Engadget describes them as “jet skis for the sand” and a cross between a Segway, a skateboard and Johnny 5 from the Short Circuit movies. Gizmodo calls them “militarized skateboards.” And after looking at BPG Werks’ newly launched DTV (dual tracked vehicle) Shredders, we’d have to say that the descriptions are fairly apt. Yet whether you consider it a miniaturized tank or a beefed-up scooter, the Shredder sure does seem fun.
“Why the DTV Shredder?” asks inventor Ryan Fairhead, before answering himself. “Jet skiing is fun but I’m limited to water. Snowmobiling is exciting but I’m limited to snow. Dirt biking is one of my passions but I’m limited to solid ground. The DTV Shredder lets you ride on any terrain, all year round.” And as these photographs show, this is a claim that’s been put to the test.
The Shredder’s power comes from a 196 cc, 4-stroke, 13 hp engine that’s capable of speeds of up to 30 mph (48 kph). This might not sound fast compared to, say, a dirt bike, but it’s definitely speedy enough for you to do some serious damage if you fall off – particularly on the rugged terrain for which the vehicle is intended. And since riders stand rather than sit, just trying to stay on should be part of the thrill.
One of the most important aspects of the DTV Shredder is the hardcore-looking molded rubber tank treads it has instead of wheels. According to BPG Werks, the company has been using the same treads on its prototypes for a year, and they’re still in good condition. To keep them spinning, BPG Werks use a dual-CTV differential – which the company patented – to divide the engine’s power equally between the two treads.
The treads were initially invented for snow vehicles, which means they can cope with deep powder. At the same time, they can also tear through gravel, sand, mud and even water (up to 10 inches deep). They can even scale 40-degree inclines and require only four feet of space to turn around and get out of a tight squeeze. And you never know when this might come in handy.
Skateboarders will feel right at home when it comes to steering the Shredder because it’s all about leaning. By shifting their weight on the foot platform, riders can change the speed of each track individually, causing the Shredder to turn. Meanwhile, the handlebars, which are for balance rather than steering, have a twist-grip controlled throttle. Oh, and there’s a brake lever on the handles for when the speed gets too much!
If you do fall off your Shredder (and there’s a good chance you will at some point), the operator presence control (OPC) cable that you attach to your clothes will disconnect from the machine, automatically shutting off the engine. Wearing protective gear is also a good idea, particularly if you’re tempted to try a few stunts – and on this machine you will be.
The DTV Shredder isn’t a road legal vehicle, so it may have to be transported before use. Measuring 42 inches in length, the Shredder will fit into an SUV or a pick-up, but you’ll need some help getting it in there, as it weighs a hefty 200 pounds.
In the future, manufacturers BPG Werks hope to see the Shredder used in many different situations. “While the ground-breaking vehicle demands the attention of adrenaline junkies worldwide,” their website claims; “it also doubles as a rugged, multi-application workhorse for law enforcement, military, hunting, farming and other industries.” Currently, the Shredder can carry about 300 pounds, but work is underway to create a more utilitarian machine that will be capable of hauling even heavier loads.
The DTV Shredder is presented as a “first response modular platform for soldiers,” and BPG Werks claim that it is “ideal for reconnaissance, rescue/recovery, mobile surveillance and medical evacuation operations.”
BPG Werks have even created a model specifically for the military called the Jackal. This is a more heavy-duty version that’s bigger, sturdier and more powerful. John Young, former government Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, is on BPG Werks’ advisory board, and his vast military knowledge could see the armed forces take on this exciting piece of technology.
The Jackal includes such modifications as twin grenade launchers and a remote-control feature that allows it to be operated as an unmanned vehicle, if necessary. It’s also weather- and waterproofed, and it can function at higher altitudes thanks to its turbocharged hybrid engine. This means the Jackal is able to move stealthily using battery power when the engine is off, or for longer distances with it on – which makes it a pretty formidable proposition for opposing forces.
If you’d like your own DTV Shredder (the kind without grenade launchers), they retail at $3,999 from the BPG Werks website and through some international dealers. It’s too early to tell yet whether this beefed-up scooter will attract a large number of users or remain a fun novelty vehicle, but we certainly wouldn’t mind giving it a go.