Onewheel, the self-balancing electric skateboard


There were, by all accounts, plenty of innovative and interesting toys on display at this year’s CES. As attending technology journalists were busy scribbling down the wondrous worthies of the best innovations, one of the most saturated desks had to be that displaying the Onewheel – even the non-technological, mainstream press have cottoned on to this one.

This self-balancing, single-wheeled electric skateboard uses gyros, accelerometers, proprietary algorithms and a single rubber tyre to give passengers a smooth, self-balancing ride, which apparently mimics snowboarding or surfing on dry land. It has to be said, the Onewheel has certainly got editors’ radar buds raving as there is literally a myriad of reports and videos surfacing on the web dedicated to the fun you can have with the Onewheel.

“It’s hard not to do a double-take when first laying eyes on the Onewheel,” writes Engadget. In fact it was Engadget which was responsible for the Onewheel being displayed at this year’s CES. As the report proudly states, the device’s creator, Kyle Doerksen, brought a prototype by the Engadget trailer to CES. With its metal frame, wooden deck and chunky go-cart wheel, aesthetically, Engadget were not balled over by this heavy-duty (25 pounds) machine. In terms of speed, the Onewheel can go as fast as 12mph, although acceleration is software-limited to allow for better balancing. On a lithium battery this dryland skateboard-esque device can go from four to six miles on a single charge or for 20 minutes with an “ultra” charger. Unfortunately, writes Engadget, the machine only has approx. 20 minutes worth of ride in its battery, which varies depending on the terrain and personal driving style.

The BBC was quick to try out the Onewheel. BBC Click’s Spencer Kelly took a ride on the ‘half-skateboard-half-unicycle’ at the CES. We have to admit, Kelly’s video, which can be viewed here, isn’t too inspiring, and merely involves the BBC reporter travelling, albeit slowly, down a street in Las Vegas on what essentially resembles a skateboard before stopping a several metres down the road.

The Onewheel, close up
The Onewheel, close up

Big kids the Daily Mail didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try out the latest transport toy. With a headline stating a device that makes you feel like you’re flying, the Daily Mail are certainly excited by the single air-filled tyre taken from a go-kart, which can reach speeds of up to 12mph and turn 360 degrees within the length of the board. The Daily Mail also points out that all this happens while the board balances itself using the same motion sensing technology found in a smartphone. Seemingly obsessed by the Onewheel’s flying merits, the Daily Mail quotes the company behind the device, Future Motion, saying it “Lets you fly over pavement on only a single wheel.”

Veteran skateboarder Sam Sheffer of The Verge, who apparently rides a skateboard every day to work and back, was naturally eager to give the Onewheel a whirl. Admitting he was soon easily cruising around the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, Sheffer says that despite its bulky and unwieldiness, the Onewheel, alongside the E-Go Cruiser are the closest he’s come to his ideal of an electrical skateboard. We have to admit, The Verge’s video of a trial ride on the Onewheel is a lot more exciting, speedy and ‘pro’ than the BBC’s version.

To try out the Onewheel for yourself, you’ll probably have to buy one, which will unfortunately set you back $1,300. Would it be worth it? Naw.