The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Buying a Hoverboard
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Hoverboards are Good
- 2 What Hoverboard to Buy
- 3 Are Hoverboards Safe?
- 4 Where to Buy A Hoverboard
- 5 Best Hoverboards on the Market Today
- 6 Alternative Rideables
- 7 Future Trends and Real Hoverboard Technologies
- 8 Final Thoughts
If you’re here for a REAL hoverboard, I am sorry to burst your bubble, but those don’t exist yet. However, in the meantime, there are some pretty legit options available today. Click here to browse future hoverboard technologies.
These gyroscopic magic machines are more popular than ever!
In fact, the market for these “hoverboards” is projected to surpass $1.8 billion by 2021.
However, back in 2015, when the “hoverboard” first hit stores, it wasn’t the perfect product everyone thought it was. There were reports of multiple occasions where these products exploded in people’s homes. Consumers started to question the quality of their production and were hesitant to invest in such a “dangerous” toy.
In the spring of 2016, Amazon pulled all hoverboard products from their website and refused to stock them. By the summer, manufacturers finally got their act together and started to produce reliable and safe UL-certified models.
Now in 2017, these spunky self-balancing scooters are back in full force; with bigger wheels, faster motors, Bluetooth capabilities, and much much more!
And in this guide, I’m going to show you everything you need to know when purchasing a hoverboard.
Why Hoverboards are Good
Perfect for all ages
Hoverboards are not just for kids to wheel around on. Anyone can enjoy the wonderful ability to never have to walk again. And the learning curve is relatively short. They are not hard to master. Take about 10 minutes to practice balancing on the board and you’ll be zipping around the house in no time. Practice leaning forward and backwards while using your ankles!
Given their low speeds and not so forgiving maneuverability this may be a stretch. But don’t get me wrong, self-balancing scooters can definitely be used as a more efficient way to get around than walking. However, curbs are going to be an issue. Make sure you have a straight shot to your destination and you can get there way faster than if you were walking. One thing to keep in mind is whether or not the hoverboard is going to be legal where you want to ride it.
The low weight of these 2 wheeled scooters makes it easy for carrying around. Usually, the designs are sleek and not bulky. You do not have to worry about your it taking up a lot of space. Depending on the style of the frame, materials used, and any additional features, a hoverboard typically weighs between 18 and 30 pounds.
Green energy! Hoverboards have zero emissions. They run on batteries, so all you need to do is charge the beast. Usually, charging takes about an hour (though some models may take up to 3 hours), and a single charge will last for quite some time. Battery life is also dependent on the speed you go, the terrain, the weight of the rider, and whether or not you used a third-party charger. Be sure to never overcharge the battery or keep it plugged in overnight.
Unlike doing tune-ups on your bicycle or car, hoverboards do not require any maintenance but the occasional battery check and checking on tire wear and tear. Everything else is more or less taken care of.
What Hoverboard to Buy
Hoverboards haven’t changed too much over the years. The basic concept is still the same. However, there are literally dozens of different models, shapes, and sizes. Not to mention hundreds of different companies. But Curtis, how can there be hundreds of companies and only dozens of different models? I’ll explain that a little later. Before I get into that, I want to go over some common features to look for when researching what hoverboard to get.
The Bluetooth capabilities vary by the board. Most common features include playing music, connecting to an app, and using GPS to track your distance. Be sure to check the specs, as some boards don’t come with Bluetooth. And the ones that do may only have one of the features listed.
You want to make sure that you opt for a hoverboard that has a decent amount of “armor.” Protecting the battery is crucial to keep your hoverboard in good shape for the long haul. The other thing you want to consider is the waterproof warning. Some boards are not waterproof or even resilient to dust, meaning that these things can enter the battery case and cause electronic issues. The last consideration is wear and tear. Let me tell you, these things WILL get scratched up, it’s inevitable. The newer models include scratch guards over the wheels.
