OK. Put down the bat. Yes, I know the OneWheel is not an “electric skateboard”. But “self balancing electric magical floaty platform” didn’t fit as a title.
Lemme back up here. I recently had a chance to give this fun device a try in the parking lot of Mike’s Bikes in Sacramento. I’ve ridden lots of little electric get-around devices in my life, but I have to say, the OneWheel+ is pretty unique.
So what the hell is it? OK so imagine a skateboard deck, except wider, and instead of trucks there’s a big wheel (just one!) smack dab in the center of the thing. Inside are batteries, a motor, sensors, and possible Data from Star Trek. Its not clear.
To ride it, you step on one end, then place your other foot on, tilting it into position. Pressure sensors then turn the thing on, and the more you put weight on the front foot, the faster you go. Interestingly, if you come to a stop and rock back, it will actually go backwards, and several people at the event were quite adept at just rocking back and forth.
How is it to ride? Surprisingly easy! Within perhaps a minute (tops) I was rolling along on my own. Turning was a bit of a thing, but mostly because your instinct is to
a) look down (which is bad)
b) go slow (also bad)
The idea way to turn is to look towards where you want to go, lean that way and make the turn. The slower you go, the tougher it is to balance. Unfortunately, the parking lot was narrow, and my thoughts were mainly on the cars parked to my right and the brick wall to my left. However, I never really fell off. I jumped off a few times. It wasn’t elegant. But it was hardly the ass-breaking experience I was thinking it would be.
In the wild, these guys are basically magic floaty boards. I hate that someone made “hoverboards” and sullied that name, because these suckers are the real deal.
The model I rode was their “old” model, and had a range of about 5-7 miles.They retail for a whopping $1499. OOF. That price is mitigated somewhat by understanding that this device essentially replaces an e-bike for commutes (if that’s your thing), and most decent e-bikes are right around that price point. What’s with the price? Well, a few things. First off, batteries and motors are expensive. Second, these are made in the USA. They are DURABLE. Made well with high quality parts. They have a warranty. They’re not gonna blow up in your closet is what I’m saying.
OneWheel also has an “XR” model that is all of the above plus a crazy range of about 18 miles. Considering the size and performance of these, that’s… well, that’s crazy. Also, trying to surf for 18 miles is REALLY tough. Like, a hell of a workout. Upgrading to the XR will run you $1799.
So, bottom line, what are these good for? Well, just riding around is fun as hell. I’d definitely take this out on a semi flat trail. It’ll go on road, offroad, uphill, downhill. You can legit commute on them once you practice a bit (depending on the length). These would be great for “last milers” who take the train. The cost is something of an issue, but honestly when talking electrics, you almost always get what you pay for. Guys have literally thousands of trouble free miles on these. And charging them is damn near free. If you see a demo near you 100% go give them a try. You’re gonna love them.
Score: 9/10 RAWRS (Super fun, easy to learn,expensive)
High: Great commute choice, portable, easy to learn, great range choices
Low: Cost is up there, dismounts require a bit of learning to master, doesn’t actually float through the air (though it feels like it does)