ONEWHEEL, ONE LIFE
The number of ride-sharing bikes and electric scooters has exploded in Dallas, but the transportation of the future has only one wheel.
The Onewheel, an electric skateboard with a single wheel in the middle, has gained a cult following since being released in 2013 by California-based Future Motion Inc.
With more than 137,000 followers on the company’s national Facebook page, those fans have splintered into regional groups where enthusiasts can connect with other dedicated riders.
“We love to ride and find any type of excuse to ride it,” says Fuser Rodriguez, who organizes Dallas’ Onewheel group. “If I take the Onewheel to my mom’s house, I’ll take the longest way possible so it takes 40 minutes. It’s why I go to the gym because I know I’ll get to ride it. It’s not an issue to do any type of errand. We do it with pleasure.”
The number of Onewheel users in Dallas has grown since mid-2018 thanks to weekly group rides, an active social media presence and a little friendly competition with other Onewheel groups across the country.
When a rider in Denver boasted on social media about the number of people in his group, attendance at the weekly Dallas ride jumped from about 15 to 25 people, Rodriguez says.
And when users in Portland posted their own record, 44 people, the Dallas group showed them that everything is bigger in Texas. More than 60 people showed up for a ride around White Rock Lake. That set a new group record. It’s a feat Rodriguez says other branches have yet to answer.
“We were going to show those people how we ride in Texas,” he says. “We have the best group in the nation.”
The group started riding on the trails around White Rock Lake, but as it grew to include members from Fort Worth, Texoma and the surrounding suburbs, Rodriguez had to look elsewhere for space to accommodate increasing numbers. Rides now take place at other spots, like the Katy and Santa Fe trails, as well as places in Plano, McKinney and Los Colinas.
“We try to ride in different places because we don’t want people to get bored,” Rodriguez says. “People who have lived here all their lives are always amazed at the places we go. Dallas has so many beautiful places, but people ride in their cars so they don’t get to see them.”
To ride the Onewheel, users simply lean forward or backward on the footpads straddling the wheel. It’s a motion familiar to skateboarders, snowboarders and surfers, who were some of the earliest Onewheel riders. But at 35 pounds, the weight of the board prevents users from performing many aerial tricks.
The newest Onewheel model, which costs almost $1,800, allows riders to coast for about 15 miles per charge on multiple terrains, including dirt, grass, snow and concrete. Speeds can reach up to 20 mph, and many riders have experienced a swift introduction to the ground.
“It’s really easy to ride. Almost too easy,” White Rock resident John Sanborn says. “You can get comfortable with it before you should. As I was approaching 18 mph, I went off the board, scratched my palm and questioned my life decisions. That was day 1 at mile 2.”
But the risks do little to dissuade many fervent Onewheel users, who are eager to share their passion with others as they wait for the release of the newest model expected in 2020.
“It’s not a cheap toy, but we let other people use it because we want to keep growing and let other people fall in love,” Rodriguez says. “I have met so many nice people, and they want to share this love, this passion with whoever is around.”