It’s no secret—hoverboards are a fun and convenient way to travel around town. But with so many versions on the market, how can you be sure you’re buying the one that’s right for you?
Before you drop your cash on a brand new board, you should have a baseline so that you know what a great hoverboard can do.
IO Hawk: The Original Hoverboard
Today we’re talking about the IO Hawk—the original hoverboard that started it all.
This is the hoverboard that started the self-balancing scooter trend. It made its debut in 2015 with a price tag of about $1,700 and soared in popularity due to social media.
The high price tag made it a favorite among celebrities. Wiz Khalifa, Justin Bieber, Jamie Foxx, and Kendall Jenner were a few celebs who posted photos of it on their Instagram and Twitter pages.
And, like all good trends, its celebrity status led to a massive rise in demand for the product.
But what started as an exclusive “toy” became a must-have for trendsetters and those “in-the-know.” Knock-off versions were everywhere, but the cheaper versions made the news for bursting into flames.
As the cheap knockoffs failed, the demand for the original IO Hawk only increased. (Today, those fire safety issues are no longer an issue and most hoverboards bear UL safety certification).
So what is it about this hoverboard that makes it so popular despite its price tag? Well, it’s something of a status symbol. There are great hoverboards on the market at well under $1,000, but the IO Hawk carries the cache that others do not.
IO Hawk Product Specs
This hoverboard isn’t just a status symbol for its name and notable position of having been the first of its kind. It offers some amazing features that set the standard for the industry as a whole.
But some might say that it’s product specs pale in comparison to newer, less expensive versions.
Charge it for three hours to enjoy 10-12 miles of travel on a full charge at a top speed of 6.2 mph. It has a carrying capacity of 265 pounds, and it weighs just 22 pounds, making it rather easy to carry.
It’s powered by a 36V lithium-ion battery and includes stylish LED lights. But, it lacks Bluetooth capability. The colors are standard and stylish—you’ve got your choice of black, white, blue, red, or yellow.
IO Hawk Models
As with any reputable brand, the IO Hawk is now available in a variety of different models. How do those new models stack up against the original? Let’s break it down.
IO Hawk Signature
This version is the more affordable version of the original IO Hawk. It has many of the same features as the original model but includes upgrades to compete with newer, less expensive versions.
This model includes Bluetooth functionality so you can listen to your favorite tunes when you’re on the go. It also has an improved top speed. This model will let you move at about 6.8 mph as opposed to the 6.2 mph top speed of the original model.
Besides the increased top speed, it now also includes pneumatic rubber tires. These new tires provide a smoother, easier ride.
IO Hawk 2.0
Also, like the original model, the IO Hawk 2.0 is the next level up from the IO Hawk Signature. With this model, you’ll enjoy an extended travel distance of 10-13 miles per charge, and an increased top speed of 7.5 mph.
It has a similar weight and carrying capacity to the Signature model, and it includes the same Bluetooth functionality.
This model includes some definite upgrades that are worth noting. An included app allows you to stream music, control your speed, and record your route.
Premium LED lights and red brake lights ensure maximum visibility and provide an increased measure of safety. If you want to spend less time charging and more time riding, this model takes 2.5 hours to charge.
One of the best upgrades to the IO Hawk-Cross is its durable wheels designed to handle all types of terrain. On the Hawk-Cross, you don’t have to stick to paved surfaces, sidewalks, and roadways.
With this model, you’re free to traverse sand, gravel, and grass. It will take you almost anywhere you need to go.
Related: Come explore our full hoverboard comparison to find the perfect model for you.
Pros of the IO Hawk
The IO Hawk is one of the most—if not THE most—recognized hoverboard brand to date. The brand name alone commands its own unique appeal, especially for those who value premium brand names. But aside from its name alone, this hoverboard boasts an array of prominent features.
If you’re looking to cut your carbon footprint, riding a hoverboard is worth considering. Rather than getting in your car every time you need to drive two or three miles to run an errand, jump on your hoverboard. It’s much more eco-friendly than driving everywhere you have to go.
Trying to figure out a way to get where you have to go in the fastest way possible? The average walking speed (depending on the terrain and other environmental factors) is about 3.1 mph.
So if you’d rather walk than drive, but need to reduce the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B, consider a hoverboard.
A typical one-mile walk takes the average person about 20 minutes. But if you were riding a hoverboard, you could cut that down to a mere eight minutes. It’s a perfect option for running errands or getting around quicker on a college or business campus.
