We compared electric scooters with bikes, skateboards, petrol scooters, and now we’ve reached electric unicycles. Unicycles may sound funny, and our minds move to circus stunts, but electric unicycles are a new concept. You don’t have to act funny by paddling and only have to hold your balance through your ride. We will put electric scooters and electric unicycles head to head and try to find the best option for you.
We will compare them by the following criteria: mobility & practicability, speed, range, cost, fun, and safety. But first, let’s define electric scooters and electric unicycles.
What is an electric scooter?
Just to be clear, we will compare the small, foldable electric scooters and not the big ones that may look like a petrol scooter.
An electric scooter is basically a small scooter with an additional electric motor, controller, and battery. The advantage over standard scooters is that you don’t need to put any effort in, and the speed is much higher.
The electric scooters’ concept is not new, but it didn’t gain popularity until recent years. In the past, there wasn’t really a need for electric scooters are there were fewer vehicles on the road, and the cities weren’t that crowded as today.
If you are a newbie, grab the handles, put one foot on the deck, and give yourself a push or two with the other foot. Once you are comfortable with this, get the other foot up, and gently press the acceleration lever.
Steering is easy. You can use your body balance or gently move the handles in one direction. I always recommend using body-balance when you have a high speed.
Learn to use the brake and emergency brake before this. We have an entire article on electric scooters safety, so take a moment and read that if you are interested.
Another name for electric unicycles is Solowheel, which is a more suggestive name and I accept it as a synonym to electric unicycles.
When you are comfortable with one foot up, try to get the other foot on the opposide pedal. You may need to try this a few times before you get a perfect balance. But, I have a tip for you. In order to get your other foot on the pedal, get near a stair on something you can hold on to with the opposite arm. This way you won’t fall.
Don’t ride it right away, get yourself used to it in a neutral position.
4. Keep the right posture
Posture is very important in order to maintain a good balance on an electric unicycle. Your shoulders and upper body should be straight up. This needs some practice because you will feel the urge to lean back and forward to keep your balance.
Your knees need to be a little bit bent like when you are skiing. This way you can use your legs muscles in order to control the direction and balance yourself.
5. Get going
Following the third tip, get yourself something to hold on to. Now, get both feet on the unicycle and easily lean back and forth in order to move. Do this for 5 minutes before trying to let go of the thing you are holding on to.
Once you are comfortable with moving back and forward without any help, you can begin to take a look at steering. Steering is done by putting more weight on one leg than the other. At first, try soft turns in order to get comfortable. You need to be in an open, large space to practice. Lean left or right very gently in order to steer in one direction.
Once you get comfortable with soft steering, you can build on that and take more sharp corners. The idea is to keep a low speed because, otherwise, you will lose balance and fall.
7. Getting pro
By now, you should be comfortable with riding an electric unicycle. The more you ride, the more experience you will get.
Basic differences between electric scooters and electric unicycles
On a unicycle, you won’t have any handles as in electric scooters case. This is a bit scary at first, but once you get used to riding an electric unicycle, you may have another opinion. What’s bad though is that in a crowded place, it’s hard to steer and brake fast without a handle.
We are used to holding to something when riding or driving a vehicle. You hold the wheel on a car or the handles on a bike. There are few vehicles in which you don’t hold something but rather use your body to balance. That being said, we will move to the next difference.
The main difference between these two types of vehicles is holding your balance. We can all agree that it’s harder to keep your balance on an electric unicycle than on an electric scooter. As we said above, we are used to holding on to something, and the learning curve for riding a unicycle is a bit steeper.
Once you learn to ride a unicycle, it may seem easier to hold your balance on it. But, what I worry about is crowded places, where you need to steer fast and brake fast if needed. Without handles, your whole body moves forward when braking because of inertia. You will need to adjust your position in order to counteract that forward movement.
Steering is also a difference. On an electric unicycle, you will rely only on your body balance in order to steer left and right, so you must be in perfect control of your body. On the other hand, you can learn to drive an electric scooter in 1 minute, even if you don’t know how to ride a bike.
You will need to learn to put more weight on one of the sides in order to steer. It’s the same principle as steering on skis.
The position is almost the same, but you will stay with your feet parallel rather than one in front of the other. The position on an electric unicycle is more ergonomic but more difficult to maintain for a long ride. Furthermore, you will need to hold your balance in that position which may be even more difficult.
Pros & Cons
Mobility & Practicability
Both electric scooters are small, lightweight, and practical. Unicycles are about 20% less heavy than electric scooters, but that’s not a big difference. An average unicycle is about 15 lbs, and an electric scooter is about 20-25 lbs.
Electric scooters can be folded easily and occupy little space, but they are a bit harder to carry with you. Unicycles are very small and don’t need folding.
The mobility is a bit higher for an electric scooter. You have better balance and ability to take corners better, and the brake is usually safer. We’ll discuss these aspects in the “Safety” section.
As we saw in the “How fast is an electric scooter” article, an average electric scooter speed is between 15 mph and 20 mph. An electric unicycle speed is usually 8-15 mph, but you may find ones that are capable of doing 20 mph.
The range on an electric unicycle is usually lower than electric scooters. For example, this is a popular unicycle but has only 6 miles of range. This is very low compared to an average electric scooter which can do at least 12-15 miles. But, from a “last-mile” vehicle point of view, it is enough.
I don’t think anyone will use electric unicycles for the whole ride to work, as it’s harder to ride, and the speed is usually not that great. Even if your unicycle reaches 20 mph, it’s not safe to ride at that speed, especially in crowded places. The ability to break in time on an electric unicycle is reduced, and you may lose balance if you try to break fast.
The acquisition cost is smaller on electric unicycles because their battery is usually smaller. As you may already know from previous articles, the battery makes up a large percentage of the cost. The average electric unicycle is about $250-300, but, an average, a good electric scooter begins at $400. The difference is big percentwise but not as big. $100 or $200 can get you a good electric scooter without the limitations of unicycles: speed, range, balance, etc.
If we take a look at electricity costs, electric unicycles will consume less energy as they are a bit lighter than their equivalent electric scooter. But, even so, the electricity cost is insignificant.
I guess we all can agree that unicycles are more fun to ride. A part of this conclusion is that it’s much more complex than electric scooters riding. You can do all sorts of fun stunts on a unicycle.
The winner here is the electric scooter. It’s much more easy to ride and much safer. You have the handles which can help you keep your balance, take sharp corners, and brake fast. On the other hand, you need to be a little bit tense on a unicycle in order to not lose balance.
Electric scooters are easy to ride and provide a comfortable mean of commuting in the city. On the other hand, electric unicycles are more fun, but the learning curve is a bit steeper. You can only use electric unicycles for last-mile vehicles, but electric scooters can be used for the whole ride.
The main advantages of electric scooters over electric unicycles are the range, speed, and safety. I want to hear your opinion. What vehicle do you find most attractive? Leave a comment below with your preference and tips.