revolutionize
August 1, 2015 3:44 PM   Subscribe

 
So that's what the dorky looking thing I saw the other day was.
posted by Artw at 3:48 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "stunt video" is even more rife with dudes jumping up 3 inches of curb than I thought it would be.
posted by brennen at 3:49 PM on August 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


The guy I saw gliding down the pavement with one clenched between his ankles looked somewhat uncomfortable with the whole situation, like staying on it was taking all his concentration.
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't wait until they start buying these for cops.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:53 PM on August 1, 2015 [21 favorites]


Oh dear. I like how empty those sidewalks and malls in the first video all are. What's really going to happen is that I'm going to be minding my own business, walking down the street, and I'm going to get run into by some asshole riding one of those things while texting or something. And then we're both going to go flying and I'm going to have to explain to people that my leg is broken because of a freak airwheel accident. Fuck that shit. Can't people just get a bike and ride it in the street like a normal person?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:53 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I liked the part in the first video where those two dudes actually bothered to briefly stow the foot flaps of their wheels while they walked down a staircase to (a) demonstrate the quick and easy nature of that process and (b) establish that they are robots disguised as humans but without the capacity to understand the laziness fundamental to our fleshbag existences.
posted by cortex at 3:54 PM on August 1, 2015 [34 favorites]


The strange thing about both these and Segway is that it seems like they must be harder on your body than just walking, Standing always makes you feet and back hurt more than walking does. So this gives you all the body pain for none of the exercise. I guess it's faster than walking, but if I'm going to stand for the time it takes me to get someplace, I'd rather do it on the streetcar.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:55 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of these, but really just because of how disgusted my boss is with her neighbors who like to ride their airwheels together while holding hands.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 3:55 PM on August 1, 2015 [28 favorites]


Wait a second... look close, this thing has TWO WHEELS.

/disgusted.
posted by Artw at 3:58 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


You can pretend you are in an FPS or a camera in a Kubrick movie though.
posted by Artw at 3:58 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wait, you have actually seen these in the wild, Blue Jello Elf? I am impressed! You live amongst the early adapters.

How do you stop at stoplights? Or are they mostly for people who jaywalk indiscriminately? I don't even really understand how they would be useful.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:59 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did not realize these were out, free shipping with a-prime. I think an efficient battery powered skateboard with an automatic (probably un-invented) freewheel mode would make more sense.
posted by sammyo at 4:02 PM on August 1, 2015


No helmets? I'm sure that I'd manage to knock myself out in minutes trying to ride one of those things.
posted by octothorpe at 4:04 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the US, if someone were going the exact same speed on a bicycle, they would get scolded for not wearing a helmet.

The logic of when people intuit you should be using safety gear is fascinating.
posted by idiopath at 4:05 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I saw someone riding one of these (or something similar) not too long ago on a not uncrowded sidewalk, and it seemed to maneuver reasonably well. They also appeared to be genuinely commuting, so it's possible that this could end up being a practical device. I didn't realize they weighed so much, though; they're significantly heavier that my bike.
posted by phooky at 4:05 PM on August 1, 2015


Now just a tiny derail, I was/am disparaging of Segway as the next cool dude, well, until I ran into a guy with a significant walking disability having a great day along an ocean promenade.

I do really want to try the Segway as well as one of these sometime. (not where anyone will see me :-)
posted by sammyo at 4:06 PM on August 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


Honestly, the odds of a motorized unicycle being the most practical way to get to the office seem slim.

I've seen these in the wild. Chinese traffic is bad enough without more assholes being able to run over my foot.
posted by Trifling at 4:07 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


This video is a double technical achievement as it is also a catalog of all of the smooth pavements in England.
posted by srboisvert at 4:07 PM on August 1, 2015 [31 favorites]


it seemed to maneuver reasonably well

Yes, because one thing I love when I'm walking along is wankers swerving round me at speed, especially from behind.

First the cyclists, then the skateboarders, now these. There are loads round here. They usually have their hands in their pockets. I'm wondering whether to conduct scientific experiments into what happens if they stop suddenly due to, say, the application of a shoe in front of the wheel when they fail to give me a wide enough berth. I suppose I'd probably break my foot.
posted by Grangousier at 4:12 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a dude in Seattle with one of these, and our commutes home kinda line up at the same time, so I've seen him multiple times. But I'm in a car stuck in motionless traffic, and he zips past me on the sidewalk with one of these.

