Lit Motors C1 prototype with driver, standing upright on two wheels

Nothing makes us green geeks giddy like the emergence of a vehicle with revolutionary potential. The C1 from Lit Motors is one such mode of transport. Looking at the original mock-up, we can easily imagine a future with streets full of these enclosed motorcycles, some autonomous and networked, efficiently taking their owners from A to B in a tidy, space-saving fashion.

That dream is still a ways off, but the San Francisco-based company behind this brilliant idea has just taken its first giant step forward with the completion of a proof-of-concept prototype. Though it resembles something sent back in time from a future slightly more dystopian than the one we were musing about earlier, the raw metal shell contains the basic bits that fulfill the promise of a self-balancing two-wheeler: it drives forward – and in reverse – and doesn't fall over.

True, it can only safely be driven up to ten miles per hour and, for now, just the rear wheel contains a motor (from EnerTrac). Also, the flywheels used in this version put out 266 pound feet of torque instead of the 1,300 lb-ft that the final specifications call for, so the vehicle gently sways when stopped. Still, considering that the Lit team accomplished this on a $200,000 budget, we can't help but be enthusiastic about the vehicle and look forward eagerly to the next, more functional, iteration.

While we go to the fridge for another glass of kool-aid, scroll down for video from Wired going over the machine and taking it for a bit of a test drive. Scroll a bit further and you'll also find footage of Lit's founder Daniel Kim tentatively trying it out himself.
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