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OneWheel Review: The Self-Balancing Stoke e-Ride

OneWheel Review: The Self-Balancing Stoke e-Ride

New awesome boards to ride pop up all the time, and OneWheel is no doubt one of them. For us boardriders, the OneWheel has a very familiar feel despite its unusual design with a single big wheel between our feet.

The OneWheel is like a moving balance board. At rest, the tail sits down on the ground while the board nose points upward. As the board starts to move and engage, it levels up, self balances, and reacts to foot pressure using a set of sensors.

Probably the most important thing for us is that the OneWheel uses a sideways stance, like a skateboard, surfboard, or snowboard. The other main thing is that it’s controlled by our body motion – no remote controller!

The OneWheel feels similar to a longboard or snowboard because it reacts to your heel-to-toe weight shifts, allowing you to carve. Unlike an analog board though, It also speeds up and slows down based on your front-to-back body lean.

This is all made possible by underfoot batteries and motion sensors in the board’s front and rear footpads which pass information from our body movements to the engine. A tech powered version of our analog boards.

Everything comes from our stance, feet, and weight shifts. The board turns and carves on a single pivot point – the big wheel. It can go quite fast (20 mph) and on any type of terrain thanks to the fat tire.

Check out the OneWheel Pint and XR models on Green Hat

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Who is the OneWheel for?

I’m tempted to say this thing is primarily for us boardriders. Can it be ridden by a non-boarder person? It seems so. Someone who performs decently on a balance board should be able to ride the OneWheel with a bit of practice.

Is it suitable for young kids? Officially, kids 14 years or older. In reality, a child would need to weight around 30kg (65lb) for the sensors to detect his/her moves. s/he’d also needs to have good balance, and wear protective gear (read on for safety).

Is OneWheel for mature or senior persons? Marketing says up to 86. Obviously, it depends on the person’s balance and fitness level. You need good agility and reactiveness to get on the board and to hop off it.

Which OneWheel to choose?

which onewheel to choose
OneWheel XR

There are two OneWheel models, the Pint and the XR. The Pint is smaller, lighter, and more nimble and portable for city transport. The XR is bigger, rugged and comfortable for longer rides and off-roading. It’s 2.5″ longer and 4lb heavier.

How fast can the OneWheel go? The official top speed is 19mph for the XR vs 16 mph for the Pint. OneWheel riders, however, regular ride both at 20+ mph – do it at your own risk though!

The XR has a lot more range: 12-18 miles vs 6-8 miles due to the bigger battery. Recharge time on the XR is only 60 minutes but twice as long on the Pint.

onewheel pint
OneWheel Pint

Neither model is cheap, but the XR is almost twice the price of the Pint.

OneWheel PintOneWheel XR
Tire size10.5″ x 4.5″11.5″ x 6.5″
Weight23 lb27 lb
Range6-8 miles12-18 miles
Top speed16 mph19 mph
Recharge time120 min60 min
OtherPortable, carry handleBulky, fast & rugged

OneWheel riding experience

In short, the riding feel on the OneWheel is pure boarding pleasure. The board has fantastic engineering and is solidly built (in the USA), quite an amazing product overall. Of course, no product is perfect – see the cons section.

As I mentioned earlier, OneWheel accelerates and slows down simply by leaning your weight forward or backward. This is awesome, hand-free and remote-free, very different from controller-based e-skateboards.

Turning and carving on the OneWheel is a big part of the sweet experience. Thanks to the single wheel, this thing carves butter smooth like a snowboard in power. You shift your weight from heel to toe, rotating your torso and keeping pressure on your front foot.

Average speed on the OneWheel is probably around 15 mph. You can actually take it up to 20 mph, especially the XR. Although going really fast comes with some safety issues due to the pushback system – see below.

When riding downhill, you shift your weight backward to control your speed. Particularly with the XR, you can ride pretty much on anything – dirt, rocks, gravel, sand, grass without issue.

Is it hard to ride the OneWheel?

If you’re a board rider (skater, surfer, snowboarder etc) riding the OneWheel is a piece of cake. If you’re a newbie but in reasonable physical shape (good balance, not greatly overweight, no major joint issues), you can typically start riding in under 15 minutes.

The main aspect of getting riding the OneWheel is shifting your weight distribution between your front and back leg, which quickly becomes very elatively intuitive for most people.

To get started, you place your back foot on the read pad, which is initially on the ground while the front pad is lifted up. Then you put your front foot up on the front pad and start shifting your weight from your back leg toward the front.

As you do this, you bring the board level (horizontal to the ground) which engages and self-balances while getting moving. It’s important that both your feet are well-centered on both pads so both the toeside and heelside sensors of each pad are actively engaged.

Once you’re at level, your turn your eyes and shoulders in your desired direction, and you lean forward slightly to increase speed.

Check out the OneWheel Pint and XR models on Green Hat

How do you stop on the OneWheel?

In order to stop, you first slow down with a subtle backward lean, shifting some weight onto your rear foot. Once you’re going slow enough, lift your heel off the front pad – which is divided into a toeside and heelside half separed by a blue line.

In order to shut off (disengage) the board engine and allow the board tail to drop to the ground, you simply need to lift either your front toe or front heel off the sensor pad. You can just press onto your toes to lift your heel up slightly.

