Common Tread

Why does the Biski exist?

Dec 09, 2015

The Gibbs Biski is a hybrid of a motorcycle and a personal watercraft. It's one of the craziest damn things I've ever seen and I'm really trying to wrap my head around why it exists.

The guy behind the Biski is Alan Gibbs, the inventor of the Aquada, touted as the world's first high-performance amphibious car. In 2004, the Aquada had its 15 minutes of fame when Richard Branson drove one to set the speed record for fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle, which may well be the most Richard Branson-ish thing Richard Branson has ever done.

The Aquada evolved into a more practical version, the Quadski — more practical because its smaller size makes it a good tool for beach lifeguards and even law enforcement, both of whom are well served by a vehicle that can go straight from sand to sea.

Biski puts the concept on two wheels, instead of four. The Biski uses two propulsion systems to push it around. On land, the bike is powered by a two-cylinder engine that Gibbs claims will yield a respectable maximum speed of 80 mph. In the water, a proprietary dual-jet marine propulsion system is said to deliver 55 horsepower, with a top speed of 37 mph. (That's about 32 knots, for you sailor types.) To switch from land to water use, just ride on in, flip a switch, and you're ready to go within five seconds.

Gibbs Biski
The Biski on the road. Gibbs photo.

Now, on land the thing looks and performs more like a maxi-scooter. By necessity, it has an automatic transmission, and as the video shows it clearly struggles a bit in the twisties. The company says ground clearance is 150 mm, which is just under six inches, but doesn't specify lean angle. With a curb weight of 503 pounds, it's a bit lighter than it looks.

One thing I certainly want to see on a production version is some cargo storage under all that plastic. When you have to switch from boots and leathers to shorts and a personal flotation device, you're going to need a waterproof space to stow your gear.

Gibbs Biski
How many riders had to sit beside a lake with a can of beer and daydream about this before someone actually built it? Gibbs photo.

No pricing has been announced, but it probably won't be cheap. The Quadski's retail price starts at about $42,000. (It's worth noting that the Gibbs website doesn't display the Quadski's MSRP; I had to do a bit of digging to pin down a number.) Which of course begs the question: Who is the Biski for? Most motorcycles and PWCs will go faster in their single natural habitat. So I guess the answer's fairly easy: It's a toy for folks who can drop upwards of 30 grand or more on a motorcycle that's part boat.

I'm guessing Richard Branson will want two.