CES 2012: Solowheel Working To Reinvent Cycling -- Unicycling, That Is

© Jaymi Heimbuch

We've written about the Solowheel in the past, but it is here at CES and I was glad to take a look in person. (Okay, so really I was just trying to get through the hall to an interview, saw someone zipping around unnaturally fast in a booth and had an "oh shiny!" moment. Turns out, it was worth stopping.)

© Jaymi Heimbuch

The Solowheel is basically an electric unicycle you stand on, and it works a bit like the Segway only without the handlebars. Or, as the company puts it, "The Solowheel is the world’s first single wheel, battery operated, self-maneuvering transportation vehicle." Personally, I like "electric unicycle" better.

The Solowheel has a 1000 Watt motor and a rechargeable battery. The "Gyroscopic electronics drive system" can collect energy to charge the battery when going downhill or breaking.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

As for riding it, you just put your feet on the platforms and lean forward to go, and lean back to stop. You use your feet to balance and steer the Solowheel where you want it to go. You can go up to 10 miles per hour for 15-20 miles.

Here is a video of it in action -- everyone except the green-haired girl looks a little unsteady but perhaps it just takes a bit of practice:

The girl demoing it at the booth certainly looked comfortable on it, riding it back and forth and in circles. I think once you have the swing of it, this could be a really fun way to get from point A to point B without using a car. Of course, a bicycle can do the same thing without using any electricity but you can probably get away with riding the Solowheel in places that you can't or shouldn't ride a bike (the site notes use in malls, museums, tourist destinations...), and you can carry it inside with you whereas a bike isn't as easy to haul inside even if it is foldable. So there are some pros and cons.

Meanwhile, I've already been asked by my family to bring one back home to play with, so it could very well be a popular item for those with an extra $1,795.00 to lay down (um, I kinda don't so I might have to put one under my coat since I don't think I can make a getwaway on it at 10 mph).

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Electronics | Gadgets | Transportation