So, you’re trying to decide between an electric unicycle (EUC) and a OneWheel (Future Motion)? Maybe you’re just stalking other EUC riders like myself and wondering why they chose an EUC over a OneWheel. It is also possible you’re new to EUCs and second guessing your decision after seeing all the cool promos of OneWheels everywhere. Whatever your reason, I hope to shed some light why I chose an EUC over a OneWheel and perhaps help you commit to your decision in the process.
In this article, I will go over the following topics:
- Why I chose an EUC over a OneWheel
- The main differences between an EUC and a OneWheel
- Which device is better for commuting, off-roading, tricks, and long cruises
- What are the safety issues between the two one-wheeled devices
- The affordability and cost-of-ownership of an EUC versus a OneWheel
What is an Electric Unicycle (EUC)? A OneWheel?
An electric unicycle, or EUC, is a self-balancing personal transportation device with one wheel. They are powered by lithium batteries and have a motor in the hub of the wheel. The motor is what propels the EUC forward and is also used for regenerative braking.
An EUC comes in many sizes (based around its wheel size) ranging from 14 inches to 24 inches in diameter. The latter is a bit smaller than a road bicycle tire. The most popular wheel sizes are 16 inches, 18 inches, and 20 inches.
On the other hand, a OneWheel (OW) is a self-balancing “skateboard” that is powered by an electric motor. It has a single go-kart type wheel in the middle of the board. In contrast to an EUC, where a rider stands facing forward, a OneWheel rider stands sideways like a surfer on the board (right or left leg in front).
Both devices use self-balancing technology to keep a rider upright while moving. This is done with the help of accelerometers and other fancy gadgetry. The inherent risks, of course, between both electric devices is also similar.
You can buy a OneWheel at the Future Motion store, or other brick and mortar stores in the United States. For electric unicycles, depending on where you live, you can buy them at various places. A search online will show you vendors like LumBuy, eWheels, EUCO, e-Rides, AlienRides, and other online resellers.
Why I personally decided to go with an EUC over a OneWheel
Let’s dive into it. Why did I choose an EUC as my main micro mobility device (or personal electric vehicle, PEV, etc) when there are other devices like the Onewheel out there?
For the record, I’ve tried both over the last two years. But, it came down to two things for me choosing to ride an electric unicycle over the Future Motion OneWheel.
My thoughts on safety
Although I think the fun float factor of the OW beats the EUC in so many areas, the sideways stance, the simulated snowboard carving on asphalt, and the vibe of balancing on a skateboard style device, the EUC felt less risky.
Okay, so I admit, at my stage in life with a full time job, a family, and responsibilities, I play it a bit more safe than when I was in my 20s. The current speed I’m comfortable riding isn’t as high as it might have been years ago. But as an electric one wheeler, I can see how going fast isn’t that hard to do.
But seriously, with the EUC, I felt like if I took a spill, it would be similar to falling off a bicycle or even an electric scooter. I know how to fall off a bike (been doing it since I was 5 years old) and have dropped an e-scooter many times going off-road, hitting potholes; all of it.
On an EUC, I just feel like the chances of getting seriously injured are lower. Sure, the EUC goes faster but it’s predictable. Or, at least the risk of crashing, stumbling off are a bit more in my control with an EUC as compared with a OW.
I’m not saying you can’t get hurt on an EUC, because you definitely can (try to wear the best protective gear!) . But overall, in my opinion, the risks seem lower.
More range equals more fun?
Regarding range, an EUC can travel much further on a single charge than a OneWheel. This is due simply to the fact that an EUC has a larger battery pack for less cost than a OneWheel. The most advanced OneWheel GT has a battery capacity of 525 wh; while an EUC, depending on the model, has a 1,000 – 3,600 wh battery.
Are you trying to take a Onewheel commute? Are you taking a sightseeing one wheel NYC route? If so, range may not be that important. But for the rest of you… a bigger battery means less time thinking about whether my remaining battery charge will get me from point A to B.
For those wondering how far these PEVs go, a OW GT (larger than the OW Pint X) can probably get you between 25-40 miles depending your weight, environmental conditions, etc.
Even the smallest EUC can get you similar range; whilst the larger EUCs, which have the same cost as the OW GT, can go up to 70-90 miles on a single charge.
Do you know what “range anxiety” is? It is the feeling that robs you of a good time. With my EUC, I don’t need to check my smartphone app for battery level at every street corner. I know that if I want to travel somewhere more than 30 miles from home, no problem!
