The OneWheel ShredLights Integration Guide

ShredLights, the lights designed specifically for use with skateboards, an industry standard, beloved by all.

When I heard that ShredLights would be providing EskateHQ with some lights to test, I was excited. I found my mind racing, trying to decide which of my skateboards to try them on.

The Boosted? No, too generic.

The Killswitch? I don’t ride it enough.

My slalom setup? I don’t know if the world is ready to see those lights wiggling towards them on the Boston streets at night.

What about my old standby commuter, the OneWheel? That’s ridiculous. ShredLights can’t fit on a OneWheel!

UNTIL NOW.

Using the most advanced technology available to us at EskateHQ, we have been able to combine these two unlike elements into some sort of eskate chimera, even more powerful than the sum of its parts…

And now it is time to teach the world how, without any modification, hole-drilling, or general screwing-with of your beautiful OneWheel.

Welcome to the OneWheel ShredLights Integration guide.

It’s actually super easy. All you need is the OneWheel allen key, a ShredLights esk8 Combo Pack, 2 extra “stepped brackets” and about 20 minutes. (Use the “ESKATEHQ” promo code during checkout to receive a discount!)

First things first, you are going to want to unscrew the middle screws on the board. The ones that normally hold on the fender. I performed my install by mounting the stepped brackets underneath the fender, but I believe that a similar approach can be used without the fender, even if the screws are a little shorter.

Next, you want to align your stepped brackets over the hole of the screw, and then replace any screws/fenders that you might have removed. With a flat bracket, you will not have any leverage when you attach your lights, so putting them on and taking them off will be very difficult as the bracket will rotate. As long as you attach your stepped brackets tightly, the “step” will keep the bracket immobilized along the rail of the OW and enable easy attachment/detachment of lights.

Finally, attach your ShredLights. First by pushing the side with the light up against the outer tab of each bracket, and then by pushing down (hard!) on the lens until the other side slips over the inner tab.

I realize that this is a tight fit and that some of the lights might appear a little cock-eyed, but I have yet to have a light fall off in over 40 miles of riding with this setup. ShredLights did a really good job making sure that their lights attach firmly and are also rugged and water resistant enough to stand up to the crazy stuff that comes flying out of a One Wheel’s wheel well.

I have found these lights to be QUITE bright, boosting both my vision and visibility roughly 3x that of the stock lights. As an added bonus, I recently realized that my OneWheel’s stock tail light had gone out, and I was not very excited to send it back to Future Motion, so ShredLight’s products arrived at the perfect time.

It is true that your feet will block some of the beam coming off of the lights, but trust me, when you see exactly how many lumens these bad boys are pumping, “Are these lights bright enough?” is not going to be a part of your vocabulary.

Peep some extremely rare video footy of me commuting home at night with the ShredLights a’blazing. (note the enormous “V” of light coming out of the front of the board)

Aaaaaaand that’s why I stick to written content, sorry to subject you to that…

Until next time, keep it steezy boys and girls.

Check-out Shredlights here.
Use “ESKATEHQ” promo code during checkout to receive a discount at check-out!

The One Wheel 300 Mile Review

Welp, it’s been a while since I wrote about my decision to purchase the One Wheel as my first eskate, and seeing as my in-app odometer recently hit a major milestone, I guess I should check in with ya’ll with the…

One Wheel 300-Mile Review

It’s been a big year:

I had my motorcycle (and only method of transportation around the city of Boston) stolen.

(Looks good, don’t she? Some dirty thieves thought so too!)

My fair city of Boston received a paltry 43.8 inches of snow (with more expected on this balmy April weekend.

I adopted a lovely new workout routine focused on acrobatics,

and transitioned into the lovely world of eskate.

A big year has required a big wheel, and I am happy to say, that the One Wheel has been up to the task.

Learning Curve

How hard is it to learn how to ride a One Wheel?

Short answer, pretty difficult for normies, significantly easier for life-long skaters.

