Segway Tour

After a few years of wishin’-and-hopin’, finally got a chance to spend quality time on a Segway today. Had a few hours before SXSW conference stuff began and took the opp to do what I wanted to do last year but couldn’t find time for – a six-mile Segway tour of Austin, TX with Seg City. Got super lucky and was the only one on the tour, which gave the guide and me more flexibility to go wherever.

Was amazed at how easy it was to ride. Absolutely intuitive — seems to read your body’s mind, if that makes any sense. The sensation is what I imagine hang gliding must be like – effortless and free and silent, as if you were born with wings and wheels. Was totally comfortable on it in under five minutes. Totally addictive.

The distance I live from work would make for an ideal Segway commute. Unfortunately, the infernal things still cost more on the used market than most people would be willing to pay new (think “as much as a decent used car”), which slows adoption and leaves them in the realm of the novelty. High cost of R&D and a bazillion patents supposedly to blame for the high price. Shame too. After you’ve ridden one for a while, it becomes easy to see why inventor Dean Kamen thought the device would “revolutionize urban planning.” But stupid reality got in the way.

Forgot to bring a CF reader with me; will try and get pix up before week’s end.

4 Replies to “Segway Tour”

  1. You could go the poor man’s route with the motorized scooter. Google has these things for their employees, and I was shoved onto one (guests aren’t supposed to ride them, but a group of Googlers were quite insistent).

    It’s easy-peasy to ride, and while it doesn’t have the high priest geek factor of the Segway, it also doesn’t have the price tag and does the same job.

    And while Segways are cool, they ARE expensive. And watching Woz play Segway polo gives me Marie Antoinette flashbacks. ;)

  2. Scot, I thought you biked to work, no? Are you in the realm of slightly-too-far-to-bike (i.e. the sweet/smelly factor)?

    There are actually groups of people who bike pool to work in DC from the nearby MD and VA suburbs. The idea has always appealed to me because the commute would be about the same (in time) as driving or taking public trans, given traffic and such. However, the whole suit and B.O. build-up… my perception is that that just wouldn’t work well (but somehow people get around it).

    Biking for 2 hours a day instead of sitting on my duff would certainly help with the exercise part of the quality of life equation…

    If I worked at FCNL… they have staff showers with locker and changing room. That would be sweet…

  3. Hey, were these the new revision Segways with the “lean to steer” system, or were they the older ones where you turn the left handle to turn the whole thing? The newer ones are even more awesomely intuitive.

    I agree, though, that they are not going to revolutionize anything until they’re cheaper than a good bike. As someone else pointed out, Google once had Segways, but we’ve shifted to electric scooters that cost 1/10 as much, are more durable, easily fixed, and all-around a better cost proposition. Even then, they’re usually broken or already in use by someone else.

  4. mneptok, Adam – Totally true. There’s not much to recommend a Segway over a scooter from a pure practicality standpoint. It’s all about the sex appeal. Riding a scooter feels nothing like riding a Segway. You just have to experience it. Well, I suppose there’s the small-footprint factor, but that’s not much of a deal.

    Gilbert, I currently either bike to work or walk/train/walk. Takes about 25 minutes to bike or 40 to walk/train/walk. And yes, it’s the only thing separating me from having a total desk job paunch. I shouldn’t be eager to give up this exercise, which is actually pretty critical and would take a lot of discipline to replace with other things. The only thing is I’m feeling my age and some days I’d just love to be propelled to work and not have to “work for it” every day. And my knees and arches aren’t what they used to be. But honestly, I’m glad the Segway is expensive, or I’d lose this connection to vigor.

    I don’t mind arriving at work sweaty. Just splash my face and sit outside for five minutes when I arrive to cool down and it’s all good (remember – sweat isn’t dirty!!!!)

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