Segway is back. And it’s better than ever before. For starters it costs just $1,000 versus the $5000 to $7000 price tag, the price of the full sized and original Segway. Which is far and away more expensive with the best hoverboard under $200. Granted this is the mini version, but with it you get all the great Segway tech that made the brand iconic. Plus there is more, but we’ll get into that in a bit.
That all being said. Segway was bought by Ninebot, a Chinese tech company, for an undisclosed amount last year after facing some sort of import ban, in the US, on copy cat products. But make no mistake: this is Segway tech vetted by the Segway team. And let’s clear up a few other things while were at it:
- The Segway Mini is NOT a hoverboard
- And it WON’T inconveniently burst into flames
So without further adieu, after almost 3 weeks of riding the Segway Mini, here is my Segway Mini review.
Price: $999 on Amazon
Availability: June/July 2016
Model: Segway Mini Pro
Summary: The Segway Mini Pro is an affordable Segway that brings all the fun but without all the cost. Ultimately, the question is why get a full sized Segway when you can get a Segway Mini?
What We Liked
- Anyone can get on and ride – no training needed
- App connects over Bluetooth to provide stats
- Can be remote controlled + there is a “locking” function
- Segway tech at 1/6 of the cost
What We Didn’t
- Lean too far forward and it can overcompensate and throw the rider off balance
- Wide “track” doesn’t make it applicable for busy sidewalks with heavy foot traffic
- Can’t easily lock it up
Segway Mini Pro Specs
|Top Speed||10-12 mph|
|Motors||2x 800 watt|
|Length and Width||10.3 x 21.5"|
|Battery Charge Time||4 hours from 0%|
|Height||3' 11" to 6' 6"|
|Tire Size and Type||10.5" Pneumatic|
|Max Climbing Angle||15 degrees|
It’s eye catching and if you ride one you’re gonna get some looks. Half will think the stick in the middle is for sitting. The other half will blurt out jokes thanks to what I hear is a popular YouTube video. And some where in between all of that, some will know exactly what it is.
And if you haven’t figured it out yet, that stick in the middle (aka control shaft), replaces the full sized Segway’s handle bars, allowing you to simply lean (with your legs) to turn. It’s height adjustable and after some testing I found the ideal height to be at my knees. Why? It’s the closest point from my legs to the knee pad on the control shaft, allowing me to move with the least amount of effort.
Two 800 watt motors spin a set of 10.5″ pneumatic tires, which mind you are covered by fenders on either side in the event you drive through wet or debris. And because they’re air filled – fillable via a nozzle on the inside of the tire – ride comfort exceeds that of the EcoReco scooter. Moreover, Segway has implemented some sort of suspension system which adjusts ride comfort in accordance with the ground, allowing you to drive on both concrete and grass. I didn’t try dirt, but I’d imagine it would handle fairly well, provided it’s not loosely packed and overly dry.
For added safety, and riding it at night, there are a set of white LED lights on the front, and a set of colored LED lights – the latter can be adjusted to display different colors via the app – on the back. When you turn, the rear lights will flash in that direction and do the same when you’re coming to a stop. A sort of turn signal, if you will.
The control shaft, as mentioned, is adjustable allowing those of different heights to ride the Segway Mini Pro. Riders up to 220 lbs are spec’d for use, though I’ve known and seen those of greater mass ride it. Because the control shaft can only be adjusted so much, riders as little as 3′ 11″ up to 6 6″ can hop on the Segway Mini Pro. Though because it stands about 5″ to 6″ off the ground, the taller you are the more difficult it will be to enter doorways, such as my office building’s elevator, which required me to duck down.
Lastly, two rubber mats – you place your feet on these – provide some shock absorption and comfort. But for the first few miles of riding the Segway Mini Pro, expect your feet and calves to hurt, or until you acclimate. In between your feet there is a power button with an adjacent screen for displaying battery life. And below all of that is a plastic lid that can be flipped up to charge the Segway Mini Pro, which takes about 4 hours depending on remaining battery life.
Yes, there is smartphone app. And not in vein. In addition to remotely being able to control the Segway Mini Pro via Bluetooth, you can view your total miles, remaining battery life as well as compete with other riders on stats. It also allows you to see where other Segway owners are relative to you, though personally I’d turn this feature off since it’s a bit creepy. Lastly, there is a lock function, that will cause the Segway Mini to beep and shake if someone tries to pick it up or move it.
And about that remote control feature. It’s fairly intuitive, though it will, much like the Segway Mini Pro, take a little bit of practice. The interface is effectively a dot inside of circle. Drag it up to drive forward, left to turn left and so forth. I should note that speed is greatly reduced when controlling it remotely and as a result it’s difficult to drive over small thresholds.
Riding the Segway Mini Pro
When you first step on the Segway Mini Pro you’re going to feel off balance, even if you’ve ridden a full sized Segway, despite it employing a similar gyro tech to keep things balanced. Of the 10 people that tried it during my test period, most of them hesitantly stepped on, wiggled around like a noodle for a few seconds and then began to ride, albeit it very slowly.
