Learning To Ride An F-wheel Vehicle Is Harder Than It Looks-The F-wheel Kylin
An Aussie company called Gyrotech imports a range of electric scooters, including the O-Chic that Luke loved. But for those who are looking for something that can tackle the great outdoors, the F-wheel Kylin is the ultimate, if challenging, electric scooter.
Gizmodo loves technology. Our product reviews are presented thanks to Dick Smith.
What Is It?
Motor: 800 watt
Top Speed: 18 km/h
Range: 23 km
Weight: 11.1 kg
90 minute 80% Quick Charge
The F-wheel Kylin is essentially an electrically powered unicycle. It costs $500 in Australia.
Unlike pretty much any other scooter on the market, it uses a single wheel and a gyroscope to give forwards and backwards balancing — just like the O-Chic or a Segway.
What makes the F-wheel unique though is that it doesn’t balance side to side — leaving that tricky to master skill to the rider.
You stand on two strong, wide aluminium foot rests and straddle the top of the unit with your legs. Lean forward to travel forward. Lean back to slow down, stop, and reverse.
Easy-peasy right? It really isn’t, but it is a whole lot of fun and totally worth the effort.
The F-wheel has a powerful 800 watt motor, a long 23 km range and a tyre large enough to handle decent off the tarmac obstacles. It uses Panasonic lithium ion batteries, which can be charged to 80% in 90 minutes, and fully charged in 120 minutes.
At 11.1 kg, it is just light enough to carry onto a bus or train without impacting anyone else. It would probably even squeeze into a large backpack if you wanted to go totally incognito.
Unlike the O-Chic, or Segway style electric scooters, the F-wheel is super slim, and when riding you don’t take up any more space than if you were walking instead.
In other words, it’s actually the perfect urban commuter scooter. While it’s not cheap, it’s no more expensive than other high end electric scooters.
Taming the Beast
Learning to ride the F-wheel was both more and less work than expected. It’s initially very hard to even climb on, but once you are over that hump it’s easier to progress to (wobbly) riding.
It’s totally worth it though, as it’s easily the best electric scooter I have ridden. Once you get going, it’s somewhat akin to skiing – big smooth carving corners as you sweep along.
Getting on the F-wheel is a tricky affair – you have to hold the F-wheel with a single foot, then quickly hop on, all whilst keeping your balance. If you mess up, the unit will do it’s best to escape. Fortunately it comes with a leash that makes it both easier to balance at first and keeps the scooter from throwing itself violently onto the ground.
One way to make this a little easier, is to practice getting on and off next a wall in your garage or something else you can’t damage anything. Being able to hold onto something really helps learn how the F-wheel controls, without falling off every 2 seconds. Another alternative is to get a friend to give you a hand balancing when you first get started.
The first time you actually go any distance, you will have forgotten how to dismount on purpose and just have to jump for it and hope. If you do manage to let it go, the unit will fall over, but the motor cuts out.
To steer, there are two main techniques. At speed, you gently lean in and the wheel carves around in the direction you want to go. At lower speed, it’s more of a twisting motion with your lower legs – physically re-aligning the F-wheel to the direction you want to go.
When you first start, steering will mostly consist of wobbling wildly in different directions with little control, but as time goes on you can start to actually direct it.
Once you manage to reach higher speeds, there is a disconcerting feeling that the F-wheel will let you fall over forward. Fortunately there are two aspects that keep you (relatively) safe. The F-wheel has a top speed of around 18 km/h – so even if you do take a tumble it’s slow enough you can hit the ground running and (hopefully) recover. The unit also actively stops you going too fast, pushing back on the feet supports and slowing you down.
It took a solid couple of hours of practising to be able to ride the F-wheel, and even then it was mostly about not falling off. An easy way to feel depressed about your skill level is to jump on YouTube and watch young kids ride it around with only one foot, or jump off a variety of obstacles.
Fortunately the easiest way to alleviate these feelings is to have another go – it’s just that fun.
The F-wheel comes with a pair of small, rollerblade style training wheels. These make it super easy to balance and you can jump on and roll back and forward to your heart’s content. But that’s all you can do – the extra stability means you can only make the very shallowest of turns. Try anything harder and the wheel actually dig in sideways and throw you off the F-wheel.
Practice makes perfect (or at least less bad), but don’t expect to come away from the experience unscathed — if nothing else, the hard plastic of the shell will leave the sides of your shins sore or bruised and your leg muscles will ache from all the balancing. In our case, a twisted ankle gave an unwelcome break from riding.
If you are out and about riding the F-wheel, expect every second person to stop and ask you questions. It happened so frequently that I eventually just started yelling, can’t stop, still learning, so I didn’t have to perform an awkward mount and dismount in front of anyone.
