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AirWheel electric unicycle review (bemmu.com)
92 points by bemmu on May 22, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments



For comparison sake, I learned to ride a unicycle (level 2 ish) with about 8hrs of concerted practice spread over a couple weeks. A lot of the problems you encounter in the video (difficulty mounting, speed control, not falling on your face) are exactly the challenges with learning to ride a real unicycle.

I highly recommend trying it out sometime - it's a surprising amount of fun once you get the hang of it.

EDIT: Unicycling levels - I'm probably about a level 3 (on a good day). Neat sport with interesting progression - perfect for programmers that like to level up and get good at things (and stay active!):

http://www.unicyclist.org/cont/levels.cfm


If you want something more challenging than a unicycle, you should try the BC wheel (the name comes from the stone wheel that characters in the popular comic strip ride). It's basically a non motorized version of what they describe in the article. Just a free-spinning wheel with metal plates you stand in. The other name it goes by is an "impossible wheel". They are quite difficult to ride - but some can ride them and do tricks similar to skateboarding. Here's one of the best guys at riding them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FZlKRyR3qA


Wow!

> They are quite difficult to ride…

It looks like it—even the guys doing tricks looked the entire time like they were one slight hand-wave away from bailing.


On my last trip to London I noticed several people riding unicycles around and I started wondering if it's a growing trend in urban environments (I'm intensely intrigued by the urban landscape and how people cope with the challenges there). I plan on purchasing one myself simply out of curiosity (and because it would be a boat load of fun). Any pointers on brand, technique?


I have a Torker Unistar with a 20" wheel and that's been perfect to learn on. Depending on your height, the seatpost usually comes pretty long, so you may have to cut it down with a hacksaw to get some flexibility on seat level.

As far as learning, I kept a little logbook of each time I went out. It honestly feels impossible at first (constantly falling in 360 degrees), but you just have to keep working on it. I did most of my learning at a school playground (lots of space to wobble around) and leaned against the school wall for support.


I practiced with mine in office space. 1 hour of coding, 5 minutes of unicycling and so forth. I just tracked along a wall, forth and back, forth and back until I didn't need the wall


Yow, the electric unicycle cited in the article is over $600! The Torker is $90.

Maybe it's possible to build an electric one cheaply? I wonder how much tlb's cost...

EDIT: http://tlb.org/#eunicycle "All together the components, in single unit retail quantities, cost about $1500." I wonder how expensive it would be today?


In Buenos Aires I've only seen one guy riding unicycle. He seemed to be commuting to work: he was very, very fast and always blazing through the street at the same time.

Is it comfortable for short commutes?


I've seen at least one unicyclist going up and down the Manhattan Bridge in New York. I moved to another area and don't really see any other unicyclists anymore.


I give up -- what's the difference between "glide for 10 m" and "coast for 10 m"? There's a video of each and they're listed at different levels but they seem indistinguishable to me except that the coast looked slower and therefore harder.


Unicycles have been mentioned several times, so I thought I'd post a link to my page on learning to ride one. It was a work in progress, and no one ever asked for more. Take that as you will:

http://www.solipsys.co.uk/new/LearningToUnicycle.html?HN0

Added in edit: email in profile if you want more!


Thanks, just bookmarked it, because on the back of this thread I've just ordered one. I already see myself. Splayed, facedown on the pavement...


The idea of using one of these as a transport device (as opposed to a recreational vehicle) is very interesting.

I think that cities in general would function much better with a more diverse transport mix. The improvements in personal electric vehicles is one of the biggest steps towards achieving this.

I think electric bicycles, electric skateboards and now these things can all play a part.


Also the SoloWheel: http://inventist.com/soloindex.php .This chinese wheel might be a clone of this.


One of them is likely the clone of the other. I can't say which way from what I've seen so far.

However, I can't imagine many people buying an electric unicycle for $2000 USD. That is very expensive.


I saw someone in The Hague on one of these. It looks like a very good way to kill youself.

Still, urban commuting really lends itself for awesome things we grew up with like skateboards, unicycles, rollerblades and all that. I've been traveling with my skateboard ever since I needed to catch trains to get to work and missed them frequently.