Like the full sized Segway, which many have heard of but have not ridden, you simply lean forward or backwards to travel in that direction. That’s the easy part. Turning takes a bit more acclimation. But because the Segway Mini Pro can pivot, much like a tank, I found it best to stop to turn, at least until one gets adjusted to leaning on the control shaft to change direction during forward movement. Turning in reverse is a bit of a brain f*ck as it feels counter intuitive, but once you’ve done it again and again – I suggest practicing – it becomes a bit more second nature.
Which perhaps is what makes the Segway Pro Mini so much fun to ride: it’s intuitive to control as soon as you step on. The first few miles are the most challenging as your feet, toes and calves will over compensate in terms of balance. But with time you’ll start to relax making longer rides more viable as you’ll experience much less discomfort. But there is no disputing the challenge of effectively standing still for long periods of time. Once you’ve reached this point, it’s only then that I suggest you practice opening doors, driving over imperfections in the ground, and traversing both inclines and slopes. But take caution riding across the latter in a perpendicular fashion, as it’s far more challenging than any of the aforementioned.
Riding down hills isn’t too much of a challenge as the Segway’s motors and gyro will automatically compensate for both the lean and speed. As result, your brain will have to do little in terms of calculating the change in grade.
Riding across a hill, or in a perpendicular fashion, on the other hand, is far more challenging. First you’ll logically attempt lean with the angle as to avoid touching the control shaft. Don’t do that as the Segway knows you’re on angle and will change the point of center on the control arm such that you can stand straight up and lean on the control arm. I suggest pressing down with the outer foot as much as possible to compensate, but it’s easier than it sounds. To that end, sudden angle changes like this will require more brain training and practice, but with time should become easier. That all said, this is when I felt the most off balance of all my riding.
As far traversing small bumps and imperfections in the road: it’s a none issue, provided they’re not more than 1″ in height. Anything greater and it might struggle to ride over it. I attempted to ride over my front door’s threshold, which is just short of a few inches high. In effect, it’s a wedge. I rode up to the threshold, stopped, approached with apprehension, hit the threshold, leaned forward, and then in attempt to gain traction and ride over it, the Segway Mini speed up too much and spit out behind me. I landed on my feet, but I could see how this could lead to a good portion of accidents with the Segway Mini Pro. That said, it is capable of riding on grass thanks to the pneumatic tires, and ride comfort on side walks and different types of road ways feels smooth thanks to the Segway Mini’s suspension system.
Ultimately, riding the Segway, requires that you bend your knees, lean with your hips and look into the turns, much like driving a car. And while that might sound a bit like a challenging proposition, it’s also what makes it enjoyable and fun to ride, especially as you become more confident and ride with less apprehension.
So the question remains: what is the top speed? On paper: 10mph, though you can go slightly faster while the battery is the freshest; the Segway Min Pro automatically adjusts top speed to maximize battery life, something the EcoReco Scooter doesn’t do. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fairly acceptable speed, making short commutes viable. But anything longer than 1-2 miles and you’ll be looking to a bicycle, as its top speed and range exceeds that of the Segway Mini Pro – needless to say. But of course, with that comes sweat and less obscurity factor.
Problems With the Segway Mini Pro
So what about problems or issues with the Segway Mini Pro. While it’s an excellently built product, with very few chinks in its armor, there is one that I did occasionally take issue with: its brain (or computer).
If it detects you’re leaning too far forward (or backward) it will emit a beeping sound and in tandem it could slow you down by using its motors to influence the degree of “lean”. Logical, right? Yes, in 95% of situations. However, this became a problem for me when traveling at full speed down an ever so slight decline. In one instance, the Segway Mini Pro, at top speed mind you, suddenly decided I was leaning too far forward – and from what I can best surmise – compensated for both the angle of descent and my lean. The result was the Segway Mini Pro suddenly leaning (pushing) back on me – it was trying to correct me – enough to throw me off balance. Scary? Yes, as I almost fell off at over 10mph.
Segway Mini Pro Review Wrap Up
Got a penchant for the unusual? Live in a mild climate? Or perhaps you’re just an early adopter? These are all questions I asked myself when trying to determine who the target market was for the Segway Mini Pro. Don’t get me wrong: hoverboards have proved it’s viable, despite their safety concerns. But I did struggle to find a time when I would consistently use the Segway Mini Pro.
I live about 1 mile from downtown Santa Monica, and while it was reasonable to use it to commute there, it didn’t shave off enough commute time to warrant its use every day. That being said, living in a city center, commuting to the train and then to an office could make it a very practical means of transport. After all, it’s smaller than a bike, making it easy to take on public transport, and light enough to be lifted if needed, though without ease. There is also a pole that extends from the shaft to drag it behind you or you can remotely control it from your phone.
It would seem that the firmware needs some tweaking, at least based on my one experience of almost getting “pushed” off at top speed. But in my opinion that won’t be an issue for many people, though it does reduce its fun quotient. Nevertheless, the Segway Mini Pro is still fun to drive, and will most certainly be the center of attention just about any where you take it, even though Amazon preorders exceeded that of 100,000.
So ultimately the question might remain in your head: should I buy a Segway Mini Pro? Got a $1,000 to spare and a penchant for the future? Then yes. Putting aside the applicable target market concerns, it’s built like a tank and feels like a very premium product.
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