Due to the unique nature of the One Wheel’s leaning controls, and the balance required to stay on the hecking thing, riders need to have VERY strong ankles and a great sense of balance. In my limited time trying to teach new riders the ins and outs of OW-ing, I have seen some people take to it like a fish to water, and others take to it like a fish to a volcano. If you are used to board sports like surfing or skating, you will be in much better shape than most.

Luckily, the OW is built like a tank, so any slams or falls that the board takes during the learning process will not impact the performance of the board.

Here is a video guide to how Future Motion recommends you learn to ride the One Wheel:

For new riders, I recommend learning to mount the board next to something, either a person or a table (for you lonely-ass riders), to use as an assist as you get a feel for how the board activates, and suddenly “grabs” you to find your balance point.

From there, practice rocking from front to back while holding on to your balance item (person or object) until you feel comfortable enough to roll away. One of the most common problems that I see newer riders facing is that they get scared and try to stop stock-still. This is a huge issue because, even among veteran riders, you need movement to balance correctly. Try to avoid the instinct to freeze as much as possible and just keep the flow going, riding back and forth until you get a good feel for the machine! The OW is all about flow; if you lose it, you are going to have a bad time.

The next step is to take that bad boy out on the sidewalk and get used to rolling over all manner of crazy obstacles, slanted surfaces, and divots. You will learn pretty quickly that, though the wheel dampens a lot of the harsher road vibes, your ankles will need to stay strong and malleable to keep you safe and on the board. It is here that the onboard lights can be super useful for spotting uneven pavement or obstacles in your path that you might not have noticed before.

It is also worth noting that keeping up speed and flow is essential when moving over obstacles as well. Generally, the squared sides of the tire are not suitable for mounting small bumps, so they should be approached at a perpendicular angle, much like on a skateboard. Also, the more speed you have when attempting to clear a bump, the better, as the speed will help carry you over an obstacle that might stop you in your tracks at a slow speed.

Commuting

Is the One Wheel suitable as a commuter? As a man recently devoid of my primary commuting device, this was primary concern when purchasing the One Wheel.

I wouldn’t describe my commute as particularly difficult, 1.5 miles from my home to the train station, and then another mile and a half from the station to my work. My daily commute encompasses a few crappy Boston roads, covered in potholes (but with a few bike lanes), some sections on sidewalks and overexposed bricks, more than a couple of construction zones strewn with rocks, sand, and even the occasional wooden dock.

(Oh, and sometimes rain….a lot of rain.)

The One Wheel was very well suited for its task of navigating all of these hazards and more. Having a big inflatable wheel to roll over bumps and obstacles with impunity is an amazing tool for any Boston commuter, and the One Wheel’s ability to quickly turn and maneuver well at slow speeds made it easy to join with foot-traffic on sidewalks when needed. I would say that I feel comfortable piloting the One Wheel indoors, and have even gotten good enough to enter the train station, swipe through the ticket gate, and enter the platform without dismounting!

This leads me to my first minor problem: Sometimes the One Wheel’s method of dismounting is inconsistent, or too difficult to perform on the fly.

Future Motion states, To safely dismount Onewheel, always slow to a stop and then remove your foot from the rider detect area.”

This sounds easy in theory, but can be quite difficult in practice. Sometimes I find myself lifting my heel off of the rider area, only to have the motor remain engaged and begin taking me in an unwanted direction. Other times, I have had the OW turn off while I was moving very slowly or stopped waiting for a light. These issues are not really a safety problem but have made me wary of doing quick dismounts without grabbing onto something nearby to ensure that I can dismount effectively.

I now also take steps to keep moving back and forth when waiting for a traffic light. This serves two purposes:

  1. There is less risk that the OW senses you are trying to dismount and deactivates
  2. It is much easier to keep your balance while “stopped” by maintaining a little back-and-forth dance

Unlike traditional eskates, it is not practical to dismount and remount at every light. The OW also weighs 25 pounds and is quite unwieldy, so I find myself riding it everywhere I go, even if only for a short distance. I am by no means a weak guy, but lugging this thing through a train station to make a connection, or up and down a flight of stairs, leaves me breathing pretty heavy and breaking a sweat. Luckily the OW is rideable in most situations, so I am not forced to carry it very often.

