Laziness is the mother of invention. We humans are very good at doing things, but we're even better at finding ways to not do things. Especially menial things, like walking.
Enter the slew of small, electric, personal transportation devices that we're calling "rideables." Thrust into the spotlight by celebrities (the kung-fu masters of laziness), there is now a veritable industry of electronic chariots. We put four of the most promising rideables to the test to see if they're worth a damn.
A quick breakdown of the competition:
The PhunkeeDuck is celebrities' scooter of choice, because it has the best marketing department. It's kind of like a small Segway without the handles. You lean to accelerate and brake, and you twist your feet to rotate and turn. It's similar to what our own David Pierce rode last month. It costs $1,500, has a claimed range of about 10 miles and tops out at 12 mph. It takes between two and three hours to charge and weighs 18 pounds.
The Hovertrax is very similar, just smaller and lighter. As far as we can tell this is the original rideable, though this is an area of contention. It'll run you $1,500 and has a range of just over 9 miles. The company says it has a top speed of just 5 mph, but it is a lot higher than that, let me tell you. It only takes half an hour to fully charge and weighs just 15 pounds.
The zBoard Pro looks like an oversized skateboard. There are a lot of electric skateboards out there but this one is especially appealing because it doesn't require a hand-held remote. It has a pressure-sensitive pad on the front and on the back, and you just lean. Simple, right? It costs 900 bucks, has a range of up to 13 miles, and a top speed of up to 20 mph. The downside is it takes 5 to 6 hours to charge and weighs 25 pounds.
And then there is the Solowheel Extreme, from the same team behind the Hovertrax. It's basically a self-balancing, stand-up unicycle. Well, it tries to self-balance while going back and forth—from side to side, you're on your own. It costs a whopping $2,300, but it's build for rougher terrain. It has a range of 15.5 miles and a top speed of 10 mph. It charges in just an hour and weighs 26 pounds.