Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
CPSC calls for full recall of all Onewheel self-balancing electric skateboards (cpsc.gov)
275 points by alden5 76 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 404 comments



One issue I've noticed with these new forms of electric wheeled transport (longboard, transverse and longitudinal one-wheelers) is that the people riding them often don't come from a sports background. They aren't "safe" devices exactly - it takes skill to pilot them, and when things inevitably go awry, it takes good reflexes to avoid damage.

Novices to action sports often throw their arms out to catch themselves when they bail instead of rolling through the fall. They also don't know how to navigate obstacles via strategic weighting and unweighting of their implement.

The energies involved are also substantial -- to put it bluntly, some of these things fuckin' rip, which is super fun, but also makes safety gear a good idea. You can take a lot of trauma and abrasion bailing at 25mph+, potentially life-changing or fatal in the worst cases. There's a reason why downhill longboarders and an increasing number of electric wheel riders wear a fullface and leathers.


I bailed at 8mph on an electric longboard and broke my elbow, severely sprained my shoulder and wrist. I even lost some rotation and dexterity in my hand. It's one of those my arm is never going to be the same type injuries. I was 40 but skated and bmxed into my mid-20s and still felt pretty comfortable with my abilities on the ground (gave up on ramps long ago). I knew this was a risk given the speeds and even got an "off road" model (bigger wheels) to help make pebbles and such a non-issue. Even still, concrete is not flat, you'll eventually come across a missing cobblestone, etc. IMO it's a matter of when not if you'll take a spill.

That said, I think the electric unicycles are much more dangerous. But at least they make it clear that it's not a toy. I passed on the Onewheel because of the random ejection complains I've seen online (which is likely fueling this regulation as it's been known for several years now). While wrecking was not fun, at least I did it to myself. I'd be really upset if I felt like the board did it to me.


> Even still, concrete is not flat, you'll eventually come across a missing cobblestone, etc. IMO it's a matter of when not if you'll take a spill.

As a former skateboarder in my teens I tried longboarding just for the fun of it later in life (around my 30s) and this is exactly why I stopped. Given time enough you will eat pavement, it's just a matter of when and how.

I decided to stop when I took a fall from a gap between concrete slabs that wasn't visible, I remembered to roll but still mangled my knee and somehow my thumbs and was out of commission on a 2 weeks recovery. It fucking sucked, the pain was much longer lasting than when I was a teen, the lost mobility made me unable to work for more than a week. I have responsibilities now, I can't be taking weeks off work due to a stupid fall from something that was supposed to be fun.

The electric unicycles always scared me though and I never tried them. I've seen 2 accidents happening in front of me when I was biking and both were really gnarly, even for my standards with action sports. Calling an ambulance for a stranger passed out after they lost control going over 25km/h and hit a parked car was really not fun.


Is there something more inherent that makes an electric unicycles more dangerous, other than they make them go ridiculous speeds?

I would have thought the larger wheel on an EUC made it more stable and the higher power makes it not have to nosedive. I kind of prefer e-bikes because they are well… normal.


I think it really comes down to the fact that these single wheelers don't support the operator without power. You can stand on skateboard, slow down, and come to a complete halt and it's still working as intended. On a bike you will eventually topple from one side or the other, but the way a bikes works means the rider is supported in a natural position for a long time.

When the one-wheeler loses power it just nosedives, the front hits the ground and they halt immediately.

I wonder if they could save some of the danger by placing small, unpowered wheels in the front and back so when they dip they can at least keep moving.


This - the product has horrible human factors engineering in the low power scenario:

The rider will always be ahead of his/her center gravity when the board starts decelerating unexpectedly, and it's irrelevant whether it's the front digging in, or the thing just decelerating when approaching low battery.


The small wheels on the front and back are an add-on, called fangs (https://land-surf.com/products/fangs%e2%84%a2-2-1). I’ve had them on my Onewheel for years and I’m not sure they’ve ever actually saved me on a nosedive. The front of the board comes down with a lot of force very quickly and even if the little wheels do keep the board rolling, the rider has been rapidly shoved forward and will likely go over the front anyway.


Even on my longboard I really brace myself when letting off the throttle at speed. The regenerative brakes provide a jolt. Also it’s possible to accidentally hit the brake which would likely be a wipe out. It could be because I’m heavier now than my younger days. Forward momentum is a bitch on these speeds.


Unfortunately electric longboards have a pretty common failure mode where they instantly and suddenly brake with full force. I've had it happen once (although i was going slow enough not to bail) and seen it many times.


Those would look like training wheels and looks are everything in these devices.


Isn't the question about one wheel(skateboard with gokart wheel) vs electric unicycle (single bigger wheel between the legs closer driving position to real unicycle)? Not about one wheel vs other more typical vehicles. Both have one wheel but they are two completely different things.


Active vs passive stability

If the e-bike dies you’re just on a bike, if the single wheel dies you’re on an uncontrollable unbalanceable wheel


EUC's are safer. (Unless you're going ridiculous speeds, like you said.)

They are more stable unless something catastrophic happens (power cuts out), and if worst comes to worst you fall down in a more "natural" posture, like a running man would. Falling sideways from a bike or scooter is way worse.


It's unstable by design and can't really brake hard without getting rid of the rider really fast. If a careless rider/driver/pedestrian gets in your way, you'll likely be able to stop your e-bike in time as opposed to crashing on a monowheel.


I’ve only watched some videos but the balance part of the unicycle seems to have a big learning curve. The speed is what worries me the most. I’m thinking anything with a motor should probably have a seat.


> That said, I think the electric unicycles are much more dangerous.

Not really. They seem that way because they require skill to ride, but people hurt themselves on electric scooters much more frequently. (People judge "danger" based on how hard something seems to pilot, not on objective measures of failure. Tiny slippery wheels and points of failure in the frame make the electric scooter a much more dangerous vehicle by default.)


I think this is because of the “clearly not a toy aspect”. Riders often are wearing full motorcycle helmets, pads, and rash guard gear. It people geared up that way on other boards/scooters there would be less injuries too. I had no protective gear which was a mistake. I didn’t fully appreciate how speed would compound the impact if I took a spill. Honestly thought it very unlikely I would fall at all the day I did. I was taking a ride on a route I already knew very well.

I also think the initial difficulty of unicycles acts as a good filter so that people with subpar abilities simply don’t try. The rentable scooters are dangerous because people that shouldn’t be on them have a false sense of ability because it seems easy. Until they get to speed or take their eye off the road or something.


My partner was hospitalized for nearly a week and had to have facial reconstructive surgery and nearly lost all her teeth after she got hit by someone on a scooter going 25mph while we were walking

Be careful out there if you combine speed + unprotected mode of transportation


Created a new account to warn everyone to be more aware around street corners. I once tried to catch a train so I rode a scooter on the sidewalk which I normally don't. Seeing no cars, I didn't slow too much at a street corner, and ran into someone. Luckily the top speed on the scooter was 15mph and I slowed to probably 13mph, but still, the force was too much and the person failed pretty hard. I swear to never do that again. Please pay extra care around street corners, and tell your kids to do so.


Thanks for sharing. As a longtime bicyclist, I've been shocked by the increase, over the past decade, of reckless behaviors on the streets due to electric mobility riders. I'm glad to see some are learning, though sad to see it's only at the cost of someone getting hurt ...

While we're on the topic, street corners or not, the warning should extend to all sidewalk riding. Driveways and pedestrian gates don't usually have enough clearance around them that you would be able to see what's coming. (At least in the US where sidewalks aren't typically set up with a dedicated bike lane)


Most of didn't have to run into someone to learn this thing, but I'm glad you know now.


This highlights another big issue. You were riding your vehicle on the footpath. Vehicles of all types should be on roads, not a footpath which is for people on foot. But in many countries for decades the road has been an incredibly hostile place for any mode of transport other than a car. As usual the person with the smaller mode of transport suffers the biggest injustice, in your case the pedestrian.


> the person failed pretty hard

How did they “fail” when you plowed right into them?


I'm pretty sure anon334455 meant "fell" not "failed".


Fell is just a particular "failure state". ;)


Of course the type of person to ride a scooter on the sidewalk and hit someone will spin it as a lesson to others. It’s too bad you weren’t sued so you could learn to accept so e responsibility.


If anon334455 didn't want to leave a comment, anon334455 didn't have to.

What's the point of anon334455 commenting except to warn others to be careful?


Catharsis, ego, etc.


Maybe. But even so, I do think the comment might cause some readers to behave more safely. Someone saying "I did this thing and it had a bad outcome, don't be like me" has more impact that someone saying "Don't do this thing."


I'm so sorry to hear that. I wish her well in her recovery.


I for one think the future where we all walk around in cyberpunk body armour to protect ourselves from wayward idiots on powered transportation they are unable to control would be kind of sick


I'd be fine with everyone wearing bodycams and any victim being able to prove in court that they deserve damages.


I mean.. it's impractical, but I prefer the parents' tactic of defense rather than guaranteed legal indemity.

Yes, I won the court case .. but my <insert grievous bodily wound> won't grow back.


like the old joke about a tombstone with the epitaph "He had the right of way."


That was sort of the premise of the book "The Circle" by Dave Eggers (not going to mention the film adaptation because it was so bad I pretend it doesn’t exist). It didn’t turn out too well in the end.


I'm not sure that would actually work out. First, some accidents are just accidents on both sides.

Second: We've seen the effect of bodycams on cops. They aren't exactly helping folks prosecute bad cops if they are even on and working and unobstructed. If we can't do it with cops, we probably aren't going to do real well with the general public.

There are other ways to help folks - Things like robust universal (taxpayer funded) health care and paid time off work for sickness and injury that doesn't take weeks to get. This takes the burden off an accident victims and doesn't punish folks on the wrong side of an actual accident nor make lifelong debt for someone using non-car, non-bus transportation.


>and any victim being able to prove in court that they deserve damages.

That still leaves the problem of judgement-proof defenders.


Around here, I've seen idiots on one wheelers doing 25+ on trails that explicitly ban powered vehicles. The riders were in full cross country motorcycle gear, and doing dumb tricks amidst pedestrians, strollers and bikes.

