By Marlen Chinos
We are all familiar with automobiles, trains and planes, but what about a more unusual mode of transport?
Around campus, Cal Poly Pomona students have found unique ways to navigate from class to class, apart from the usual walk or bike ride.
Enter the self-balancing unicycle. The self-balancing unicycle is a modern take to the traditional unicycle that uses a gyroscope sensor to control balance and a high power motor drive to gain momentum. A series of gyroscopes within the unicycle ensure that the rider maintains balance.
Marlon Quintero, a fourth-year political science student, is no stranger to the art of riding the self-balancing unicycle.
“I started riding my self-balancing unicycle since September 2014, when I acquired my first unicycle,” said Quintero. “Since then, it has been my method of transportation on campus.”
The self-balancing unicycle is small and lightweight, making it portable and easy to carry. It can be directly put in the trunk of the car before and after use, making it easy to travel to and from campus.
Before purchasing his self-balancing unicycle, Quintero had certain criteria for his optimal mode of transportation.
“I was searching for something that can help me transport on campus: something small, light and ‘legal’ that I can put on the back on my car without any problem,” said Quintero. “I saw [the unicycle] on a documentary, and I thought it was wonderful. I bought it just for curiosity to see how it worked. I noticed that it was simple, but what really interested me was the size. It was compact and was perfect for carrying it in the car and to move around campus.”
When using the self-balancing unicycle, the rider places his or her feet on the pedals, conveniently located next to the wheel. To accelerate, riders must lean forward in a gentle motion. To decelerate, riders must tilt backward. In order to turn, riders must lean to the left or right.
According to Quintero, using the self-balancing unicycle becomes easier after some practice.
“I think it is very easy,” said Quintero. “I will describe my personal experience as learning to ride a normal bicycle for the first time. It took me around three hours to be able to balance my body. Then, it took me two more hours to move forward without the training wheels. There are no special tricks to ride it. It just need a little of balance and practice. Once we learn how to balance our body and move forward, that is all we need to ride it.”
The self-balancing unicycle is battery operated and charges in one to two hours. Fully charged, it can travel up to 16 miles in distance at a speed of 11 miles per hour.
Quintero stated that he only rides his self-balancing unicycle on university grounds.
“I would like to ride from my home to school,” said Quintero. “It would take me a lot more time to arrive to campus. I just ride it on campus.”
Not only is the self-balancing unicycle a portable and easy mode of transportation, but it is also energy saving and environmentally friendly. It’s also eco-friendly, as it can effectively decrease air pollution and the consumption of resources.
Quintero believes students should give the self-balancing unicycle a chance.
“I would like to see more CPP students ride it around campus because it is easy to use, and, at the end of the day, it will help them save energy,” said Quintero. “Students should try it. It is less expensive than the newest phone, and can save a lot of time.”
Courtesy Marlon Quintero
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