They promised in the future that we would have hoverboards and that the Cubs would win a World Series. Back to the Future got it right - so the World Series win was a year off but it happened and Future Motion delivered on the board which leaves many with a feeling very similar to “floating.”
For context - I grew up riding Huffy bikes and customized no-name skateboards with aftermarket parts. I never had a Hutch or Mongoose bike or a Tony Hawk or Powell Peralta board - but rode them enough to figure out what made them special and what was marketing. I recall slapping a set of Kryptonics C-65 wheels and bearings on my board - changed the ride - changed my life:-) I skated for fun and transportation - no helmet or pads - the good old days.
So I knew how to ride - but I wasn’t a “skater dude.” Great balance but I never found my way to an empty swimming pool; all those near me stayed full!
[Fast-forward 30 years] - This past summer, ahead of the annual family vacation, I was looking at boosted boards. I had seen a few but never owned one. Lupe Fiasco’s Kick, Push captures the feeling of freedom a board gives you; extending the coast only makes it better right? ...That feeling of almost weightlessness you get right after the push; one foot on the board, one in the air and your entire body rising up and moving forward at the same time.
My research brought me to the OneWheel which I had first heard of a couple years ago. Now I was looking at the 3rd generation - the OneWheel Plus XR. It claimed a range of up to 18 miles, decent cruise speeds (19+MPH) and could conquer all kinds of terrain...even the beach!
The one downside to skateboards - boosted or not, has always been that you need relatively flat or paved surfaces. So when your friends on bikes cut across the lawn - your back on foot, board in hand - running behind them.
To be fair, there are absolutely some boards that push the boundries. Consider All-Terrain Boards like the Carbon GT
or something like a human powered Atom board. Generally, to adapt a board for more severe terrain - wheels are swapped out for tires and the board itself is stretched a foot or more versus traditional skateboards. These changes improve the handling and add some degree of suspension which is crucial to soaking up the punishment the trail will dish out.
I hold these two boards out as examples of what is out there on the continuum of price and performance; there is no shortage of options.
Ultimately, what tipped the scale for me in favor of the OneWheel was the fact that road/trail conditions could be much more varied and spontanious than for a skateboard. (Mental note - I do plan to try some boosted boards at some point.)
OneWheel Plus XR
It took a little less than three weeks to arrive (here on the east coast).
Once I ordered the OW, I had a few weeks to figure out all of the aftermarket mods avalialble while I awaited delivery. Based on the countless posts I read, I decided to buy:
~ Float plates | These mount to the bottom of the board help protect it from abuse.
~ Sidekicks | Adhere to the OW's rails and protect the aluminum from scratches while adding style.
~ Fender | Keeps dirt and debris from lining your inseam as you get more adventurous in your floats. Recently, Future Motion released additional colors.
~ Handle | The OW weighs about 27lbs - the handle allows you to carry it horizonally which is much easier than vertically if you are walking more than a few feet.
*Note: I don't know the companies linked to above, nor was I compensated to promote them. I purchased thier products personally and recommend them (or not) based on my own experience...now over 300 miles worth of testing.
I installed the fender and float plates before my first ride. I highly recommend the plates if you want to avoid scratching up the OW. Scratches won’t hurt it and it can take a beating - but after dropping $1,700 - my preference is to keep it looking newer longer. Also, if you are into more extreme riding (e.g. dropping off curbs or rail slides), it’s upgraded protection for the batteries and electronics.
I installed the other upgrades within my first 5 miles or so as they arrived in the mail.
Helmet and wrist guards are a definite yes. Make no mistake, just like riding a bike, a skateboard, inline skating or walking to your mailbox - you can get hurt. If you ride, sooner or later, no matter how good you are, you'll fall. A helmet (a.k.a. brain bucket) and wristguards will serve you well. You can skip them for the walk to the mailbox.
If you want to level up the protection, springing for elbow and knee pads are a good bet. The more aggressive the terrain you travel or the more risky your riding style (i.e. tricks), the more you’ll want the protection.
True believers call it "Floating." Similar to snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing...you have to experience it. Once you do, you get it.
300+ miles in and it's only getting better. My first few miles were all about getting comfortable with the “new physics” at play. Since you control the throttle and direction by tilting the board forward or backward - your arms and hands are free to balance or carry gopro’s and groceries. *Seriously - having your hands free is great. On most boosted boards you'll have a hand control.
I was probably around 10 or 15 miles in before I began to “trust” the board and for moments at a time - relax and enjoy the float. Granted, I had put 195 miles on the board in just under two weeks - but it began to feel natural before long. Averaging better than 13 miles a day, I was getting tired before the board needed charging.
*TIP: If you are buying an OW (congrats!), spring for the +XR. It's a couple bucks more but you jump the range from 5-7 miles to 12-18 miles. Your actual range depends on the terrain, riding mode and speed but I can attest to getting well past 10 miles in single riding sessions without issue. If you search - you'll find plenty of mods enthusiasts have come up with to increase battery capacity. You can avoid the need from the start.
You’ll find that until you get comfortable shifting positions on the OW, you’ll have to stop more frequently to stretch out cramping foot and leg muscles. This is alleviated to some extent when you trust the board and “carve” more deeply. By shifting direction and weight from side to side you involve more muscles and ease fatigue.
To further help - you can swop out the stock rear board section for a concave footpad. The curve is more comfortable for the back foot and you can also opt for a longer section - allowing you to adopt a wider riding stance which is also more favorable on extended rides. I have not made this change myself but would consider it if I was going to do a crazy endurance ride. (Hmmmmmmmmm....)
Worth noting; the OW comes with a slick tire but many seasoned riders swap it out for a treaded tire. You have to disassemble the entire vehicle (read your warranty). There are plenty of video's of people doing it - so if you want to go that route, study up and take it slow. I'm rolling with the stock vega for now.
+ Built-in LED Head and Tail lights which automatically change based on direction
+ Very quiet because of the motor and the air-filled tire
+ Relatively easy to learn and the companion app make it easy to change "shaping" modes
+ Fast and ample torque for most riders and terrain you'll tackle
+ Extremely maneuverable
+ Lots of range and 12 - 18 miles making it viable for many to seriously consider it as a commuting option
+ Small size means it can be carried in places you can't always take a bike like on a bus (versus putting it on the rack in front)
- It can be heavy if you have to carry it far - more because of its awkward shape than its weight at around 27 pounds
- The price is significant - worth it, but still significant
- everybody stares at you like you're from the future...you'll get use to it though
To go forward you push the front of the board down. It only takes a slight effort, but pushing it further increases your speed. Unfortunately, pushing the nose too far can cause it t hit the ground - instantly jettisoning you. This is not a common occurrence but is possible because of the design. You can find countless examples of people recounting their first nosedive and some hardware to help guard against it (like fangs).
My first nosedive came at about 92 miles and resulted from me going up a hill on a pathed trail. I was trying to increase my speed and when I pushed the front of the board down, it hit the elevated ground and BOOM - nose dive!
The board can hit speeds up to 19MPH. Per the app, I have hit 23MPH. If you’re cruising around 10 or 12 miles and fall off the board (i.e. the board stops and you keep going), you can often run it out. That is to say that your natural instinct to catch yourself means you’ll put one foot out front, then the other. If you are going much faster than that - you won’t be able to catch yourself because you’ll be falling faster than you can run. Than means you end up on the ground; hopefully wearing the appropriate gear to ease the blow.
As a safety measure, the board warns you when your speed is nearing its limits. It does this by “pushing back” or raising the front of the board. You ignore this warning at your own peril.
Hopefully, you gleaned a few useful tips and are well on your way to joining the OW movement!
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