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Ride Along

An engineer aims to bring the thrill of snowboarding to the streets.

Earlier this year, Future Motion introduced Onewheel+, the latest iteration of its flagship ridable.

 

With the invention of Onewheel, Kyle Doerksen has merged his professional and personal passions: engineering and snowboarding. The self-balancing transport device purports to deliver a sensation similar to his beloved pastime, that can be enjoyed without icy conditions. “Riding a single-track trail or carving the beach on Onewheel is the closest experience to snowboarding on powder,” says the Stanford-educated Doerksen, who grew up in the Canadian Rockies and previously worked at Faraday Bicycles and IDEO.

While snowboarding was a major inspiration for Doerksen, Onewheel’s growing legion of riders isn’t limited to fellow board-sports enthusiasts. According to Doerksen, his flagship product “lives at the intersection of transportation and recreation. Onewheel is a great last-mile solution for commuters and urbanites.” Additionally, he says, its ability to “ride off-road on any terrain has attracted the active, outdoor lifestyle community.”

In 2014, Doerksen’s company, Santa Cruz-based Future Motion, debuted a prototype of Onewheel. The invention, comprised of a single wheel that housed an engine and was flanked by wood-and-metal surfaces for your feet, raised $630,000 through a Kickstarter campaign. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, a premier model, Onewheel+, which is built in San Jose, was unveiled. It features a newly designed hub motor that allows for a smoother, quieter ride than its predecessor. The latest version also offers improved hill-climbing and can reach speeds of up to 19 mph (bumped up from 15 mph). Movement is simple enough, courtesy of motion-sensing technology: Shift forward for acceleration; lean back to slow down; and apply pressure with your toes or heels to turn the board (yes, it’s controlled much like a snowboard).

The invention, the brainchild of engineer and avid snowboarder Kyle Doerksen, is designed to traverse a variety of terrains, including sand and trails.

“Our riders love its insane maneuverability, its quick charge time and how the giant tire can easily roll over bumps and cracks in the pavement,” says Doerksen. The Onewheel+ and the Ultracharger—which recharges the batteries in 20 minutes for a range of 5 to 7 miles—retail for $1,499 and recently started shipping.

 

Originally published in the March/April issue of Silicon Valley

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