back to article Segway to Heaven: Mega-hyped wonder-scooter that was going to remake city transport to cease production

In yet another reminder that the heady days of the noughties are but a distant memory, the classic Segway is set to officially end production after a near-twenty-year run. Fast Company tells us the iconic electric scooter is going to end commercial production on July 15, with 21 of the 33 workers at its Bedford, New Hampshire …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge
    Meh

    Image and price problems

    Looked naff, adults riding on a toy, but cost the earth.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Image and price problems

      Probably what they said about the first bicycles, and the first motorbikes

      1. dvhamme

        Re: Image and price problems

        There's a country of over 300 million people who still think bicycles are toys, and the ones that do ride them seem to go out of their way to look extra naff.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Image and price problems

          Not at all. A very small minority do riude them, but naff only for those who despise bicycles.

          1. dvhamme

            Re: Image and price problems

            I'm an avid cyclist in Belgium and on the few occasions I visited the US, it struck me that unlike in Europe, no one just gets on a bike and rides it in his regular clothes. And lycra definitely looks naff, even if I do wear it myself on long weekend rides.

        2. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Image and price problems

          Sharing the road with American Drivers in anything not massive enough to do real damage to the AD's vehicle in the event of a collision is not a survival trait.

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Image and price problems

        Yes, but for the first bikes and motorbikes, people also said '...and I want one.'

        With the segway people said, 'hmm, I wonder how they do that?' and went back to their lives.

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Image and price problems

          When I first saw a Segway I thought "I must get back on my bike".

  2. xyz

    Huge mistake

    And man were they are a huge mistake... Meanwhile, all the cool peeps are riding around on those small, light, single wheel electric things or electric scooters or the twin wheel balance board jobbies I wonder what would have happened if some commuter had tried to heave his segway onto the 8:16 from Reading of a morning?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huge mistake

      Oh - do you mean the ones that didn't appear until Segway broke the ground?

      Being the first is difficult. Being the second is easy.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: Huge mistake

        Indeed. Segway is undeniably the groundbreaker here. Simple, relatively small electic scooter that's fast enough and with enough range to make getting around towns or similar easy and convenient. The subsquent popularity of electric scooters and the disappointingly misnamed hoverboards shows that the idea was great and the timing really not bad. The problem Segway had is that the innovation pretty much stopped at the first model. As should be expected, that was too big, awkward and expensive to be truly popular, despite showing the promise the technology had. 20 years later Segways still look basically the same, but now you can buy basically the same thing from any number of other companies as a child's toy.

        You certainly can't call the idea a mistake, because the damn things are everywhere despite being technically illegal to actually use*. But Segway as a company certainly made a huge mistake by resting on their laurels and marketing to tiny niches instead of making the effort to turn it into something marketable to the general public.

        * For those unaware, things like electric scooters are powered vehicles as far as the law is concerned, so you can't drive them on pavements or any other public spaces. But they're not road legal so you can't use them there either. Until the law catches up, you're only allowed to use them on private land. Obviously no-one actually pays any attention to this. And before it comes up, ebikes don't have this problem because they only assist in addition to pedalling, otherwise they have to be licensed as mopeds; electric wheelchairs also have to be licensed and meet regulations to be used on roads, although I think they have an exemption allowing them to be used in pedestrian areas.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: serendipitous typo

          I am quite liking the idea of an Eclectic Scooter.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Huge mistake

          The laws vary by state. Electric scooters and such were declared legal in New Jersey (subject to speed and other limitations, etc.) recently and possibly other places.

  3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    I played on one when I was working in Rome. Amusing, but it was not going to replace my Brompton.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
      Happy

      If only they'd named it Kensington and Chelsea, which did.

      Ahhhh... memories of London in summer when I lived there. Tootling down the Old Segway Road with the top down in the sun, hair blowing around in the breezes from the bicycles whizzing past me in the gridlock.

  4. /\/\j17

    Ahh, those were the days...

    I can remember the days of the pre-announcement Segway hype, with co-workers running around telling me how amazing it was going to be and how it was going to change the world over night. OK, so when pressed none of them could tell me what it was, with guessing covering everything from a book, through a new type of computer, to self driving and even flying cars. I kept saying "Sounds like a load of BS to me and it's going to be shit.".

