Riding a Onewheel, Self-Balancing Electric Skateboard

If you don’t know what a Onewheel is, it is one of the ‘newest entrants to the board sports world.’ It is manufactured in the U.S. by Future Motion, which is based out of Santa Cruz, Calif, and launched through a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014 to raise $100,000. The Onewheel looks like a skateboard and a Segway procreated and is described as a self-balancing electric skateboard.

The Onewheel was invented by Kyle Doerksen, who is the Future Motion founder, a Stanford grad and former engineer at IDEO. Doerksen wanted a way to bring the feeling of snowboarding to the pavement and did exactly that. Similar to a Segway, the Onewheel will drive in whichever direction the riders body weight leans. It has a top speed of 17 mph, which may seem slow until you actually ride it.

Plus they added safety features like runner lights in the front and back for riding at night. Like a car, the back lights are red and the front lights are white. The colors switch if you decide to go backward.

For $1,500 you too can Onewheel to work, down the beach, across grass and even on mountain biking trails…just like our cousin Trevor does. His longest trip was 20 miles, which required one charge midway so he carried an extra battery pack to do it. He especially likes riding them uphill because that feels counterintuitive to his experiences with snowboards and skateboards.

Trevor threw a 75th birthday party for his parents this weekend. While the kids played in a bounce house, the adults attempted to ride the Onewheel. It was like watching an infomercial, where he makes it look so easy to ride but when you actually attempt to use it, it turns sadly comical.

The men all lined up to ride it and one by one fell off within a few seconds. Realizing not a single woman was attempting to try it, I took off my heals and got in line. Time to show the guys how it’s done. Surprisingly, I was able to make it across the yard in my first attempt. (If you know me, I’m not the most coordinated but I’m a willing participant at least once anyway.)

I can see how fun it would be once you learn how to move your body weight accordingly while balancing. Where most everyone had trouble was when they’d move their front foot toward the ground but keep their body weight back like you do when surfing or skateboarding. The trick is to keep your feet parallel to the ground and lean your upper body forward to gain momentum.

I won’t be rushing out to spend the $1,500 on one, but if I do find myself with extra cash burning a hole in my pocket, it would be a fun way to get to and from downtown.

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