Mike - 2017-01-23 23:04

How do electric unicycles work?

The construction as simple as Lego bricks

Each unicycle is composed of the same basic parts:

  • Electric motor  (usually: a brushless DC one), built directly into the rim, 
  • Rechargeable battery with BMS-based electronics,
  • Motherboard with a driver,
  • Gyroscopes (usually two).

Each of these parts is connected together with a few cables, just as in the case of Lego bricks. There is no refuelling, oil change, lubrication of sprockets or gearbox/gear racks involved. The number of parts has been reduced to the minimum.

This is why unicycles of good quality are practically malfunction-free, even in the case of physical damage inflicted to the casing, e.g. through a hit.

Similarly simple working principle

Let us remind ourselves of what an electric unicycle is?

As it is well-known, a unicycle is like a bike, yet equipped with one wheel only, whereas an electric unicycle is a unicycle that is propelled by an electric motor rather than the strength of human muscles. Contrary to an electric bike, the motor plays the part of the only drive here and it does not require any assistance (in the case of electric bikes there is also pedalling required).

Other and unofficial names of an electric unicycle include an electric wheel, rideable wheel or uniwheel, among others. It happens that some call them "riding suitcases" or "vehicles from Star Wars".

The principle of operation is very simple here. A motherboard reads the inclination angle of the vehicle on an ongoing basis (front/back and left/right) provided by the gyroscopes of it and it adjusts the motor speed to the detected inclination in order to hold the user in the upright position (with the use of so-called servomechanism). In other words, the electric unicycle prevents the loss of balance through the change of motor speed.

It means that the motor is expected to speed up to maintain our position as upright after we shift our body weight to the front. By analogy, it is expected to slow down after we shift our body weight to the back to achieve the same effect.

Most electric unicycles regain the energy used for braking – their motors function as power generators then and charge the battery of these devices. This principle is also used while riding downhill – the energy such recovered is sent back to the battery.

The maximum speed is limited by the motor power, energy accumulated in batteries and software. While reaching the maximum speed, unicycles either prevent further acceleration or brake by tilting their brakes backwards, along with the user (so-called "tilt back effect"). The effect is intended to warn the user of that they have reached the maximum speed and should refrain from further acceleration (by shifting their body weight slightly to the back).

What surfaces and inclinations can be ridden on?

In short – practically any. Electric monocycles, as opposed to segways and so-called hoverboards, are equipped in large wheels and powerful motors.

Such vehicles may be operated on asphalt, paved surfaces, field roads and grass.

A decent electrical unicycle should not find uphill or downhill riding a problematic task.

Weather resistance

Electric unicycles are resistant to mud, rain and snow. While riding along a wet surface or during rain there do not occur any problems. Moreover, the majority of unicycles is constructed in a way that prevents us from having our trousers splashed on (the more covered a given wheel is, the better a situation is in this respect).

After replacing one's tire for a snow one, it is possible to ride on snow without any difficulties. Tire changing is also a great occasion to clean the inner space of one's unicycle.

Contrary to common belief, the maintenance of one wheel in balance is easier than in the case of two wheels with a rear-wheel drive (as in the case of a motorbike or bicycle).

It means that it is possible to ride along a straight route on snow even at 25 km/h.

Your unicycle will properly adjust its own motor rotations to let you avoid any slippages or cases of wheel-locking.

One needs to remember that:

  • the stopping distance during rainy weather or, particularly, snowy road, may be longer,
  • overly high speed while taking turns may lead to greater slippage and, thus, falling down. One needs to adjust their speed to the turn difficulty and weather conditions.

Brand electric unicycles have a high class of waterproof or durst resistance, while one definitely should not try to ride them on lake bottoms or treat them with "a bath" inside their bathtubs.

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