1 November 2014

REVIEW: AirWheel Q3

Wheely good fun (sorry).

The Segway; not just a way of making Will Arnet seem funnier in Arrested Development, but a genuinely clever attempt at a personal transportation device that is environmentally friendly. Granted it's been ten years and we're not all zooming about on them, but Segways are undeniably a good idea. But we were wondering if there was a way to make Segways more... we don't know.... completely mental. Oh there is. It's called The AirWheel.

Take a Segway and remove the handlebars. We know, that would make it tricky to balance on... but stay with us. Now move the wheels from either side of your feet to between your feet. Yes, it has suddenly become a unicycle, but one that doesn't have a seat, leaving you to perch on tiny footplates. Now go. Seriously, just lean forward and go. Bye.

Certainly an eye catching transportation device, the AirWheel Q3 (there are other models available, the Q3 being the biggest and most powerful) keeps itself upright by way of a gyro, the same technology as in the aforementioned Segway - the rest however, is up to you. Balancing on the flap-down metal footplates you simply lean slightly (and we can't overemphasise "slightly" enough) forward to go forward, or lean back to reverse. The onboard battery will kick in responding to you movement, pushing the motor into play. Good luck.

To say that the AirWheel is tricky to master would be to say that ISIS are 'mischievous'. Just standing on the thing straight out of the box is difficult, let alone trying to move anywhere. The cocky bods featured on the AirWheel website, whizzing about town, racing around while absently checking their emails, must all have been genetically bred to perform such stunts. This was definitely something we had to practice with.

And what fun it was. Despite being warned not to, we spent most of our time with it indoors, learning how to balance, how much to lean, how to corner etc. Doing it in the house actually made it easier as there were things to grab onto like walls and tables, doorways and sofas. It took a good solid couple of days of doing this until we dared to venture outside. And bloody good fun we had.

Once you have the confidence to leap onto this thing and jet off, you soon discover just how quickly it can go. Although the AirWheel's speed has been capped at 12 mph, it felt so much faster. There is a near constant feeling that you are about to fall off, but once you accept that it actually becomes easier to control. Oh, and you will fall off it. We did, lots. But no matter how grazed your knees get, no matter how badly you scuff the plastic wheel guards, you will always want to get back on. The AirWheel becomes addictive, and writing this just a couple days after the courier came to take away our test sample, we miss it. Aww. 

We missed it because it was fun, and that is what is key to remember about it. We truly don't believe this will revolutionise personal transport (as the Segway failed to) but what we do think it will make a huge impact on is extreme sports. When the device gets lighter and, dare we say it, quicker, we can see competitors thrashing it out on the half pipe, or slaloming down a city street. It will be a thing of fun, of sport and play. That's what this is; an expensive toy.

And a bloody good one at that.


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