When thinking about personal electric vehicles in general, a one wheeled electric skateboard may be one of the most uncommon forms of this transportation, but that may be changing….
Future Motion’s V1 Onewheel in 2015 was the first proof that something so unique could be useful and fun for consumers. Though the market for one wheeled boards is mainly dominated by Future Motion, due to their patents on the technology, other international brands with a similar goal are attempting to gain market share with lower prices and differentiated products. Throughout this post, we will breakdown the benefits and drawbacks of each one wheeled board, comparing and contrasting them to the only standard we have, Future Motion’s offerings.
Best Electric Skateboards with One Wheel
15 miles (24 km)
7 miles (11 km)
7 miles (11 km)
10 miles (16 km)
19 mph (30 km/h)
16 mph (26 km/h)
13 mph (21 km/h)
14 mph (23 km/h)
27 lbs (12.5 kg)
23 lbs (10.4 kg)
31 lbs (14 kg)
27 lbs (12.5 kg)
275 lbs (125 kg)
275 lbs (125 kg)
265 lbs (120 kg)
220 lbs (100 kg)
no gyros, no app, no costumer service
no app, no costumer service
The Onewheel+ XR is the flagship model from Future Motion, released in 2018, it hosts a 12 – 18 mile range with a maximum speed of around 19mph, different riding modes within an official app and built in LED lights on either end. The board retails for $1800 USD, giving a steep premium to the brand name and customer service, which is somewhat warranted as it’s one of the most demanded one wheeled electric boards.
In terms of durability, many people like to use the phrase “built like a tank”, because of how well-constructed the product is, hosting aluminium rails and selective waterproofing, which allows Future Motion to trust their product in the wild. Most avid owners will ride their board for years on end with no issues, as long as they take time for regular maintenance, like switching out old footpads and changing the tire and bearings when necessary.
There is no doubt Future Motion has the best product offering in terms of durability and performance with the XR, but for some of you not looking to spend over $1000 USD, or you see this as more of hobby rather than a commuter you have to rely on, you may be better off with one of the cheaper options covered later in this post.
The Onewheel Pint is the new and improved little brother of the +XR, released last year it comes at a much lower price of $950 USD. To match this lower price, the Pint offers only 6-8 miles in range with a top speed of around 16 mph, hosting a smaller footprint compared to any of Future Motion’s previous models.
This has expanded Onewheel’s demographics to younger, lower income consumers in highschool and university looking for a short electric commuter, and many use this as a cheaper entry into the onewheel space. As the newest model in the lineup, the Pint also hosts new technological features like SimpleStop and the lightbar indicator in the front foot pad for placement and battery level. It also has a new design, very different from the XR, which includes a unibody aluminum frame, a smaller rounded tire and The MagHandle. The experience when riding is quite similar to the +XR, but just in a smaller form factor with a more rounded tire.
The Onewheel+ is the oldest flagship model from Future Motion, and is not sold anymore, but there are frequent second-hand opportunities to get your hands on one. To compare, the Onewheel+ is the Onewheel +XR just with a smaller battery similar to the Pint.
Much the same as the +XR, there are still two sensors in the front footpad, LED lights on either side, and the same Vega stock tire. Since you can only buy this board through previous owners, the price for that is usually discounted fairly, with the average selling price being around $800 – $1000 USD. Most buyers of this board are either looking at it for the modification capabilities, like battery extensions, or the buyer is looking to get the form factor of the +XR but doesn’t want to pay the steep retail price. Overall this is a good option for those looking to buy into the Onewheel brand without the need for a bleeding edge model. If you’re considering this route, checkout our last post on ‘How To Buy A Used Onewheel’ for all the tips and tricks you need when looking at the second hand market.
Onewheel V1 (Original)
The Onewheel Original or V1 was the first product offering from Future Motion on Kickstarter, released 2015. It shares many of the same dimensions and technology from the Onewheel+ and the +XR, but obviously has older hardware and software drawbacks.
The older battery and motor combine for a less powerful experience on hills and trails, while the older hardware is somewhat less durable compared to newer models. The largest difference between the V1 and the rest of Future Motion’s lineup, is the front and back footpads. Both are completely flat contrasted to the slope on the pads of the Onewheel+ and +XR, while the front sensor is less accurate when dismounting. This is a small difference, but can affect foot fatigue on long rides by a large margin. Much like the Onewheel+, Future Motion does not sell these boards anymore, and since the V1 is even older the second hand market opportunities are slim in most places. Yes, the board is older and may not live up to the newer models, but the experience when riding is generally the same, for the most part. Again, this board is another great option for those looking to align with the Onewheel brand without breaking the bank.
The Surfwheel has been the most notable competitor to the Onewheel, in terms of price and media awareness, with countless video reviews showing up in Youtube search results.
The Surfwheel SU is the most popular board in their lineup, coming in at $399 USD while hosting a 10 mile range with a top speed of 12mph. The board comes with front and rear lights, much like the Onewheel, but also adds LED’s running down the entire side rail and wheel well of the board, adding to visibility and colour styling. All of these lights are controlled through the onboard app, where you can also access riding modes, current speed, trip odometer and battery level. The Surfwheel has a much smaller tire compared to the onewheel, making ground clearance almost non-existent, while also limiting acceleration. The Surfwheel also uses a rubber pressure pad on the front foot pad rather than having it hid behind the grip tape like the Onewheel, which can affect grip, balance and ride comfort.
