Electric unicycles - the future of last-mile transportation? - Alvinology

Electric unicycles – the future of last-mile transportation?

If you are already a fan of electric skateboards, inline skates, electric bicycles or even the old-fashioned kind, the rise of the electric unicycle was always just a matter of time.

These space-age vehicles are compact, quick and just quirky enough to give you bragging rights in early adopter circles.

Learn why electric unicycles just might be the future of last-mile transportation and your perfect new ride.

Getting On & Staying On

In one review article, a rider explains how riding an electric unicycle is a lot like riding a horse!

You need to know where you are going and focus your gaze and your body language in that direction. Then the horse, or, unicycle, will follow.

It does take some practice. But then again, if you think back to your first attempts to learn cycling, skating or pretty much anything else, what doesn’t? 

Electric unicycles come in many flavors. Some are all horsepower and built for the experienced rider. Others are perfect for beginners, with a minimal learning curve, but still plenty of speed to get you from here to there. 

How does it work?

Thinking practically here, it may take a minute to wrap your mind around how to make an electric unicycle do what it does – move, stop, back up, turn and all that other good maneuverability stuff.

After all, it is hands-free. You are standing on footpads with a single wheel in between. It doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success.

But this is exactly what makes the electric unicycle so cool and multi-functional. 

There is a balance element to it, just as there is with any other sort of wheeled transportation method. 

A cool trick is to make sure you are looking more into the distance rather than right down at your feet. This way, you remain much more stable on the electric unicycle balance-wise and can also adjust your body as you see turns and other navigational needs coming up. 

For visual learners, here is a nice short video of a new rider explaining exactly how he learned to navigate his new electric unicycle:

He says it only took him two practice sessions (about 30 minutes each) before he was feeling fairly confident!

Electric Unicycles Are More Practical Than You Might Think

If you are new to the term “last mile,” this basically means a commuter transportation method. 

For example, let’s say you have to ride the subway to work each day, but the closest stop is a mile from your office. 

You need a mode of transportation to get you that last mile quickly and with as little exposure to seasonal sweat and/or inclement weather as possible. 

Electric unicycles have some unique advantages as last-mile commuting vehicles. Let’s take a look at these now.

Electric unicycles - the future of last-mile transportation? - Alvinology

Ride Hands-free.

It is pretty common to see cyclists wheeling around the city today while texting on their smart devices, adjusting their headphones, rummaging around in their messenger bags and doing other hands-free activities, whether they particularly should be or it is safe to do so or not.

But one of the reasons why it is less safe to go hands-free on a bicycle is because there are two wheels and a whole frame to manage and it takes hands and feet to do this well.

But with an electric unicycle, you have one wheel….and only one wheel. Hands-free happens automatically. And it sure can be nice to have those extra free hands and not think you are taking your life into your hands to have them.

Compact and storage-friendly.

It can be awfully hard to store a bicycle or even a pair of inline skates or an electric skateboard – these items are ungainly and awkward to maneuver and hide.

Electric skateboards will fit easily under most student desks or work desks. Many models come with handy little kickstands or extension handles you can use as the need arises.

Safer to store.

Let’s face it – most bicycle locks just are not up to a determined bicycle thief.

But an electric unicycle is easy to bring along wherever you go. Some have a handle to roll them with you like a piece of hand luggage. Others come with a bag or carrying strap.

Bigger Wheels are Better

Electric skateboards have four skinny little wheels. Inline skates have a series of skinny little wheels. Small wheels seem to work great as long as you’re riding a smooth surface. 

Once you have to deal with an actual street environment, every small bump or dent becomes a challenge. 

Sure, it’s possible to steer around those or just deal with the impacts.

But why would you, if you could simply roll over it with a bigger wheel? 

Electric unicycles pack the biggest wheel in the smallest package. It’s basically nothing but a wheel and a few footholds. So, you get a comfortable ride that can easily be carried on a train or stored under a desk.

The Drawbacks

If you already know how to ride a bike, or skate, or skateboard, you will have some transferable skills. But you will also need to stop what you are doing and take the time to learn one more new skill – riding your new electric unicycle.

You may also find that riding an electric unicycle is a little bit more physically taxing if your last mile is a last two miles or five miles. 

Some of the more powerful electric unicycles can be heavy to pick up. If you want range and speed, you need bigger batteries. It’s important to test this before you choose one.

And electric unicycles can be a little bit more challenging when navigating steep hills, both up and down. Most are more than powerful enough but it feels weird to be leaning that way.

Go on – admit it. You want to try one for yourself. There really isn’t any substitute for taking an electric unicycle for a test drive. At the very least, you can say you did it. And who knows – you might find yourself having more fun on your commute than you ever thought possible.

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