Recently some friends of mine, Laurie and Yuri who run the very popular Our Kite Life Channel on youTube decided to ask a pretty is simple question, “Is the OneWheel better than kiteboarding”? They explored this topic in their latest episode which you can watch above. So I thought I would write this article to answer the question for myself.
First a bit of background. Laurie and Yuri are well known and respected in the kiting scene and foster a great community spirit at their local spot. They are prolific kiters and go out in all weather conditions from water to snow from low wind to thermo-nuclear. While they always look like they are playing hard, the truth is they also work hard to produce videos on a wide range of topics that have fans all over the world. One of my personal favorites was when they filled a kite with helium to see if it made a difference. Or that time they setup an outdoor sauna and kited in the winter in their bathing suits!
Last year I got into OneWheeling after seeing it around and being absolutely mesmerized by it - much like I was when I first saw kiteboarding and took it up more than 15 years ago. They had been seeing me pull up to the local spot on my OneWheel and as usual it garnered A LOT of attention. SOmetimes I I pulled up riding my OneWheel with my kite gear in tow but more and more I just past by just riding my OW. Eventually one of their close friends decided to get one and the hype just built and built until one fateful weekend kiting and onewheeling collided and produced the video above. So here now is my take on the subject.
Kiteboarding is the evolution of wind, water and board sports. You can do it on land, snow or water and you can glide, float (foil), carve, shred and of course fly! No other sports has such a diverse range of experiences under one umbrella. Like Nikita says in the video, “OneWheeling is very nice, but kiteboarding cannot be beat - bulletproof.” And he’s right.
But kiteboarding does have some draw backs. You can only do it in certain conditions. Sometimes you can go weeks without wind and other times you drive hours to get to the only spot with wind hoping it doesn’t shut off as soon as you get your kite in the sky. It also can take a long time to learn it depending on how much time and effort you can dedicate to it and how much the wind and your schedule cooperate with your desire to learn. And so while some people take just a few weeks to learn, others may take a couple of years. Of course one option is to travel to somewhere tropical and learn but that to is not a sure thing and adds more cost. Speaking of cost, kiting ain’t cheap. When you factor in lessons and gear it’s safe to budget about a few thousand to start getting into the sport. But eventually you will add more gear that allows you to go out in a wider range of conditions and to experience different aspects of the sport so its easy for that number to balloon to over 5,000.
Also while kiting is social on land it is somewhat solitary on the water, unlike sports like sailing where you can be right there side by side with your partner or high fiving your mate or riding with your dog. Meanwhile all the fun you have kiting you have to hold it in because you cant share it right then and there in the moment with someone.
Now despite the long drives, and the expensive price tag and the initial steep learning curve and the unpredictable wind and the lack of social interaction on the water, is it worth it. Of course it’s worth it, that’s why we are all so obsessed with it. It’s like the man said, “it’s bullet proof”.
OK so hold on, what about the OneWheel. You don’t need wind, you can just get up and go and it still gives you that same floaty, carvy feeling that those in the know call “the stoke”. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to learn. Most people are proficient within a few hours of riding time. Usually when I teach someone they are full on riding in less than 20 minutes. Whereas kiting is purely for fun you can also use the One Wheel as a legitimate form of transportation. It literally costs pennies to own and operate and is virtually maintenance free. You are hands free when you ride so eventually you will look for excuses to One Wheel to the grocery store to get milk!
It's also social. Being a romantic at heart I have to say there is nothing quite like holding hands and One Wheeling with your special someone. But even to ride with friends its amazing and you can easily ride and talk or shut up and glide. Many people are riding their One Wheels to work and school … I’m sure wed all love to kite-commute but the chances of that happening are none.
I have also recently discovered how amazing it is to explore the city on a OneWheel … since I get 30 km to a charge I can really explore far and wide without getting too tired and whenever I want I can grab a coffee while I charge my board at one of the local artisan coffee shops … hard to do that while wearing a wetsuit and taking a break from an intense day of kiting.
So while I kind of agree that nothing beats kiting … and that kiting offers the greatest variety, its not the easiest thing to just do every day … have you ever tried getting into and out of a front entry 5/4 wetsuit by yourself?
I don’t think OneWheel will replace kiting but I kind of think it compliments it and is fun to do on a day where you don’t want to or cannot kite due to the conditions. And it lets you ride and feel the stoke while being a productive member of society … surely that has to account for something.
Both these sports offer something unique – the stoke. That elusive feeling first described by surfers. That feeling you get when you do something so special and magical like riding the wind or carving a wave or shredding on a silent running electrical tire that can go on almost any surface (Except of course water, kiting has OneWheels beat when it comes to water).
As you can see the decision of which is better is no longer the point – the fact is I love them both as if they were my children (of course you would have to through in my trouble making nieces and nephews – sailing, kayaking, rowing and SUP – just to vary it up from time to time) But the decision is not which is better but what am I going to do right now. Now I can choose between kiting and OneWheeling depending on the wind, the conditions, what I want form the day or just how I feel.
And I have to say, I am going to go for a OneWheel therapy session right now – just a quick 30 minute ride and then pick up a salad on the way home for dinner. So I guess I am saying I dont want to choose between OneWheel or kiting I like them both ... but there is no loser - if you only do one you cant go wrong with either. But if you are lucky enough to do both, even better! After all, variety is the spice of life.
Now in terms of cost the OneWheel ain’t cheap either but with the Pint costing about 1500 … its certainly a lot easier to get into OneWheeling than kiting. When you are ready to learn to kite we would love to teach you but in the mean time if you want to go for a ride, grab your wheel and meet me on the trail ;)