I’VE always wanted to try a Segway. The two-wheeled futuristic form of self-transportation doesn’t seem to have taken off in the UK, however.
When I was in the States recently, pretty much every shopping mall security guard was riding one, zipping around the concourses avoiding the inconvenience of walking. The Solowheel takes things a stage further, shedding an entire wheel. According to the US manufacturer, Inventist, it’s the world’s first single-wheel, battery-operated, self-manoeuvring vehicle.
It’s a weighty brute, with a solid metal body that’ll withstand considerable abuse. Riding the darn thing was a baptism of fire, like re-learning how to ride a bike and a snowboard simultaneously. Once I pressed the big red button I could feel the wheel tensing, gyro-sensors active. I placed one leg on the left fold-out platform and my right leg over the other side. Initial attempts were aided by two friends supporting my flailing arms as I attempted to remain upright. Several black skidmarks on the living room carpet later (tip – make sure you try it outside), I was starting to get the hang of things. The key is to keep your legs glued to the side of the Solowheel and not to bend your knees – stand tall like a soldier and lean forwards slightly. There’s no brake or accelerator, you lean forward to go faster and back to slow down.
The built in battery recharges itself downhill or when slowing down like a Toyota Prius, and it’ll last between 15 to 20 miles at a speed of 10 miles per hour. This can be scarily rapid, especially with the lingering doubt that one day the gyro-sensors may decide to give passers by a classic YouTube moment. This one-wheeled wonder comes in at the wallet-busting price of £1,899.
As an experience, it’s probably best described as 21st-century motorised ice skating; it’s a fantastically fun and hair-raising way to move around the urban jungle.
• Inventist Solowheel