UL- Certification is a must, must, must! I cannot stress this enough. The reason the old self balancing scooters kept blowing up was because of their batteries. They were not tested and approved by UL. The models with UL-certified batteries will proudly display this sticker on the bottom of the product. Make sure to look for this sticker or you could end up with a faulty board.
The question of where to ride your hoverboard, shouldn’t be taken lightly. The difference in how your board handles one environment from the next can be drastic. You would think they could go just about anywhere, right? However, not all boards are created equal. Depending on wheel size, the width of the board, and torque of the motor(s) will determine whether or not you are about to conquer some groundwork. Also, consider the incline of where you’re going.
Some hoverboards come with fancy technology, like sensors that slow the hoverboard down instead of just abruptly stopping when the battery runs dry. Another technological feature is “no fall technology.” This means that the hoverboard will stay upright and balanced at all times.
The size, wattage, and use of additional features can all affect the battery life. Search for a hoverboard that has a balance of decent wattage, average charge time, and a satisfactory battery life. Nothing is more of a drag than being halfway to your destination and having your hoverboard lose power.
Self-balancing scooters usually come with head and rear LED lights so you can ride around at night. The distance that light is thrown, however, is different between models and brands.
In terms of weight restrictions, many hoverboards can hold up to 250 pounds (113 kilograms). A couple of brands out there can even go up to 264 pounds (119 kilograms). Do keep in mind that the more weight a hoverboard has to bear, the slower it will be, and the more taxing it is for the battery.
Does the hoverboard come backed by a warranty? Do you know whether or not the company is reliable and has good customer service? This is where a lot of your research comes in handy, as well as reading reviews about the hoverboard. It is recommended that you don’t simply count on Amazon or other retailers for testimonials. Go to the exact company website to learn more.
Some hoverboards come in a single color. Others have a rainbow of options. For those who would rather stand out more rather than blend into the pedestrian crowd, there are a couple of brands or styles that will suit your tastes better than others.
Going Off Road
There are two kinds of hoverboards on the market currently: street and off-road models. In the usual scenario, a hoverboard’s 6.5-inch wheels and a lack of handlebars mean that going off flat surfaces or carpeting could be problematic. Riding over rough terrains, like gravel, will unbalance the two-wheeled scooter. Even ledges, certain road gradients, and curbing will give hoverboards trouble, too. That is why you need an off-road hoverboard if you plan to tackle some terrain. Off-road hoverboards usually have tires that are 8.5 inches or larger.
Are Hoverboards Safe?
All those features above are awesome, but they don’t touch on safety. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, when these products first came out, they weren’t the most reliable. The Consumer Product Safety Commission of the United States sent out a report that showed hoverboard-related fires between December 2015 and February 2016 were responsible for over $2 million in nationwide property damage. College campuses were quick to outlaw self-balancing scooters, and in the United Kingdom, using them in a public space was ruled illegal.
The issue stemmed from the gigantic lithium-ion batteries. Since these types of batteries become volatile when damaged in any way, you have to make sure you are getting high-quality batteries. However, that was not the case with early hoverboard batteries. Because self-balancing scooters were in such demand, manufacturers decided to use cheap, sub-standard batteries in their hoverboards.
As thousands of fires ensued, the U.S. government imposed a new safety regulation called UL2272. This regulation means that every hoverboard design has to undergo tests related to electrical and flame retardancy. However, the UL regulations do not evaluate the reliability or rider safety of the product.
To receive a UL2722 safety certification a hoverboard must pass the following tests:
- Over discharge
- Temperature – tests failure temperature
- 20mm End Product Flame – tests flame resistance
- Thermal cycling
- Short circuit
- Imbalanced charging
- Dielectric Voltage
- Isolation Resistance – tests isolation transformation
- Mold Stress
- Water Exposure
- Strain Relief
- Motor Overload and Locking
- Comparison to other leading brands
Confidence in stocking hoverboards gradually returned to the market. In the summer of 2016, Best Buy and Amazon announced that they would be restocking their shelves with hoverboards that will not blow up or meltdown.