Locomotion Experience

One of the biggest differences that I notice between riding an OW and a more traditional eskate like a boosted board is the mellow and “cushioned” nature of the ride. Not only does the OW put you on a large inflatable go-kart tire that is pretty good at absorbing bumps (though dealing with the bouncy recoil of the tire takes some time), but the forward/backward leaning nature of the controls also helps to mellow out any bumps or cracks you might hit on your travels.

Taking on speed is as easy as leaning forwards more, which can be dangerous for newer riders.. After a couple “nose-dives” from over-leaning and maxing out the torque on the motors, I learned that keeping your weight centered over the center of the wheel and pushing the nose and tail down with your feet is the optimal way to control the OW. I have not had a dreaded “nose-dive” happen in the last 4 months or so of adopting my new riding style, but I have had some close calls that I was able to recover.

Once you are comfortable on the board, it is possible to rip over all sorts of terrain as Slydogstroh demonstrates here: 

Jumping on a skateboard after riding the OW exclusively for a couple of months was a very jarring experience. I kept expecting the skateboard to lean with my body, instead of with the pavement surface. I won’t lie, I looked pretty kooky struggling to stay on my Boosted V2+ as it bucked and bounced just like it always did…

Range

I have been pretty happy with the range of the OW. My ~ 3-mile commute puts the batter somewhere around 40% in the colder winter months, which fits right in with Future Motion’s claimed 4-6 miles of range.

I did manage to perform one maximum range test and was able to ride the OW around 5.3 miles home after one particularly wild night. I did find myself desperately looking for outdoor outlets as I cruised home with >10% battery left at 1 am (I did manage to almost set the recycling room in a local supermarket on fire due to a charger issue, but that is a story for a different time.), but was surprised to see how long the board held on with even minimal charge.  Around the last quarter mile, I began encountering MASSIVE pushback from the board, as it elevated the front to nearly unrideable levels (I felt like Captain goddamn Morgan) before finally shutting off and leaving me to lug it the last 100 yards to my house.

Still, I was very impressed with how Future Motion programmed the board to alert the rider of a low battery issue, and now ride without fear that I will forget to charge my battery and suddenly find myself eating asphalt when the battery unexpectedly goes dead.

Bad Weather

Holy crap, have I really delved deep into testing this aspect of the OW. From pouring rain, and salty roads to 3 inches of snow, my poor OW has seen the worst of what New England has to offer.

(If you are from Future Motion and reading this, I am speaking entirely metaphorically and have been nothing but the perfect, caring owner to my OW, please don’t void my warranty)

The first time I took the ol’ gal in the rain, I did so without purchasing the (essential) fender for the board, and soon became intimately acquainted with the OW’s habit of picking up water with its tire and depositing it PRECISELY all over my inner front leg.

(It feels a lot like straddling a sprinkler head.)

Needless to say, I was a little peeved, and after purchasing an $85 “Fender Kit” from Future Motion, I found riding in the rain to be a, dare I say it, pleasurable experience!

The great thing about the OW’s design is that it keeps everything below decks, meaning that (with the addition of a fender) the pavement, pebbles, water, and snow are all separated from your tender, soft body by at least a few layers of ABS plastic. This means that, on rainy days, I found myself actually arriving at work DRIER than if I would have walked. Try finding a bike or skateboard that can make that claim! There is no better feeling in life than plunging through a puddle at full 18 mph clip and watching the water splash up and away to the sides of your feet, as though you are some sort of modern-day tech-Jesus. Just be careful not to splash any peds who might be walking near you, they are not very fond of being splashed.

Don’t believe me? Just watch Slydogstroh absolutely DESTROY a rainy day in Chicago:

I thought this thing was impressive in rain until I tried it in snow and icy conditions, and DEAR GOD does it enjoy playing around in snow and ice like a 1 year old husky. There is something about the design of the board, perhaps the fact that all of your weight is over one large contact patch, which allows the OW to retain traction and keep on rolling right through fresh snow. Looking back at my tracks, I was reminded of a Coast Guard Cutter in the way that the wheel shunted the snow to the sides as I forded my way through fresh, powdery snow.

