Ride on: Staying upright on Segway's awkward Drift W1 e-Skates
Back in June, Segway-Ninebot announced some e-Skates called the Drift W1. These were no inlines or quads, but made use of Segway's self-balancing know-how to put a single chunky wheel in each skate – effectively putting a hoverboard on each foot. The company brought some to IFA 2018 in Berlin, so naturally we had to try them out.
First up, some specs. Segway says that the Drift W1 e-Skates can get up to 12 km/h (7.5 mph), which is faster than walking and zippy enough to bring on the pain in a tumble. Each e-Skate has 291 x 162 x 121 mm (11.4 x 6.3 x 4.7 in) dimensions and tips the scales at 3.5 kg (7.7 lb), and a pair of motorized skates can manage a 10 degree hill climb. They have bumpers on the sides, are weatherproofed to IP54 standard and sport head- and tail-lights for skating after the sun's gone down.
Battery life is given as 45 minutes per ride, which isn't much but should be enough to get you from the train station to the office or have some fun rolling through the park, if you're brave enough. Recharge time is 3 hours.
But what are they like to ride? Well, just as we thought back in June, the e-Skates did indeed prove to be something of a challenge. They work pretty much like you'd expect a Segway – or any hoverboard – to work, you lean forward to move off and lean back to slow down, stop or move backward. Sounds easy, right?
"The trick is to relax, but for me that's easier said than done," said our own James Holloway. "Try to step onto these with tension in your legs and you'll wobble – almost oscillate – back and forth fairly comically.
"However, I observed more competent people take their first go and take to it within a few minutes, to the extent that they were able to potter around at a moderate speed. The pro dancers are on another level – forward, backward, round and round in circles (one foot going forward, one backward) – it's impressive to see what these can do on the right feet.
"I was very reasonably asked to get off when Segway wanted to shoot a video of its pros in action, that too was easier said than done. 'Just step off it' sounds good in theory!
"I didn't fall over, but I have only the hand rail to thank for that. But don't let my incompetence put you off. These things are made to look easy within minutes. That said, when the pro dancers were done, I personally didn't feel compelled to get back on."
The Drift W1 e-Skates are available for pre-order now in selected markets for €399 (about US$465) and are available on Indiegogo for the early bird price of $369. Shipping is expected to start early October.