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erk1024

Adventures on an 18" Learning Wheel - class of late April

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Posted (edited)

Riding

Ride #1

Work was having internet issues on Wednesday, so I got off early while IT sorted it out. I went to a park that I'd scouted that had a fence by a sidewalk (tennis court), a basketball court, and a baseball diamond with low grass that might be useful. I did some one-foot exercises and used the fence to feel what it was like to lean forwards and backwards and have have the wheel respond. I tried to do some riding along the fence, but that didn't seem to help much. I practiced trying to balance while mounting. 

Then I went to the basketball court and tried to actually ride. I'd use the backboard pole to get my feet on the wheel and then lean forward. One thing I noticed was that the wheel felt spongy, and it was hard to turn it by twisting--like the wheel's contact patch was too big. I later figured out that the Husky inflator I had used was junk, and had only inflated to 45psi instead of 53psi I had set it to (recommended for my gravity challenged self). I also thought the "learning" ride style on the wheel was too unresponsive. After half an hour, all I could do was roll forward and fall, covering only 10 - 12 feet of distance. At that point the rain came and I had to call it a day. The next day, with a better inflator, I filled the tire to 55psi.

I didn't feel like I'd learned anything or made any progress. But 30 minutes is not much time to practice.

AnkleHit.thumb.jpg.b1fd20d7ea5945af294409a849b3f977.jpg

Ride #2

I got up at 7am this morning and took the wheel out to the park. I was a little worried because my apparent lack of progress. But right from the start things started to work. I kept reminding myself about twisting to regain balance, and looking up and out instead of down. I used the fence to get rolling for about 10 feet. The fence ended, but the sidewalk continued with soft grass on either side--a good place to dump the wheel when I lost my balance. I was able to go 15, then 25, then 70 feet down the sidewalk past the end of the fence. At that point I was out of runway, so I moved to a longer stretch of sidewalk. 

This is where I whacked my ankle with the pedals. I rode into a triangle of grass between where two of the sidewalks met in a T junction. I lost control and hopped off the wheel, but it got me in the back of the ankle. I was having fun, so I kept riding for a while. After an hour, I was able to ride a wobbly 200 feet, and even make a slight turn. I took a photo at the end of the sidewalk. I started at the trash compactor thingy that circled in the photo. 

TwoHundredFootRideSmall.thumb.jpg.d584ddba560ee8b3f4081daa64422d18.jpg

Definitely lights are coming on in the lizard brain balance computer. I don't have any doubts now that I'll be able to figure it out. I'm just going to work on balance until it's more solid. Then try turning, and eventually mounting.

 

 

Edited by erk1024
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Posted (edited)

It's ironic that the pedal whacked you right between your pads and your boot tops.  Almost like it knew where to hurt you most.  Rest assured, pedal attacks don't happen after you have learned to ride (mostly) because only beginners dismount in a way that allows the pedals to get revenge.  It's hard to explain, but once you're experienced you will understand the mechanics behind that statement.

Edited by Smoother
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1 minute ago, Smoother said:

Rest assured, pedal attack don't happen after you have learned to ride (mostly) because only beginners dismount in a way that allows the pedals to get revenge.

Makes sense! I don't think buying the boots is a waste because at some point I'd like to do some off-roading, and then wearing a little extra protection would be good. But the boots will help for now. Still super wobbly. But I'm having loads of fun! So I'm not too worried about it. I'm going riding again tomorrow, unless the weather has other ideas. ;)  Anyway, as always thanks for the advice! 

 

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Get some small sponges and stuff them inside long socks.

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This morning my ankle looked worse than ever with big black patches of bruising and still bleeding now and then, but it felt OK so what the hell, I went riding again.

And what a grand riding day it was. I found that stable speed of the wheel and just had a blast! I got better at turning. I also had to work on maintaining speed by leaning forward up a mild incline while simultaneously not falling over. At the end was able to do a full circuit of the park I've been practicing at. I also worked on stopping smoothly and stepping off. At one point while practicing stops, I whacked my right foot with the pedal, but the new boots brushed off the blow like it was nothing. As clunky and heavy as they are, totally worth it, at least for now.

So much fun!!! 

Next on the learning list is *mounting*. That's going to be a tough one!

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Hey, @erk1024, congrats on getting your wheel, and on your progress!  From all the bolding and exclamation points I gather you're having a blast, which is what it's all about, right?  The bruised ankle is a badge of honor!