Both of us probably look at each other thinking the same thought: "There goes that asshole again."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:13 PM on August 1, 2015 [12 favorites]


I saw some guy demonstrating one of these in Bergen a few weeks ago. He looked like he was concentrating really hard to keep his face from showing how much fun it wasn't.
posted by biffa at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


In the US, if someone were going the exact same speed on a bicycle, they would get scolded for not wearing a helmet.

US is basically one inch away from freaking out at the need for pedestrian helmets.
posted by Artw at 4:14 PM on August 1, 2015 [20 favorites]


He looked like he was concentrating really hard to keep his face from showing how much fun it wasn't.

Yeah, that's the exact expression I saw on the guys face as he went by.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


My neighbour has one, and what these videos fail to show is that he spent WEEKS practicing around the streets in the late evenings to avoid embarrassing falls. Only then could he be seen gliding up the long hill to the station.

For the record, when you are learning, there is a rope thingy on the front that you grip for dear life - to help balance.
posted by greenhornet at 4:21 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Weirdly, I know a couple of people who borrowed one of these recently to make basically this video in the same areas of London (definitely including the southbank undercroft), but it's not this video. Is this the start of a new, oddly specific youtube trend?

There's at least one guy in my city who rides around quiet streets on one of these. It looks pretty capable on our slightly rubbish pavements and road surfaces, and he doesn't seem to be working at it any harder than the people who calmly roll along the same surfaces on their skateboards.

(When I was studying in central London I kept seeing one guy commuting on a 30 inch unicycle, sticking to the usual bike routes through the City. He worked in or near Barts, as far as I could tell. I'm sure plenty of people thought he was an idiot, but he was better at obeying traffic laws than many London cyclists and definitely having more fun than >99% of his fellow commuters.)
posted by metaBugs at 4:27 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


US is basically one inch away from freaking out at the need for pedestrian helmets.

See, this is a terrible idea. The head protection will just encourage me to headbutt the five-abreast-slow-walkers blocking my path, but the helmet won't actually protect me from the cumulative traumatic brain injuries from doing so!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:31 PM on August 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


No thanks, I look dorky enough at baseline
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 4:35 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've seen someone riding one of these in San Francisco, and it didn't look dangerous or difficult or unfun. Which probably means they practiced it a bit first.

I guess what I want to know is: is it easier than riding a unicycle?
posted by aubilenon at 4:35 PM on August 1, 2015


If you're looking for a more environmentally friendly option there's always the low-tech versions - the powered-by-inertia impossible/bc wheel and the pedaled ultimate wheel
posted by coleboptera at 4:38 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope Johnny Hart gets a royalty for every sale.
posted by rikschell at 4:58 PM on August 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


US is basically one inch away from freaking out at the need for pedestrian helmets.

Coicidentally, the American distributor's shop is full of two-wheeled versions and training wheels.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 5:00 PM on August 1, 2015


Even this video doesn't succeed in making it look easy for the performers in it. The woman getting off the elevator looks the way I would surfing the backs of a rat stampede on a small piece of cardboard.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:07 PM on August 1, 2015 [24 favorites]


So apparently I'm the only one who saw one of these in the wild (about a month ago) and thought it looked really, really cool? I mean I don't know how practical they are, and they look straight out of The Wizard of Id, but zipping around hands-free on just a single wheel did look pretty fun.

Yeah, bicycles are practical, but it's over 90° here today and I'm too sore from my workout to go fast enough for a good breeze. I was unhappy by the time I got to work. A briefcase-sized power boost would be welcome.

(Oh, jinx rikschell!)
posted by traveler_ at 5:08 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wired did a (somewhat silly) video comparing this thing to its sideways skateboard competitors. Bottom line was that the guy had a LOT of trouble with it at first but ended up liking it more than the others.
posted by selfnoise at 5:12 PM on August 1, 2015


Shoot, my bad, Wired is reviewing a slightly different device but basically the same thing.
posted by selfnoise at 5:13 PM on August 1, 2015


Yeah, bicycles are practical, but it's over 90° here today and I'm too sore from my workout to go fast enough for a good breeze.

