Jason McNeil Posted January 8, 2016 Share Posted January 8, 2016 Apologies everyone for lack of activity over the past couple weeks: I've been recovering from a broken rib & some other minor injuries sustained from a GW MCM4 cutting out from under me... This was the first year I had the opportunity to travel out to Vegas for CES, mainly for the purpose to meet some business colleagues & catch-up with the rising star of the eWheels world, King Song. In the two years since I've been working with eWheels, it was the first occasion I opted to forego flying with a Wheel owing to the general hoverboard travel ban—those three days were the longest period I have been without a Wheel, & have to say that being demoted to pedestrian status is like superman being stripped of his superpowers, not something any of us Wheelers would willing surrender In contrast to other tradeshows, what probably distinguishes this year's event from the others is the notable absence of those manufacturers one would expect to be here; with no representation from Inmotion, AirWheel, IPS, GW & only the Ninebot P at the Segway/Ninebot booth [Correction: MV informs me that AW do have a presence at one of the other exhibit halls]. It is my belief that this diminution of enthusiasm is healthy for the industry, which needs serious Wheel makers to focus & concentrate on improving quality & sophistication of the single-wheel platform without trying to jump onto every new craze in the personal mobility market (AirWheel is a classic example of this lack of focus). It's difficult to see how another format of a self-balancing vehicle can better the single-Wheel concept for convenience, ergonomics, convenience, performance & general ride experience. King Song: King Song had their new 16" Wheel at center stage. Improvements from the October prototype: functional LED strips that extend around the sides of the Wheel & an improved durable handle design. In the very confined space one has to try it, I can report that it feels powerful & as would be expected more maneuverable/practical than the 18". However at 16.8kg it's quite a beast to lug around, so that handle will be essential when not ridden. Within the inner workings of the Wheel, I am delighted to announce that they have adopted my suggestion of integrating an active cooling fan that's activated when the board temperature exceeds 50°C. We'll have to test to see how effective this is in practice, since the airflow is fairly restricted—it will be an improvement, the question is is simply how much of one... it's another first in King Song's cap & demonstrate their commitment for innovation & pushing the boundaries with product development. One other important control-board upgrade is that they've doubled the burst capacitor to 2200µF 160106 KS Pedals Video shows the ground clearance turning with the new pedal design. They offer increased foot comfort with a slightly larger surface area & rubberized grippy contacts. 160106 KS Floppy Pedals When in the closed position, the pedals are not quite firmly held shut, Tina says it we be improved in the final release. Either way, it's not really that important. Exposed 16" shell without the side panels: I can't say that the wire strips holding the handle are the best I've seen. 160106 Segway/Nineboot Exhibit Had some interesting conversations with some Sr. Sales Managers—told that there was presence from the Engineering dept. at the show, but I couldn't find anyone... - The Mini Pro is going to be released in the US with exclusive launch on Amazon.com. The distributor is a large tier-one supplier called ESI; these guys are not specialists in mobility transport but they have access to all the top retail accounts like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc. Rumor is that they're expecting to launch with 50,000 units as the first order. - ESRP will be $1,300 (??!) with an introductory price of $950 on Amazon. I asked the rep if he thought US consumers would be prepared to pay such a high premium if they knew that a lower spec'd version (85kg max vs 100kg for the Pro) of the device is available in China for less than a quarter of the price, $315 vs $1300. Their rather lame excuse is that the US version is more powerful has slightly better range & a higher weight limit—has anyone in market research told the development team that nearly half of the adult male population in the US exceeds the 100kg weight limit?! Another interesting, but I suspect, rather implausible claim, is that in China alone the Mini has already sold 1.5 million units (that's not a typo)! My contacts in China also believe that this is a wild exaggeration; at this figure, even in China, the Mini would be universal & pervasive on the streets & public areas, which, I'm reliably informed, is simply not the case. 160106 FastWheel Ring & Eva FastWheel had a small booth demoing their Ring & improved Eva. The verdict on the Ring is not very good—remember this was a product that was supposed to be available in July of last year. It feels like the gearing system that they've packaged in it is fundamental flawed: it's loose, noisy & generally unrideable. The engineer claims the product remains a work in progress, if they can solve these significant deficiencies of the current design is far from certain. There is much better news about the Eva: around mid-2015 I had the intention of offering the Eva since it was quite cheap, light-weight, & had the right look as well. At that time the Wheel possessed many minor faults but fundamentally the Wheel's wheel handling was simply dreadful. Since then they have added a wider tire, released 26 updates to the Wheel's firmware, increased the pedal height & used a smoother plastic surface for the shell compounded these changes have had a dramatic overall effect, making the Wheel possibly the best in it's class (sub 10kg & $500 USD). It definitely deserves a re-evaluation. Jan 9th Edit: Added section on Ninebot/Segway Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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