One Year With My Gotway Tesla Electric Unicycle

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I’m excited about this! I’ve had my Gotway Tesla V2 for just over a year now, and I’ve been riding for about four months longer than that. It is easily one of the best toys I’ve ever bought. An electric unicycle (EUC) is a good fit for where I live, and it gets more useful every day. The EUC is a hobby all by itself, but it also does a great job supporting my FPV drone-flying hobby.

Why did I buy an electric unicycle? (EUC)

Not long after we bought this house, I ordered an inexpensive folding electric scooter. It was fine for what I used it for. I’m two houses away from Plano’s amazing paved bike paths. There’s probably a dozen miles of trail to ride without even having to cross a street. It was fun to take my laptop or FPV drone backpack out riding with me.

The scooter wasn’t portable. It sounds portable because it folds. Fifty pounds doesn’t sound too heavy, but it is when you’re trying to heft an awkwardly shaped 4’-long tube with handlebars into the back of your tiny SUV. I wanted a personal electric vehicle (PEV) that I could easily take anywhere.

My Gotway Tesla V2 at Oak Point Nature Preserve in Plano TX

My friend Alex told me I should get [a OneWheel XR][], but they’re about $1,800. I didn’t even know if I could ride one. Then I discovered the existence of EUCs. I happened to see a refurbished InMotion V5F for $399 shipped. Could I ride a unicycle? Would I ever use it? At that price, it seemed worth finding out!

The InMotion V5F has as much power, range, and nearly as much top speed as a OneWheel XR at a fraction of the price. It was a good deal, and it got me hooked. I’ve been lending the V5F out to friends so they can learn to ride, but it came back last month with a dead battery. I suspect there’s just one or two dead 18650 cells in the pack, but I haven’t opened it up to check.

Why did I upgrade to the Gotway Tesla V2?

To tell you the truth, I didn’t really outgrow my InMotion V5F. I would have been content to ride it for at least a year, but my friends made that difficult for me! My friend Tanner bought a Gotway MSX Pro, and my wife upgraded to a Pace Aventon 350 e-bike. Both of these easily go faster than my InMotion V5F’s 17 mph top speed. I was getting warning beeps all the time when I rode with those two!

My scooter had me shying away from buying one of the biggest wheels with huge batteries. The V5F was less than 25 pounds. [Tanner’s MSX][mxp] was 55 pounds. Do I really want to spend even more money on a heavier wheel? If I have a 40 mph top speed, am I going to want to go that fast? Probably. Eventually.

There are so many choices of wheel between my InMotion V5F and Tanner’s then top-of-the-line MSX Pro. Which one should you choose?

A discount at eWheels on the Gotway Tesla V2 nudged me in that direction. It has almost three times as much battery and nearly double the top speed of my little InMotion V5F, and it only weighs 42 pounds. I believe it was on sale for $1,350, and it shipped almost immediately. Tanner’s top-of-the-line wheel would have cost $650 more, and it wouldn’t have shipped for a month or two!

How much do I ride the Tesla?

Not as much as I’d like! When I had around 700 miles on the odometer back in March, I was joking that I’d like to put another 700 miles on it before I’d had the wheel for a year. While this was absolutely within the realm of possibility, I expected I might actually hit 1,000 miles. I didn’t even manage that! There’s something just shy of 850 miles on the odometer right now.

I do the majority of my riding on our local bike trails. There’s a fantastic picnic table in a secluded spot quite a ways from any parking about four miles from here. I like to take my laptop out there and write blogs for an hour. The vast majority of my rides wind up being 8-mile rides because of this.

So much rain!

The weather has been keeping me home. A lot of days were just a little too windy and chilly to be sitting outside at my laptop. We’ve had a lot of heavy rain, but we’ve also had a ton of days with light rain.

The rain washes fine silt onto the bike path, and that stuff is ridiculously slippery, and every puddle could have a layer of that stuff at the bottom. If it rains today, I probably won’t want to ride tomorrow. If it rains twice in a week, I’m unlikely to get out.

The pandemic has been restrictive

It is so easy to throw the Tesla in the car. Now that my friends and I are fully vaccinated, it won’t be long before we start driving out to places and going for rides. That will be fun and exciting!

