One reason I'm wary of action sports is that I'm a bit of a spaz. I first learned this 45 years ago when, while bicycling, I turned to stick out my tongue at a girl and crashed into a pole. I totaled my three-speed and nearly my body. Since then, I have broken both legs--one skiing, the other playing football. I tried mountain-biking a few years ago and took an epic spill on my first downhill.
So I was understandably a little anxious recently when I climbed onto a three-wheel, electric-powered scooter capable of going 18 m.p.h. (almost 30 km/h). Trikke (pronounced trike) has been making odd-looking tricycles for two decades, but its new Tribred Pon-e (pronounced pony) has an electric motor that can help you get up hills or drag your tired butt home. Like all other Trikkes, it lets you generate momentum by simply shifting your weight on the thing's wishbone platform. The side-to-side motion, which feels similar to carving your way down a ski slope, is what propels you.
Trikkes can easily fold up and fit in the trunk of a car, but unlike the company's strictly human-powered vehicles, which start at $250 for adults, the Pon-e is very pricey at $1,700. While some previous Trikke models had short-lived lead-acid batteries, this is the first with a lithium-ion battery that can power the Pon-e for up to 20 miles (32 km). And that's if you don't move your legs at all. Sam Jayme, a Trikke rep, points out that if you know what you're doing, you can get 100 miles (about 160 km) from it in a day. The battery snaps out, so you can plug it into an outlet in your home or office. Trikke estimates that it takes five hours for a full charge, which would add about 7¢ to your electricity bill.
After an hour or so of training from Jayme, I started to get the hang of moving under my own steam. From a fitness perspective, the Trikke is low impact and feels a bit like an elliptical machine in the gym. It works your legs and upper body. Once you get used to it, it's an enormous amount of fun. I brought the Pon-e home for a week and got confident enough to take it for some pretty good rides around town. My best moment was tailing a tiny electric car, presumably with a smug environmentalist behind the wheel, on a narrow road. I considered following him all the way home and leaving a note on his windshield: "Nice ride, volt guzzler!" But remembering the hubris of my youth, I opted instead to keep my eyes on the road.