Which electric unicycle to choose?

 

In this article we not only answer most of the Frequently Asked Questions raised by our customers but also elaborate and comment on the most important topics each person, willing to choose this transport solution, should take into consideration. Well, the first one is, to put it mildly, quite common:



Why would I want a unicycle?

Electric unicycles along with segways, hoverboards and one-wheel boards belong to the group of so-called gyros because they come equipped with gyroscopic sensor used for balancing the device. Electric unicycles (EUCs for short) are also known as monorails, electric wheels or just wheels and they are by far the most practical and effective personal transport devices. Their undeniable advantages are: compactness, speed, range and maneuverability.



How do I learn to ride one?

Since riding EUC is unlike riding anything else, learning to ride yours will be both challenging and great fun; initially it will also be quite physically demanding. Later, once you acquire the skill and get to understand the nature of it, your rides will resemble gentle strolls in terms of ease and also in terms of number of calories burnt. The learning curve seems to be similar to learning how to ride a traditional bicycle. It is not like you hop onto it and go. For most people it takes an hour or two to experience “flying” for the first time. Once you can do a straight line it is a matter of building experience by putting as many miles on it as possible. A little patience helps as well. In some cases assistance of an experienced rider or trainer is invaluable. There are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube. If you are based in Poland, you can also contact us if you are interested in professional lessons. When learning and when riding, always remember to: wear protective gear, respect pedestrians and local traffic rules and regulations.



Is it addictive?

Riding your EUC is highly addictive. You have been warned.



What is it really for?

Well, you tell me. You can use it for fun. For sightseeing (EUC totally transforms city-break experience). You can use it as a solution to the so called last mile commute problem or you can just use it for all your commuting needs. It is a one-of-a-kind, revolutionary, ecological means of transport. And it is a lot of fun as well.



14-inch, 16-inch, or maybe 18-inch?

The smallest wheels are safe, light, easy to carry, maneuverable, inconspicuous. They are ideal for chilled out cruising at circa 25 km/h, they accelerate fast and break fast, they are great for short journeys and for newbies. They fit perfectly in your car’s trunk and don’t take up much space anywhere else. They love even surfaces and hate off-road, so if you are a city dweller and plan on occasional usage, last mile commuting, learning to ride or just a little bit of fun, they might be your first choice.

Usually the bigger the wheel gets the speedier it gets. It means a more powerful motor and also a more stable ride, great tolerance for uneven surfaces and opportunity for comfortable off-road experience.

 14 inch   16 inch   18 inch 
maneuverability + / -
acceleration / braking + / -
size & weight + / -
max speed - / +
uneven surface - / +
stability - / +



If you are interested in compact, small, light vehicle and you do not intend to race the faster cyclists, the 14-inch is worth considering. The 18-inch wheel is much larger and heavier, but it allows you to easily go 40km/h and compensate for uneven surfaces. 16-inch unicycles seem to be the most universal devices, all of which offer a middle ground solution (see table above).

Oh, and one more thing… Or actually three... Your weight, height and strength.

Your height matters when it comes to trolleying the wheel. Handlebars on smaller wheels, even when fully extended, may not be comfortable for taller people so take a closer look at the dimensions chart and think how much trolleying will be involved in your case (many people take their wheels to shops, offices, etc.).

Your weight matters in terms of choosing the motor power. If you you are 60-70 kg, 800W motor should offer satisfactory performance, If you are 80-90 kg 1200-1500W is a better option. People weighing 100 kg and more should consider a 2000W engine.

Living with the wheel requires you to lift it from time to time, and sometimes even carry it, and sometimes even carry it up or down the stairs. The bigger the wheel, the heavier it gets and thus more cumbersome. Before you decide and buy, consider how much lifting you will have to do in your everyday circumstances and do some practice with something of a comparable weight and shape (14-inch EUCs usually weigh about 16 kg, 18-inch EUCs up to 26 kg, 16-inch EUCs sit somewhere in the middle).



Which battery size should be my choice for great range and performance?

Great range is (as the name itself suggests) great. But even if money is not of concern please ponder your circumstances and choose the battery size that matches your real needs. Large battery is not only more expensive but also heavier thus proves unnecessary for occasional, short commutes. 500 Wh of battery weighs approximately 2.3 kg nowadays and with average energy efficiency of 18-22 Wh/h provides realistic range of ~25 km. Range is of course affected by multitude of other factors like (among others): user experience, riding style (gentle vs aggressive) weather, terrain, and the weight of the rider (since reducing your weight by 20-25 kg results in addition of 10 km to your current range, going on a diet then seems to be the cheapest upgrade option available).

Keep in mind though that once you calculate your Wh needs it is advisable to apply additional 10% increase in battery size to increase convenience of use. For safety reasons when the battery is low, the wheel applies speed limits in order to secure energy supply in case of sudden demand that may happen if you need to accelerate suddenly and instantaneously. In practice this means that when the battery is low you will not be able to push the wheel to its full limits. So if you are happy with the range of 25 km (which requires more or less 500Wh as mentioned above) add 50Wh (the 10%) and choose the nearest option possible upwards of that (i.e. 680Wh).



When should I replace the battery?

