Mike - 2017-01-14 22:06

Electric unicycles – what they are and what their origin is


An idea to create electric unicycles was inspired by the Segway – a groundbreaking two-wheeled vehicle.

A classic Segway might not have been particularly revolutionary in terms of sales figures, as well as it has not conquered the world, but it demonstrated something unprecedented – a vehicle maintaining a balance in three dimensions, with the use of its gyroscopes and two motors propelling each wheel separately. The said motors were designed to adjust their speed to the inclination of a vehicle, maintaining the vertical position of it together with the position of its user. Additionally, the vertical balance was held by its wheels themselves.

Although Segways are still being manufactured (presently – by Chinese Ninebot company that has acquired the American company of the same name together with Xiaomi), trying to juxtapose them against electric unicycles (monocycles) is like trying to compare a hard drive to a microSD card.

The difference between a "segway" and electric unicycle

The entire innovation of electric unicycles is primarily based on miniaturisation that was made possible due to the price drop of decent Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries, namely those currently used in laptops, smartphones or... Tesla vehicles.

Thereby, electric unicycles are mainly much smaller and fighter. At the same time, they may be equipped with larger wheels – cheifly within the range of between 14 and 18 inches – while the most common size is 16", identical to the one characterising the BMX (it is even possible to apply the same tyres on them as in the case of BMX's).

However, what is the most important, unicycles are one-wheeled vehicles that are not equipped with any steering wheels. Due to this, these "rideable wheels" do not hold their balance it three dimensions, but in two only (the front and rear one – they maintain the vertical, not horizontal position of their operators).

The history and a living legend

First models of electric unicycles would have quite a poor look. Additionally, they did not offer very powerful motors (500 W at their maximum) or ranges, while their maximum speed would often not exceed 15 km/h. The wheels of this kind are what we often call "first generation electric unicycles".

It all started to change when the groundbreaking wheel named "Ninebot One C" was introduced to the market. Its parameters would still match the first generation (the maximum speed of C version was 15 km/h, with the maximum range reaching 15 km), while the design of it would not be similar to any vehicles offered by other manufacturers. The futuristic design noted for its white gloss has become a trend on its own since then – something all the competitors wanted to follow.

This first version of Ninebot One has been further released in 3 newer models, with Ninebot One E+ as the newest outcome of series production, reaching the maximum speed of 25 km/h and allowing for the distance of 35 kilometres to be covered. Although Ninebot One E+ is not the latest generation unicycle, it is still one of the most recognisable and best-known electric unicycles whose options and safety level offered exceed those of practically all vehicles manufactured by smaller or less-known companies.

In spite of the fact that Ninebot has released yet another model of a unicycle (named Ninebot One S2), it is still possible to purchase a new Ninebot One E+ directly from shops, as it is definitely a vehicle having a great influence on the direction adopted by the market of electric unicycles.

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