Words & Images: Aninda Sardar
As a motorcycle journalist, one gets used to the idea of swinging a leg over a bike (or a scooter) and riding it with one wheel ahead and another behind. And then suddenly, there comes along a Segway and throws asunder the idea of conventional two-wheeler mastery with its wheels abreast, no seat and joystick-only config. Just take a look at that photo. Does it look like any two-wheeler you have seen before?
On a recent trip to history-rich Barcelona as a guest of Triumph Motorcycles India, I had the opportunity to sample a Segway for close to two hours, as Triumph had booked us on a 90-minute tour of the city with Barcelona Segway Tour. Piloting it around the narrow walkways and pavements of the city, weaving through dogs playing fetch in the park, children chasing soap bubbles and unhurried pedestrians, I realised that the Segway is possibly one of the most practical two-wheelers. And if you think practical is boring then you couldn’t be further off the mark in this case, because the Segway is without doubt the coolest two-wheeler you’ll set eyes on.
Attention seeker par excellence
If you’re the sort who likes being looked at then the Segway is a sure-shot guarantee that the company of eyeballs will never leave you. The machine looks so radical and outlandish that it’s extremely difficult to not keep staring at it.
Five minutes of training and a straight-backed posture is all you need
No, I’m not joking. It really does take no more than five minutes to get to grips with it. Stand straight on the platform with your feet firmly on the pressure points on the foot board, grip the joystick with both hands, lean forward to move ahead and backward to reverse. To move, you simply need to move the joystick to the left or right. It takes a while to get used to the idea that you won’t fall off but after that it’s a boatload of fun.
No licence needed and can go anywhere
You don’t need a licence to ride one. All you really need is to be ten years old at least and weigh a minimum of 30 kilos. If you’re lighter than that the pressure points don’t activate. The other great thing about this gadget is that from pavement to bicycle lanes to parks to paved streets, pretty much everything is fair game since the Segway’s classification is closer to a bicycle than it is to a motorcycle.
The fact that the Segway isn’t your regular speed demon isn’t the worst thing. This means that you can actually pay attention to your surroundings than simply on the road environment. It is, therefore, a great way to explore a city you’ve never seen before. I can vouch for this one. Being slow also means that you can actually smile back at the pretty folk who may smile at you. I know some of us on the group did.
It’s perfect for lazy sods like me
Let me put this in perspective, I like to see new things and visit new places but I don’t feel particularly motivated to do it on foot. I mean, I’d rather save my calories for a rainy day when I really need to leg it. For leisure? Seems more like work, doesn’t it? The problem is, in a place like Europe where people don’t seem to mind being pedestrian about such issues, short excursions are extremely difficult to conduct using public transport. So, if you are a lazy sod like I am then the cool as cucumber Segway is your best friend.