Not only that, but there are a handful of places I can ride to that are within 5 miles of home. Many of these places are just off the bike trail, so I barely have to deal with cars and traffic. I’m looking forward to hitting up the donut shop, Napoli’s pizza, and the frozen yogurt shop.

The pandemic isn’t stopping me from stopping at the donut shop. The trouble is that they close at noon, and I am not a morning person.

We eat pizza from Napoli’s almost every week. I don’t even know if they’re open for indoor dining. I assume and hope that they are not, but when it is time for that, I look forward to heading over there with my laptop on hot afternoons so I can work in some air conditioning while eating delicious pizza!

The yogurt shop seems icky during a pandemic, because it is a self-serve shop. As far as I know, that is still the case right now. I’d feel much better about one or two employees touching all the toppings and ice cream dispensers. Knowing that all the folks that can’t even figure out how to put their mask over their nose are touching the gummy bears and peanut butter cups creeps me out.

Everything will be getting better, and I’ll be excited to use my wheel for all these activities I had in mind when I ordered my first EUC before the pandemic!

Was the Tesla V2 the right choice?

The Tesla V2 really does sit in the sweet spot for me. I do my best to not ride faster than about 20 mph, because I don’t wear enough gear for that to be safe, so the Tesla still has speed that I can grow into. I rarely ride farther than 12 miles on a single day, and I’ve gotten 34 miles out of a single charge, so the range is quite reasonable for me.

At its price point, the Tesla is an amazing wheel.

Do I ever wish I had more wheel?

Yes. Most definitely. My Tesla is fantastic on the buttery-smooth bike paths, it does just fine on the rougher streets, and it does well enough when I need to take a shortcut off road to avoid obstacles or people.

I’ve put a couple of miles on Tanner’s Veteran Sherman. I always joke that it really does ride like a tank. The first time I tried it, I rode to the end of my street, but I couldn’t turn it around in our cul-de-sac. I leaned and twisted as hard as I felt comfortable doing so, but it just didn’t want to turn. I felt the same way when I got on my Tesla after spending months on the tiny InMotion V5F.

The Sherman just goes where you point it. It is big and heavy, and that knobby tire just wants to stay on course. Every time I put a few miles in on streets instead of on the bike path, I kind of wish I was riding a Sherman. I’d feel more confident, and I know it’ll handle any surprise bumps or small potholes better than my Tesla.

I’m constantly tempted by the KingSong S18!

When I bought my Tesla V2, the KingSong S18 was just about to be open for preorders. It was a tempting wheel at the time, but I’m so glad I chose the Tesla. I would have been waiting months for the S18 to ship, and the quality of the first batch was pretty awful.

It sounds like the current revision of the KingSong S18 has ironed out most of the problems. It sounds like a fun, agile wheel, and I would love to have a suspension.

On paper, the KingSong S18 is basically a Tesla V2 with a suspension, though Wrong Way says the S18 goes quite a bit farther on a charge!. The extra $500 gets you a bit more battery and power, a little more top speed, a suspension, and a wider tire. I would pay the extra $500 just for the suspension. The rest is a nice bonus!

If something happened to my Tesla today, I would almost definitely order a KingSong S18 to replace it.

There is no way I would buy an S18 to park next to my Tesla. They’re just too similar. If I were going to own two wheels, I’d be looking at something like a Sherman or Gotway RS19. Something big. Something with more range. Something that just plows through grass and rough terrain.

What about the Tesla V3? Or is it the Begode T3?

Among other minor changes, the Begode T3 has a hollow motor and a bigger battery. In theory, the hollow motor should be a big upgrade since it allows for a much bigger bearing. In practice, people have been having trouble with bearings failing in hollow-motor wheels. We’ll see how that goes.

I wouldn’t mind having 50% more battery, but I worry that this is going to push the price too high. I’m waiting for the Tesla V3 to show up at eWheels before I decide whether I think it is a good value. At $1,350 the Tesla V2 has been an easy choice. If that gets pushed to $1,550 or more, then I’d be more tempted to pay a little more for an 18” or 19” wheel.

The changes make sense for Gotway/Begode. The Gotway MCM5 v2 specs and pricing make more sense if they also push the specs of the Tesla up a few notches.

