Experience on SEGWAY in Barcelona
I'm on vacation in Sitges. Yesterday we made a quick getaway to Barcelona. None of my companions knew the city, so I took the opportunity to take a very special visit that could be called the ultra-geek visit: a guided Segway tour. The Segways are without a doubt the most geeks in the universe: high technology in its pure state that is mainly used for fun.
I found the information of EMobility, the company that let us rent them, in an entry entitled Segway in Barcelona, many months ago. When we decided on the holidays and dates I took advantage and made a "secret reservation" for every group, on a working day so that there were less people in the streets and more fun. We have been lucky and the good weather has accompanied us, it has done a lot of sun but with a reasonable heat. Actually I know Barcelona well because I have seen it many times and I have a lot of friends there, and I had also heard and read about the Segways (although I had never seen or tried any). But no one else in the group knew where we were going or what those devices were, so the surprise was a big one!
For my part, as a good geek, I had read all the pages of Segway.com, seen all the videos (which are great) and read a lot of articles, including the semi-official history of the Segways in the last years. Book Code Name Ginger : The Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World. When this apparatus was to see the light several years ago, rumors and exaggerated stories circulated about an almost global "revolution": everything was magnified beyond imagining, especially after a leakage / anticipation of the book of Steve Kamper And what happened when some "famous" tried the Segway / Ginger / IT - had many names before the definitive one. (For example, see Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos Meet Ginger ).
HOW IS A SEGWAY TOUR?
The Segway tour basically consists of the following: you pay 60 euros for about two long hours, almost three, to visit the city. A person by Segway: physically only need to weigh more than 35 kilos, have normal mobility (for example: be able to climb stairs) and... have the skilled left hand - see later on this detail ;-) You can take a backpack Back, cameras, drinks, take breaks where you want, etc. Because the group is small and everything is quite personalized. A guide accompanies the group and explains stories of the city and shows its charms... With the difference that in Segway you can travel perhaps ten or fifteen kilometers in two hours, instead of the three or four you would walk.
The first ten minutes with Edgar, our guide, were the mini-course to drive the Segway. You really learn to drive it in five minutes: how to turn it on, get on the device in balance, move back and forth, turn... ready!
THE SEGWAY INSIDE
As seen in the photos the Segway has only two wheels, so that as it looks and like the bikes, it has to keep in balance. But the grace of the invention is that it is the apparatus that maintains the balance, through a computer, gyroscopes, sensors and the main motor. The driver does not have to do practically anything. For real! After turning it on and climbing the platform you can even release your hands from the handlebar because balance is maintained by "technology". Some Segway models even stay in balance on their own. But, as the guide told us: This only works if you have faith in technology because instinctively people tend to move the body to seek balance and that confuses the sensors and can put the device in a strange pitching cycle. So it's best to grab the handlebar, look straight ahead and not move around relying on the computer that is literally under your feet. (If you've read Carl Sagan's Contact you will hear that kind of faith you have to have in science for the pendulum scene.
To move forward simply lean gently. The device also tilts, the sensors detect that change and the motor advances the wheels to move forward. The same is done to move backwards - gesture that also serves to slow down, by the way. The more you bend, the faster you go. You pull back: brakes. After testing the "limits" of our Segways HT (I think second generation) we discovered how far we could go, and the guide confirmed that they reached about 8 km / hour.
Only the left hand is used to turn the Segway. On the handlebar, which is completely fixed (it is not mobile like that of a bike) there is a rotary knob like that of the motorcycles, which if you move clockwise, turn the Segway to the right, and in the opposite direction on the left. This is perhaps the most complicated thing to learn / memorize, but in five minutes you can do it without thinking. The Segway has a zero turning radius, which means it can rotate to a standstill. While practicing the normal thing is to move, to stop, to turn and then to follow; After a while you go and go at once and at fifteen minutes all those movements seem totally natural. Without wishing to exaggerate, I would say that it is certainly easier (and even natural) to learn to ski or ride a bicycle.
With the Segway must take the same care as when you are walking or running: small objects, potholes, ramps and small steps can go through smoothly, but could fall if the sensors mislead too close to the computer - everything is a matter of doing the goat. Slips on water or sand are apparently the main causes of falls, but throughout our visit no one had problems with this. On the ramps it is fun to see how the Segway is guided by "gravity" and adapts to the angle of ascent or descent without problems and instantly, without varying just the cruise speed.
SEGWAY AROUND BARCELONA
Once we took practice we toured all the old quarter of Barcelona, the Cathedral, the small streets... The Segway does not occupy more than 20 or 25 cm extra to the sides of the person, it is as if you had large feet and carry two bags of The purchase in your hands and you will need some more space, but you fit almost anywhere. It does not raise you too much, maybe another 15 or 20 cm. As you also go slowly and is incredibly quiet, it is used by pedestrian areas, and you can go among people without any problem, without frightening anyone or running over them.