And, this goes back to safety. When the battery on an EUC gets low, your max speed is throttled and you have audible alarms and tiltback on the pedals to tell you to slow down. An EUC literally forces you to slow down when the battery gets beyond a certain threshold. Such a safety feature is on the OW, but it is easier to ignore or overlook.
The Main Differences Between an EUC and a OneWheel
From a more objective, technical standpoint there are noticeable differences when you compare a OneWheel versus electric unicycle:
- Learning curve
- Design features
The OW Pint and XR models have a max speed of 16-19 mph (up to 26 kph); while the more recent iterations, the Pint X and GT, can get up to 20 mph (32kph). An EUC on the other hand, has a potential max speed of 45-50 mph (up to 80 kph). Some newer EUC models coming to market may boast 60+ mph!
In terms of top speed, the EUC wins hands down. But, there are a few things to consider. As we know, accidents happen. The faster you go, the more likely you are to get hurt if you fall. This is why I think the EUC’s max speed, while impressive, is also a bit dangerous for less experienced riders.
Always wear the best safety gear you can afford on either device.
Speed is certainly a fun factor. And, if you’re looking for more of it, then the EUC wins with its top speed. Along with longer battery life (more about this below), you can go faster and further.
It’s really about battery life. When you are going for an adventurous ride with your favorite electric rideable, you want to ride on it as long as you can in a single charge. And, you want to know that you can get back home without any issue.
The OneWheel Pint has a range of approximately 8-10 miles (13-16 km), while the XR boasts 10-15 miles (16-24 km). The newer OW models, the Pint X and GT have an improved range of up 25-40 miles (40-64 km) on a single charge.
Undoubtedly, the EUC becomes the winner of this section as any model with a similar cost as the most expensive OW can cover over 60-110 miles (96-177 km) in a single charge. Check out the specifications on the Veteran Sherman.
Range is probably the easiest difference to spot between a OW and EUC. So, the next logical question is how important is range to you? If you only need to travel a few miles at a time and don’t mind recharging often, then the OW might be a better option.
But, if you want to explore new places without worrying about finding an outlet or carrying an extra battery, an EUC will give you the peace of mind to do so.
The OneWheel is designed to be portable. It only weighs 27 lbs (12 kg) and can easily be carried in one hand. The EUC, on the other hand, is not as easy to carry around. The average EUC weighs between 44-66 lbs (20-30 kg). Some models, like the Veteran Sherman or Begode Commander, even weigh as much as 88-90 lbs (about 40 kg)!
Of course, you don’t need to buy the larger EUCs; the venerated MTen3, packs quite a punch at only 22lbs (5.4 kg). This EUC model is tiny but can take a 180-220lb rider up to 23 mph and has a real world range of up to 30 miles. In its folded position, the MTen3 can fit inside a standard sized backpack or fit under the seat of a car or bus.
Almost all EUCs have a built-in trolley handle which allow you to wheel around the device like a lugguge suitcase. This came in handy during my business trip to Washington DC.
Certainly, this particular EUC feature lets you roll your EUC into almost any business establishment (with some exceptions) where you may be permitted to enter with a scooter or a skateboard. Places that I’ve tried rolling my EUC through include a local coffee store, a school classroom, the gym, and a few casual restaurants.
A OneWheel would allow you to do the same as it has a fairly compact form factor. But for any distance when you’re not riding the OW, you have to carry its 20+ lbs. For most people, this means using a single handle and switching hands often.
The OW also offers a separate carrying bag as an accessory, which will make it easier to transport your device; but the bag costs extra and you’ll still have to carry the bag itself.
I’ve mentioned safety above, so I’ll keep it short here. Both EUC and OW machines have dangerous riding situations and it’s not always about speed. To avoid future catastrophic failure, specific safety measures are an important factor to consider before using any electrical one-wheeled device. This is particularly true for riding at high speeds.
No wrist guards will protect you if you fall the wrong way, or crash into other people at group rides because you’re going too fast and your board or wheel cuts out. In terms of safety, there’s quite a huge difference when you compare the two devices: an electric unicycle vs a OneWheel.
In the safety department, EUC covers this category in a few ways. EUCs contain an audible alert and a tilt back system. For many models, you are able to set these alerts and tilt back limitations to any level you want to alert you of your preferred top speed, power demand, e.g., voltage/amperage, motor use, and battery remaining.
The OneWheel doesn’t have audible alert features when you’re approaching top speed or the upper limit of the motor capacity to keep you upright. A OW uses “pushback” where board tilting will push back on you if you keep going too fast or tilt too far. The safety margin in a OW is also based upon the reserve power in the battery packs, which depletes as you ride.
