LAS VEGAS -- "One foot first," the Inmotion rep tells me. I step up on the tread of the machine and a blue light turns on next to my foot. My other foot follows. I'm riding the Inmotion SCV R1EX, the closest I will probably ever get to a Segway. I didn't need any training drills, I just got on and went.
The racing-yellow color and small size of the machine make me feel agile and sporty. Perhaps best of all, it's easy to use. Lean forward, lean backward. Shift the steering column from side to side to make swooping or tight turns. I already have a desire to go zipping around my neighborhood (at a maximum of 9 miles per hour) on this thing.
The R1EX looks a lot like the offspring of a Segway and a Hoover upright. The handles and column pop off so the whole thing can be tossed into a car trunk or tucked away under a desk. It weighs just 35 pounds. It has front and back lights (in case you want to go riding in the dark) and runs up to 3.5 hours on a charge, with a max range of 18 miles.
It's still quite a bit more than buying a cheap bike. The transporter costs $2,499, about half of what a Segway would run you. It doesn't have the beefy industrial-strength look of a Segway, or the big wheels, so you're not likely to go offroading and tearing up the trails with it. For simple urban transportation, though, it has possibilities.
Inmotion has been selling its transporters in China for several years, thought this most current model just came out a few months ago. It arrives in the US at the end of January.
The R1EX's biggest hurdle may be that Segways haven't really caught on as the next-big-thing in personal transport, but the newcomer could shape up to be a worthy contender in the market. Those nifty bright colors don't hurt either. I kind of want one in the same way I lust after a cool bike with a glitter banana seat and tassels on the handlebars. Zoom, zoom.