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My Ninebot One E+ Experience


Patrick Carroll

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I don't remember where exactly I stumbled upon the idea of electric unicycles, I think it was when I was browsing recommended YouTube videos online, actually I think it was watching all of Speedy Feet's videos that got me hooked. I was looking for something to commute to work with that wouldn't cause a sweat, such as with a bicycle, had been thinking back at the old Segway machines that are out there but never could stomach the size of them and especially the cost. I was looking at all the various models of the cheaper USD$300-400 unicycles out there, but found that the Ninebot One seemed to be well design and safer than some of the cheaper Chinese versions. I took the plunge and bought one online and waited for delivery.

When it arrived, I was excited and tore the box open like it was my birthday and tried to ride it just a little in the house, grasping at anything I could to keep myself upright. I watched all the videos online on how to practice, but I took it to work and rode it in the narrow hallways holding myself up by the walls to get the feel for keeping balance. That didn't seem to work too well, I was just teetering over without any real control. I decided to take my Ninebot One to the local park, it was after a rain and there was an empty tennis court with nobody around. I thought it was perfect as it's very embarrassing to fall when you are just trying to learn! I grabbed onto the chain-link fence and started to do short bursts of seeing if I could just keep myself upright. I grasped the bot with my legs very tightly causing them to hurt, fell off a few times and had the bot hit my shins a few times... ouch! I did this for the first day for about 30 minutes, came back a few days later and tried it again with improvement in balance and confidence. I started to work towards making slight turns around the court, running for the chain link fence for security after a few turns. The next day I did the same with some improvements in stamina and balance, so I decided to exit the safety of the court and ride on the asphalt path that circled the park. The progress was slow and I was starting to doubt this expensive purchase, hoping it wasn't some expensive piece of junk that was going to be sitting in the basement in a few weeks.

Wow, that was an experience on my first circuit. I was going very slowly, and quickly figured out that going somewhat faster made everything much more stable. I was able to do some gradual turns and built up my confidence by doing a couple loops. Going downhill was scary at first, but leaning back felt safe and comfortable so going downhill seemed to be something I could handle. Going uphill was a different story. It was disconcerting at first to have to lean over, and I was pressing my feet forward like on a gas pedal (the wrong technique I think) to go up the hill. I'm 90kg so I put stress on the bot! I was able to go up slowly but fast enough to keep balance. Kids sitting around the park gawked and asked "What's that?" At first I was too scared to even answer as I was laser focused on the ground, worried about every crack, bump, and twig. I found it difficult to go over dips and mini-speed bumps (just ripples in the asphalt) but I'm still working on that skill.

A few days passed as I was very busy at work, I'm an emergency medicine resident, but found a little time to practice here and there like the above. I bought a helmet, cuz I should know better LOL, because I don't trust motorists and we all should at least wear a helmet because they save lives when the unexpected serious crash occurs. I tried showing the bot at a Thanksgiving party, rode it down a quiet street for awhile which was very helpful to build my confidence. Today I decided that after my stint of working nights, I decided to go for it and try out one of the local packed-gravel bike trails that go from York PA to the MD State Line (United States). I charged up my bot to 100% as well as my cellphone, loaded the android ninebot software (I left the house with firmware 1.2.7), donned my helmet and some gloves (It's cold out there) and set out for the trail. The entrance to the trail is about 1 mile from my home, so I took empty backroads to get there, took a respite at an empty parking lot and trained a little more doing figure eights, practicing starting and stopping without support, and building some confidence. After reading that people were having success, I updated to 1.3.0 right there in the parking lot. I then went to the trail-head and sped off. I found that shortly into the trail my feet started to hurt badly. I'm still not sure, but I think I had my feet too far back on the pedals which was causing me to stand on my toes a lot making my arches hurt. I stopped many times along the route, holding onto a pole or fence, and tried to find the most comfortable foot placement and calf placement that gave me stability, control, and comfort without pain. This is something I'm still working on. I did a total of 20 miles today, after going home and charging back up to 100% and had a blast! I'm so sore right now as it was a lot of work trying to keep balance, avoid other walkers/bikers/dogs on the route, but I loved every minute of the experience. I found that I wasn't getting the promised 15 miles of distance that the app said I would get, likely again due to my weight and the terrain not to mention the colder temperatures.

