Solowheel: self-balancing last mile transport for the upstanding commuter
By Paul Ridden
February 16, 2011
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.
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.
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: