Why you would choose an electric skateboard: If you have a need for speed and are looking for something to commute with and you live in an area where the road conditions are mostly ideal, ie smoothly paved and without cracks or debris, then you should think about getting an electric skateboard.
Why you would choose a Onewheel: If your mindset is not so much about getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible but more about enjoying the journey as much or even more than the destination, then the Onewheel is for you. With the Onewheel you will love exploring, trying new and challenging terrain, and maneuvering around obstacles and pedestrians with nimble ease.
Deciding between a Onewheel and an electric skateboard can be difficult. Both are incredible ways to get around and both can be a lot of fun.
After putting hours of research into the subject I have come up with the following reasons why someone would choose a Onewheel or an electric skateboard. [feature image above provided by Nick Gulan]
Clearly, each board has advantages and disadvantages. Here is how I see it:
1. Learning Curve:
The electric skateboards are fairly straight forward, especially if you have spent any time on a skateboard. You stand on the board and instead of using your legs to propel yourself you use a controller to accelerate and to slow down.
The Onewheel on the other hand is unlike anything you’ve ever been on. The Onewheel is kind of like a skateboard and it is kind of like a snowboard but it is also very different from skating and snowboarding at the same time.
The Onewheel takes practice and skill to ride it correctly and safely. While you may feel fairly confident on a Onewheel after a few minutes, don’t let this fool you into a false sense of security.
You need to put in the miles to learn how fast you can safely go. It also takes experience to understand how pushback works, carve, make tight turns, float in place, and to navigate heavy pedestrian traffic.
But just because something is a little harder to learn doesn’t make it less worth while. In fact, having a steeper learning curve can make something more enjoyable and rewarding in the long run.
Learning Curve Winner:
Many electric skateboards can travel up to over 20 miles per hour. Because of the four wheels on the ground, there is no chance of nose diving like on the Onewheel.
If you have a perfectly paved road with no cracks, gaps, bumps, or debris, you will be golden cruising at speeds much higher than what the Onewheel can do.
The Onewheel is not a speed demon. When you push the motor to its limits you start feeling pushback as the nose of the board tilts up to slow you down.
The Onewheel advertises speeds of 19 miles per hour but my max speed rarely goes above 15 miles per hour because I enjoy carving and navigating trails. If you are looking to go fast, the Onewheel should not be your first choice.
Electric skateboards require less technology and are therefore lighter, but they can still be pretty heavy. The Boosted Board Stealth, for example, weights about 17 pounds while the smaller version like the Mini X weighs 16.8 pounds.
Future Motion, the maker of the Onewheel, once advertised that the Onewheel was built like a tank. While they meant that the Onewheel was built like a tank in terms of durability, one has to wonder if the Onewheel was also built like a tank in terms of its weight.
Coming in at around 25 lbs, the Onewheel is not something you want to be carrying around for long distances. In addition, with the big centrally placed go-kart tire on the Onewheel, carrying it around can be a pain.
4. Battery Life:
The battery technology has come a long ways and it continues to advance. Just not too long ago the Onewheel could only travel about 6 miles on a charge. Now the Onewheel XR can travel about 18 miles on a single charge while the Boosted Board Stealth can travel 14 miles on a single charge.
Because the Onewheel requires energy to balance to board in addition to moving the board, the Onewheel requires more energy to operate than electric skateboards.
In addition, when the battery dies on an electric skateboard you can still ride on the board like you would a regular skateboard.
If you run out of juice on a Onewheel, hopefully you brought your charger with you or you’ll be getting a great work out trying to awkwardly carrying 25 pounds around.
Just about all electric skateboards require the user to use a hand held controller that connects wirelessly to the board. The Onewheel has no controller. On the Onewheel, direction, speed, and stopping are all controlled using your body weight and positioning.
Having a controller also means the additional risk of your controller running out of batteries, getting lost, broken, or misplaced and forgotten.
I find having both of my hands free on the Onewheel super convenient and very liberating. I love that I can take pictures and video footage of the trails I ride or of the new places that I explore.
I have also found myself using both hands to eat and drink while riding my Onewheel or to open my backpack to pull out a phone or a water bottle.
