So you’re considering buying a motorized unicycle?
Good choice. They are great fun!
However, there are some things you should take into consideration to make sure you pick the best motorized unicycle for your needs.
Motorized unicycles have a lot of pros and can be a great investment, but only if you take into account all of the considerations that I will run through in this guide.
You may be thinking, ‘Who is this guy?’ Well, I’d probably think that too, so I’ll give you quick introduction on who I am and then we’ll deep dive straight into the things that you should look out for when buying a motorized unicycle.
I’m Josh and just like you, at first, I had no idea about which motorized unicycle is should pick and investment my hard earned cash into. There’s a continuous stream of the new ‘best’ motorized unicycles out on the market but it can be hard to really differentiate the good from the bad.
So, I decided to start this site to share my experiences and relentless hours of research to help people like you make the best decision.
I’ve compiled a list of the 13 most important things you should know when buying your first motorized unicycle.
These points cover everything from how easy they are to ride, to what features you should look for, right down to giving you directions about where there might be restrictions against riding an electric unicycle. My hope is to make it easier for you to pick out an electric unicycle, so that the process between purchase and your first ride on it goes smooth as silk!
Top 3 Pros and Cons of Motorized Unicycles
One of the most important things to get out into the open first of all are the top 3 pros and cons for riding a motorized unicycle. We’re going to cover the cons first, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
First, you should know that motorized unicycles take some getting used too. The first few times you mount it, you’re probably going to have a few slips. That’s just fact. You’re getting on a wheeled device with no handles or seat – it’s going to put your sense of balance to the test.
Second, the price can be a little much for some people. Some of the cheaper models can run you to about the $300 mark, but the real flashy, fancy models can be up into the thousands. It’s essential that you are paying for something that you will get full use out of.
You don’t want to be overpaying for a model which has a range of advanced features that you’ll never use. For example, imagine you have a Nokia flip phone, it cost you $50 and you can call and text just fine. Now, imagine you have an iPhone XR, it cost you $1,000 and you can can call and text just like you would on the Nokia, but the iPhone has fancy features. If all you were bothered about was being able to just call and text then the Nokia would absolutely the best fit for you. The point I’m trying to make is if you have one or two features in mind that are most important to you, then try not to get swayed into buying something more expensive for the sake of additional features that you’re really not bothered about.
Finally, the third con to a motorized unicycle is that the technology is still fairly new, which means some of the systems can be a touch buggy. It also means you run the risk of purchasing a top of the line model, only for an even better version to come out in four months, because they’ve learnt something new about the technology.
Now that we’ve covered the cons, let’s get into the pros.
For the pros, it was hard to narrow it down to just three. But I feel like these are the most important facts for you to know.
First, they’re a great personal transport device. You have probably seen many people jetting around on electric scooters but there is something more unique about motorized unicycles that makes them stand out in the crowd and catch anyone’s attention. Some of the newer models can even go over 20 miles per hour, letting you glide along with ease.
This pairs right in with the second – because they’re so small, compact, and lightweight, you can throw them in your backpack and take them with you basically anywhere you want to go. You name it, a College campus, the car, the office, on a bus, or even if you only have to go a block or two to the store for a loaf of bread, a bottle of soda, or a newspaper, you can bring your motorized unicycle along with no problems.
Finally, they cost very little to use after the initial investment. Because they charge via an electric outlet, there’s no need to worry about the cost of gas. There’s no need to worry about the effect on the earth, either, because they are completely eco-friendly!
Personally, out of all of the electric transport devices that I have written about and researched, motorized unicycles are by far the coolest looking devices.
Is a Motorized Unicycle Right for Your Needs?
This is a question I get a lot. People wonder if it’s actually worth paying for a motorized unicycle and if it’s the right fit for their needs. They want to make sure that it’s worth spending the money on before committing to the price. That’s absolutely understandable! Especially for those of us who function off of a tight and carefully planned out budget.
My biggest take away here is to ask yourself – how often you’ll use it, are you going to use it to commute or for leisure, what’s the most important feature to you (e.g. speed, mileage, portability etc). For now, have a think about these questions and your answers to them. In the next few sections I will touch on a few of these considerations to give you more guidance.
How Much Money Could You Save on Travel Costs by Using a Motorized Unicycle?