I look forward to my next time out when I get the time, and very soon to start commuting to work with it, allowing for weather as we do get snow here. I did get the Mad Mike tire and will hopefully be trying that out when the weather gets worse or if I want to handle more challenging off-road terrain. I think I have a slow leak, like a lot of people have reported, and put the plastic cap on the valve which seems to have helped, we'll see. Thankfully I did not do the 1.2.9 upgrade, however I did upgrade to 1.3.0 today before setting out and was able to ride 20 miles without issues other than working on my own balance and technique.

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Just ordered my E+ today.  I'm totally excited about it, Killer Price!  Been riding my TG F3 for about a week now and am anxious to get on a top of the line wheel to see the difference.  I've only got about 20 miles on it so far, but I think I'll notice differences if they exist. (I'm sure they will)

Glad to hear you are getting along well, and I see there are a few people running 1.3.0 Firmware, probably the first thing I'll do before going out.

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So day #2 of really riding the Ninebot One E+, did about 20 miles today after a pitstop at home for a charge, it has been a fantastic experience.  I actually rode to the store and bought some hiking boots I've been needing for better support while riding, I was finding the arch support on my tennis shoes weren't enough I think and I was getting a lot of foot pain.  I put the ninebot on the bottom of the shopping cart and walked around the store.  It's raining a little bit here, and the Ninebot One had no problems, went up and down lots of hills without issues.  I'm somewhat disappointed in that I can only get about 8 miles before I hit the 25% battery mark, and I start getting a lot of tiltback.  I'm wondering if there are any mods to add additional battery capacity as I'd love to ride this thing for a few hours down some long trails in the future.  The battery capacity is perfect for me to commute to work and back to home without using more than 75% of the battery life so that's good.  I'm getting lots of people shouting out "where did you get that thing?" or "how much does it cost"?  At the store I had a chat with someone about the Ninebot, as well as someone on the trail where his son was wanting one for college use.  I'm a little concerned that children are the most interested, but many adult guys seem to like it so I guess I feel less like it is a child's toy and more like an adult transportation device that has real applications.

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Hi Patrick,

Its great to hear you are loving your new Ninebot One E+.   The more you ride and get comfortable and confident the better it gets. There is nothing like the Ninebot One.  It is definitely a head turner.  A cool thing about the product is that it brings people together and gets people talking. Everyday I go out and ride I get people coming up to me to asking about this futuristic form of transportation.  Its very practical for commuting to work, school or errands. Its also A LOT OF FUN!  I love riding off-road at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  If you are ever out in Northern California hit us up.  Lets Ride.

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@Patrick Carroll For comparison's sake, the farthest I ever got on a charge before calling it quits on my E+ was 17.5 miles.  This was on rolling hills with my weight at around 170lbs, in the full heat of summer, and I don't ride particularly fast.  By the time I got 17.5 miles, sure it was giving tilt-backs at fairly slow speed.  Just a data point for your comparison pleasure.  Congrats on your purchase and positive experience!

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Patrick, I will give you a piece of unsolicited advice.  Whenever you upgrade your firmware, you should treat your bot as an untested animal.  I would never do what you did, at my experience level.  To upgrade to 1.3 just before the "trailhead" and then head down the trail, is like something I would not recommend.  After an upgrade start slowly and test your beast gingerly.  I give this advice with your health as my main concern.  You are welcomed to not follow this advice, but I do think it is good advice.  It is advice I learned from others on this fine forum. 

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I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, grew up in Concord, CA.  I'd love to go riding through the Mount Diablo park on the dirt trails there. 