A few bystanders will want a go – which is both good and bad. The good is that it’s hard enough that most will give up after a few tries and you can quickly go back to riding yourself. The bad is that they will likely add a few scratches or dings to your shiny new scooter, feel frustrated and not actually get to feel how good it is.
As much the F-wheel often feels like a first generation product. The LED battery feedback is simplistic and the warning buzzer is harsh and loud. If you do let it tip over, it will flop onto the ground, emitting a note that is suspiciously like a heart monitor flat lining. It won’t stop either, until you turn it off and on again. While the motor does cut out, it has a slight delay and revs up first, thinking you are falling and trying to balance you. If you are unlucky the wheel can catch the ground and propel the F-wheel around, scratching it up, or worse, hitting your legs.
The F-wheel isn’t smart enough to know if it is on the ground or not – pick it up while on and the motor revs wildly before cutting out and beeping at you.
As we said before, the F-wheel is probably the perfect commuter scooter – but there is one huge issue. Here in Australia, it’s actually illegal to ride on the road, or footpaths, as the motor is too powerful. You are pretty much limited to private property.
It’s worth noting we did ride it both on a quiet street, and down a variety of bike paths with no issues. Since its virtually silent and very compact, the general public don’t feel threatened in any way, as long as you ride with plenty of caution. But the risk is still there and there are actually serious potential fines for riding one where you shouldn’t.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, with the knowledge that it’s not a product you can just jump on and ride away.
If you are prepared to put in the time and effort to learn to ride (and can take a few bruises) then its amazing fun.
It’s worth noting that Gyrotech sells it as a non road scooter, but suggests you contact your local council if you want to find out more about riding on bike paths and in parks.
Make sure you were appropriate safety gear – a helmet is essential all the time, but knee and wrist protectors wouldn’t go astray while learning.
If you want something cool but with an easier learning curve, the O-Chic or F-wheel S3 from Gyrotech are probably a better bet.
If you want a road legal electric scooter, then check out the Fonzarelli 125.
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F-wheel Offers a Complete Electric Self-Balancing Scooter for Modern Population
Abstract: F-wheel Technology Company endeavors to meet the personal transportation needs of the modern commuters with a variety of electric self-balancing scooter models, with energy-efficient and eco-friendly features.
Since its inception in 2003, F-wheel endeavors to meet the energy-saving and smart way of commuting needs of the modern population. The company has rolled out a full range of electric self-balancing scooters to meet the requirements of the diverse group of commuters. Anyone can rest assured of finding the most suitable electric self-balancing scooter with the company for their traveling on congested city roads.
F-wheel has products, classified broadly under three categories: Q-Series and R-series. The X-series features company’s versatile and one-wheeled electric unicycle range, with models R3,, and F-wheel. These single wheeled unicycles are more agile models with their compact inner architecture and are meant for veteran or advanced riders. The unicycles offer excellent control and self-balancing, not only for an effortless transportation, but also for showing off a variety of fancy acts.
The Q-series showcases F-wheel’s intelligent self-balancing scooter range. These self-balancing scooters come fitted with two wheels and are a lot easier to balance. Often recommended for the beginners, the Q-series offers a safe and pleasurable riding. One can choose from Q1, Q3, Q5, and Q6 models and can travel through congested city roads with a great degree of comfort and convenience.
The company believes investing time and money in the R&D efforts and keeps offering new self-balancing unicycle models for the modern commuters. They endeavor to bring out models that are easier to control, have a powerful battery to cover more distance and have a remarkably low emission rate. Their S-series includes the latest models that represent the ultimate design and the advanced technology. The recently released F-wheel S3 model features a futuristic commuting concept that may replace the traditional mode of transportation.
F-wheel specializes in the human-centered designs that promise great comfort, safety and self-balancing for people to choose unicycles and self-balancing scooters for their commutation needs. With sleek and smart exterior design, these single-wheeled or two-wheeled vehicles could be a smart and stylish choice for people to enjoy pollution-free transportation. To choose an F-wheel vehicle model from their portfolio, one can visit the website www.fwheel.cc
F-wheel Introduces Intelligent Electric Unicycle Model for Skillful Riders
Abstract: F-wheel R3 is the intelligent electric unicycle that offers an ultimate joy of riding to the veterans or skillful riders.
F-wheel has a variety of self-balancing scooters for people to experience the joy and usefulness of riding an intelligent and energy-efficient vehicle. The company has two- wheeled Q-series that is a lot easier to balance and move through. On the other hand, the F-wheel R3 is the electric self-balancing unicycle that has been meant for skillful riders. Veteran riders can use this single-wheeled model not only for their transportation needs, but they can showcase several types of fancy tricks as well, like moving in circles, standing upside down/ sitting on the scooter, etc.
