EUC: Electric Unicycles

EUC: Electric Unicycles

In short: fuck electric scooters, electric bikes as well as any other similar things that are electric but not an EUC, nor a car. Maybe unless you need to pull a trailer:

Cargo bike

Ninebot One S2

letoram said on #lobsters that electric unicycles are fun, and that they feel like you’re about to fall at any time, which got me curious and deserved some experimentation. For my first wheel, I had no idea what to look for and just bought the S2 since it was cheap-ish, and no one told me not to.

It took a while to get the gist of the controls, but on my second day I could already drive around somewhat well and…​ pinched my inner tube when hitting the border of a pavement. Then I had to order some tools, dismantle the whole wheel, and learn how to repair bike tyres on hard mode. (I assembled it wrong the first time, pinching a cable--just fixing this took me about an hour.)

Very shortly this wheel has become too underpowered for me, even though I’m fairly light and the motor can take me up some surprisingly steep slopes, if barely.

Positives:

  • The shell is indestructible.

  • Relatively light and easy to travel with. Carry it by its handle, or throw it under the trolley (which becomes hard to manoeuvre).

  • A fairly cheap option for when you’re not sure about EUCs, though irrational if there’s any chance at all you might have a use for it. I’d get a used one for cheaper if I had the choice and option. Or an upgrade in a similar weight category, such as InMotion V8F.

  • Underpowered, hence you can just walk away from many incidents rather than fall flat on your face. You don’t really need a full face helmet here.

Negatives:

  • Needs a phone to activate, and to change the few settings it has.

  • Annoying, loud beeping that cannot be disabled. Often when it falls, it just won’t stop until you turn it off and on again. It goes without saying that this attracts a lot of attention.

  • The shell hurts to lean against, e.g. when driving on one leg only. It can be alleviated with a layer of rubber. Simply wearing shin guards helps a lot, too.

  • There’s nothing at all to help you keep your feet on the pedals if you jump down with it, thus you may easily shift position and even fall forward. You can find attachments that fix this issue, it’s not all that specific to the S2.

  • EUC World doesn’t seem to work with it for me, for unknown reasons. I’ve reported this to the delevoper, and a fix might be on the way.

  • Underpowered, hence boring. Neither is it good for the pavement due to being rather fast, nor for the road due to being rather slow.

  • No headlight for when it’s dark outside. Holding a flashlight in hand is heavily suboptimal.

If you need a charging/storage stand, cut the cardboard box it came in to fit just the lower block of polystyrene foam. Works pretty well, just beware of free spinning, that’ll do some damage to it.

Ninebot One S2 stand

Driving

In a few days of actual practice, you’ll be almost literally flying around with ease. It feels amazing. It can also be a decent leg exercise. Despite my fears, my sometimes aching knees don’t seem to mind, almost to the contrary. But feet like to hurt, and you can easily get cramps. Good shoes help.

Learn on a hard surface, and remember that it’s more stable when it’s moving. It helped me to imagine that I’m getting on a skateboard.

Tricks

It doesn’t take much effort to learn to drive on one leg only--you do this anyway when getting on, so just keep prolonging the duration--it’s just physically demanding, and hurts after a while.

Jumping down curbs is fairly safe but requires some practice. See also the list of S2 negatives above.

Important takeaways

  • Always check tyre pressure when unsure. Extracting the inner tube is usually a very laborious process.

  • Make sure to wear protection if you suspect that you might fall. Ideally also learn how to fall so that harm is minimized, e.g., by twisting your body sideways when falling backwards, or not putting your hands in front of you when falling forwards.

Future

I’m somewhat undecided between Veteran Sherman, InMotion V11, and waiting for the eventual improved V11F. The latter wheel is better suited for my actual needs of going to shops. Neither of them is as easily controllable and portable as the S2.

I have given myself a condition that I have to learn to drive backwards first, which isn’t a comfortable idea after having fallen that way once and hurting my back muscles.