New hoverboards, AirWheels and Fastwheels are beginning to make their appearance near and around the BYU campus as part of the latest high-tech transportation trend.
Jordan Bingham, BYU humanities student and Fastwheel USA founder and CEO, was introduced to the Fastwheel on a study abroad in Nanjing, China.
A Fastwheel can be described as a union of a unicycle and Segway, creating a seatless, motorized ride. The rider stands on two pedals on either side of a large central wheel and leans forward or backward to speed up or slow down.
While skateboarding in China, Bingham was approached by the Fastwheel CEOs who asked him to be part of their advertising multimedia. He then visited their factory and learned more about their company.
Bingham decided to look into the company further after learning there was no U.S. distributor.
“I ended up getting distribution rights and forming my own company,” Bingham said. Currently three versions of the Fastwheel, EVA, are sold online at fastwheelofficial.com.
The company targets young professionals in big cities as well as students with an alternate solution to the busy traffic and crowded parking in cities.
“These are nice because it’s portable,” Bingham said. “You just ride to work and put it under your desk.”
Because Fastwheels are still new, some students are unsure of the rules and policies surrounding its use.
“BYU is super strict,” Bingham said. The Fastwheel is currently banned on campus. “Most universities don’t have a problem with people riding this on campus.”
University Police’s approach to the new product is to give a warning on the first offense. However, the police will give citations if they see it happen a second time.
“It’s just a safety issue,” University Police Lt. Arnold Lemmon said. “We are a very congested campus as far as pedestrians.”
The University Police website states: “Use of skateboards, longboards, Segways, roller skates, rollerblades, ‘razor’ style scooters, and all other like or similar devices are prohibited anywhere on campus.”
But the Fastwheel isn’t the only new thing students may see on campus. AJ Torgesen, a sophomore from Tallahassee, Florida studying electrical engineering, owns an AirWheel.
Torgesen first ordered his AirWheel from China after seeing people ride them in the city on his mission in London.
According to Bingham, the AirWheel is similar to the Fastwheel but generally more expensive. Bingham speculates part of the reason the AirWheel is more expensive is because it was manufactured before the Fastwheel, giving the Fastwheel a manufacturing advantage in relation to expenses.
“You do get people looking at you all the time because it’s new and different, so that is kind of fun sometimes,” Torgesen said. “Other times they’re like ‘Oh stop, let me look at it!’ and I have to get somewhere.”
Torgesen was unsure of the rules regarding his AirWheel on campus, so he rides it to campus and then locks it up with bike lock. “It’d be so much more fun to ride it around campus,” he said.
Karen Piepgrass, a freshman from Lexington, Kentucky, owns a self-balancing hoverboard. Hoverboards are essentially two-wheel versions of Fastwheels and AirWheels. To ride the hoverboard, the user leans slightly in any direction, giving the appearance of effortless gliding.
“I haven’t been stopped at all the last two and a half weeks, but I just got stopped (by a policeman) this morning,” Piepgrass said.
She said she wasn’t sure whether there was an official rule against hoverboards because they are so new. Piepgrass rides her hoverboard as much as she can.
“I went to Ikea the other day and I was riding it,” Piepgrass said. “They have the perfect floors there!”
Read this Universe story for an update on BYU’s hoverboard rules.