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