Copenhagen Wheel or FlyKly (I have the latter).
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:13 PM on August 1, 2015


There's actually a few guys in Seattle zipping around on these; I see them downtown consistently in the morning. The 1st time I saw it I was amazed and jealous. It looks like a blast. It does sound like a great way to get (yet another) concussion, though.
posted by artof.mulata at 5:16 PM on August 1, 2015


No helmets?

Hm. How would one classify the Airwheel, legally?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:16 PM on August 1, 2015


I saw one in downtown Seattle a few weeks ago. Middle aged guy on it, trying really hard to keep his balance and go forward simultaneously. Saw him again a few days later, he was looking a little better on it.

It simply didn't look fun.
posted by lhauser at 5:18 PM on August 1, 2015


It's one of those things that I'm sort of glad a bunch of people will pointlessly adopt as a fad, because it will actually be useful for a very small number of people with very specific circumstances, but nowhere near enough numbers to sustain it alone. Although it looks fucking lethal to me.
posted by howfar at 5:31 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Copenhagen Wheel or FlyKly (I have the latter).

The Copenhagen Wheel site still says "Pre-Order"? I don't want to be rude but how many years has it been now?
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:31 PM on August 1, 2015


The Segway, the Razor scooter, and what I like to think of as the twenty-naught renaissance in urban biking are all contributing to personal/private solutions for short-to-medium range transport that doesn't involve an internal combustion engine.

My first reaction when I saw someone riding one of these down Sutter toward SF's financial district was "What a maroon" but once the get-off-my-lawn locomotive reactionary in me said his piece, my next reaction was, yeah that electrically motorized unicycle is so much better than an automobile, a motorcycle, a gas-powered scooter, and basically anything that's burning fossil fuels right our collective faces and which threaten pedestrians every 100 feet or so at intersections and driveways.

The mingling of (these) wheeled vehicles with foot traffic seems problematic and I think they should ride in the street. It would be great if cities dedicated infrastructure for such lower-velocity powered vehicles, but in the street with other wheeled traffic seems to my mind the best way forward for now. (Though I don't feel the same way about powerchairs for the disabled so maybe people should also Share the Sidewalk™?)

tl;dr: this alternative for medium-range urban transport may initially be met with derision but it makes a lot more sense than sitting in a one-to-two ton metal-and-plastic box that belches carcinogenic plumes of exhaust into everyone's face.
posted by mistersquid at 5:33 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


The video may have been shot on the South Bank in London, but these things are totally illegal on the public highway in the UK. Just like Segways.
posted by Devonian at 5:35 PM on August 1, 2015


oh lord my idiot cousin has one of these and he has almost died on it at least a dozen times and he still thinks it's the greatest thing ever
posted by poffin boffin at 5:54 PM on August 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have one of these, basically a razr scooter with a rechargeable battery. It's a blast to ride around on a smooth, empty tennis court. In reality, the three times I used it on a five-mile bumpy sidewalk commute, I fell off, painfully, in one case breaking a work-issued laptop. These doohickeys look even worse, though I bet they're great for toodling around on a tennis court.
posted by bendy at 5:56 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now I just need one with hand grips. My neoprene Tron suit is a mission statement away from a cool cyber punk street gang.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:56 PM on August 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Weigh as much as my bike, painfully limited range. Same weather limitations. Might be an option for when the hangover prevents my biking. Otherwise not seeing the point -- for me.
posted by oheso at 6:02 PM on August 1, 2015


i saw a sideways-skateboard one last week. the guy seemed to be doing pretty good on it, and it wasn't an empty sidewalk. in fact, i think he was with walking friends.
posted by rhizome at 6:03 PM on August 1, 2015


This is fine.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:13 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hm. How would one classify the Airwheel, legally?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:16 PM


Depends on your local laws concerning electrical motorized wheeled things; in Seattle they're called "electric personal assistive mobility devices" and are allowed on streets and sidewalks but not park paths or in bike lanes, and you must wear a helmet. They're otherwise treated like bikes and which specific rules apply depends on where you're riding; in the street you have to obey all the regular vehicular traffic laws, have lights on after dusk, yield to pedestrians, etc. On the sidewalk you have to obey all pedestrian laws while also yielding to said foot-walkers and giving an audible signal before overtaking. You're also limited to 4mph, if posted.

