Is Onewheel+ XR the Future of Personal Transportation?

Is Onewheel+ XR the Future of Personal Transportation?

Filed under: Technology  Travel 

The Onewheel+ XR is part electric go-cart, part all-terrain snowboard, and part magic carpet — or at least that’s how it feels.

pc-Brandon-Clark-speed
Photo by Brandon Clark

Fundamentally, the Onewheel+ XR is another spin on electronic personal transportation devices (ePTDs). This mode of transport is new this year and is gaining traction among outdoor athletes, techies, and urban commuters. But while this latest invention from Santa Cruz, Calif., brand Future Motion is technically a member of the ePTD subspecies, it’s hardly comparable to others in the class.

Whereas other electronic wheels — hoverboards, e-skateboards, and the like — work only on relatively flat concrete, the XR’s enlarged rubber tire enables riders to hop down curbs, breeze over big cracks, and grip stably off road. It may only have one wheel, but it thinks it’s a 4×4.

How It Works

Footplates straddle the tire fore and aft for a snowboard-style stance, with hands-free power controlled through sensors in the footplates. The device syncs via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. That controls the headlights and taillights, monitors speed and charge, and allows the rider to select settings for performance based on skill level and terrain.

To activate the Onewheel+ XR, simply set the app to your preferences, place feet on footpads, and tilt the beast level. Lean forward to accelerate. Lean back to slow, stop or reverse.

Onewheel+ XR Review

OneWheel+ XR
Onewheel+ XR

After testing out the original Onewheel model a few years back, I was intrigued but only half sold. Alien as it was, the ride felt a lot like snowboarding, only I could accelerate in flats and uphill on a surprising variety of terrain. That part I loved.

But the original Onewheel also lacked power on big hills and ran out of battery after only a few miles, leaving me stranded on more than one occasion. Luckily, Future Motion remedied those issues with the XR to make it far more practical than its predecessor.

The most notable upgrade is in the runtime. The XR comes equipped with an all-new 324Wh 63V nickel manganese cobalt oxide battery. From the standard 110V socket, I was able to recharge the XR from empty to full in around an hour and a half. That charge will run it for more than 13 miles in urban areas and off road.

That’s enough to get the average American from home to work, especially in cities. With the ability to ride on sidewalks and in bike lanes, I’ve found it can be faster than a car for short commutes.

The second major upgrade is the XR’s power. Equipped with a new 750W hub motor and a larger-diameter axle for increased torque, the XR touts a top speed of 19 mph. I tested it on flat ground to 16 mph only because I was too afraid to max it out.

Improved Performance

Beyond speed, the power upgrade delivers a drastic improvement in responsiveness, acceleration, and uphill energy. It’s incredibly intuitive to operate. Without feeling overbearing, the XR has more get-up-and-go, more stability in turns, and generally far more control than the original version. In motion, its mechanics feel wired to your brain.

At 27 awkward pounds, the XR is not fun to carry. That said, a comfortable handgrip under the front footplate makes hauling it short distances easy enough. Thanks to the new battery, it rarely requires hauling at all. It won’t fit in your backpack, but you can easily secure it to a bike rack with a U-lock or fit it in a car trunk.

Onewheel+ XR: Expensive Toy, Cheap Vehicle

There’s no denying, with an MSRP of $1,800, the XR is an expensive toy. In most cases, to justify the price, one must think of the Onewheel+ XR as a vehicle — akin to a moped, motorcycle, or jalopy — rather than an ePTD.

It may seem outlandish, but it’s a viable means of on- and off-road transportation with next to no fuel cost or maintenance requirements. After putting hundreds of hard miles on the Onewheel+ XR, I’ve never had a breakdown or flat tire. For me, it’s actually more cost efficient for city commuting than my car — and way more fun.

Onewheel+ XR Specs

  • Price: $1,800
  • Top speed: 19 mph
  • Weight: 27 pounds
  • Range: 12 to 17 miles
  • Recharge time: 100 minutes
  • Dimensions: 9 × 11.5 × 30 inches
  • Tire: 11.5 × 6.5 inches Vega go-cart tire
  • Terrain: City, grass, dirt, packed sand
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