Someone in that crowd will literally kill someone at some point. They'd better hope I'm not on the jury at their reckless homicide trial.


It’s very rare, but even push bikes can kill pedestrians in the wrong circumstances.


You meant 'slick'? I agree. This is how it was with motorcycling in cities for the last 30 years.


Very true. If you've never been able to cruise on a skateboard, you might not realize how much damage an unexpected pebble or sidewalk crack will do.

Riding is a constant balance of scanning the pavement for inconsistencies and making corrections to mitigate them. I don't know if that's even possible at 20+ mph.


Your latter point is why I'm not really sold on electric longboards. Your control authority on a longboard is pretty low, and you need a lot of control authority to react to surprise obstacles/maintain stability after encountering one. Sure, DH longboarders exceed 25mph regularly, but they ride in semi-controlled environments (scout the descent for gravel etc before hitting it) and are exceptionally skilled.

Putting random noobs on electric longboards is a recipe for road rash and broken bones. A few years ago, three people in my office got Boosted boards, and I believe we saw two instances of pretty bad road rash and a broken bone among them.


The danger is in the perception. It took me about 10 hours of dedicated practice (over a few weeks) before I felt comfortable using a longboard as a transportation device off of public roads - eg: on a closed campus. When I have seen people pickup an electric longboard they feel safe in a half hour, but obviously don't have any reflexes to back that up.


Whenever I ride downhill I’ll carve and powerslide to keep my speed within the range of how fast I can bail into a run essentially.

The few times I’ve spilled going faster than I could run have been ugly! Feet just couldn’t keep up and gone into a barely controlled roll.

I don’t know if I could ever feel comfortable consistently riding that fast

One time was caused by my dog chasing another dog while I was holding the leash standing on my board, that was hilariously painful


I rode a Boosted Board for the best part of 1 year on the streets of Brooklyn. I ended up selling it; although I absolutely loved the experience, I knew one day I would rip my face off if I encountered even a small pothole.


And there are many on the streets of NYC


Practically speaking yes, but this isn't an unsolvable problem. I ride Originals spring trucks, which use a cam and a spring instead of the urethane bushing in most skate trucks. It takes effort to keep them steady at speed for sure, but paired with soft wheels they feel like pure telepathy in terms of control authority.


Electronic skateboards have bigger wheels then skateboard-cruiser which has bugger wheels then skateboard.

Meaning the danger of pebbles is also much different.


> Electronic skateboards have bigger wheels then skateboard-cruiser which has bugger wheels then skateboard.

i've powered a regular street deck with hard poly wheels, what you said is by no means any kind of guarantee. Lots of hacked together monstrosities out there.


As an old skater this monstrosity I would like to see! Why!? :D


Could they make the wheels larger to fix this?


Larger and softer wheels work great for mitigating pebbles, sticks, bumps or cracks. I roll over some pretty gnarly terrain with 60mm 78a wheels. You could even to an extent at certain speeds roll of the sidewalk entirely and roll back on quickly and not eat it with these wheels.


It is totally possible. Generally on a One Wheel if it's a small pebble or sidewalk crack you roll over it. If it's bigger and you jump while going over it normally the board will hit the crack or whatever and bounce up into your feet. I was going down a hill near top speed on a one wheel when I saw part of the pavement was cut out, maybe a 2-3 inch groove. Did this, road through the intersection to the otherside and then sat on the curb until I stopped shaking. Probably the closest I've ever been to dying on a One Wheel.


When I went to university, I was going there in rollers, there was a nice slope where I could go relatively fast, in the morning, almost no traffic, good visibility, relatively smooth surface. All it took was a small peeble to launch me a few meters (tens?) flying away. The fall was much more impressive than the damage, I consider myself lucky and was basically the last time I used them. I realized how dangerous it was in comparison to just biking.


They're more stable than you think. I've ridden an eboard for around 1500km this year, and although I've taken some hard crashes (always wear protection, I lost the skin on my hands once and never again) they have been down to me overestimating my grip or underestimating the obstacle. Every time I've hit a rock I've just gone over it.

A lot of it is also the different, more forward leaning, stance you assume on an eboard.


This is ignored so often, it is scary. I have been longboarding pretty frequently and extensively up until 2 years ago. I've had my fair share of crashes and plenty of scars to serve as a reminder, but generally I always was a pretty safe and relatively skilled rider. But I also had multiple fun but stupidly risky experiences on my longboard, but no experiences comes close to the fear I felt when joining my friend on an electric longboard riding through fairly dense urban traffic.

Having that experience, I don't understand how people seriously treat longboards (or similar modes that heavily depend on the riders ability to balance well) as a serious option in traffic. Bikes? Yes. E-Scooters? Probably yes. Longboards or Onewheels? Hell no.


I see a lot of people with no business in traffic commuting on bikes too. Especially with the advent of divvy or whatever your local equivalent is. Usually people with their own bikes are more than capable.

For a fun observation, go to your local Harley Davidson and watch people that haven't ridden a bicycle in 20 plus years try and learn how to ride a motorcycle, with the expectation that they'll be ready to take their licensing test in 2 days. And many of them won't even bother with that...or they'll take the test on a scooter instead of a motorcycle with gears.

The test is not hard either. Nothing like what our European counterparts have to go through.


> I see a lot of people with no business in traffic commuting on bikes too.

Bikes should not be forced to drive in traffic anyways.

> Especially with the advent of divvy or whatever your local equivalent is.

We’ve had bike sharing like this for years at this point and it works like a charm. In fact, it’s offered by the local transportation agencies. I haven’t noticed any differences between bike sharing users and others in terms of cycling ability.

> The test is not hard either. Nothing like what our European counterparts have to go through.

I got my motorcycle license last year. When I started to take riding lessons it was the first time that I sat in a motorcycle, it took me about 5 months to get my license (here in Germany). I don’t understand how a few hours of dedicated training is seen as sufficient for safe traffic participation in the U.S.


I think the same thing whenever I see those city car rentals! Grrrreat another driver who doesn't drive often enough to warrant owning a car.


One Wheel in traffic isn't too bad. As long as you stick to lower speed (25 mph) roads. It's actually nice because it's super easy to go slow on a One Wheel if you have to hop on the sidewalk (bike lanes don't always work). I could pretty easily go 3mph on a One Wheel, much easier then I could on a bike.


I'm not sure this logic applies to the OneWheel. They aren't self balancing like a SegWay where the average person can get on and be fine zooming around within a couple minutes. The OneWheel only does about half the balancing work, you have to do the rest, and learning to ride one can take days or longer. During that time you'll fall many, many times. It also doesn't take much to eat shit on it even as a skilled rider (1). You'd have to be a complete moron not to anticipate it throwing you at any moment.

Also the OneWheel, at least the Pint, can only go up to 15mph, and only on perfect conditions on the most aggressive settings.

(1) I had several weeks under my belt before my last incident and still ate asphalt because the cutout in the sidewalk I was going down as a little steeper than I had thought. The board was angled down just a smidge too far because of this, caught a lip where the asphalt met the sidewalk, and "physics took control".

EDIT: Addendum: That isn't to say parent comment is wrong about other boards/etc, or that the CPSC is wrong.


"The OneWheel only does about half the balancing work" -- It's more like 99% of the work and I defy anyone to stay balanced and keep riding free wheel if the power suddenly cuts out. The OneWheel's balancing algorithm is so good it gives the the illusion of competence after less than an hour.


> I defy anyone to stay balanced and keep riding free wheel if the power suddenly cuts out.

Does the wheel actually freewheel if the power cuts? I've not played with one (yet), but with the reports of them dipping forward, I was curious if the wheel/motor actually locked up.


I think it's because as the rider is leaning forward to indicate a desire for forward motion, the board drives the motor to move you forward, but also counters the natural tendency of the front lip to just touch the floor. If the motor cuts off while you are leaning forward, the lip will immediately hid the floor and stop you. And your muscle memory isn't expecting that kind of balancing, having been used to the board "fighting you back" on leaning forward too much.


It's considered bad form to lean weight onto the front. You should have most of the weight on your back leg and push down with your front foot to accelerate. At least among the people I road with. If most of your weight is leaned backwards it's easier to just fall flat to the ground if you need to stop. Had the front of my board clipped by a car turning into a parking lot and this saved me.


indeed you should use your hips instead of head/shoulders to weight the board, but it doesn't actually move more weight to the back (think about it, to go forward, the board needs to feel more weight on the front, for which it compensates by accelerating = increase speed + levels the board)

the weight distribution doesn't change, but your body had much more control over the distribution.


That's a better way to put it. I tend to phrase it like I do because ideally your natural reaction should always be to lean back on the one wheel which for me in position ends up feeling like I'm standing one footed and pushing down with the other.

Steering with your backfoot takes some getting used to if you've never board sported before. I've not snowboarded but I've been told it's like that?

Also skid plates are a life saver. You're going to have to do a drag stop at some point, might as well do it on a something easily removable.


That’s interesting. I’ve spent years snowboarding, used to skate as a kid, little bit of surfing, and they all have transferable skills. The thing that I found so different about the OW is the LACK of rear foot push since you only have a single contact point with the ground. Like other person said, I move hips to control speed, squat to turn heel-side, but I don’t feel like the foot control is anything like board sports that have more contact with ground/snow/water. Maybe I do it subconsciously with super tight turns for trails but not with flow and carving.


Did you replace your rear pad and/or? I put one of those like... skateboard style ones on the back, might be changing what I'm doing to steer/the feel of it. Board control is for sure different. The only conscious change I made to my riding style was intentionally keeping my hips further back. It's also been about a year since I sold mine so I might be misremembering.


No, I haven’t changed my footpads, haven’t even sent out for my GT recall pad, yet, which I need to do. Do you like the new pad in terms of control? Got link?


Riding an electric skateboard up and down the hills of San Francisco was one of the most dangerous and exhilarating things I've done, and was only made possible by the years of skateboarding and snowboarding experience I was lucky to have. I completely agree with your take, it was akin to a full day of snowboarding in terms of the athletic load it put on my body, and constant danger I seemed to be in. There are so many opportunities to hurt yourself and only a few ways to safely navigate the random situations you encounter. I'm glad I got out without serious injury.