Btw, regarding inflation:

  • The first time I went to check tire pressure, on the day I received the wheel, I noted how very close the valve stem is to the motor housing, and it was obvious that my pump valve head wasn't going to fit on there.  So I searched through the junk in my garage and found an old Schrader 90-degree valve adapter.  Don't remember when or why I bought it, but it has a slim thread-on "female" head at one end, a 90-degree turn, and an open "male" head (no valve) at the other end.  I attached the pump's head to the male end of this adapter, and was easily able to screw the female end onto the wheel's valve stem and use my nice bicycle pump with the accurate gauge.
  • I've gotten some conflicting signals on inflation pressure.  The tire sidewall says max 45psi, and eWheels guidance seems to confirm that at my weight (just north of 200lbs) I should be in that vicinity, so 43-45psi is what I've been keeping the tire at.  I'm curious where the 53psi recommendation you're using comes from?  Maybe I'm riding at too low a pressure?  Maybe all my problems can be traced to this one issue, and if I was at a higher pressure I'd be able to do Chooch tricks?  Just checking :).
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Yowch, sorry about your ankle but glad to see your progress though!

That was actually the only thing I feared when learning to first ride....seemed like the only thing that could go wrong is the pedals ramming my legs. But miraculously it still hasn't happened once. Trying to learn backwards riding and 3 point turns i came very close but learning how to bail on these things it a fast curve.

Once you get the hang of it and once you relax it seems almost impossible to fall off an EUC, feels like it's part of you. This seems counter-intuitive to what all outsiders think...the majority of comments I hear are "I'd bust my a** trying to ride that thing".

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2 hours ago, tenofnine said:

Yowch, sorry about your ankle but glad to see your progress
Once you get the hang of it and once you relax it seems almost impossible to fall off an EUC, feels like it's part of you. This seems counter-intuitive to what all outsiders think...the majority of comments I hear are "I'd bust my a** trying to ride that thing".

Very much agreed, people seem to think it’s a balancing act, it’s not much more than for a bike or kick scooter. And speaking of e-kick scooters, I find them to have a way flimsier balance than EUCs with their small wheels (turn the handlebar too quickly and you fly) and the rider COG not being naturally aligned with the vehicule.

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When I first learned, It took me an hour, during lunch break, my first day to go about 3 meters. And the pedals destroyed my ankles as well. I learned on the Segway S1, and I feel the XL would have been a lot easier to learn on.

Congrats on getting your new wheel. It sounds like we both got our XLs on the same day! :)

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11 hours ago, svenomous said:

Schrader 90-degree valve adapter

I didn't know such a thing existed!

11 hours ago, svenomous said:

I'm curious where the 53psi recommendation you're using comes from?

There is information on eWheels here: https://www.ewheels.com/guide-tires-appropriate-pressures-electric-unicycle/

I'm 265 pounds (without gear on) so around 53 pounds is recommended for me. It turns out I was riding at around 46 psi (tested with a better gauge). There was a fair amount of give in the tire. I pumped it to 51 pounds and will give that a try tonight. But it seems like 45 - 55 psi is the right area for me. @Jason McNeil says the tires can take much more pressure than what's listed on the sidewall. One of the tires says it's good to 110psi. One rider (name escapes me at the moment) ALWAYS inflates to 65psi because he just likes the feel of it.

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21 minutes ago, NylahTay said:

When I first learned, It took me an hour, during lunch break, my first day to go about 3 meters. And the pedals destroyed my ankles as well. I learned on the Segway S1, and I feel the XL would have been a lot easier to learn on.

Congrats on getting your new wheel. It sounds like we both got our XLs on the same day! :)

Still find it incredible that you learned on the S1, that definitely is trial by fire! Seems like one of the hardest EUCs to learn on, but I bet it made you capable of riding pretty much anything.

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4 hours ago, tenofnine said:

"I'd bust my a** trying to ride that thing".

 

1 hour ago, Mimolette said:

Very much agreed, people seem to think it’s a balancing act

It looks like some kind of magic trick that you can ride one without falling over. People assume that you need circus tightrope level of balance ability, and that's not the case at all. It's really about twisting in the direction of falling so the wheel gets back under you. And when you get up to speed, then it gets really easy. It's just those wobbles at slow speed you have to get through. And as you gain experience, it becomes more automatic (I assume). 

I was good and took the week off to let my ankle heal up. But tonight I'm going riding. I can't wait!   :laughbounce2:

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1 hour ago, tenofnine said:

Still find it incredible that you learned on the S1, that definitely is trial by fire! Seems like one of the hardest EUCs to learn on, but I bet it made you capable of riding pretty much anything.

It may be the hardest EUC to learn on, but it's also the cheapest. Got mine used for only $350USD. After my 1-hour lunch break learning session, I really decided to learn trial by fire. lol I rode home from work on it. I probably fell every few minutes. But It was worth it. 

