By Jeffrey Will, Experience Manager InMotion USA
As an obsessed electric unicycle rider, I've been itching to share my thoughts on what InMotion has accomplished with their brand new V10 / V10F. However, as an InMotion employee, you may be thinking, "Jeff, your opinion is biased!" - Rightfully so. You should also know that I've been a rider for over 3 years now - long before I ever got involved in the industry on a professional level. This means I've owned and/or had lots of riding time on just about every major brand/model EUC out there.
My tastes have evolved somewhat over the years, but I've always been drawn to riding as a means to navigate through urban obstacles - and in that sense it has become a true vehicle. But the pure joy of it comes through my ability to maneuver through spaces in ways that can't be accomplished on any other rideable form factor. I've always believed that the subtleties of proportions, weight distribution, and self-balancing algorithms are the most important factors that affect the way I get the most satisfaction out of riding around on a daily basis.
It's been incredible to see how far electric unicycles have come in just a few short years. But not every evolution has resulted in total gain as the relentless pursuit of performance and range can often come at the cost of portability, maneuverability and overall comfort. I've always felt that the further we push towards these performance goals, the further we get from some of the most important core dynamics of riding a single wheel. But it doesn't have to be that way!
What InMotion has done here is set up a marriage of the performance-hungry desires of the enthusiast market with a form factor that doesn't make too many sacrifices to achieve it.
The Low Hanging Fruit
These are the specs electric unicycle enthusiasts demand more and more as the development cycles push things forward. More power = more safety, so maximizing the amount of stress the system is able to take is obviously a great thing. And InMotion really didn't hold back here - this is a 2000W motor thoroughly tested to actually sustain that amount of power for long periods. This means it can peak way above that if you're even able to manage pushing it that hard. At my weight of 165lbs, however, I don't come close to using the amount of power V10F offers even when I push it as hard as I feel comfortable. This is one of if not the most powerful wheels I've ever tested.
And that range. I've personally done two different range tests from full to empty. The first run was full of large elevation change along the rugged Southern California coast and it emptied the 960Wh battery pack right at 40 miles. On a more even elevation run, I managed 51 miles. At 165 lbs and generally not very conservative riding style, I'm impressed and feel it certainly lives up to the marketing claims of 50-62 miles absolute maximum. Considering the slim form factor, I consider this a huge win. Will some want more range than this? Most assuredly, yes, they will. Currently this is one of those things that comes with trade offs and I feel V10F has struck a balance with a huge range that 90% of potential riders wouldn't need in their regular life.
As for speed? Well for a rider much more drawn to riding through urban spaces rather than long/open expanses, this one isn't high on my list of must-haves. But is a very significant boost beyond my Glide 3 welcome? Absolutely. It's nice to have it if I need it. 25 mph is nuts and way more than I need. For this still-portable urban friendly wheel, I feel I have more than enough grunt with plenty left over if I decide to go on a power trip.
The Show Stealer
The real story here is that InMotion's engineers were able to fit these huge improvements into a similar form factor as V8. The wheel diameter is still 16" with a similar design language, but physically it is a quite bit larger overall. They had to cram all those extra cells somewhere, right? Where most other manufacturers do this by building fatter, more squat machines, InMotion has moved the built-in handle to the outside of the machine and increased the height. Still wonderfully slim, of course.
Why does slim matter? Well first I would ask you if you've ever ridden a truly slim electric unicycle. Most notable for me was/is my beloved but woefully under-specced Solowheel Xtreme. The one thing this machine did incredibly well (maybe still the best) was providing such a slim slice of power between your legs. Standing in a natural way - not bowlegged - makes you feel completely at one with the wheel. Your leg makes solid contact from the ankle up to a high point on your leg giving you you a locked in stability when needed. The feeling of tossing around a thin slice a magic instead of standing bowlegged on a wide platform fighting for space that the beast between it occupies. V10F retains much of that slice of magic while somehow cramming in tons of power and range.
Not only does this make V10F incredible fun and satisfying to control, it also gives you far greater comfort and ability on one leg. For city riders who deal with obstacles and intersections on a daily basis have much to gain here. Some of the most satisfying moments of my daily riding involve those casual moments when I can just roll up to the stop light with one leg hanging off ready to gracefully settle down.