Skating San Fransisco Hills are certainly for the brave:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnzgRB8qH4k


The amount of people I see on e-scooters with absolutely horrid body positioning, unaware they can use their body weight to stop much quicker scares me.

That and the lack of helmets.

I ride mine as safely as I can, and have 5000 kilometres done so far. I’ve had to drop the scooter and bail a couple of times, but mine maxes at out at 25km/h for good reason. Faster than that on tiny wheels is a horrible idea.


This is absolutely the case. When Onewheels were new they were mostly ridden by people who came from other boardsports. They knew the danger and treated them with the due respect, including taking the time to learn how to properly operate them.

In the last couple of years they've been wholesale adopted by techies who treat them like toys. The consequences are inevitable.


Knowing how to fall is such an incredibly important life skill, it's baffling to watch people who never learned it.

As a ski instructor, you could instantly tell from their first fall the kids who would get it and stick with it from the ones who would be sitting in the lodge pouting after an hour.


I know how to fall (intellectually). How do I translate that into the real world? I took a nasty fall on my MTB this summer, broke my shoulder. Everything was instinctual and a blur. Can we somehow retrain our innate responses?


I know it's not helpful, but from a lifetime of doing really stupid things in action sports, starting young is a lot of it. Falling like anything takes practice, and falling when your 12 is so much less painful than falling when your 35.

Anyone who grew up in the skatepark/terrain park knows the experience of learning new tricks and progression. It's thousands of falls building up the muscle memory to land the trick. Over time, it just sticks (or you hurt yourself bad enough you quit).

Cant really do this when you're old. It just takes less to cause damage, unless you're in excellent shape from doing active and dynamic movements over years of work.

Now to try and be helpful - Martial arts, wrestling and doing low weight dynamic movement exercises will help you train. Also, if you want your whole body to be sore, pick up a skateboard, strap as many pads as possible, and go learn how to ride a bowl at your local skatepark. Guaranteed you'll get lots of fall practice :)


I skied when I was young and later rollerbladed on ramps and street and did adult gymnastics classes for fun. Definitely learned to roll out of a crash and body awareness in the air. You just get used to rolling instead of trying to stop yourself.

I used to ride a racing bike to work and had to slam the brakes on suddenly once when an idiot in a car suddenly turned in front of me. I went over the handlebars, but instinctively did a forward somersault/roll and was pretty much unhurt except a slight graze. It happened so fast that I have no idea how I did it. In the air I must have recognized that my body was spinning and I just tucked into it until I was the right way up again.

So I think the answer is just practice. Do silly shit until you learn how to land it. A foam pit makes it less painful. :-)


> I know how to fall (intellectually). How do I translate that into the real world?

As a martial arts instructor, here's my advice: The first month or so of aikido classes is a great way to learn rolling. Start on your knees, on a padded floor, arc your arms/"hold a ball", & practice rolling diagonally (eg right shoulder to left hip, etc)

1. Keep arms in a curve: the arms pattern your fall, rather that 'push the ground' 2. Point your nose into your armpit. Don't let your head touch the ground 3. Protect your clavicles. Super easy to break, especially if you hit the ground with a stiff arm. Clavicles take MUCH longer the heal than wrists, & hurt worse too 4. DON'T learn rolling from gymnastics, if your goal is to survive crashes on concrete. Gymnasts practice on thick padded floors & don't mind that their head touches the floor. Bad idea when there's no padded floor.


This is great advice - it is true to me as well. I would ask You to also consider mention rolling across the upper back unless You don't endorse it and then I would like to hear [read] that too - i.e., one backside shoulder across to the other with your #2. It has saved me many times.


Practice. In mountain bike terms, that means lots of slower/easier terrain, with occasional “soft” falls. If there are skills areas in any of your trail networks, those are great. Trail running can help - you’ll eventually trip and you’re closer to the ground and going a bit slower, so you have a bit more time to react (tuck and roll, hopefully).

That said, broken collar-bones (along with separated shoulders) are one of the most common serious cycling injury. I’m one of the very few of my friends who hasn’t broken one. And several friends have broken or separated each shoulder multiple times.


My first over-the-handlebars resulted in a fractured Greater Tuberosity. Pretty sure I reached my arm out to catch myself. Terrible decision.


Ouch. That’s not a common break, IME, but either an outstretched arm or direct trauma can cause it.

I’ve mildly separated both shoulders a few times over the years. Thankfully no major separations or breaks - just some MRIs and PT (plus a few concussions). I did break my forearm when I was 5 - fell jumping a fence, reached out, and snap. Classic broken arm.


Folks are saying to practice your fall-possibility-sport where a fall won't hurt as much. I say take it a step further and do focused practice of falling and rolling intentionally. There are a lot of videos on YouTube about how to do so.

When I started long boarding at ~38, I practiced throwing myself into a roll first from a crouch, then standing, then standing on the board - onto grass of course. It helped a lot when I did inevitably have unplanned falls on the pavement.


As with every other skill, practice.

Judo and skiing taught me how to fall. It's easier if you start young because you have less distance to fall.


When I first learned to ski, my cousin just shoved me over until I got used to how to fall comfortably. With snow, it's no pain whatsoever.


I have had reflexes learned from contact improvisation kick in during a couple random low speed falls from standing or walking/tripping. I had a feeling of "ah I have been here before" as I fell. Maybe not relevant to oneboard speeds, but relevant if you trip on a toy or kid in your house, or slip on some ice outside.


Same way you train any other faster-than-thinking response: lots and lots of practice.


Practice at home (outside on grass is nice) starting from on your knees work up to on your feet. The real test is to have a partner push you over. Spend time strengthening the neck to avoid concussions.


Casual ice hockey might be a good start. It’s certainly possible to get hurt, but with shin pads and gloves, a good sliding fall on the smooth ice will be totally painless.


The most instinctual thing we can change is avoiding panic - and the negative things it causes. Like looking down instead of ahead. Or trying to stop yourself.


Martial arts


Surfing is a great safe way to learn how to fall.


No, it's not! When you surf, you get used to punching through the surface and then holding your breath and dealing with the water movement. You have to consciously remind yourself to not do the equivalent of going head first through the face of the wave or stretching out your toes when bailing of the board.


Drive a car.


Why can't life skills, especially ones that could be lead to injury, be explained instead of each person having to make the mistake before they learn it?


- "you could instantly tell from their first fall"

Mind elaborating what it is you see?


>Mind elaborating what it is you see?

A lot of people just fall. Like a sack of potatoes. Their inner ear senses a point of no return, and they just let gravity take over from there.

Other people sense the fall, and react, but they are still just trying to stop the fall from happening, so they break their wrists on impact.

But usually anyone with any kind of athletic experience or decent kinematic awareness understands that the fall is happening and the point is to direct it. The elbows tuck, the neck lowers, and they guard the body while directing the inevitable fall.


Couldn't that be taught on mats in a gym instead of mistakes that could lead to injury?


Yes.

Judo and parkour both actively teach falling and body-awareness. Gymnastics does, though it’s not generally as formal/explicit - you just get the body awareness from beginner-level tumbling.


A good video that helped me fall better on skis after I broke my wrist (by falling incorrectly): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS0HCRMbRRA


I broke a bone literally the very first time I tried one of these. It was a painful lesson.


As a teen, I broke three of my limbs in separate longboard incidents. Eventually I learned the lesson and stopped doing it hahaha


Agree. Near a building under construction I was on my Boosted board riding along probably around 6-8 mph and couldn't see a water hose that was strung across the road, and went flying off. I was in protective gear and probably would have otherwise had some kind of head trauma. I've skiied and bicycle regularly so those played in to me not breaking anything.

I wasn't brave enough to turn the speed maximum up beyond the regular setting.


> and multiple reports of serious injuries after the product failed to balance the rider or suddenly stopped while in motion.

According to the callback this is a technical problem, and not of unskilled users.


Yup - and by the time you don all the safety gear appropriate for motorcycle riding it's just not quite as much fun anymore, is it? Seriously though, you should at least be wearing a 3/4 helmet when riding these things and it wouldn't hurt to wear a riding jacket. It's all fun and games until you inevitably fall.


Heck, i went over the handlebars of a razor scooter in Palm Springs (bad place to ride anything with small wheels) in my early 40’s. Thankfully, i just came out bloodied (i still have the scars). I would hate to try to do that with something at a higher speed.


Saw one of these fail on mission street at speed and dude was launched into the intersection.

He was ok bc he had a full armor suit on, coming from a motorcycle background you gotta respect the speed.

Looks like a ton of fun thou and suppppper cyberpunk :)


funny, I was about to build and electric skateboard, then I thought: "hum, I'm an out of shape 100+ kg slob, maybe 1) I shouldn't take a heavy fall from a standing position 2) use my muscles for transportation".

So I got a non-electric bike, because I'm too lazy to walk.


Hmm, I don't think people using bikes are too lazy to walk. Then you'd use an electric bike. People using a bike are too busy to have time for walking. Using a bike is just as much effort, just condensed over a shorter period of time.


Biking a given distance is significantly more energy efficient than walking thanks to the wheels maintaining your momentum and decreasing friction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_efficiency_in_transport


More energy efficient just means you can expend the same energy and go faster :D


To be fair: I simply cannot ride a bike in my area - I moved to a mountainous area about 10 years ago. I'm fine on flat stretches, obviously OK downhill, but uphill is a struggle. A half a mile uphill is no joke. I walk because I can't realistically ride a bike. An e-bike would allow for slightly faster transportation and the ability to go up somewhat steep inclines. Since the ones around here are all electric-assisted (you still have to pedal), it means that I'd at least get some movement out of it.


I genuinely do not believe any OneWheel riders are in this category. Loads of things aren't safe and we still let people ride them. I don't have a OneWheel, but my friends and I have beat those light-up speed signs enough times on bikes, longboards, skateboards, you name it.

