Board index Experiences Learning the Solowheel

Learning the Solowheel

Post your adventures here.

Did you do any spectacular tricks? Special remarks by people who saw you riding an electric unicyle?

Post Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:50 am

Posts: 23
eredleaf wrote:
I have had my solowheel for about 2 weeks. I practice almost every day and still cannot go for more than 10 to 20 feet without falling off. Most of my practice has involved standing still and trying to balance. I can balance easily with 1 finger lightly touching a wall, but when I take my finger off the wall I can only balance for a couple of seconds. I can go for 3-5 seconds rocking back and forth. About the same amount of time that I can go forward or backwards before it tips too far to recover.

I read posts that people got the hang of it in a couple of hours. I have spent at least 10 hours, probably considerably more. I am on my 3rd charge, the first recharge was done before it was drained. The second one was at the low battery alarm.

I feel like I am only a tiny bit better on this then the first time I stepped on it. Am I doing something wrong. The videos make it look so easy. Also is it possible to stand still on it once you know how to balance? It seems like that is the hardest thing so, I figured if I could stand still on it, or balance rocking back and forth, then I should be confident riding it.

I also tried riding it using ski poles, I can go blocks using the ski poles, but am completely dependent on them. Just like the finger on the wall. I cannot go more than a few seconds without having to use a pole to keep from tipping over.

Please advise on better ways to learn how to really ride this. The training strap doesn't seem to help me balance at all, all it does is keep the solowheel from talking a beating when I step off to avoid falling.

How long did it take any of you to learn to ride this. By learn to ride, I mean able to go for blocks and able to make controlled turns without losing your balance. What technique did you use to learn to ride it?

Thanks


Hello,

Please do not be discouraged. When I first had the wheel, I really regretted the purchase, but after several months of riding, the Solowheel is truly a life changer.

When I first started out, I limited myself to narrow areas with walls. I even initially went on grass for fear of falling. Looking back, these were what limited my learning the most. What you need is large, open space, with little to no road irregularities. An empty parking lot is a perfect place to learn it. What you need to understand is that narrow spaces are hard to maneuver in, even for experts. Even with practice, road irregularities such as bumps, large cracks, holes, sudden inclines and declines are daily challenges.

The learning strap is not meant to help you keep balance. It is there to only prevent damaging the wheel, yourself, or others nearly.

I'd say, get rid of the ski poles, finding open space, hang on the a wall/pole, and let go. I think wide, open road is an essential component, and is even more useful than any other learning aids.

I think the best advice I can give anyone at this point is to just hop on and take off. You need to be moving to be learning, and standing still can only take you so far. The wheel will not ride itself. Falling is part of the learning process and can be painful.

I also think that spending 10 hours in a 2 week period is not enough time to get a feel of the wheel's strength. It is essential that you devote more daily hours into learning the wheel. I'd say 3 hours daily is a good initial dose. If your legs hurt from clamping onto the red pads too much, I suggest getting cushiony leg pads. This will prevent bruising, and will extend the amount of time you are able to ride pain-free.

Eventually, you will need to get rid of walls/poles altogether. You will finding yourself hesitating a lot, which is normal. It is not uncommon to go a short distance upon stepping on. 20 or so feet is what I remember going at first. It is essential that you keep trying to increase the distance you can go. Do not become discouraged by these short distances that you can go. Immediately, upon stepping off, step back on practice again.

Pain, sweating, and getting tired is part of the learning process. So is bruising. Also, I did not get rid of the learning strap until after 1 month or so. I also remember riding it for 2-3 hours everyday, sometimes more.

Just keep in mind that failing to ride around long distances at first is normal. Getting injured is also part of learning. Remember to avoid inclines, and hard challenges at first. If anything, try to find a small downhill slope, and start from there.

You can and will be able to ride it. I seriously thought that I had wasted $1800 on a gimmick, but here I am, able to ride it and enjoying it daily.