 

 
 
 
58 minutes ago, erk1024 said:

It looks like some kind of magic trick that you can ride one without falling over. People assume that you need circus tightrope level of balance ability, and that's not the case at all. It's really about twisting in the direction of falling so the wheel gets back under you. And when you get up to speed, then it gets really easy. It's just those wobbles at slow speed you have to get through. And as you gain experience, it becomes more automatic (I assume). 

I was good and took the week off to let my ankle heal up. But tonight I'm going riding. I can't wait!   :laughbounce2:

Yeah, I tell people it's like riding a bicycle, once you are moving forward it stays pretty well balanced. And it does become more automatic. I feel that your feet muscles get used to slight changes to keep you balanced as well. Similar to a baby learning to walk, once it becomes muscle memory you don't even have to think about it. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, tenofnine said:

Yowch, sorry about your ankle but glad to see your progress though!

On the ankle protection front, I bought some serious motorcycle boots. This allowed me to ride the next day without risking hitting the same spot. I did hit my right foot while practicing stopping, and these boots soaked up the impact, and I barely noticed.

IMG_2137.thumb.JPG.159ff740044740fdd03092520c272d65.JPG

This might be overkill (although probably useful for off-roading later), but I'm also going to try some 8" tall boots (type suggested by someone on the forum) as a compromise between wimpy hiking boots (which didn't protect me at all) and the motorcycle boots.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00T3IQ41Y/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

KeenBoots.png.9d386fdbdfd3e227e93fffe9ab70d029.png

Edited by erk1024

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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, NylahTay said:

It may be the hardest EUC to learn on, but it's also the cheapest. Got mine used for only $350USD. After my 1-hour lunch break learning session, I really decided to learn trial by fire. lol I rode home from work on it. I probably fell every few minutes. But It was worth it. 

 

Yeah, I tell people it's like riding a bicycle, once you are moving forward it stays pretty well balanced. And it does become more automatic. I feel that your feet muscles get used to slight changes to keep you balanced as well. Similar to a baby learning to walk, once it becomes muscle memory you don't even have to think about it. 

 

I got my NB1e+ for $270 refurbished on eBay (there are multiple listings). I'm still quite impressed with what I got (still get 15 miles to a charge). It looked no different than a brand new one, had brand new certified factory parts inside (battery pack etc) Box looked brand new and had everything inside plus extra stuff. Apparently the guy selling them on eBay is a sanctioned refurbisher of NB1e+ for Ninebot and he specializes in them. Not sure if any of that is true but I've had it for a little while with no issues. I've seen his other listings at auction go for less and more than I got it for ($250 up to $340) 

Edited by tenofnine

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4 minutes ago, erk1024 said:

On the ankle protection front, I bought some serious motorcycle boots. This allowed me to ride the next day without risking hitting the same spot. I did hit my right foot while practicing stopping, and these boots soaked up the impact, and I barely noticed.

IMG_2137.thumb.JPG.159ff740044740fdd03092520c272d65.JPG

This might be overkill (although probably useful for off-roading later), but I'm also going to try some 8" tall boots (type suggested by someone on the forum) as a compromise between wimpy hiking boots (which didn't protect me at all) and the motorcycle boots.

KeenBoots.png.9d386fdbdfd3e227e93fffe9ab70d029.png

I doubt you will hit your ankles after you learn to ride well, but I do hear that hiking boots and boots in general are great for riding comfortably. Hard soles and soft insoles are the key I guess.

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Went out riding last night for a half hour. It was after work, and the park I use closes at sunset so time was limited. This brings my total time on the wheel up to 3 hours now. I haven't been able to ride as much as I'd like because the ankle was in bad shape.

I was doing laps around the park. I did manage to get the wheel up to 22kph this time. For the first time I got speed warnings and experienced tiltback. I adjusted the speed settings up to 25kph, and continued riding.

I was plagued by the dreaded speed wobbles. I tried different foot positions, but that didn't seem to help. Then I lowered the pressure in the tire, and that also didn't help. But then the wheel felt spongy, and I didn't bring the inflator (rookie mistake!) Sometimes I wouldn't get the wobbles, and sometimes I did. I wondered if the way I was standing or balancing on the wheel was causing it. No idea. People on this forum have said this is something that goes away with experience, so probably just something I'm doing. 

I put a mile and a half on the wheel. Near the end of the ride, I got the balance wrong for one of the turns and ran off into the grass. Not sure what happened, but ended up doing a Superman off the front. I landed and rolled sideways. Ribs are a little sore today, so I'm going to rest up and have a go tonight or tomorrow. 

