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Take it indoors or out. Go fast or go slow. With the i2, all of your local transportation needs are met in one modern, balanced, intelligent machine.
Completely versatile and consistently enjoyable, the i2 is ideal in more ways than one. Not only does it take you out of rush-hour traffic and away from congested parking lots, it's battery operated, totally wireless, and intuitively moves where your body tells it to.
• Weight: 47.7 kg
• Tyres: 19" / 48cm
• Footprint : 48 x 63 cm
• Max Speed: 20 kmh
• Range: Up to 38 km
A short while ago I had the opportunity to use a Segway i2 personal transport for a couple of weeks. The short version of this review is - I WANT ONE! But... not for the reasons you perhaps think. Allow me to explain...
On the downside - it's a single-person transport, and it needs some kind of suspension system if you plan to use it on public walkways. And thus ends the negatives list. Seriously... a single-person transport is not as versatile or practical as a family car for someone like me, and the pavements around Hamilton are utterly horrendous in places and left me with sore feet from all the bouncing. For heaven's sake, in places, I was getting AIRTIME on this beast!
On the positives list... where do I begin.
• It costs about a third of the price of a decent small car, or the going rate for a decent second-hand 5+ year old sedan.
• It runs off a set of rechargeable lithium batteries so you know you're going to get great mileage out of it.
• You can recharge it from dead-empty to full in only a couple of hours, using only a jug cord plug.
• That full charge will get you from Hamilton to Huntly with a bit of juice to spare. (About 38-40kms per full charge... a bit more if you take it easy and don't go full-speed, overload it or hit seriously rough terrain.)
• That full charge will cost you under a dollar, so if you just stick to running around town on this, that's less than $1/day which is less than the ownership rates for a car, excluding running costs! (Petrol, oil, tyres, etc.)
• You can lock this up at a bike stand, handrail, street-lamp or power pole, using just a regular bike lock... and that's really only needed to deter thieves, because it has a built-in "active" security system!
• Even if someone steals it, they can't start it, because the "key" is worn on your wrist like a second watch, and it can't be hotwired either.
• Once you get the hang of using it - which takes less than 10 minutes for the basics - it's like some super-science mind-reading thing! You think go, it moves. You think stop, it stops. By the end of your third day, it will be utterly instinctive.
Sounding pretty good, yeah? Yeah! As a local-commute vehicle this is ideal in cities where parking in the CBD is pretty horrible - either price-wise like Auckland or Wellington, or location-wise like Hamilton. Ride it almost right up to your desk, because it fits through standard doors and even into elevators easily. I know this, because, after seeking permission, I took this little beauty places it would never normally be allowed. Heck, I even did one of my weekly grocery shops riding this - it handles a dream in even narrow supermarket aisles. (Don't believe me? Wait until I get time to edit up the footage I shot with the camera I strapped to it.)
Now, why on earth would I want to test this in a supermarket? Isn't that a bit unrealistic? Not at all, if you consider that a Segway is not just an awesome way to blatt around town for an able-bodied person. No, it's also a tool for freedom for those with certain mobility issues. Consider this: I have a mate who is in the advanced stages of Muscular Dystrophy, and while he's now probably way past the point this would be suitable for him, there was a patch where standing was no problem, but walking was a real mission. With the lack of fine muscular control, even driving was not only awkward, but downright dangerous for him, and all the other motorists on the road at the same time.
Because of the technology underlying the Segway's operation, as long as someone can stand, they can move. So, my mate would have been able to shuffle himself off his office chair, get onto his feet and then step up onto the Segway. After that, he's as mobile as anyone else, because this could take him almost anywhere an able-bodied person could go, and certainly anywhere someone in a wheelchair could go. Doing the weekly shop would be totally impractical, but doing daily micro-shops was well within the remit of this device - I happily rode it home with about 12kg of groceries spread across a backpack, and two canvas bags slung on the handlebars - 1 each side. For someone using it as an all-the-time mobility device, getting the optional cargo-pods fitted above the wheel farings would be ideal.
So what couldn't it do for me? Well, I'm no lightweight lad, I admit it. The device comes with a recommended maximum load of 115-120kg depending on what paperwork you look at. On my own, I exceed that, and while carrying groceries around, I had it loaded up well in excess of that limit. While it didn't hamper performance too much on flat terrain - acceleration was slower and some steeper streets became out of bounds - it did noticeably reduce battery life and maximum speed. Someone with less bulk to carry would cause performance to be hampered less than I did.
Overall, I guess for me the real question is not "Is it worth getting one?" because the answer is a resounding "Yes!" It is by far the most cost-effective transport around. No more waiting in gridlock, no more queuing in the rain for buses, no more parking tickets or overpriced parking buildings, no more three-digit petrol bills... just easy transport that is a real pleasure in good weather, and no worse in wet weather than walking. The question is "Should I buy one?" and for me the answer is "No!" - but only because I know I already have a weight issue, and owning one of these would remove even the tiny amount of walking I do these days anyway. As much as I think these are the future of "responsible eco-wise transport" it's also - for me - a temptation beyond all others to avoid walking... anywhere... ever. Still... it was an awesome 2 weeks, and the number of people who stopped me to ask questions is testament to it's appeal. I simply did not want to give it back.
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