Foot Pad Sensor Warnings on Onewheels


When trail riding Onewheels, you may often come across the footpad sensor warning “You have been off one of the two footpad zones for more than 10 sec. while riding…”. This message is telling you that one of two footpad sensors were not engaged as you were riding. Should you be concerned?

To better understand the warning, you need to understand how the motor engages on a Onewheel. For the motor to engage, both sides of the front foot pad sensor need to be activated (weight distributed to both sides) and you can level-out the board and ride. Note: The rear foot does not have any sensor.

After you achieve a speed over 1 mph, you can keep the motor engaged with only having one sensor engaged. If you go below 1 mph, the motor will stop (board thinks you are doing a heel lift stop). If you are going above 1 mph however you are totally relying on that one side to keep the motor engaged. If you lose contact with that side for a second, the motor will cut out. If it senses weight again, it will re-engage.

sensor diagram

Can a Onewheel motor cut out as you’re riding?

The Onewheel motor is intended to continually operate when at least one sensor is engaged. Can it cut out on you as you ride? Ideally, it should never cut out while you are riding over 1mph and at least 1 sensor has weight on it. Gravity is going to keep your weight on the board so there is always some weight on the foot pads.

If you are bonking off rocks, sticks or roots, there are going to be moments of weightlessness where the motor is actually shutting off but re-engages as you land.

If you are getting a Foot pad sensor warning like the one in this image, the one wheel is telling you that the motor engagement is relying on just one side (which is fine).

I won’t say your at no risk of having the motor stop however this message does come up often for trail riders. It shouldn’t be ignored because it is a warning Future Motion added and for good reason. The reason you are getting this alert is simply that you’re losing contact with one side of the sensor.

Lightbar Sensor Indicator

Onewheel GT lightbar

Equipped on the Onewheel GT, Pint and Pint X is a lightbar indicator that will give you error code info, battery life as well as sensor engagement. This will light up blue on the respective half of the sensor that is engaged. When the motor is engaged, it will light be lit up on both sides of the sensor.

If you are having issues, at a standstill it may be worth doing a cursory inspection of the engagement. If you are still experiencing issues, you can alter the foot pads by placing furniture pads on them to help make solid contact.

On the XR or even on the GT and Pints, you can also see sensor engagement within the app. Its the icon with the foot. The lightbar does make it easier to visually see if you are totally engaged. Obviously though, if you engage the motor, it will turn on.

How am I losing contact with one side of the sensor as I ride my Onewheel?

There can be a few reasons you are getting the foot pad sensor warning when you are riding. 90% of the time it has to do with your shoes or sneakers. For a while, I would ride my Onewheel while wearing trail running sneakers because I enjoy sometimes walking around in the woods on my trail ride. I would get the sensor warning all the time. Over 1000 miles in trail rides, I never had the motor cut out.

That is totally anecdotal but several riders will similarly tell you that the warning is no big deal. Since then I have taken riding a little more seriously and started used a flat sole shoe. I actually became obsessed with the Vans ComfyCush and Hi-Sk8. I cover why these are the best shoes for Onewheel riding and its really about the soles and the support.

vans hi sk8 for onewheel shoes

To avoid the warning, you need to have a flat sole. It doesn’t have to be Vans. I just like the gum rubber sole on them as it really sticks well to the grip tape. Yes, several shoes use gum rubber. The Vans Hi-Sk8 however provide good ankle coverage. In case I do fall, I want my ankles protected.

They’re not like Vans ComfyCush in that the insoles have more cushion. I initially bought ComfyCush to combat foot fatique. While the Hi-Sk8’s aren’t as cushiony, tossing in a pair of gel inserts does the trick!

So the first thing is check your shoe contact with the sensor. If you are riding with a curved sole, this is hands down the reason you continually get the message on your phone or watch while riding. The alternative is that your positioning of your front foot is too close to the edge or your putting all of your weight on one side of your foot (heel or toe).

Avoid lifting your heels while riding

Avoid, placing your weight just on the heel or toe. There are going to be moments when this is unavoidable like when we are turning the body weight will shift, but you want to really try to keep the front foot flat on the board. Avoid lifting the heel. The sole of the foot really should always be flat on the board.

If the sensor warning come up often and you are wearing flat sole sneakers, then likely you are riding with your heel up or off the pad. Be aware of the front foot and securely place it on the sensor.

How can I stop the motor from shutting of in mid-air?

While you are in the air, as a Onewheel rider, we always try to keep our feet positioned on the grip tape in preparation for landing. That weightlessness however is not enough to keep the sensor engaged so the motor will shut off which is common. The only way to avoid this is to purchase SureStart Pro.

Surestart pro

Surestart Pro is actually intended to help with engaging the motor without doing any posi-sensor hacks. On the SureStart Pro model however, you can program your onewheel so that it will stay engaged or a set timeframe after engagement.

This feature is called AirSense. This keeps the sensor engaged during drops or jumps so the board can’t shut off in mid-air. Reverts to standard posi mode upon landing. AirSense monitors speed and keeps posi mode engaged when going faster than 5 mph. This will help by having more reliable landing and less wear on the motor.

If I have a posi-sensor will I get the footpad sensor warning?

Creating a posi-sensor from the standard foot pad merges both zones into one. If you are riding an aftermarket sensor like the Platysense, you are also going to be riding on one sensor. You will not get this footpad sensor warning because the Onewheel is modified so that both sensors act as if they are engaged. Are you in more risk of the motor cutting out because it is all one sensor? As long as there is weight on the sensor, it will stay engaged. You will still have the same cut-outs when you are weightless (mid-air) however you will not get the sensor warnings and it should stay engaged for the duration of the ride.

Conclusion

You are going to get warnings riding on trails with Onewheels. Especially if you have an Apple watch on, the notices will keep coming to your wrist and phone as you bonk over objects. It will either be the ‘Tire Slip Detected’ warning or this ‘Foot Pad Sensor’ warning. For the Footpad warnings, you really need to look at your sneakers or shoes. If the soles are flat, then really focus on delivering your weight across a well planted foot. Do not lift the heels, just shift the weight where need be around as you ride.

If you modify grip tape, you need to read and follow the installation instructions carefully. Grip tape installs play a huge role in how your sensor behaves. There are ways to make a sensor more and less sensitive. Either way you go with it, just be mindful that if you are experiencing problems, it could be due to this modification.

Trail Rider

Onewheel Enthusiasts that hopped on a Onewheel and never looked back. When many places were closed down in 2020 (the times we want to forget), I got immersed into the Onewheel 'cult'-ure.

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