It's fun as fuck, and maybe you can die so you should wear a helmet but preventing people from playing with death is bullshittery.


Reading this warning, I don't understand why now? Is there a bug with onewheels that are causing this injury/death? Or is it just rider error doing a dangerous activity?

Is the CPSC going to start warning against purchasing Rossignol skis or Santa Cruz mountain bikes because their respective activities are dangerous?

Participation in action sports and high-speed transportation will result in a higher expected mortality rate over the mean. I don't know who in their right mind would think flying down a street at >15mph on a single wheel would be _not_ incredibly dangerous.

Let adults make stupid decisions - whether that's jumping off a building with a parachute, riding a bike down a recklessly steep hill or hurtling my body down Main St. on a sideways unicycle.


> Is there a bug with onewheels that are causing this injury/death? Or is it just rider error doing a dangerous activity?

The article describes the scooter suddenly stopping operation and throwing riders off. It's not just scooting being dangerous generally, but a specific product flaw.


I am absolutely no fan of Future Motion, and I ditched my OneWheel in protest. This isn't entirely a product flaw and comes down to physics: the board pushes you back (by lifting the front) to indicate that you are exceeding it's capacity to balance (all balancing products have a limit, with no exceptions). It will also push back when the battery is low. Either way, ignoring pushback is how people "suddenly have the board stop."

Major caveat though: nearly all reputable Electric Unicycles (what I switched to) use a supercap for emergency power and can pull you out of almost anything. FM is too cheap/stubborn/unknown to do the same.

Furthermore, EUCs generally have a speaker and can make audible alerts when you approach the limit. OneWheel pushback can sometimes be really ambiguous, and can be missed. EUC apps also generally vibrate or something during these events. The same can't be said for FM.

The big issue recently has been the OneWheel GT, a.k.a. Ground Torpedo. The foot sensor "ghosts" and causes the board to miss disengagement from the rider. This results in the board careening off (at 35mph) into whatever/whoever is in front of it. The last I saw was one having made a good bend in a wrought iron fence. FM has generally denied that it is a widespread issue. I suspect it's the Ground Torpedo that has cast so much attention towards FM.

The last nail in the coffin (which has nothing to do with the CPSC issue) is that FM are aggressively anti-right-to-repair. The Ground Torpedo has volatile RAM in the Battery Management System that bricks the device if it loses power (due to self repair, or even complete discharge). The claim is that people are installing inferior batteries, the irony is that it is FM who install cheap crap.

Don't buy a OneWheel. Fuck Future Motion.


The pushback is entirely inadequate as if you’re leaning forward enough you won’t have time to even feel it. It happened to me - I was using it to search for my dog that ran away for the first time ever. Because I was in a tizzy I wasn’t wearing my helmet, for the first time ever. Someone told me where she was - I floored it to get around a slow bicyclist. I nosedived.

Luckily I had “fangs” on it that are a set of small wheels you can add to the front. That bought me the time to fall correctly and all I ended up with was a severely skinned arm.

It should always have enough power to go “whoa, you’re trying to go too fast” and gradually slow you down while keeping the front up.

Mine’s been collecting dust and I’ve been meaning to sell it. I’m assuming that’ll be pretty difficult now.


I promise you will have no problems selling it if you list it...


Isn't the way it keeps the nose up by speeding up though?


That's emergent behavior (and that emergent behavior is the principle by which all balancing devices work). All it tries to do is keep the board level. Below a certain torque (which is inversely correlated to available wattage and speed) the board loses the ability to stay level. If overcurrent protection kicks in then the motor will abruptly turn off, usually resulting in a nosedive (because your center of gravity will be towards the nose of the board while speeding up). There are experienced riders who can ride pretty far beyond safe limits by balancing themselves, but that's incredibly dangerous.


No, it uses battery power to self balance once it detects you standing on the board, the nose will stay up at a standstill.

This also means if you run out of battery power the nose will just drop on you.


The force to balance though comes from the wheel torque which are from either speeding up or slowing down.


I can't prove it but I'm fairly certain my OneWheel Pint just "powered off" a couple of times while in normal operation. Luckily I was going slowish so I was able to run-off and catch myself.

It does seems possible the CPSC is noting an actual product glitch. If the microprocessors aren't hardened for it or using redundant chips, then it'd be possible for them to bit flip occasionally. Among many other possible design flaws.


What would you recommend as an alternative?


I'm on an InMotion V5F, which is the slightly more recommended entry-level EUC. I understand that Begode is a better brand once you get into the midtier, and KingSong is the best high-tier brand. My only complaint is that I wish it went a little faster (I guess that's always the case no matter the top speed). It's much easier to transport when it's flat (i.e on foot) as it has a "leash" and just rolls along next to you. It has ~18miles of range. It took me about 8-10 hours (basically 50% of the battery) to successfully balance, with pretty extensive prior experience with a OneWheel.

They are objectively safer so far as the forwards/backwards balance goes. The theory is that it's all around safer because of the psychological effect of the steep learning curve. You do still want a motorbike helmet and BMX/skating pads (the community is way more pro-safety, which is nice). You'll need to try soft-sole and hard-sole shoes, one of the two will be unusable for you due to foot/sole fatigue. Once you get to mid-tier, you generally see incrementally more biker gear.

You don't look as cool on it. It doesn't have the same emotional impact. It is way more fun.

You could also look at electric skateboards or scooters.


EUCs do not seem like a very good alternative to the OneWheel. I think a huge draw to OneWheel is that it looks like a skateboard, but has one big wheel so it handles most terrain without trouble, helping to avoid the pebble paranoia you usually develop riding on a normal skateboard.

I did find the Trotter MAGWheel T3 as an alternative, but it reviews badly from its "prototype without any polish" experience in use.

It sucks that there seemingly does not exist a good alternative to OneWheel, other than changing to a different product category entirely. I wish we can get to see some true competition in the one-wheeled skateboard category soon.


Something with two wheels and a handlebar (bike/scooter).


imo the scooters while more portable and cheaper.. at least the examples i have access too.. lime/bird etc. have a problem due to hard low diameter wheels. They can get hung up on random gravel or small sidewalk 'cliffs' leading to potential over the handlebars ejection.

I went with an ebike for my neighborhood 'runner' (i don't currently commute).


Electric unicycles are a lot of fun. I've ridden both and strongly prefer EUCs, and that is coming from a seasoned snowboarder and skateboarder.


roller skates!


I don't think this is what's happening, at all. Here's a deep dive into what's actually happening, which is people ignoring built in safety, overpowering the motors ability to keep them upright: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGn7iPN07XI

The motor is at maximum power and speed when this happens.


This video is directly produced by Onewheel's marketing department. It does certainly highlight one way user error can lead to injury on a Onewheel, but I don't think this is a credible refutation of the idea that there may be a flaw in the product.


I had a onewheel that would occasionally just stop. The first time I was going at 15 mph and fortunately came away with only a few scrapes.

I sent it in and they fixed it. This is their explanation which I don't know that I fully believe:

Our engineers completed the repairs on your board! They found that the power button had broken which led to damage to the controller circuit board. Both have been replaced under warranty for you. After your board passed our post-op testings it was picked up by FedEx!


I see, assuming that is what's happening here I'm still not entirely certain if this is usage error or a design fault. There's two things I have my doubts about.

Firstly, sure pushback seems like it is noticeable but is it really instinctual to push less when something starts pushing back? A counterforce is good at preventing someone from moving something, but I'm not too sure if it's good at preventing them from trying.

Secondly, I have my doubts about a system of transportation that cannot slow down without throwing off its rider. I mean the automatic balancing is a fun trick, but it's somewhat concerning when the only response it has in case of problems of insufficient power is to accelerate even more and when that doesn't work it does a nose dive resulting in what looks like a sudden stop.


i own a one wheel and it will occasionally just stop, and not at full speed and power.

i love riding it. but it has happened a few times, and only takes once for you to not trust it

if an e-bike shuts off, you slow down. when a single wheel dies, you fall down


Admittedly a marketing video but still a pretty cool deep-dive by the company - great watch!


This can be ridden through as well, the bumpers are consumables that will slide on pavement. This is what I'll typically do if I push the board too far, though I have pitched the front into a sidewalk crack where it stopped dead and I kept going.

But I've got decades of board riding experience that has taught me to keep my center of mass over the top of the board. This is an important skill to deal with unexpected bumps on snowboards and skateboards as well. Even when the board stops due to colliding with an object I've still got a decent chance of running it out.


Is the CPSC going to start warning against purchasing Rossignol skis or Santa Cruz mountain bikes because their respective activities are dangerous?

Skis balance just fine without power. A skier will slow gracefully due to friction.

Likewise, mountain bikes don’t fall over when power (leg or EV) is removed. They coast to a stop. A rider can dangle their feet to slow and balance.

A One-Wheel/electric unicycle doesn’t naturally balance when power is removed. During use, the rider is leaning forward and the board is fighting that forward fall by accelerating forward and pushing the board/deck back level. When power fails, the nose of the board/deck necessarily plunges into the ground, tossing the rider forward. “Training wheels” on front and back would mitigate this, but would look dorky, so nobody (that I’ve seen) builds them that way.


They sell accessories for the onewheel that puts little wheels on the front and the back, they don't really work reportedly. Maybe down to the thing I can't stand about escooters ... the wheel diameter is just too small and too dense/inflexible. If a decent sized chunk of gravel is going to cause your wheel to just stop rolling .. well that's not great.


I put some aftermarket “fangs” on and they bought me a second to fall correctly.


> Is there a bug with onewheels that are causing this injury/death?

Yes.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=onewheel+injuri...

Edit:

I should have explained this more. There are whole threads on YT on how these things are super dangerous and causing a lot of injuries. Especially with random lockups.

There are videos about the poor construction, lockups, dangerous to self repair, etc.

I found them when I started to look into buying one of these myself.

Here is a reddit thread full of stories...

https://www.reddit.com/r/onewheel/comments/robnkf/lets_talk_...

