Urban Transport

On the move in 2019: The wackiest ways to travel from A to B

On the move in 2019: The wacki...
The Jyroball, compact and portable
Compact and portable, the Jyroball is just one of the weirder forms of transportation to catch our eye this year
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The Jyroball, compact and portable
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Compact and portable, the Jyroball is just one of the weirder forms of transportation to catch our eye this year

There are a few modes of transport you can always count on – cars, bikes, buses, trains – that sort of thing. But looking to disrupt these modern mainstays is a regular assortment of more imaginative options, twisting and turning their way through crowdfunding campaigns and startup brainstorming sessions to offer new ways of getting around town. The 2019 crop mightn’t promise the most practical forms of transport, and some are certainly not the most efficient, but if it’s a one-of-a-kind ride you’re after, this breed of weird vehicles is here to deliver the goods.

Skoda's Klement

Skoda's Klement concept e-bike adds a bizarre form of foot control to a vehicle that currently fits no legal category in most places
Skoda's Klement concept e-bike adds a bizarre form of foot control to a vehicle that currently fits no legal category in most places

Is it a moped? Is it a scooter? Is it an e-bike? We took a good look at the Klement from Czech auto company Skoda back in September and to be perfectly honest, we're still not entirely sure what to call it. Whatever it is, it's got some go in it, with a 4-kW electric hub motor at the rear wheel that catapults riders to a top speed of 45 km/h (28 mph).

Skoda's Klement concept e-bike
Skoda's Klement concept e-bike

Where things get a little strange with the Klement concept is the throttle and braking systems. The small platforms for the user's feet can actually tilt forward to accelerate, and backwards to engage the regenerative braking. With no traditional throttle or brake levers to speak of, we've got our reservations about how intuitive an experience this will offer riders, but hey, there are plenty that happy to try something new.

A spherical robot you can ride

The Jyroball promise 12-odd miles of urban commuting per charge
The Jyroball promise 12-odd miles of urban commuting per charge

Jyroball is compact, it can keep itself upright and it can roll along at 12.4 mph (20 km/h). Best of all, you can go along for the ride. This spherical vehicle's fold-out pedals enable users to stand precariously atop the 10-inch-diameter (25-cm) ball and have its onboard motors send you off in whichever direction you feel like leaning.

The Jyroball is one of the most compact and portable monowheels we've seen
The Jyroball is one of the most compact and portable monowheels we've seen

Is it dangerous? Probably. Is it ""reinventing the hoverboard experience"? Probably not. Is it fully funded on Indiegogo after raising more than five times its original goal? Absolutely. Be careful out there, a couple of hundred Jyroball backers could soon be monowheeling down a street near you.

A scooter with no handles

The Speedboard isn't limited to use on asphalt
The Speedboard isn't limited to use on asphalt

There are lots of electric skateboards out there these days, so it takes something to stand out from the crowd. Mechanical engineer David Jackson's approach to this was to make a skateboard with half of the wheels you might expect, and make them bigger, make them pneumatic, and attach them to a spring-loaded linkage mechanism so riders can lean into turns like a snowboarder or a surfer.

The Speedboard, by David Jackson
The Speedboard, by David Jackson

The oddness doesn't end there. Instead of a belt drive or direct drive, like those that power the majority of four-wheeled electric skateboards, Jackson's Speedboard, as it's called, features a chain drive. Provided riders can stay onboard, this can shuttle them to a top speed 30 mph (48 km/h), a velocity carefully chosen by Jackson so the Speedboard can keep up with the traffic. Whether that's a good idea or not we'll leave up to you to decide, dear reader.

When regular bikes are too easy

The bike's drunker than you are, Barry
The bike's drunker than you are, Barry

The Helyx we looked at in early December features a pivoting fork and handlebars, just as you'd expect from a regular bicycle. But look beyond the front end and you'll find it's anything but. The back wheel is also bound to a pivoting fork, which means that riders can steer with both the front and rear ends of the bike.

The seat swivels along with the rear fork, so in order to get it going the way you want, you'll need some serious core strength and buttocks that don't take no for an answer. Its creators say it's built to recreate the challenge of learning to ride a bike. We say it almost makes us fall over just by looking at it.

Why oh YX One

This odd electric three-wheeler might be one of the most capable off-roaders yet
This odd electric three-wheeler might be one of the most capable off-roaders yet

Here's another free-wheeling vehicle that defies categorization. The YX One is a high-speed electric scootboard that is saved from death-machine status by a handle that gives riders something to hang onto. This also acts as a brake lever and throttle, engaging the 1,500-W hub motor and shuttling the three-wheeled lawnmower-like YX One to a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph).

YX One is probably best described as a monowheel hoverboard with twin front outriggers
YX One is probably best described as a monowheel hoverboard with twin front outriggers

You lean to steer the vehicle as you tear across the pavement or down the road on your regular commute, but with three chunky pneumatic tires the YX One should be a very capable off-road adventure machine, should its owners be that way inclined. Oh, and apparently you can jump the thing.

2 comments
paul314
I wish that the publicity pictures would show people wearing the kind of gear necessary to ride these toys safely.
Saigvre
Swap 35 year old mounted, neither rushing nor dragging traffic, daring streetlights to hold their reserve until twilight; this is as safe as one should ever be. The reserve of the drone taking the shots is a little galling, really. It's like that Rurouni Kenshi X arc (ep. 8-10?) where the Samurai have discontent whether the shot should be double-grounded, level, and 1.5M high or triple-grounded, height referenced, and a 3/4 shot *but they just need to get bent.* And that being the best medicine of the age without contest, they eventually do. \ Hang in there for the 2020 human powered (less-tethered, not indoors) flight.