Now more than ever, people have become increasingly interested in “personal transporters.” The name comes refers to single-user, motor-powered vehicles like the Segway PT, from which the term originates. The Segway was only the first of this modern type, and you can see its descendants zipping down city streets around the world. Examples include electric skateboards, self-balancing unicycles, and self-balancing scooters such as the Hoverboard.

That last example alone should show you that personal transporters are not only more common than you may believe, but also trendy, or even infamous. These gadgets are more accessible than ever, thanks to dropping prices and astounding developments in technology. One recent invention stands out from the rest for its concept, design, and functionality: the Onewheel. Here is some in-depth information on this exciting ride.

What is the Onewheel?

At a glance, the Onewheel resembles a unicycle, except the raised seat was replaced with a board and the pedals are gone. Alternatively, it may look more like a skateboard with a single giant tire cutting through the middle. The latter guess is more accurate, but still missing some key details. Kyle Doerksen designed it like this on purpose: he wanted the exterior to look simple while concealing the machine’s complex inner workings.

In actuality, the Onewheel is a personal transporter designed to be stood on like a skateboard but ridden like a Segway. When the rider leans forward on their front leg, the vehicle moves forward and accelerates. When they lean back and put pressure on the back leg, it decelerates, then starts moving backward. If they decide that they want to disembark, all they need to do is slow to a stop and lift their front heel.

Doerksen toiled on and tinkered with his invention for eight years before creating a Kickstarter campaign for mass production. He set the initial goal at $100,000. If that seemed lofty, then he did not need to worry. The campaign took off, quickly exceeding that amount, then surpassing his stretch goals of $300,000 and $400,000. In the end, more than 1000 eager backers gave over $630,000. Since then, Doerksen’s company, Future Motion Inc., has developed several models of the Onewheel. You can see at least one in just about any city you visit.

How Does It Work?

We compared the Onewheel to the Segway because, like many other personal transporters, they follow the same technological principle of hands-free movement. Gyroscopes and accelerometers within the machine detect shifts in pressure and weight on both sides of the board. These sensors determine if one foot on one side is subtly or significantly exerting more than the other, or if they are about even. They then translate these shifts into actions for the vehicle to take: speed up, slow down, move forward, move backward.

Everything else about the Onewheel is similarly handsfree. When it comes to steering, the rider can shift to their right or left just by slightly leaning on the board. In that sense, the machine is not unlike the more traditional and analogy skateboard. Furthermore, when the sensors realize that the user has slowed down the board and lifted their front heel, they automatically disengage the motor. Even countermeasures against leaning the board too far forward or backward are automated. No controller is needed.

Every bit of technology that makes the Onewheel function is contained within a relatively compact piece of machinery. According to a Popular Science review, the wheel — measuring only 6.5 inches wide on the Pint model — encloses the electric motor. The microprocessor that measures everything is located under the front half of the board. Meanwhile, the battery that powers it all is under the back half. Everything is hidden to make the machine not just more convenient in size, but also more approachable to beginners.

What Can You Do With It?

Naturally, a personal transporter like the Onewheel can be used for personal transport. It can take you relatively far compared to similar vehicles: the rechargeable battery on most models lasts long enough for between 4 and 8 miles. One model, the Onewheel+ XR, can travel as high a distance as 18 miles. Riders can also go relatively fast, reach top speeds of 16mph or even 18mph. It will not replace the automobile anytime soon, but it does offer a pleasant, intuitive, eco-friendly method of short-distance travel.

Doerksen also designed the Onewheel to resemble the skateboard in another manner: working well for athletics. The tire is designed for all-terrain action, taking the fun beyond the sidewalk. Professional paddleboarder Luke Hopkins, speaking with Sports Illustrated, discussed his enjoyment of the Onewheel. Regarding his use of the machine on mountain bike trails, he said, “You feel like you are surfing the trails.” He and other athletes have also used it for exercising core muscles and practicing balance.

More than anything, perhaps, the Onewheel is just fun. Once a person gets over the mild learning curve and knows what to do, riding it becomes quite enjoyable. Its durable construction and long battery life make it great for getting around short distances on sidewalks, fields, beaches, and rockier ground. Its completely handsfree operation also removes some of the inconveniences that other personal transporters may present. In short, the Onewheel offers a good time with less hassle, and that is worth a lot.

Experience the Onewheel for Yourself

The Onewheel really is a remarkable creation. It was certainly impressive enough to match its Kickstarter campaign goal six times over, and it only gets better as Future Motion Inc. continues to develop the design. If all these details catch your interest, then you can order it today right here at Smart Wheel.

Our inventory includes four models of the machine with distinct specs, meaning that people with different interests can find the right one for them. We also provide an array of chargers and replacement parts, as well as helmets and padding for those who want to push the machine to its limits.

Peruse our Onewheel selection and place your order right away!