Ah, the sweet memory of learning to ride a bike with training wheels! My hands are sweaty, and my ego a bit damaged after spending a half-hour learning to ride a battery-powered unicycle called the Pinwheel. This $295 (wholesale) gadget is one of the more interesting finds here at Computex 2014 -- if you've been looking to ditch that Segway for a more portable mode of transport, this may be it. It's made by Shenzhen-based company TOPJOY, and it really is a thrill to ride.
Pinwheel battery-powered unicycle hands-on
Luckily, there was a model with training wheels and a balance strap on hand, because it takes a bit of time to get the hang of it. As you'd expect, it's all about balance -- stand straight to stop, lean forward to move forward, back for reverse and so on. You can travel at up to 22 kilometers per hour (about 14MPH) on this guy, but you better know what you're doing before you attempt to move that fast. Turning's a bit difficult, too, especially if your parallel-parking skills are a bit iffy. Luckily, the Pinwheel's design is resilient enough to withstand a few bumps and bruises as you learn how to ride it, though you might not be so lucky, so be sure to wear a helmet.
The Pinwheel's real appeal is its portability; it weighs about 20 pounds, and could easily be tucked away after your morning commute -- it even has a handle for easy carrying. The replaceable battery pack, which even sports a USB port for charging up smartphones and tablets, yields about four hours of use, and you can choose from six different color options. The Pinwheel is being shopped around to potential buyers here at the show, so depending on demand, it could end up in a variety of markets. And now for the best part: a video of me making a fool of myself riding the unicycle on the Computex expo floor.
Update: At the request of the manufacturer, we wanted to clarify that $295 is the wholesale price for 100 or more units. The actual retail price may be higher than this amount.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.