Icey conditions is a slightly different story, with a similar ending. As long as you keep your weight over the wheel, taking care not to lean out far or change direction suddenly, you should find yourself slowly gliding over even the slipperiest of conditions. I actually found myself having an EASIER time riding the OW over some of the icier parts of my commute than I did walking them. This may be partly due to the sheer number of sharp rock chunks that I have embedded in my tire after 300 miles of riding. I think they may actually give me pretty good grip on ice…

(I do not advocate engaging in dangerous riding on ice and snow, the previous statements are made based on my experience as a trained professional on a closed course under controlled conditions, but seriously, it was rad AF)

Durability

This thing is built like a TANK. I am not someone who likes to baby their gear (read: I ruin my things), so anything that I use on the daily has to stand up to some pretty savage conditions, and the OW has done exactly that. As I write this article, my OW sits next to my desk absolutely CAKED in mud, dirt, and salt. I have taken it in the snow, pouring rain, through large puddles, and off-road at a local preservation, and it has taken everything in stride.

(Trigger warning if you like to baby your stuff…oops too late.)

I also like to make a point to let anyone who wants to try it out have a go, so it has had its fair share of pretty gnarly crashes and flips. Surprisingly, only the plastic nose and tail sections, the metal rails, and a few spots on the fender and wooden footpads show signs of damage, and that is purely cosmetic. Functionally, the OW is just like the day I got it, but that hasn’t always been the case. On to the…

Technical Issues

This might work better as a list.

Here are the issues that I have encountered with my OW since I purchased it in October.

  1. Rear tail lights no longer turn on reliably, I have seen them work sporadically and very weakly.
  2. OW refused to charge, reporting over-charged/empty battery sporadically for 2 weeks, then went back to normal. OW was not usable during this time.
  3. OW would not turn on after spending the night in a cold car, worked later on that day after warming up.
  4. Occasionally OW will not sense my dismount foot position and will keep moving, causing some less-than-graceful panic-jumps.
  5. Ran into nosedives twice within the first month of riding. These dives were very dangerous and unexpected, but I have since learned how to handle the board a lot better and have not encountered any at-speed for the last 4 months or so.
  6. Occasionally the board will turn off while I am stationary or nearly stopped (balancing at a stop light). I believe that it is sensing a phantom dismount command due to the stopped board, and have not had this happen at speed, so it is not a safety issue.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the reliability of the OW, save for the 2 week period where it would not turn on due to a batter over/undercharge issue. I was in the process of contacting Future Motion for a replacement and even bought a Boosted Board to commute on during this time. The fact that the board can run into an issue where it is suddenly inoperable like this is a deal-breaker for someone who uses the board as a commuter. I was late to work because the method of travel that I had become dependant on wasn’t able to fulfill its primary function.

That being said, Future Motion was very helpful in troubleshooting the issue, even if the OW ended up just fixing itself when all was said and done.

Conclusion

(Sick Shredlights integration instructable coming soon!)

Is this where I gush? Alright, fine, I’ll gush a little bit.

As I sit here finishing this article, my odometer sits at 328 miles. Doing some quick napkin math, that means that I have spent roughly $4.57 per mile traveled ($1,500/328 miles). While this number isn’t that impressive yet, I am just getting started. If I am able to ride 750 miles on this OW, then I will have hit the golden number of $2 per mile traveled. “Why is this important?” you ask? Well, as a city commuter, I must compare every method of transportation to the gold standard, Uber. Uber claims an average cost of $2 per mile traveled, so if I am able to knock out 750 miles on my current OW, every mile after that is just gravy.

Add to that the fact that I am having a blast zooming around the city, when I would ordinarily be crammed into a car, and the fact that I am getting to my destinations a lot sooner and having conversations with people I would never ordinarily talk to, and you realize what a remarkable machine the OW is.

If I was able to log 328 miles between October and April in cold, snowy New England, I can not even imagine what a Spring and Summer season on the OW will be like. I anticipate a lot more riding in my immediate future, and have even delayed getting a replacement motorcycle because riding this little wheel is just too damned fun!

