Electric Unicycle Motorbike (Unibike), One Wheeled Skateboard, Two Wheeled Skateboard, all Self-Balancing.

John Dingley      email: self-balancing-skateboard@sky.com   
A site about all things that self-balance from around the world and in particular the machines I have built myself.
Self-balancers existed long before Christmas 2015 "hoverboards" gave self-balancers a bad name.

Why do this? i) There is still much to learn in this area. iii) You can genuinely innovate even as a hobbyist. iii) You can only do so much on a computer, you then have to actually build something. These days that last part often never happens. Also, they are just brilliant fun to ride!

Lecture at EMF camp: I gave a talk on whole history of the machines I have made over last 10 years at the EMF camp 2018. You can watch it Here

Latest machine being tested (at last) Aug 2020. Completely new steering geometry, if anything it works too well, need to add a steering damper. New safety structure on front works on both tarmac and sand - took ages to get right. 72V off-road e-bike LiPo battery pack gives loads more power too. More to come on this version. Handlebars fold in if you crash and it falls over sideways, so they survive for another day. Slimline fuselage with no sharp projections. Here is latest video of this one working: Click Here

LATE 2018 PROJECT: Developed a monster unicycle (above) with a 3000Watt hubmotor from an electric motorbike. 
Seen above with the new (27/6/18) front safety wheel enclosure.This works well and also looks better than a wheel sticking out at the front on a stalk.
This build was documented in a series of videos under the name Unicycle Garage. Click Here

***18/5/17 AS FEATURED IN SWANSEA EVENING POST***  Click Here   For Build Photos of this late 2017 working machine: Click Here
Seriously windy day at Pembrey beach. Had to "tack" at 45 degrees to the wind to make it back up beach to our start point.
Left: The Jackal by Nick Thatcher.     Right: my 2017 machine with DC motor, chain drive and called the One Man Lunar Rover.
Safety skid can be retracted. Wheel is from a kitesurfer buggy.

Feb 2017: I started a side-project to try to make a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for this. Very few electric CVT projects exist on the web so once again developing almost on my own with this one. If it works it will be really useful i.e. slow on hills with high torque, faster on level ground, all seamless, assuming the CVT can be made to work AND it doesn't upset the self-balance computer.....quite a few variables then. I have a separate website logging my CVT build efforts: Click Here
If a skid is good enough for a SHADO Moonbase UFO Interceptor, it is good enough for me.

Earlier versions of the kite-surfer tyred unicycle like the one above can be found here with more video links: Click Here
October 2015, an early version: Instead of an LCD screen I was experimenting  with data on Torque, Angle and Battery volts sent via bluetooth to a wearable display in front of the right eye.
This has now morphed into a potential commercial product, the ViVi wearable data display click here for VIDEO.
Website:   www.vivi.vision       ............looking for further investment capital.

In 2014 - 2015 I worked on a the very first attempt at a unicycle which had twin front tyres from a Honda CB500. This was called the Medicycle and was a semi finalist in the Hackaday competition at that time.

YouTube Video

Video of the ultra-dangerous full sized original Hackaday-competition MediCycle at Maker Faire 2015 Newcastle UK.

                        MEDICYCLE URBAN RESPONDER Summer 2014 (The full sized ultra-dangerous MediCycle).

JUNE 2014: I entered the Hackaday Competition with Nick Thatcher and David Williams. 
The entry was the Medicycle, twin-tyre unicycle design. Looked cool but barely controllable and very dangerous.
OCTOBER 2014:  We reached the semi-finals from 800 entries which is not bad. The rules required the device to be "connected"
as part of its core functionality, and, to be honest, our medical data streaming to the web was a little contrived and clearly not absolutely 
essential to the working of a self-balancing unicycle. Thanks to everyone who supported us. We were also filmed by Discovery channel for 
their "Daily Planet" programme in Crystal Palace park, London, broadcast October 2014 in North America and Canada.
 Click on link below to watch this, we were lead story of this episode.

Link to Daily Planet Programme (NOTE: this only will work in Canada), select 17th October (episode 155) from menu:

Even earlier monowheel projects from which the one wheeled motorcycle idea emerged.

The Uni-Mig01
The Tumblebug science fiction one wheeled motorbike.      The Uni-Mig 01 (UNI-МИГ 01), many parts now in the Unibikes (see top of page).
The Uni-Mig01 was an attempt at a kind of Vespa scooter re=imagined with just one wheel. It was presented as some kind of lost Cold War technology.
Thanks, Rebel Legion UK. Stormtrooper demonstrates the Uni-Mig.

YouTube Video

More on the UNI-МИГ 01 (Uni-Mig) in Link (19) in left hand menu.