I haven’t even told you how the Tesla has held up!

It has held up way better than the InMotion V5F! I can’t really blame InMotion for that. I dropped my V5F A LOT while I was learning. At least four other people besides myself practiced on my V5F, and I am assuming they all dropped it quite a bit. It is scuffed, bruised, and a bit cracked. I wouldn’t be horribly surprised if the drops are the reason it is no longer holding a charge.

I have dropped my Tesla a few times, though never in the spectacular ways my V5F has crashed. There are a few scuffs on the Tesla, but no cracks. The dipping pedals have scraped the ground a bit, but overall it is in fine shape.

I haven’t done a range test since the first few weeks I had it, but I did do a pretty long ride last month. I clearly remember being impressed that the battery was still working well, but I can’t find photographic evidence to back up my memory. I recall riding around 15 miles and still having about 70% charge remaining.

I am quite confident that I can still [get 34 miles on a single charge][gtrt].

The Tesla forced me to upgrade my safety gear

When I rode my little 14” V5F, I usually only wore my cheap bicycle helmet. I used to average about 10 mph with short bursts up to 15 mph. I was always able to jump off and jog to a stop when things went wrong.

Then I bought the Tesla. My average speeds quickly climbed to 15 mph with short bursts up to 20 mph. These days I have EUC World set to give me warning beeps at 21 mph. Most of my rides average 15 mph still, because I do have to spend time navigating around other people, but I’m bursting up to 25 mph, and I’m pretty good at staying just 1 mph short of the beeps.

I started wearing my wrist guards as soon as I acquired the Tesla. When I noticed that my average speeds were getting to 15 mph, I knew I needed a better helmet. There’s a much higher chance of falling flat on my face now, so I wound up buying a Bell Super 3R helmet.

I tried a cheap motorcycle helmet, but visibility and airflow are both poor. The Bell cost three times as much, but it looks like a block of Swiss cheese. I get plenty of airflow even if I’m moving slow, the face hole is quite large, and I have that sturdy guard protecting my chin.

I’m in Texas. We’ll be over 100° most days every summer, and it definitely isn’t a dry heat. The Bell Super 3R is worth every penny.

It has only been a year, and you can’t buy a Tesla V2 anymore!

I wish my experiences could be a little more relevant to you. I don’t think the Tesla V2 was released more than a year before I bought mine, and as of a few months ago, stock of the last of the V2 models seems to be running out everywhere.

I’m excited that I can tell you that I’ve had a good year with my Tesla V2, and that it has treated me so well. I’m disappointed that you can’t directly repeat my success. Sure, the new Tesla seems like it will be a fantastic wheel, but I’m not expecting it to be the right wheel for someone that would be eyeballing the Tesla V2!

As near as I can tell, it is difficult to choose a bad wheel. There are some obvious gotchas to watch out for. You’ll probably hate lugging a 77-pound Veteran Sherman up three flights of stairs every day, and commuting on a tiny MTen3 will probably be uncomfortable.

These wheels are all made by companies in China that are looking to cut every corner they can get away with. Some wheels have been catching fire, though the problem doesn’t seem to be nearly as rampant as the hoverboard debacle everyone probably remembers.

What are the plans for the next year?!

First of all, I am hoping to not upgrade to something bigger and better this year. New toys are always tempting. I’d love a suspension. I’d enjoy a bigger, faster, even more stable wheel. More importantly, though, I would like a properly waterproof wheel. Not necessarily something I can submerge, but something that won’t be likely to cut out on me in the rain. Maybe in a year or two there will be a nice suspension wheel that checks this box.

I am just going to continue to ride. I look forward to riding to the donut shop. I look forward to writing blogs while eating pizza. I look forward to finding new places to ride. In other words, I am looking forward to doing all the things that the pandemic has prevented me from doing!

What do you think? Are you riding a Gotway Tesla V2? Are you looking to buy something similar? Have you been riding for a while? Are you a casual EUC user like me, or are you putting a ton of miles on your wheel? Do you think I need to invest in the gear that will allow me to safely ride faster, or should I just stay casual? Let me know in the comments, or stop by the Butter, What?! Discord server to chat with me about it!