I am deeply saddened by the fact that traveling with the OW on a plane is a monumental task, requiring you bring laminated documents, legal knowledge, a disassembled board, and the knowledge that you might not be able to take your OW with you anyway. Otherwise, I would love to travel all over the world with this bad boy and ride every type of terrain there is.

I urge all eskaters who haven’t to try the OW at least once. The feeling of floating around, off and over things is intoxicating and addictive. I look forward to getting up from my desk at the end of every workday and taking the stupid thing back out on the city streets to hooligan my way home, day or night.

That’s all for this week folks! As always, feel free to post your comments below and email me at [email protected] if you have any ideas for what you would like to see in future content. Special thanks to Slydogstroh for letting me use some of his awesome video content and shoutout to his sponsors The Float Life, HoverHooligans, Craft&Ride, Flatland3D and BoulderDenim.  If you liked his stuff you can follow him on Insta @slydogstroh.

Protect your Bean! The Triple 8 DH Racer Review.

Hey guys, Drew here!

It may be colder than the arctic tundra here in Boston, but that hasn’t stopped me for a second when it comes to eskating. Based on community feedback, this week’s article will be a review of a particular gear piece that might be the most important part of any eskater’s arsenal.

(Just some proof that I do indeed leave my house every once in a while and don’t spend the entire day on /r/electricskateboarding as some have alleged)

“Wear a helmet!”

“My best friend/mom/uncle/neighbor/cat died from a fall when he wasn’t wearing a helmet.”

“You look like an idiot skating without a helmet!”

These are just some of the phrases that will greet you when posting a helmet-less picture on a popular eskate forum. As with most hobbies in their infancy, eskating is primarily only done by the most technologically literate (read: nerds) among us, and as a community of nerds, it is only natural that there is a fetishization of safety that comes with the territory.

I expect that these more aggressive tactics of “helmet-less hate” will begin to lessen as eskating attracts more of a mainstream audience, but until then, I will be engaging in a continual search to find the best in safety gear specific to the unique requirements presented by eskaters.
That brings me to today’s review item, the Triple 8 Downhill Racer.

(If I didn’t know any better, I would assume this picture took place on a back-country snowboarding expedition)

When trying to decide on a helmet to purchase for my eskating needs, I had a few factors in mind:

  1. I wanted the helmet to be full-face with a visor to protect my eyes and face from the wind (because let’s be honest, no one likes skating around blind due to teary-eyes)
  2. I wanted the helmet to be light and streamlined for ease-of-use and transport
  3. It needed to be comfortable to maximize the time I would want to spend wearing it
  4. I wanted something that looked DOPE
  5. Affordability was a must, but I would have to balance cost vs quality closely, as protecting my head was NOT an area where corners should be cut.

This reminded me of an old favorite helmet used by myself and others during my DH (downhill) days, the Predator DH, but upon looking at the price ($450 for the newest version!) I noped out real quick.

It was then that I remembered that Triple 8 actually makes a more budget helmet specifically for downhill skating, the Triple 8 Downhill Racer. A quick trip to Amazon and $150 later, I had the helmet on it’s way with free 2 day shipping.

Looks:

(The side profile on this helmet sure is sexy.)

The first thing I noticed when unboxing this bad boy is how gorgeous the lines on this helmet are. Contrary to traditional, bulky mountain biking helmets, the Downhill Racer looks sleek, refined, and has a great finish. This is partially due to its fabrication process, which starts on a mold made originally for paragliding helmets. This gives the helmet a much smaller profile and a much larger field of view in front of you, perfect for seeing cars coming from the side, or looking up out of a speed tuck.

I opted for the black version with red and white pinstripes. These graphics, combined with the tinted visor, make for one badass looking helmet.

Fit:
I have a pretty large head, I typically wear a large or XL motorcycle helmet, so I opted for the Large/XL option for the Downhill Racer. I can report after getting a few rides under my belt that this helmet feels very small on my face. My chin is constantly in contact with the bottom of the helmet, and it makes me question the effectiveness of the full-face protection that it is said to offer. If I reach up and push down on the helmet, compacting the soft padding at the top, I can get a pretty good fit, but this quickly reverts when my hand is removed. I am hoping that this is a problem that goes away as the helmet “wears in” a little more.