And no, I am not the guy you've seen riding one. I drive a car, like a real American.
posted by bizwank at 6:25 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


How wonderfully timed! I saw someone awkwardly riding one of these on the Cornell campus yesterday, but I didn't know what it was. He was struggling to keep his balance. Earlier this week, I was having dinner in Toronto and saw two commuters on what I can only describe as mountain unicycles, so it's been quite the week for one wheeled transportation for me.
posted by Ruki at 6:40 PM on August 1, 2015


And people call the Apple Watch a waste of money...
posted by oceanjesse at 6:44 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: surfing the backs of a rat stampede on a small piece of cardboard
posted by MsMolly at 6:47 PM on August 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


They will need to make these much bigger in the USA due to obesity and our desire to cease using our legs for any reason other than to prop us up enough so we can reach candy on a shelf above waist height.
posted by Muncle at 6:49 PM on August 1, 2015


There's a few of them in Vancouver's West End neighborhood. They are ridiculously quiet, so if you are walking down Robson street you will never hear them behind you, until they pass you.
posted by seawallrunner at 6:53 PM on August 1, 2015


Hey! Ten years too late for this comment, but: I saw Segways in use (prolifically) for the first time last week. In Prague. They do really well on the cobblestone streets for group tours.
posted by kozad at 6:57 PM on August 1, 2015


If I saw a lone Segway whose rider had no badge I'd assume they got separated from their tour group.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:05 PM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


Going down a sidewalk at speed with your hands in your pockets and your feet side by side is asking for a sidewalk face plant, if you ask me.

I think I've also seen that guy in downtown San Francisco. And no, I didn't think it was cool. I know enough physics...
posted by njohnson23 at 7:06 PM on August 1, 2015


Saw one of these a few days ago and it looked fun as hell. Sorry haters
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 7:07 PM on August 1, 2015


Hell is not generally considered a fun place.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:11 PM on August 1, 2015


If I saw a lone Segway whose rider had no badge I'd assume they got separated from their tour group.

Riders that get separated from the herd tend to get picked off by predators fairly quickly. It's sad, but ultimately it's nature's way of making the herd stronger.
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:20 PM on August 1, 2015 [15 favorites]


I saw a guy on one of these a few weeks ago, in the bike lane(?), and assumed it was Twitter bait.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:21 PM on August 1, 2015


Stupid question: why can't it go down stairs?
posted by unknowncommand at 7:23 PM on August 1, 2015


I'm now planning on becoming an asshole for the sole purpose of zooming around town like the ghost of a wanker looking extremely satisfied.
posted by cmoj at 7:32 PM on August 1, 2015


Stupid question: why can't it go down stairs?

Pre-2005 Dalek technology
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:40 PM on August 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Pre-2005 Dalek technology

Ahem.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:45 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have one of these! There's a variety of different models but the one I have goes about 11km on a full charge. There are lots of people for whom it's not a good fit, of course, but in my case it's near perfect - I have about a 1km walk on fairly empty streets to the train station, then another 1km on wide sidewalks from the train station to work. Bit of a pain to walk, not really possible to take my bike on the crowded subway. So the Airwheel has been amazing for me! It's the size of a small bag, so being able to just carry it wherever I go is extremely handy. And once I got the hang of it (which took me about two hours) it's not uncomfortable to ride in the slightest.
In terms of safety, with a bit of common sense, it hasn't ever been an issue. It only goes about 10km/hour at most, and stops on a dime. It's also really fun to be able to glide through the world. It honestly feels a bit like flying, but on the ground, if that makes any sense... I do have the feeling that I probably look a bit of a numpty when I'm riding it, but there's not enough time in the world to worry whether everyone thinks I look cool or not, and my kids like it, so that's good enough for me.
posted by bakerybob at 7:46 PM on August 1, 2015 [31 favorites]


Stupid question: why can't it go down stairs?

No shock absorbers and that little bit of off-a-cliff and freefall would make for a really rough ride even for one stairstep, and doing it for a bunch in a row sounds like a recipe for cascading changes in momentum and force overriding any kind of gyroscopic/motor compensation and bailing hard even if the thing (and the rider) could deal with the rocky nature of that first step.
posted by cortex at 7:48 PM on August 1, 2015


Which is to say, maybe if you got really good at it you could take it down stairs. People do crazy shit on bikes and skateboards and unicycles and wheelbarrows, anything's probably doable with the right fuck-it-all sticktoitiveness. But most folks aren't going to go off-label like that.
posted by cortex at 7:50 PM on August 1, 2015


The real problem is whether to mount a battering ram or a pogo stick.