YouTube Video

The "Thing" version 2 Derby Mini Maker Faire UK November 2013 with Nick Thatcher and his "Raptor" machine (far left and far right). This used all my 
old large monowheel skateboard parts to create a unicycle. Welded on unicycle seat and handlebars. 
It worked much better than expected and triggered my move towards motorcycle designs since then.


Twin-wheel chopper, a one wheeled Vespa scooter styled machine and an early big dangerous one wheeled motorbike as part of a Hackaday competition.

Raleigh Chopper inspired unicycle (well, actually it is a di-wheel). 
Winter 2014.        This is finished now and I have an "Instructable" with build instructions for this here: Self-balancing Chopper

YouTube Video

 Video of the Chopper project in action.

My own classification of self-balancing one wheelers (so far):
1) Stand-on (skateboard style).
2) Stand-astride (Solowheel type design)
2) Unicycle (i.e. seat on top of wheel like a unicycle, e.g. the Enicycle or a one wheeled motorbike e.g. the Ryno)
3) Seat-forward ("Riot wheel" for example, seat in front of large wheel    http://www.theriotwheel.com/  )
4) Seat-behind (See Russian patent diagram at bottom of this page, where seat is behind a large wheel)
5) Prone-forward (See concept CAD image towards bottom of this page where rider is ahead of a large wheel lying prone).
6) Prone-unicycle (rider is more or less prone but above the main wheel.
7) Inside-wheel (Large hollow wheel with seat inside the rim of the wheel) as in older fully mechanical designs.

Note: There is also a Prone-behind category of drag motor bike where the bike drags itself along by a single front wheel with the rider hanging on behind. 
These do not self-balance though and are more like a powered sled: http://www.unimoto.ch/histoire/histoireeng.html

One wheeled skateboard and Segway style machines.
I started this hobby with an attempt to make a one wheeled skateboard. I then progressed through twin wheeled skateboards to larger one wheeled machines.

Twin pneumatic tyres. LiFePO4 disability scooter 24V battery. Arduino Nano. Wireless Bluetooth steering and deadman switch within a Wii Nunchuck shell.

YouTube Video of PneuSkate2 2016

Video of the Pneuskate2 in action.


2008 First machine that actually worked.                        The "Hot Wheel" variant.                                            The "Thing" V1. See link (4) on left.
See link (16) on left.

Two wheeled skateboard style machines
Twin wheeler, batteries in deck.  "Easy build" version.              With carbon fibre deck                    With ply deck.                           "Pneu-skate" with pneumatic tyres.
See link (1) on left.                    See link (3) on left.                                                                       See Link (6) on left.                    See link (2) on left.

Special ones:
Concept to put mechanism in a rucksack                  Best Skateboard so far. Compact, has Headway LiFePo4 cells and pneumatic tyres.
Extending handle also acts as handlebar and             I am unlikely to significantly improve on this skateboard type design. Wii-Nunchuck is for steering and trim.
is ridden like a small Segway.                                  Now running as PneuSkateV2 with different battery and electronics plus wireless bluetooth.

YouTube Video

Also see my "Instructables" DIY skateboard page for build instructions for a skateboard design with 2 wheels.

Solowheel type machines where you stand on the footpegs each side.
Abandoned for now as too dangerous. May work eventually but high chance of injury while ironing out the bugs!  See link (17) on left.

NON-SELF BALANCING VEHICLE, the beach luge. A cross between a downhill luge, kite buggy and go kart.

YouTube Video

July 2017: Electric beach luge board experimental vehicle made from bits of old projects: Click Here

For many more examples check out the links page in left hand menu.

1) "Parallel bicycle" developed in 1987 by Kazuo Yamafuji. Japanese patent 1996: Link to paper in Japanese

2) Segway unveiled 2001 3rd December. Dean Kamen.
Based on iBot wheelchair which was introduced in 1999, in development for several years prior to that.

3) First one-wheeled self-balance skateboard was made by Ben Smithers in 2007 the UK and had a wide go-kart tyre. Steered by leaning onto one edge of the tyre.

This is the project that got me into this hobby. Web page

4) I had no idea how the balance software worked. To the rescue came Shane Colton who lectures at MIT 
and had put a lecture up on the web explaining how the complementary filter that fuses the outputs of an
accelerometer and a solid state gyro actually works: Balance filter lecture notes as a pdf file

5) Trevor Blackwell made one of first DIY Segways but also a one wheeler, also with example code I could study.  Trevor Blackwell page
This was enough for me to get started making something.

