Segway Introduces Intimidating Electric Unicycle That Self-Balances

Segway's new One S1 requires a certain level of fearlessness.


"The One S1 is not for everyone." Truer words have rarely been posted on a product website. Although it is self-balancing, Segway's new electric unicycle still requires a certain level of fearlessness to ride. Having good health insurance couldn't hurt, either.

Sporting a magnesium alloy frame and customizable LED lights, the One S1 electric unicycle runs on two 150 watt-hour lithium-ion batteries. The 25-pound device has a max speed of 12.5 mph and a 15-mile range. Its adjustable speed can be controlled via Bluetooth through a dedicated Segway app. And it comes with a tutorial.

People with a certain skill set can learn to ride the unicycle in about an hour, although it may take other riders longer, Segway's vice president of marketing and business development said in a recent press release. I'm not even going to tell you how long mastering this would probably take me.

If this device looks somewhat familiar, that might be because Solowheel has been producing self-balancing electric unicycles for several years now. Last year, LA Times reporter Jonathan Kaiman even called Solowheel "a sort of Segway but on one wheel and without a handle."

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Perhaps inevitably, Solowheel's inventor and Ninebot, the Chinese startup that bought Segway in April 2015, have clashed over intellectual property. The unicycles have a number of differences, though, including their exterior designs. While the Solowheel Xtreme has a slightly lower rated speed and shorter range than Segway's unicycle, it is larger and has a rated load of about 286 pounds versus the One S1's 220.

Charging time is four hours for the One S1 and a standard two hours for the Xtreme. Solowheel's rugged device is waterproof, Segway's isn't. There's also a cost difference. When Segway began offering the One S1 for pre-sale on last month, the price was $749. Solowheel's Classic unicycle sells for $995 and the Xtreme goes for $2,295.

Segway plans to debut their unicycle next month at CES in Las Vegas. Accessories that include a kickstand and training wheels will go on sale early next year as well. Until then, here's that safety video, in case you're thinking about unleashing your inner circus performer:

click to play video