One-Wheeled Wonder | WILD FILE

Ryno’s Monocycle—Novelty or New Paradigm?

With just a 10-mile range, 10-mph top speed, and an MSRP of $5,300, the Ryno’s main appeal—like most machines rolling on 240-section tires—is novelty. Still, the unique style and functionality is enough for some—including Ryno’s hometown Portland, Oregon, police department—to clamor for this electric-powered Cyclops cycle.

The Ryno was born when inventor Chris Hoffmann’s daughter asked if he could make a motorized unicycle like one she saw in a video game. Hoffman set out to make science fiction into reality, assuming eventually he would uncover some fatal flaw that would bring the project to a natural end.

“Every problem I encountered, I wondered, ‘Is this the one that’s going to stop me dead in my tracks?’” Hoffman says seven years later. “We somehow managed to get around every one of those problems.”

A fusion of a Segway and a motorcycle, the Ryno relies on a complicated combination of batteries, electric motors, and gyroscopic computers—all housed within the circumference of the single Avon 240 tire—to stay upright. The Ryno feels almost sentient as it pushes and pulls itself to remain upright. With a curb weight of 160 pounds and zero emissions, it can go almost anywhere it can roll—including sidewalks, bike paths, office halls, and public transit.

Just like a motorcycle, the Ryno requires some skill to ride. Turning requires a tricky and subtle manipulation of body weight. There’s a tiny bit of handlebar pressure, a good deal of hip shifting, and a large dose of peg weighting. “It feels just like turning a motorcycle while doing a slow wheelie,” reports Ryno test rider and Icon mechanic Joel Gary.

The Ryno’s on-board gyroscopes manage the complex throttle control stunt riders spend years mastering. In fact, the Ryno has no throttle; just like a Segway, acceleration is controlled by leaning forward or backward. And while in certain ways it resembles the wheeled-podium Segway, the Ryno actually looks cool. And it feels like a motorcycle, making it fun to ride. Now, if Hoffman can just reboot the software for a bit more speed and range…

MORE MONOCYCLES

McLean Monocycle Ryno puts the motor inside the wheel—the McLean Monocycle puts you (and the motor) inside the wheel. Kerry McLean’s standard monowheel is powered by a 5-hp Briggs & Stratton four-stroke motor and measures 4 feet in diameter; he also built—and crashed—a special exhibition version powered by a 225-hp Buick V8.
BPG Uno Conceived by Canadian teenager Ben Gulak in 2006, the electric-powered Uno isn’t technically a monocycle but, rather, a dicycle with two drive wheels closely spaced side by side. The Uno operates much like the Ryno, with acceleration and deceleration controlled by the rider moving his or her bodyweight backward or forward.
Honda U3X What type of vehicle hasn’t Honda built? The electric-powered, one-wheel-drive UX-3 “personal mobility device” permits free movement in every direction—including side to side—and even stands up on its own. The inspiration? A witch’s broom, believe it or not, says project leader Shinichiro Kobashi. Is an RR-spec UX-3 coming next?
Yike Bike Yike Bike is another interesting monocycle variation, with a small outrigger wheel astern that makes the machine resemble a miniaturized penny-farthing. Available in either aluminum or carbon fiber versions (the latter weighing just 25 pounds), the Yike Bike can travel up to 8 miles with a top speed of 14 mph, the company claims.
McLean Monocycle Ryno puts the motor inside the wheel—the McLean Monocycle puts you (and the motor) inside the wheel. Kerry McLean’s standard monowheel is powered by a 5-hp Briggs & Stratton four-stroke motor and measures 4 feet in diameter; he also built—and crashed—a special exhibition version powered by a 225-hp Buick V8.
BPG Uno Conceived by Canadian teenager Ben Gulak in 2006, the electric-powered Uno isn’t technically a monocycle but, rather, a dicycle with two drive wheels closely spaced side by side. The Uno operates much like the Ryno, with acceleration and deceleration controlled by the rider moving his or her bodyweight backward or forward.
Honda U3X What type of vehicle hasn’t Honda built? The electric-powered, one-wheel-drive UX-3 “personal mobility device” permits free movement in every direction—including side to side—and even stands up on its own. The inspiration? A witch’s broom, believe it or not, says project leader Shinichiro Kobashi. Is an RR-spec UX-3 coming next?
Yike Bike Yike Bike is another interesting monocycle variation, with a small outrigger wheel astern that makes the machine resemble a miniaturized penny-farthing. Available in either aluminum or carbon fiber versions (the latter weighing just 25 pounds), the Yike Bike can travel up to 8 miles with a top speed of 14 mph, the company claims.