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The Ryno prepares to charge

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.

 

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Seeing the Ryno Micro-cycle brings to mind the old Johnny Hart comic strip B.C., in which suave caveman Thor rode around on a fascinating contraption: a single stone wheel with an axle through the middle. The Ryno, from US-based Ryno Motors, is a bit more complex., but just as intriguing.

With a compact footprint and a manageable 160lb curb weight, the Ryno arrives as a sort of a black-leather-jacket version of the Segway self-balancing stand-up scooter. Says company founder Chris Hoffmann: “This is a personal transportation product that’s in between the cracks of urban transportation. So I can ride it on the sidewalk, I can go through a lobby, I can go into an elevator, I can go on the train. I can go anywhere a pedestrian wants to go.”

The Ryno packs most of its mechanical bits within the hub of its single 260mm wheel, which spins on ball bearings rather than around a traditional axle. The package includes two electric motors for propulsion and balance, and a pair of slide-out lead-acid batteries (lithium-ion packs are optional), which are said to provide a 10-mile cruising range and a six-hour recharge from a standard household outlet. The brain of the machine is its RIDE-eX balance system, which employs an accelerometer and a trio of tiny silicon gyros to monitor motion – fore and aft and side to side – and manipulate the motor-drive system to keep the cycle underneath the rider during acceleration, cruising, turning and deceleration.

The cycle is controlled by body English, rather than by a traditional twist throttle or brake lever. When the rider leans forward, the machine takes that as a cue to take off; lean back and the bike slows down. The handlebar features a “stop assist” lever (don’t call it a brake); squeezing it cues the RIDE-eX system to push the wheel out in front, allowing the driver to lean back further and scrub speed more effectively. The balancing system will never allow the cycle to tip more than 15 degrees fore or aft. Turning is as simple as looking and leaning in the desired direction. Putting more weight on the left or right foot peg shifts the cycle in the desired direction.

Although the Ryno is perfectly content to potter along a strolling pace, it will hum to a top speed of 10mph. Creature comforts are, no surprise, limited: an LED headlamp for lighting the way, a coil spring beneath the saddle for softening the ride and a 12v power socket for, say, charging a cell phone. And the cycle has pair of rubber bumpers up front; with RIDE-eX deactivated and the parking brake engaged, the machine simply tips forward to park.

The company is presently taking orders for the Ryno, which starts at $5,295, with a $150 deposit. The rear-mounted utility rack will add $170. Colours? Red, take it or leave it. The company is planning an abbreviated run of Micro-cycles later in 2014, with full production commencing during 2015. To see the Ryno in action, check out the company’s latest promotional video, below.

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