6) Rodger Cleye Leviskate of 2008. Also an early home-built one wheeled skateboard: Video
There is another video of him riding it while playing a guitar, as you do..........Video

7) Kyle Doerksen, 2008/2009. An early hobbyist who also built a single wheeled skateboard type machine.
Remember the name as he will pop up again a few years later!

8) The Emanual 2004 by Justin Lemire-ElmoreMatt Chudleigh, Don Clarke. Twin wheeled skateboard which can turn on the spot etc.
Presumably this must be the first self-balance skateboard ever made by anyone. Used downward facing ultrasonic and Sharp infra-red distance sensors at one end.

9) The Einrad-Fahrzeug 2001. Was first self-balancing unicycle in the world. 
Professor Dr.-Ing. habil. Klaus Hofer from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, 
the University of Applied Sciences (FH) Bielefeld. Link to web page: Click here

10) The Enicycle 2008. Aleksander Polutnik from Slovenia. Unicycle but crucially demonstrates a steering linkage that moves wheel
onto one edge so machine has better steering control than just leaning to one side. This linkage is operated by pushing on the foot
pegs but obviously you could link it to handlebars for example. Also note that it has a steering damper. 
It was also featured on UK Channel 5 "The Gadget Show"                  Enicycle video

11) RYNO 2008. Chris Hoffman and Tony Ozrelic. First attempt to make commercial one wheeled motorbike with 
steering linkage etc. More on Ryno below (Chinese seem to have tried to copy it). Ryno website

12) SBU Self Balancing Unicycle (SBU) Daniel Wood. Approx 2008. Focus Designs. Making small commercial unicycles that self-balance.

13) SoloWheel 2010. First of the stand with foot each site, no handlebar, no seat, self-balancing one wheelers.
Actually, the electronics design and some mechanical features of the SoloWheel were done by Focus Designs, i.e. is close to an SBU with the seat removed. 
Bear this in mind as stand up electric unicycle clones of this basic design now saturate the market from China, the Airwheel being a well known one.
I really doubt the SBU or the SoloWheel guys derive any benefit from sale of all those clone machines.
Here is a very interesting article on Shane Chen's disputes with the counterfeiters in China, worth reading: Article LA Times
You could argue that these machines infringe the Segway patents as the Segway patents do describe a concept with one wheel and footrests each side.
However you could also argue that the Japanese Kazuo Yamafuji robot was the first to use an accelerometer and gyro to self-balance and this was public domain information predating all self-balancers no matter how many wheels they might have. A bit of a mess really.

14) 2014 Kickstarter for commercial production of a one (wide) wheeled skateboard: The OneWheel
$630,000 raised. Includes Kyle Doerksen who started out as hobbyist remember around 2008/9, see above. Well done for following your dream!
Has some kind of special small but high torque hub motor.

15) Clint Rutkas. Experimenting with a twin wheeled board around 2009. Inspiring as he went for quite a complex approach,
clever coding and documented all his struggles to get it to balance, including it punching holes in the walls of his apartment.

16) Charles F Taylor, a farmer from the US, who worked on the other way of doing this, i.e. big spinning gyroscopes to mechanically keep a 
vehicle level. His work was almost forgotten but then some old video was put online: Amazing CF Taylor video
and then two bikers decided to recreate one of his machines, now called the CTRIG.............
One is Sidecar-Willy, incidentally also featured further down as a pioneer of one wheeled sled-type motorbike racing
and the founder of the American National Unimotorcyclists Society (ANUS).

17) Nick Thatcher who built a Segway aged 19, then moved seriously into one-wheeled motorbike designs. 
Has just started University in the same town I live in in the UK, which is good as he is probably the only other person in the UK with this hobby.

18) What about those monowheels where you sit inside the wheel?
Modern versions seem to rely on user shifting their weight. Here is a current example by Dave Southall, TV star!:Click Here.
However, in 1930's there was at least one that had a steering system tilting the wheel onto edge of its tyre while, crucially, 
it kept the contact point under the rider. Engine/seat moved left/right on a kind of concealed curved track front and rear. 
I know of no modern equivalent. 
Any university engineering depts. want to have a go at a modern version, Adelaide perhaps? Here is the only video I 
have seen with one of these steerable machines in action called "L’invenzione della moto-ruota", 
an Italian machine, filmed in France:     Click Here

YouTube Video

Great video above of a small child riding a monowheel by shifting his weight to steer it.
Ah, no health and safety back in 1927. Still he is wearing a protective woolly hat so that should be OK then.

First of all, what are these "hoverboard" things from China that have reputation for catching fire?
OK, think of standing with two solowheel type devices, with one foot on each as below....
If you tip both feet forwards (tips of toes downwards) you will move forwards. Tip one foot down and the other up and you will rotate.
Join both machines together at the centre with a pivot, and you essentially have a "hoverboard":
........and that is all on hoverboards.