Post Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:31 am

Posts: 2
Thanks for the advice. I cannot believe the difference the having space to stay on no matter what direction you are going made. I had been mainly trying to learn this indoors, using walls for balance. Or trying to balance standing still. Maybe all that practicing inside helped, because after two weeks of not being able to stay on it for more than 5 seconds with my first try outside I lasted nine seconds, then several attempts that lasted over ten seconds, and suddenly I was cruising down the block riding for more than a minute without having to step off. By the end of this practice session, I was riding over a minute multiple times, mostly falling off or getting out of position after turning due to reaching the end of the block.

I am way more hopeful than I was yesterday. However, being able to ride for a minute or longer brought on a new set of questions: 1. Sometimes, not always may legs get very shaky, like muscle twitches. Once that starts it seems the only way to stop it is to step off for a few seconds. I pictured once I could ride for this distance, I would feel much more in control, particularly right when I first step on. I figured it would be sort of like riding a bike, once it clicks you've got it, but it seems now that it sort of clicked, but I definitely don't just have it. I may need to step on it 5 different times before I get going in a balanced way that I can go for a while. I am still very uncertain of what is the best position for my feet and my leg muscles get very tired riding it. My biggest challenge is making turns and staying on. I can complete the turn, but my feet somehow end up out of position, it feels like I am sliding off the front, but going too slow. If I lean forward to get some speed I feel like my feet will slide off the front. I am sure turning will come with practice.

I have not been able to make adjustments to my foot positions while riding. Is that possible once you have more experience or does it become unnecessary. My feet gradually moving out of position seems to be a real issue limiting how long I can ride, that and muscle fatigue.

So I have some idea what to expect with more practice. Can an experienced rider step on and go (for as long as they want) every time they step on. Can you make sharp turns without stepping off (like a 90 degree turn following a sidewalk around a corner (using less width than the width of the sidewalk to make your turn). Can you come to a stop, like at a stoplight step one foot off and then continue. Can you balance while stopped at a stoplight without stepping off (either balancing while still or balancing while rocking back and forth)?

Thanks

Post Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:54 am

Posts: 7
Can you tell me where you get the cushiony leg pads?

Thanks

Post Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:07 pm

Posts: 23
eredleaf wrote:
Thanks for the advice. I cannot believe the difference the having space to stay on no matter what direction you are going made. I had been mainly trying to learn this indoors, using walls for balance. Or trying to balance standing still. Maybe all that practicing inside helped, because after two weeks of not being able to stay on it for more than 5 seconds with my first try outside I lasted nine seconds, then several attempts that lasted over ten seconds, and suddenly I was cruising down the block riding for more than a minute without having to step off. By the end of this practice session, I was riding over a minute multiple times, mostly falling off or getting out of position after turning due to reaching the end of the block.

I am way more hopeful than I was yesterday. However, being able to ride for a minute or longer brought on a new set of questions: 1. Sometimes, not always may legs get very shaky, like muscle twitches. Once that starts it seems the only way to stop it is to step off for a few seconds. I pictured once I could ride for this distance, I would feel much more in control, particularly right when I first step on. I figured it would be sort of like riding a bike, once it clicks you've got it, but it seems now that it sort of clicked, but I definitely don't just have it. I may need to step on it 5 different times before I get going in a balanced way that I can go for a while. I am still very uncertain of what is the best position for my feet and my leg muscles get very tired riding it. My biggest challenge is making turns and staying on. I can complete the turn, but my feet somehow end up out of position, it feels like I am sliding off the front, but going too slow. If I lean forward to get some speed I feel like my feet will slide off the front. I am sure turning will come with practice.

I have not been able to make adjustments to my foot positions while riding. Is that possible once you have more experience or does it become unnecessary. My feet gradually moving out of position seems to be a real issue limiting how long I can ride, that and muscle fatigue.

So I have some idea what to expect with more practice. Can an experienced rider step on and go (for as long as they want) every time they step on. Can you make sharp turns without stepping off (like a 90 degree turn following a sidewalk around a corner (using less width than the width of the sidewalk to make your turn). Can you come to a stop, like at a stoplight step one foot off and then continue. Can you balance while stopped at a stoplight without stepping off (either balancing while still or balancing while rocking back and forth)?

Thanks



Hello again!

I'm glad you're starting to get a hang of it. I keep checking this forum but somehow new posts don't appear until several weeks after they are posted. I will be more than happy to answer all the questions you asked.

