If there's a way to move your legs, there's probably a cycle or scooter that takes advantage of it. We thought we'd seen them all, but after stumbling upon the Aeyo at this week's ISPO Munich show, we realized there's always another wild, new design out there. The cricket-like legs of this unique vessel convert inline skating-style motion into cycling.
When we caught a glimpse of a folded Aeyo out of our peripherals, we assumed it was yet another folding scooter in an exhibition hall filled with them. A closer inspection revealed that the Aeyo, a product of Munich's own Aemotics, is completely different from a scooter, combining aspects of skates, scooters and bicycles.
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The Aeyo uses two strap-on skates connected to the front wheel by way of articulating legs. In place of the single-foot skating typical of a scooter, the Aeyo rider gets both legs involved in inline skating fashion. The articulating legs allow the skates to move freely, but prevent them from tilting, keeping the feet stable. Aemotics says that the Aeyo is the first scooter to be based around an inline skating motion.
Whenever we see a strange, new cycle design, it's hard to stop ourselves from rudely blurting out "Why??!" Why abandon established cycle construction techniques for something that looks like it could be used for secret military-grade torture?
Ignoring the mumbo jumbo about oxygenating body cells in Aeyo's advertising materials, the most obvious answer is "Why not." The Aeyo is a different way of commuting that works a variety of muscles. Not everyone likes biking, or skating, or scootering, so why not design something that combines them and may attract a following all its own?
On a traditional scooter, you're likely to plant your non-dominant leg for the majority of the time, but the Aeyo's design keeps both legs involved. In addition to the legs, the vessel is designed to work the core, back and arms. Aemotics says that it gets a total of more than 10 muscle groups involved.
When compared to inline skating, the Aeyo is designed for a more stable, balanced ride without a learning curve filled with mandatory falling and crashing. Aemotics says that it's easy to stay balanced even if you aren't moving. Like a subset of skates that includes Cardiff, the foot-strap hardware allows you to use your everyday shoes. The left and right handbrakes cabled to each skate provide sure, comfortable stopping and stabilizing power.
Though the Aeyo isn't quite as compact as a folding scooter or pair of skates, it does fold up via the same joints that allow for its skating motion. Magnets hold it together in a compact, portable package that is easily transported in a car trunk or on public transportation.
The Aeyo in action
After making up an excuse about a long day and inappropriate footwear on my first encounter with the Aeyo, I foolishly made a trip back to the booth to give the wheeler a go. With exactly zero inline skating experience on my resume, I hopped aboard – or, more accurately, floundered around while a rep at each foot took care of strapping me in, a process I wasn't too keen on trying myself. I stared down in horror at a contraption that looked like it could inflict immense pain in any of dozens of ways and felt a little like what those that hate roller coasters must feel like as they're slowly buckled in.
I can't claim that I mastered the art of Aeyo-ing in my five minutes of riding, or even remotely got the hang of it. There was a lot of the friendly Aeyo staff holding me steady and patiently repeating the same advice over and over again, advice that I inadvertently ignored while trying desperately not to go crashing down. I leaned forward when I was supposed to stand, let off the brakes when I was supposed to hold them, and moved my feet in parallel when they were supposed to be pointed outward. If there was something that you're not supposed to do while on the Aeyo, I did it. Multiple times. It was definitely a fight against natural reflexes and instincts.
Fluid motion was something of an elusive goal, but one thing I was successful at testing was the claim about being able to stand while stopped. So long as I held the brakes firmly, I had no problem maintaining balance, which is different from a bike where you have to practice the skill of a standing stop. Holding the brakes, you're free to lift up your feet, reposition, move the front wheel, etc.
Riding the Aeyo wasn't particularly natural for me, but Aemotics says that it takes a bit of learning and practice – for some more than others. You can watch someone that knows what he's doing in the video below.
The Aeyo is available in a choice of six colors for €449 (US$615). Optional accessories include a lighting system, basket and case.