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Solowheel: self-balancing last mile transport for the upstanding commuter

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February 16, 2011

The Solowheel electric unicycle from Inventist has a top speed of 12mph, a range of 12 mil...

The Solowheel electric unicycle from Inventist has a top speed of 12mph, a range of 12 miles on one charge and to move off, a user puts both feet on the platforms on either side of the wheel housing and leans forward

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The fat wheeled eniCycle, the stylish and graceful U3 from Honda or the slightly scary prospect of the UnoMoto have all shared more in common than being one-wheeled, self-balancing personal transport solutions. They've all had somewhere for the user to sit. Inventist's Solowheel is a little different – you ride this electric unicycle standing upright, like a Segway or skateboard. It has a useful carry handle and fold-away foot platforms, is gyro-stabilized and the Li-ion batteries offer a range of about 12 miles between charges.

For those who work in the city but don't actually live there, leaving the car at home and getting to the office by train, tram or bus is becoming a more attractive prospect. For those who don't relish the sometimes long walk from the station or terminus to the workplace, there are now numerous electric personal, short haul transport solutions – from the Segway to the YikeBike or even the FlyRad – to take some of the strain away.

The Solowheel electric unicycle from Inventist - with foldaway foot platforms and carry ha...

Weighing 25 pounds (11 kg), sporting folding leg platforms on each side and a carry handle on top, the 17 x 19 x 5-inch (43 x 48 x 13 cm) Solowheel from Inventist is sure to turn some heads as you trundle along at up to 12mph. The durable external housing hides a Li-ion battery that's said to be good for two hours of use between charges and a 1000-Watt electric motor, and a self-balancing gyro system. Its battery is reported to take 45 minutes to charge but a regenerative system returns energy to the battery when the rider slows down or the unit goes downhill, which could help extend the range.

The electric unicycle's creators say that it's easy to use and quick to learn, the feet are quite close to the ground and the legs rest against each side of the housing which help with balance and steering. With both feet on the vehicle, you just lean forward to start going. When you want to slow down or stop, you lean back. You use the legs to steer, much as you would on the Magic Wheel.

The Solowheel electric unicycle from Inventist

Jinalyn Liljedahl from Inventist told Gizmag that he expects the Solowheel to be available from April at a cost of US$1495. Each unit will be shipped with an instructional DVD and charger.

I can see the Solowheel being a useful, fun and quite affordable way to trundle from the railway station into work and back again. Have a look at the following demonstration video and see what you think:

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
22 Comments

Cool ! A unicycle without saddle and without pedals... Wonder what Kris Holm would make of this ;-)

Fouture
17th February, 2011 @ 04:45 am PST

If this was $300 it would be over-priced.

Wayne Taylor
17th February, 2011 @ 11:40 am PST

Preposterous price and anyway I would not be found dead on it! Probably illegal on your town's sidewalks as well as mine..but at 1000watts, here it would be a motorcycle not a .....whatever...there is this little federal law.....

waltinseattle
17th February, 2011 @ 01:16 pm PST

Great product idea! I can't wait to get my hands (and feet) on it.

doanviettrung
17th February, 2011 @ 08:07 pm PST

Reality, once again, finally has caught up with fiction.Not Sience Fiction as you might believe but stoneage fiction ( http://comics.com/bc/ ). :-)

Conny Söre
18th February, 2011 @ 12:33 am PST

errr...whats wrong with walking???

Mark Fitzgibbon
20th February, 2011 @ 03:47 am PST

Brilliant engineering but these guys should invest in some Industrial Designers if they want to sell this product.

Justin Derek Murray
25th February, 2011 @ 02:19 am PST

I have to agree about the pricing and the questionable logic of carrying a 25 pound device to avoid walking. If it were a tenth the price, it'd be a fun toy, I'm sure, but does it make sense for its intended purpose? If these were to become popular, how would you integrate the many people riding them with either pedestrian or motor traffic?

Moshe Feder
14th April, 2011 @ 05:07 pm PDT

logic makes sense. 12mph is 3 times average walking speed or equal to average bicycle speed. and 12 mile range is more than enough to cover most distances from mass transit to house or work. Walking 3 miles to work is going to take an hour and you'll be hot and sweaty when you get in. This will get you there in 15 minutes and leave you looking fresh. 25lbs is fairly heavy, but it's lighter than most electric bikes and reasonable for most people to carry the average 50ft-500ft from office to curb or bring on a bus or train.

Steve Whetstone
16th April, 2011 @ 11:42 pm PDT

At $149.99 it would sell like hotcakes.

William H Lanteigne
21st April, 2011 @ 09:17 am PDT

I agree with Steve on the positive side and with William on the price tag. Has to be a LOT cheaper.