Adjusting your feet and sliding off - you should wear gripped, comfortable shoes. Perhaps the shoes you're using to ride does not have enough traction to keep it planted on the platforms. I don't see how it's possible that you're sliding forward unless your feet were out of position in the first place. Make sure your leg is directly on the red pad. To ensure that it is on the red pad, put your dominant leg on the pad and see if you can tilt the wheel left and right while off, with one foot off. If you can't, then your feet are probably out of alignment. Even for experienced riders like me, it is possible to slide BACKWARDS. This occurs when I ride too fast and my shoes come into contact with a slippery substance such as floor cleaner or other wet agents such as water. The reason it slides back is because the wheel tilts me back once I hit top speed. It only occurs if I continually maintain top speed. At first, you would not want to adjust your feet while riding. I had urges to do it in the beginning but was not able to do it due to lack to stability. Right now, I am able to adjust the position of my feet (both forward and backwards) as I ride.

Muscle fatigue - this is very very common. I would literally be shaking in the beginning, like my legs were about to give in and collapse. I'm sure it has a lot to do with your legs adjusting to riding with an unusual position. As of now, I am using very little of my muscular strength as I ride. In the beginning, it seemed as if all my energy were going towards the legs. Any pain you have will subside after several weeks (or months if you ride less). All my practice sessions were accompanied by sweating and panting. It was as if I was exercising. Now, however, riding feels as if I am being lifted by a magic carpet.

Things to avoid at first: turns, u-turns, bumps, and inclines. These are the four worst offenders. At first, I was not even able to go up a 10% grade. Turns were very intimidating and I had to hop off at corners. U-turns were impossible at narrow areas. It is important that you focus on riding in a straight line in an open space before you practice these harder maneuvers.

Can an experienced rider hop off and on as they wish?: yes, they can. It comes very naturally after a month, or even more if you practice less. The more hours you put into it, the better you will be. At first, these step ons and offs will not feel natural.

Can you balance at a red light or stop sign without falling off?: No, you cannot. This is impossible. Think of it as rolling a coin. They coin will only stand up while rolling. If you remove the energy source (the initial roll), then the coin will collapse on one side. You have to be in constant motion in order to not fall down. However, you can hold on to a pole or street sign at a stop and keep both your feet on the wheel while standing still. Another trick is to slow down at these stops and go at slow enough speed until the light turns green. You can simply step off and keep one foot on and one off.

I think learning the wheel is akin to learning how to type on a keyboard on your computer. At first, you will go slow and hesitate a lot. After a while, it just becomes natural. Remember that persistance is key here. Think of the joy and benefits of riding and less of the failure you might encounter. People often tell me I make it look so easy when I ride. What they don't know is that it took a lot of hours and practice to get to where I am. Like you, I could only go around my neighborhood at first. Now, I am averaging 15 miles of daily riding. Keep practicing and keep us updated with your progress.

:)

Post Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:13 pm

Posts: 23
jtborg wrote:
Can you tell me where you get the cushiony leg pads?

Thanks


I bought the foam pads from Amazon. It really helped with the pain. After a week, I stopped using it because my legs stopped hurting. They are called 'Nike Advantage V Knee/Shin Pad'. I see that they also have a product called 'Nike Dri Fit Sliding Pad', which I did not buy. The one I bought only came as one pad, not a pair. Do your legs still hurt and which part? These pads are meant for the area near the calve muscles.