    Mark one up for the glass half empty crowd as I'm not sure anyone even mentioned the name Segway in the office after the day it was actually revealed.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Ahh, those were the days...

      They were a neat use of technology though (can't think where I have seen that behaviour before :-) - I believe the sensors have been reused in other systems. At Chicago O'Hare I saw that the cops had a couple - with coffee holders of course.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Ahh, those were the days...

        No donut holders? Amazing.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Ahh, those were the days...

          The donut holders are riding them...

        2. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: Ahh, those were the days...

          #bluelivesmatter

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Ahh, those were the days...

      It was a magnificent technological solution looking for a problem to solve.

  5. Julz Silver badge

    In the UK

    It was doomed from the start. It was illegal to use them on the roads and also illegal to use them on the pavements. The only place you could legally use them, was on privately owned land. I suspect that if the bicycle was invented now, it would suffer the same fate.

    By the way, so are electric scooters, illegal that is, but that doesn't seem to be stopping them. For some reason, the law isn't being enforced. In fact I believe there is a review into making them legal on roads in some places/circumstances. It seems the transport revolution came too late for the Segway.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: In the UK

      And if the car was invented now it would have no chance of being legalised anywhere.

      Similarly if tobacco or alcohol were recent discoveries.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: In the UK

        If so... Could you please enlighten us as to why it is that Cannabis is getting a pass in most juristitions lately? Preety sure, both of thse rott your brain only less than the old Mary Jane.

        1. xeroks

          Re: In the UK

          from the research I've read, both alcohol and tobacco are worse for you than canabis.

          By worse IIRC they are both more addictive and their effect / side effects are more likely to kill you.

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: In the UK

          Because it should never have NOT gotten a pass in the past? As far as substance abuse goes, marijuana is about as mild and non-dangerous as they come. You really need to go all out on smoking weed to suffer any lasting side effects any worse than smoking and it's unlikely to ever do anything close to the harm even moderate alcohol abuse can cause. The danger in pot use lies mostly in (excessively) combining it with other psycho-active drugs (including alcohol), that can cause far more dangerous problems. Drunks can be troublesome to deal with, those high on pot are usually almost completely harmless. Those high on weed AND smashed on alcohol can be really troublesome.

          Dealing with someone suffering from underlying mental health issues, high as a kite AND smashed to the point of slurring his words... Well, let's just say it was a night I'm unlikely to forget in a hurry and police were involved. (note: this person had known underlying health issues and was known to get problematic on just alcohol alone. The only other case of psychotic break I've seen from drugs involved a lot of more dangerous substances like salvia. That person was only ever barely a danger to himself)

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: In the UK

            "The only other case of psychotic break I've seen from drugs involved a lot of more dangerous substances like salvia."

            Completely failed to parse that, and wondered what was so dangerous about saliva....

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: In the UK

        Or aspirin

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: electric scooters, illegal that is, but that doesn't seem to be stopping them.

      unfortunately, this is going to change (legal side), I saw a couple of texts about it a month or so ago. I dread to think about all the idiots swerving around pedestrians. And cars. Basically what you see now, but 100 x more. But hey, anything goes to save the planet (and generate sales)

      1. Citizen99

        Re: electric scooters, illegal that is, but that doesn't seem to be stopping them.

        And, worse, those idiots not swerving around pedestrians.

    3. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: In the UK

      eSccoters (At least here in Germany), are perfectly leagl on City Streets, the Sidewalk not so much. Not that it stops prople from using them there anyway. Oh I don't know about your neck ofthe Woods. But, you have to have your eScooter Registerd, with proof of insurance in order to opperate it leagally.

    4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: In the UK

      I believe there is a review into making them legal on roads in some places/circumstances.

      Given Shapps (Transport Secretary) was waxing lyrical about out of town bus parks with people riding eScooters into town as if they were already legalised at a recent Coronavirus Briefing it seems clear the government will be legalising them.

      "RIP. Dodged Covid-19. Not quick enough to dodge the eScooter"

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: In the UK

        I am of the opinion that e-scooters should only be made if they are legally obligated to have a sound system that blares "look at me, I'm a tosser" repeatedly at decent volume, so that I can hear the tossers coming, get out of the way and depending on how I feel point and laugh.

