You know how we’re supposed to work on adding balance to our lives? Well, the Solowheel can help. Think of it as an electric bicycle, but with only one wheel.
The Solowheel is gyro-stabilized, which helps the most balance-challenged of us to stay upright. Want to use it for a short commute? No problem. It can go 10 miles per charge and at 10 miles an hour, so you’ll blow past pedestrians with ease. (In fact, the powerful motor is so quiet, they probably won’t even hear you coming.)
When you get to the office, simply fold up the pedals, and then carry your ride inside using the built-in handle. Definitely less heavy and clunky to lug around than a regular bike, it takes very little space to store it till you’re ready to ride home.
Inventor Shane Chen came up with the idea for the Solowheel when he was watching skaters glide by one winter. He noticed that when they were skating in a straight line on one leg, their foot went left and right to stabilize them. Chen then applied the physics of that skating motion to the Solowheel. When you’re riding it, your feet are low to the ground and your legs rest against the pads, which makes your lower body act as one unit. The pads are textured to give precise control of speed and steering, and they are designed to be comfortable yet durable.
“Using your feet to steer and balance is much easier than using your hips, which is what traditional unicycles draw on,” explain the Solowheel tech team.
“Designing a simple means of transportation for all that is portable, convenient and reduces the harm of traffic on the environment is the goal behind the Solowheel,” they add. “Therefore, the Solowheel had to be a wheel and nothing but a wheel: no brake pedal, no accelerator, no seat and no steering wheel, not even a key. Just a wheel.”
That makes it sound oh-so-simple, but of course there’s a complex system helping you to safely navigate your route. “Three-axis gyrosensors and accelerometers precisely monitor angular changes to make controlling the device feel natural,” the tech specs explain. We think that’s how you stay vertical.
Currently there are three models of Solowheel to choose from: Classic, Xtreme and Scorpion. Xtreme has a more powerful motor than the Classic and runs on the efficient VC3 battery, which thankfully is “nonflammable and nonexplosive” (phew). Battery indicators clearly show you how much charge you have left, so you’ve no excuse if you find yourself stranded. There’s also a battery management system that makes sure you get the most juice out of each charge.
Tech advances also affect the outside of the Solowheel. Its high-polymer, polycarbonate case is designed to be both lightweight and durable, to withstand the rigors of the road, and both the body and buttons are weatherproof. And of course it looks snazzy, as if you hadn’t already caught everyone’s attention.
The Solowheel even has built-in Bluetooth, and the designers promise apps for smartphones, tablets and watches are in the works.