For Segway, the stakes are high, and the bet is characteristically quixotic. The HT hasn't (yet?) caught fire, so why
introduce another product whose appeal is sealed only through experience and whose natural market would seem to be
nichier even than that of the niche HT--ideal for a theoretical subset of ATV enthusiasts and industrial workers looking for a clean, quiet, extremely maneuverable machine? "Real breakthroughs never occur from market pull or business briefings," Field says, preaching the Segway gospel. "Real breakthroughs almost always come from technical exploration and people trying to solve problems before they even know why they might want to solve them. Our goal is to give the business as many ideas as possible. We kiss a lot of frogs, but this one happens to be a prince, and that's why it's out seeing the light of day."After listening to a five-minute here's-how-to-not-kill-yourself tutorial, I strap on the helmet, throw a leg over the machine, and plant my feet on the pegs. I squeeze the throttle and take off. I'm hauling. I shift my weight back and gas it up the Slip 'N' Slide hill. Suddenly, at the crest,
I find myself balancing on my back wheels. I swear the machine read my mind. I lean in, and the Centaur glides
forward. I lean back, and it drifts in reverse. I turn the handlebar, and although the front wheels it controls are dangling three feet above the ground, the Centaur pirouettes on its axis. I release the throttle, and the front wheels fall to the ground, automatically aligning themselves on their way down. I can't see, hear, or smell the technology, yet it's unmistakably there.