Old, but Casey Neistat broke his collar bone...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ay5M82IcUI

Lawsuit over wrongful death:

https://gearjunkie.com/news/onewheel-wrongful-death-lawsuit

Nosedives:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24T4xrSf1Dg

Electronic issues:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G3ddOMvBws

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5b3fHL6ko0

Onewheel CEO SBF moment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2PrcgfsX14


This is not a link to a video describing a specific bug in the product. It's just a link to a search of "onewheel injuries" in YouTube, which presents a variety of videos detailing all manner of injuries that come from operator error and the inherent dangers of OneWheel operation. Try searching for "mountain bike injuries" and see what you get.

Is there anything else? (I'm sincerely interested. The CPSC article clearly infers a situation in which it suddenly stops. Is this confirmed?)


> (I'm sincerely interested. The CPSC article clearly infers a situation in which it suddenly stops. Is this confirmed?)

The first few seconds of this 2-year-old video shows it happening to Adam Savage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys3ivCUxIvY

What I'm finding after some light digging is that this "nosedive" problem has seemingly been injuring people for years. There's apparently even a small ecosystem of add-on products that purport to address it: https://www.badgerwheel.com/shop-online/badgersense


> Using an intuitive redline display, the power gauge lets you know at a glance how much power the motor has left before a nosedive is imminent.

What a quote.


That Adam Savage footage… Ok, thanks, never getting on one of these things.

It is just a flawed concept basically.


These search results do not appear to describe a flaw in the product. I watched a bit from one of the crash compilations and would describe every crash I saw as rider error. Many of them were attempting stunts, holding cameras while riding, or both.

It may be easy to make such errors, but the same could be said of a unicycle, skateboard, BMX bike, or any of many other vehicles generally seen as safe enough for sale to the public.


Not even 4 deaths a year, I have to say this is still a magnitude safer than swimming or skiing. It's dangerous to some degree, but enough for a recall seems over the top. Just the statement itself seems unusually targeted. First they came for the magnets, now the uniboards?


I think at least part of the difference is that this is a single company that is building, selling and supporting this product. They go out of their way to hold their dominance and not allow for competition and thus improvement of products. The CEO says as much so in his video and in a lot of ways is using safety and control as an excuse for this. Since that is the case, they should own it and provide a product that doesn't randomly lock up as well as have a whole bunch of well documented electrical / construction / design problems.

Imagine that there was only one company that made skis.


> Not even 4 deaths a year, I have to say this is still a magnitude safer than swimming or skiing.

The only meaningful comparison would be a _rate_, not total number of injuries.

Google says there are 40 skiing deaths per year in the US. It would be very easy to believe there are 100x more people skiing than uniboarding.

This passes my back of the envelope test for "dangerous".

If you've got better numbers, I'll listen.


My take on it is that if it's no more dangerous than the term "20+ MPH electrically-driven skateboard/unicycle hybrid" sounds, then it's perfectly fine to market it to adults.

That sounds kind of dangerous to me. If I was going to ride one, I'd be sure I was wearing a helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads. I'd ride it in a very controlled space free of obstacles, uneven surfaces, and unpredictable road users until I mastered controlling it. I'd step up that safety gear a notch if I was attempting stunts.

Some people aren't that careful, but as long as they're injuring themselves rather than others, it does not strike me as grounds for a recall.

Edit: the wheel locking randomly or unpredictably certainly would be grounds for a recall, but the linked Youtube search doesn't show that, at least not without watching a couple hours of video.


It is too easy to nosedive on these things at speed and go superman. Either a balance mistake or hardware failure. There are tons of videos of people nosediving.

There are now third party companies making little wheels that sit on the end edge that are supposed to help protect you. IMHO, that is one advancement that the company should be making as part of the core product and not just outsourcing.


Safety wheels do seem like a good feature that should be standard on these. There's a speed over which they can no longer accelerate fast enough to self-balance, and braking to override the user's questionable decision to go faster would cause a nosedive.

What I'm seeing from a quick search is that there's an audible warning upon exceeding the speed that's safe for self-balancing. Ignoring that is rider error.


.... beep ... superman!!!


Yeah future motion cites bicycle deaths vs onewheel deaths. As if bicycles are not used to cover many many orders of magnitudes more miles traveled. Even with that we should be talking about bicycle deaths caused by a bicycle hardware fail, not being hit by a non-attentive driver.


When the GT was released, there was a problem with "ghosting", which meant the board would keep moving after the rider had gotten off the board. This was traced to a faulty sensor in the foot pad, for which Future Motion eventually did issue a recall and will replace that gen foot pad at no add'l cost.

It affected a minority of the boards, and the biggest concern was the board crashing into a pedestrian's ankle or smashing into traffic or parked cars. It was certainly a concern, but in no way something that could reasonably be expected to cause death or injury to the rider.

That recall from FM of the footpad was done this summer.

There is no open issue that I'm aware of with the board.

Using them is inherently risky though, like downhill biking or snowboarding.


I can only imagine it's about the feature where it "warns" you when you are leaning too far, which you can choose to ignore. I'm assuming most injuries are from people pushing the angle way too hard


"I don't understand why now?"

Bureaucratic inefficiencies.

"Is there a bug with onewheels that are causing this injury/death?"

There was an issue that the community referred to as "ghosting" whereby the board got a bit out of control. This was fixed with a firmware update. The boards also nosedive when approaching top speed. Some people consider that a bug, but it's just users neglecting instructions and warnings.


I know a couple of people injured by the so-called non-bug and they have both dumped their one wheels and feel duped about it.

I hate to think that the whole idea is fatally flawed, but it should have enough reserve power to gracefully slow you down if the machine is in trouble. They guys I know, one is a very talented board sporter and broke his collarbone. He takes safety pretty seriously and felt like there was no warning and it just cut out on him. North of 10mph? That's a pretty good tumble for most people, you might not just pop up after it.

In the case of my friends, they knew they were going to get hurt, they were setting up ramps and trying to do tricks and things. They entered into it with that in mind and then decided it wasn't for them. Hard to imagine how a total civilian would approach such a device.


"it should have enough reserve power to gracefully slow you down if the machine is in trouble."

You're 100% right. It's an avoidable problem. But they choose not to for bragging-rights and top speeds and engineering resources.

Chaotic innovation in the personal-transport space is better for us in the long term.


Bug is a bit of a misnomer, it’s a constraint by the laws of physics due to the board having only a single wheel. If the board is being pushed beyond operating capacity, there is no graceful way to slow it down without the rider cooperating. If the rider never cooperates and the motor overheats, that’s when you see a nosedive.


then FutureMotion must equip all onewheels with safety wheels on both sides. Also called as Fangs bumper wheels.

physics is no excuse for lousy engineering from FutureMotion and complete disregard of life threatening diving condition!


But then it’s a fivewheel! /s


onewheels suffer from a problem known as nosediving in which the board shuts off when it can't supply enough power to support the rider, as the board is self balancing this is a problem intrinsic to the board's form factor. The board works in a similar fashion to balancing something like an umbrella on your hand, as the rider leans forward it creates an imbalance that requires the board to accelerate in order to keep the rider upright. The only possible safety feature to prevent nosedives is to inform the rider that they're approaching the board's limits, this is done with "pushback" where the board elevates the nose making the rider uncomfortable, signaling that they should slow down. Newer boards are more aggressive with pushback, it's definitely a balancing act giving the user the most power from their board while also preventing them from nosediving, future motion faced significant backlash when their new flagship board implemented extremely strong pushback at a speed lower than a prior discontinued model


Mine just turns off even on flat ground when fully charged and ejects me forward. Started happening after about a week of use, just as I was getting comfortable, but it's just completely unusable. Maybe I'm a bit too big, or riding a bit too far forward or something, I don't know, but I feel a bit vindicated now.

What a waste of money, I'm glad I wasn't injured worse than just some scrapes and bruises.


As a onewheel owner, one feature I think needs to be eliminated from the device are the "digital shaping modules" that allow you to modify the behavior of the board via software. It should has only one mode, which is "do everything possible to make sure the user doesn't crash"

I only had one fall on my onewheel with ~2 years of use, and that was when I was testing one of the "smooth ride" software modes and it therefore didn't move forward as quickly as I usually expected (because it was emphasizing "smooth" over "responsive") causing me to fall forward. There was absolutely no good reason for that fall to happen, I think.


Good summary. I would just add that "can't supply enough power" is a state the board can enter into either in lower battery levels or (more often) when a rider has put their center of mass too far forward, causing the board to work harder to stay under them, while also moving at a higher rate of speed or accelerating - the board can't give enough power to maintain this.

Pushback is to be respected, but the user can also ignore it and carry on. It's literally the board telling you that you need to get ready to run if you don't stop, but many will just ignore and keep on keepin' on, often at speeds faster than they are capable of running.

Watch this in action here: https://www.reddit.com/r/onewheel/comments/ywq655/the_scorpi...

I've said before that Onewheels are the Lawn Darts of our generation, we're lucky to enjoy them before the nannies start taking our toys away. They are super fun though - so much fun.


Those comments are nuts. https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/ywkg0y/the_scorpion_...

They’re mostly all like “Yeah OneWheels are cool but my buddy leaned too far forward once and now his jaw’s wired shut for 6 weeks” https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/ywkg0y/the_scorpion_...

Or “I saw a guy almost die on one of these” https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/ywkg0y/the_scorpion_...

Or “Yeah a bunch of my friends have broken their bones at our weekly OneWheel meetup, and OneWheels are universally recognized as a wheeling death trap if you’re not careful. But it’s totally worth it because, like, it’s fun!” https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/ywkg0y/the_scorpion_...

I think I’ll stick to quadcopters…


I have a broken nose and cracked ribs to show for years of snowboarding.

Scars from wounds and stitches from years of MTB.

Nothing but a bit of bruising from the OW.

It probably helps that I’m middle aged, story would probably be very different if so had one in my teens or twenties.

Nothing I’ve possessed before the OW has instilled the kind of giddy joy reminiscent of being ten years old that it brings. It’s insanely fun and delightful!