Knowing that you are going to be getting a product that is guaranteed safe is crucial, especially if children are going to be using it. Be sure to wear knee and elbow pads and a helmet in case of falls or other accidents.
Read more about hoverboard safety here.
Where to Buy A Hoverboard
You’ve done your research, you’ve looked at the features, and you got a pretty good idea of which hoverboard you want to buy. Now, where do you get one of these things!?
Listed below are our favorite vendors:
Streetsaw is a USA local retailer that has been in the business since 2015. They carry street and off-road hoverboards, hoverboard parts, accessories, and even will repair your board if it gets busted up. We have personally worked with these guys and they are one of the best.
"Seeing an opportunity to serve the market with the best hoverboards, founder Daniel Moravec made it his full time job to seek out the highest quality parts and make them available for people to buy hoverboards online. StreetSaw now sells over 50 varieties of hoverboards, and carries customized hoverboard accessories as well. You can follow us on any of our social media accounts to keep up to date on what we're doing."
Halo Board doesn't have as many products as Streetsaw, but they are making a name for themselves with new innovative products, crazy cool designs, and a focus on customer service. Another USA retailer, these guys are located in beautiful California. Halo Board is most famous for their "Worry-Free Guarantee". As more people become concerned about the safety hazards of using hoverboards, this brings a peace of mind to consumers.
Genesis is starting to gain a lot of traction with their Gemini Hoverboard. They also sell electric skateboards, electric bikes, and even dabble in electric scooters. They orginally started in New York, but have since expanded their offices across the country.
HX is a relatively new brand, but make no mistake, these guys are here to stay. And they only have two hoverboard products! But they are both amazing. They have several warehouses in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States (Dover, DE), and in Germany.
Again these are OUR favorite vendors. Popular vendors not listed are Swagtron, Razor, Jetson, and EPIKGO. Although these are good options you can usually pick up any of their products from Amazon or your local sporting goods store.
Best Hoverboards on the Market Today
Here we have some hoverboard reviews to make the buying process even easier!
For the price, the value on this thing is insane! This is a very affordable hoverboard loaded with features. Not to mention it looks cool as hell too. This Gemini hoverboard is where the futures comes into the present. “The electrical systems and battery components of the Genesis Gemini have been certified as safe by UL, the global independent safety science company with more than a century of expertise innovating safety solutions and dedicated to promoting safe living and working environments.”
The independent gyros also are extremely responsive to your movements so that you achieve precise control over the hoverboard. Narrow corners are no problem with this beast. The Gemini also comes with a mobile app that allows you to change settings, track your trips, battery life, speed and more!
This hoverboard brand has been mentioned by some influential names, like The New York Times, Cnet, and Mashable. Halo Board is one of the best-known names in the hoverboard business as of 2017. The Halo GO is a testament to how far hoverboards have come…and how far they can truly go. This board is a combination of great features and superb technology that makes riding feel almost intuitive.
The Halo go is incredible. The tire treads will never lose traction, and the hoverboard also has stability, durability, and a great weight capacity. The board weighs just under 40 pounds, providing it with tremendous stability and a smooth ride so you barely notice the bumps in the road or transitioning from pavement to grass.
Though the design is slightly heavier than some more simplistic styles on the market, you get a decent range out of the battery. What is special about the battery is the FireSafe technology. Alongside the UL 2272 certification, you are assured that the HALO ROVER is one of the safest hoverboards available right now.
The price might seem a bit out of bounds, but you get everything you need to start riding immediately. A charger and carrying case is included in the package.
If you are looking for a cheap hoverboard that has the majority of features listed above, this is it. Razor (the very same), who was famous for the scooter that everyone and their mom rode, is back with a new electronically powered self-balancing scooter. The Razor Hovertrax 2.0 is the Hovertrax’s bigger badder brother.
