Electric unicycles are becoming more and more popular, as people discover the joys of riding them. However, many people don’t realize that torque is an important factor in how well an electric unicycle climbs hills. In general, smaller wheels have an easier time accelerating and are lighter, which makes them easier to climb with. However, this doesn’t mean that the torque or power of a smaller wheel is superior to a bigger wheel – the size of the wheel definitely affects the climbing ability of the electric unicycle, but the battery capacity and power of the motor are also important factors.
In this article, I show you why torque is important for electric unicycles. I also show you a few electric unicycles (EUC) with high torque motors that generate a lot of power for their size.
Top 3 Editorial Picks: Best Electric Unicycles With Powerful Motors (High-Torque EUCs) 🏆
- Veteran Sherman Max (see more details and review) (Gold Standard)
- King Song S22 Eagle (Mid-Range Suspension Technology)
- King Song 16x (Most Popular Budget Model)
What is Torque?
When it comes to electric unicycles, torque is an important factor in determining how well the vehicle can climb hills. In general, smaller wheels have an easier time accelerating and are lighter, which makes them easier to climb with. However, this doesn’t mean that the torque or power of a smaller wheel is superior to a bigger wheel – size definitely affects the climbing ability of the electric unicycle, but the battery capacity and power of the motor are also important factors.
The physics behind torque are complicated, but in essence, torque is a measure of how effectively a motor can apply turning force to an object. This force is what allows electric unicycles – and other vehicles – to climb hills. By understanding the basics of torque, you can make a decision about what wheel is best for you.
An Example of Torque (Non-Motorized)
To understand torque at its most basic sense, it can be useful to describe a common application in a bicycle that isn’t motorized. If you apply force to your bicycle pedals with your feet, you can make the wheels turn and go forward or backward depending on which direction you are pedaling.
This is torque in a manual pedal-powered bicycle: If the wheel turns in the direction you wish to travel, it does so because of the “pushing power” or force you apply to make the pedals turn in a circle. In this machine, the pedals directly drive and translate your power (from your legs) into a cyclical motion of the wheel–which then translates to forward (or backward) movement.
The Importance of Torque in an Electric Unicycle (EUC)
So how does torque apply to an electric unicycle? If we were to compare an EUC to a bicycle wheel, then the bicycle wheel-axle and pedal crank arm would be combined into the motorized hub and wheel. The torque of the motor in an EUC determines how much power the motorized hub can produce to turn the wheel.
A high-torque EUC motor is able to produce a high amount of power (or force) to turn the wheel. Less torque means less wheel-turning power. As a result, the torque of an EUC motor is directly related to its direct power rating to spin.
However, the diameter of the wheel and hub (the size of the EUC wheel) also contributes to how much torque contributes to the overall propulsion force of the electric unicycle. For example, if two EUCs have the same motor power, the EUC with the smaller wheel diameter will “feel” like it has more torque.
Why is this? Well, here’s why….
Large Versus Small Wheel EUC
Let’s start with the bigger EUC, e.g., larger wheel and hub. A larger wheel with a larger hub diameter is able to use its greater surface area to apply more torque than a smaller wheel. It’s the old “more contact means more power” idea.
As an example of this, think about pushing against a wall with your hands–it’s easier to push when you have two flat palms making contact with the wall than it is to push when you have your palms together. In this example, the larger area of contact on two flat hands is able to apply more force to an object than a smaller surface area from your palms touching each other.
In order to put all of these concepts together, let’s compare two EUCs–one with a smaller wheel and one with a larger wheel. The first EUC has a motorized hub that’s 10 inches in diameter. The second EUC has a motorized hub that’s 20 inches in diameter. Both of these machines have the same total torque, but they deliver it to different sized wheels.
Torque = Force x Distance (which is related to wheel diameter)
Force (to move a wheel) = Torque/Distance
If Torque (T) is equal between two EUCs, then the EUC with a smaller wheel (lower Distance (D)) will have greater Force (F) exerted on the ground. Thus, the smaller EUC will have better climbing ability and acceleration.
In order to figure out how much power the smaller wheel can apply to climbing, we need to take into account both the torque of the motor in its ability to turn the wheel and how much surface area is actually in contact with the ground.
