Chapter in this post:
Now some of you are probably asking, “What do I care about Sir Apfelot's new hobby? I want to read something about the new iPhone X Plus! ”. I can understand, since I don't have a blog about hobbies, but I still like to incorporate a bit of “personality” into the blog, because otherwise you could continue reading directly from any Apple news portal.
For this reason, the first note: If you are not interested in electric unicycles, just turn the page ... I think some readers will find it exciting and this article is intended for them.
But now back to the topic. My first contact with self-balancing electrical companions was when I was on vacation with my children. There was a Segway afternoon there, where the children and adults used these well-known two-wheeled vehicles from Segway or Ninebot could try. There was a choice of models with and without a handlebar. My children stood right on top of the thing and after two minutes of getting used to it, they swept across the square and drove some courses.
After a few minutes of convincing myself, I got in line and finally I'm on top of one Ninebot miniPRO landed, which is controlled with a small stick via the inclination of the thighs. I think I was the most stupid of all adults, but in the end I drove the first shaky lap without help after just 10 minutes.
I had in one a few days earlier Blinkist book summary heard that new challenges - especially in old age! - are important, as these keep the brain fit and ensure that new neuron connections are formed. And since I didn't do inline skates or anything else that demands a sense of balance, I saw the right challenge for my brain and myself! So get on the Segway and do a bit of speed dating for the brain cells.
I have to say that after the first few laps it became more and more fun. So much so that after vacation I sat down at my Mac and Googled these things. I then inevitably noticed "hoverboards" that work like a Segway, but are steered via the incline of the pedals - completely free-hand and without a bar to cling to. This means that you stand on the device and tilt your right foot down at the front so that the right wheel turns faster than the left. This way you can drive through the area hands-free and still be able to take tight turns.
After the first bad purchase of a cheap hoverboard (see photo with children's feet at the top!) I am at a "Beamie"Landed. This is a board that works just like the other hoverboards, but that has more ground clearance and also provides a little more power. With that I was able to drive over the freshly mown meadow and then do a few laps Turning on the bike path. But after two weeks it got a bit boring. For this reason, I read a little more into the subject of "self-balancing vehicles" or researched on YouTube what else there is.
Again and again I noticed the electrically powered unicycles, which have a larger wheel than the hoverboards. While the hoverboards with a diameter of 10 to 12 inches are already at the top of the flagpole, the spectrum for electric unicycles extends from 14 to 22 inches. There are certainly still exotic models that have smaller or larger wheels, but in any case with an electric unicycle - also EUC for "electric unicycle" - you have a significantly larger wheel diameter, which has a massive effect on off-road suitability.
Since I tend to have forest and field paths, I decided to get an electric unicycle - even though it was already clear to me at this point that it would be much more difficult to drive this device than is the case with a hoverboard . But I don't have any time pressure and the brain likes challenges - so what can go wrong?!?
It was quite a coincidence that I found a unicycle in eBay classifieds that I also saw in many YouTube videos. The Inmotion V8 is no longer up-to-date according to the current state of technology, but there is a protective cover for it and it is noticeably more motorized than the Ninebot One, which is also considered an entry-level model by many. From my point of view, the Inmotion V8 is the perfect device to learn how to ride a unicycle.
It is not as difficult as the large models and therefore easier to use. Due to the cover, it can take an extremely large number of falls without actually being damaged. And believe me: if you are learning, you cannot rule out falling of the unicycle. Only you hardly fall yourself, as you can hardly keep yourself on the pedals at first and always have enough time to get off in a controlled manner.
It looks fascinating when someone drives around on a unicycle. But it is much easier to learn than a “real” unicycle, where you have to accelerate with the pedals and at the same time keep the same weight. The advantage of electric unicycles is that you can only tip over to the left or right. The bike independently maintains its balance forwards and backwards. I will write a separate article about “learning to drive a UEC”, but here's a note: After three 30 to 45 minutes of practice time (spread over three days) I was so confident that I could drive a few hundred meters. And I'm not a crack at such balance things - on the contrary. And if even I learn, you can do it easily! ;-)
I firmly believe that anyone can learn to ride an electric unicycle. In forums, too, you repeatedly meet people who have learned to ride an electric unicycle at the age of 70 and who say: It can be done at any age. If you are interested, you should definitely try it!
