Electric Unicycle: From Montauk to Oak City Shred Fest

Pat Lane at Oak City Shred Fest electric unicycle EUC
Pat Lane at Oak City Shred Fest
Mikey Grillo photography

Personal electric vehicles (PEV), such as ebikes and electric skateboards, aren’t exactly common on the East End, but it’s even more rare, and cool, to see someone cruising on an electric unicycle (EUC). Consisting of a lone wheel with a 12–18-inch diameter, housed in a metal frame with foot pedals on either side, electric unicycles make for an impressive sight, and they can outpace certain mopeds.

“With the wheel you can ride street, you can ride trails, you can hit jumps, you can even go down stair sets,” explains Montauk resident and avid EUC rider Patrick Lane, a dedicated and talented local skateboarder who added this new sport to his life about three and a half years ago.

Pat Lane (right) races at Oak City Shred Fest
Pat Lane (right) races at Oak City Shred FestMikey Grillo photography

Lane started small but quickly improved his skills and upgraded his equipment after getting the hang of it. His interest in EUC and desire to go ever bigger and faster led him to ride and compete in the third annual Oak City Shred Fest, a recent North Carolina festival attracting fans of Onewheels — a different electric-powered vehicle that includes a single wide wheel and balance board — and electric unicycles, along with various other PEVs, from May 4–7.

“There’s racing, trails, trick competition. It was so awesome. I bought the tickets like five months in advance,” Lane says while nursing a broken collarbone about 10 days after the festival, where he competed in some intense off-road trail races and took a couple of bad spills, including crashing into a tree during a semi-final race, and wiped out after hitting a massive jump that was one of the main things that brought him to the event.

EUC racer Pat Lane hits a tree at Oak City Shred Fest electric unicycle
EUC racer Pat Lane hits a tree at Oak City Shred FestMikey Grillo photography

“One of the big reasons I went down (to Oak City Shred Fest) is I knew that jump was going to be there,” he adds. “There was a previous event last year, the Amped Electric Games, and one guy jumped a school bus on that same jump, so I wanted to do a huge jump,” Lane continues.

“I landed it a bunch of times and I got unlucky on the last one and came down the jump and slid out a little bit, and the pedal clipped the grass and I flew forward and I couldn’t do anything,” he recalls. “I hit the side of my shoulder, and I knew it was broken instantly. I saw my buddy, and I just took 10 steps, I shook my arm, and I said, ‘Oh God, this feels a little sore,’ and then I felt the bump there, and I just sat down. They said I was white as a ghost, and I said, ‘Go get the medic, I broke my collarbone.’ I knew it was broken. I snapped it.”

More than a week later, Lane was feeling good. “No regrets. I was smiling after and there were other people in the hospital that were from the event,” he says. “It was really cool to meet other people who are into the hobby, because out here I’m the only one. There’s no one to talk to, everybody thinks you’re a freak out here, but down there when you’re with everyone else, you’re with kindred spirits.”

Pat Lane takes a spill at Oak City Shred Fest electric unicycle EUC
Pat Lane takes a spill at Oak City Shred FestMikey Grillo photography

Lane, who enjoys the “Future Man” moniker since taking up EUC, admits that the sport didn’t immediately fit his skater sensibilities.

“I got into it because of my father in-law. He was telling me about it … I looked it up on YouTube and I was like, ‘Oh that’s wack; that is the wackest thing I’ve ever seen.’ But then I watched a couple other videos, and I was like, ‘You know what? It’s not too bad,’” he adds. “I watched a few more videos and thought, that could be practical for getting around Montauk.”

In short order, Lane dropped $1,000 on his first wheel, before he even tried standing on one, and he learned quickly that it wasn’t easy to ride. “It’s hard to mount it at the beginning because you get the sensation you’re going to fall … you need to understand the mechanics of it, what’s happening inside.”

Pat Lane gets air at Oak City Shred Fest EUC race electric unicycle
Pat Lane gets air at Oak City Shred FestMikey Grillo photography

But once he got rolling, “I said, ‘Oh my God, this is awesome,’ and then I got around the block and I grabbed some gloves and a helmet and I said, ‘Alright, I’m going to the town.” Less than a year later, he had graduated to a more powerful wheel and was taking long trips to Greenport and through area trails, and trying to learn and devise new tricks.

“It all started from those Segways, like Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It’s all the same technology,” Lane explains. “Once you understand, you lean forward, it goes forward, you lean back it goes back.” But he noted that it requires conditioning to take the EUC for longer rides. “It’s very hard in the beginning because you’re using muscles that you’ve never used … You get good at it. When you first start riding, you can only ride a couple miles without your legs and feet getting numb.”

Pat Lane races EUC at Oak City Shred Fest electric unicycle
Pat Lane races EUC at Oak City Shred FestMikey Grillo photography

Lane says EUC has become his go-to means of transport around Montauk, especially in summer when he can bypass traffic. He wears full motorcycle-rated protective gear, which adds further expense to the sport, but it’s absolutely necessary. “I know what can happen. I never wore pads or anything skateboarding, but when I started this, I wear gear like I’m going to battle,” he adds, noting that some wheels can reach speeds of well over 40 miles per hour.

“It’s so cool. A lot of (EUC wheels) have that industrial look. They’re straight out of the future. That’s why I got the nickname Future Man, because when you ride it, you feel like you’re a cyborg or some kind of superhero — you get a sensation that you have a superpower.”

Pat Lane at Oak City Shred Fest
Pat Lane at Oak City Shred FestMikey Grillo photography

According to Lane, EUC is still in its infancy and he expects it to become much more visible in the coming years. He points out that EUC polo is a big deal in Argentina and could soon be making its way to Old Westbury in Nassau County, and possibly even Bridgehampton. And he says EUC racing could also find an audience.

“Every year, the innovations are just insane. It’s progressing so quick. They’re getting safer, they’re getting more range, they’re getting more power,” he says. “In five years, I don’t know what we’re going to see or how big it’s going to be. There might be racing on ESPN — I think it’s going to blow up … Sky’s the limit.”

Electric unicycles aren’t easy to find at retail on Long Island, but Lane says monoridez.com is run by a Long Island dealer out of Ronkonkoma who offers repairs and will bring product to customers out east.