 

 

@dpong

I agree!  I waited until I saw a sufficient number of people having success with 1.3.0 firmware, decided to upgrade where I had a safe place to try out this new firmware.  I was on a flat, level trail that was purpose built for bicycles, packed gravel with long straight aways and lots of places to stop.  I made sure to be wearing appropriate gear including a mountain bike helmet for safety and some people around in case there were any real troubles.  The trip was along an old train track through the city, and I could exit the trail at any of the exit points that are near major roads in case I needed to phone someone to pick me up.  I thought it was a good place to test out this new firmware, though you can never guarantee our safety whether it is a new firmware or a well tested one, we are practicing a rather new sport that is only a few years old. 

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Well done Patrick, I too have only had my 9bo E+ for a month, and fully understand all of your trials and tribulations in relation to learning to ride it.

In the last few days Ive gained the courage to ride it in public, which as Im sure you and everyone can understand is a bit daunting at first, as we 1. Dont want to look like an out of control dangerous idiot, and 2. Dont want to take people out with it and cause injury to others if one had to quickly hop off it.

I find that by really slowing up as i approach people helps, as they see that you are in fact in control of it, even though they havent a clue how you are doing it, or even staying on it - hence the questions.

You are right though, in saying that with more speed the unit tends to get into a rythym, and less movement left and right...I too find this.

I live in Melbourne Aust, CBD and find atm that Im needing to stop for lights, and traffic every 100 yds or so, which at times is irritating, but tomorrow my day off I'll be going for a ride which I'd estimate is around 10kmh each way, down around Melb's waterfront, on paths without lights and hopefully not much foot traffic....it'll be good to relax and get a few km's into the wheel.

One thing that definitely helped me was relaxing my arms to my side....it's a natural urge to throw the arms out when starting out as a way of the brain trying to "balance" the unit, but once I'd gained trust in it, it allowed me to relax my arms to my sides more and as a result less "wavering" and unsteadiness.

Im still on the 1.2.7 Firmware, but interested to hear that your upgrade to 1.3 is working well, I might see how my ride goes tomorrow, and decide after that what I'll do in that regard.....

Im the type of guy that says, "if it aint broke, dont fix it"

good luck with your riding

 

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I must admit my first day I was a little unsteady on the back-roads where there were few people and a rare vehicle, which was on purpose as I was just testing out my bot and myself on the bot.  I try to act as if I am a bicycle, yielding to pedestrians and riding cautiously on the roadway, using bicycle paths wherever I can.  Luckily the town I live in doesn't have that much foot traffic on the sidewalks this time of year, and I use them sparingly depending on the road conditions, I prefer to ride on the actual roadway just like a bicycle.  I try to time myself so I hit the green lights, and hold onto a parked car or signpost at red lights until they turn green.  I agree, initially on I was "flailing" my arms about wildly at first when I was trying the bot in the tennis court, but figured out quickly that it wasn't necessary and was actually counterproductive to do this.  I'm leery about trying the next version of the firmware, and will be waiting until more braver people try it out though I tend towards "early adopterism" in all things technology, hopefully testing out carefully and in a secure environment.  My other half won't let me ride at night, though I have ordered a bright orange vest, have a headlamp for my helmet already, and will be trying to figure out how to mount some lights to the front and back of my bot for added visibility.  Glad to hear you are enjoying your ride!

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So my first day commuting to work was today, couldn't yesterday as I had to work late and didn't want to chance riding in the dark at this stage.  Today, however it was dark in the morning but the traffic is light on the back-roads here.  I strapped on my helmet, a headlamp, layers of clothing (it's cold), my gloves and set off for work which is a 3 mile one-way trip.  I've taken back-routes as to avoid the major traffic and roads that aren't setup as bike lanes.  I've found that I prefer roads that have a sign near the intersection where I can stop and hold onto something stationary so that I can easily take off.  I guess I need to start practicing how to hop and and take off from a standing position, a maneuver I can do however doing it with an "audience" in traffic is a little unnerving.  I get a lot of puzzled looks, loud shouts from passers by, it must be a spectacle to see one of us speed by.  I got to leave early, and rode home with about 50% battery remaining for my round-trip.  However I was called back in within a few minutes of arriving home, so I scooped up my charger and returned to work as I'd need to charge there since I wouldn't have enough charge to make the round trip back again.  It was a blast commuting to work, wish I could do this everyday.  We'll see how the unit handles snow when I put on the "Mad Mike" tire, though I think it may be too much of a challenge when that time comes.