That said, yes, half the posts on the OW sub and discord are people showing off injuries. The other half are older people admonishing everyone to pad up. I wear knees, elbows, wrists, and padded shorts, typically long clothes, either a skating helmet or full face depending on my plans. I practice running out, falling, hopping obstacles on the OW. Practice means pain, so it’s hard to convince yourself to do it, but it’s totally worth it. I’ve done some impressive subconscious recoveries.

What everyone is saying here about shifting weight with hips rather than upper body, learning how to grind the nose and tail, keeping feet oriented to run, are all parts of good riding technique.

There definitely is a learning curve to riding safely. I don’t think that warrants a recall though, or threats of one. Would have preferred the agency to voice it differently - warning about risks of injury to beginners - rather than the fear-mongering about phantom death traps.


I’m assuming you don’t take part in the MultiGP drone racing scene then. Onewheels and quads just seem to go together - at any big race you’ll see a bunch of them wheeling around.

Quads can be pretty dangerous too. One wrong switch flip and you can look like you went through a deli slicer. Move up to the bigger prop sizes and they can do more than that.


yeah go browse /r/multicopters to see people who have absolutely shredded their hands because they thought the copter was disarmed when they go to pick it up.


Apparently some users have attached smaller wheels to the front of the Onewheel that engage during a nosedive [1]. I wonder how effective these are at preventing injury.

[1] https://old.reddit.com/r/onewheel/comments/903wnj/diy_antino...


It gives you another split second to recover. If you aren’t expecting it or just don’t have the body control for it, you’ll probably still go down.


That split second could be all I need to jump for grass instead of pavement. I've seen people intentionally ride the nose so it's likely something that they should just integrate into the thing.


When I was a teenager I rode my skateboard down a parking lot ramp when I realized I was going way too fast, was about to enter the street and the only way to bail was to jump off and run. It looked about like that video.

I didn’t realize these one wheels have top speeds of 16-20 mph. That’s faster than most people can sprint. 16 mph is a 3:45 mile. 20 is a 3:00 mile.

> we're lucky to enjoy them before the nannies start taking our toys away

See also three wheelers:

https://www.hotcars.com/this-is-why-the-3-wheeled-atv-was-ba...

But I dunno, where do you draw the line? As a 50 year-old who makes a living typing I chose not to buy a table saw last year because I decided it was inherently a riskier tool that I ever wanted to use. I ended up with a track saw instead. I think that was a good decision but not sure it’s one I would have been wise enough to make in my younger years. Now I’m not advocating for banning table saws: my point is that Onewheel can put every warning and disclaimer in the world on their product and some people will still not appreciate the risks involved.

That said, 4 deaths over 2 years doesn’t seem out of line with other products in the same category. I wonder if something else is going on to draw the CPSC’s ire.


A lot of the older guys I've seen on these are generally wearing motorcycle pads under their jackets/other clothing.

Even doing it as a 27 year old I hit the ground going twenty, I was sore for a week plus afterwards. I hit the ground and just rolled out the energy. Had a friend break my helmet testing mine out so I consider myself lucky.


> I didn’t realize these one wheels have top speeds of 16-20 mph. That’s faster than most people can sprint. 16 mph is a 3:45 mile. 20 is a 3:00 mile.

Those numbers are somewhat relevant but shorter sprints are about 50% faster than a mile pace.


16 mph is also a 14 second 100-meter dash. You have to be in decent shape to run that quickly and your legs already have to be in motion. 20 mph is an 11 second 100-meter dash. That’s fast enough to win races against all but trained athletes.

FWIW, I’m a marathon runner with a 3:07 PR. I’ve done a lot of speed work. I don’t think I could run fast enough to keep up falling off a board in motion at 16 mph.


The speeds are nothing to sneeze at, but also keep in mind that the peak speed in a hundred meter dash is higher than the average speed, and when you're jumping off a device you're rapidly losing speed which means less effort too.


If only the CPSC had tested skateboards for speed wobbles, they would be banned.


There is a new(ish) safety device for table saws called a sawstop, which can capacitively detect flesh hitting the blade, and eject it before it causes injury.

Works great, and there's a campaign to make them mandatory safety equipment on new table saws.


Yup I didn’t want to spend that much and it still doesn’t help with kick backs. I decided the track saw was sufficient for what I wanted to do, safer, and more space efficient. If I did ever need a table saw though I’d consider a Sawstop model cheap insurance. Maybe their parent will be expired by then. A few years back they won a patent suit against Bosch I think.


I think I ran into this "can't supply enough power" state last week. I was coming to the end of my ride, battery was around 15%. I was trying to slow down for a light that was turning red. I just couldn't make it slow down, and ended up hanging a right turn at 8mph then continued to speed up until 19mph. (in the mode I ride in, it's supposed to be limited to 12mph). It was terrifying. I was actively trying my best to slow down the entire time, but the board was going fast. After 15 or so seconds of this I bailed and walked away with a bit of road rash.

Totally different scenario from the CPSC complaint. But, yes, another way these machines are dangerous.


Pushback on my XR is extremely subtle. The GTs have audio pushback but it's quiet. The app on my phone and watch tell me if I'm low on battery or have wheelslip, but I wish there was just a simple pushback notification. It would be so easy.


It happens at low speeds too! I hit a pothole on my bike and flew off the front and had a concussion/sternum fracture, and I was going like >5mph. I couldn’t believe it. It has made me permanently scared of electric bikes.

(yes I was wearing a helmet thankfully or I might actually be dead)


I've read somewhere that a majority of the "damage" from a bike accident is actually the "head to concrete" fall distance, and that speed often isn't a major factor.


Why electric bikes specifically?


this doesn't seem like an 'electric bike' problem, more like a 'bike' problem. Hit the same pothole on a non-electric bike, what's the difference. He says he was going ~5mph which is not that fast...


Glad the newer ones are more aggressive. I've pushed an XR to 24 on flat and at that point you're just using your own balance and praying nothing is in the road. This whole nosedive thing where "Is this Future Motion Fault or someone idiot trying to ride faster then allowed" is the big thing preventing a recall I suspect.


Pushback is extremely unintuitive, it should do pushforward instead.


It has a pushforward mode - we just refer to it as nosediving. It's very intuitive, and a great trainer. Instills respect very quickly.


I don't think that would work, because pitching the board forward would require the wheel to accelerate to keep you upright. Also, what if it needs to warn you while you're actively accelerating (with the board already pitched forward)?


It also seems like they could do haptics, i.e. superimpose an audio-frequency wave on the motor current. Similar to the steering feedback you get with a lane departure warning system.

But then again it might be difficult/impossible to make it distinguishable from e.g. rough pavement.


This could 100% be done in software -- it's already adjusting the wheel speed a thousand times a second, it would be trivial to add some haptic oscillation.


An 80db piezo buzzer is $.13 and can operate on logic levels.

No need to get fancy


Deaf people exist.


It can also be hard to hear through e.g. a full-face helmet, or if you're (perhaps unwisely) wearing headphones.


Why? That would cause you to accelerate which would cause a nosedive.


Your natural reaction is to try to keep the board level, so when pushback happens, you push forward against it, which is telling the board to accelerate. Pushforward would be the opposite.

For what its worth this happened to me (I rode a onewheel without reading the instructions). The outcome was that I had no idea what was going on when pushback happened, and it was terrifying and probably dangerous, but ultimately my reaction to this scary situation was to slow the board down so I guess it worked.


I have a OneWheel and this is an excellent summary


Isn't this similar to what ultimately shut Segway down? People were falling nose first on those too.


FutureMotion must equip all onewheels with safety wheels on both sides. Also known as Fangs bumper wheels. This must come standard from factory, just as safety belts come with car.

physics is no excuse for lousy engineering from FutureMotion and complete disregard of life threatening diving condition!


No way on the tail. That’s the best way to emergency stop.

I can’t argue that fangs on the front could be safer but most riders I see would probably not recover a nose dive with them.


1. firmware can be upgraded to account for presence of fangs, for example replace pushback mechanism with gradual diving (soft landing on fangs) instead of abrupt nosedive

2. re emergency stop - agree with you, I am okay if fangs are placed only on the front


With thunderstorms, you count seconds 'twixt bolt and boom.

With the current golden age of electrified last-mile transport, we're seeing the gap between innovation and regulation opening up wide -- now several years.

Real-world impact: I routinely get up to speeds on my e-bike that are, quite simply, dangerous. It's not that I never hit 25 miles an hour on my old road bike, it's that I spend so much more time hanging out at ~25mph on my ebike that potholes have gone from annoyance to mortal danger.

The risk is somewhat mitigated by the enormous tires and superior build quality on the braking system, but not entirely. I'm glad to have taken a motorcycle license training course, and heartily recommend that other early adopters think about voluntarily seeking out additional training (and I imagine e-* specific courses are available now, if not soon.) Not all good ideas come with mandates :D


Another commenter posted about this in a separate top level comment already but it's worth mentioning here as well since you mention speed. The people who routinely hit 25+mph on a regular road bike know how to handle one at those speeds, many ebike riders simply don't have the handling skills or the experience to ride safely (for themselves and others) at speed.


Honestly I think the cap most people can handle is 15. After that is when things start getting much harder to deal with.


Yeah, you're probably right. When you start factoring in inattention and insufficient physical conditioning to control the bike (ebikes can weigh significantly more than a regular bicycle) it might even be lower.


The speeds of the motorized scooters/bikes/etc., and seeming recklessness of their riders, has become a problem on the sidewalks of college town Cambridge, Mass.

For example, at least three times in the last week alone, I've literally almost been run into by someone blasting out of, or alongside, Harvard Yard on one motorized vehicle or another.

Some of the bicyclists seem similarly reckless and self-absorbed. A couple times in the last week I've almost been hit on the sidewalk by a speeding bicyclist.

Also, a few nights ago, I was almost struck in the head by someone on a Blue Bikes rental bike, blowing through a crosswalk that had a walk light, and after the cars had already stopped for the red. (They were also speeding across the ambulance entrance&exit for a hospital ED, so doubly reckless, though convenient for me, had they cracked my head open.)

Anecdotally, the bicyclist wtf rate seems much than it used to be, and I wonder whether some of the motorized vehicles are setting precedents for behavior.

