The Onewheel: A Complete Guide

The OneWheel Skateboard: Why 3 Names?

Some call it a Onewheel, Some call it a one wheel Board, others call it a Onewheel skateboard. I’ve even heard it called a one wheel scooter.

In the world of Personal Electric Vehicles (PEVs), the OneWheel is simply known as the OneWheel. OneWheel riders will sometimes refer to it as a board, just as electric unicycle riders refer to their machines as a wheel. OneWheel is also the brand name, though the term is often applied to similar skateboard-like configurations.

“OneWheel” as designed and sold by Future Motion, is known by its brand name “OneWheel,” it is technically an electric unicycle. But for practical purposes, it is best to simply call it a OneWheel.

Other similar devices may look like OneWheels, but I can assure you the similarities stop at the surface. Indeed, there is only one true OneWheel line of products.

Is The OneWheel Skateboard Actually A Skateboard? What’s The Difference?

To ride a Onewheel, you must stand on it in the same way you would stand on a skateboard. However, because its point of rotation is in the center, maneuvering the OneWheel feels more similar to a snowboard than a skateboard.

A skateboard gets its name from the small wheels which are similar to those on roller skates. A OneWheel, by contrast, has a single relatively large wheel that does not interact with the ground like a skate wheel at all. 

The similarities to a skateboard stop at the stance the rider must assume to ride the OneWheel. Still, some riders call it a board, but this is just a term of convenience. 

Is The OneWheel Better Than An Electric Skateboard?

To answer this question, you really need to consider what you are looking for. The OneWheel is self-balancing and an electric skateboard has no need for self-balancing since it has four wheels. Here are some of the differences. Keep in mind that they will vary across OneWheel and electric skateboard models.

  • Range: Electric skateboards tend to have more range. Because electric skateboards do not need to self-balance, the battery only powers forward motion. OneWheels get between 12 and 20 miles of range, while the best electric skateboards can exceed that by at least double.
  • Speed: The top speed on a OneWheel is around 20mph. The top speed on high-end electric skateboards can be more than double that. 
  • Terrain & Maneuverability: In this category, the OneWheel wins by leaps and bounds. OneWheels can handle rougher terrain than almost any electric skateboard and they can also turn literally on a dime. Skilled riders can even take them on sand.
  • Portability: The smallest OneWheel weighs about 30 pounds. That’s not so heavy that you can’t carry it into stores, but it’s not pleasant. A small electric skateboard is only a little heavier than an analog skateboard and can fit in a backpack.
  • Price: The cheapest electric skateboards cost less than $500. The entry price for OneWheels is about a grand and prices top out at around $2,200. The finest electric skateboards on the market cost between $5,000 and $10,000. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.
  • Remote Control: Electric skateboards also use a hand held remote control to speed up, slow down, and stop. There is no remote control on Onewheel models, instead it has built in foot sensors that do what the remote control does.

Who Makes The OneWheel?

The OneWheel is made by a company known as Future Motion. They are based in Santa Cruz, California. They have been around since 2013, and they are known solely for the OneWheel line of products. Indeed, they have poured their hearts and souls into creating a tough, capable, reliable, and enjoyable product that is beloved by many. 

Over the last decade, they have come out with several versions of the OneWheel and they appear to be committed to its ultimate perfection. 

What Are The Different OneWheel Board Models?

The OneWheel lineup has changed quite a bit over the last decade. At the time of this writing, they sell the Pint, the Pint X, and the GT. They are listed in order from least to most powerful/capable.

The Pint is the entry model. It’s strong enough for even a grown man to ride, but is best suited for a smaller person weighing no more than 150 pounds. The GT is the most serious machine Future Motion has produced. It has a wider deck, can achieve top speeds of up 20 mph, and has a max range of 32 miles. 

How Much Is The OneWheel Board?

  • Onewheel Pint: $1,050
  • Onewheel Pint X: $1,400
  • Onewheel GT: $2,200

In my opinion, as someone with a few years of experience with a range of PEVs, these prices are more than fair. The electronics are solid, the construction is robust, the features are impressive, and the customer service is passable. The OneWheel shines most in terms of toughness and reliability, in my opinion. They are built like tanks. 

Where Future Motion seems to lose the pricing plot is in its selection of OneWheel accessories. Backpacks, fenders, clothing, fast chargers, performance foot pads, stands, and more are embarrassingly expensive.

Get the board and the fender, maybe a fast charger, and find a homemade solution for everything else. Also, be ready to replace the handle because it will break after about a year of regular use.

Is The OneWheel Worth The Money?

If you love board sports, the OneWheel is a must-have. If you are a short-range commuter, it can be a lifesaver.

The one thing about the OneWheel that defines it best is the ability to snowboard without traveling to the mountain. If you’re a ski bum, it could change your life, it may not be as fast but it still has a good top speed.