Pedals: V8 / Glide 3 Vs InMotion V10
That pedal height is no joke. Another great carryover from V8. Simply put, this gives riders a huge advantage in maneuvering. I can't tell you how much my riding style changed when I moved from Xtreme to Glide 3, but this V10F takes it even further as you can see. You needn't worry about feeling too top-heavy, as the height of the body compensates for the height of the pedals. If anything this setup makes you feel a lot more confident as you're suddenly able to bank into a hard corner like you never would have dreamed of attempting before. Not even to mention carving!
There's been much talk about the upcoming Ninebot Z series wheels in terms of their pitched off-roading ability, however, one of the most important considerations in conditions with uneven surfaces and unexpected obstacles and drop offs is clearance. Low pedals aren't going to cut it no matter how wide the tire is.
Speaking of pedals, let's take another look at a direct comparison to V8 / G3:
Yes, the pedals are quite a bit larger all around. I know I wasn't the only one asking for larger pedals, so this is a welcome addition. Not that this wheel has any issue with pedal clearance whatsoever, but given the chance, I would actually refine the corners down to an angle or rounded shape similar to G3. That space simply isn't needed, and for the most part we really didn't need wider pedals at all. The extra length is definitely helpful though.
While the rubber pedal inserts are extremely comfortable (my 5+ hour ride can attest), I feel that in most riding scenarios I would prefer a hard surface with grip tape. Usually I'm going to want the maximum amount of control over such a high performance wheel. And while it doesn't often rain in San Diego, I know I would feel a little more secure with grip tape instead of rubber.
All of that said, I do feel that overall the pedals are quite nice as they are. I just would like to have an optional performance insert that I can swap out for those times I want performance above everything else.
Firmware / App / Ride Mode Adjustments
For those of you who've been riding long enough - you've probably noticed that as speed and power has increased, there has been somewhat of a more progressively sluggish feel that comes with this boost in motor power and speed. I tend to equate it to being stuck in 5th gear. When I first spend a good chunk of time testing out the pre-production V10F a few weeks ago, my immediate thought was "damn.. here's that same feeling on the V10. I guess there is nothing they can do about that." Granted, I did feel it was an improvement compared to competing high powered wheels, but it was still noticeably sluggish feeling compared to the G3 I've grown to adore so much. Naturally, I adjusted to it as with any new wheel I've spent good time riding. I learned to put more of my body weight into it, and soon enough it was feeling like less of an issue. But it still felt a little stiff and not as playful as I'd have liked.
After multiple discussions with Bob, I was told they were working on adjustments / options for the ride mode in the new InMotion App. And with the arrival of the first production units today, I was able to test it out on the pre-release version of the new app. Instead of offering different preset modes, a slider to adjust the "Footboard Sensitivity" is provided - a range from 2048 to 4096. The default setting is the stiffest: 4096. The first thing I did was crank it down to 2048. The next 10 minutes of riding turned me into a little kid again because I could barely contain myself. It's quite a bit different compared to the softer modes you may have tried before. Instead of a slow, linear angle adjustment as you lean, this softer setting gives the pedals a stiff spring-like response. Not too much bounce. It's subtle, but totally natural and very stable. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of 2048. This single feature increased my excitement about getting my own V10F in the next batch by about tenfold because it brought the playfulness back to the table I felt it was missing.
Speaking of that new app- I've got to say it's pretty neat to be able to check your power output, efficiency (Wh/km), speed, and temps all in real time. It really gives us an easy way to check how specific riding scenarios are affecting the power available to us. Beyond the live feed seen in the screenshot above, there is also a view to show tons of statistics averaged / maxed for your current riding session. So if you want to go for a particular challenge run, there is a nice glanceable view of your performance and efficiency.
If it wasn't obvious, I am big fan of this wheel. V10F is a beast of a wheel inside a gorgeous package, and for me most importantly: it simply feels amazing to ride because great care was taken to not make sacrifices where it mattered. I feel like this wheel gives me much more confidence to ride on the road when needed yet still nimble enough to feel at home on the sidewalk near tons of pedestrians.
If you are a fan of InMotion's previous advancements in the world of electric unicycles but found it hard to resist the lure of more range and speed - they've now answered your call with a well rounded and refined machine that brings the whole experience up to par instead of just raw specs.
Jeffrey Will, Experience Manager, InMotion USA