I intend to bring this up with the City, where I know they have some people who care very much about bike etc. transportation. I'm also mentally composing a concerned letter to the Harvard administration, both about public safety, and about the image of their students as reckless and self-absorbed.


At least bicycles are stable. This onewheel thing cannot work without a computer balancing it (+ the rider). If it fails the rider falls on their face. It would be the equivalent of a bike fork breaking.


I picked up an e-bike not too long ago and took a bit to decide between class 2 and class 3 - I didn’t have enough experience with a bike and a speedometer to gauge whether the 20mph limit on class 2 would be enough. Having ridden around for a while now, yeah, absolutely agree - anything over ~15-20mph is above my comfort zone for “able to adjust to sudden changes in the environment.” Folks who get the “class 4”s are baiting a date with a reconstructive surgeon.


It's a bit of a balance. It's great to be able to keep up with the 25 mph/40 kph traffic on city streets, but small bumps in the pavement are rough and of course there's quadratically more energy to manage in the event of a crash.

I think we need to normalize the idea that riding a class 3 bike requires using at a minimum a full-face helmet, motorcycle gloves, and close-toed shoes.

Personally I'll likely keep riding my bike in class 3 mode since it results in zero speed penalty over driving in town (and often is faster thanks to bike lanes that bring you to the front of a line of cars stopped at a light, and can typically be parked steps away from the door of where I'm going).


While quite reasonable, you'd be facing an uphill battle in many places.

In a lot of the United States, it's pretty common to see someone riding a 160hp 4-cyl sportbike in a t-shirt and flip-flops. Other riders call them 'squids.' EMTs call them 'road crayons.'


Yeah, I'm lucky in that my city's done a fantastic job of creating bicycle infrastructure - between dedicated trails, clear bike lanes, and streets that have been designed & designated for bikes, it's rare I have to interact with fast-moving traffic (the rare times I do are just as unpleasant as everywhere else, of course).


A new e-bike rider who suddenly is capable of 20mph and has no experience to the contrary might assume (wrongly) that they can navigate safely at that speed.

Cyclists who can maintain 20+ mph on flat ground (not at all uncommon!) will have many more riding hours under their belts, and the commensurate handling skills and instincts.


This has definitely been my observation as well. E-bike riders tend to be less experienced at a given speed then cyclists.

They also seem less likely to be comfortable riding on the road (understandably) so illegally use sidewalks to a greater degree.


I've certainly seen this with the rent-a-bikes - there were rent-a-ebikes in my area for a while, and those folks were frightening.

Of course, we've still got the rental e-scooters, so our supply of "people riding way faster than logic, wisdom, their wheels, and the surroundings would suggest" is still adequately supplied.


God… the most close calls I’ve seen have always been with rental e-scooters. Both of them blew past a red light, which btw, I was stopped at on my e-scooter. He nearly got hit by a SUV if the driver didn’t stop.

I think there’s some expectation for bikes to go with traffic, rental scooter riders think they’re some kind of unicorn where right of way no longer applies.

And I am assuming they are rental scooters because of the styling and lack of helmet.


I think generally the cultural expectation among bikers is stop signs as yield and red lights as (at minimum) stop signs.


In SF, I actually notice this more with the non-rental ones - the bikeshare e-bikes are pedal assist so a bit different.

I am hoping that as time goes on these newfound e-bike owners will get more comfortable and will respect traditional biking norms.

Another phenomena I've noticed is a lot more kids with e-bikes, oftentimes 3 kids to a single bike.


And we have still had one of those cyclists (on a traditional road bike) with all of those riding hours, handling skills and instincts, kill an elderly pedestrian on a mixed-use trail around here by maintaining that 20+mph.

I'm starting to think e-bikes that go that fast should use traffic lanes intended for cars and motorcycles, not mixed-use trails intended for bicycles and pedestrians.


That's heartbreaking.

20 mph on a mixed-use trail is dangerously reckless, unless you get a long empty stretch out in the countryside.

There are always groups of 4+ pedestrians who will suddenly spread out and block both lanes completely, with almost zero warning. If you can't react to that without an accident, you're going way too fast.

It would be nice if pedestrians would stay in the correct lane, but it's never going to happen. Even if you're only going 5 mph, you've rung a loud bell, and you've clearly said, "Passing on your left" (if that's the local trail's convention), then half the group will immediately spread into the left lane. And the other half will block the right. This is the most basic fact of mixed-use trail safety.


According to witnesses in this case, the cyclist called "on your left" (which is the local convention) prior to attempting the pass, and the pedestrian moved left. The descriptions did not sound over-the-top reckless to me.

"Heartbreaking" was really the only word for it.


Huh, I used to commute on a mountain bike in Somerville, MA. There were a couple of sections where I normally hit 20-25 mph on downhills. (Ones with no side roads to the right, and no tight corners.)

I wouldn't have wanted to wipe out or go over the handlebars at that speed. But on a familiar road, with 26" knobby tires and a front suspension, I had reliable control. The gyroscope effect of mountain bike rims is substantial at 25 mph. And a mountain bike is usually fine even on awful pavement, especially for someone who also rides in the woods.

The biggest danger by far in that scenario was Boston drivers. All the injuries I ever heard of were cars doing something illegal, or people getting doored on the Central Square bike lane. Overall, the statistics are pretty decent for experienced cyclists, if they're riding their daily commute and obeying traffic laws.

For an ebike, I'd want to stick with max 20mph pedal assist, and full size tires. And I'd want something I could ride onto a soft shoulder at full speed. So probably knobby tires and a front shock? If I can't drop 2" onto a sand shoulder, then I'm going too fast.


The other thing is someone on a pedal bike hitting 20+ is generally doing it in an area that can handle it. An ebike you can get to 20 plus in half a block.


Even on normal bicycles, most people seem to have pretty bad handling skills. The two things I think people should really practice are braking (especially emergency braking, using primarily the front brake) and very low speed riding.


I was using an e-bike on a road with some ripples (I guess they messed up during paving). I was thrown off of the bike, and my helmet prevented any serious injury.

I wasn't even going very fast.

The only solution to that (and the potholes) is larger wheels.


Riding position and weighting distribution.

If you're sitting straight up with 90% of your weight on the saddle, this can happen easily. If your weight is evenly split between saddle, pedal and bars, and your elbows are bent, you can absorb some pretty rough roads.


Did you bike much before? My impression of road biking and really any biking is that one eye has to be constantly glued to the road surface while the other eye watches for non-surface obstacles


The ripples are invisible - even knowing they are there I can't see them at night. I just know from memory to avoid that spot.


What about this experience is specific to electric bikes?


Smaller tires and rotating assemblies with less mass are more susceptible to uneven pavement. For example, a vehicle like a motorcycle or even a motor scooter will be able to handle imperfections on city streets more easily.

If you got a bigger gyroscope under your butt, you're harder to knock over.

Bicycles tend to go with smaller and less massive wheels, because it decreases rider effort required to spin them up, and it's generally a reasonable compromise for vehicles that operate at slower speeds and on smoother surfaces. Of course, if we start adding more power beyond human effort, more speed, and put those vehicles on surfaces designed for larger vehicles, it may make sense to reevaluate that compromise.


A lot of ebikes go with pretty chunky tires (for a bicycle). Mine are like 3.3 inches wide. (Rad Power Bikes)

I'm mostly just a pedal assist guy though, I only go for the throttle on big hills or coming off a light with a car behind me.


Yeah, they do it for exactly that reason -- but not all do. Some even go with smaller tires to be convenient in a folding form factor, etc. And then you're got things like e-scooters which will launch a person at the mere thought of uneven pavement. I don't understand how people will ride those things and then call a motorcycle dangerous.


There’s a guy in my neighborhood who rides an electric stand-up scooter, who wears an aerostitch and a full-face motorcycle helmet while doing so.


He’s smart. It is not very common that people fall off of a two wheeled vehicle and hit the direct top of their head. You’re most likely to hit your face and extremities.


Just to make sure we're on the same page: the answer to my question is "nothing", right?


I suspect a regular bike would also have a hard time (my car shakes like crazy going over that spot), but the e-bike has much smaller wheels (about half the size of a bike), and that made it much much worse.

In my city they rent out these scooters with tiny wheels and people are only allowed to use them on the road. Those ripples are at the bottom of a nice downhill, and if anyone were to hit them on the scooter they'd probably go flying. I just fell hard.


The opposite. The answer to your question is that electric bikes have unique handling characteristics compared to everything that isn't an electric bike.

If your comparison is human powered bikes, the answer is that you have more energy at your disposal than a human powered bike, and so you may be on a different surface and at a different speed than you otherwise would be, with equipment designed for different conditions.


I don’t understand this aspect, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean one should.

And in your case it’s clear you don’t think it’s a good idea but seem to say you do it anyway, why do you do it?


>"heartily recommend that other early adopters think about voluntarily seeking out additional training"

Alternatively one can stop being an idiot and ride at safe speed. I bet that "additional training" would require at least this kind of sanity


People assume a "bike" is safe, and a "motorbike" can be dangerous, but there's no real difference between them.

I've reached 35 MPH downhill under pedal power; if I had wiped out I would have been in a world of hurt, or dead, depending on how it had gone.


One of my own more indelible memories is of sprinting down a sizeable hill, out of the saddle and over the front wheel, handily pulling away from my buddy whose bike computer was reading 65 kph (40 mph), wearing shorts, cleats, gloves, and a shit-eating grin.

Two days later, tooling around on flat ground, my handlebars came apart in my hands, thanks to hidden long-developing stress fractures, a characteristic of aluminium alloys. (There'd been numerous previous falls.)

Speed is indeed fun. But its consequences can be extreme.

(I've hit 80+ kph / 50+ mph on other rides.)

Another factor is rider mass. An elite cyclist at 60--65 kg (135--145 lb) can brake far more effectively than a past-their-prime 115--135 kg (250--300 lb) rider, particularly, again, on a grade. Brakes have only so much stopping power.

E-bikes make higher-speeds for less-experienced and less-skilled riders far more attainable.