As a commuter vehicle, I don’t really believe it would be feasible to rely on this for consistent speed and usability. The only terrain you can ride this board, from what I’ve seen, is on flat
smooth pavement, anything past that will be difficult to stay on the board or go any faster than 3-5mph. At its price point, the Surfwheel is definitely targeted toward tech-euthused kids and young teens, which this board is pretty perfect for. Looking from a parents perspective, the board doesn’t go any faster than a casual biking pace, at best, it has lights all over it so no cars will miss them and it hosts just enough range for a fun neighborhood ride, but nothing much more. If your child is begging you for a Onewheel-like device and you purchase this for them, be ready to flesh out for the Pint in the near future.
The Trotter is probably one of the closest to a ‘knock-off’ version of Onewheels products, looking much like a simpler version of a Onewheel Original. These boards are manufactured in China and make their way through Alibaba with large bulk orders to smaller distributors in other countries, so the price for these can vary depending on where you are.
On Alibaba you can purchase singular units for around $500 USD, which brings it to about half the price of a Pint. The Trotter does have some intriguing specs, with a 7 mile range and a top speed of around 13 mph, though it doesn’t exactly meet the Pint, for half the price you’re getting quite a lot of value. As expected though, the Trotter falls short in many other places, for example it weighs 31 pounds which more than the weight of a +XR! The board also doesn’t use a gyroscope, which makes mounting the board very difficult and doesn’t allow for the board to make adjustments to the ride in real time. In other words, the Trotter always wants to come to level regardless of weight distribution, now yes the technology is not as intuitive as Future Motion but it is still definitely possible to get comfortable riding the board, especially if you use it regularly. The Trotter does have a few notable differentiators from the Onewheel such as, a more rounded treaded tire that comes stock, rubber foot pads with grips for your feet, and rather than an app the Trotter uses a loud ‘beep’ to signify changes in the boards condition. This is probably the second best alternative to Future Motions offerings, but lacks any real warranty, replacement parts and a gyroscope, so beware that the price is reflective of this.
The Unicool Dan Dan or D2 is similar to the Trotter as it tries to take as much as it can from Future Motions work, but the D2 has some interesting differentiators that make it very more attractive than the Trotter. Firstly, it has a much sleeker design with colour accents and a metal frame, making it more durable, with front and tail lights that change with the direction of riding.
Much the same as the Trotter, the D2 offers a 10 mile range with a top speed of around 14 mph, again at a price of around $500 USD, which is similar to the Pint in range, but comes short on power and torque. The largest benefit of the Dan Dan is the addition of a gyroscope which gives a similar ride feel to the Onewheel, but obviously is not as intuitive as Future Motion’s patented firmware. Owner’s of the D2 make note that you cannot change riding modes and the default mode is quite stiff with a slight nose-up angle when balanced. Overall, for half the price of a Pint, this is a great way to ‘test-drive’ the sport before you dive in with an $1800 USD investment, where you could resell the board for about half the price you bought it, or keep it for your friends to ride!
I know, this one doesn’t have just one wheel, but two. Still would liek to feature it as it comes up on Amazon when you search for “Onewheel”.The VIRO Free-style Hoverboard is definitely a step down in performance and specs, but is a great option for younger kids and consumers who aren’t as comfortable with boardsports.
Essentially, the VIRO takes the infamous ‘hoverboard’ technology and switches it into a Onewheel form factor. Proof of this lies within how the board operates, as it uses two separate wheels, much like the hoverboard below, that act in unison rather than utilizing one wider tire. This can be a significant benefit for tight turning over the Onewheel, as each wheel can spin in opposite directions. At the same time, it is a huge drawback to speed and torque as it uses smaller, lower quality wheels with less of a contact patch, which results in a less powerful experience. In terms of build, the VIRO again takes parts and material from the original hoverboards, with a fully plastic encasing and a built in fender with a small LCD screen to indicate battery and speed levels. The board retails for around $329 USD, which makes sense for a product with a 7mph top speed and an even lower 6.5 mile range. For adults, I would never recommend this as the specs are based on a youths weight meaning an average size person may get half of what they claim. This is an obvious push towards the younger market, and I would recommend this for parents looking for a safe electric option.
What kind of Features are we looking for in Electric Boards with One Wheel?
Reputable and Safe
Obviously, this is the most important category for any buyer, and this is usually the factor that forces the majority of consumers to go to Future Motion, rather than these other competitors. This is based mostly on the fact that Onewheel has a monopoly in this market for their hardware and firmware patents, but is also the only company in the space that has thousands upon thousands of avid customers around the world ready to advocate for the company at any time. Since Onewheel was the only option for many years up until now, it has left these international brands scrambling for any market share they can make up for. For chinese boards such as the Trotter and Unicool D2, I believe there are enough satisfied customers in the market to justify their reputability, but do not expect any communication or help from the company after purchase. For the lower end plastic boards like the Surfwheel and VIRO hoverboard, I would not trust the product to stand the test of time, in any interpretation. Both have little to no durability features and ride with almost no ground clearance, causing more tail drags, nosedives, and bumps into rocks and other objects, which will decrease longevity. To be frank, these are both toys and I wouldn’t recommend either if you’re looking to ride it anywhere close to what the Onehweel can do.