Both machines have a total of 100 N-m (or 73 ft-lbs) of torque available, but that power (measured in watts or “w”) has to travel through a smaller surface area in the smaller wheel. In other words, for a given amount of torque, a larger wheel can exert more power or leverage than a smaller wheel because it has a greater effective contact area to push against.
Consequently, although these two EUCs may have the same total amount of power available (100 N-m), they will both perform differently on an incline because of how their torque is applied to their wheels.
This comparison shows why it’s important to keep in mind the relationship between wheel diameter and motorized hub size when considering how well an electric unicycle can tackle inclines. The greater the diameter, the more torque is available to apply as watt power to that larger surface area of wheel, and therefore a machine with a larger wheel diameter should have greater climbing abilities than one with a smaller wheel.
So what does all this mean? It means that the wheel diameter of your EUC plays a role in how much torque can be generated, but it is equally important to consider what the effective circumference (or diameter) of the wheel is.
What About the Weight of the Larger EUC?
The weight of a larger diameter EUC, however, also matters. While the wheel diameter may tell you how much torque is applied to the wheel, it doesn’t necessarily mean the EUC will be able to climb any easier because of its weight.
A smaller wheel, for example, may actually be able to climb a hill better than a larger wheel (with more torque and power) due simply to its lower weight. Also note that a larger wheel takes more energy to spin a single revolution (a full turn of the wheel needs to travel a longer distance).
In this case, a smaller wheel has better instantaneous acceleration (or force generated over time). This means is a lighter EUC with a smaller wheel and hub can accelerate to its top speed faster than a larger EUC on a flat surface or on an incline.
Additionally, smaller wheels are able to change their center of mass more quickly than larger wheels with larger hub motors. This increased agility can make a smaller wheel EUC easier to control on steep hills, where the rider will need to apply more torque and power very quickly in order to change the vehicle’s center of mass.
The combination of a lighter weight and a lower center of gravity may give a small wheel EUC an edge when it comes to controlling your machine on steep hills. With that said, however, you should also consider the total amount of power available to your machine when considering its climbing ability.
Ultimately, both larger and smaller wheeled EUCs have advantages and disadvantages.
The Power of Torque in an Electric Unicycle (EUC)
So far we’ve talked about how certain key components and variables affect both the overall speed and uphill performance of an electric unicycle: size and weight, voltage
When comparing the torque of electric unicycle motors, it’s important to look at both measured units (kilo-Newton meters) and watts. A high-watt motor may not be high-torque – it’s possible for a low wattage motor with high torque to perform better than a higher wattage motor with less torque.
The wattage of a motor is the product of its voltage and current. Since electric unicycles can have a maximum voltage from 84-134V (volts) (so far, our technology niche hasn’t given more than this), it’s possible for a high wattage machine to have less torque than a lower wattage machine with higher torque.
In general, larger wheels will be more efficient at climbing hills, but they won’t climb hills as fast as a lighter, smaller wheel may. If you only have the option of choosing between two different EUCs with varied wheel sizes, it’s important to consider how each machine weighs and what the power is like for each potential vehicle.
Electric Unicycles with the Best Torque (Hill Climbing Ability or Acceleration)
There are a lot of different electric unicycles on the market these days, and when it comes to climbing hills, torque is an important factor in determining how well the vehicle can perform. In general, smaller wheels have an easier time accelerating and are lighter, which makes them easier to climb with.
However, this doesn’t mean that the torque or power of a smaller wheel is superior to a bigger wheel. The size of the wheel definitely affects the climbing ability of the electric unicycle, but the battery capacity and power of the motor are also important factors.
So which electric unicycle is best for climbing hills? In my opinion, there are several great high torque EUCs that can climb hills like a goat–with limitations primarily coming from heat dissipation. Though not mentioned here, torque and power through an electrically powered system generates heat, a lot of heat.