On the Segway.
posted by clavdivs at 7:50 PM on August 1, 2015


Bear in mind that learning to ride this thing involves an awful lot of falling off of it. Days and days worth of falling off of it for a lot of people. So sure, let's assume you could learn to go down stairs on it. And let's assume that the process of learning to involved tumbling face first down a set of concrete steps with a heavy hunk of steel and battery thumping along beside you, not once but many times. Possible? Sure, why not. Something you'd want to do? Yeah if you've got Danny MacAskill-scale cojones. Something they're going to put in their video? Not likely.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:10 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


So apparently I'm the only one who saw one of these in the wild (about a month ago) and thought it looked really, really cool?

It's the basic metafilter metric.
Is it an obscure indie bend that broke up twenty-five years ago? No? Then it is not cool.

As for me, I'm not all that impressed. Call me when they start marketing people movers like this. With a soundtrack from Venom P.Stinger or Voivod. Oh yeah. That would be cool.
posted by happyroach at 8:15 PM on August 1, 2015


Yeah I've seen the couple folks in south lake union that have one of these. They look fun to me. Not sure $1,000 fun.
posted by R343L at 8:22 PM on August 1, 2015


Unlike the segway, this may be legal to ride on NYC sidewalks.
posted by Sophont at 8:47 PM on August 1, 2015


Here in NYC there are a limited number of CitiBike unicycles, although they aren't motorized and are only available at special stations*. I rode one during Summer Streets today and saw lots of airwheel, sideways skateboard, eliptigo, segways, etc enjoying the beautiful Park Avenue ride.

*: Currently there is only one unicycle and only one station, which happens to be in my office.
posted by autopilot at 8:48 PM on August 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I encountered one of these in the wild recently when Portland's bagpipe-wielding Sith lord upgraded.
posted by subliminable at 8:56 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just don't understand who this is helping, or what problem it is solving? People with flat feet finding extended walks on flat hard surfaces too painful? What can this do that walking can't do, and how is it better than walking? Certainly not going to be very helpful for the blind or frail.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:05 PM on August 1, 2015


My brother bought an unbranded 2-wheel thing from china for about $300. These companies slapping a brand on them and charging $1000+ are a joke.

I ride it! Seriously fun!
posted by rebent at 9:11 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know about anyone else here, but I can't walk 10 mph. for an hour straight without ending up drenched in sweat.
posted by idiopath at 9:16 PM on August 1, 2015


Fun is a good reason. But you can't even do tricks with it without breaking it probably, right?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:17 PM on August 1, 2015


To be less oblique - it's for the "last mile", to make travel by bus or train on a daily basis more feasible, when the walk would just take too long, and there isn't always room for your bike.
posted by idiopath at 9:18 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a dude in Seattle with one of these, and our commutes home kinda line up at the same time, so I've seen him multiple times. But I'm in a car stuck in motionless traffic, and he zips past me on the sidewalk with one of these.

There's more than just a couple guys with these in seattle. If you go to capitol hill at the right time, or even better south lake union you'll see probably a person every half hour or even more often on one.

Also, isn't this a shameless knockoff of the solowheel? Didn't that come first? Isn't there some drama filled story about these things that i saw at some point? They all look almost the exact same.

Is there some story of industrial espionage here? Are they rebrands of different revisions of the same OEM product? huh?
posted by emptythought at 9:19 PM on August 1, 2015


Surrender Dorothy
posted by wam at 9:58 PM on August 1, 2015


On the sidewalk you have to obey all pedestrian laws while also yielding to said foot-walkers and giving an audible signal before overtaking.

... OK, now I want one just so I have an excuse to use one of those clown horns right behind people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:05 PM on August 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I own and can ride a unicycle, and I'd love a chance to try one of these out, but not enough to spend $400 on one. Yeah it's dorky. Yeah as a commute vehicle it would be stupid. So what? It looks like it would be a lot of fun once you've got the hang of it, and I'm sure that takes a lot less practice than learning how to ride my uni did.
posted by aspo at 11:15 PM on August 1, 2015


Thor did it first. Somewhere, Johnny Hart is smiling.
posted by Quasimike at 11:43 PM on August 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


There is one at SRL that is undergoing a transformation.
posted by boilermonster at 12:38 AM on August 2, 2015


I guess I can see the value in cutting out 20-40 minutes from one's commute by using something like this. It really doesn't look stable, though, even with clearly experienced riders.