I recently heard in a podcast that it looks totally boring when business buffoons ride a unicycle through the city. And yes, I think driving it through pedestrian zones and streets is not particularly exciting. But when you've ridden a dirt road for the first time, you'll notice how the muscles in your lower back and legs are being challenged to compensate for the movements of the unicycle. And it is by no means boring. For me personally, it even feels more exciting than skateboards or inline skates, as you can ride over paths that other "wheeled vehicles" (which have smaller wheels) cannot travel on. And if you still think it's boring to drive around with it, I would like to recommend two videos that show two riders who are not professionals and who still have a lot of fun with the unicycles:
Do not get me wrong. I don't think it's good to drive through heavy traffic with a device like that. A fall would certainly not end well. But I think his driving skills are impressive - not his courage.
The colleague here is much more sympathetic to me: Well padded, he crumbles through the Finnish forests (presumably) and has fun doing it - without any unnecessary risk.
Balance is the prerequisite for riding a unicycle. But if you stop on it and then drive, you also have to be able to accelerate and brake. This is learned relatively quickly, however, as you only have to lean forward to accelerate or lean backward to brake. In the wild it looks like this:
I talked about "sport" above ... can it be when you stand on a unicycle and drive through the history of the road? Certainly less on streets and bike paths, but things look different on uneven paths. I did a few comparative tests with my Apple Watch and saw that I burned just as many calories when unicycling in the woods and on dirt roads as when going for a "brisk" walk. Another positive aspect is that driving requires precisely those muscles that are usually particularly untrained in desk criminals: the back and abdominal muscles. And especially the deep back muscles, which you can actually only train with balance exercises. These deep muscles cannot be consciously tensed, so you have to train them with your reflexes. And this is exactly what happens when you ride a unicycle over uneven terrain, where you can no longer consciously carry out every movement, but rely on the reflexes of the body to avoid having to get off the bike.
When I came home from a one-hour tour at the beginning, I also noticed very clearly which areas were being trained. In the meantime this has changed, as the muscles have noticeably improved.
And another nice side effect: If you (like me) are interested in filling the red ring on your Apple Watch, you can easily do this with a unicycle tour instead of a walk. In this way: yes, it is sport!
Overall, I'm very excited about the new vehicle and the way it gets around. At first it feels very heavy and you just can't imagine that you will drive more than 3 meters on the thing at some point, but after a few days it goes into your blood and you don't have to think too much about how you are going balanced. When the time comes that you can look at the iPhone while driving and look at the area all around, then you are out of the woods and can fully enjoy the journeys.
In the meantime I've also infected my girlfriend and expanded our vehicle fleet to two unicycles. This enables us to go on trips together. It also offers a nice change from going for a walk, as the greater speed and range allows you to get to know completely new areas in nature around the home.
And - what you mustn't forget - with an electric unicycle under your feet, you can quickly get into conversation with people! I have already spoken to several people on the dirt roads who looked at me so inquiringly as I drove by that I turned around briefly to resolve the question marks in my mind. This usually results in nice conversations and one or two new acquaintances. You just have to be considerate and open and not drive past people grumpily, then you won't get any curses from hikers or cyclists even on narrow paths.
If you have any questions about driving an electric unicycle (EUC), please feel free to leave a comment. Since I still consider myself a beginner, I might be able to answer exactly those questions that go through your head at the beginning. ;-)
And a "warning" to my regular readers: In the future I will certainly bore you with lots of boring technical articles about funny unicycles ... I hope you can just keep browsing and still stay with me in the blog! : D
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.