The Hovertrax 2.0 is also capable of supporting up to 220 pounds. Though this hoverboard is not necessarily bringing anything splendid and outlandish to the table, it sure is reliable and durable. If you want a model with slightly more features, then check out the Hovertrax DLX 2.0, which includes some cool new paint colors and multi-color LED light strips. It’s a bit more money but may be worth the splurge.
Another top competitor in the market is the T6 Off–Road Hoverboard by Swagtron. This heavy duty hoverboard is the ultimate choice for those who want the all-terrain experience of being able to roll over bumps, go up inclines with a 30-degree gradient, or even travel over gravel. The Swagtron T6 also comes in some snazzy colors, like desert camouflage.
The only drawback to this board is the actual weight (32 pounds). If this dies on you, it will not be a fun time carrying this back to the house. However, Swagtron continues to push the envelope with their hoverboards by providing an easy to control and durable self-balancing scooter. If you want a trustworthy hoverboard manufacturer, Swagtron is usually a good bet. This is our favorite Amazon hoverboard.
This is the OG of hoverboards. This old soul deserves a spot in any “best of” list for hoverboards. The DailySaw by StreetSaw looks like a generic, run-of-the-mill self-balancing scooter (minus the fancy paint details). However, this hoverboard is quite capable of blowing you away.
So what’s the coolest feature about the DailySaw? That it uses the same brushless motor technology that Tesla Motors uses in their cars. Aside from the fancy motor, the fact that it casts light up to 6.5 feet in front of you while you are onboard is phenomenal, because this bolsters safety for not only the pedestrians, drivers, and other people around you, but you can see so much farther at night.
The only reason why someone may not choose the Street Saw hoverboard is the lack of Bluetooth integration and inability to go off-roading with it. Though there are off-road and slightly more feature-loaded models available (like the AlienSaw Bluetooth hoverboard) on the Street Saw website, the DailySaw is a fine choice for someone looking for a very reasonably priced hoverboard that they can depend on to get them around.
Check out our review on their off-road model, the RockSaw
The HX Phantom is revolutionizing what you thought self-balancing scooters should be. Precision crafted and engineered to deliver both quality and entertainment, the Phantom is as appealing to look at as it is to ride. People of all ages love this self-balancing scooter for a number of reasons. Anyone, regardless of whether they have experience or none, can hop on an HX Phantom and start riding like a pro within mere minutes.
Overall, the design is really appealing. The hoverboard looks futuristic and aerodynamic. The platform and base are also quite large, meaning you will feel well in control of the board as you ride. The Phantom Hoverboard is a sound investment when making the purchase for both young children and adults seeking a new form of urban transportation.
Check out our full review of the HX Phantom
Sure, two-wheeled hoverboards are cool and all, but what if you want an alternative? Now that the self-balancing scooter is here to stay companies are always seeking to improve or innovate. Here are some of the most popular alternatives to the hoverboards previously mentioned in this article:
Brought to you by Future Motion Inc., a Santa Cruz, California based group that was founded in 2013. Future Motion Inc. successfully launched their first Onewheel on Kickstarter in January 2014, right about the time when the traditional hoverboard was beginning to turn heads. The difference between the self-balancing scooter and the Onewheel is that this board features a single, centered wheel to look and feel much like a street snowboard.
If you are in San Francisco, you can actually test drive a Onewheel. But if you’re not, that does not mean you cannot get your hands on one of these slick electronic boards.
The Onewheel comes in two designs: the standard and the plus model. For now, let’s take a look at the basic Onewheel because Onewheel+ is not available yet. Shipping begins in June 2017.
- Intuitive Controls – all you have to do is lean forward to go faster and backwards to slow down, much like a snowboard.
- Brushless Hub Motor – the Onewheel receives enough torque from a transverse flux motor to climb over various terrain with ease. The board even glides over sand, grass, and over slopes with ease.
- Top Speed – for those who love speed, the Onewheel moves at 15mph/24kph. Thanks to the powerful motor, speed won’t hesitate when ascending or descending a slope either.
