RYNO Motors' Crazy Electric Unicycle, the Interview

Ryno Uniciycle

This is the single-wheel, single-seater electric RYNO commuter bike- and it is utterly, wonderfully insane. “It’s different. You have to make an emotional commitment, sign an ’emotional contract’ to learn to ride it and be good at it,” says RYNO Motors’ CEO Chris Hoffman. “It’s like being a kite-boarder. It takes time, to figure it out, but you get better. Getting better is how you engaged with it. You need to embrace the learning curve as a way to interact with the RYNO, and getting to interact with the bike (on that level) is part of the appeal.”

I spoke to Chris about the RYNO last week. I’m not sure what I expected from the guy, but I was surprised to find a true enthusiast who was inspired to build the RYNO by one of his daughters’ Japanese anime movies. “She saw one of the characters riding something like this, and asked me if I could build something like that,” he explained. “The RYNO is the end result of that.”

For those of you not familiar with the RYNO, it’s basically a much cooler version of a Segway. It stays vertical, like a Segway, but it leans and counter-steers like a motorcycle. Unlike the Segway, however, the RYNO rider doesn’t tower over his/her fellow pedestrians. “You’re basically at normal height,” says Hoffman. “It has a much smaller presence. You can maneuver more easily with it, even take it on a bus or a train.”

I like the idea of getting the RYNO on a train, riding it into the city, then, commuting the rest of the way on the electric unicycle. Image and “convenience” wise, then, it’s definitely a step up from the Segway.

Now, what I’m about to say might seem nuts, but stay with me.


The RYNO is NOT Street Legal

That’s right, kids- despite the RYNO’s sporting looks and high-efficiency LED “headlamps”, Chris said the bike was not intended to be used as a street-legal motorcycle. It’s not even supposed to be ridden in a bike lane. Instead, the RYNO falls under that weird, Segway-occupied area of “personal transporter”, and is meant to be ridden on sidewalks.

I’m torn by this realization, as I feel that anything traveling 10 miles per hour (the top speed on the RYNO, by the way, is 12.5 MPH) has no business on sidewalks with the other humans walking at- what? 3? 4 MPH, if they’re really booking it to work? Besides that, people stop without brake lights, turn suddenly, walk around each other … the RYNO, and vehicles like the Segway, for that matter, have no place in that ecosystem.

I’m not sure where that leaves the RYNO, then. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d spend stupid money on. If I can’t take it on the street, though? I guess you could make the argument that the RYNO would be a strong competitor to electric bicycles like the new Smart electric drive and Local Motors’ electric Cruiser, in terms of practicality- and you’d be right. The question you’d have to ask yourself, then, would be whether or not the image you portray with the RYNO vs. the image you portray with the Smart was worth the price bump.

I’ll probably still buy one, but I’d buy like, 6 of them if they were street legal at 25 MPH, you know? What do you guys think? Is the $4500 RYNO worth the price premium over the similarly capable, $2950 Smart- or would it be nuts to buy either one when $3000 would buy you a lot of classic motorcycle? Let us know how you feel about the RYNO in the comments, below.


Original content by Gas 2, photos from RYNO Motors.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.