B&M, Why You Wanna Break My Balls?
Earlier this week a patent was uncovered that showed a new restraint system for B&M stand up style roller coasters by Coaster101.com, good find guys (link). This patent shows an updated version of the stand up restraints from top to bottom. We have long heard rumors that B&M was designing a new type of Stand Up roller coaster that would change the ride dynamics and offer more comfort. Some people were speculating that the surf coaster could be a wing stand up, or that the standing position could be turned to more mimic the stance of a surfer. It doesn’t reveal if either of these rumors could be true since the illustration in the patent application is of a single restraint system and it is not depicted on a chassis, however I think that both are highly unlikely as this looks to be a redesign for the existing chassis.
The newly designed restraint system has some similarities with the stand up models we know, but they do have a few distinct differences that could make them more viable. The most visible is the vest style restraints for the rider’s upper body. This replaces the hard over the shoulder restraints that would often knock you around and provided an unforgiving surface to bounce your head off of. The last time I rode Green Lantern at Great Adventure I felt like the ride was trying to knock some sense into me for giving it another ride, lesson learned. Another change is in the column itself. On a standard stand up restraint it felt like the height adjustment was controlled by a pinion gear that could lock in the height. If you were not ready for the restraints to unlock it could drop you unforgivingly on your most sensitive bits. This is a real danger at the end of a ride, but also during the loading process as guests would often not follow instructions and need to be adjusted before dispatch. The new design is an articulating linkage, somewhat similar to a scissor lift that can distort a rhombus shaped connection to raise or lower the height. The least visible change is the addition of a hydraulic accumulator. This is basically a shock absorber on the linkage, and may be the biggest quality of life improvement for your more sensitive parts. If I am reading the drawing correctly, and I’d like to believe I am, the locking function should allow for the hydraulic fluid in the accumulator to still provide some give even in the locked position during the ride cycle.
So how is this patent going to be applied? That is the biggest question remaining. Ideally these new restraints could be an upgrade product just like the floorless trains to per-existing stand up rides. This would provide a second potentially less expensive option for parks to upgrade their stand up coasters. I know that B&M is nostalgic on these ride types, as they were the first designs they sold as their own company. My issue with this new style restraint is that it still has the saddle in between the riders legs. Guests are still going to need to follow directions to correctly load and dispatch the trains and those were two big issues, one for comfort and the other for general operation. My other concern is that I don’t feel the standing aspect enhances the ride. While it may have been an interesting idea I don’t feel like it provides a great experience like their other coasters do. My biggest fear is that this is the restraint system for the yet to be revealed Surf Coaster. I was looking forward to seeing B&M make their version of a launch or multi launch coaster, but making it a stand up it removes my excitement and replaces it with fear. However not that good sort of fear that roller coasters often provide in a satisfying way. B&M’s strength has always been the innovation with seating position and chassis design, and how the interplay of these dynamics enhance the ride experience. So if this new patent is for a new roller coaster type, or an attempt to revive sales of the stand up coasters I just have one question. B&M, why you wanna break my balls?