Solowheel Reinvents the Wheel with Next-Gen Segway Unicycle

Via YouTube/Screen capture

If you can't afford a Segway, what about half of one? While the two-wheeled personal transporter can set you back by $5,000 or more, a new one-wheel, Segway-inspired model called the Solowheel is due to go on sale for a mere $1,500 in the U.S., starting in March.

Impress your friends, work on your balance, and most of all, watch out for bikes and people that still walk. Walking is really retro these days, with more bikes on the road, and people leaving their cars parked in light of revolution-inspired high gas prices.

(February 2012 Update: They're now going for $1,800 via the Inventist.)

Are these Solowheels that good of an idea? Don't people need more exercise, not less? It reminds me of an older magazine story about electric scooters being "the new walking." Or a TreeHugger post in 2010: "Bike-Happy, Ped-Friendly Cities Less Obese."

As CoolHunting.com explains it, the Solowheel is "geared for the mobile urbanite." It's a "self-balancing electric unicycle" that uses gyro sensors, a 1,000-watt motor and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

It charges up in as little as 45 minutes, according to Inventist.com, and lasts for about two hours on a charge. The poor person's Chevy Volt? The unicycle recaptures energy when going downhill or slowing down.

Via YouTube/Screen capture

This is like riding on the front tire of a scooter. There are foot platforms on each side. The platforms fold up for "easy" storage in a backpack (it weighs 20 pounds). Saves time and money on parking, too. And you could arrive at work less sweaty.

Is this "the smallest, greenest, most convenient People Mover ever invented," as the Inventist claims? Or at least a pretty affordable, pretty efficient mode of electric transport for the eco-minded and Segway-deprived?

It's only the latest version of an electric unicycle, it seems. Others have been introduced by Honda. A Canadian inventor also came up with a single-wheeled motor bike called the Uno.

More on the Solowheel, from Jaymi, who took it for a test drive at CES 2012.

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Tags: Bikes | Commuting | Electric Bikes

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