I started writing something about how I'd rather it had a seat, and more than one wheel; as my imaginary "improved" version materialized in my imagination, I realized I was starting to describe a bicycle. How does this thing's size and weight compare to a folding bike?
posted by teponaztli at 1:29 AM on August 2, 2015


This video is a double technical achievement as it is also a catalog of all of the smooth pavements in England.

It is also a fine illustration of some crappy British weather. I propose a magnetically levitated umbrella designed to float just about the head of the airwheel user and follow them along.
posted by rongorongo at 2:53 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a webpage (forum, etc.) dedicated to these things at electricunicycle.org, with user reviews and stuff. I think they look fun. IIUC the Solowheel is the "original" version, and there are a bunch of clones: the best of those are probably as good as the original now (and perhaps a third of the price), but the cheaper clones will probably kill you.
posted by puppygalore at 3:40 AM on August 2, 2015


E.g. this thread is probably worth a look for prospective buyers...
posted by puppygalore at 3:46 AM on August 2, 2015


Not even the people in the commercial look like they're enjoying themselves.
posted by bracems at 4:41 AM on August 2, 2015


The first time I saw one of these, I nearly hit the guy with my car (unintentionally). I was approaching an intersection with a crosswalk, and there were pedestrians approaching from both sides, but far enough away that I could safely make it through without needing to stop and wait for them (and more importantly, they were far enough back that they wouldn't have expected me to stop). So I kept driving, and as I was just entering the crosswalk, one of the "pedestrians" came whipping across on one of these, and I had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting him.

Walking speed: 3 mph
Airwheel speed: 6.8 mph

In a somewhat crowded area, it's impossible to tell that someone's on an Airwheel and not just on foot, and that's going to result in some nasty Airwheel/pedestrian and Airwheel/car accidents.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:51 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was approaching an intersection with a crosswalk, and there were pedestrians approaching from both sides, but far enough away that I could safely make it through without needing to stop and wait for them (and more importantly, they were far enough back that they wouldn't have expected me to stop).

Many motorists don't realize this, but entering a crosswalk with pedestrians in it is illegal in many US municipalities.
posted by mistersquid at 5:55 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The pedestrians weren't in the crosswalk, they were on the sidewalks, walking in the direction of the intersection/crosswalk.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:24 AM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bear in mind that learning to ride this thing involves an awful lot of falling off of it. Days and days worth of falling off of it for a lot of people.

Citation? Because bakerybob actually has one, and didn't have that experience. The reviews I've read say an hour or two to get used to it. Far less of a learning curve than a bike, to be sure.

I'm a bit skeptical about how businesses would react to riding in their stores (or the mall, etc). Which makes me feel that the primary use case is some commuting scenarios (which could be quite compelling). Do they lock up well? Otherwise I'm carrying this thing with me when I'm not riding it - doesn't seem entirely practical.

There seems to be quite a relcutance for the general public to accept any non-car mode of transportation. Even in the blue, anything that isn't a bike or a car seems to be met with a high level of derision.

Does it look silly? Maybe, but only because we're not used to it. I'm the the first bike's looked pretty ridiculous to people as well. Once/if these things are normalized we won't give them a second look.

The other day I saw my first Segway in the wild in Canada. I asked the owner about it (winter? no go) and apparently it's classified as a mobility device, and has given him the opportunity to travel again (he has a bad back).

As a pedestrian I'd rather encounter one of these (or a Segway) in the sidewalk than a bike (yeah, they're illegal on the sidewalks here, but still very common).

I know there was undo hype in regards to the Segway redesigning cities, but I'd love for cities to have their own bike/personal travel device paths; we changed city architectures for cars, why can't we do it for less environmentally destructive devices?
posted by el io at 8:05 AM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The future is here and we hate it.
posted by maxsparber at 9:32 AM on August 2, 2015


What's to stop somebody from clotheslining the rider and stealing the Airwheel from his shattered body? (Asking for a friend).
posted by Optamystic at 9:54 AM on August 2, 2015


> "last mile", to make travel by bus or train on a daily basis more feasible, when the walk would just take too long, and there isn't always room for your bike.

Some folding bikes can be rolled on their wheels or are available with "portaging" wheels. They fold nearly as small as the Airwheel and can also be electric-motor-ified.

