Onewheel — Pragmatic Commuter Software or The Secret To Everlasting Youth?

I had solely ever seen a “Onewheel” as soon as and was not impressed. They appeared like an effective way to die, on an electrical automobile. So, it was good to get two very totally different views on the machine once I met with Derek and Stewart at Roma Road Parkland within the Brisbane CBD final Friday. It’s price noting that they’re each engineers, one retired, the opposite nonetheless working.

You’ll keep in mind Derek Harris from my article on Fiat Spider conversions. He has a really pragmatic view of his Onewheel. He commutes 7 km to work on a Onewheel, which travels about 25 km per hour. He reckons that within the first 18 months he has saved as a lot on bus tickets as he paid for his machine. He says the demographic of Onewheel riders is “bizarre” – younger ones doing tips for giggles and older folks, like himself, who’re fascinated by the physics. There may be tons to have a look at on YouTube right here and right here.

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Derek and Stewart onewheeling at Roma Road Parkland. Picture courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Stewart is just lately retired and acquired the Onewheel as a problem. He rode it straight as much as the out of doors desk the place we had been going to have espresso. “It’s so manoeuvrable at low speeds, I can take it anyplace,” he tells me. He then launches into an enthusiastic account of his life with the Onewheel in retirement. “I’m not a 15-year-old with a dying want. I simply wished a problem.” And it was.

He couldn’t discover anyplace to buy a Onewheel in Australia, so he purchased his from the US producer — Future Movement — 3 years in the past for about AU$1700 — the pint. It was a painful job getting it by customs and paying the responsibility. He determined to purchase a less expensive model (Derek’s value twice as a lot) simply in case he didn’t prefer it, or had an accident and determined Onewheeling was not for him. He recounts how he clung to the railings of a pedestrian bridge as he spent 3 hours studying find out how to steadiness on the board. Watching him now circling across the huge pathways of the parklands, he jogs my memory of a determine skater. A a lot youthful determine skater.

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Right here is the bridge the place Stewart practised driving his Onewheel. Picture courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Stewart says he needed to reprogram his mind and muscle groups. It’s a utterly totally different hands-free expertise: “Like snowboarding, on concrete.” Each males put on full security gear. Stewart can experience a motorcycle however he has by no means been on a skateboard. Throughout COVID, he used his Onewheel each day to discover the parklands. Being hands-free means you may have a sip of water whilst you experience. “My one wheel solely weighs 12 kg, but it carries 90 kg me up the hills of the parklands!”

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Fingers-free driving means you may have a sip of water. Picture courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Derek and Stewart had been work colleagues. Stewart was conscious that Derek rode a Onewheel, however till Stewart dedicated to buy, they hadn’t actually mentioned it. Then, the Onewheel got here out of the work cabinet and Stewart went for a experience.

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Leaping lizards, it’s a Onewheel! Picture courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Though Stewart’s one wheel is able to 26 km per hour, he typically rides at speeds beneath 20 km per hour. The app on his watch hyperlinks to the one wheel and exhibits his pace. On a latest outing he drove to Coolangatta (on the Gold Coast) then rode for about 12 km alongside the ocean entrance. He was travelling right into a headwind so used lots of energy on the way in which out, however picked up vary on the way in which again with a tailwind.

Derek has travelled about 13,000 km on his Onewheel (“I’ve performed 3,716 on mine,” says Stewart). Apparently, there’s a world leaderboard for hands-free distance travelled. The present #1 has performed over 60,000 km within the USA. The #1 in Australia has performed 45,000.

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Onewheel world chief board. Picture courtesy of Derek Harris.

What about charging, I ask? Stewart’s Onewheel battery has a capability of 145 watt/hours. Since he pays 20¢ per kWh to cost, he can cost up his machine for about 2 cents, which provides him 12 km of vary. Even after 3,176 km ridden, Stewart has seen no degradation of the battery. Derek’s battery is 380 Wh and it offers him a variety of 25 km. The battery is charged inside the machine and by no means left absolutely charged. It’s normally saved at 50% and charged up simply earlier than use.