In reality the legal status of the Segways as vehicles depends on each country and each city. In Barcelona does not seem to be regulated. It's like going on a normal scooter (say: less than a bike): you can go by the sidewalks or the road. The cops do not look bad, it even seems that the urban guard and the pedestrians astonish and seem funny - of course everyone smiles when they see it. In Malaga I read that it is used by the municipal police. In other cities you must wear a bicycle helmet, go by bicycle lanes, or ride on the road as a "car". As well as Barcelona is a very friendly city for bikes, with wide pedestrian sidewalks and almost totally flat and without slopes, it is the ideal place to go on Segway. In the almost three hours of route there was only one curb that we could not climb,
We leave the old area, go down the Rambla and arrive at the port area, on the other side of the statue of Columbus, we start the Segway with a "magic key" (I do not know if it's a series or was a custom hack ). This key raises the speed limiter from 8 to 12 km / h and speeds up the turns. At that point we were already doing pirouettes, circulating without hands on the handlebars, shooting photos and making video without even stopping - which is amazing to see as a spectator, because drivers seem masters of balance when in fact they are doing nothing but is The Segway who does it for them. After some ice cream to calm the heat we continued along the beach to the Hotel Arts and then we returned by the beautiful Park of the Ciutadella towards the old town.
A built-in safety feature on the Segway is that when you try to go too fast and you get to the limit the machine "races" alone and makes the braking gesture, which forces you to pull back and reduce speed a bit. Overall this both as the rest of the Segway interface is excellent of course. A simple mini-screen, well visible, but without even letters, or speed indicator or miles traveled. One button, the power button. One contact, the key. Perhaps the turning knob is the only design decision that seems strange when using it, but there is surely a reason for it - I do not recall that it was explained in the book. Maybe a mobile handlebar would be too sensitive, Two too many buttons (if you can do enough with one) and turn "analogically" a command is better than pressing digitally. Anyway, bearing in mind that there was also some debate (half joking half seriously) about why the Segway only has two wheels and can be three and more simple and cheap - and that does not justify it in the book! - the turning wheel is almost irrelevant ;-)
Some other details that I really liked about the experience:
- The assisted mode that serves to move the Segway without climbing, but with the engine helping you.
- The status marker that has a nice style Mac OS 7 style that tells you that you can get on the device, as well as the state of the battery (the range is about 18-20 kilometers, in future models will be about 40 km.)
- The magnetic starter key as the open garage.
- Battery recharging is done by plugging a normal power cord into a standard socket on the handlebar base.
- The carrying bag goes in front and comes in handy for shoving the camera, video, water bottles and other gadgets geeks.
- The absolute absence of noise of the Segway, that only when you go very fast makes a small buzz but that in addition the engineers adjusted so that it sounds of pleasant form, according to count in the book
- "How complicated this must be inside but how simple it is on the outside," recurring geek thinking during the experience.
- The only negative of the experience was the strange sensation that you have in your feet: without realizing you spend more than two hours standing without actually "moving", although you have traveled ten or fifteen kilometers. The tingling in the feet, that can get to you to sleep, causes that you have to move them a little to massage them every time, just as it is good to change of position or to make pauses. I guess if you use a Segway a lot you'll get used to it easily, because the guide did not seem to have that problem.
For the curious, confirm that the selling price of the Original Segway HT that are rented per hour is about 6,000 euros. It is far from being a cheap gadget, and it is not known when they will fall in price, or if they will ever do - rather it seems that better models will come up for similar prices. The best thing for sure is that there are rental companies to pay only a few euros for trying a Segway a few hours and decide if you like. I guess that considering buying one or not depends on many things: where you live, where you work, what your city (flat, slopes, bike lanes, etc) as well as details like if you have room to store in a garage and your style Life in general. Our guide also clearly explained the advantages: no pollution, no noise, no insurance,
I'm sure there will be people interested in buying a Segway for personal use, but it does not give the impression that the real revolution in general transport in the short term - although it is for particular cases. Some people say that if I had a Segway I would use it all the time - but also that that would eliminate the only exercise they do in their life: walk a little. Also happens the usual: to buy only one device would be boring, it is best to have at least two to go as a couple and make it more fun (and of course: double happiness, double expense ). There are also groups of friends of the Segways in the cities, as I have seen there. In the official website of Segway Spain there is much more information about models, brochures, videos, prices and all that. If you dare to buy one tell them that you are going from Microsiervos! An old friend of ours works there, and in fact warned us that the web was open a little bit ago. Maybe give you some stickers or something ;-)
If I had to summarize the experience in two words, clearly these would be: all spring. Being geek it is impossible to think anything else about this piece of invention and how well designed it is and how fun it is to use it. It is pure technology applied to immediate and direct fun, but with the classic "practical" side and valid reasons that could justify an impulsive purchase before whom it is appropriate ;-) Classic example of potential and tempting purchase loser where there are - in the Good sense, of course. So, beware of those geeks, we know each other! (Do as I do and put it on your wish list in case some acquaintance touches the lottery ;-)
I put as pending duties for the return of the holiday write the review of the book Code Name Ginger that I would have sworn I had already written because I read it last year (but I have checked it) and that I found it quite good, besides discovering myself A Dean Kamen, a brilliant inventor, geek among the geeks.
And repeat Segway tours in other cities as soon as possible.
Where to buy a Segway?
The segways have managed to conquer us all by being practical, comfortable and innovative personal mobility vehicles that seem to have escaped the future. However, it is not always easy to find cheap segways, for this reason we have decided to lend a hand to all those interested in acquiring this vehicle through this ample post where we will tell you where to buy the cheapest segways on the market.
Guide to buying cheap segways at the best price