The Chinese Do A Better Segway

From time to time, I dredge YouTube to see what’s new in one-person transportation. I keep hoping for the breakthrough product that will combine Not Looking Like A Dick while using it with an actual affordable price.

I don’t know the price of this one, but damn, I like it otherwise:

I rode a Segway the day it was announced. It always seemed too damned big. Compared to this Chinese one, it’s the SUV of personal transport! This Chinese model looks like an R2D2 version. I don’t think anyone would look like a dick on it. And it doesn’t hog the sidewalk like a Segway would.

As I was doing this post, I stumbled over information that this is now allegedly being sold in the United States!

It’s being called the EcoBoomer M1 but the site will not list a damn single-unit price, hence my skepticism over its actual availability. (There are no owner videos on YouTube, for instance.)

Here’s an unboxing and setup video from China:

Update: Someone on YouTube claims a Robin M1 costs US$2,500. If it’s true, that’s just ridiculous. What kind of custom electronics are they using? I’m thinking they could cut that price probably in half if owners had to supply the brain. Wouldn’t an iPod Touch have the processing power that’s needed to do the balancing calculations? Hell, people could get used a iPod Touch for cheap. Some people even have old iPhones. Give them the necessary software that would otherwise be contained in custom electronics and custom software. Why wouldn’t that work? It seems to me that when trying to create a mass market for something like this, as much expense as possible should be subtracted from the cost of the product. And I think most of that cost is probably in custom electronics. Remove that and maybe it could go as low as US$499. Then they’d get somewhere with it.

Second update: Another way to cut cost is to remove the assembly process. Sell it as a brainless kit. I could see Maker-like people having weekend jam sessions helping one another build these things and making sure the iPod Touch/iPhone brains worked properly.

Third update: Now I’m also thinking that another way to get the cost down is to sell it as a brainless kit without tires. The tires are probably heavy and would increase shipping cost. If the tires are custom, the entire thing should be re-engineered to use standard tires that are already available for other personal vehicles.

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18 Comments

Filed under Personal, Video

18 responses to “The Chinese Do A Better Segway

  1. Eric Hood

    That sounds like a kickstarter project. If you know the right sort of engineer.

  2. ABE

    Not all of us can STAND. How about an easy sitting version? Much better than a scooter or a powered wheelchair.

  3. LKY

    I rode it last weekend in Singapore. The Robin M1 works just like the real McCoy. Also, the wheels are much smaller, and thus it fits into a boot just right.

    Unfortunately, precisely because the wheels are smaller, it can be susceptible to imperfect surfaces. My son actually fell down while ride pass a road with a small pothole.

    • mikecane

      Thanks for letting us know!

    • X-man

      The size of the wheels is paramount. The Segway p133 had smaller wheels and less power than the i167 and proved to be the least popular of the originals. At a point in time I had three i167’s. I still ride a Gen 1 machine (i180) and it is wearing out after 7 years. I’ll be awful sad at it’s demise for my Segway days will be ended. The newer ones do not fit my current lifestyle ( too heavy for me to lift for transport in my motorhome – size matters :) )

    • Brian

      pros n cons for a small and big wheel.

      smaller wheel will mean lighter n better acceleration but not too good for rougher terrain. similarly, a big wheel will mean heavier weight, slower, less portability.

      an engineer will have to strive a balance. do u go offroad or to imperfect terrain all the time? u hv to see ur preference.

  4. Great article on this PEV.

  5. mike lockhart

    Small wheels are not a good idea on motive devices, big (diameter) is better ,less likely to get caught in holes, one of the reasons why horse drawn buggies had very large wheels.

    • Bill Gromer

      I “rode” a Robin M-1 tonight in the street in Harbor Springs Mich. Neat little machine, they had two of them and were letting people test drive. Took a couple of minutes to get use to it, but it handled very well, quick and agile They want $3,000 for them and frankly it doesn’t look like its worth half that. Not nearly as robust design as a Segway. It’s all plastic and the the wheels are hard and small. More of a toy like feel and look than the Segway. There were 15 or twenty people trying it out, but no buyers! Way over priced. They will never sell these things for $3,000

  6. Brian

    hi mike,

    standard tires won’t look nice. a good novel product will require some customisable.

    don’t underestimate the electronics software. U need a good software for reliability and optimise the motor performance for max range.

    the most expensive component in any light PT is actually the Lithium battery.

    what u pay is what u get. if u wan cheapo stuffs, be prepared for a less reliable n ugly product.

  7. LKY

    Robin M2 is on the way.

    The big advantage of small wheels would be ability to keep in in your car boot.

  8. LKY

    Btw, the Segway is way too pricey for the man on the streets. Just need to ride a little more cautiously with these small wheel clones.

  9. jf

    the best way to cut costs is to avoid the western R&D by copying an existing product and ignoring their patents.

  10. Leadway Australia sells a Segway X2 copy that is less than 50% of the price of it. Find it at http://www.leadwayau.com or type Leadway Australia into google.

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