Here are 8 of the best electric unicycles (EUCs) with high torque with excellent power-to-weight ratio for climbing hills and accelerating to top speed from a standstill:
- King Song 16x (my all time favorite)
- Inmotion V12
- EXN HT (high-torque)
- Begode Commander HT (high-torque)
- Veteran Sherman Max (see more details and review)
- Begode Master
- King Song S22 Eagle
- Begode MCM5v2
Yes, I do realize there are other EUCs with excellent power-weight ratio, but these EUCs stand out for various reasons. What better way to see a machine’s true potential than with a team of riders putting it through its paces?
No matter what EUC you choose, keep in mind that the most important thing is to have fun! Remember, riding an electric unicycle isn’t supposed to be torture. More powerful EUCs give you the horsepower to accelerate faster, climb steeper hills for longer periods of time, and allow heavier riders to push their wheels without fear of a cut-out.
High Torque Electric Unicycles Provide the Best Ride for Heavy Riders
A heavy rider is anyone over 170-190lbs (78kg), which is probably most of us in the EU and USA. The reason why heavy riders want a high torque unicycle is because we need more power to get up hills and accelerate quickly. For the most part, I would recommend anyone worried about riding faster than 15-20mph on flat terrain farther than 30 miles, or rolling hills for more than 20 miles, should choose an EUC with a nominal power output of more than 2000 watts.
For example, three popular EUCs for heavier riders include:
These electric unicycles are some of the best e-unicycles available for heavy riders or EUCs weighing–Yes, there are others and more coming to market. Each one of these three high torque unicycles has at least 84-100v nominal voltage (which governs electrical efficiency and power output to the motor), with the majority having over 2-5k watts of peak output on-demand over the range of the battery pack. You’ll want this kind of consistent power to deliver the torque necessary to keep you balanced at speeds over 20mph for those 30-50 miles top end range.
Torque Pads Leverage an EUCs Motor Power
One way to help leverage the power of the electric unicycle motor is to add torque pads or power pads to the wheel. These pads help to increase the surface area of your legs to the EUC, which let you lean into the electric unicycle and demand more power from the motor.
High speed EUCs, even the fastest electric unicycles will not reach their top speed without solid leverage from your body and legs. All the speed that comes from the EUC requires that the rider weight shift forward over the axle. By using power pads, you can reach max speed while maintaining high speed stability.
Battery size, smaller wheels, or even bigger wheels will not matter if you can’t add engage the power within the hub motor. Constantly pushing your EUC requires you to lean forward without slipping or letting up. Sure, advanced riders who tend to choose riding terrain that is flat and smooth can take the fastest electric unicycle to high speed.
But, for the best euc with torque and power, you’ll want to add some type of padding to grip your EUC to push through wind resistance at high speeds, or when climbing hills. I highly recommend either using Clark Pad or Grizzla Pads. Both will increase the surface area of your legs/feet to the wheel and give you more control to leverage your EUC where you want it to go.
High Horsepower and Torque or Suspension EUC?
You can certainly find suspension EUCs with good torque. With a full suspension systems, the control board and rider “float” over the surface. These new class of electric unicycles have smaller batteries than EUCs of similar wheel diameter, which means they can’t reach the top speeds or long range of non-suspended EUCs, such as the Veteran Sherman.
The best electric unicycle in the future may include both suspension, high-torque systems, with excellent power-to-weight ratio designs. However, until that time, you should be aware that a suspension system comes at a cost, including reduced torque.
On the other hand, suspension electric unicycles have other features that allow you to take them off road. With a big tire or large tire along with suspension, these suspension wheels can travel with more speed over unpredictable surfaces where other electric vehicles dare not go. In group rides, I expect to see more a larger showing of these suspension EUCs, as they become more popular.
The King Song S18 is a great entry level EUC with suspension and a great first electric unicycle that provides you with a good balance of torque, speed, and safety. For those looking for the best bang for their buck in a suspension EUC with power and versatility, the KS S18 is still considered one of the best value suspension wheel EUCs.
As monowheel technology improves with electric unicycles, the broad field of personal electric vehicles (PEV) will discover EUCs as some of the most powerful machines for moving people around outside of electric cars and e-motorcycles. This will be due to the fact that EUCs have the best ratio of weight-to-torque compared to other forms of transportation where power-weight ratio is important.
And that’s why “torque” is important for electric unicycles!
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