Post Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:55 am

Posts: 5
Each person will have a different learning curve, but I think I can offer some tips that many will find useful. By way of background, I did ride a unicycle when I was 13 year old, but that was 50 years ago and I don't think it helped with the Solowheeling at all. At 63 years old, I took very measured and deliberate steps in learning, and I believe that's the way to go. I cannot believe folks I see on YouTube trying to do freestanding starts outdoors the first time on the wheel. I saved the freestanding starts for MUCH later in my learning program. First, I learned the basics indoors in a hallway. I do not have the training wheels, and I would not recommend them, they seem to be counterproductive to learning proper technique for painless, enjoyable, easy riding. To start, I stood stationary on the wheel between two highback chairs and got used to moving back and forth a couple inches, just getting comfortable on the wheel and with some motion. (Of course, the power must be on before you attempt to stand even stationary.) I then tried starting forward and did a lot of 2 ft rides with shifting legs right and left to correct. Then I had an epiphany and picked up the key to managing the wheel. It's a "Zen" thing -- from the stationary position between two chairs, stand up straight, look at a point about 15 foot in the distance (like a wall straight ahead with two more chairs set up as your finish point) then just relax and think "move to that point", and the wheel will take you there. Don't worry about going too fast into the wall, you will intuitively slow down. I had a door jamb (with no door) midway in my 15 ft practice path, and practiced slowing and stopping within the jamb, just holding out my hands there, and starting again. Of course, the runs were not perfect, but within 30 minutes or so I was doing reasonably controlled straight runs back and forth. I practiced a total of a couple hours over a few days within these limitiations. I thought I was pretty comfortable and went out to a bike path, starting from a stationary standstill by using a pole. Turns out I wasn't really ready for this, it's a whole different experience outside with nothing at all nearby, and very intimidating. After about a one half scary mile I ended up gaining speed, and trying to slow down (unsucessfully). It didn't seem to want to slow down even though I was consiously trying to lean back. I was pretty much riding atop a runaway wheel. Did a full forward dive to the pavement when I exceeded the maximum speed. I had tried too much, too fast. I sprained my right hand pretty severely and could not even think of getting on the wheel again for about 3 weeks, as I couldn't risk further damaging an unhealed wrist/hand. I then decided to take the following measured steps, very successfully. First, I got some rollerblading wrist guards for security. I practiced a bit more indoors while healing, staight line hallway stuff just to get used to moving on the wheel. Ready to advance, I went to a fenced in tennis court area (3 courts surrounded by one high chain link fence. I would then just get set up along one side with my stationary start by holding the chain link fence with one hand. Then just remembering to use the "look at the point you want to go to" and think "wheel, take me there, remembering to stand very straight, and glide 30 ft or so to the chain link fence staight head, and holding on there, turning 90 degrees releasing and going to the next corner. After 15 minutes of just riding the perimeter of the fence in area, stopping at each corner and manually turning, I added one shallow 90 degree curve without stopping. Just kept advancing slowly until I could do all four turns around the courts in one large oval. At this point I was using my arms outstretched in various positions to help with the turns, and even on the straight runs. As you get more experience, you'll find the arms come down. Practice your speed control changing your speed between corners as you go straight toward the opposite chain link fence, grabbing it only after you stop a foot or so in front of it. The first time out on the tennis courts I did about 30 minutes just practicing the straight line runs and then the shallow turns. Next time out I found another set of five courts surrounded by the same type fence and went there several days in a row practicing about 30-45 minutes at a time, doing little drills changing up right and left turns, and eventually zig-zagging between the five courts doing 90 degree turns. I had about 5 wheel hours at this point, and was feeling pretty good. Went out into the school parking lot and surrounding sidewalks where the tennis courts were and found that switching from smooth tennis courts to real world bumps is a whole next step. The first small sidewalk crack bumped me off but still on my feet. I was really disappointed, since I had been doing so well. Turns out, you just need experience to handle the bumps. But get really good on the smooth surfaces before you move on. I moved on by going to a nearby college campus full of long smooth sidewalks (like 1/4 mile runs) and lots of criss crossing diagonal sidewalks to allow choosing 45 degree turns, 90 degree turns, and 135 degree turns (later on), as well as small ramps (the handicap ramps to buildings). At this point I still had not mastered the "freestanding start", still using a pole, or rail, or sign to start out. By going to two different campuses for about an hour each time out I gradually got more and more at ease. In a one hour outing I might get bumped off on a crack or uneven surface once or twice, but would land on my feet. I only hit the ground falling forward one time after that initial disaster with the sprained wrist, and my wristguards prevented injury on that 2nd fall. That fall was when I was attempting a pretty good bump on a driveway cutout, just to see if the wheel could do it. It couldn't. One of the campuses had a nice run of building support poles about 10 feet apart, and I learned to slalom turn on those, and gained a lot of confidence. Campuses have lots of large circle opportunities around planters and fountains and food court areas, they're usually people free early evening, too. They also have large plazas with patterns in the concrete work that allow you to make up your own zig-zag drills. I never had need for the shinguards, although I did have a very slight bruising on the shins in the tennis court training period. Nothing painful, for sure. As you progress, you hardly notice any pressure on your shins. I did use hiking boots with full ankle coverage, and I recommend those until you're really getting good.