This depends on how often you are going to use your motorized unicycle and what you’re going to use it for. Ultimately, motorized unicycles are powered by electricity, which is not only a greener way to travel but also a lot cheaper than gas.
With this in mind, let’s do a quick bit of math to work out how much money you could save by travelling on an electric unicycle.
Generally speaking, motorized unicycles tend to take about 5 hours to fully charge and have an average rolling distance of 30 miles.
The average price people in the U.S. pay for electricity is about $0.12 per kilowatt-hour.
So, the cost of traveling on a unicycle roughly equates to:
5 hours x $0.12 = $0.60 to travel 30 miles on a motorized unicycle
Now, let’s see how much it would cost to travel 30 miles by car:
The average price of gas per gallon in the U.S.A is $2.54 and the average miles per gallon is 24.7.
$2.54 per gallon of gas / 24.7 miles per gallon = $0.1 per mile travelled by car
$0.1 per mile * 30 miles = $3 to travel 30 miles by car
Overall, it is 80% cheaper to travel by motorized unicycles than by car. This can add up over time, especially if you are considering to buy a motorized unicycle for commuting.
What Features Do You Need?
Now, this one’s a tricky question.
There’s a difference between the features you need and the features you want.
Most models of motorized unicycles come with a brake light and an anti-spin button that serves as a kill switch should you run into trouble. But some models come with fancier features, such as built in speakers, changeable LED lights on the side, impressively bright LED headlights, and even a fold up handle that allows you to pull the device like you would wheeled luggage.
Ultimately, I can’t tell you exactly what features will be best you for but as a rule of thumb, I always like to consider; how fast does it go, what is the mileage and how easy is it to carry around / store.
Will it be Fast Enough and How Far Can You Travel?
Again, this is a speculative question. Different brands will give you different answers. That being said, the average speed is around 15 miles per hour.
There are some outliers – a few models can get you up to 20 miles per hour!
The same can be said for how far you can travel with each charge. The average distance is usually about 20 miles per charge, but some of the newer, top of the line models can take you up to 40. To be honest, 20 miles on one charge is incredible when you think that some electric scooters can only manage 5.
Keep these things in mind when you purchase your first motorized unicycle and make sure that you pick out a model that won’t lose its charge on you halfway to your destination. Remember, unlike electric scooters, these can’t be ridden under your own power once the battery has died. They can, however, be picked up and put into a backpack or duffle bag for convenient carrying. Some models also come with an extendable handle so you can pull it like you would a wheeled suitcase.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the available mileage and speed will change when you’re going up a steep incline. The more the engine has to work, the less time you’re going to be able to spend on your motorized unicycle per charge. The same can be said for riding over rough terrain, such as loose gravel or sand roads.
Will You be Able to Ride it Easily?
The learning curve for an electric unicycle is actually quite steep. You’re quite literally getting on a wheel with pedals attached to the side and – nothing else. There’s no seat and no handle, which means staying on board is entirely up to you. I strongly suggest making your first few mounts near a railing or wall, so you have something to hold onto while you get your bearings.
After that, you need to learn how to steer the electric unicycle just by shifting your body weight. There’s no wheel, which means it’s all about the positioning of your feet and the shift of your hips. This is easier for some people to pick up than others, but the sense of accomplishment when you finally make that turn just right is second to none!
How Safe Are They?
Again, this is a speculative question. It’s difficult to label any motorized vehicle as being safe.
There’s always a chance of an accident or crash, and that’s something you need to understand before purchasing. Anything that has a motor and wheels can turn into a hazard, especially if they’re ridden in unsafe conditions such as a thunderstorm, or recklessly taken into high traffic areas.
The fact that you’re controlling the electric unicycle with the shift of your body weight can be challenging for some. It should be expected that you’re going to take a few tumbles or end up crashing once or twice during the learning process. This can be lessened a bit by starting with an electric unicycle that has a seat on it, as they’re slightly easier to practice balancing on.
That being said, a lot of strides have been made to include safety features in more recent models of motorized unicycles. This includes a kill switch that will shut the motor off should the wheel come off the ground. Some models even have a feature that will automatically lower the top speed reachable as the battery begins to die, to ensure that you aren’t going to spin out of control if your battery dies while you’re going 30 miles per hour.
Do You Need a License to Ride One?