The freedom to travel on the Onewheel completely hands free makes it feel like an extension of your body and truly makes the experience sublime.
Most electric skateboards on the market are limited to only riding on smooth surfaces. Cracks in the road, potholes, grates, and small rocks or gravel will ruin any ride on an electric skateboard. To go off road you would need an off road electric skateboard.
The Onewheel loves tackling all sorts of terrain. Riding on a smoothly paved road is like butter and the big wheel of the Onewheel makes riding on surfaces like grass, trails, and even the beach a joy to experience.
The Onewheel encourages me to explore and to try new terrain. On the Onewheel you don’t have to be confined to smooth pavement. Go on the grass, go on trails, and go off-roading!
You can carve with electric skateboards and you can turn with electric skateboards.
But if you want to REALLY carve and REALLY turn then the Onewheel has the clear advantage here. Experienced riders on the Onewheel can easily turn 90 degrees on a dime and with practice on a Onewheel riders can turn a full 180 degrees and more!
Don’t let the weight of the Onewheel fool you, it is nimble! I’ve navigated the pedestrian heavy streets of Times Square of New York and the Ka’anapali Board Walk of Maui and both were a blast!
It’s that same nimbleness that will serve you well on off road trails. Electric skateboards require a huge turn radius compared to the Onewheel which and do it virtually in place.
Board sports have an inherent danger and neither electric skateboards nor Onewheels are immune. Many would argue that Onewheels are more dangerous than electric skateboards and I would say that is true.
When the proper precautions are taken and if the rider understands the limitations of the Onewheel, the Onewheel can be just as safe as electric skateboards.
Unfortunately, too many people get injured on the Onewheel because they don’t take the time to really understand the Onewheel before trying to set speed records.
When people try to use the Onewheel as a speed machine, that is when nosedives occur and injury happens. The Onewheel is NOT an electric skateboard.
Do not try to break speed records on the the Onewheel. It is not build for speed! When you try to go 24 miles per hour on a Onewheel you are flirting with disaster that strikes so quickly there is little time to react.
When you over power the motor of a Onewheel, it just shuts off and the nose of the board goes crashing into the ground sending the rider directly into the ground. There is little time to react.
9. Fun Factor:
This is the most subjective factor that I will be evaluating. Hands down, the Onewheel is more fun than the electric skateboard.
Both devices allow the rider to cruise at their leisure but the Onewheel is so unique that a big part of the fun is seeing the expressions on people’s faces as they try to figure out what I’m riding.
Because of the Onewheel I’ve been introduced to new communities, met new people, and made new friends. It is an amazing way to explore new places locally as well as in my travels.
I’ve taken my Onewheel to New York and Hawaii and it has also encouraged me to explore places in my own neighborhood that I never would have found on my own even after having lived here for over 5 years.
The Onewheel may not get you to your destination as fast as an electric skateboard but you will definitely have more fun riding it.
Once you are experienced with the Onewheel you will become one with the Onewheel. It will become an extension of yourself and you will be looking for excuses to go out and ride.
Fun Factor Winner:
Board sport folks tend to enjoy customizing their boards to give the board character and to make them unique. Whether it be something simple like stickers or custom grip tape or something more advanced like modifications to make your board go farther, the Onewheel has got to be the king of customization and modifications.
There are a myriad of ways to customize a Onewheel. From the fender, rails, handles, Flight Fins, Fangs (yes there are things called Fangs for the Onewheel), to modifications that attach extra batteries to your board or in a backpack.
It is truly amazing what the Onewheel community has come up with to make the Onewheel an even more unique device.
Some have likened the electric skateboard to a plane or a car because it is good for going fast and longer distances while the Onewheel is like a helicopter or a Jeep because it is great for cruising, sightseeing, off-roading and exploring.
Just as you would never take a helicopter to get from the mainland to Hawaii, you would never take a passenger plane to sight seethe waterfalls, rainforests, and rock formations of Maui. Which device you get will depend heavily on how you see yourself using the device.
For me and my family, we love cruising and exploring the many parks and trails in Colorado so it was a no brainer to get a Onewheel. We loved it so much we eventually got four.
The Onewheel is great but for the curious, there’s something we enjoy just as much and even more that you can learn more about in this video: