electric giraffe unicycle

link to google video

is this for real? looks sorta cool - anyone know if he can ride non-electric?

I’ve ridden the electric unicycle that Trevor Blackwell created. It was challenging to ride as a unicyclist. According to Trevor, nobody who didn’t already ride a unicycle could ride it.

oooh. lucky! i’ve wanted to build an electric unicycle for some time. that emanuel electric skateboard thing is really cool as well.

You can find the parts list and source code here.


wow, that is cool. i tink it would be possible, i figured it would just work the same as a segway. i wish i had one!!

In the video posted he seems to be controlling it by hand, unlike other electric unicycles posted that have a segway style control system, does anyone know either way? Quite impressed by the lack of bulky components in this design, other ones posted on this forum have looked like a big lump of technology with a wheel bolted on, rather than a unicycle with some refinements.

Yes, the giraffe seems to be obviously under some sort of power other than the rider, but you can’t see where it’s coming from. Either a tiny motor or something in his backpack? No, there must be a motor somewhere on the uni. The hand control may take the place of Trevor Blackwell’s software. This would make it much easier to build, and still require plenty of skill to ride (not that the Blackwell design doesn’t also require plenty of skill to master).

I rode Trevor’s electric uni as well. It’s sort of like a Segway, but it mostly isn’t. A Segway stands up on its own. This one, if it starts falling over, tries to correct by spinning the wheel wildly. It takes some practice just to hold the thing when you’re not on it. I think once you learn the way it reacts, and get comfortable with the amount of power it puts out, riding it probably gets pretty easy. But it would definitely be tougher for non-unicyclists to learn to ride it.

But the batteries are in the backpack right?

dug some more info up


The unicycle is powered by a hub motor, it’s a direct drive DC machine built into the wheel. I’ve got the batteries in my backpack in that photo. They were originally mounted to a bracket on the stem but weren’t secured well enough to handle all the falling that happened.

The wire to my hand is just a kill switch, the control is all based on tilt sensing inside the small plastic enclosure just above the wheel. I’ve seen Trevor’s unicycle and a few others from various universities, but these were all pure electrics, and what I wanted to experiment with is the idea of a power assisted unicycle with pedals. There’s lots of reasons why this could be practical. Asides from increasing the speed and hill climbing capabilities, it enables the use of a freewheel for coasting, can serve as a “trainer” unicycle for newbies, and also greatly facilities multi-speed drives so you can go fast without needing a monster 36" wheel.

Unfortunately I don’t have any footage of riding it while pedalling. It’s quite counter-intuitive. If you try to speed up by pedalling faster, the front moves ahead and that makes the tilt sensor thing your falling backwards, so it puts the motor in regen mode and you feel like you’re pedalling through molasses. It takes a slow and steady leaning forwards to get it up to speed.


very cool unicycle. how much did this cost to make?

I run a small business distributing electric bicycle parts, so most of the components I already had on hand. The custom giraffe frame was built by a local frame builder here in Vancouver who only charged for materials ($60), http://www.peytocycles.com/, the circuitboard is recycled from the balancing skateboard project but has about $150 of components in it, the hub motor is worth about $200 and the battery pack is $275. So total of about $700, plus 2 weeks work however you want to value that.