Protow MTB – The future of mountain bike uplift?

Update – 3rd March 2015

From Protow: “Over the last 8 months a big effort has been put into meeting the strict rules and regulations which ProTow must comply with and today I can finally announce the product has been certified under the EU Cableway Directives 2000/9. This means ProTow meets all safety and operational regulations and can now officially operate on ski tows within all European member states. Fantastic news for ProTow!”

Original article:
A couple of weeks ago, we were beamed a PR about a new product designed to open up smaller ski resorts to the mountain bike masses during the summer months. ProTow MTB is a retro-fittable device that allows mountain bikes to use ground tows at ski resorts. The vast majority of smaller ski resorts only use ground tows such as pomas, button lifts and T-bars. The product is in its final stages, awaiting CE certification.

Not long after the PR landed with us, deputy editor Jim Smith was onto ProTow MTB main man Roland Rider to get some more details from him.

Do the ski resorts need to do any modifications, other than fitting the device of course?
For some resorts yes and others the simple fitting of the device is all that is required. Some ski resorts will need to prepare their tow tracks for bikes to compensate for lack of snow which would normally be used to fill in ditches and undulations of the track.


Have you identified any sites which would be suitable straight away?
I have been talking to Glencoe Ski Centre as a potentially suitable site for ProTow however, the product is currently undergoing a certification process and must be complete before the product can be placed on the open market. Glencoe have said there is the potential to have the product trialled at their centre.

How hard is it to hold on once its pulling away?
The simple answer is very easy; this point was tested over and over to make sure the product is easy and comfortable for everyone to use. Results were very good.

What kind of capacity per hour would you expect from a system like this?
The capacity varies anywhere from 500 to 900 per hour with a more common capacity of 720 per hour.


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Almost as soon as the mini interview was complete, staff writer Pete Scullion scurried off to Hillend Ski Centre in Edinburgh to get a hands-on demonstration of the product in action. Here’s what he had to say:

Rocking up at the Hillend Ski Centre, we almost immediately went into a brief history of ProTow MTB’s development development. From some very crude prototypes and testing, to the point at which Roland felt comfortable inviting people to come and have a go themselves has been a long process. Much of the development has been through trial and error, and thankfully, all that testing has resulted in a product that is very easy to use.

Initially, I was sceptical about my own abilities to perform under pressure and made my excuses while local female pinners Katy Winton and Leslie Ingram had a shot at trying the ProTow out for themselves. After watching them have a few goes, I was confident that it couldn’t be that hard and got my bike and helmet out of the car.


First attempt was messy and unsuccessful, mostly my fault though as I was rushing to get the attachment to the bars. Simply getting the attachment angled correctly to start and not trying to rush was key. Second attempt went very smoothly and gave me confidence to try again without any assistance from Roland or his team. I was amazed at how easy the system worked, and true to what I was told, the ProTow released as soon as I let go of it. My third attempt ended with a bruised leg. Again my fault. I opted to keep my spare hand on the front brake and not release it before the lift engaged. My final two attempts went as intended. No outside assistance, I really wanted to see how easy it was to use. Both final attempts it was almost too easy and I found myself really struggling to find problems or issues with the product. Thankfully, my only gripe was one that had been spotted early on in the development process, that of the metal spurs on the head damaging your bars. ProTow plan to supply bar collars to solve this issue as a protective coating on the spurs leads to increased wear once mud and grit are introduced.


When (not if) this product comes to market, we can hope to see a number of ski centres worldwide opening their summer doors to mountain bikes. Here in the UK, Glencoe Mountain look to be the first place you will be able to have a shot of ProTow.

Watch the video below to see Pete checking it out (he’s the bearded one aboard a Saracen):

What do you think? Would you give it a go? Let us know in the comments below! Check out the Protow MTB website for more information.