- Go the Distance – One a single charge, you can travel for approximately 6-7 miles (10-11 kilometers).
- 20 Minute Recharge – the Ultracharger that comes with the Onewheel refills the battery in 20 minutes.
- LED Lights – there are both head and taillights on the Onewheel, but what was cool about them is that they will switch direction whenever you do.
You may find trying to balance on a single wheel a bit intimidating, but the technology behind the Onewheel is amazing. Once you get moving, stabilization becomes second nature. You can also use the mobile phone app that allows you adjust the ride of the Onewheel with the “Digital Shaping” tool.
Definitely worth checking out.
For those who like being the center of attention! Introducing the self-balancing electronic unicycle by eWheels. The company does not solely specialize in electronic unicycles but also in scooters and bikes. All of the products that they sell come backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor, including the battery. On the eWheels website is a large selection of electronic unicycles divided up as entry, mid-range, and advanced.
Though the electronic unicycle operates much like a self-balancing scooter, the price of this technology is slightly higher than that of a hoverboard.
Presently, the available unicycles include the following models:
- Inmotion V8
- Inmotion V5+
- Inmotion V5F/+
The Inmotion V5/F/+ is rated as one of the best electronic unicycles of 2017. Depending on the model that you choose from, the unicycle weighs 26.5 pounds (12 kilograms), comes with head and taillights, and has a speed range of 11.2-15.5mph/18.0-25.0kph.
The eWheels are not entirely hands-free. You can use a convenient mobile app to get information about the current speed, remaining battery life, and mileage via a Bluetooth connection. The standard charging times for the Inmotion V5/F/+ is anywhere from 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the charger that you choose to purchase.
LEIFTECH is the proud creator of the world’s only eSnowboard. LEIF Technologies is based in Brooklyn, New York, so their boards have been developed to weave in and out of the some of America’s most congested streets. Out of all the hoverboard alternatives, the LEIF eSnowboard is designed purely for those who love adrenaline and speed.
Based on LEIFTECH’s SR 360 Technology, the board features an “omnidirectional” setup that gives you the freedom to move the eSnowboard through a full 360-degrees of motion. The dual 1,295-watt brushless motors keep the board moving at a top speed of 23 mph, even when going up an incline. Like a regular snowboard, the LEIF has adjustable foot bindings that allow for different sized shoes to easily and securely fit.
The ability to quickly change battery packs is another advantage of the LEIF eSnowboard. You never have to worry about running out of juice and needing to walk the rest of the way to your destination.
The LEIF features a unique design that makes it durable and resistant to water damage. On the deck, you can quickly glance down to see the battery level indicator and whether or not Bluetooth connectivity has been switched on. The on-board computer also actively monitors traction to ensure tight curves and smooth transitions.
Brought to you by Shenzhen Counterbalance Technology Co. and F–Wheel Industrial Co. in Hong Kong, the iCarbot is an interesting concept that is of minimalistic design and unmatched stability. Unlike other popular hoverboards and hoverboard alternatives, the iCarbot only weighs 12 pounds (5.5 kg), is thin, yet made of magnesium alloy that guarantees durability.
The app that comes with the F-Wheel iCarbot is great for those who want a social networking platform and mobile control. Additionally, the innovative design on the footpads means that you have to do less when standing on it. A relatively small shift of weight is enough to get the iCarbot moving. Basically, if you like those videos of cats perched on Roombas, you are going to like the iCarbot.
- Weight capacity of 264 pounds (120 kilograms)
- Maximum speed of 7.4mph/12kph
- Maximum distance on a single charge is 9.3 miles or 15 kilometers
- Has a waterproof rating of IP54
- Comes in either black or white
- Has a 2.5 hour charging time
- Has 4-wheels instead of 2 or 1, making it one of the most balanced hoverboard alternatives available on the market.
Finally! A hands-free electric skateboard that actually feels and looks like a skateboard! Built and tested in California, the Zboard has undergone a long process to make sure that it stands up to the test of time and travel. The Zboard is relatively new to the scene of electronic transport, but these unique skateboards are already garnering a following.