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, erk1024 said:

Went out riding last night for a half hour. It was after work, and the park I use closes at sunset so time was limited. This brings my total time on the wheel up to 3 hours now. I haven't been able to ride as much as I'd like because the ankle was in bad shape.

I was doing laps around the park. I did manage to get the wheel up to 22kph this time. For the first time I got speed warnings and experienced tiltback. I adjusted the speed settings up to 25kph, and continued riding.

I was plagued by the dreaded speed wobbles. I tried different foot positions, but that didn't seem to help. Then I lowered the pressure in the tire, and that also didn't help. But then the wheel felt spongy, and I didn't bring the inflator (rookie mistake!) Sometimes I wouldn't get the wobbles, and sometimes I did. I wondered if the way I was standing or balancing on the wheel was causing it. No idea. People on this forum have said this is something that goes away with experience, so probably just something I'm doing. 

I put a mile and a half on the wheel. Near the end of the ride, I got the balance wrong for one of the turns and ran off into the grass. Not sure what happened, but ended up doing a Superman off the front. I landed and rolled sideways. Ribs are a little sore today, so I'm going to rest up and have a go tonight or tomorrow. 

Wobbles can happen from nervousness, bumps in the ground, or posture.

If you are standing up straight legs fully straight it's harder to get wobbles, but you might hurt your knees if you hit bumps. A little bit bent is good, in between a little bit bent and full crouched there is a greater chance for wobbling almost like standing on top of a yoga ball (it makes you use your core more and introduces unsteadiness). If your legs/core get strong enough and you become confident enough you can go between standing and crouching with no wobbles at all.

 

Basically it just takes time for your brain and your body to learn. Your body is using muscles in new ways to balance and your brain is learning a new way to locomote. Think about how wobbly and shaky you were when taking your first rides, this is the same just to a lesser extent.

Edited by tenofnine
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1 minute ago, tenofnine said:

A little bit bent is good, in between a little bit bent and full crouched there is a greater chance for wobbling

I did notice that a less crouched position seemed to help! Near the end of the ride, fatigue could have been a factor too. Thanks for the information, I'll experiment with it next ride.  :)

I was having a great time cruising around the park. I definitely need more riding time as getting started and turns are still on the wobbly side.

 

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Looks like a learning milestone, @erk1024!  Tomorrow should be even better after today's breakthroughs in understanding, plus a night of sleep to internalize.

Maybe by "don't tilt the wheel between your legs" the Solowheel people meant "don't let the wheel slap back and forth between immobile legs," or something like that?  I think that tilting involves the wheel and lower legs moving more or less in unison, with maybe just a little bit of the wheel tilt being independent of the legs.  I've seen advanced riders in very wide stances (so the wheel has room to tilt a little bit between the legs), and it works for them.  The wheel occasionally wobbles a bit between the legs, but this seems to dampen itself out just fine.  In general, though, in videos, people lean by bending knees and tilting not only the wheel, but also their shins and knees, and to a lesser degree their thighs, while the upper body remains more upright.  I hold up Chooch as the gold standard, as watching him negotiate streets and dirt paths and whatnot is mesmerizing.  I have no idea what I do...I just "make it go that way" and my body figures out how to achieve it, with varying degrees of precision.

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The only thing I wear for riding EUC is this shin guards https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0086OIL6C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&th=1&psc=1. Then whatever shoes I want. Protecting the surface where my leg and EUC contacts, my second leg can step on with zero speed and then go without problem.

 For practical use, all you need to master for turning is the 90 degree regular turns, nothing more than that and you are good to go. 

Regarding feet positioning, I found it best when I stand on EUC with my most natural standing feet gesture, for me, it's a little bit duck feet. And then stand in the spot so your COG is aligned with the EUC COG regarding front and back so going forward uses as much effort as going backward(just analogy, you will never need to go backward unless you want to do tricks). 

 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, erk1024 said:

The wheel says I've gone 8.5 miles now

I've had that after my first ride. How long have you had the wheel now?

My point is, don't just practice starting and fine maneuvering and stopping. You can already start with both legs for God's sake! Go for an actual ride. Set a target destination or find an interesting area and go for it. Not only is it fun, it is also a part of learning. You know, the actual thing you bought the wheel for;)

Edited by meepmeepmayer
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My first day I made the decision to ride it home from work no matter what it took. It took 2-3 hours to go 4 miles, and I came home with bloody ankles. But I learned so much on that long ride. I agree with @meepmeepmayer just go for a ride. You'll get the hang of the finer points. 
Congratulations on your breakthrough though. 8.5 miles! That is awesome :)

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