An EUC has a lot of battery capacity to keep you riding at higher speeds. As noted above, the audible alerts act as a secondary measure with tilt back of safety for the single wheeled device. EUC increased motor power combined with the ability to perform more physical work when riding over more unpredictable surfaces make the EUC the safer of the two devices.
The sideways stance on an OW also contribute to some of the other risks; creating a situation where the difficulty level of properly “bailing out” is higher than on an EUC.
Pushback for some riders is a controversial safety feature because it is difficult to sense when it happens if you’re not “tuned in” or paying attention the board’s behavior. In other words, pushback can be too subtle and many a OW rider have overlooked its warning. Lean forward too much, ignore the physical notification and you will experience the infamous “nose dive”–an almost certain spill to the ground.
There is an optional accessory called the “Lift Kit” for the OW that raises the board’s ground clearance, which can help prevent nose dives. But this kit is not fool proof and doesn’t work in all situations to avoid a fall. Also, these third-party accessories for a OW aren’t sanctioned by Future Motion and can lead to a void of your OW warranty.
In some OW models, others have complained that the pushback happens so fast or aggressively that it can risk throwing a rider off the board.
I would argue that an OW is the more durable device than most of the EUCs on the market today. This is because the OW’s motor and electrical componentry is better sealed (not water proof, however) and not exposed to the elements like on most EUCs.
I’ll note that more recent EUC designs are better for resisting environmental intrusion but still have limtiations. For now, most EUC enthusiasts perform their own sealing and waterproofing to protect their wheels from the elements.
OneWheels are also constructed with better materials, higher-quality parts overall, than compared with EUCs. They take more abuse and keep on running on a more regular basis than an EUC.
This does kind of make sense given the clientele for each device. You are expected to treat a OW like a skateboard; where as an EUC is more like a dirt bike or moped. You can ride it hard and fast over all kinds of terrain, but for the most part you’re not dumping it over and over.
Yes, there are exceptions to this for those who jump and stunt with their EUCs. But, these riders add padding and armor to their wheels to protect their shells and internals. And, even here, the jumping/stunt riders have to maintain and replace broken parts on their EUCs often.
In general, I think you’ll find the OW will have longer-lasting service life than your typical EUC.
This is more important for those of you who are just starting out on this single wheeled adventure. I would say the learning process is easier on the OW than the EUC.
The OneWheel board operates like a skateboard or snowboard that we’re all familiar with (or have seen). It has an intuitive appearance and feeling when you’re standing on the board. Indeed, there is some balance required immediately front to back, but if you’re familiar with surfing, snowboarding, or any other board sport where heel-toe balance is required, then you get the gist of it.
The EUC, on the other hand, looks much more complicated to ride and requires a steeper learning curve for most people. When standing on an EUC, you have to be aware of your weight distribution between your two feet at all times or risk the wheel tipping over from under you. And, an EUC only balances side-to-side when you’re moving forward (or backwards). But, it’s this side to side motion that lets you “carve” the EUC like no other mobility system on planet Earth.
If you are in a hurry and want to learn to ride an electric one-wheel device , then Onewheel is your best choice. OW contains a simple operative mechanism that anyone can easily learn to ride on in some minutes.
On the other hand, EUC is considered a bit harder to learn compared to a OW because it contains a steep learning curve. It took me about a week to figure out how to comfortably ride an EUC, and a bit longer before I was confident enough to take it on a sidewalk or road.
A OneWheel has lights on the front and back of the board. White lights turn on in the front (the direction you’re moving) and red lights for the tail (to light up the rear of the board). These lights switch depending on whether you’re going in one direction or the other.
The OW also has a really polished app for smartphones that displays information like speed, distance traveled, battery life remaining, and more. The app will also let you change the riding mode that affects response, tilt of the board, and many other riding behaviors of your OW.
EUCs have a variety of design features, including full suspension on some models, so it’s hard to make generalizations about them. Some have LED lights that dance around the wheel; some don’t. Other EUCs have powerful headlights that sent out hundreds of lumens like a motorcycle.
For those who want to take a break from all that standing, you can easily sit on an EUC (well, it takes practice) for a change in pace and ride style. Ever want to know what feels like to fly a fighter jet at low altitude? Ride your EUC seated in a crouched position.
You can ride seated on almost all EUCs (except the very small ones), which give them an unmatched versatility.
There are electric unicycles that also have bluetooth speakers built into their design. This is a great feature if you’re using your EUC for commuting and want to listen to music or podcasts as you ride.
The downside of the design features on an EUC is that they tend to be more delicate than on a OW. The lights and speakers are often points of failure that can break or get damaged by water if you’re not careful with them.