It is easy to understand why when ZBOARD has these kinds of specs:
- Two models – choose between the cheaper Zboard 2 Blue or the Zboard 2 Pearl
- A traveling range of 16-24 miles (25.7-38.6 kilometers)
- A top speed of 20mph (32kph)
- Weight of 17-19 pounds
- Wide, soft urethane tires for smooth ride. You will be able to ride over cracks and rocks with ease.
- Dual integrated handles that let you pick up and carry the board once you arrive at your destination.
- Hands-free control – the footpads make the Zboard feel more like a skateboard and less like a machine. No one likes wireless interference, anyway.
- Intuitive learning process – instead of relying on the hand remote to accelerate, you need a couple of hours or days to learn how leaning forward and back controls the board while maintaining a center of gravity, which is just like a normal skateboard!
Future Trends and Real Hoverboard Technologies
With the two-wheeled, self-balancing hoverboards now coming into the spotlight as a veritable means of transportation, what does the future have in store for us? Surely, many hoverboard riders would love to one day be able to float around on their hoverboard like Marty McFly from Back to the Future. Right now, 2-wheeled hoverboards may not be as cumbersome as commuter bikes or as big as some skateboards, but you cannot actually do any really tricks with them.
In 2016, there was a story covered by CNN about the CEO of Omni Hoverboards, Philippe Maalouf, who is trying to create a hoverboard that actually flies. The Omni actually won the Guinness World Record for flying a distance of 905 feet before it fell from the sky. Still, it is going to take some time before a flying hoverboard like the Omni is going to hit mainstream retail. Even then, an Omni hoverboard that flies may cost a whopping US$25,000 to US$50,000.
Another company that has taken a slightly different approach to their flying hoverboard is the aerospace firm known as Arca. The ArcaBoard is a 57 inch long, 6 inch thick rectangle that uses 36 high power, electric ducted fans to levitate above the surface of the ground. The board is controlled by a phone app. Though it moves slowly, around 12 mph, that is still faster than most self-balancing scooters out there. Unfortunately, the present model of the ArcaBoard will not get you very far. It only flies for about six minutes and needs around six hours to recharge. It runs at around US$14,900 for the standard model.
One of the greatest successes, though, in getting a hoverboard to actually hover belongs to Arx Pax, the parent company of Hendo Hover. As of May 2013, Greg Henderson, the mastermind behind the Hendo Hoverboard project, had created a prototype hoverboard that could lift its own 60 pounds of weight via Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA™). By June 2013, a sleeker prototype Hendo Hover actually carried a person.
The Hendo 1.0 Hoverboard was revealed in 2014. To demonstrate the power of Arx Pax’s MFA technology, hundreds of people were allowed to ride the board, including the pro skateboarder Tony Hawk. Presently, there is a new model undergoing polishing and production. Though there is no talk of when it will be releasing, the Hendo Hoverboard is the first actual hoverboard to do what one thinks of when you hear the word “hoverboard.”
Looking at all three of these companies and their efforts, it is obvious that a future where you can ride a hoverboard and potentially do tricks, float above water, or fly through the air like a superhero, is near. Once hoverboards that actually fly for a prolonged period of time are available, then the next thing to probably get upgraded will be bicycles and cars. After all, if the Arx Pax MFA™ technology can lift over 100 pounds, and if the Omni Hoverboard can zoom forward for over 900 feet, then it is only a matter of time.
Kids and adults of all ages can enjoy these fun products. People love them for their portability, ease of use, and fun features. Riding around the neighborhood or increasing the speed of the office while going about the day is a tremendous advantage to people walking around. Since hoverboards are now safer than ever, there is no better time to invest in one of these urbanized modes of transport. Just keep in mind the features you want as well as your budget. Or you can keep saving up for the future when the real flying hoverboards hit the market!
Be sure to check out our homepage for all of your personal rideables!