A Complete Guide to Picking an Electric Unicycle
Unicycles get a bad rep for being a bit silly - they’re not considered a proper vehicle by many simply because they’re relatively uncommon. With the advent of personal electric vehicles, however, unicycles have made a surprising comeback and have evolved beyond simple pedal machines to take on qualities more similar to electric bikes.
Buying an electric unicycle can be a great way to improve your daily commute, find a fun new hobby, or join a community of like-minded riders who simply enjoy hopping on their machines to cruise along through their communities and explore.
If you’ve thought about buying an electric unicycle, there are a few things you should know about getting started, as well as knowing what to get for your first machine.
What is an Electric Unicycle?
An electric unicycle is a one-wheeled motorized vehicle. These are similar to traditional unicycles in that they are self-balancing, used for personal transportation and entertainment, and controlled largely by shifting the rider’s body weight. However, while a traditional unicycle needs to be peddled manually, an electric unicycle runs on a motor whose speed and direction are controlled by the rider’s shifting and gyroscopic movement (going forward, backward, or to one side or the other).
Electric unicycles have been on the market since roughly 2010 but caught on in popularity after 2015. In the 2020s, they have become much more affordable for the average commuter or hobbyist.
How to Ride an Electric Unicycle
Riding a unicycle follows many of the same balancing principles as riding a bike or other self-balanced vehicle. That being said, there is a bit of a learning curve associated with electric unicycle riding.
Practice in a Large, Safe Area
It’s inevitable that, in your first few rides, you’re going to tumble once or twice. So, make sure that you choose a large, open, and safe area to practice your technique. A local skate park or empty parking lot can be good options as long as there is little traffic.
You’ll want to make sure that you have the appropriate safety equipment as well. Always wear a helmet and consider investing in elbow and knee pads to save your extremities from scuffing at least while you’re learning.
Balance First, Movement Second
When you first start riding your electric unicycle, you’ll want to practice balancing on your machine until you can get a good feel for where your center of gravity is. Riding with one leg at a time, hopping on and off, can be effective in getting you moving. Practice standing still on the unicycle until you can remain confidently standing without falling for a few seconds at a time.
Once you’ve mastered balancing on one wheel, you can move on to actual steering and movement. Start with simple leaning; lean in different directions experimentally to discover what this does for your movement and speed.
Straight Lines Before Curves
After you gain your sense of balance and understand what different movements do for your steering, try moving in straight lines. Master starting, changing speed, and stopping first. Once you have that under control, you can work on turning starting with wide-angled turns and gradually working toward more precision.
What to Consider When Buying an Electric Unicycle
Though there are lots of factors that go into buying your first electric unicycle, the most important are budget, specifications, and company.
Balance Affordability and Quality
When looking for your first electric unicycle, you’ll want to keep in mind your end goals for the vehicle. Are you going to be using it as a main transportation method, recreationally, or as a hobby machine? Consider what the machine will need to do for you.
As a beginner, you should consider the fact that you have a fairly high chance of wrecking or damaging the vehicle in some way; as such, investing in a top-of-the-line machine might not be the wisest option. That being said, you don’t want to simply grab the cheapest machine on the market; it may not have the appropriate parts, power, or other specifications for your situation.
Try to balance a reasonable first-time budget with a high-quality machine that fits your needs.
Consider the Specs
As with any machine, you’ll want to carefully consider the specifications before buying, including
- Wheel size. EUCs come in a wide range of tire sizes, from 10” to 24”. Smaller wheels are easier to transport and move more nimbly, while larger wheels can get up to higher speeds and move across rough surfaces more smoothly.
- Motor power. The power you need is going to be dependent on your weight. If you are under 155 lbs, then an 800W motor will be fine for you. If you are over 200 lbs, you’ll need a 2000W motor. A good rule of thumb is to account for up to 20 lbs more than your body weight in carrying capacity.
- Battery size. The larger the battery you have, the more power you’ll be carrying with you, but your actual use time is going to depend on a wide range of factors including terrain, weather, frequency of use, and more. Smaller batteries are lighter and easier to transport but will need to be charged more often.
- Charger type. Some EUCs come with fast chargers that take fewer than five hours to charge the vehicle to full, while others charge more slowly but have more fail-safes in place to protect the battery and the system in the event of an unexpected power failure or surge. Consider what you value in a charger to decide which one you need.
- Spare parts. It’s always good to check and see whether your machine will come with any spare pieces such as extra pedals or handle housings. This can save you money if a small part needs to be replaced down the line.
Consider the Company
The company that you choose to buy your electric unicycle from should be one that you trust and whose work you’ve seen and feel safe using. Make sure that you’ve done plenty of research into the brand and company from whom you’re buying before you make a final decision, as you don’t want to accidentally purchase a faulty or low-quality machine from an irreputable dealer.
Electric unicycles are the vehicle of the future. They’re compact, powerful, and fun to ride on top of being great for the environment. If you’ve thought about joining the EUC riders, there’s never been a better time to hop on the pedals.
Looking to get into the personal electric vehicle scene? Alien Rides has you covered. We offer some of the best products on the market for electric scooters and electric unicycles by working closely with manufacturers and sellers who share our vision of providing high-quality vehicles to everyone. Our exclusive 2-year warranty covers parts and labor reimbursement, so you don’t have to worry about maintaining your vehicle; we’re happy to help.
Ready to get started? Check out our electric unicycle lineup to find your first vehicle.