Other things with an EUC that I think are pretty neat is how modular they are. You generally have more options. For example, you can upgrade the pedals with larger platforms, some with spikes, like on mountain bike flats. There are side pads you can get to help you control the EUC in more nuanced or aggressive ways. Things like rear fender attachments and even seats are also available as aftermarket upgrades.
This is a tough comparison to make between EUCs and OWs. EUCs have a vastly more diverse model and format than OWs. Depending on the EUC feature set, power, size, etc., you can expect an EUC to range in price between $500-5000 (check out the prices for the range of EUCs on eWheels, for example).
In contrast, the price for a OW has stayed relatively the same since its inception at $1100-2300. The price for an OW does not seem to be as model-dependent as with EUCs.
I’ll note here that you will get more power, range, and top speeds in the EUC than a comparably priced OW. In other words, an EUC will give you more technical bang for your buck.
Well, What is More Fun?
Fun factor. If you have to ask, then you will never know. Both the OW and EUC community have strong opinions on this topic. Certainly, everyone would prefer their “camp”, but the ability to ride any of these wonderfully unique personal electric vehicles is a joy in itself.
At the outset, the OneWheel is most similar to electric skateboards. Unlike the EUC, which carries a steep learning curve to start riding anywhere; the fun starts almost immediately with the OW. My first experience with the OneWheel XR was rewarding and reminded me of riding down the bunny slope on a snowboard (I’m not a great board rider, but I got it!).
There are people who like the challenge of learning to ride an EUC and those that don’t; the same goes for OW. Some people think that the feeling of carving on an OW is the best thing ever and some don’t like it (or even understand it). OneWheel riders are often seen as a cult of people that love to ride and live the OneWheel lifestyle.
EUC riders are a bit more disparate group in terms of their motivations for riding. Some ride for commuting, some for exercise, some for thrills and speed, some for transportation, some for art, and so on.
Portability, speed, fun; how can you measure all these things and put a value on it? This is the eternal question for anyone trying to choose between an OW and EUC.
I think that’s why I’m drawn to electric unicycles. They offer so many possibilities and potential uses. I can see myself riding an EUC to work, across town to meet friends, or even taking one on a camping trip. The OneWheel is great for what it is, but the EUC offers more potential for me.
Broadly speaking though, the “flow” or “float” is how I describe that experience on either device (OW or EUC) when you’re on smooth pavement and your body doesn’t require any real input from you to move. The OW or EUC moves you in response to your body’s micro-movements. The machine becomes an extension of you and the whole world around you seems to slow down as if time has no meaning.
It is hard to explain, but both an EUC and OW will provide moments of “now” that you will remember for the rest of your life. Which device you choose won’t matter if you find “the right one”.
But, that’s up to you.
Is an EUC or OW More Practical?
Are you commuting to school, work, or just cruising around to see your local sights?
Do you live in the city or the country? How much money do you want to spend? All of these factors come into play when deciding if an EUC or OW is more practical for you.
An EUC can get you where you need to go faster than an OW and with less effort. An EUC will also be better at climbing hills and going over rougher terrain. If you’re commuting in a busy city, a moderately-sized EUC is probably the way to go. An EUC with suspension will also give you a comfier ride.
An OW is more versatile than an EUC for many situations, too, because it is more compact (less intrusive looking). Certainly both devices can be taken on public transportation, brought into your office or class, and ridden in more places than a bicycle because of its smaller footprint.
If you’re looking for a more rugged device that can go off-road and handle rougher technical mountain bike single track terrain, the EUC is going to be a better choice.
So, Which One Should You Get?
“Both”, says some of my friends. “But, only if you have the money!”
If you’re still reading this, then you probably know which one you want. If not, here is a short list of pros and cons for each device (with models of equivalent cost) to help you make your decision:
- Can go faster
- More powerful
- Better range (improving battery technology)
- More modular and customizable
- Less expensive per performance
- Bigger and heavier (most models)
- Not as intuitive or “easy” to learn
- High speed equals more danger
- Quality control and reliability
- More intuitive
- Easier to learn
- Smaller and lighter (generally, speaking)
- More portable
- Cool skateboard, surfboard, etc., stance and ride posture
- More expensive
- Lower top speed
- Shorter range
- Less powerful
- No sanctioned third-party company support (e.g., ongoing right to repair controversy)
So, there you have it: My comparison of EUCs and OWs and why I went with an EUC.
I hope this has helped you to understand some of the key differences between these two types of electric rideables.
If you’re still undecided, my best advice is to try both and see which one you like better. They are both great devices!
I hope this helps you make your decision! If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.
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