Since then, no such problems.


I'm a fan of the SBUv3 - I can't imagine not having a seat to sit on. No calf pain :). The seat post is removable making it pack almost as small as the AirWheel.

Video of me on my SBU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mngn92PXsso


I have an SBUv2. I thought it was really neat, although the one time I tried riding it on a street I quickly decided that I was far too freaked out about falling over and getting hit by a car.

Unfortunately, it turns out to not be usable in San Francisco. It handles hills up to a decent grade (I forget exactly what, but probably the 30% the SBUv3 advertises). But unfortunately it doesn't handle variations very well. And as hilly as San Francisco is, you can't walk 5 steps without the slope changing. When I say it doesn't handle it very well, I mean it feels like it's speeding up or slowing down unpredictably. Even just going from the sidewalk to the street, crossing it, and back to the sidewalk is hard.

Because of that, I haven't touched the thing in several years. And the last time I looked at it (sometime last year) it turns out the battery won't even charge anymore. Apparently leaving it unused for a couple years is sufficient to render the battery unusable.

I have no idea if the SBUv3 is any better.

Of course, if you live somewhere that's reasonably flat, then I'm sure it will work great.


I see these all the time outside of my office. It looks a bit dangerous, and I really wouldn't want to play around with one of these in Chinese traffic. Still, its nice to know what they finally are.


I saw someone go past me on a YikeBike in Sydney a few weeks ago - it's a small electric bike, with one large wheel at the front, a small one at the back and a seat and handlebar.

It's unicycle in size but has a small wheel at the back. I haven't ridden any of these but the YikeBike looks cool, functional and seems to be a similar size to these electric unicycles and more stable. http://www.yikebike.com


Get a two-wheeled electric unit, very easy to ride, no need to train, learn in under a minute for an average person, better than walking, faster, safe, reliable.

The fastest human footspeed on record is 44.72 km/h (12.42m/s, 27.44 mph), seen during a 100 meters sprint (average speed between the 60th and the 80th meter) by Usain Bolt. Maximum human sprint speed is strikingly slower than that of many animals.

e-Unicycle rider could easily ride at 25 mph in full control, safe and go for up to 40 miles range, great commuting, outdoors, large industrial warehouse distances covered in seconds, could ride as slow as your walking partners, compact, places off road, narrow walkways, along the road, or sidewalks - where cars and bikes don't go, e-unicycle goes.

https://www.youtube.com/feed/subscriptions bestunicycle@gmail.com


I tried a Solowheel a couple years ago with a group of other unicyclists. I thought we'd all have no troubles the first try, but it did take a couple minutes to get the hang of it. I thought the training wheels actually slowed down our learning.

After a bit, most of us had no troubles going up and down a very steep hill or going full speed on the flats.

It was fun to try, but I couldn't see buying one - too expensive. I also found my shin bones hurt after an hour of messing around.


Solowheel used to fight crime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgMweTcrIYs


That... was quite odd. And mildly entertaining.


The Chinese ones were made first. I had a lot of fun bonding with a guy riding one of these in 西宁. I found it to be a fair amount easier than the author described it. After 5 minutes or so a few friends and I managed to balance and move a little bit.

edit: now that I think about it, I had a sorta riding strap I could pull on that would help me balance at first. That probably helped way more than training wheels.


I think having a friend to help you out would help immensely, as they can show you the basics and help balance you. I had no idea what I was doing.


So is this a US made "vehicle?" or designed? the author cites a few chinese clones, so I'm wondering if the chinese manufacturer made them first or what. If the chinese one came second, then its impressive they've cloned this so fast.


What gives you the impression this is US? Seems straightforward to me that bemmu talks about seeing them in China and purchasing one to ship from there on his return home to Japan.


I wonder if these would actually be a feasible mode of transport if people started using skii poles with them to maintain balance. I'd personally like to test that idea out but I don't have an AirWheel.


Sweet pics of it charging! I wonder what it looks like being ridden.


Did you watch the video linked right up at the top of the article?


Clearly I did not. Sorry.


authorized dealer of electric self balancing unicycles New York, NJ and tri-state area along with Los Angeles. bestunicycle@gmail.com




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