Late fall 2011 an amazing video appears on Gizmodo showing a super slick one wheeled device called the SoloWheel. I checked into it further and asked about investing in the new invention from the maker of products like- The Aquaskipper and Orbitwheels. All SkyMall cover worthy devices too cool not to own. Short story is that I was not able to become an investor in the SoloWheel but I was able to become an authorized dealer. Before I signed on the dotted line I wanted one of my own.
I plopped down the nearly $2K payment (including shipping) pretty fast- being told shipment would occur sometime in July. Manufacturing was underway in China. I am experienced in the world of product development and outsourced manufacturing- rule number one: never promise a date you can’t deliver. Unfortunately the inventor of the SoloWheel did not read the same business books I have. Many months passed and each went something like this: “Dear inventor where is my SoloWheel? Delays in manufacturing have happened but they will be available next month, thank you for your patience.” At the beginning of November I cracked and asked for a full refund. The reply I got was- SoloWheels are ready, we will have yours shipped direct from the manufacturer and you should have it in a few days.
Well it was true. The day before Thanksgiving The box arrived at my door. I wore a nice set of labels showing the path it had traveled to arrive at my home. Its unpacking was an event I shared with my son who fired off questions quicker than I could answer them. Within the box was a typical looking Styrofoam encasement. The Styrofoam was a clam-shell taped at the sides- a quick cut allowed me to open the halves. Very well protected inside were the SoloWheel, charger, training strap, documentation and a DVD.
Tearing past the instructions and notice cards I removed the SoloWheel and pressed the power button. I expected the wheel to kind of hover in place on its own but it only has gyro controls forward and backwards, not side to side, so it kind of held itself in place as I kept my hand on the handle. I flopped down the foot stands and tried to figure out how to jump on. I had watched countless videos of this thing in action but didn’t remember how they got started. This thing is simular to my Magic Wheel so I tried to ride it the same- fail! Different concept and center of gravity all together.
Then I tried the next obvious but wrong thing. I stood the SoloWheel up next to the refrigerator (yep, right in my kitchen!) and managed to place both feet onto the SW. I managed to roll a few feet past the dining room table before I wobbled and had to step down. Now time to read the instructions (yep, typical guy fashion). First there are a few slips of paper in the package- a registration card, safety information card and charging sheet. I plugged in the charger, popped the cap on the SoloWheel and connected the plug. The indicator showed the unit needed a charge and was in process. I don’t know exactly how long it took but it was somewhere between 2-4 hours. When I looked back on it after four hours the lights indicated it was ready.
Later that evening I sat down to read through the manual and watch the DVD. The manual is full of warnings to wear protective gear and hazard warnings. Nothing surprising here although I thought it interesting that most of the videos on the internet and DVD show riders with no protective gear whatsoever. The manual walks you through the process of charging the SW, maintaining it and offers riding tips. The video on the DVD is where you need to be to really understand how to ride this thing. The videos are brief- maybe 10 minutes at most. They show you how to charge the SW, get ready for riding and lots of random riding scenes- again, many of these videos show riders with no or little protective gear recommended and sometimes required by law. Continue reading SoloWheel Arrives and is Available for Sale!