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Test riding a self-balancing scooter

After a ride on a self-balancing scooter, we realise that it needn’t just be for teens

If you are on social media or manage to step on the city’s few promenades regularly, you can’t have missed the sight of teenagers gliding past you on what seem to be segways without a handle. They are called self-balancing scooters and are the all the rage these days with every possible actor posting a video with themselves on it.

Anju Maskeri

We wanted in on the fun too and put one through a gamut of trials. Ethan D’Souza, the tech expert at IO Walk which has supplied us our trial board for the day, arrives and is amused by everyone’s enthusiasm here. At first glance it seems easy. The board is a two-feet-long device, weighing 12 kg. It doesn’t come with a handlebar, so make sure you have a good sense of balance. Much like trying to find your balance on a cycle, this device takes some getting used to.
The battery-powered device responds to shifts in weight — lean forward if you want to move ahead, or to the left if you wish to turn.

The ride started off with a jerky due to the awkward thrusts. The board reacts to even the slightest movement of the foot, but, once the sensors kicked in, they helped us find a balance. The device halts when you stop exerting pressure. We jumped off when we wanted to end the ride, but D’Souza warned: “Don’t do that. Since the device doesn’t stop moving immediately, it will cause a fall.”

On a flat surface, you feel like you are gliding, but irregular terrain is certainly not a friend. The max speed you can achieve on this is 15 kmph and to the eternal kitna deti hai question, the answer is 8-10 hours, or 10-15 km, on a 2-hour charge.
Priced at R55,000, the IO Walk is more expensive than other variants in the market, but we are told that this one comes straight from the mother brand that invented the device.

Heard about the nasty explosions? Well, that was due to poor quality and overheating. But, the IO walk comes with a battery cut-off which eliminates the risk.

Verdict: Past the initial hiccups, this is a load of fun. So much so, that we didn’t want to return the device. Can’t imagine it being a transport-worthy vehicle though. But, if you just want to have fun, get one immediately.

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