Because motorized unicycles are so new, there aren’t a lot of laws around them. You’re going to need to look into your local laws for further details. In some places, you don’t need a license. It’s treated like riding a bicycle or a generic scooter. However, you should keep in mind that this might change at a later date if and when the laws regarding electric unicycles are updated and changed.
In other places, it’s considered a motorized vehicle and requires registration, insurance, taxes, and a license for riding it. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually not any different from purchasing and getting a moped set up for riding on the road. Just make sure that you look into this ahead of time. You can call your local DMV and see if they can tell you. If you don’t want to make a phone call or can’t get an answer from your DMV, then you should be able to turn to the forums on electric unicycles and see if there’s anyone in your area online that can provide you with an answer on the matter.
And, most importantly, if there’s a law stating you need a license…make sure you have one on you at all times while riding!
Where Can You Ride it? Are There Any Restrictions?
Again, because motorized unicycles are so new, there aren’t many specific laws around them. It’s strongly recommended that you look on forums to check and see if there are other riders in your area.
Some of the restrictions that do exist are –
- They’re legal to be ridden on Californian sidewalks, but you can’t take them on the Los Angeles train
- Hong Kong doesn’t legally allow them in any public places. Neither does New York or the United Kingdom
- As long as the motor is smaller than 200w, they’re legal in Queensland, Australia
- Dubai has specifically banned them from shopping malls, but there’s no law saying whether they are or are not illegal to be ridden on the sidewalks there
There may be some restrictions but I have still seen people riding around on these without any problems.
Which Type Motorized Unicycle is Best for You?
There are three types of electric unicycle:
- One wheel
- Dual wheel
This means that, outside of brand and model, there are three different types to look into. I want to take a moment and give you a few pointers on which type might be best suited to you.
As the name might imply, seated electric unicycles have a seat on them. Sometimes this is removable. Sometimes it’s not. Either way, it makes transporting your device via car or train a bit more difficult. That being said, it’s also much easier to learn how to balance on an electric unicycle with a seat on it. It can also be easier on your legs, being able to sit.
A dual wheel electric unicycle can hold up to rough terrain a lot better than a one wheel electric unicycle. So you should keep in mind what terrain you’re going to be taking it on – will you be going up steep inclines a lot? Down hills? On and off sidewalk vs grass? Those things are good to keep in mind when figuring out which amount of wheels you should go for.
The other difference between a one wheel and a dual wheel motorized unicycle is their weight. With another wheel in the mix, the dual wheel unicycle will weigh a lot more than a model with one wheel. So, if you’re going to be putting it into a backpack and carrying it around, you might want to opt for getting the lighter, one wheeled option.
How Much do They Cost?
Despite the electric unicycle only recently appearing on the market, there are already over fifty different production companies that make them. This means that there’s going to be a large difference in price, depending on what model and brand you go with.
On the lowest end of the spectrum, you can pick one up (like the Swagtron) for around $400.
If you’re looking to get the newest, most updated, feature heavy model, you can get the Gotway Tesla for almost $2,000.
You should be able to find an electric unicycle that will fit any budget.
How Much do They Cost to Maintain?
Generally, motorized unicycles are low cost maintenance devices. Sure, you’ll need to pay the upfront investment to buy one but after that all that’s left is the cost of charging it, and as we know that is very cheap.
A quick reminder for you, on average it will only cost you $0.60 to fully charge the battery that powers your unicycle. The cost of maintaining and charging the battery is 80% cheaper than if you were to use a car to do the equivalent amount of travel.
Should You Buy a Motorized Unicycle?
After reading over the 12 questions above, it should be a lot easier for you to answer this question.
Run through them a few times if you need too and consider:
- What are the main features that are most important to me? Do I want a cheaper basic device that will get me from A to B, or do I want to spend more to take advantage of more features (e.g. LED lights, built in speakers etc)
- Am I going to use it enough to make it worth my investment? How far do I plan on traveling on it?
- Which type of unicycle should I get – one wheel, two wheel or a seated one?
Once you’re able to answer these questions, you’re going to be able to make the best decision on which motorized unicycle you choose to buy.
I hope my guidance has helped you to come to a decision or at least given you more food for thought. If you enjoyed this guide, please let me know in the comments and share it on your social media, and I’ll continue to share my experiences and research with you.