At about 10,000 km, Derek needed to change his battery as a result of it had degraded to 70%, which might solely give him a variety of 20 km. Future Movement doesn’t promote substitute batteries. There may be an aftermarket for provide of substitute batteries, although. Derek bought a battery which had performed about 1000 km. “With the substitute battery, the board felt extra alive and responsive,” he tells me. There are guides on YouTube for working in your Onewheel, and cottage industries that may provide elements right here and right here.

With no belts or gears and no want of lubrication, all it’s a must to do is cost it up and examine the tyre stress.

Future Movement, which provided his Onewheel, doesn’t help the rights of homeowners to restore. Stewart wore his tyre down and even acquired to the place the place there was a gap in it. Future Movement wished him to freight the Onewheel again to the States to have the tyre modified. Not solely would this show very costly, however he could be with out his favorite mode of transport for 3 months. Luckily, each Derek and Stewart are engineers. Derek sourced a go-kart tyre they usually swapped them over.

Whereas Stewart is recovering his youth, gliding across the parklands, Derek’s Onewheel use is 99% work associated — as a handy and low-cost commuter automobile. He used to experience his bike to work and arrive in dire want of a bathe. Now he arrives refreshed from a experience by the leafy bike paths on his one wheel. He avoids roads as a lot as he can. These males are lucky to experience in Queensland, because the Onewheel (like different private electrical autos) is prohibited in most Australian states. Nonetheless, in Queensland, a private mobility machine is outlined as having a number of wheels and is authorized to be used.

Roma Road Parkland waterfall. Picture courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

I requested Derek if he had any points driving the Onewheel. He tells me that 3 instances over the previous 4 years he has had automobiles come out of blind driveways. One time he was transferring too quick to cease as a woman in a rush got here out of the driveway after which stopped, blocking the entire footpath. Derek left a metre lengthy black skid mark and ended up accumulating the automobile along with his hip — at about 18 km/ hour. The Onewheel has no conventional brakes — all the things is completed with steadiness and regenerative braking. Stewart tells me he can cease useless in 6 metres. If you could cease faster, you may drop the again of the board to make contact with the trail.

Luckily, there have been no ongoing medical points, however it did open up a dialog about how effectively a Onewheel rider is roofed by insurance coverage. Apparently, the Onewheel is roofed by family insurance coverage if stolen, however it’s a gray space relating to visitors accidents.

Derek additionally makes certain he retains a watch out for poodles and young children. Of all canine, he tells me, “poodles are those almost definitely to have a go at you.” No thought why — the motor is silent and there may be little tyre noise. He sometimes meets an area dogwalker who normally has their poodle on a lead. The canine tends to leap round on the finish of the lead as he passes. Typically the poodle just isn’t on its lead and chases him down the trail for a 100 meters or so. Derek and the canine proprietor have had some good chats.

Each males attempt to promote me the deserves of the Onewheel – out within the open air, works your quads, good to your core energy (Stewart acquired slightly sore when he first began). However I don’t have the steadiness – those that know me may say I’ve all the time been slightly unbalanced. Despite the fact that he will get an excessive amount of pleasure from driving, Stewart tells me you don’t wish to get a cramp, or an itch or sneeze! It’s important to focus in your driving.

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Modified Onewheel for driving within the snow. Picture courtesy of Derek Harris.

Speaking to Stewart jogs my memory of listening to surfers discuss — the board turns into a part of your physique, an extension of your toes. It is going to sense a fraction of a level as you shift your weight and steadiness to maintain you on. Thanks, Bodhi. It’s important to keep your steadiness left and proper, the board will deal with the back and front.

They each see the Onewheel as life enhancing — on a pathway alongside the creek, not on the roads, plenty of contemporary air, exercising and balancing. Stewart takes his to buy groceries, a 7 km spherical journey, with 10 kg of groceries in his again pack on the way in which residence. If he forgets one thing, he’s joyful to must do the journey once more.

It was an actual pleasure to interview these riders, and watch as they demonstrated what their boards may do. Derek has an economically and environmentally pleasant solution to get to work, and Stewart is having enjoyable.

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Spider physique now painted. Picture courtesy of Derek Harris.

As a bonus, above is the photograph of Derek’s Fiat Spider — now freshly painted in an unique Fiat color.


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