Cons of the IO Hawk
There’s one major drawback to the IO Hawk—it’s expensive! Many hoverboards from other brands offer equal (or better) features at a much lower price. For example, you could shell out over $1,000 for the IO Hawk Cross or you could spend closer to $500 for the Swagtron T6 or the Halo Rover.
In comparison to more affordable hoverboard models, this hoverboard has a low max speed. On the IO Hawk 2.0, you can hit a max speed of 7.5 mph. The Swagtron T6 will have you going at 12 mph. The HX Phantom has a max speed of 9.3 mph. The Halo Rover will get you to around 8.8 mph. If speed is your thing, this isn’t the hoverboard for you.
This model has a slower charge time than other, newer models. There are many self-balancing scooters on the market that can charge in about two hours. This hoverboard takes a good three hours to get a full charge.
For the rider who wants to go faster and charge up quicker, the IO Hawk is not at the top of its class.
- Powerful Brand
- Environmentally-Friendly Transportation Option
- Faster Way to Travel
- (Relatively) Low Max Speed
- Slow Charge Times
So Where Can I Buy One?
The short answer is outside the United States.
The parent company of IO Hawk went to court for patent infringement by Shane Chen, the inventor and patent holder of Hovertrax. When Chen saw the familiar looking technology on display at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, he warned the creators that they were infringing on his patent.
Despite Chen’s warning, Chic Intelligent Technology (the maker of IO Hawk) began selling their hoverboards right after the show. Chen followed up with a lawsuit against Chic Intelligent Technology in court.
Chen won his lawsuit against Chic Intelligent Technology. So in short, any company in the US who sells their product is in violation of the court and subject to liability. Chen may have won his lawsuit and prevented IO Hawk sales in the US, but this has made this brand of hoverboard quite popular in Europe.
If you’re looking to buy an IO Hawk in the US, you’ll need to find a private seller. In other words, good luck.
R.I.P., IO Hawk
Despite its powerful brand name and status as the world’s first and most famous hoverboard, the IO Hawk is no longer available for sale in the US.
Yet with the end of that era, we can usher in a new one. One that includes dozens of affordable and functional options for anyone in search of a self-balancing scooter.
The truth is that even if it were still available in the US market, there would be at least three other hoverboards we’d recommend you buy instead:
The Razor Hovertrax 2.0
With a top speed of 8 mph, we love the Razor Hovertrax board for its ease of use, silent-running wheels, and anti-slip footpads. This board is both shatter-resistant and scratch-resistant.
It also offers a beginner mode for new riders as well as a standard mode if you’re more advanced. LED lights make it look super cool, and the two hour charge time means you can enjoy more time riding.
The Swagtron T6
This is the first hoverboard designed that can handle a grown man up to 400 pounds. With a full charge, you can ride 12 miles at up to 12 mph, making it one of the faster self-balancing scooters available.
It includes Bluetooth capability so you can listen to music and take calls while you ride. It also boasts adjustable settings that make it safe and suitable for use on paved surfaces or rough terrain. It’s not the cheapest hoverboard on the market, but at under $500, it’s one of the best.
The Halo Rover
If you want to venture off road, the Halo Rover is the board for you. Durable rubber tires provide incredible traction. It can climb 20-degree angles. It’s water resistant and it can hit a maximum speed of about 8.8 mph.
Also, this model features Bluetooth technology. It comes with a mobile app that you can sync with your phone. It will only set you back about $550. Need we say more?
Explore our full list of the best electric scooters of 2018 to see even more recommendations!
We love what the IO Hawk did for the hoverboard market. It made us realize the possibility of traveling in a new way. It took our classic skateboards to the next level. It got us from point A to point B so much faster.
And it became the must-have “toy” that all the cool kids had. So if you were an early adopter or had enough money to buy one when they first came out, consider yourself lucky. Despite its pitfalls, it will always be a status symbol—if only for the fact that it was the first of its kind.
But the question on the table today is this: if I can’t buy the IO Hawk, which hoverboard should I buy? The answer is simple—do your homework.
Compare specs of the models you’re considering. How fast can it go? How long will it take to charge? Is it Bluetooth capable? How much weight can it withstand? How heavy is it to carry around?
Before you buy a hoverboard, think about where you’re going to ride it and what you’re going to use it for. If you’re determined to go off-road, you’ll need a hoverboard that can handle all types of terrain. If you’re going to use it all the time, you’ll need one that doesn’t take too long to charge.
Once you know what you need, decide how much you want to spend. With so many great options available on the market, there’s no need to go into debt to buy the perfect hoverboard. Chances are, a faster, better, and more affordable model will come along next year.
So farewell IO Hawk… it was (both figuratively and literally) a good ride.