battleface has a look at a few of the personal transport possibilities available for urban and inner-city commuters. Some are relatively low cost; others not so. All, however, are becoming more mainstream in our cities and are real option for getting around without parking hassles – with a dose of fun thrown in as well.
Straight from the James Bond accessory lab comes the Motocompo motorcycle-briefcase from Honda which first appeared in the 1980’s as an accessory to the ubiquitous Honda Civic. Looking more like a picnic cooler than a briefcase, it’s got a 50cc twin stroke petrol engine and will get the lighter rider up to around 40km/h. And yeah, we know it’s not as cool as the ones below, but sometimes a look at the old school efforts can help us appreciate where design and technology has urban commuting now.
Solowheel. This has been around for a couple of years now with the newer versions keeping faith with the original concept of an electric unicycle that self-balances with the rider. The rider’s legs press against the casing on the uni-wheel while retractable foot-pads incorporate gyro-sensors for the motor that the rider interacts with using weight distribution on both feet.
These same Solowheel guys also forged ahead with a 2-wheel version smart balancing scooter board which has been copied so many times by Chinese OEM manufacturers that has the price down to $500 – 600 per unit. The two gyro-connected motors givestability and an intuitive feel for the user with most user blogs showing first time users buzzing around in effortless circles and looking pretty cool with their board form.
Coming to the market real soon is the Urb-E: a collapsible scooter aimed at consumers needing secondary transport after the train orbus commute. A 3-hour charge of the lithium ion battery carries the rider an impressive 30 kilometres with a top speed of 22km/h on a stable and functional 3-wheeler.
Here comes the Ryno, a kind of hybrid motorcycle that gets to where most places a person can walk, or cycle due to its one-wheel design. Like the other auto-balancing gadgets, the Ryno also uses advanced motor-sensor technology to detect the rider’s indications for direction and speed. Lean back and the bike slows and leaning forward will accelerate the commuter to a dizzying top speed of 15kmh! It can carry an impressive 130kg of rider and baggage and looks to be a serious piece of kit, which is probably going to be reflected in its price that isn’t currently listed on the manufacturer’s website, Amazon, or EBay.
Ever since Marty McFly rode a hoverboard in 1989’s ‘Back To The Future,’ we’ve all wanted to have the coolest board of all that gets air and stays airy. Apart from the recent video prank that saw skate legend Tony Hawk presented with a hoverboard by (Prof.) Christopher Lloyd before he skimmed his way all over the skatepark, the myth of the flying board has remained just that. Till now. Hendo has a prototype called the ‘Manta Ray’ that works by generating a magnetic field powerful enough to push the board and rider off the ground and move them over metal-covered surfaces. A Kickstarter fund launched in late 2014 hopes to get other developers on board with getting the price (currently $10,000 per board) down, and the battery efficiency (currently a maximum ride time of 7 minutes) higher.
So while the Jamaicans and Disney kind of own that phrase ‘cool runnings,’ battleface reckons there are enough with-it personal transportation options available to challenge the Rasta bobsledders to that moniker – albeit at a more sedate pace.