In terms of solely top speed, torque and braking, any one of Onewheel’s models will blow away these alternatives. The slowest model from Future Motion is the Pint, which still goes more than 2mph faster than the best competition, so if performance is a major factor to you, I would save up for a used Pint or +. The Trotter and Unicool Dan Dan are the only competition in terms of range against the Pint, V1 and +, with the D2 advertising 3 miles more than the former mentioned. Until you, the consumer, understand your comfort riding the board, you won’t have a great idea of what performance will suit your needs best, so if you do have a chance to try any one of these boards hopefully this article will help index what board will fit you best in terms of performance.
For durability, I would omit both the Surfwheel and VIRO hoverboard, as they are more of a toy made of plastic rather than a transportation device. Again here, due to the huge customer base of Future Motion’s product, it is unmatched in terms of it’s testimonials. You can find hundreds of people in Onehweel communities with almost endless miles on their boards with no issues ever occurring, now obviously there are still faulty products and other water damage issues, but for the average consumer, you’re not going to break it easily. In terms of the Trotter and D2, their build quality seems to be pretty high, but for long-term consistent use it’s difficult to rely on as there aren’t many other riders who’ve really put these boards to the same tests as the Onewheel. In long-term use, it also begs the question of how easy it is to access replacement parts and where they’re coming from, but we will continue that in the next section.
Solid Customer Service
For the vast majority of these ‘off-brand’ Onewheels, there will be almost no customer service once you’ve purchased the product, and this can be a huge drawback for anyone looking for a daily commuter. Now, if you are mechanically inclined, you could most likely DIY a fix, but if not, you’ve got a dead paper weight with no help in sight. Again, this is why so many consumers go towards Future Motion, with a one year warranty. Now, much like durability, not everyone has had the best experience with Onewheels customer service. This is mostly because they are a smaller domestic company, but in comparison to the other boards listed above, it’s better to have to pay for the parts and know you’re going to get them, rather than having no option for repair at all.
Why is the onewheel (FutureMotion) so expensive?
As I’ve said throughout this post, Future Motion’s software and firmware are the most valuable pieces of their product. The Onewheel makes thousands of calculations per second, all with an intended purpose towards making the ride better for the user. Now I’m not going to act like I understand the technology or how it works, but many reviewers will tell you that all of these other brands are leaps and bounds behind Future Motion and their work in the space. Future Motion also has hardware patents on the “Self-Stabilizing Skateboard” which covers the hub motor configuration in the tire, the sensor position and its use in balancing calculations and other detail oriented mechanical parts. So to begin with, that adds an absurd amount of value to the purchase price, as they are the only supplier allowed to
use this method. Then, adding on the value of the brand name itself and the fact that they operate and produce domestically in California, you can begin to understand the pricing breakdown. I’m not trying to say everyone will have the same outlook on the price of the product, but you do have to appreciate the amount of work and effort that’s been put in to get the brand where it is today.
Onewheel Pint vs XR – which fits me better?
To start, if you’re limited by price, you’re going to lean pretty heavily towards the Pint, but I would recommend looking at the second hand market before you jump the gun. For these customers, the Onewheel+ is the perfect hybrid, as it re-sells for around the same price or lower than the Pint and offers the speed and physical form factor of the +XR. If you want to learn more about buying used in the Onewheel market, read our previous post here. If you’re not bound by price, your choice lies within only a few factors, weight, use case and portability. Weight is pretty simple, I would say if you’re over 225 lbs you will notice a large hit to acceleration and range with the Pint, so it makes sense to spend extra to get the full experience. For use cases, it’s essentially the difference between buying the board as a necessary transport device versus buying it as a toy/hobby. It seems pretty obvious but if you need to rely on the Onewheel for transportation, go for the +XR, the extra range is always welcome and the larger size makes it much more comfortable for longer rides. Portability is probably the least important factor out of the three, but can sometimes contradict the use case factor. For those of you planning to use the Onewheel as a last-mile vehicle for work, where you have to bring the board into the building with you, this may push you towards the Pint for the smaller footprint and lighter weight.
Whether you’re pulling the trigger on a $1800 USD +XR or a $500 USD knock-off from China, we’re all looking for the same thing, a way to escape, get outside and enjoy the float! I understand not everyone is in a position to buy a Onewheel and many of you are probably debating whether or not you should save up or just buy the budget version, and I would tell you at this point to save. These competitors of the Onewheel are still miles behind in terms of customer service, manufacturing, software and accessibility, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. If you’ve been dreaming of the Onewheel experience for months, watching videos, joining communities and telling all your friends, you’re going to be disappointed if your patience gets the best of you and you go for a budget option. It’s never a bad thing to save, and who knows maybe by the time you’ve saved up the new version will have already come out!