Equipped with one wheel, the R3 model is more agile than other models, and advanced riders can enjoy its adorable features. This single-wheeled scooter is lighter in weight and has a compact design for saving space and which also makes it more portable. Like all F-wheel products, R3 is also environment friendly and a green transportation mode for the modern population. With a remarkable interior architecture, the model comes fitted with a powerful and large-capacity Japanese battery in a space-saving manner.
R3 is a self-balancing unicycle that promises a great dynamism to the rider. With the built-in intelligent balancing chip and the Gyroscope, a rider can gain a sufficient control on the movement and speed of the unicycle while performing a variety of tricks. An intelligent protection system ensures the rider’s safety and the integration of the aviation altitude control technique makes it safer to showcase fancy tricks.
The spokesperson of the company reveals that the R3 model is becoming more popular among the younger generation and the young population is finding the unicycle a more exciting way to travel or perform various acts. The unicycles come with the aviation aluminum pedal with the exclusive pedal folding technology that allows riders to use pedals with a greater flexibility. More importantly, pedals suit all feet sizes naturally and facilitate riding. It also offers a desired tilt protection to prevent the unicycle from skidding.
F-wheel endeavors to meet the specific requirements of the diverse group of commuters and people can find different models with them for their personal transportation needs. To check the different unicycle models available with them, people may visit their website www.fwheel.cc
Malaysia F-wheel Is Attending Crossroad Auto Show 2015
Abstract: the Malaysia F-wheel is going to make a display of its full range of self-balancing electric unicycles/scooters at Mid Valley Exhibition Centre (MVEC) at Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from May 8th – 10th.
The Crossroad Auto Show 2015 is going to kick off on May 8th at Mid Valley Exhibition Centre (MVEC) at Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For this 2 days event, the Malaysia F-wheel is going to make a display of its full range of self-balancing electric unicycles/scooters.
Emerged as a leading brand in the global portable intelligent transport industry, the F-wheel boasts a stunning 60% of global market share and a network of distributors in more than 20 countries. The F-wheel unicycle/scooter research & development project was initiated by a group of pioneers dreaming to revolutionize the personal transport industry by integrating the fun and pragmatic features into gyro technology.
During the Auto Show, The Malaysia F-wheel will bring seven models ranging 3 series to display, namely F-wheel R3, F-wheel, Q1, Q3, Q5, Visitors and potential clients can go to the booth to take an on-spot experience and make enquiries. The F-wheel X, F-wheel Q and F-wheel S have their respective unique features. Unicycles of the F-wheel X are all single-wheeled which makes for a playful fun ride. You’ll get a hang of it after a day’s practice. The F-wheel Q series are all dual-wheeled which are adjacently set and allow for a more stable ride than one-wheeled models. Most people manage to drive a dual-wheeled F-wheel Q in 5 minutes. The F-wheel S is an incredible revolutionary design with a wide platform and a long shaft for users to comfortably stand and hold. Due to the standing platform, there’s barely learning curve for riders to steer the unit. The S3 is also a fully functional model. It comes with built in speakers, wireless connection, 2 remote controls, and a 4-inch LED display screen which shows the battery life, speed and miles achieved.
Self-balancing unicycles/scooters have become quite popular in recent couple of years. Most visitors have been intrigued by these smart and futuristic-looking contraptions, as they are considered the next generation of personal transporters fitting for a green lifestyle. Those who are interested in electric scooters can go to the Crossroad Auto Show anytime 10.00 am – 9.00 pm from May 8 – 10, 2015. Compared to the high prices of many of its competitors, the F-wheel is committed to promoting a green lifestyle by offering quality products with affordable prices. Visitors can experience the devices themselves before deciding which model to choose.
Why are so many grown adults whizzing around on electric unicycles?
By Barbara Speed
Images: F-wheel, Solowheel.
Last Friday morning, I saw a tall, important-looking man in a black suit perched on a single, foot-high wheel, buzzing along the pavement at a laconic pace. This was odd enough, but five minutes later, I saw a besuited woman riding one, too.
Naturally, I had to investigate. It turns out that both machines were part of a new tribe of personal transport devices, variously known as “scooter unicycles” or “electric unicycles”. They’ve been around in some form for a while now, but a quick and entirely unscientific straw poll confirmed that, in London at least, the last few weeks have produced a spike in sightings of the one-wheelers.
Perhaps it’s the nice weather, or an extremely subtle marketing campaign. But either way, this seemed an interesting development: people are willing to annoy (and potentially run over) other pedestrians, look silly, and maintain a tricky-looking balance, all for the pleasure of not using their feet.
