September 14, 2006 8:33 AM PDT

Injury risk prompts recall of all Segways

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Once touted as a landmark innovation in transportation, the Segway Personal Transporter has suffered another setback: The self-balancing scooter's parent company has recalled all of its currently available models because of a potentially dangerous software glitch.

After six Segway riders complained of head and wrist injuries, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday in conjunction with Segway Inc. that all 23,500 of the vehicles sold between March 2002 (when they were first introduced) and mid-September 2006 are being voluntarily recalled.

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Video: Segway novice takes the test
Neha Tiwari hops on a Segway i180 for the first time. Watch her document the trials, tribulations and victories of learning how to work one of these bad boys.

According to the manufacturer, the "speed limiter" in a Segway can cause it to tip backward suddenly, throwing off the rider. The company has already devised a fix for this bug, and owners are encouraged to contact the company for information about obtaining the software upgrade.

The recall covers all Segways currently on the market--the i-series, p-series, e-series, XT, GT and i2 models. It does not cover the X2, which is slated for debut later this month.

The Segway has experienced a rather bumpy journey since its inception, when rumors of a revolutionary new consumer product began to surface. The design and function of the device, whose code names included "Ginger" and "IT," were shrouded in secrecy, and the machine drew praise from technology luminaries such as founder Jeff Bezos and Apple Computer chief Steve Jobs.

Segway gallery

But when the emission-free Segway was finally released, reactions were tepid. The company reshuffled management. In 2003, about a year and a half after the much-hyped "Personal Transporter" was released, all of the Segways that had been sold at that point--some 6,000 machines--were recalled because of complaints of a power glitch that caused riders to fall off.

Since then, the Segway--priced between $4,000 and $5,500--has gained a reputation as a geeky novelty toy. Funny Segway videos have gained a solid footing on YouTube. A quirky game of Segway polo was among the notable events at April's Maker Faire, the hacker crafts showcase held in San Mateo, Calif., where Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was featured among the mallet-wielding competitors.

There's no word yet as to whether one of the six injury reports that led to the recall came from socialite Paris Hilton, who tried to use a Segway to make floor-mopping easier on her TV show "The Simple Life" and promptly toppled over.

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What a revolution!
Go Ginger go, way to live up to all that hype. I can't beleive they sold as many as 23,500 of these things, but I guess with enough pad money post office and PD's will waste money on this.

In all the years these things were on the market, I only saw ONE person use it for something other than wasting time. It was used by a ticket cop who became too fat to walk or ride the little tri-cycle bike.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
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If it's too good to be true....
Another recall of a product touted to be the next best thing, stay tuned....
Posted by Ice Sickle (3 comments )
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Not much of a problem
First of all, the article doesn't quite get it right - when the speed limiter pushes back, you have to fall off and jump back on very quickly in order for this problem to manifest itself. When the speed limiter pushes back on me, all I do is slow down (which would be the normal thing to do, unless you're playing Segway Polo).

As far as the cop who got too fat to ride the 3 wheeled thing goes (mentioned in a previous comment), you can't ride a Segway if you weigh more than 250 pounds, so I doubt very much if that's why he was using it.

My wife and I use our for both entertainment and transportataion, and they've been very reliable. This "problem" was brought to everyone's attention by SEGWAY, not the feds - it's a voluntary recall, which does them credit.

If you've never been on one, you just don't understand how really good these things are as transportation (especially the I2). Once you try one, you'll wish you owned one.
Posted by hmintz (1 comment )
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I rate a vehicle's popularity based on how many I see around. I see alot of trucks, suvs, minivans, even PT Cruisers, but I've yet to see a segway anywhere and I mean anywhere.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
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Segway Get's A Bad Rap
For some reason the Segway has gotten a bad rap as either a toy for the rich or an excuse for obese people not to exercise. First of all the Segway costs a quarter as much as the average car and as much as top end bicycles which I see all the time. As for fat people do you really think they are going to give up their SUV for a Segway? And we already know they are not riding bikes, so put this notion to rest. I have ridden a Segway and I have seen people ride them and everyone seem to be in as good as shape as I and I run everyday. The problem with the Segway is the perceptions I mentioned and the ban that many cities have on them, unfairly I might add. Give it try I see if you still feel the same.
Posted by mauigino (13 comments )
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Where's it from, you ask?
Toy for the rich - could it be its use for polo or that while it costs as much as a toy bike, it's nowhere near as useful as a car. So it's not going to be good for primary mode of transit for families and can only be used for those who also have another car, making it a luxury item rather than a mode of transit.

What cities have banned these things, other than Frisco? In Chicago, Mayor Daley is doing everything possible to promote these things.

So the rep comes from the fact that the device is useless for commuting in even slightly bad weather, too expensive, hard to tie down, and too slow for the road while too fast for the sidewalk.

I've ridden one, and it was a fun distraction. I've seen them on a parade, but that just reinforces their status as toys.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
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Segway emission-free
I just noticed this error in the story. I don't think Segway's run on your own power like a bicycle, do they? They do have to be recharged by plugging them in, so where do you think the power comes from -- the magic holes in the wall? Just like electric cars, until we are on 100% nuclear power, they are not emission-free.
Posted by Neo Con (428 comments )
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Asked an answered
This is the same lame comment repeated everytime we discuss low emission vehicles. Most people understand that "emission free" refers to the actual emission of the actual vehicle. And as a point of interest creating the nuclear power generator will produce a tremendous of amount of emissions, so, by your logic nothing consuming nuclear power can be emission-free.
Posted by mauigino (13 comments )
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