We’ve seen a few vehicle designs that have had a crack at bringing the unicycle out of the circus and onto the street, such as the self-balancing eniCycle, the UnoMoto, the EMBRIO and Honda’s U3-X. Here's a very different approach. Although it is a one wheeled motorized vehicle, there's nothing self-balancing about the FlyRad – the design requires the rider to wear a pair of inline skates while they sit, stand or simply get dragged along in a way that reminds us of the Zap Powerski.
Invented about six years ago by Thomas Rank, the latest edition of the FlyRad comes in three sizes: one for adults, one for teens and one for children. The currently configured adult model is fitted with a 500W motor powered by a 36v battery. It weighs about 24 kg (53 lb) and can reach a maximum speed of about 40 km/h (25 mph), traveling about 50 km (31 miles) on a single four hour charge. It can also be fitted with a 1,000W motor and stronger batteries for those looking for an bit of extra oomph.
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Users can “ride” the vehicle in a number of ways including sitting, standing, squatting or hands free. Riders can even switch positions on the go. In standing mode the device is held much like a jackhammer which tows the rider along, while in sitting mode the rider sits on the saddle with a pair of skates acting as the vehicle’s front wheels.
Since steering is controlled by the skates, the rider can let go of the handle bars altogether to give the sensation of flying that presumably gives the FlyRad its name. When ridden in this way the FlyRad stays in place by transferring the rider’s weight onto a couple of pads attached to the bottom of the handlebars that push down onto the rider’s upper legs.
Designed as a form of environmentally friendly transportation as well as for fun and extreme sports, the FlyRad took a silver medal at iENA 2010, the International Trade Fair for “Ideas-Inventions-New Products” held in Nuremburg in October.
The first FlyRad (German) is expected to be available in 2011 at a price yet to be announced.