What is an electric unicycle?
Electric vehicles are increasingly making their presence known in urban landscapes, with vehicles such as electric bikes and electric scooters often taking centre stage. However, there is a less common but equally convenient mode of electric transport: the electric unicycle.
Electric unicycles: what are they?
Electric unicycles are single-wheeled, self-balancing personal transport vehicles. They rely on gyro-stabilisation to keep the rider balanced. Also known as EUCs or SBUs (self-balancing unicycles), electric unicycles are used for social and domestic transportation.
Unlike a standard unicycle, which is powered by pedals, an electric unicycle relies on a battery to power forward propulsion, making it faster and easier to ride.
There are some left-field EUC variations, featuring seats or sometimes even handlebars – but provided the vehicle relies on the use of a single wheel and uses an electric motor, they can still be classified as an electric unicycle.
With just a single wheel, an EUC may look like it is tricky to manage. While some practice will be necessary, the basics of riding an EUC can be easy to grasp – thanks to the inclusion of self-balancing technology.
How do EUCs work?
Just like e-scooters and e-bikes, EUCs are powered by a battery, removing the need for any pedalling. Instead, e-unicycles have stationary footplates on either side of the wheel. Different models have varying battery power and capacity, equating to varying top speeds and range.
As with an electric scooter, an EUC’s battery will have to be charged regularly. Battery power and battery charging time will differ between models but many are capable of covering greater distances between charging than a comparably priced electric scooter.
The self-balancing qualities of an electric unicycle rely on gyro-stabilising technology. It’s the shifting of the rider’s weight which creates an action: if you lean forward, the EUC will accelerate; if you shift your weight backwards, it will slow down and come to a stop – not unlike riding a Segway. Directional movements are performed by slightly tipping the weight over either your left or right foot, or by twisting your hips.
Each electric unicycle features a control board, which will detect shifts in weight and maintain the axial balance which keeps the vehicle upright. Although they are deemed to be ‘self-balancing’, the rider will have to put in some effort to maintain the side-to-side balance.
Given the unique riding technique, some practice will be required before you’re ready to take an EUC out for a spin in public. However, rest assured that this type of vehicle does not require the same level of proficiency needed to ride a standard, manual unicycle!
What can electric unicycles be used for?
EUCs are impressively versatile, and equipped to navigate a variety of terrain, but their true potential becomes apparent in urban environments. Many models are best suited to paved or tarmacked roads that allow for smooth cruising.
Many EUCs are constructed with cities in mind, with a carry handle and often a trolley handle incorporated into the design, allowing for easy portability. This is especially useful if you need to use public transport for part of your journey.
For the more adventurous, there are electric unicycle models capable of handling off-road terrain. Before purchasing, be sure to understand your chosen model’s capabilities. If you buy an EUC fitted with a road-going tyre but attempt to use it off-road, you may be in for a disappointing ride.
With their impressively powerful electric motors most electric unicycles are capable of tacking inclines that would trouble a scooter with little difficulty, provided they are sufficiently charged.
Are electric unicycles legal?
Where you can ride you new EUC will ultimately depend on highway laws in your country. In the UK, just as with electric scooters, it is illegal to ride an electric unicycle on the public highway. This is due to a complex set of laws which class EUCs as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs). These types of vehicles are prohibited from being used on roads or pavements, with potential fines in place for anyone found to be riding one in contravention.
An electric unicycle can only be used legally on private property, such as your own premises or private land – provided you have the landowner’s permission.
However, with the rise in popularity of electric vehicles such as scooters and unicycles, the UK government is under increasing pressure to reassess the laws surrounding their use in public.
Ready to purchase you new e-unicycle? At Scooters Direct we pride ourselves on our electric vehicle expertise. Check our selection of top-of-the-range EUCs, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.