A couple of years ago at the CES 2015, there was a demo for a device known as the OneWheel. At the time, it was a rare breed, being a personal transportation device that wasn’t an ebike, scooter, or electric skateboard. It was utterly different from anything created at that time. Fast forward two years later and the world is now full of these oddball riding technologies. There are now self-balancing unicycles, electric skates, and Chinese-made hover boards that only seem to burn or catch fire in western countries but never in China. The category has exploded both literally and figuratively.
To keep pace with the rest of the pack, OneWheel’s startup, Future Motion, went back to the drawing board. Now, after two years of intensive development and testing, the OneWheel Plus is finally out in the market, as it was shown once again at the recent CES 2017. It definitely helps if you have other board sport skills to fall back on. Snowboarders and skaters were almost immediately proficient, despite being a little wobbly at first, though this is certainly not a requirement because learning to balance on OneWheel may take some time for first timers, but certainly not impossible. But just like learning skateboarding for the first time, it is recommended to wear elbow and knee pads and a helmet.
In the new generation OneWheel Plus, Future Motion basically improved all the fundamental tech inside the original vehicle. It has a bigger battery that charges faster and lasts longer, a more powerful hub motor, and a handful of little design improvements that boosts the overall riding ability of the vehicle. In addition to the new state-of-the-art lithium iron phosphate batteries, the Plus also ships with a redesigned “supercharger” that allows the batteries to fully recharge from empty to 100 percent in just 20 minutes. Each full charge will get you a range of 6-8 miles.
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Whereas the original board featured a flat standing platform, the new board’s wooden deck features a slight upturn in the tip and tail, which makes standing with a wide stance a bit more comfortable. On top of that, the board’s front foot sensor pad now covers the entire platform, which makes mounting and dismounting less of a chore. The Plus’s new Hypercore brush-less motor is a dramatic improvement because it is more efficient with extended range and has more torque that makes it go faster and climbs hills better, with a much smoother ride. Acceleration and deceleration aren’t jarring in the least, and the motor makes barely any noise while you ride.
It’s funny that the company is still selling the original for just $200, but if you value performance and reliability in a personal vehicle then the OneWheel Plus is the one you should buy. It has absolutely no problem with rougher terrain. Its big go-kart wheel allows it to ride over gravel driveways, small potholes, and even muddy patches of grass. This makes it far more free and dynamic than a traditional longboard wherein you don’t have to hop off and hoof it when the going gets rough so you can just bend your knees and charge through. It also handles moisture and puddles on the road quite well even on rainy days.