Carrying an Airwheel, skateboard, folded bike, etc. down a flight of stairs seems unavoidable, but anything over 10 lbs. shouldn't have to be carried over flat ground.
posted by morganw at 11:01 AM on August 2, 2015


What's to stop somebody from clotheslining the rider and stealing the Airwheel from his shattered body? (Asking for a friend).


The same thing that (may be) is stopping you from carjacking; ethical issues, legal repercussions, logistical issues.
posted by el io at 11:56 AM on August 2, 2015


Although without bothering to look it seems reasonable to suppose that some models, particularly the ones with iOS/android apps, have electronic locking such that a stolen one will stop working until the proper code is entered. This is commonly true of ebikes and ewheels.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2015


The problem is that the Airwhel is not cool.
The Ryno on the other hand is way cool.
posted by storybored at 1:31 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I predict that this will revolutionize transportation precisely as much as the Segway has.
posted by signal at 1:50 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is this the same as the Solowheel?
posted by humanfont at 4:38 PM on August 2, 2015


Moderately appropriate - OK Go - "I won't let you down" whilst riding UNI-CUBs.
posted by longbaugh at 12:53 AM on August 3, 2015


In a somewhat crowded area, it's impossible to tell that someone's on an Airwheel and not just on foot, and that's going to result in some nasty Airwheel/pedestrian and Airwheel/car accidents.

This is already a problem in seattle, where as i said above, i see several of these a day. I haven't seen a serious collision yet, but i have seen several close calls and i think a light collision. The shape of it encourages people to try and thread through crowds or around parallel lines of people walking together like an asshole teenager snaking around lanes on the freeway. With a segway, at least it was wide enough that you couldn't cut around people. This thing is basically as wide as an upright standing person and it gives you a little height edge on a lot of people.

That's a kind of inherent element of it that encourages people to be asses with it. And i've seen some assing.

I think these are destined not just to be hated by the gah not cool people on here, but generally hated the way drones are as something that mostly only buttheads use that have a general negative connotation. And like quadcopters/drones, it's because a lot of the early adopters are using them like assholes.

The Ryno on the other hand is way cool.

This is SO CLOSE to being cool. It's uncool entirely because it's basically an electric bike, and even if it isn't should be banned on sidewalks for being so huge... but it can only go 10mph.

What the fuck? I would understand a NEV type cap of 25mph, or some sort of technical limitation... but 10mph basically makes this a no-mans-land device that's useless to ride anywhere.

It's already banned by local bike path rules here, is likely banned on the sidewalk(as are in a lot of places, segways), but even if it is legal to ride in the street it goes WAY too slow.

What a cool idea, and seemingly cool product with a really silly arbitrary limitation that just limits it right out of where you could practically, realistically, and legally use it.

Reminds me of how silly of a tweener product go-peds/stand up gas scooters were in that they could basically only be fully legally ridden on private property.
posted by emptythought at 3:11 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The shape of it encourages people to try and thread through crowds or around parallel lines of people walking together like an asshole teenager snaking around lanes on the freeway.

People who walk side by side are the bigger assholes, and if electric unicycles are the tool needed to wipe that out, +1 for the unicycles.
posted by idiopath at 5:09 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I saw a 20ish guy in what looked to all appearances like a suit minus the jacket - think he left it at the office, zipping along right near Columbus Circle. Despite this being lunchtime in New York and the sidewalks being pretty crowded, I did not see any near misses. I a.) thought it looked pretty neat and b.) vowed never to get anything that someone who looks like a Wall Street douchenozzle rides as a toy. I may have been misjudging, but the clothes looked expensive enough to make that jump into my mind. Although, reading this, apparently he spent some time practicing.

I'm honestly waiting for someone to use the Segway technology for something worthwhile instead of toys like this. The guy mentioned above who uses one because of a disability is fantastic, but the first time I have ever heard of that sort of thing. I always assumed that the gyroscope stuff would be put towards mobile assistance technology, but thinking about it more closely, I suppose that wheelchairs don't really need a carefully balanced two-wheel system.
posted by Hactar at 9:04 AM on August 3, 2015


It's not a question of acting like an ass. Assiness is relative. From the perspective of a vehicle with momentum, going slow is assy; from the perspective of a slower-moving pedestrian, cutting between hapless people is assy.

Wheeled and foot traffic are better separated.
posted by mistersquid at 9:05 AM on August 3, 2015


Assiness is relative.