        Getting repeatedly run over by the number 9 bus is too good for anyone riding one of those things...

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: In the UK

          I see a few escooters in my small unfashionable market town in the western spiral armpit of London. But last year someone whizzed past me on a skateboard, then stopped, bent down to press a button and zoomed off with the incredibly loud sound of a petrol engine. At least that one won’t be sneaking up on anybody...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: In the UK

          blares "look at me, I'm a tosser" repeatedly at decent volume

          That mean they would still be banned in York then :-)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: In the UK

          So you want to add a sub woofer the size of the rider, and possibly a dustbin sized exhaust? Seems reasonable.

  6. Fading Silver badge
    Headmaster

    I look forward to the time.

    When "Segway" is part of the management presentation lexicon but no one (in management at least) will know the origin of the word.

    1. Evil_Goblin

      Re: I look forward to the time.

      I was asked recently if my use of segue rather than Segway was an autocorrect error...

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: I look forward to the time.

        I occasionally (once every 1-3 months) write "seque" on my sheet music** when one song ends and there's not a significant break (but there is *some* pause) before the next one, especially when a page turn is involved. Learned that back in high school being in the pit band for musical theater. (There was a different term for when the music takes ZERO break -- don't drop the beat -- between songs.)

        ** Church drummer: classic hymns to Southern gospel to contemporary Christian radio. I'm an old band geek, and my new set is a Roland almost-top-of-the-line digital so I can switch from rock to marches to bongos to timpani with just some buttons or the jog wheel.

        I think this --> is the first time I've ever written "Segway" in any form. And likely the last, too. Thus the bastardized version dies and the original term lives on so long as there is musical and theatrical (including TV/films) performance.

  7. Steve K Silver badge

    Initial Hype

    I can remember the initial hype and chatter before any detail was provided - people were seriously thinking that Dean Kamen had invented an anti-gravity device.

    When the actual device was revealed there was a collective "WTF?". Definitely clever technology at the time, but not the earth-shattering revelation that the drip-feed of comments of tech royalty (under NDAs no doubt) was allowed to imply.

    1. xeroks

      Re: Initial Hype

      I understand the Segway was very different to whatever was on the original NDA'd presentations. I guess what was presented was impractical or too revolutionary at the time.

      i'd love to see what it actually was though.

  8. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Happy

    With a few idle moments, I looked on ebay (UK) - get yours for about £280 while stocks last (refurbished). Meanwhile Sinclair C5s (which were a joke IMHO are going for £700 upwards.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      C5s were scary. Nothing that low to the ground should feel that unstable. The idea of taking it on actual roads with buses and lorries is terrifying. Just pootling round a car park was unpleasant enough.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I thin k the biggest problem with the C5 was the battery and motor tech wasn't yet their to cope with using proper wheels and a decent chassis. New materials science used across the board (chassis, body, drivetrain, motors, batteries) should be able to produce a much better C5-a-like nowadays. Although I'd still not like to use one on the public roads.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          As someone who rides a recumbent trike - they're far safer on the roads than a conventional diamond frame bike.

          Amazingly people can see things on the roads - the cat's eyes aren't very tall, and a 'bent is about the same height as a lotus elise.

  9. John 110

    I think I've said this before

    but these would make a stonking base for an electric wheelchair (or a granny scooter, I suppose). I have to remove the wheels and battery off the OH's to make it fit into a car - anything that makes them lighter and more compact is a plus.

    1. PTW

      Re: I think I've said this before

      I remember the tech being used in a four wheel chair that could then stand on only two wheels bringing the occupant up to eye level with surrounding people. Whilst not light, I imagine the psychology gains would be great. But as with all disability aids the manufacturers were greedy cnuts and wanted about £45k for it back in 2005

    2. Puuru

      Re: I think I've said this before

      It's already been done, by a company called Omeo in Otaki, New Zealand. A friend of ours has one of their (2-wheeled, obviously) wheelchairs, and she fair whizzes along the road on it. It works on the beach, too. Omeo are understandably trying to work out what the demise of the Segway means to them.

  10. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Hang on a minute...

    The abrupt but indicated transition from one thing to another with no real connection between the Before and After...

    Isn't that a.... there's a word for it... oh yes:

    segue?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020