NEW YORK— It looks like a cross between skis, a kick scooter, and a moped, and it gives you a whole-body workout at the intensity you choose.
The Pon-e (PON-ee) is the first motored carving vehicle on the market.
A relative of the Segway touring vehicles, but much more dynamic, it combines personal transport with an exercise utility originally designed to help skiers train for the slopes year-round.
“It’s a fabulous workout—I don’t think there’s anything better,” said personal trainer Damon Hawkins, owner of Home Fit Pro, an in-home personal training and supply company in New York.
“I’m not a fan of cardio, but riding the Pon-E is exhilarating. Since it works the whole body, I can emphasize the muscle groups I want to work,” he elaborated in an email.
The Pon-E can be used with as much or little motor as you choose. With its 36- or 48-volt battery that powers up the kickoff and hills, it is designed to help you get the hang of carving without the defeat of stops and starts, which learners often face with unmotored vehicles.
And it’s fun, once you find the “sweet spot.”
The Pon-e can go up to 16 miles per hour and make hairpin turns that offer a thrill similar to swooshing down a mountainside—when you’re comfortable with the lean they require.
Hawkins found the Pon-e while searching for exercise equipment on Amazon; he stumbled upon Trikke, the company that makes it, by chance. After trying one out for a week, he bought two more.
He uses it every day to commute to his clients. His personal workout now includes a 15-mile loop without using the motor.
While the normal path of movement for carving vehicles is winding, the motor enables the Pon-e to travel a narrower path and even go straight, if needed, to stay in the designated bike lanes.
Trikke also makes mesh hammocks that hang between the handle bars and foot deck shafts for holding groceries.
The Pon-e works your thighs, core, and upper body—if you make a point to torque the handlebars often.
According to Hawkins, you can use the Pon-e to both build muscle and burn fat, depending on the intensity you choose and how much motor you use. And because you’re always adjusting to the rise and fall of the standing platform, “your core is always engaged.”
“When you add the left-to-right carving motion, you work the abs as well as the oblique muscles,” Hawkins noted. “As long as you have balance and your sweet spot,” you can work just about any muscle group you want, he said.
Other benefits include lower impact on the body than running or biking. The knees don’t get as much wear and tear as jogging, and according to Hawkins, it’s easier on the lower back than biking.
“[On the Pon-e] you’re not fixed; your hips are loose. … When you sit on a bike, your hips are fixed. There’s slight movement in your hips from left to right, so that compresses your vertebra,” Hawkins explained.
Over the long haul, this compression may adversely affect your back, he said.
Hawkins retrofits his Pon-e vehicles with head and tail lights, as well as a monitor with an LED screen that shows speed and miles covered. He also uses an assist function that allows you to select how much help you want from the motor. This assist function helps you get your heart rate exactly where you want it, he said.
Even with the motor, finding the sweet spot takes some practice.
You need to feel confident leaning more than you would on a bike, and knowing just how much and when to press through each leg for the optimal glide takes practice.
Hawkins said many of the people he’s taught have had a hard time at first, but with practice it becomes easy. “After a while, it’s like a workout without working out because [they] just want to go out with it,” he said.
The second time on, even after just a short break, it’s usually much easier for people, Hawkins said. This was true for the reporter as well.
If you would like to learn more about a Pon-e, these tips can help to get you started:
Height/Weight. The Pon-e, works best if you are 5 feet to 6 feet 3 inches tall and weigh 250 pounds or less.
Kids. The Pon-e is a personal transportation device and is not designed for child transport. For children 8 years of age and up, Trikke makes kid-sized carving vehicles, although they won’t go as fast as the adult versions.
Transport. The Pon-e fits in most mid-sized cars. A pair may also fit if your seats fold down. Smaller cars may not be as accommodating.
Price. The Pon-e costs $2,400. In December, Trikke will also release a smaller carver with a 24-volt battery: The Colt will run for about a quarter of the price at $500 to $600.
Once you have it, it costs around $0.07 to charge the battery completely.
Weather. The Pon-e is designed for use in fair weather. It runs at its best on smooth, wide, dry pavement. It can ride over sidewalk bumps and potholes (more easily once you learn the tricks), but does not move as well on the ground that is soft, wet, or icy.
How to Learn. The best way to learn is to take a lesson with someone approved by Trikke. Hawkins has approval, as well as several vehicles to practice on.