In December of 2001, the world’s premier 2-wheeled, electric (and self-balancing) transportation device debuted. So, when my Esurance folks recently asked if I’d ride a Segway — a vehicle now covered under motorcycle insurance — and write about it for its twelfth anniversary, I figured, Perfect! Something that looks easy to ride, especially for a first-timer.
The good people of the Electric Tour Company set me up with a Segway tour of Golden Gate Park that proved as challenging as it was amazing. Here are 5 things I learned when I gave up on watching from afar and took the ride instead.
1. Riding a Segway is like riding a bicycle
Part of what makes these tours great for beginners is the full safety drill you get before the actual tour begins. I learned everything from how to make it move to how to stop short in an emergency (you thrust your rear out, straighten your arms, and pull your shoulders back — the Segway will follow suit).
You’re not expected to be an expert, and like any new skill, it takes practice. But, once you get the basic motions, they become natural, and you’re not likely to forget them. And, as my tour guide said: no matter how confident you feel, always keep both hands on the handlebars.
It’s also good to know that your Segway will never sit perfectly still while you’re on it. As long as you stand straight and keep your eyes ahead, just like you would on a bicycle, you’ll be balanced and in control.
2. They can be stubborn
Segways look funny with their long necks and clunky wheels, but let me tell you they’re no joke. Like a treadmill, a Segway can’t stop on its own. You have to stop it yourself. That means if you accidentally fall off, be prepared to chase down a machine with a mind of its own.
Which is (ahem) something I had to learn the hard way. In my case, I accidentally hit a large tree root while off-roading in a wooded part of the park, impulsively tugged the handles (which, for the record, doesn’t do anything since Segways respond to the forward-backward movements of your feet, not your hands), and fell off, temporarily losing my dignity and a slip-on sneaker. But, rest assured, that’s a rarity on these rides. And it didn’t stop me from getting right back up.
3. You’ll have fun
As soon as you get past the fear of looking silly or getting hurt, riding a Segway can feel exhilarating. Plus, you’ll experience more than you ever could from an open-top bus or a car window — I got to really stop and smell the flowers, feel the breeze, and get to know a new group of people.
Even though I purpled a knee during my ride, I had a great time learning a new skill … and getting back on the metaphorical horse.
4. You’ll go fast(ish)
Maybe it was being directly exposed to the outside world, with no doors or windows to keep me in, but in any case, I felt fast. Whether on uneven terrain or flat, winding trails, going even 5 mph to 12.5 mph (12.5 mph being the fastest a standard Segway can go) actually feels like … gliding (the term Segway users use). The feeling of freedom that followed was invigorating.
5. You’ll want to keep going
Segways are, first and foremost, fun! Even though I took a little tumble, I had a blast. Along with the responsibility to ride safely, the feeling of power, and the sense of speed, there’s something easily overlooked: there’s nothing like riding a Segway. It’s a unique way to get around — stranger than a scooter or a skateboard — and once it was over, I wanted to do it again.
Get coverage through Esurance
Lucky enough to own your own Segway? Now you can cover it under our motorcycle insurance. Grab a quote today and see how much you could save when you insure your 2-wheeled treasure.
Want to weigh in? Share your Segway story in the comment section below.