If you short/medium-range commute in urban environments every day, it could transform you from a nerd into the Silver Surfer. No joke.

Also, if you’re a fan of PEVs, a OneWheel is an indispensable addition to your collection.

In short, if you have a place for a OneWheel in your life, it is a beautiful investment that you will never regret… unless you break your collarbone.

Is The OneWheel Skateboard Easy To Ride?

Some people learn it in an afternoon. Others take a week or two of daily practice. While it is self-balancing, the wheel is much smaller than that of a bike or an electric unicycle. Therefore, it does not produce the passive gyroscopic effect that helps you maintain balance.

Once you learn it, it does feel easy, but it will never be as stable as something with a larger wheel.

Is The OneWheel Easier Than A Skateboard?

Balancing on a skateboard is very similar to balancing on a OneWheel. The big difference is you have to throw your whole stance off every time you push off on a skateboard. For this reason, a OneWheel is much easier to ride than a skateboard. No surprise there. 

Some say a onewheel feel less like a skate board and more of the feeling like you are surfing or snowboarding, and you are also not limited to the pavement like you are on skateboards.

How To Start On A OneWheel Skateboard?

To start, you place your back foot on the rear pad, and your front foot on the front pad, much like an analog skateboard. Then you lean forward and push down with your front foot until the motor engages. Then you’re off.

Your efforts to balance will be felt mostly in your ankles with wiggle-action occurring to the left and right of the board.

How To Speed Up On A OneWheel Board?

To speed up, you lean forward, pressing your front foot down. Most experienced riders support most of their weight with the rear leg. This allows the OneWheel to use automatic tiltback to warn you when you are going too fast.

How To Slow Down On A OneWheel Board?

To slow down, you lean back. This is the same with all self-balancing PEVs. How To Stop On A OneWheel Board?

There are two ways to stop, front foot heel lift and SimpleStop.

The front foot heel lift stop is done by lifting the heel of your front foot while keeping your toes in contact with the board. This disengages the sensor so that the motor stops balancing, allowing you to step off. To do this, you slow down until you have stopped, then do the heel lift. This causes the board to drop its tail and go into the resting position.

SimpleStop is easier but less advanced. To do it, you simply slow down to a stop, rock the board backward, and allow the tail to set down. After three years of OneWheel riding, I personally still prefer the SimpleStop method.

Is The OneWheel Skateboard Safe?

No. 

You will fall if you choose to ride the OneWheel. This is true of any single-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle. It is also true of skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, rollerskating, or any balance-intensive sport transport. 

There have been accidents on OneWheels. A few were caused by a malfunction but the vast majority were caused by rider error or external interference. A few of those accidents have been fatal. You need to understand the capabilities of the device and know its limitations, as well as your own. 

Never ride around traffic until you are well-practiced and duly competent. You have been warned.

Is There A OneWheel Age Limit?

There is no age limit. Anyone with the strength, courage, and desire may ride a OneWheel. They are used for fun, sport, and transportation by people of all ages.

For liability reasons, they are generally not recommended for children under 12 years of age.

But maturity, parental supervision, and your own discretion are the most important qualifying factors if you have a kid that wants to ride.

Is The OneWheel Safer Than A Skateboard?

You can go faster on a OneWheel than you can on a skateboard unless you’re going downhill on a skateboard. But in terms of overall safety, the risks are about the same. 

However, if you over-power the ability of the OneWheel to support you with excessive speed or load-size, it can cut off suddenly. If that happens you will fall.

OneWheel riders tend to wear more safety gear than skateboarders do. You should always wear a helmet at the very least when riding a OneWheel.  you riding style will also determine how much other safety gear you should wear. Agressive riders that accelerate fast and do tricks, should wear the best gear.

What Is The Range Of A OneWheel?

The range of these devices is as follows:

  • Onewheel GT: 20 to 32 miles
  • Onewheel Pint X: 12 to 18 miles
  • Onewheel Pint: 6 to 12 miles

When you push the range capabilities of these devices, you are going to take the battery down to dangerously low levels. These devices will engage tiltback when you are close to a dangerously low battery. If the battery is too low to ride safely, the tiltback response will be so strong that riding further will be next to impossible. 

What Is The Speed Of A OneWheel Board

The top speeds of OneWheels are as follows:

  • Onewheel GT: 20 mph
  • Onewheel Pint X: 18 mph
  • Onewheel Pint: 16 mph

Remember, riding close to top speed means you are coming close to exhausting the ability of the device to self-balance and hold you up. OneWheels will tilt back aggressively as a warning. Always respect tiltback and back off when this warning system is triggered.

Can A OneWheel Go Up Hill?

Yes, but within limits. If you push the wheel too hard, tiltback will engage. If you don’t heed the warning, a cutoff will occur and you will taste pavement.

Can A OneWheel Go Down Hill?

Yes. In fact, going downhill will engage regenerative braking which will charge your battery a little bit and add more time to your ride.