Before we carry on, some key statistics. F-wheel and Solowheel seem to be the major two brands onsale in the UK at the moment. Some F-wheel models hit top speeds of 14mph, while the Solowheel can only get up to 10mph. A device from either brand would set you back anything from £500 to around £1,500, and most come with their own carry-bag, so you can swap between modes as you go about your zany cosmopolitan day. Granted, they generally weigh around 10kg, but at least you’d be making up for the exercise you miss out on by never walking anywhere. And yes, you can buy stabiliser wheels.
Recent reviews by journalists have not exactly been raving. A journalist at Slate rated the Solowheel Classic’s “Doofus factor as “unimaginably high. Just off the freaking charts”, and claimed he could only balance on the thing long enough to have his photo taken. “Do you hate your shins? Then give them a good bruising with this torture device from America” was the scalding subheading for the Guardian’s review of the F-wheel. Things don’t get much more positive in the review itself.
In theory it’s superb. You straddle the gadget, tilt forward and whizz about town as if you are some alien with gravity-defying powers. But, in fact, you are a middle-aged dork lying on the pavement in torn trousers, close to tears – and the office is still six miles away. Thanks a bunch, F-wheel.
Then again, journalists aren’t known for their hand-eye coordination or physical aptitutde. The commuters I saw seemed happy – smug, even – with their devices. And most importantly, neither looked like they were about to fall over.
The F-wheel V3 is precision crafted by hand with 6061 alloy. Built to last and to stay pretty, the F-wheel is ultra-portable and is capable of 325-lb loads and beyond!
No handlebars, no steering wheel, no need for any of that! Control your F-wheel with natural leaning motions (similar to the Segway) and experience a new way to travel. Lean forward to go, lean back to slow down/stop.
Elegant Electronic Design.
Among the many technological achievements of the F-wheel are its superior motor-driving capabilities. The Focus Designs Pure Sine Wave controller is more advanced than anything you can find on the market. With regenerative braking, unmatched efficiency, eery silence, and torque-control at the granular level, this BLDC controller is the only one in its class.
The F-wheel takes about 20-30 minutes to learn and once you master it you’ll find that riding becomes as natural as walking and chewing gum (only way cooler). Using some cool features like Turn AssistTM and Smart SenseTM the F-wheel V3 actively “learns” your motions and performs numerous safety calculations every second you ride.
The sensors are the key to the F-wheel’s superior movement capabilities. Multiple 3-axis accelerometers and gyros provide superior inertial measurement enabling for a ride like no other.
When you turn, the F-wheel’s motion-learning algorithms detect your intent and provide stability assistance throughout the turn. It’s a lot like having a sloped embankment for a racecar driver; only Turn AssistTM help is provided with software and 3-axis sensors. Navigate through narrow turns. Push BackTM
It can handle a lot, but if you push the F-wheel near its physical limits, Push BackTM will kick in and push you backwards, telling you that you need to ease off. Upon a depleted battery, your F-wheel will gently immobilize by slowing your motion to stop while still safely maintaining balance. Smart SenseTM
Smart SenseTM software automatically and carefully shuts the F-wheel off upon sensing any abuse or an accidental crash.
The all-new battery system and high-torque motor deliver even-better performance on hills and faster sprinting speeds. Get the exact performance you want by how aggressively you lean. Check the specs:
0 to 10mph in 3 seconds.
Top Speed is 12.5mph.
Hill Grade is 30%.
Motor is 1000-Watt BLDC
An ultra-portable commuter
It’s clean. It’s green. It’s an elegant machine! The F-wheel weighs only 27lbs. and for many people worldwide the F-wheel has been an integral part of their daily commute. The F-wheel’s portability makes it the perfect in-between commuter as it fits on the bus, the subway, the train, and underneath your desk at work.
Clean. Green. Advanced Efficiency.
The F-wheel is inherently efficient with its use of electric energy. The F-wheel takes a measly 1/3 Kilowatt-Hour (under 10 cents) to do the same amount of work as the average combustion-engine automobile does on 1 gallon of gas.
The F-wheel incorporates regenerative braking strategies to more-efficiently utilize energy. As you lean backwards to slow down, the F-wheel turns the motor into a generator, capturing your kinetic energy and putting it back into the battery for later use. This increases overall efficiency and it’s pretty dang cool! Save $275. Every year.
To put this into perspective, replacing your normal 15-mile commute with an F-wheel and public transportation for just one day a week can save you $275 in gas and can save the earth from almost 1 metric ton of CO2 emissions in one year. (source)