Besides the issue with the chin, the rest of the helmet fits comfortably, with no pressure on the crown, sides, or back of the head.

Ventilation:
One thing that this helmet is NOT designed to do is provide adequate ventilation when stationary. At stops I find the visor fogging up immediately, and even when putting up the visor, I still fog up my glasses easily. This appears to be mostly due to the tight fit at the bottom of the helmet, which allows no air from exhaling to escape, forcing it to go up and into the visor-area of the helmet. Additionally, the helmet appears to be a closed system with no ventilation ANYWHERE, something that is very rare to see on a full-face. It is also worth noting that these data points come from some cold-morning commutes during Boston winter. It is entirely possible that this issue disappears once the weather improves.

At-speed, this helmet does a great job of staying fog-free, if you keep the visor cracked a little bit in order to let a breeze in.

(The sleek, no-vent look has great visual appeal, but really backfires from an airflow perspective)

Comfort:
Constructed out of a hand-laid fiberglass shell, this helmet is also EXTREMELY light. Tipping the scale at 2 pounds, it almost feels like you are wearing nothing at all on your head. The full-face coverage also gave me the confidence to hit higher speeds than I would have ever felt comfortable attempting without a helmet.

As mentioned before, the helmet does not have any points of tightness or discomfort, save the pressure on the chin from my abnormally large head. Airflow is poor when stationary, but improves at speeds of around 10-15 mph. Where this helmet excels is in eliminating wind-noise. It is here that the streamlined nature of the Downhill Racer really hits its stride, providing a quite ride up to my maximum testing speed, 22 mph.

(The inside of the helmet is the very picture of comfort. The EPS foam and velvet lining makes for a luxury experience)

Price:
At $150, this helmet is a steal. Similar helmets like the Sector 9 Cannonball and TSG Pass, come in well over the $200 mark and offer many of the same features as the Downhill Racer while weighing more. It is worth noting that this helmet meets CPSC 1203 bike and ASTM F1952 downhill mountain bike racing standards, but is a one-time-use EPS foam helmet. This means that you WILL have to replace this helmet after taking a hard spill or dropping it from a decent height, as the inner foam will crack, compromising the safety of the helmet.

Price: Great, Comfort: OK, Protection: Great, Quality: Great, Ventilation: Poor

I hope you liked this gear review. If you have any thoughts on what I have written or have a specific piece of gear that you would like to see reviewed, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at [email protected]

Until next time, let the good times roll!

-Drew

Ride Your Own Path: How I Picked the One Wheel as my First E-Skate

Hello dear readers, Electric Skateboard HQ’s newest writer here!

For my first article, I would like to take you down the journey of how I decided on purchasing my first electric board, but first, a little background about me. I have been riding, sliding, and racing skateboards for over 8 years now. From racing (and crashing) in competitive events to running from cops in the dead of night, skateboarding has left an indelible mark on my life and become one of my favorite activities, and far and away, most preferred method of locomotion.

(Me freeriding a local spot in 2010, please excuse the neon-green laces, it was a different time)

I am of the (rather strong) opinion that skateboards are a strict improvement over walking, and that, if everyone in the world learned to skate, we could solve most of our travel infrastructure problems instantly. As a Bostonian, I have found myself racing people in cars, buses, bikes, and even trains to get around the city and have always found skateboarding to be as fast, or often faster, than these more cumbersome modes of transportation, if slightly more dangerous. 

 But Why Skate?

Skateboards are light; you can bring them with you into most businesses and forms of public transportation. A wise man once said, “Why sit in a thing that runs on money and makes you fat, when you could be having fun commuting on something that runs on fat and saves you money?” On top of that, skating can be a very sophisticated form of self-expression. From wheels, trucks, and board cosmetics, to choice of gear* and even the style in which you ride, there is something about skating that lends itself to having a rich culture and identity element, much more so than biking or driving a car.

