3100km trip on electric unicycles aims to raise awareness of PEVs

Travel weary . . . Arriving in Geraldine from Methven on their trusty electric unicycles are Robert Beck (left) and Linus Gilbert. PHOTOS: SHELLEY INON

Two electric unicycles buzzed into the region last week on their journey across the country.

Linus Gilbert, 24, and Robert Beck, 22, are travelling the length of New Zealand to raise awareness for personal electrical vehicles (PEVs).

Smaller than their larger counterparts EVs, PEVs comprise electric bikes, scooters, and skateboards.

Ultimately, the pair will travel 3100km to reach their destination, as they negotiated the journey around their unicycles’ range.

Doing an average of 33kmh, they hoped to reach Bluff on March 24.

Mr Beck said there had been some challenges on the journey, like the weather in the North Island.

‘‘Rain, plenty of rain.’’

A blown tyre had also been a challenge. After the first two attempts — where the duo punctured both their spare inner tubes and had to patch one to carry on — they struggled to fit the tyre back in place.

However, luck and ingenuity had been on their side when Mr Gilbert had pulled a small, complimentary conditioner out of his pack, which they used as a lubricant to slot the tyre in.

Back to the future . . . Robert Beck and Linus Gilbert are travelling the length of New Zealand to raise awareness for personal electrical vehicles.

Mr Beck said people had been really positive.

He said for most people, it was their first time seeing an electric unicycle, so they tended to be more intrigued than anything else.

The pair both had daily rituals while on the road.

For Mr Gilbert who was a follower of Christian ministry The Way, his daily ritual included ‘‘a lot of praying and a lot of faith’’.

For Mr Beck — who was a type 1 diabetic — the daily ritual included insulin injections, he said.

Four years ago Mr Beck bought a Onewheel, which he said was similar to an electric unicycle, but ridden like a skateboard, with a go-kart sized tyre and 10km range.

A year later he bought his first electric unicycle which had suspension and a 50km range.

He said he did not own a car; however, he owned three e-unicycles.

‘‘Most people don’t have to own that many.’’

He had owned four unicycles in total — combined they had done 20,000km between them.

He said they were hardy vehicles.

On one occasion, he had taken one of his e-unicycles for an offroad adventure and it had fallen down the hill and across the road.

Thankfully a fence had stopped it from falling further.

While he had had to call an Uber to collect him, the unicycle only needed a few repairs before it was back on the road again.

He said they could be used on cycleways and they were small enough that you could walk around stores pulling them by the trolley handle, so did not have to find a park.

Mr Beck said there were no laws concerning electric unicycles, so they were treated like a bike as it was the closest category.

‘‘Through our trip we hope to gain a positive outlook on electric unicycles and other PEVs, in order encourage a more informed legislation in the future.’’