OTHER CHINESE ACTIVITIES OVER THE LAST YEAR OR SO. Looks as if they view this website.


Yellow one on left is my one wheeled "THING" 2011              Black one on right 2017 here is, apparently, the Kiwano K01

1) Here is a new one I have just discovered on YouTube. 2 twin-wheeled machines by Mr Yee in Penang, Malaysia. 
The second one looks as if he has built for a disabled person, note the front safety wheels.

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

2) June 2015, the "Eight-Ball" uploaded by "Furbi" but made by George Spratt, Auckland, New Zealand.

YouTube Video

Eight-ball looks really good on this video. Motors and battery within wheel, steering linkage.
May 2017: The builder, George Spratt, is from Auckland, New Zealand. He has built several machines and I am trying to get more pictures. 
In meantime here is an outline of his projects from text he has sent me.
The 8-Ball video was put on web by his friend, Furbi to share the fun George had been having, building and riding a one wheel motor cycle. George is involved in building sports cars, electric and hybrid, electric buses, hybrid trucks, monocycles and other things. Brief description: Inspired by Augusta single wheel machine, which seemed to be an elegant piece of motorcycle art, he set about making a one wheeler he could ride. Much experimenting followed including a twin gyro unit the “magic carpet” which steered by flexing a plywood board with foot angle pressure, many years before the "hoverboard", and the “power snail”, since decomissioned, led to the construction of a large fat tyre hubless bike rim, gyro balanced and driven on the inside of the rim. The Eight ball followed, as a lower to the ground machine, as some shorter legged ambitious friends were caught out on attempts to ride. On another version, there was a mechanism for trimming the gyro, the throttle gave the effect of leaning the machine forward, the brake the effect of leaning back, i.e stopping. This was 2012/13, several more have been made since then, the most recent using a F1 Suzuki rear wheel.
More photos:

YouTube Video

23/05/17 George has just sent me some video clips and given me permission to put them up on YouTube.
There are several different original machines in this video documenting early efforts that just about worked
to some really nice newer ones.

3) The "RoboWell Juno" unicycle from Russia. Bluetooth controlled from your phone. Hub motor. Proper steering system.
01/12/14 I was sent a link to this brilliant DIY one wheeler from Russia on YouTube built by Vyacheslav Kulakov
He has a 2 wheeler as well but the monowheel is really good. 

YouTube Video

Robowell Juno

Assorted other curiosities...........
 Horseless 2 wheeled chariot seen in 1896 advert for first motor show ever in United Kingdom
 (Brown County Democrat, December 28, 1900.)   - The "Footomobile" of the future!

Has anyone else built one of these boards prior to "hoverboards" coming out in 2015?
Oh yes! Ages currently range from 12yrs to 81yrs.
Here are a few I know of:
1)   Skateboard:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSW7YXLCjqk
2)   Skateboard:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-uUidBZEnM
3)   The Velociryder:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvfUIxusPZw&feature=player_embedded
4)   Great skateboard video - Buffalo State College senior project:
5)   Another board based on one of my on line "Instructables":  
6)   A board based on old FIRST robotics parts + code from this instructable (FIRST robotics was started by Dean Kamen who also invented the Segway, to encourage youth to get interested in engineering):   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh9LpNQ_S0k&feature=related
7)   Carbon fiber racing car seat with 2 wheels also based on this instructable - the SciChair:
8)   Carey's self-balancing platform, good video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngMJcxeB7og


Could this be ridden?                                                            Here is a similar one with a rear swivel caster for good measure.
Well this guy, Jackie Chabanais could probably ride it 
using good old fashioned circus-style skill:      Click Here




Would need a pretty big rocket to get 
that to the moon!

This look as if it was drawn (for a computer game) based on my original 1 wheeled "Thing" (link 4 on left) but who knows?

This is so cool. Was it ever built? Looks like a Soviet era patent. Does anyone have any information? Seat-behind design.

Inside-wheel designs.

Prone-Unicycle design
Dave Southalls' Red Max monowheel and "Sidecar Willy" pioneer of unimoto racing (Prone-behind design)
Here is a video of him at a American National Unimotorcyclists Society (ANUS) meeting in action: Click for video
Dave has his own website "Dave Southalls' Engineering Experiments from the shed"
and recently had his own TV show on the Discovery "Quest" channel.

I think I might have to build a full-scale one of these - that works.

This was a proposal for the British Army I believe. This is the only drawing of it I have ever seen.
Unusual Prone-forward design. Riot wheel.

So called "Redneck Segway."   Not sure how well it balances though.

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