According to the lithium-ion cell manufacturers (i.e. LG, Panasonic, Sanyo) the service life of the cells is estimated at around 500 full charge cycles (i.e. from 0-100%). After 500 cycles, the cells' capacity drops noticeably to about 80% of the nominal value. Over following cycles, the capacity continues to drop quite rapidly and after about 600 charging cycles, the unicycle will be able to go half the distance it had covered with new batteries. What this means in practice is that a unicycle that offers 40 km range ‘out of the box’ will offer 32 km range when its total mileage reaches 20 000 km and 20 km of range when at 24 000 km. Assuming that an average annual mileage is 2000-3000 km we can expect to get 8 to 12 years of service before battery replacement is needed. More on battery lifetime can be found here: https://eunicycles.eu/en/news/wszystko-o-bateriach-li-ion-w-monocyklach-elektrycznych



What charger to choose?

A simple, inexpensive charger is always included in the box. It serves its purpose but typically, standard chargers generate power of about 130W, have no active cooling and do not offer any additional features. Their built quality is not consistent and some of them with time may degrade quicker than others, providing lower voltage than required which in practice means that they will fail to charge your wheel to 100% which is very often misdiagnosed as battery failure. It is worth checking the voltage on the charger plug from time to time to assess its nominal value (see table below). It may also be a good idea to purchase a so-called smart fast charger (more on this later) to be used as main unit and save the standard one for backup purposes.

Model Voltage of charger

Ninebot E+/S2/Z6-10

58.8V

King Song KS14D/S, KS16B/C/S, KS18A/S

Gotway MCM4, ACM/2

67.2V

King Song KS18L, KS16X,

Gotway MCM5, Tesla, mSuper+/X

Inmotion V5(F), V8, V10(F)

84V

Gotway Monster 100V, mSuperX 100V

100V



Cell manufacturers suggest that the best, optimal charging current is 0.5C (C=battery capacity). This means that if the battery capacity of the monocycle is 840Wh, you can optimally charge the battery with a 420W charger. ‘Optimally’ means maximum speed without major impact on battery life or condition. Of course the lower the charging current (power), the longer the battery life is, but there is no significant negative impact when the charger's power does not exceed half the capacity of the battery being charged.

Fast chargers with a power of 300W and more will accelerate the charging process and if the battery capacity is 600Wh and higher you should consider the purchase of one. The quality of the charger's performance is much better than of the standard one, it also has a number of security systems that will protect the charger and the battery in case of some unexpected electrical failure. These chargers are also equipped with active cooling (fan).

Smart chargers offer additional features which improve battery life/performance. They include a display, which presents charging settings, shows all the battery parameters and reports alerts.



What should I do to keep my unicycle in good condition?

This is a frequent question and the simple and satisfactory answer is: mechanically - almost nothing. Unicycles are in this regard, unlike any other means of transport, almost maintainless. Basically, you need to keep it fairly clean, and even this is not necessary if you choose to ride only in fair weather. If rain and snow do not discourage you too much, from time to time it is necessary to clean some critical areas to avoid premature wear and tear of mechanical components. The cleaning concerns the area of ​​the pedal mechanism and the motor axis. From time to time it is worth to rinse the gaps to remove sand, mud, salt, etc. It is also advisable to add a few drops of oil to the pedal hinges.

Li-ion batteries are also fairly maintainless. Make sure how to properly charge them and store them when not in use and that’s it.

It gets slightly more complicated when it comes to a tyre puncture. Remember that dismantling the unicycle in order to replace the inner tube or the tyre does not violate the warranty. Before doing that it is worth to check out the Youtube video of dismantling the unicycle, for example "KS16S Disassembly".
When replacing the inner tube, or after about 5-6 thousand km, it is worth checking the condition of the tire tread and consider replacing it as well.



Are the spare parts like housing, handle etc. available for purchase?

Yes. all spare parts for every electric unicycle models we have on offer can be purchased from our store. Please remember that scratches to the body and pedals are in most cases inevitable part of the unicycle aging process. Usually they are invisible from a few meters distance and do not affect performance or safety in any way. Replacing the housing parts or pedals is required in case of serious damage which resulted in a bend, a crack or a splinter of the given part. Simple scratches tend to reappear quickly so think twice if you are acting on aesthetics only.



How to protect the unicycle against damage during the learning period?

For every unicycle we sell, you will get the protective foam free of charge. You can use it to wrap your monocycle for the time of learning. This type of additional protection will prevent the majority of damage to the housing. In addition, it is worth following the rules below:

- Carry out the first lessons in a park, on an even grassy surface where the fall of the unicycle will not cause any serious damage.

- Tie a string or belt around the handle to keep the unicycle as if on a leash. At the moment of losing balance, when you jump off the unicycle, you pull the leash up so that the wheel does not roll over, or worse, rides away.

- Under no circumstances should you try to ride with the extended handlebar. It has been designed for trolleying the unicycle only.



How long is the warranty period?

It is 2 years for the engine and motherboard and 6 months for the battery and the charger.



Is it possible to increase the battery capacity by adding another battery pack after some time?

Unfortunately not. It is not recommended to combine used cells with new ones. Used cells have different charging and discharging characteristics than new ones. Mixing will cause them to affect each other in a negative way which in turn will accelerate the degradation process of the whole battery. Therefore, if you want to increase the capacity, you need to replace the whole set with a new one.



Many thanks to hal2000 for help with the article.

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