Should I buy a Segway?

Ever since the Segway came out, it has been the subject of many geeky lunchtime conversations. They were always just too cool.


Now I’m actually considering buying one. I would mostly use it to get back and forth to work. I live only 1.5 miles away, but it takes too long to walk and it seems silly to drive. Today I tried biking to work. It took only a little longer to bike (10 minutes) vs driving (7 minutes) so time is not a consideration.

What I don’t like about the bike is that it’s just slightly too large of a vehicle. You need to store it somewhere at either end. You’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, but it’s way too scary to ride in the lanes crossing the “intersection of death” at 101, 237 & Mathlilda. I’m also not looking forward to the day when I get a flat tire. With a Segway, I’d be able to legally and justifibly ride on the sidewalk.

The new Segways just came out and they have some cool new stuff. For one, you turn by leaning, just like you accelerated and decelerated before by leaning. I found the twisting of the grip unintuitive when I rode one a few years ago. It has a new wireless key device and a security alarm.

It certainly wouldn’t save me money vs. driving. A Segway is over $5,000. If I drive 3 miles a day and pay $3.00/gallon, I’ll save approximately $100 in gas plus whatever 675 miles is in terms of maintenance over a year. It’s better for the environment I suppose, but then again, I’m not sure 3 miles is going to make a difference over people driving in each day from San Francisco.

Neither a bike nor Segway would be great in the rain. The Segway would probably be better in cold and hot weather. I’d be going slower in cold weather, so there’s be less of a wind chill, and in hot weather I wouldn’t work up a sweat.

South Bay Segway in Campbell offers 2.5 hour tours of the Los Gatos Creek trail for $75. I’m thinking about taking one of those to see if I like it. Anne thinks it might be enough time to “get it out of my system”. Perhaps.

It might just be too geeky, even in Silicon Valley. I’m not sure I want to be known as “the Segway Guy” at work or deal with people who want rides all the time. Still, I think the technology is damn cool, and I lust for cool technology. That coolness always wears off after a while though and you’re left with the practicalities of if and how it improves your life.

Would a Segway improve my life by $5,000 worth? Would something else that costs $5,000 make me happier? I don’t know. Do you?


  1. A segway just might be the best way to spend $5,000. I think the test drive tour is a great idea.

    There are only two other things I could think of spending that money on that might make you happier:
    1) 16 roundtrip tickets for Anne to New England
    2) 5,000 ice cream cones


    P.S. I’m on an airplane tomorrow. I’ll check out SkyMall and see if there’s something else there.

  2. Hmm, Anne going away will make me UNhappy and I don’t want 5,000 ice cream cones. 🙂

    I actually looked at the Skymall catalog on Sunday. Didn’t find anything great.

  3. I agree with Todd. Take the Los Gatos Creek tour to see if you really like it and then decide. I think it would be a nice addition to your “high tech gadget collection” too. 😉

  4. Can you get a trailer for it that I can ride in? It would be pretty cool for our geocaching adventures! There is a new multi at Stanford that this would be great for!

    I bet you can wait a few months and get one used that someone decided not to keep. Then you can have it all– Segway, a few trips for Anne, and some ice cream. Just don’t forget the trailer! 😉

  5. i see a guy on one all the time (then again, i live in the town where they make the darn things!) – he’s always zipping past traffic and never looks half as stressed as the people driving.

    totally take the tour… it will either convince you of it’s worth or it’s silliness.

  6. Hmm… $5000 can buy you a plasma tv, and 4 roundtrip flights for both of you to New England. 🙂
    Personally, I’m not a fan of the people flying down the sidewalks on Elm St. on those things. They have no curtesy for the people walking, and flat out scare the bejesus out of you when they go by. Basically, “I’m super cool because I have a Segway, so move it or lose it!” is the attitude they portray. Maybe in Silicon Valley they’re not as rude. Just a thought!

  7. I’ve thought about this before this posting.. The segway has some cool factors, I saw 2 guys going down the street on these.
    even as a geek, I feel these guys are geeky and dorky

    So jeff here the question

    1) when you drive the sucker to work, where do you park it? It’s so expensive, would you park it inside or outside? if so where?
    2) do you need to bring it into your home to charge? you have to carry the darn thing into the house to charge, it’s pretty big to have it in your already tech-filled house.
    3) it’s another thing to clean and maintain.
    4) it gets old afer 1-2 years and you have to figure out what to do with it.
    5) … .what if you actually move like 5 miles away into a real house? …, do you not move because of the segway?

    Get a great brompton foldable bike instead for $1,600 you get the exercise, not such bulk, very attractive

    But… if you do get it, could I try it?

  8. 1) I’d park it in my cube. There’s room. There’s an alarm, so I’m not worried about it.

    2) I can charge it anywhere there’s an outlet. I’d charge it in my garage.

    3) Easier than a car!

    4) Maybe true. Could sell it.

    5) 5 miles is still doable. People commute 10 miles on it.

  9. Wow, 10 miles on that thing? What if you run out of batteries?

    Since you’ve answered all my concerns, go ahead. I could imagine it’s kinda hard to get it into the building with all those doors..

    Could I use it to cross over to building C?

  10. I own a Segway, and I say go for it! A 1.5 mile commute is just about perfect for it. Believe me, you’ll find tons of other places within easy gliding distance to save even more money on gas. How is a Segway better than a bike? Simple – pedestrian integration. If you ride responsibly and courteously, you won’t bother anybody, and can travel at walking speed if it’s too crowded to go any faster. A bike can’t really do that, it would have to weave around to stay balanced.

  11. I just got one for Christmas. 1.2 miles in just around 13 minutes – and that’s waiting for the lights to change. Leans nicely against te wall of my office. More fun than my bike. I think it was Mark Twain that said (paraphrased) to see the world you really have to walk it (or was that Cain from Kung Fu?).
    Gliding is better, says I.

  12. I think these things look fab. Did you buy one in the end? I live in the UK…. do they sell them over here because I am having trouble finding a dealer. cheryl

  13. Get one, they’re cool. Just got one for about a 1.5 mile commute. You can get used i2 models for as low as $3,500. People take the tour, LOVE it, buy it with no real purpose like going back and forth to work on it, discover they’re out 5K+ and then decide to unload them for a loss or a grand or two.

  14. I’m considering one as well (from Sam’s Warehouse for $4,400). Did you make your purchase?

    I hate the idea of the geek factor, then again, I’ve never thought that myself, only seen people describe them as such…

  15. “It certainly wouldn’t save me money vs. driving. A Segway is over $5,000. If I drive 3 miles a day and pay $3.00/gallon…”

    I have an idea to throw out at you good sir, what i am going to do is build (or buy) a solar panel outlet and use this to charge my segway (when i get it). Its 100% renewable and i am big on “going green” 😉

  16. I think you should buy an alternative to a segway for much cheaper. Segways are almost 7 thousand dollars, while the inmotionscv is 2,500 the Qbot is 2,450 and the Airwheel starts at 850$.

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