Choosing Your First Self-Balancing Electric Unicycle
- Costs less than a year bus pass
- A tight and toned butt and thighs
- Arrive on one of these, and you may as well have ridden a time machine
- Get all the hot chicks and dudes to fall in love with you
- Gets you there leisurely and efficiently, and without being all sweaty
- IT'S FUN!
Ok, let's get serious. Here's the main things to pay attention to when picking your first micro-unicycle:
Most brands have a major problem with their battery management systems (BMS). The first wave of electric unicycles were made as cheaply as possible with off-the-shelf parts, and because of a design problem they can turn themselves off, often causing injury. This is one reason it's so important to heed the advice in our reviews section (link here).
Even models that do not experience the BMS problem can experience a phenomenon called "mainboard cutoff." This also mostly happens on low battery, and is even more widespread. It is most likely to happen on low battery, at high speed or uphill. Very few companies are designing their units to avoid this problem. Even the brands we review on this site will sometimes shut off on low battery, with the exception of King Song.
What electric unicycles should do, and will do in the future, is reserve enough power in the battery to avoid unexpected turn-offs.
- 132wh - About 2 safe miles. The most common - the bare minimum. Not big enough to be safe.
- 174wh - About 4 safe miles. This is the smallest battery that I recommend, and the smallest that is available on this site. Not enough for most people after a week.
- 340h - About 7-8 safe miles. The minimum size I recommend. Enough to satisfy you for a little while.
- 520wh - About 12-14 safe miles. A good balance for medium speed micro unicycles.
- 680wh - About 15-18 safe miles. Required for safety at high speeds. Many manufacturers make high speed units with smaller batteries, but because of the nature of battery technology you risk unexpected shutdown. Save money in the long term (doctor bills), and get the biggest battery you can afford.
Above 260wh is a bonus, but will add cost and to the carry weight. Batteries come as big as about 800mah+ which is more than 40 miles in the real world. Get a bigger one than you think you're gonna want, or a unit with swappable batteries.
For beginners, we recommend a 14 inch micro unicycle. These offer the best balance of stability and maneuverability, and are good for all rider weights.
- 12 inch or below: Smaller and more maneuverable but more difficult. Not common yet.
- 14 inch is what most people start with. More maneuverable than a 16" wheel, but often not as smooth riding. Good for weavin
- 16 inch is the other happy medium for stability VS weight/size, if you're willing to spend a little more. More stability and less maneuverability than a 14" wheel.
- 18 inch is for extra smooth or high speed, but surprisingly bigger and heavier. Due to the "torque effect," if you're small, you might not be able to use the power of your motor as easily with bigger micro-unicycles anyway, and it might be less safe uphill.
Body Shape and Size
- The original style with the box on top is harder on the shins, but offers more control. Consider the round style for getting started. Example: Airwheel
- Round style puts form over function. Stylish, but not as good for control. Takes a little more new muscle development in the legs. Example: Ninebot
- Hybrid designs offer a blend of aesthetics and ergonomics. Example: King Song
Ground clearance, pedal design, lights, speakers, brand recognition and longevity, warranty and support, presence in the United States, extra safety features, foot platform design.
Examples of Brands
- King Song - High speed. Great quality, cutting edge features continuously updated. This is the ONLY brand I can find who has addressed every reason for the dangerous unexpected shutdown. Soft leg pads. Easy swappable battery in small battery models. ElectricUnicycleReviews.com's only endorsed brand (see our store). Warranty includes parts and labor, and is serviced through us personally in the USA. Read more at this link.
- Huanxi - Low speed, very low price. Low range. "Swappable" battery. Risk of defects in any model of this price range. Don't run on low battery. ElectricUnicycleReviews.com store offered this brand for a while, and they were too brittle, thus lacking longegvity. We now only offer units on special request. Read more at this link.
- Ninebot - Medium speed. Stylish. 16" wheel with a top speed of about 13.5mph. Ship-to-China warranty is the most common. A strong brand, and among the more expensive. ElectricUnicycleReviews.com offered this brand for awhile, but it was hard to get answers about defects and design issues / unexpected shutoffs. Very good low battery behavior. Read more at this link.
Other brands have positives and negatives too, but the ones I just mentioned are the brands I'm interested in for performance, reliability, and safety reasons. If you're interested in getting one for the lowest price anywhere, check out: