Kingston Onewheel opened this fall with not much hoopla – just a few simple Instagram videos of a guy in padded room riding a Onewheel. That guy is Joe Szigeti, aka Kingston’s Titanium Joe.
A Onewheel is basically a motorized skateboard with one wheel. A big one. Right in the middle. Get rid of that wheel and you’ve got a hoverboard. But that’s to be discussed at another time.
Szigeti’s store at 1407 John Counter Blvd. (corner of Sir John A MacDonald Boulevard) is the only place in Kingston to offer the Onewheel. You’d have to go to Toronto or Ottawa otherwise to take a test ride. Titanium Joe has been a titanium dealer in Kingston for over 15 years, and a few years ago opened a storefront offering a line of titanium jewellery. He’s opened Kingston Onewheel in the same space, conveniently placed right beside his office. How he gets any work done, I’ll never know.
Kingstonist co-publisher Cris Vilela and I stopped by his shop last week to take a test drive of the Onewheel. Cris took to it nearly instantly, whereas I took a little bit longer, but I think it’s safe to say most people would be up and riding in 15 to 20 minutes. If you have experience skateboarding or snowboarding, it should feel like second nature. To be clear, neither of us have experience on skateboards or snowboards, although I had a skateboard gang when I was 10. We didn’t leave our little tiny street in Strathcona Park. We were badass.
The Kingston Onewheel store is pretty straightforward: you can rent or buy a Onewheel. Aside from accessories, safety gear, and swag, there is nothing else (except for titanium rods and jewellery next door, of course). Szigeti will personally give you a brief lesson covering the basics in the aforementioned padded room, which really is quite practical. He’s got lots of helmets and wrist-guards available for your lesson or rental, and also flat shoes, which are the ideal way to ride.
To get started, just step on and straighten out the board. You feel the motor engage and then it’s up to you to stay balanced. When I first saw a Onewheel, I thought for sure it would basically just float you wherever you want to go, but it’s actually a really good leg and core workout to stay upright and moving. You shift your weight slightly forward to go forward, and slightly back to go backward. Turning is basically the same as on a snowboard, just lean a bit in the direction you want to go. The trick, as with many things, is not to look at your feet, which I did far too often. Look ahead to where you want to go, and after a few minutes getting your bearings on the Onewheel, instinct should take over. When you want to stop, simply jump off. The motor disengages and the Onewheel just chills out, awaiting its next ride. Also, and this is very important, it has some sweet LED lights that change colour as the Onewheel changes direction: headlights as you move forward, red as you reverse. You can also connect to an app that tracks battery use and offers seven different riding modes, helping you to further customize your riding experience.
ABOVE: Joe Szigeti shows off his curb jumping skills with help from the Onewheel flight fins.
Onewheels can be rented by the hour, half day, full day, or week. It includes a free lesson and the all-important safety gear. Retail pricing starts at about $1799 for the standard unit that gets about 10 km on a charge, and charging takes only about half an hour. If you rent a Onewheel and decide to buy it, you’ll get the rental cost taken off the purchase price!
Kingston Onewheel is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can stop in and take a demo if they aren’t busy, but calling ahead isn’t a bad idea. Go try it today – and take lots of videos!
DISCLAIMER: This article is paid for by Kingston Onewheel as promotional content.