Typical recreational cyclists spend most of their time in the 20--30 kph (12--18 mph) speed range.


I've hit 50 mph downhill on my bike just to say I'd done it. I started thinking of all the ways it could end badly. As soon as I hit 50, I was on the brakes.


Motorbikes can easily (<10 seconds?) reach 4x your 35 mph, is probably why. That's why the full-face helmet and racing leathers. The leathers aren't going to help you if you go flying and hit something, which is why you should never ride that aggressively on the street, but if you go sliding for hundreds of feet, hopefully you only need a new suit and not most of your skin.

But you're right that even at 35 mph you'd be in a world of hurt. Every time I see a bicyclist going aggressively downhill in a bowl helmet and a barely-there lycra suit, I cringe so hard. You know how they get rid of road rash? They aggressively brush it out with what amounts to sandpaper.


Yet, the average motorcycle accident happens from speeds less than 30mph. Those speeds are plenty enough to kill. It all depends on what you hit and how.


I was almost killed by a downhill max speed bike crash when I was ~12.

Wearing a properly fitted helmet, I was knocked unconscious and concussed quite badly by the hit to my head.


>"People assume a "bike" is safe"

Bike is not safe. And it is not even about being hit by the car. Cyclists often fall and often it results in broken bones etc.


If you look at cities where bikes are well integrated then they are way safer than cars.


Safety is proportional to skilled and educated riders & drivers.


Road design plays a huge role.


Safety is also more than just "number dead" or "number seriously injured" though that plays a part. Some of it is also "number of incidents that could have been serious" - people walking can bump into each other without any real risk of serious harm (though a mob/crowd crush is a real danger that has to be considered, for example), but many bicycle/pedestrian or bicycle/bicycle incidents have the risk of serious harm.

And "depend on people to do the right thing at the right time with the right skill" should be the absolute LAST fallback - only used when there is no other reasonable option.


Think of "idiocy" as the lack of intelligence, rather than a separate entity of its own, similarly to how high-school physics (and therefore, contemporary common sense!) understands cold as the absence of heat.

This means that you can get rid of idiocy by adding intelligence to a system, in the same way that you can warm up a room with a space heater.

But how do you build up intelligence? Put it this way. Your onboard wetware neural network needs to iterate on e.g. pulling out of a slide, and a bunch of other stuff that you won't know how to do unless someone trains you. No iteration means no gradient, and no gradient means 'no smart'.

So if you want to defeat idiocy, you need training. Now, you can train you, but of course, you'll never know if the training was complete.

Thus the obvious antidote to e-vehicle idiocy-at-scale[1] is, yes, formal lessons and deliberate practice. Just like driving. Just like piano.

[1] a friend from grad school who is Korean told me that there's a word in Korean that literally means "road stupid" and this is the only fact I know about Korean and I love it. So many people are road stupid! I'm one of them! I'm trying to improve!


>"Now, you can train you, but of course, you'll never know if the training was complete."

Deliberate practice I understand.

The proposed "formal training" for this specific case however would not know "if the training is complete" either. They'll just be taking your money.


Well, they're welcome to it -- at least once a week, I use dodge-skid-stop, a specific skill I formally acquired by trying to do it and dropping the training bike a bunch while a grouchy 65yo biker glowered at my incompetence until it evaporated. Take my money


Safety is conditional to a lot more than speed.


...and yet the future continuity of your consciousness itself depends on at least a minimum-viable level of safety!

What a diabolical tradeoff :D

something-something anthropic principle


Are you saying that 25mph is inherently unsafe? What's the safe speed then, for a normal dry day?

Does this speed limit apply to motorcycles too?


I ride motorcycles on highways going 80mph+. I rode an engine conversion at 25mph and nope'd right out of doing that again.

The motorcycle's geometry is way different. It has a much larger contact patch. It has much more powerful brakes.


Goodness, no! There is no such thing as 'inherence' when discussing safety, that's a category mistake https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_mistake

I will say, anecdotally, that 25mph can sometimes, or even often, be unsafe on several popular brands of e-bike.

There are lots of reasons for this, but anecdotally, tire thickness, wheel diameter, rider height/stance, and braking system quality all seem to contribute, along with a lot of other factors that are hard to reason about beforehand, but easy to read off crash statistics, if you have data of sufficient quality.

The one factor that is really counterintuitive for me is weight. We learned in the motorcycle course that a heavier motorbike will actually be safer in, for example, rainy conditions, as the weight of the internal-combustion engine pushes the motorbike against the earth, expelling water from between the tread and the asphalt.

E-bikes, however, are often bicycle-ish in weight -- only twice as heavy as a standard bicycle, say, instead of ten times as heavy, which is what a motorcycle is. Nevertheless, they still vroom at motorbike-ish speeds.

This makes e-bikes "inherently" more dangerous in icing conditions, in comparison to an ICE motorbike, as there is less weight holding the business end of your e-bike-tire flush with the asphalt.

But 'inherently' is in scare-quotes above because it's still not quite right to say that every e-bike will be more dangerous because of this -- and I'm sure the market is already working on mitigations.

Tradeoffs, all the way down


> Goodness, no! There is no such thing as 'inherence' when discussing safety, that's a category mistake https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_mistake

Keep in mind I was responding to someone implying that "don't be an idiot" is all you need, which is pretty similar in bad reasoning.

I wanted to know why that particular person objected to 25mph.

> The one factor that is really counterintuitive for me is weight. We learned in the motorcycle course that a heavier motorbike will actually be safer in, for example, rainy conditions, as the weight of the internal-combustion engine pushes the motorbike against the earth, expelling water from between the tread and the asphalt.

> E-bikes, however, are often bicycle-ish in weight -- only twice as heavy as a standard bicycle, say, instead of ten times as heavy, which is what a motorcycle is. Nevertheless, they still vroom at motorbike-ish speeds.

On the other hand, motorbikes lose a bunch of pressure because of tire shape. And the rider provides a lot of weight. So I'd want more information here; it's more complicated than motorbike vs. motorbike.


All excellent points, but I think there's something like 2-5x as much tire surface area in contact with the road, and something like a x10 difference in weight, but I'm quite pointedly not googling either of these hand-wavey claims.

Suffice to say, you're quite right, and I don't have all the answers. And I suspect very strongly that regulators are similarly answer-tare.

Which is why, for now, it's a great idea to purchase e-bike-specific training if you're going to be spending a lot of time with an e-bike between your thighs, and, in a pinch, you can learn a lot from a motorcycle course.

Anecdotally, I use the controlled-skid technique at least once a week, when decelerating suddenly (to avoid a pothole, say.)[1] My middle-aged miniscuses would thank me, if they had the power of speech. ;)

[1] Sadly, I still have some of the bad cycling habits I picked up in my twenties in Chicago, blithely ploughing through six-way intersections and so forth, but none of the associated physical characteristics that made this activity if not safe then at least stochastically survivable.

Specifically, reaction time, strength, and flexibility are all reduced, but all the bad habits I acquired are still there. This is the other reason I took the motorbike course: pruning leftover bad habits that I can no longer afford to offset.


> All excellent points, but I think there's something like 2-5x as much tire surface area in contact with the road, and something like a x10 difference in weight, but I'm quite pointedly not googling either of these hand-wavey claims.

When you consider the total weight with the rider, the difference in weight might only be 3x.


Interesting claim -- what's your reasoning?

I would suppose it would depend on the cc of the motorbike, so, tentatively, yes, that makes intuitive sense -- a Honda Ruckus for example might not be much heavier than 3 e-bikes.

All the same: big bikes are heavy, and that turns out to be a good thing, balance-wise. Really different feeling. You can't really put it in words, it has to be experienced!


> a Honda Ruckus for example might not be much heavier than 3 e-bikes.

I don't think you're following what I'm saying.

If the ebike is 50 pounds, and the motorbike is 550 pounds, and the human is 200 pounds, then motorbike+human is 3x the weight of ebike+human. And that's how much the tires are pushing down.


Makes sense. Thanks for this!


Falling from a standing position can be dangerous. "Safe" is a function of the environment you're in and device you're riding- traction, obstacles, intersections, speed of other traffic, visible distance (fog / clear sky / bend in the road), wind, all sorts of things.

Motorcycles have different tire sizes, masses and centers of gravity. The speed they can "safely" travel will always be different than a bicycle.


> Falling from a standing position can be dangerous.

If your definition is "nothing is safe" then there's no reason to complain about 25mph in particular.

> "Safe" is a function of the environment you're in and device you're riding- traction, obstacles, intersections, speed of other traffic, visible distance (fog / clear sky / bend in the road), wind, all sorts of things.

So give an example.

Either specify conditions or assume generic conditions.

Don't say someone else's example number is wrong without giving a rough correct number.

> Motorcycles have different tire sizes, masses and centers of gravity. The speed they can "safely" travel will always be different than a bicycle.

Great. That answers my second question of two.


It's not that "nothing is safe" but rather nothing is "inherently" safe.

I've crashed several times going roughly 12mph, with only a few scrapes and no broken bones- once because by brake line snapped, once because my tire got caught in a crack in the road I didn't see, and once because a car pulled in front of me.

Any one of those could have ended in a broken neck if I'd landed wrong. Going slower might have prevented one or two of those. Going faster wouldn't have caused worse injury in the third case given that I bounced off the car rather than going straight to the ground.


Well specifically I said "inherently unsafe" which does exist.

But we can ignore the word inherently, because the post I replied to seemed to be objecting to 25mph in general, and I wanted to dive into that.


That's fair. I'd feel pretty uncomfortable on most bikes at 25mph, but I've happily gone 18 without stress on an empty road on a clear day. I think most people who don't have a lot of experience should stick to 10-12 and work their way up, much like learning to pilot anything.

Safe braking distance depends on how much you weigh, the quality of your gear, and the road. I'm 6'4" and weigh 50 more pounds than I did as a scraggly youth when I did faster speeds, so unless I'm on equipment I trust very well I wouldn't often go over 15, I think... for me, most bikes don't brake well enough, and some aren't balanced well for my height.


Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: