On Tuesday night I made the mistake of climbing the fence that surrounds the convention center parking lot where our trailer is stationed. I don’t exactly remember what happened, but I made it to the top, remember it wobbling, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground in a lot of pain. I badly injured my right foot. Normally this wouldn't be much of an issue besides the pain, but I had a rideables shoot less than 12 hours later.
I limped back to the hotel in excruciating pain, and when I woke up the next morning my foot was red, swollen, and hot. I was still in just as much pain, if not more. I thought I was screwed. How could I possibly get on the Onewheel when I could barely walk?
Last CES I rode a prototype Onewheel (with two good feet) and wasn't impressed. Conceptually it was extraordinary — it's a self-balancing board with a go-kart tire in the middle — it's not technically a skateboard, but it's still cool. Sadly, it failed in execution: I couldn't figure out how to stop and just did not feel safe riding it.
But on Wednesday morning on the UNLV campus sidewalks, I rode a final production model Onewheel with completely reworked electronics. It works like the old Onewheel — you step on the board, the self-balancing mechanism kicks in, you lean forward to accelerate and backward to stop or reverse — but this time the riding experience blew me away. The moment I stepped on the board I was able to ride with no problem. I could balance easily, and I could actually come to a complete stop without bailing — I could even flip my feet and ride in switch. And much to my surprise, my foot didn’t even hurt because I wasn't applying a lot of pressure on it. Riding the Onewheel requires nearly zero effort. That's what makes it so special.
Last year’s Onewheel was unstable and wonky. The final production model is the exact opposite. Besides riding being a charm, the Onewheel has headlights and taillights that dynamically switch when you change directions — it's really neat. One of only a few drawbacks of the Onewheel is its range: you can only travel six miles before the battery dies (about an 40 minutes to an hour of riding time), but the company says the included charger will juice you from from 0 to 100 percent in 20 minutes. There's also a dedicated app that allows you to switch between riding modes (slower and faster) and shows you relevant data like trip length, speed, and battery percentage. $1,500 is certainly a steep price tag, but this rideable is a tank no matter the terrain: concrete, grass, gravel, hills, puddles, and curbs.