Renārs Grebežs
9th May, 2011 @ 02:50 am PDT

@waltinseattle

It should qualify for many as a

Neighborhood Electric Vehicle,no licensing required-

even for you.

Griffin
4th August, 2011 @ 05:17 pm PDT

Too heavy. Too costly. Too bad.

Facebook User
3rd December, 2012 @ 06:41 pm PST

Would have to agree with most of the negative comments here, the price is WAY! to much for the average joe, and I see this vehicle would sell as a gimic or toy and not a mode of transport to work, and price? anything more than £250 would be too much.

tanstair
21st December, 2012 @ 08:13 am PST

B.C. meets the Jetsons. This is a possible buy for me.

Sensii Miller
3rd January, 2013 @ 04:41 am PST

If these do in fact catch on, and I can see how they might in certain highly traffic congested urban markets, then the rather steep price should come down once they are mass-manufactured. I used to ride the bus, then walk the last 1.3 miles to work. I didn't mind it too much in the mornings, and in fact often enjoyed it. It was the walk back to the bus stop, in August 100 F degree heat, that I disliked. Considering that these are still a pretty new technology, I can only think that they will only get better, if once adopted by a significant percentage of commuters. They should perhaps be restricted to a speed of...say...double normal walking speed, given what a litigious society we've become.

Sjambok
7th April, 2013 @ 03:36 pm PDT

It is just like BC Comics. They are the best. I wish I had bought mine years ago.

I paid under $700 US but if you shop around they get as low as $500 on alibaba and aliexpress.

They are not perfect. You need some co-ordination and they are not for everyone. But they have no competition at this price. Electric scooters are heavy not as compact and for a crowded city they go too fast, and they scare old people. Anything else has too large a footprint for crowds.

Foxy1968
15th April, 2013 @ 03:45 pm PDT

I've seen this (or something quite like it) here in Hangzhou, China. Pretty cool.

RelayerM31
2nd February, 2014 @ 06:25 am PST

The only question I have is: what do you do with your hands? You look goofy just standing there, you need to strike a kung fu pose or something.

JimD
16th June, 2014 @ 05:19 pm PDT

Having just bought one for £250, I believe this to be a great opening price. There are bikes of course that people have been travelling on for years as a comparison.

Pros and cons then! You first of all have the price perhaps similar depending on what bike you buy, this could be way more expensive. OK you commute to work by bus...bikes are not allowed... Train? I see lots of folding bikes... OK the commute to work bike = risking life and limb on the road or dodging pedestrians on the pavement or a mixture of both and of course no cyclist EVER goes through those pesky red traffic lights do they?

The solo wheel is slower and safer in my opinion but that's only my opinion and every one is entitled to their own.

Then you get to work 3 miles down the road for example. Hot and flustered having dealt with the aggro of the bike ride. Of simply step off fold pedals up and carry into your workplace. No its not padlocked up outside and you are wondering if it is still going to be there at home time.

Maintenance minimal the solo wheels green credentials seem to be very good also . not as good as human power agreed but still good.

Much better than a car for instance.

bilb0baggins
24th July, 2014 @ 02:56 am PDT

I bought an Airwheel X8 which is similar, my cost was $600 delivered. I needed the bigger one to accommodate my 200 lb weight.

So far I'm still learning how to ride. Challenges are to learn how to get started without a support, and how to maneuver around corners and bumps.

It's fun & quite fast, basically like a jogging if not running pace. If you go too fast, it can get wobbly. Don't use it in the rain.

Maneuvering is tricky but I can see I will get better with practice & regular use. It really is a unicycle, after all. Most people could learn to ride it, but most people never will.

It's a great way to develop your sense of balance, but better if the sidewalk is not too congested.

I think 25 lbs is only the beginning, you also need a helmet and possibly shin pads (you tend to grip it too hard below the knee, at first - I'm still doing it). It might be smart to bring the charger along too.

Also, for newbies, if you have an incident and have an unplanned dismount, it's liable to get away from you & crash into something. I lost balance once and this happened to me, luckily I caught up to it & snatched it!

Patching the tube can be a bit of a chore, half the case has to come off.

The case gets a bit battered up until you gain proficiency, you really need space & time to get practice.

Grunchy
18th September, 2014 @ 11:07 am PDT

You can buy knockoffs in China for two to three hundred bucks. The real issue I see with these things, and I see lots of young people on them here in China, is that you dont know what to do with your arms and you look like a goofy dork riding one. At least riding my unicycle I have to look like a monkey because I am actually using my arms.

JimD
20th October, 2014 @ 07:42 pm PDT
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