLD—Hammerhead’s most advanced sled—sports a tough, but light aluminum frame, stainless-steel leaf-spring steering mechanisms, high-density polyethylene rear skis and polycarbonate front skis, and an advanced mesh body that conforms to the rider. The space-age materials mean the XLD weighs a paltry 10 pounds.
The basic operation of the XLD remains simple, with little to no learning curve. The rider lies on his stomach (feet first is also an option, but where’s the fun in that?), grabs the soft rubber grips of the handlebars, which are connected to the steering mechanism, and takes off. When the sled starts to speed up, the rider can lean into turns for extra stability. Unlike the Flyer, the XLD’s steering will never freeze up and lock since the spring is protected from the elements, something readers in extremely cold climates can appreciate.
The XLD is also ideal for all snow types, be they ice, granular, hard pack or fresh snow. General-purpose skis, or rails, can be switched out to handle icy conditions, while the wide ProCarving rear skis of the XLD keep the sled riding smoothly atop up to five inches of fresh powder. Be cautious of over steering while on the ProCarving skis, though, as they ride a bit higher on top of the snow than the rails and so have less tracking.
Based in Vermont, Hammerhead was founded in 2002 by Steve Luhr with the goal of attracting new sledders to the sport while keeping it simple. For those having difficulty finding a local ski hill, a database on the company’s website offers more than 700 user-submitted spots. In addition, he says most ski mountains will allow the XLD on their slopes (with a lift pass) after the ski patrol sees the sled is controllable.
So here’s your chance to update your memories and enjoy the snow again. You can even name your new toy, if you wish, although we hear “Rosebud” is already taken. Visit hammerheadsleds.com.
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