LIHUE — For Jane Dinnie, learning how to use a battery-powered scooter is a balancing act — literally.
“It takes a lot of patience,” she said. “I’ve been practicing a lot, but my kids can just hop on.”
The scooter, which is branded as 808-Hot-Wheelz, looks like a combination between a hover-board and a unicycle. It has one wheel with a foot rest on either side. Riders must be able to balance themselves to make the scooter go forward, backward, right and left.
Since it runs on a lithium battery, the scooter provides people with an alternate way to get around with zero gas emissions.
“Wherever bikes can go, this thing can go,” said David Chung-Chingman, owner of 808-Hot-Wheelz.
Chung-Chingman was giving Dinnie a crash course in using the scooter at Lydgate Park Wednesday morning.
“I grew up in Thailand, and everybody walked or rode their bikes everywhere. It was great fun,” he said. “But when I moved here, I realized we had all these beautiful bike paths that needed to be used more.”
His ultimate goal is to have fewer cars on the road.
“I’m not looking to change the world,” he said.
Chung-Chingman’s plan is already working. Elaine Nishikawa uses one of the 808-Hot-Wheelz and said she rarely drives her truck to run errands around Lihue. Nishikawa said she’s gone five miles on it.
“It relaxes my mind after a long day at work,” she said. “And it’s a good way to take advantage of the sidewalks.”
Chung-Chingman said he got the idea for 808-Hot-Wheelz from his dad, who said countries in Asia were using the scooters as an alternate mode of transportation.
“I thought it would be a fun way to get from Point A to Point B,” he said. “Plus, it’s a good workout.”
The scooter is different from a bike because it works the core and glutes, Chung- Chingman said. Additionally, it has Bluetooth capabilities and two USB ports to charge electronics.
Scooters get about six miles to one charge, and it takes 15 minutes to re-charge. They can reach 10 mph, and can navigate gravel, grass and sand.
Chung-Chingman has sold seven of the scooters, which are built in Asia and shipped to Kauai, at $700 each.
Dinnie bought two.
“I’m on my feet eight hours a day, so I need a break from walking,” she said. “So I bought one for me, and for whatever wants to tag a long with me.”
But learning to maneuver the scooter can be challenging, so Chung-Chingman offers lessons to his customers. A helmet, knee pads and elbow pads aren’t necessary, but they’re recommended, he said.
“It can be a process, but I always say ‘Safety first,’” he said. “If you’re learning, and you feel like you’re going to fall, ditch the machine and make sure you’re safe.”
“My goal is to cruise around for long distances,” Dinnie said. “I want to be outside, enjoying life and nature.”