Archive for May, 2016
The Segway miniPRO is selling fast!
And no wonder, as Kiwis discover just how much fun it is – both indoors and out. More importantly, the miniPRO is proving a capable performer across a wide variety of urban and rural environments around New Zealand. These uses include climbing volcanoes.
A couple of months ago on a bright sunny day, one fit, fine, self-balancing specimen mounted mighty Mount Maunganui.
Carrying an equally fit and fine human being, this Segway miniPRO rose 232m above sea level by gliding up a very steep track that is surfaced in loose fine gravel and pumice. While this particular track is the only route to the top suitable for the occasional 4wd maintenance vehicle, it is also the most popular path for individuals climbing this landmark to take in the expansive views. From the summit, the long arc of the of Bay Of Plenty coastline stretches off in both directions as far as the eye can see.
This track was a particularly good test for the Segway miniPRO, and an opportunity to discover the practical limits for those wanting to use this small machine as an assistive solution.
During the upward journey there were four instances of between 10m to 20m where the risk of losing traction on the dry, loose surface of the track was such that these portions were best navigated by dismounting and walking. The miniPRO’s handy, extensible telescopic arm makes this a snap. We noticed these portions were equally challenging even for hill climbers dressed in running shoes (or in Jandals, for that matter), as footware could easily slip on the fine grained surface. Also, there were a couple of spots where ruts in the track carved out by water meant the miniPRO’s stall point was reached, so dismounting for a meter or so was required. Of course, at around 12kg the miniPRO is easy enough to pick up and carry as well.
What we learned is that if a person wants to get to the top of Mount Maunganui without dismounting, then a full-sized Segway Personal Transporter (PT) will take you there but a Segway miniPRO won’t quite manage it. Almost, but not quite. We’ve previously ridden both Segway i2 SE and x2 SE models to the top on the Mount with ease. If it is a wet day then we’d recommend the x2 SE (with either tyre option). If using an i2 SE then ensure your tyres have plenty of tread (see this link for a tyre tread wear chart). Alternatively, fit enhanced traction tyres such as the IRC Urban Master Snow Tyres (see our earlier story here), or swap on a set of Kiwi-made MAX Wheels (these are twice as wide as an i2 SE tyre, but still fit through a standard doorway). Either way, we have shown in previous articles how the Segway PT leaves behind a lesser impression on the ground compared with a person walking or running the same route – see our story about a Segway PT on Karekare Beach, or see environmentalist politician (and rather famous singer in a rock band) Peter Garrett taking an eco-tour). On a Segway PT you’re not damaging the environment while you’re out enjoying it.
Something else we noticed is how friendly and unobtrusive the silent, zero-emission Segway miniPRO is around other people. We photographed it in front of some bicycles for hire to show how it is narrower than the bicycle’s handlebars (see third photo above). In fact, the miniPRO is narrower than an adult’s shoulders.
The other thing we noticed – this being New Zealand and all – is there are always sheep around every corner….
To finish, we gently circumnavigated the 3.4km base of this volcanic cone and enjoed everything from the golden sands of New Zealand’s favourite family ocean beach, to the spectacular sights of surf crashing onto rocks, to enormous cruise liners and cargo ships squeezing through the deep channel between the Mount and Matakana Island, to Tauranga’s cityscape hugging the edge of the bountiful protected harbour, to children playing in the shallows of Pilot Bay, to the sight of New Zealand’s largest port (by export volume). This is surely one of the world’s great short walks.