Friday, August 12, 2016

The One Wheeled Electric Scooter

How Fun!

It's been  a month since I bought a Ninebot One E+.  In English, that translates to an electric self-balancing unicycle made by a Chinese company called Ninebot.

What has been the most apparent in my journey to learn how to ride a unicycle has been the struggle to get back in shape.  I was once 175 lb twig and until recently was a 230 lb blob.  At  6-ft 4, I know that I do not look out of shape, but running out of breath after one flight of stairs is sad.

The Dream

In late May of 2016, my wife and I finally sold our house and moved to an apartment.  I did not think too much about what I would be losing by living in an apartment because of the mental stress of the move.  At the house, I drove daily an electric vehicle.  At the apartment, there was no cheap easy way to convince the property management that I needed an outlet near my parking space.

What to do?

Back in late 2014, while working as the President of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Electric Auto Association and was buried to my neck in everything electric, I discovered a fellow in Washington state who had invented an electric, self-balancing unicycle (SBU).  The SBU was a great tool for short distance commuting (aka "last mile commuting").

The idea of electric, one-wheeled, last mile commuting fascinated me and I immediately began to search via YouTube for more how-to's and reviews.  I found the Washington-man's SBU. It is called the Solowheel.

Fortunately, although unbeknownst to me, in early 2014 a Chinese company called Ninebot released an SBU that was about 1/3 of the price of the Solowheel.  So in July 2016, I bought one.

Living the Dream

Since early July, I've had the chance to get to know my SBU.  It has not always been pleasant.  Actually, its been a non-stop, uphill struggle to teach myself how to balance atop a single wheeled-vehicle.   Wednesday and Thursday (August 10th, 11th) were both the worst and best days that I've spent riding.

I fell off the Ninebot One E+, nothing new, but the tire guard caught the back of my left leg and put a gash in it.  Then on Thursday, when attempting a sharp turn (at low speeds) my right foot fell off and without the balanced support I hit the ground, and only after that did the Ninebot One e+ accelerate into the pit of my left leg, burning it.

Despite these injuries, I still had a wonderful time zipping around the neighborhood and exploring each new surface with aplomb.  Over the two days, I increased the total mileage accrued by 100% reaching 7 miles of riding.

Life Lessons

I'm certain that I will have more to share soon enough, but I feel that it is important to share what I have learned so far.  These tips, I hope, will help new riders learn from my mistakes and help to be proficient sooner.
  • Training videos
  • Control (while on the ground)
    • Get familiar with using your toe to push forward
    • Learn to walk with one foot on the SBU
    • Toe pressure drives forward, Heel pressure drives reverse
  • Control (while riding)
    • Wear shoes that offer good support
  • Mounting
    • DO NOT hold onto a wall or person, it will only foster a handicap
    • Bend your knees, leaning the SBU toward the foot that is still on the ground
    • Keep the SBU parallel to your other foot
    • Hop up
  • Turning
    • Turn while riding making tighter and tighter concentric circles
    • Turn 90 and 180 degrees, on a point
  • Stopping
    • Learn to stop quickly in case a vehicle or person suddenly appears in your path
    • Stopping quickly can incorporate a quick turn
  • Obstacles
    • Find consecutively larger objects over which to ride
    • Driveways, Tree Roots, Divots, changes between paved and organic surfaces
    • Consider taking these slowly, at first
  • Drops
    • Find stairs or curbs over which to drop
    • Go slowly, at first
    • Absorb the drop with your knees slightly bent
  • Falling (abandoning the SBU)
    • Best to do this into a grassy area (if available)
    • Ride at high speed into a change of surface, then run off the SBU
    • It is better to abandon the SBU, than have it harm you


This is far from the end of my thoughts on the topic of Self-Balancing devices or unicycles, but it's a good place to stop for now.  I hope that by my account that you are encouraged to try a Self-Balancing Unicycle.

If you are interested in purchasing one check out or for European customers,


  1. Electric Scooter UK have seen a gigantic resurgence in notoriety in the course of the most recent year or thereabouts, both with children..

    1. No kidding? I'm glad to know that people are riding. After I started riding, I found a group that rides every weekend. I could not always ride with them, as they always went on Sunday (when I had church).

      Bay Area Electric Unicycle Group -

      It's great to hear of enthusiasm for the odd sport