5 Rules For Urban Onewheeling
“He will win who knows how to handle superior and inferior forces” — Art of War by Sun Tzu
I’ve ridden my Onewheel over 100 miles throughout Chicago. I’ve done St. Paddy’s Day, I’ve cruised Boystown, I’ve put in countless miles within the Loop. The Onewheel is a great tool for transportation, you are neither biker nor pedestrian. You are Wheeling… It has a 4–6 mile range, 12 mph top speed, self-balancing, electric powered. Needless to say you should ride to your own ability and always wear appropriate protective gear.
- Stay Frosty AKA Stay Alert: It’s easy to get comfortable on the Onewheel, but out in the field you need to be ready, always on alert. Unlike a bike where you have potentially 5 points of contact, two hand, two feet and your butt, with a Onewheel you have just two, and to a varying degree based on your stance, dips in the road are clearly felt. Be especially aware of sections of the road approaching intersections where the road is so worn in by years of traffic, it recreates a subtle wave texture, which can appear gentle. With proper awareness, avoidance of troubled areas, and a good sense of the road, this is all manageable. But dips in the road, potholes, traffic, pedestrians, they are all out there and it’s important to always staying frosty.
- Communicate: The most powerful tool you have is your ability to communicate. Use it to alert people to your intentions. I am a fan of the left arm straight out for left turn and right arm straight out for right turns. Also having an Alert Call is just one important way to communicate out in the field. Once I made a left hand turn without seeing a biker coming up from behind me, out of no where I hear “Yo-Yo”, by the way he said it and the manner in which he flowed through the streets, it was clear he was experienced and his alert call was lightning fast. Practice it until you have it down. Mine is “Ka-Kaaw”, I made it up, it’s easy for me to say. The important thing is it’s loud, and easy to say without any hesitation whatsoever. “KA-KAAW”
- Check The Weather: not just if it’s going to rain, but how windy it is. Unpredictable winds are something you need to be ready for anyways (see rule #1), but it’s worth checking the weather. I have gone through light rain without any issue, but clearly you don’t want to be out in the field on your wheel in the middle of a downpour.
- Plan Your Route: The difference of having bike lanes is huge. If the main route doesn’t have a bike lane, consider side streets. The most preferable is quiet, slow, side streets. Next are streets with bike lanes. High trafficked streets with no bikes lanes are to be avoided whenever possible. Being on a two lane street with no bike lane, and getting passed by an 18 wheeler, is really an experience in its own right, and something I don’t need to experience regularly.
- Maintain Your Gear: Tire pressure needs to be monitored and maintained. The tire is where the rubber meets the road, literally, so check it for troubled areas. The Onewheel forum is a great resource for Onewheel maintenance.