I was going to joke-correct you with "asininity," but spellcheck says it's a real word so
posted by Sys Rq at 9:32 AM on August 3, 2015


I'm honestly waiting for someone to use the Segway technology for something worthwhile instead of toys like this.

It's a viable electric vehicle that's tiny, weighs 30 pounds (i.e. a few pennies to operate, zero-emission capable), and if your commute is only a few miles miles or less will take one car off the road while allowing you to arrive non-sweaty in under 20 minutes. It's apparently a blast to ride as well as being good for muscle tone and coordination, is far more compact and easier to take onto a bus or light rail than a bicycle, doesn't require parking and you don't have to lock it up on the street. What's not worthwhile about it?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:38 AM on August 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


From the perspective of a vehicle with momentum, going slow is assy; from the perspective of a slower-moving pedestrian, cutting between hapless people is assy.

As another person on foot, people walking abreast are assholes. Typically they are paying more attention to the people they are walking with than where they are going (often forcing me to step out into the street if they are oncoming), or they will randomly stop while taking up the full width of the sidewalk, forcing me, once again, to step into the street if I want to get around them. I'm no fan of wheeled people on sidewalks generally, but if that's what it takes to get people to leave room for other people, I'm all for it.
posted by idiopath at 1:27 PM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


People who walk side by side are the bigger assholes, and if electric unicycles are the tool needed to wipe that out, +1 for the unicycles.

Not automatically. Lets say the sidewalk can handle 6-8 people walking side by side total(which would fully obstruct it) not including areas with garbage cans, etc. 2-3 people walking side by side or in a triangle are not jamming up anyone.

So you have like,

||||||||
|***||||
||||||*|
||*|||||

And lets say this gap is like, two person widths because of vertical spacing as well as some horizontal. The guy on the uniwheel/EUC is going to try and thread that gap between the groups of people at high speed. A normal person could do this without it being an instant disastrous collision if someone stops, sticks their arm out while gesticulating wildly, turns to go into a store or walk towards a parking meter box, etc.

Someone riding a bike on the sidewalk(for some dumb reason) probably wouldn't try to do this because of the size of the bike. Ditto for a segway, or other weird futuretransportmachine. And yet people ride these in ways that are dangerous for all involved, even when other people aren't being assholes but walking in a way that doesn't obstruct foot traffic.

I walk down the street i'm imagining in my head multiple times a day, and very rarely get jammed up. I also rarely see people trying to thread bikes through or something. But these things? Always cutting around everyone else like freaking Steve McQueen in Bullitt.
posted by emptythought at 1:06 PM on August 4, 2015


A recent blog post quote by MeFi's Own™ spamkandkimchi partly describes the problem you refer to, emptythought.
1. Mass motoring effects an absolute triumph of bourgeois ideology on the level of daily life. It gives and supports in everyone the illusion that each individual can seek his or her own benefit at the expense of everyone else. Take the cruel and aggressive selfishness of the driver who at any moment is figuratively killing the “others,” who appear merely as physical obstacles to his or her own speed. This aggressive and competitive selfishness marks the arrival of universally bourgeois behaviour, and has come into being since driving has become commonplace. (“You’ll never have socialism with that kind of people,” an East German friend told me, upset by the spectacle of Paris traffic)

Andre Gorz, “Social Ideology of the Motorcar” Le Sauvage September-October 1973.
(via Reclaim the Streets)
This kind of aggressive behavior appears in some pedestrians, too. It's just that vehicles multiply the incidence of such behavior because that kind of aggressive behavior is difficult to express when limited by the strength of the human body.
posted by mistersquid at 7:47 PM on August 8, 2015


It’s so difficult even the makers accept that mastering their infuriating gizmo is far from easy. Depending on what you read you’ll need two hours to make a stab at the absolute basics (standing and moving forward slowly) and a full day to crack anything more impressive (turning, stopping, glissading through shopping malls).

Just imagine! A whole day of learning to use your new vehicle? It'll never sell! *drives off in car*

But seriously, even if a bicycle is a more appropriate comparison than a car, we think nothing of taking kids out to spend a day (or many days) learning to ride a bike. Ice skates, unicycles, pogo sticks: same thing. Try giving a ten-year-old an Airwheel and see how quickly they adapt.
posted by Rangi at 5:46 PM on August 12, 2015


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