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January 11, 2018

Cruising around on the Onewheel+ XR

by John_A

The Onewheel has always been an exhilarating ride. When you step onto the board and lean down on the nose, there’s a rush of adrenaline as you wait for the electric motor to kick into gear. You are, for a split-second, trusting that the board will carry you forward and build the momentum necessary to keep you upright. Just carving is joyous, too, as you lean on the heel or toe edge to guide the board left or right. As an extreme sports plaything, it’s a unique and immediately joyous experience. But as a serious mode of urban transportation? That’s a tougher sell.

Earlier this week, Future Motion announced the Onewheel+ XR. It’s a successor to the Onewheel+ (which I thoroughly enjoyed riding last year) that doubles the range to somewhere between 12 and 18 miles. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test these claims during a test ride in the Las Vegas Convention Center car park (a rundown test would have taken a fair number of hours, not to mention a huge stretch of free tarmac). I could, however, check that the riding experience was otherwise unaltered.

Well, good news. The Onewheel+ XR is just as fast and downright strange to ride as its predecessor. Stopping is still a little tricky — you have to completely remove your foot from either the left or right-hand side of the nose. If you hesitate a little, or keep some of your foot on both halves of the kicktail (i.e. centered) the Onewheel will think you’re trying to turn instead. It’s a minor quibble though and the learning curve is part of what makes the board so appealing. There’s a real sense of progression as you learn how to fly over bumps, stop on a dime and carve in a figure of eight.

Within half an hour, though, my legs started to ache. And it made me wonder if I could ever use the Onewheel as a full-time bicycle replacement. The extra range is a huge improvement, but over long distances I suspect I would want something a little less strenuous. That, of course, is where traditional electric skateboards come in. The Onewheel+ XR is competing with well-established rideables such as the Boosted Board and Inboard M1. Those are more practical, I would argue, and safer to ride in metropolitan areas. As a commuter tool, then, the Onewheel+ XR is hard to recommend. But as an all-terrain electric skateboard, it’s still in a league of its own.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

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