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13 minutes ago, Patrick Carroll said:

Sure thing, remember that at some point you will "hate" your bot while you are learning, but once you "get it" on how to ride it's a blast!

I've been riding a TG F3 for about 4 rides now.  Am comfortable enough I don't think I'll bang up the Ninebot right away.  Only time I've come off the TG F3 is trying to climb my driveway, and it was slow.  Very slight scratch on the foot pedals.  I spent about an hour in a parking lot today doing figure eights and such.  Feeling much better.  I'm hoping the Ninebot will be a Cadillac compared to the TG F3. I'll let you know tomorrow.

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41 minutes ago, Patrick Carroll said:

Awesome; I kinda wish I had bought one of the cheaper versions out there for learning purposes.  I have scratched up my Ninebot One on several occasions.  It has a few "battle scars" hehe. :D

Yeah, it was not planned this way, I just didn't realize I'd fall in love with this so fast.  It's SO MUCH FUN!  I thought I'd have the TG F3 for a while.  Actually, I'll probably keep it as a backup and also trainer for friends/family.

I had originally planned to keep my Hoverboard for riding slow and inside the house, but I've gotten comfortable running around the house on the Uni, so I sold the Hoverboard to help pay for the Ninebot.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update: been riding the Ninebot one e+ to work almost every day rain or shine, mostly cold with temp 32F to 50F, been dressing in layers and wearing a reflector vest if it is dark outside.  I purchased a 250 lumen headlight to better light my way.  Finally figuring out that the looser you are and if you bend your legs you have more control and can handle dips, bumps, holes, and whatever much better.  Getting better at launching off from standing rather than relying on holding onto a sign or railing.  Actually did a 7 mile run down a remote remote bike trail at night to a restaurant to meet my signifier other for dinner, was a blast, met several deer in the distance that ran away but was was a smooth trail to uneventful except for fun. Thankfully there was and shack on the tail that had and free air pump, light, and m I st importantly an AC plug to charge up my unicycle.  I kinda wish at this point I had had a larger or replaceable battery for more distance and and bit more speed for those flat and "safe" areas where it makes sense to have speed such as and intersections with with a bike lane.

 

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So I did a 6 mile ride today to work on the bot and it starts to have this "electric transformer hum" and starts to jump wildly as the wheel rotates, and it seems to jump.  The app says the temperature is 135.5F.  Any ideas?  I'm scared to ride it now. I opened the case and it is a 1.3 version board, everything looks alright, the heatsink on the mosfets is warm, smells like warm electronics maybe burning though not sure. I finally found the product label that is usually on the pedal, it was on the inside cover of the board cover lol.  I wonder now about QC at ninebot. I let it cool down, tried riding it in a long hallway, and it's doing it again, jumping and humming.  I'm afraid one of the MOFSETS or the board is bad.  I emailed ninebot service, though from reading other threads about slow to no reply from Ninebot, I'm in limbo now.  Back to using my gasoline truck for awhile, :(

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patrick, if you can get some video footage of the failure it would help enormously - jumping & humming mean too many things to narrow it down ;)

The failures I've read about (and speaking from experience of one of my units) are of complete working, or complete failure - no in between etc. - so a board failure of this nature needs to be further understood.  Also include details of setup, ride mode, temperature (ambient), loading (your weight?) tyre pressure?  All can have an impact on deciphering the cause of the issue?

Plenty of people on here who've done many many miles on these units so I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of it one way or other :)

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Well it starts jumping forward and kicking forward at times now, or the wheel will jump forward and making you lose forward or backwards balance at slow speed, like it can make it around almost all the way but it jerks forward the last bit, rotates freely when powered off, when it jerks the whole unit makes a humming noise like an electric transformer does.  I weigh 90kg, the ambient temp outside is 50F, inside 68F. Firmware 1.3.0, board version 1.3, Ninebot One E+, tire pressure 55psi, ride setting zero, same as the last 150 miles or so.

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