"Can I do the splits if I screw up?" is a question I never want to ask myself.
But here I am, standing on two hoverboards, each about the length of my feet, trying to keep my balance while my inner thigh muscles strain to hold my legs together -- and pondering what the heck I would do if these things go rogue and zoom in opposite directions.
Sure, one hoverboard is easy. I use them all the time. Segway's new Drift W1 e-skates, however, are a little trickier to handle. There's a constant state of trying to sync your feet together, and trying to figure out exactly how to turn -- one leg keeps moving while the other doesn't -- or even dismounting without having one of the Drift W1 boards roll away.
Five minutes later, I'm beginning to get the hang of it, going in circles around Mighty Velo, the electric bike shop that's distributing Segway's e-skates here in Singapore. It's still pretty far from what it's like in , in which graceful e-skaters glide around smoothly. But give me another half an hour and I'll probably be just as good.
If you've done ice-skating or rollerblading, that experience does translate a bit -- for one, bending your knees really helps keep you stable, but you can't really lift your feet to push off. Instead, you shift your body a little forward and off you go. Just be sure it's on both legs, else you'll be spinning in circles.
With a top speed of 12 kph (7.5 mph) and a a riding time of about 40 minutes, you won't be going very fast, but you'll definitely have a lot of fun and something of a workout -- I found my inner thigh muscles aching after 10 minutes. Then again, I'm terribly unfit, but at least the Drift W1 didn't leave me being unable to climb stairs for two days like when I tried on the VisionBody Powersuit.
Each Drift W1 weighs around 3.5 kg (7.7 pounds), and they have a handle at the bottom for lugging them around. My main concern with the Drift is that the wheels aren't that large and may not be able to go over smaller gaps such as drain covers or elevator doors. I'll be testing them further once I get a pair for a day to try, and I'll update this hands-on when I do.
In the meantime, if you're keen to get them, a pair of the Segway Drift W1s will sell for $399 in the US and ship in August, with no word on Australia or UK pricing and availability. In Singapore, where I tried this out, the W1 will cost S$580, though there's a special preorder price of S$499.