Self-Balancing One-Wheel Motorcycle Tears Up the Beach

[XenonJohn] wrote in to let us know about updates and a recent test drive of an Electric Self-Balancing One-wheeled Motorcycle, fresh from the beach where he says it proved to be great fun to ride. The design and build have been updated since we last saw it as a semifinalist entry in the 2014 Hackaday Prize. The original, he says, “looked cool but was slow, cumbersome and really dangerous to ride.”

electric self-balancing unicycle - thumbnailSince then it has been completely redesigned and now has a super fat kite-surfer wheel, a front crash skid with damper, and a variable geometry which allows it to steer properly despite just having one wheel. It does this by allowing the rider to shift their position relative to the wheel, instead of the seat always being rigidly locked directly above the axle.

That steering is a pretty clever upgrade, but we do wonder if the new crash skid will have an atlatl effect and really launch the rider in a crash. Our gut feeling aside, it is designed not to plant itself in the pavement, but to slide along (without ejecting the rider) until the vehicle loses all momentum.

There is something about self-balancing unicycles that attracts experimenters, each of whom takes a different approach. We see everything from this device constructed mainly from a Razor Scooter to this more polished-looking unit based on an earlier Segway clone design. [XenonJohn] reminds us that “there is still much to learn in this area and you can genuinely innovate even as a hobbyist. Also, you can only do so much on a computer, you then have to actually build something and see how well it works. [This recent test] shows what you can do if you just keep on experimenting.” Video of the test drive is below.

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Commercial self-balancing unicycle

Focus Design sent us a video of their self balancing unicycle (looks like they’re taking on Focus Features too). The electric machine moves at 8MPH and lasts 1.5hrs on a single charge. It only weighs 24.6lbs. They say that new riders only need about 2hrs. practice. They’re building ten units to start for $1500 each.

Electric unicycles are nothing new to our community. We’ve long been fans of [Trevor Blackwell]’s electric unicycle. [Trevor] spent several months learning how to ride a regular unicycle before he could properly debug the electric version. There are several other designs out there: The Einrand-Fahrzeug has a wide wheel to make balancing easier. The eniCycle includes a steering mechanism. The Uniquecycle has a brushless motor in hub for a compact design. We did a roundup back in July that covers these plus many other motorized unicycle concepts.