Only after you have a very nice controlled freestanding "stop" -- basically coming to a full stop and then just stepping one foot down with no drama-- should you THEN try to learn the free standing start. It's pretty much the opposite of the no drama stop. If you delay the freestanding start learning until you are really comfortable with every other aspect of riding, you'll find it much easier. It's not that necessary anyway, since there is almost always a car, a railing, a sign, or even a friendly shoulder to mount your wheel for a start from stationary position. This allows you to get your feet in exactly the right position, as well. It's tricky riding if your feet are not exactly where they should be.
I never used the training strap after my first unsuccessful time out. I think it really messes you up, restricts your arm balancing (needed early on) and also can lead to unproductive riding habits. The wheel isn't going anywhere if you do get bumped off, it turns itself off. In fact, with the strap holding the wheel upright you prevent it from shuting off when you're bumped off. The wheel will take getting bounced around on the ground with nothing more than scratches. You shouldn't be riding in crowds until you're far enough in your training. Until you gain some experience, you might want to put some duct tape on it to prevent scratches. You won't need it taped up for long.
OBSERVATIONS and TIPS: Progress is slow, but steady. The fun factor increases with experience. My first many hours on the wheel (even though I was doing pretty well) my heart would be racing when I finished my practicing. Eventually you will become relaxed. Your arms will come in to your body, even to your pockets. You will automatically pick up the leaning turns, and the slow speed sharp turns. Make drills for yourself. On a bike path with a dashed dividing line I gained lots of experience quickly by slaloming between the dashes. Make up drills for yourself, just going straight is useful, but you can speed up your leaning curve by finding a place like a campus with mult-turn opportunities. One thing I found uncomfortable is the inability to keep my speed down when I would have a straight run with nothing ahead of me. Riding near the maximum, you get the kick back warning where the wheel pushes you back a bit. It's kind of unnerving. When there is nothing but clear path ahead, though, it is natural to keep speeding up. I finally realized I can avoid this by simply turning my head 45 degrees or so looking at the side view, you automaticly slow down enough to avoid the push back. The other thing you can do (should have mentioned this earlier on) if you find yourself going to fast with an open road, is to look at a specific mark on the path ahead and just "will" yourself to stop or slow down by that point. Again, it's the Zen thing.
Other key points to remember at all points in your training--always make sure your back is straight. Your knees should be locked straight as well, although until you get more experience just try to keep them as straight as possible.
Watch all the YouTube videos, I went over and over them while I recovered from my sprained wrist, and I think it helped.
OH YEAH -- IMPORTANT!!! -- Always be sure to check your tire pressure! For learning you want to keep it around 35 PSI. If you weigh more than average, up that to 40 PSI. I weigh 180 lbs (6ft 4") and keep the pressure just over 40. You may lose a pound or so of pressure each day with the wheel just sitting, it's normal. Higher pressure will be a bit more bouncy on the bumps, but will actually help you with them and, more importantly, increase your distance on a charge and increase your manuverability.
Also, your wheel will lose charge just sitting a few days. Top up the charge just before you ride, if possible.
I'm really enjoying my wheel at this point. I've got a total of around a dozen hours on it, spread out over as many weeks (remember, I had a 3 week down time for injury). I still need to refine my freestanding starts, just haven't put too much work into them. It's amazing how precise you can be, riding around pedestrians on a bike path or sidwalks is pretty easy once you've got some time under your belt. I live near Niagara Falls NY, and buzzing around the state park there is a real kick. Solowheeling is perfect for sightseeing in large parks, since you can cover so much distance so easily. I look forward to using it when visiting other tourist areas (Gettysburg, DC, etc).
I usually ride out a full charge, which is about one hour, or about 6-7 miles. I think 7 miles is about maximum for a 180 pounder.
If you're still with me at this point, I hope you'll consider trying some of my methods. I hope that if you've been intimidated by the horror stories here and some of the YouTube videos, that it helps you to know that by taking measured steps in a progressive learning schedule you can learn to enjoy your wheel like a pro in a reasonable timewithout inflicting a lot of pain on yourself. If anybody is in the Buffalo New York area, let me know -- it would be a lot of fun riding with another Solowheeler. :D