One word of warning: if your battery is at full charge, regenerative braking can damage the battery. OneWheels are designed to shut off when regenerative braking occurs at 100% charge for this reason. 

So, if the start of your ride is at the top of a hill, charge the battery to between 95 and 99%, not 100%.

Does The OneWheel Have a Weight Limit?

Depending on the OneWheel model you ride, the max weight limit is between 250 and 275 lbs. The weight rating on a Onewheel Gt will be different from a Onewheel pint. The more you weigh, the less range you will get out of the device. If you are over 200 pounds and intend to carry groceries, books, or any additional load, the max weight can be a safety issue.

Can You Ride A OneWheel In The Rain?

OneWheels have some of the highest water resistance ratings of any PEV. Still, riding in the rain is to be avoided as much as possible. If you get caught in light to moderate rain for a few minutes, you should be fine. Just be sure to wipe it down thoroughly and be especially sure the charge port is clean and dry.

How Many Years Will A OneWheel Last?

With regular use, the average lifespan of any PEV is about three to five years before you will need to purchase a new one or a new battery. Some people estimate that the average functional use should be about 8,000 miles. However, some people have gotten much more mileage than that. It all depends on how you ride, charge, and treat your OneWheel.

These boards will also last longer if you are easier and don’t jump curbs or go over rough terrain.

Can A OneWheel Go Both Ways?

The only thing that prevents them from going both ways is the simple stop function. If you switch that off, most OneWheels should be bidirectional. With your feet planted on the board, lean forward to go forwards and lean backwards to go the opposite direction. This function may or may not be available on all self balancing electric skateboards.

Can A OneWheel Go Off-Road?

Yes. Within limits, you can take your OneWheel down trails, on gravel, dirt roads, sand, and grassy terrain. It will take some practice to build up the stabilizer muscle strength, but OneWheel off-roading can and has been done by many experienced riders.

We recommend avoiding very rough terrain especially at higher speeds.

In fact, rides on grass as a new rider is an excellent way to become very skilled very quickly, however with bumps and hidden objects there is a risk of a fall so where a helmet and see the other safety gear we recommend below.

Riding offroad, through trials and forests can provide a fun and unique riding experience.

OneWheel Battery and Charging Info

Charging a OneWheel is easy. Simply plug it in and wait until the charge bar is full. When the battery is at full charge, it will automatically stop charging in order to keep the battery from overheating. The OneWheel does not want to charge in certain positions. 

If your device is in a bad charging position, the charge bar will flash yellow. If this happens, just unplug it, reposition it, and try again.

Occasionally, Future Motion recommends charging it overnight to allow all of the cells to balance.

OneWheel Stand Platform and Electronics

Future Motion sells a range of special stands for convenient storage. Frankly, these are overpriced. You can lean the OneWheel against a wall with no problems. My three-year-old Pint has been leaning against a shelf frame for several days.

Some people cut slots in milk crates for easy and affordable storage.

OneWheel Tire and Wheel

The motor of the OneWheel is encased in a solid steel drum inside the go-cart tire. Most OneWheel tires should last for about 2,000 miles. Keeping it fully inflated is important if you want your tire to last.

The bigger OneWheels have wider, squarer tires. These are more stable and generally more comfortable. 

OneWheel Board Knockoffs

There are a number of OneWheel wannabees out there. At the time of this writing, there is no mono-wheel, self-balancing skateboard on the market that is better than a genuine OneWheel.

The downside is the nockoffs tend to have a much smaller wheel, inferior batteries, and dangerously unstable magnetic balancing systems. While a OneWheel is technically a toy, it is engineered and built to professional standards. 

For this reason, many riders will say to avoid off-brand “onewheels.” Some of these boards will not have the quality control and build quality of the original Onewheel models.

The only advantage to the knockoffs is the price which is much more suitable for many people and for kids. They may still be a powered boards, but most knockoffs will be slower which can also be better for kids.

The idea behind riding a onewheel is fun, and the knock off boards can still be fun and still a challenge for any rider.

If you are interested in a knockoff board check out our page 5 Best OneWheel Knockoffs.

As an aside, we are not talking about electric unicycles. There are many very fine electric unicycles on the market. Just watch out for phony onewheels.

OneWheel Accessories And Safety Gear

There is always the risk on an accident so you should be prepared. The recommended safety gear is:

1. Helmet

2. Wrist guards

3. Knee pads

4. Elbow pads

These are listed in order of importance. It is never wise to ride without a helmet.

OneWheel Skateboard Warning Or Recalls

There was a recall over faulty foot pads on the GT model. 

Remember, any electronic device can malfunction. Rider error can, does, and has killed riders. 

In the real world, safety and motion do not coexist. If you choose to ride a self-balancing, electronic device of any kind, use caution, expect to get hurt, and above all, respect tiltback.

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