(*As long as you are wearing flannel. Always wear flannel.)

With all of this said and done, skating does have some shortcomings:

  1. You can do it in the rain, but you will be miserable
  2. Long distances can be very tiring and make you arrive at work dirty and sweaty
  3. Riders are confined to paved roads

As a skate-commuter, all of these factors had begun to wear on me. I hated having to walk to work in the rain or keep a separate set of clothes at work to change into when I arrived. At this point, I noticed that eSkateboards were really beginning to explode in popularity. I started to see yuppies zipping around Cambridge on the new Boosted Boards, and kickstarters popping up regularly for boards with more range, power, and speed.

Sadly, I couldn’t bring myself to pay the high prices of these new eSkates, not because I disliked the specs, but as a former skater, I noticed the low quality of the components. No way was I going to pay above market price for a Loaded Vanguard and some O-Tang wheels! I had much better setups at home. (At this point let me pause and say, that if Boosted partnered with Rayne or Landyachtz to make an electric Killswitch or Evo, I would throw my wallet at them faster than Predator Banshee can get off the line.)

At this point, I began to look into building my own custom eSkate. Sadly, the components were expensive, difficult to life-proof, and would require a fair bit of proficiency to spec out and then assemble. As a skater, I knew that I needed a commuter that I could beat the hell out of, that could survive the constant abuse of Boston’s winters, as well as my inane need to push my gear past its limits every chance I get.

This led me to the One Wheel. It doesn’t look that hot on paper with a top speed of 19 mph and a range of 5-7 miles, but it had a lot of other features that made it a very appealing alternative to the eSkates that I had been researching.

Those points boiled down to:

  1. One Big Wheel
  2. No Remote Needed
  3. Don’t Look Like a Fool
  4. Really Bright Lights
  5. Very Unique
  6. All-Weather
  7. Off-Roadability

  1. One Big Wheel:  

First of all, the One Wheel features….well, ONE wheel, but it’s one BIG wheel. The wheel is actually a big, inflatable, rubber go-kart tire, capable of eating up cracks, potholes, and most road-debris thrown its way. All skaters know the feeling of having to take a couple of extra cautionary pushes when cruising over sketchy road conditions, but with the One Wheel, this is not the case.

Boston’s roads (some of the oldest in the nation) are not exactly known for their immaculate upkeep; I have often been forced to jump off of my skateboard and walk for a couple of hundred feet in order to avoid some bricks that look like they were installed in ancient times by Christopher Columbus himself. Having the big, inflatable wheel of the OW looked like the perfect solution to Boston’s unexpected landscape.

(Anyone who has tried to ride a few blocks on this jank knows that pain)

 

  1. No Remote Needed:

One of my major gripes with most eskates is the need for a handheld remote. Skateboarding is so cool because you can do it hands-free! I have ridden back from the supermarket countless times with an armload of groceries, or ridden along while getting something out of my backpack, or answering the phone. Requiring you to use one of your hands to “drive” the skateboard takes the user further away from the experience, and is just another device that can malfunction and ruin your ride.

(An example of the awkward, “I’m holding a remote” stance)

The OW has only two rider controls:

  •       Lean forwards (to go forwards)
  •       Lean backwards (to go backwards)

As a lover of the “flow” of skateboarding, this is an ideal control mechanism. It keeps my body engaged in the control of the board, and keeps my hands free to balance, high-five strangers, and pat any adorable animals that I may pass by on my travels. Riders claim that these controls feel very natural, and also enable the rider to do something most eskates don’t: go backwards.

A quick youtube search revealed these controls in practice; I witnessed OW riders executing slides, grinds, stalls, and pivots on their machines, in much the same way that a street skater would tear up a rail or curb. I was enamored to see an eskate that had some trick potential Sick of watching hundreds of videos of kooky youtubers “cruising” down long smooth roads on their Boosted and Meepos, the OW was looking roughly 60% more fun at this point.