The Pint has a newer feature that makes stopping even easier than doing the heel lift. If the Simple Stop feature is toggled on, you just keep leaning back with your weight on your back foot. After coming to a stop, the board will roll back slightly then disengage – the tail will drop to the ground.

An alternative to heel/toe lift dismount or Simple Stop is to just jump off the board with both feet together. This is similar to stopping on a longboard and requires a bit more agility.

Is the OneWheel safe?

A very common question is whether or not OneWheel is safe. The primary safety issue with these boards is the risk nosedive at higher speed, ironically due to a safety mechanism called Pushback.

Pushback is a built-in system in the OneWheel that makes the nose of the board lift up to indicate to the rider they need to shift their weight back. This is triggered when you approach top speed or an obstacle is detected.

The moment Pushback kicks in also depends on things like tire pressure, battery level, rider weight, terrain incline, an current digital shaping settings.

The big issue is, if you ignore the Pushback warning and keep pushing faster, the board will shut off and nosedive unexpectedly at speed. Riders have experienced nasty crashes – some without even noticing the pushback.

To work around this issue, some OneWheelers place small wheels on the nose of the board so that, in the event the engine shuts off at speed and nosedives, the nose will keep rolling on the ground, avoiding a dangerous faceplant.

Check out the wheels on my own board in the image below:

Check out the OneWheel Pint and XR models on Green Hat

OneWheel cons

Here are some of the issues often mentioned by OneWheel riders:

  • Pricey board, especially the XR
  • Nosedives are real – especially on uneven terrain
  • For non-boardriders, slight learning curve for mounting and dismounting
  • The XR is bulky and hard to carry around for commuting
  • Can’t hop on sidewalks like with a longboard – some add foot tucks
  • Can´t take a OneWheel on an airplane (big battery)
  • Can’t ride across deep water puddles (electronics might get wet)
  • Deep potholes can be treacherous – gyro may overreact
  • Pint has low range – must carry a heavy charger if going farther
  • Customer service isn’t great – many riders complain about it

OneWheel app: digital shaping

The app that’s associated with the OneWheel is pretty great too. You can use app settings to adjust the carving sensitivity of your board to your heel and toe movements, making it smoother or tighter carving.

Through the “stance profile”, you can also control the tilt angle of the OneWheel – whether you want to ride with the board nose higher or lower.

You can also make the board more or less aggressive and snappy by adjusting the way if reacts to the 13.000 calculations per second the processor makes

Frequently asked questions

Where is the OneWheel made? Where does it ship from? Can it be returned?

The OneWheel is designed and manufacturer by Future Motion in California. It ships from Santa Cruz.

The company accepts returns with 30 days of delivery but only if the OneWheel has not been ridden.

How much does the OneWheel weight?

The Pint weighs 23 lb, the XR weighs 27 lb.

Is riding a OneWheel a good workout?

Not really a cardio workout that will make you sweat, but your calves and hamstrings will feel sore after riding for an extended time. Your ankles, knees, and hips are also put to work to maintain balance.

You’ll work your core and legs more if you ride hard with a lot of carving. Carving on sand or rocks also gives you more of a workout. Carrying a OneWheel around will also make your upper body work!

Can the OneWheel go on sand?

Yes the OneWheel is great for off-roading, e.g. on loose rocks and sand. Also works great on dirt, gravel, and grass.

Can the OneWheel get wet?

A OneWheel can take some moisture and light rain but it’s not waterproof. You should never submerge it in water or ride through deep puddles as that might damage the electronics. If your board gets really wet, make sure you dry it well before charging.

Can the OneWheel go uphill?

Yes the OneWheel can go uphill on an incline up to 30º. Don’t try taking on steeper slopes, however, as you may experience pushback and gyro-related issues that can endanger your ride.

The OneWheel’s engine also allows you to slow down and ride smoothly downhill.

Can you overcharge the OneWheel’s battery?

You can’t overcharge the OneWheel battery by leaving it on the charger, so you can leave it charging all night without issues.

On the other hand, the OneWheel has a “Regenerative Braking” feature that charges the battery when going down a slope. It’s possible for the battery to overcharge through Regenerative Braking.

For this reason, the OneWheel mobile app has a charging state warning and notification that is triggered when the battery charge reaches 90%.

How long does a OneWheel last?

Most OneWheel owners agree the board is very solid and built to last. I’ve personally owned it for 2 years and have ridden it for close to 1500 miles without issues – I know people who have 6000 – 9000 miles on theirs.

Some riders, however, have encountered electronics issues, such as the board fighting back against them or failing to disengage even after they hop off. Servicing the OneWheel outside the warranty can be costly.

Check out the OneWheel Pint and XR models on Green Hat

Final words: is the OneWheel worth it?

As far as I’m concerned, if you can afford it and want to ride on land like carving in fresh powder, the OneWheel is definitely worth the investment. This self-balancing board is completely body-controlled and can be ridden on any kind of (dry) terrain.

Just be aware of the risk, which exists in all board sports, even more in electric boards. Take it slow at first and be sure to heed to Pushback warnings if you get them – slow down immediately and get ready to bail.

Better yet, get those extra wheels for the board nose as an insurance policy against nosedives.