Honda's U3-X Versus the SBU


You’ve probably seen Honda’s new U3-X “segway unicycle” all over the internet and compared it to the SBU…well here is my take on it:

The U3-X is cool, I like it a lot and wouldn’t mind having one (for free, Honda want me to test it?). But there are some drawbacks compared to the SBU (what? I’m not biased at all). For example, it only goes 3.7MPH, that’s 1/3 the speed of an SBU. It has a third the range at only 3.7 miles, the SBU goes 10 miles on a charge. It appears to have a very small ground contact and would not fair well with minor defects in the road surface.  The U3-X appears pretty fragile compared to the SBU which has front/rear bumpers and scuff guards.  They weigh about the same. Also, the SBU is in production, available now for only $1499. I can almost guarantee the U3-X won’t sell for less than $1500. Okay, okay, I’ll concede one point to the U3-X, they used much prettier models in their photos. See, I’m not biased.

SBU with glass maniquin

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17 Responses to Honda's U3-X Versus the SBU

  1. Randy Gwinn

    I rode the SBU on K Street Mall downtown Sacramento today, it literally took me about 3 minutes to find my groove. I wish I had a chance to ride the SBU more, it was really fun and unique! Great job, great design!

  2. John Prentice

    Thank you for the SBU! Excellent price, economy of use, higher power, low weight, powerful battery, usable range and comfy seat. You had me at economical and fun. 2 cents for 12 miles going up to 10 mph is great.
    I couldn’t help wondering if you had considered a 24″ or 26″ wheel for a better ride and tire options for street, dirt and even sand. And is it possible to add pedals to create the most compact human-electric hybrid? And gearing to go bicycle speeds; in town speeds of say 30 mph on the level? Probably requiring the next motor evolution with more power.
    And since I live in beautiful sunny Sedona Arizona with many influential well off retirees, many from Hollywood, who may well be interested in the SBU for a grocery run or a jaunt into our red rock mountains like the mountain bikers have made this place famous for; have you distributors in this area to allow test drives and whats the commission? Thank you sincerely, John Prentice

  3. LIANG

    Hi, I found out about your guys from Engadget. I am intrigued by the unicycle approach to personal movers. It being so small sure have a lot of potential in a congested urban environment. I do wonder if some people would prefer having a handle bar, or a training one that’s detachable. I feel it may ease the transition from a traditional bicycle to a unicycle. Besides, it would give your hands a place to rest.

    • Hi Liang,
      The learning curve is pretty short at about 20 minutes. And you need your arms up and NOT holding onto the SBU for balance. You move your arms side to side to twist the SBU underneath. That’s why one of the first rules to learning the SBU is “do not hold onto the seat” – it’s nearly impossible to ride like that.
      We love all the feedback we can get though, so thank you!

  4. T. Mahardhika

    I’m a Police Officer at Indonesia. I like to have one of it. it would make my life easier. It would safe me a lot of money consider my salary is small, and it cost a lot to buy gasoline for one hour ride to the police station from my home.

    I wish some day, some how, some person would say to me, “I Want to sell my SBU for you for half price”. then maybe i could buy it.

    Go SBU !

  5. Rath

    Dude! Nice, i give u my support, keep up the hard work, i agree on u about the honda model, sbu is ahead in matter of eficiency and functionality, however it may need a makeover (im talking about aesthetics and perhaps personalization) eventually if u pretend to grow ur market and production.

  6. Paul Wolf

    I am a Disabled veteran, I will buy one of your SBU`s. It Looks so handy.
    With half a leg I run and jump with the best of 25 year olds. Do boxing, Hand to hand Combat at our Training facility.The Facktory Boxing Club in Pa..
    This would make covering distances so much easier & I could carry it on my motorcycle.
    I may even get it introduced to the V.A. .
    I`m 54 yrs old…..
    Semper Fi
    WOLF Sgt.USMC / Retired

    • Paul,

      You sound like the kind of guy we’d like to meet if we ever make our way over to PA! You sound like you have a ton of life in ya, keep it up. We have redesigned the SBU, you should check out our page again. As far as riding with one leg, we do that ALL THE TIME! It definitely grabs peoples’ attention and works just the same.


  7. Donovan

    I am 6 foot 7 inches. Is the seat adjustable for taller or shorter riders????

  8. bob hoaglaned

    I want one. I have a segway and will never give it up but this SBU is not the same and yet it is very similar. I just wonder if the pedal mounts can be modified so as to be several inches below the axis of tire rotation as this would allow the rider to stand to absorb surface irregularities without putting the CG so high as to overcome the gyro balancing. Also a retrofit of a larger tire enabling off road use (albeit at the expense of time-between-charging).

  9. Lorenzo

    Ok, Ok, belive in you..
    But for convince me… send me a free SBU.. and i will test all..
    I am italian, hen you’d also free advertising!! 😀

  10. Jim, I learned to ride a unicycle a couple of years ago, after purchasing an online pdf from, without which I would never have had a chance. The book tells you how to fall, and it helped me quite a bit. I was still able to have a few bad ones, but that happened less and less frequently. If you want to see a compilation of my crashes during training and can handle the excessive groans during the falls, I have a YouTube video:

    You can also search my posted videos for a couple of SBU videos as well.

    As an SBU owner, I can assure you that riding this most-excellent machine is about ten times easier. You don’t fall so much as get off, which in the unicycle world is called an unplanned dismount.

    I have more than a hundred miles on my SBU now, and use it for three to seven mile errands whenever I can.

    Readers and especially owners are encouraged to contribute to the new Yahoo group for this vehicle:

    Disclaimer: the Yahoo group is not officially sponsored or supported by Focus Designs.

  11. Zeke

    Jim what sort of Uni do you have and why have you taken “nasty falls” one you have to do is not be scared to fall just be ready to catch your uni from either in front or behind depending on which way you fall, the only time you should ever “fall” (to the ground) is if you fall to the side so try to always fall either forward or backward this way you can catch yourself. I only fell once when I learned so I know it is possible to do.

    keep up the good work!

  12. Jim

    I am learning to ride a unicycle and have taken some nasty falls but riding on one wheel is a unique experience that everyone should have – its like flying. This SBU (how do you pronounce that?) looks really cool and when I get the money I will get one.

  13. Greetings,
    The device is great and I wish it had been around 20 years ago. I’m a Steadicam Operator and will stay with the Segway for that but the SBU might be great fun and not take a van to move about! Best of luck. (And I thought Adam Savage could ride a Unicycle all by himself!

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