 

  1. Don’t Look Like a Fool

One of the biggest gripes I have with “hoverboards” and Electric Self Balancing Unicycles (ESBUs) is that you look like an absolute TOOL riding them. Rolling along in a neutral standing position has got to be one of the worst ways to travel. Compared to skaters, ESBU users are taking up twice the width of the sidewalk, and are about as aerodynamic as a brick wall.

(Let’s be honest, no little kids are going to see this guy putting along and go “Wow, I want be like HIM when I grow up!”)

Conversely, the OW allows the users to take a skater’s stance, narrowing your profile on the ground to the wind, and giving you an aggressive lean that (admittedly still not anywhere approaching “cool”) hopefully won’t cause EVERYONE who sees you to make some sort of Robocop joke. This wider stance also gives you more stability as you ride, which allows you more balance and confidence at higher speeds. What’s not to love?

 

  1. Really Really Bright Lights:

As a skater who commuted to and from work and school for around 6 years, I have definitely had my share of close calls with vehicles. Learning over time, I began to mitigate this risk by wearing hi-vis clothing, attaching reflectors to my backpack, and just generally attempting to become the human version of a Christmas tree.

The OW helps you out in this regard by supplying a headlight and taillight that dynamically change depending on your riding direction! It also bears mentioning that these lights are BRIGHTER THAN THE LIGHTNING BOLTS OF ZEUS. As in, do-not-look-directly-at-the-device-when-you-turn-it-on-or-you-might-go-blind, bright. This creates a really cool effect at night, where you seem to fly around effortlessly on a bed of white and red lights. It also has the effect of really freaking out some pedestrians, so I would recommend that you give people who look easily surprised some space.

 

  1. Very Unique:

One thing that I will say about the One Wheel is that it has a very unique and noticeable design. I was prepared to get some interesting looks, but not prepared for the number of people who would approach me to learn more about it, and even attempt to ride it! From old grandpa’s on the subway, to some of my more straight-laced clients, everyone wanted to learn more about the OW, and very few people had anything but wonder and joy to express. I won’t say that the OW is immune to random haters, but the vast majority of people seem to really enjoy watching the thing roll around.

  1. All-Weather:

One of my biggest concerns with getting an eskate was gaining the ability to commute to work (5 miles) in the rain or snow. If my ride couldn’t handle a downpour or an inch of snow, I would be better off just sticking with my old skateboard. Traditional eskates would be tough in the rain because, while they are mostly waterproof, the placing of the exposed wheels is perfectly set to rooster-tail water right up and onto the rider. As a downhill racer who has done a number of events on wet mountain roads, I was familiar with just how soaked you can get from this strange phenomenon.

The OW, however, is uniquely designed to keep all water UNDER the board. With the addition of an OEM plastic (or sick after-market carbon fiber) fender, the OW can self-contain all water spray below-decks. This keeps your legs dry, and your need to take an immediate shower upon arrival in check.

(Though you DO have to get a fender for it, or it will aggressively spray water at your front leg like a fire hose, as I learned my first time out in the wet)

 

  1. Off-Roadability

Even as a little kid, I fantasized about being able to ride a skateboard over any terrain. The only thing cooler than the effortless feeling of gliding over the pavement would be to continue right off of the road and into your favorite backwoods trail.

One of the coolest things about the OW is its ability to go anywhere and everywhere. Taking a quick look around youtube today, you can see that there is around a 50/50 split between OW footy that is on and off-road. These things can absolutely TEAR IT UP on dirt trails. The single, powerful motor built into the hub of the wheel combined with the large tire make the OW well suited for off-road riding, and I have even seen some users fit special treaded tires on their OWs for additional traction in mud and dirt.

(Even after just one week with the OW, I found myself surprised at the places I could take it)

All of these points, combined with the sudden theft of my motorcycle, led me to make the purchase of a new OW+. Since then, I have since ridden this strange device for over 125 miles, and have countless stories to share, but those will have to wait for next time!

I hope you enjoyed this little narrative of how I chose my first eskate; I apologize if it had less wheels than you were expecting. I would love to hear any feedback on my first article, criticisms of my process, or any requests for future articles, so feel free to email me at [email protected].

Until next time, let the good times roll!

-Drew