Post Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:15 am

Posts: 2
Location: Dallas, TX
Wow Donald! That's quite the reply. I'm thinking of buying one of these contraptions and my age has a lot to do with it. I'm 53 and I'm intrigued but I'm not the most athletic individual but seeing that you're in your 60's is inspirational. Not sure if I can master this device as all people are different at all ages. I just want a challenge that's not gonna kill me. Lol

Post Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:18 am

Posts: 9
Model: Solowheel
Manufacturer: Inventist
User Location: Tacoma Washington USA
Solowheeler wrote:
Wow Donald! That's quite the reply. I'm thinking of buying one of these contraptions and my age has a lot to do with it. I'm 53 and I'm intrigued but I'm not the most athletic individual but seeing that you're in your 60's is inspirational. Not sure if I can master this device as all people are different at all ages. I just want a challenge that's not gonna kill me. Lol


Well, I'm 55 and have a bad knee. I'm getting pretty comfortable with it after a week with only a few bumps and bruises. One the realities is that the SW is NOT inexpensive. For many folks it won't be until they reach our age that they have the discretionary income for something like this.

Go for it. I think you will enjoy it.

Post Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:44 pm
MvM

Posts: 115
Model: Solowheel
Manufacturer: Inventist
User Location: Rotterdam
Hi Guys,

I have just found out about this forum and am just lookin around to share my experiences and learn new things. My name is Maarten and I am from Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
I have had my Solowheel only since last Tuesday night. That same night I charged it for one hour and took it to my parking garage which is conventiently next to my appartment block and which is mostly empty.

Started out by just leaning agains the wall, getting on the Solowheel while using the practice strap.
First, wobling back and forth to the get a feel for the balance and then very slowly started to move forwared.
I did this for more than an hour, at times trying to get on the SW without support.
That first 1.5 hours was really difficult. I fell down a couple of times and one time badly, twisting my leg (it still hurts a little, but only when I walk, not on the SW :) )
However, at one point I managed to travel about 30 yeard without falling down, although I did not go in the direction I wanted. But 30 minutes later I was continuously running circles around the garage (about 200 yards each) and did this for about 10-12 laps.
Wednesday, I continued practicing in the garage. Every time I got unbalanced I stepped off and one time fell down. Practised going slowly because that is more difficult.
Thursday, yesterday, I practiced 30 minutes in the garage, then decided to go outside and try the sidewalk and street. This was a BIG difference. The garage is extremely smooth, the street and sidewalk is not.
I had plotted a course of about 4 km in my head, took me about an hour. Stumbled off at least ten times, usually because of uneveness in the road.
Went to Central Station where there is a nice square in front which is smooth. Run around that and tried uphill slopes a bit, very difficult. Kept practising until the battery went dead and walked home (about 0,5 km).
Today, I just got back from a almost two hour trip around the city, going fast and slow, did about 10-11 km I thing until the SW battery started flashing. Learned a lot. There is large square in the centre of town with a small pedestrian bridge which I triend at least 8 times. One way goes fine, the other way is more difficult (to steep). Did never fall down though.
Had about 4-5 people who wanted to try it or wanted to know what it was. Great Fun !! :D :D
I am still using the practice belt though for catching the SW when I have to step of. Curbs and tram rails are still difficult.

So, for me, getting to learn the SW was much easier than I had anticipated.
Actually feeling like going out to try it again. Need to put something in the mail but I am waiting to get it charged.

Post Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:54 pm

Posts: 1229
Model: X5 Marsrover
Manufacturer: AirWheel
I made a video on how to learn AirWheel (similar to solo wheel i guess)


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