Looking for green and efficient urban transportation? Hoping for a teen travel activity that won’t have your kids rolling their eyes? Perhaps you just want a fun and unusual alternative to the typical walking tour. For many, the answer lies in exploring the Segway experience. They certainly look simple enough when you see others floating by on them, don’t they? The truth is, there’s a little more to riding a Segway than first meets the eye.
While riding a Segway does offer many perks, it clearly pays to be prepared. Especially for the first time. When it comes to gathering advice, here are our top tips for a successful Segway experience…
The first thing you need to know about how to ride a Segway is that smaller, subtle movements will produce the smoothest experience. For example, in order to steer left or right, a light lean in either direction is all that’s needed. Move too quickly or severely, and you may find yourself shooting out. The good news? It doesn’t take long to get a feel for these machines. A short training session and a few turns around a track or two, and you’ll feel more comfortable than you ever thought you would.
Pay attention to your foot placement.
The first few minutes of your training will look a bit like a Three Stooges routine, but if you shift your feet a little further forward on the footboards, it will make all the difference so it’s best to keep your foot placement precise.
The handles may look like a motorbike, but they work quite differently.
You may go into your Segway experience expecting the handlebars to serve some function besides balance and stability. Well, they don’t. While at first glance they may look remarkably like the handles on a motorbike or quad, you don’t actually accelerate or break with them at all. They’re used for mounting, dismounting and maintaining the proper body position on the machine while you’re moving.
Slowing or stopping requires a backward lean and weight shift.
As with the other skills required for a safe Segway adventure, it pays to practice this one first. Remember, leaning too far back can throw off your centre of gravity and result in one of those unfortunate flips featured in many videos online. That’s why you should focus only slightly on the full body lean and more on shifting the weight to the heels of your feet. As with any mechanized vehicle, stopping won’t necessarily occur at the same speed with which you can snap your fingers. Factors such as speed and the strength you put behind your weight shift will enter into the equation. Practice in large areas at different speeds and inclines in order to get your “sea legs”, so to speak.
Acceleration requires a slight forward lean and the shifting of your weight as well.
The first few times you do this, chances are you’ll feel like you’re learning to drive a manual car. Practice makes perfect, however, and you’ll definitely get better the more time you practice. In essence, take the skills and techniques required for slowing and stopping, and apply them to the front balls of your feet when you lean and shift your weight forward. A few trips around the course, and you’ll feel more confident.
Staying stationary is a matter of balance.
Having your feet too far forward or backward can leave you feeling “tippier” than you’d like, and result in a more severe angle of body placement on the machine. However, this is far from the most confident position for a positive Segway experience. Try placing each foot firmly in the middle of the step area and using the balls and heels of your feet to shift your weight. Basically, you’re combining your skills from tip numbers five and six into something you can use to control when you stop and start the machine during your Segway adventure. It’s sort of like using a clutch on a manual vehicle. You may rock back and forth slightly, but you’ll pretty much be able to stay put.
Mounting and dismounting should be done with care.
Subtle and swift motions are best, as are mounting and dismounting one side of your body at a time. During your experience, you’ll be advised to go with your left foot on the step plate and left hand on the handlebar first, followed by the swift ascent to the machine with both of your right limbs. The trick is to not put any of your weight on that first foot until you’re ready to step up with your side. You use the same technique in reverse when dismounting. You can certainly start with your right side first as well. The point is to complete your on or off motions before the machine can “misinterpret” them. When all else fails, wait for your instructor, and make sure you have perfected this skill before you start riding.
Know your limits.
The average Segway top speed is between 11 – 12 miles per hour. You’ll know when you’ve reached that limit, because the handlebars will press back towards your waist, indicating that you are now operating at maximum warp. At least as far as Segways are concerned, there’s nothing wrong with going this speed, provided your skill set and conditions fit the situation. Common sense and good safety judgement are the keys here.
Plan your take along items.
Most Segways have room for a small pack that attaches just underneath the handlebars. This is the perfect place to tuck a bottle of water, a smartphone and a few healthy snacks to get you by if you’re going to be riding a Segway for any length of time.
Know where you are.
When learning how to ride a Segway, it’s definitely important to remember where you are. This is, after all, a mechanized vehicle that you’ll be controlling. Keep your eyes on the course and practice basic courtesy. Of course, smiling and enjoying yourself doesn’t hurt either.
When all is said and done, most people enjoy a successful Segway experience. The trick is to master the skill set, know your boundaries and practice reasonable safety protocols. For a peek inside just how extreme you can get with a Segway adventure, check out our website for all the latest experiences.