View Full Version : Segway finds its niche in OKC

12-22-2004, 09:26 AM

Make way: Segway finds its niche in Oklahoma City

Posted: Tuesday, December 21, 2004

By Jody Noerdlinger

The Segway HT—short for Human Transport—has made its way to Oklahoma City. 

Since June, David’s Sports Center, one of 60 authorized dealers in the nation, has been selling, on average, six of these devices per month.

The novel devices are now cropping up around the metro. Resembling a pogo stick with wheels, it combines space-age ingenuity with simple, old-fashioned design. 

“Within 60 seconds, it feels really natural, like you’re walking. Once you ride one, it’s addicting,” said Bobby Ecker, co-owner of David’s Sports Center. 

The Segway operates using a person’s natural balancing ability. While standing on the foot-sized platform, riders (anyone from four feet tall to a little over six feet tall) lean forward on the handlebars to move ahead, lean back to reverse, and maintain a straight up position to stop. The vehicle is electric. One of three keys adjusts its speed to six, eight or 12.5 miles per hour, depending on location and need.

Ecker learned about the Segway from a former Sea-Doo executive who left to take a management position with the company. He said executives from places such as Harley Davidson and Rolls Royce also have jumped on the Segway trend.   

Segways aren’t just becoming more popular -- they’re becoming more affordable.

Three years ago, when Segways first appeared, they cost about $10,000, Ecker said.  Today, the price has dropped to $4,500.

Through the end of December—in an effort to spur Christmas sales—the company is running its first retail discount of $1,000, pulling the price down to $3,500.

But, Ecker said, “Like anything else in technology, I anticipate the price going down.”

He said he believes the uses for the machine will continue to increase.

“I think it’s going to be a big deal in the future in Oklahoma City,” Ecker said.

For example, he mentioned the viability of commercial applications in places such as large warehouses and university campuses. Will Rogers World Airport and Tinker Air Force Base already use them.

Guided tours of urban areas and outdoor venues like the zoo are another possibility.  For around $50 per hour, customers could rent Segways and see the sites up close and personal, without the strain of walking. Visitors to cities like Seattle and Kansas City will see Segways used for this purpose.

There’s definitely an element of fun, as well as practicality, in these machines. 

David Annis, Dan Rotelli, and Tony Lugafet, co-owners of Business Imaging Systems, have purchased one for the 40-plus staff at their Oklahoma City location.  The three young business owners also provide a ping-pong table and X-Boxes for employees to enjoy during breaks from work.

“We always wanted one of these,” Annis said.  “It’s one more addition to our collection of toys.” 

Annis said he intends to use the Segway as a means to attract attention to the company at upcoming industry events.

Segways come with detachable golf bags, too, for solo travel on the course — even on the fairway, since they’re considered adaptable to all-terrain situations. Ecker’s kids took theirs trick or treating on Halloween this year. Doctors even prescribe them for patients who have trouble walking.

But the ultimate 21st century scenario pairs the Segway with the urban worker. 

Ecker describes it something like this:  Leave your downtown apartment on a Segway, get on the elevator, ride to the ground floor and out the door.  Smoothly travel down the sidewalk to your building (at six miles per hour, you’ll arrive slightly quicker than if you walked at a brisk four miles per hour.).  Enter your work place, get on the elevator, go up to your office, and park your little vehicle next to your desk. 

The Segway is earning attention for its environmental features, as well.

It saves space, taking up no more room than the average-sized human. 

There’s virtually “no maintenance,” Ecker said.

And at about 10 cents per battery charge, it gets the equivalent of 450 miles per gallon of gas.  Plus, it’s quiet and emissions-free. 

Impressed with these capabilities, Oklahoma passed legislation in 2002 allowing the use of the vehicle (which qualifies as an “electric personal assistive mobility device”) on city sidewalks and in low-speed traffic zones. 

12-22-2004, 09:38 AM
I'd prefer that we walk -- many of us need the excercise :D

12-22-2004, 10:55 AM
I remember when they announced this product. The "Today Show" or one of the other morningshows called this the "next wonder of the world that would revolutionize the world." Well, THUD!

It is nothing but a scooter. A product I personally find useless and over priced.

I doubt I will ever buy one.

12-22-2004, 01:33 PM
I bet we will in about 20-30 years, but then again, who says we will all still be here then

12-23-2004, 11:48 AM
The security also uses them in the Conncourse

12-23-2004, 01:04 PM
My only problem with Segway, is it offers just another way for people to cut back on exercise. In this day and age, with health such a concern, I just see Segway as a drawback.

12-23-2004, 01:08 PM
My only problem with Segway, is it offers just another way for people to cut back on exercise. In this day and age, with health such a concern, I just see Segway as a drawback.

Another thing. I can not figure out how, with two tires, one can keep it balanced.

12-23-2004, 02:35 PM
Here's the answer to your question sfrom Segway's website:

"Our team developed a breakthrough technology we termed "dynamic stabilization," which is the essence of the Segway HT. Dynamic stabilization enables the Segway HT to work seamlessly with the body's movements. Gyroscopes and tilt sensors in the unit monitor a rider's center of gravity at about 100 times a second. When the rider leans slightly forward, the Segway HT moves forward. When the rider leans slightly back, the Segway HT moves backward. For more about how the Segway HT functions, please see How It Works."