Hoverboards have become a popular mode of transportation for people of all ages. Whether looking for a fun way to get around or a unique gift for a loved one, buying a hoverboard can be an exciting experience. However, with so many models and brands on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to find and choose the right hoverboard to meet your needs and budget.
This comprehensive guide will provide you with everything you need to know to find and purchase a safe, high-quality hoverboard. With the right information guiding your search, you’ll quickly become an expert on hoverboard technology and features.
Table of Contents
What Exactly Are Hoverboards and How Do They Work?
Before jumping into the hoverboard buying process, it helps to understand what exactly these futuristic-looking gadgets are and how their technology allows them to operate.
Hoverboards are best described as self-balancing electric scooters. They typically consist of two side-by-side wheels beneath a central platform that the rider stands upon. But unlike regular scooters, hoverboards do not have a steering column.
So how do they move? Hoverboards rely on advanced gyroscope and accelerometer technology to detect even the slightest shifts in weight and movement from the rider.
You don’t control it with your hands. Instead, just step on the platform, lean slightly forward or backward to get going, twist your feet to turn, and keep shifting your weight and balance in the direction you want to travel.
It almost feels like magic the first time you try a hoverboard! The internal gyroscopes and accelerometers are so sensitive that they can pick up these subtle weight distribution and leaning cues from the rider and detect which way you want to go.
The sensors send signals to the small electric motors located inside the wheels, which then propel the hoverboard forward or backward to match the direction you are leaning.
Different Types of Hoverboards and Key Features Compared
Now that you understand the cool tech inside, let’s break down the options between the main types and features of hoverboards currently on the market:
1. Self-Balancing vs. Self-Propelled
The standard hoverboard uses gyroscopes and accelerometers to stay upright beneath you as you ride, sensing your movements to steer. These self-balancing models are suitable for flat, paved surfaces. They rely on your shifts in weight to determine movement.
Self-propelled hoverboards provide propulsion from the electric motor(s) in addition to the self-balancing technology. This makes them easier for some riders, but they may reach higher speeds that can be harder for beginners to control.
2. Wheel Size
Smaller 6-8-inch wheels are best suited for flat, indoor surfaces only. They can struggle and lack stability if you take them outside onto rougher pavement or terrain. Larger 8-10-inch wheels are able to handle minor bumps, cracks, and dips better if you plan to go outdoors.
3. Motor Power
Standard hoverboard motors are around 250-500 watts. This provides decent power for flat cruising at average speeds. More powerful 700-800+ watt motors can handle steeper inclines and hills with faster acceleration. Look for at least 500 watts if riding outdoors.
4. Standard, Off-Road and All-Terrain
Standard hoverboards are designed for indoor use or outdoor paved paths and sidewalks only. Their smaller wheels and lack of tread mean they can’t handle uneven terrain.
Off-road and all-terrain hoverboards are built with larger, knobby rubber tires and a sturdier frame to absorb bumps and keep stable on grass, gravel, and uneven ground. These are a good choice if using your hoverboard in parks, campuses, or rougher environments.
5. Weight and Size Considerations
Standard hoverboards can weigh from about 15 – 22 lbs. Heavy-duty models built for bigger riders and off-road use may weigh 30 lbs and up. Lighter boards around 15-18 lbs are ideal for younger riders. Compare weight limits as well, as standard models often support 220 lbs max.
Size-wise, 6.5 to 10-inch wheel hoverboards suit riders over 5 feet tall, while 3.5-6.5 inch “mini” models work for kids. Consider wheelbase too, as longer boards provide more stability. Measure foot size and stance width to ensure a proper fit.
6. Additional Features
Many new hoverboards come with bonus features beyond just the standard wheels and self-balancing function:
- Bluetooth speakers – For listening to music while you ride
- Colorful LED lights – Customizable lighting effects on wheels, sides, etc.
- Mobile apps – Connect and control your hoverboard via smartphone
- Carrying bags – Makes transporting easier
- Handlebars – For assisting balance
- Off-road tires – Allow riding on all kinds of terrain
Safety Certifications and Considerations When Buying
Before choosing any hoverboard model, there are some very important safety tests and features you should look for to ensure you’ll be riding safely. Do not take shortcuts here – a hazardous hoverboard can literally burst into flames underneath you. Only consider boards that meet the following criteria:
1. UL 2272 Safety Certification
Any hoverboard you purchase must have UL 2272 certification from Underwriters Laboratories. This means it has passed a comprehensive suite of tests for electrical safety and fire hazards including:
- Battery stress test
- Charger analysis
- Overspeed stop test
- Wheel detachment test
- And more
Boards without UL 2272 testing should be avoided altogether, even if cheaper. Battery and electrical issues have led to serious injuries and fatal hoverboard fires. Look for the certification mark on any product you consider.
2. Battery and Charger Safety
Only use a hoverboard with a reputable lithium-ion battery from a top supplier like LG or Samsung. Batteries should be tested to comply with UN38.3 standards that govern the stability and safe transport of lithium-ion batteries.
The included charging brick and cables must also be certified. Use caution when charging and never leave a hoverboard plugged in unattended. Only use the original charger that came with your unit.
3. Weight Limits
Pay close attention to the listed weight capacity of any hoverboard you’re considering, as exceeding it can damage motors or make it unstable. The rider limit is typically around 220 pounds for standard self-balancing models. Bulkier off-road units may handle 250-300+ pounds.
4. Learn Basic Skills First
Until you get comfortable riding a hoverboard, start slowly in large open areas like driveways and empty parking lots. Avoid traffic, crowds, tight spaces, steep slopes, and rough or uneven ground while still learning. Get protection like wrist guards and a helmet before progressing to faster riding.
5. Wheeled Hoverboards vs Hover Shoes
Standard hoverboards with wheels offer the most stability and control for beginners. Hover shoes are essentially mini hoverboards built right into shoe platforms. They can be a bit trickier to maneuver and balance on until you gain experience. Wheeled hoverboards also allow larger foot placement areas.
6. Look for Non-Slip Pedals
Rubberized, textured pedals will help keep your feet firmly planted on the platforms while riding. Some models also include heel and toe guards for extra security and stability. This helps prevent slips and falls that are more likely on hard, smooth plastic.
7. Speed Control and Limiting Features
Regulating speed as a new rider is extremely important for safety. Many better hoverboards include option speed or beginner modes that limit top speed to under 5 mph while you are learning. This prevents the board from taking off too fast before you are ready.
An easy one-touch stopping feature is also great to have. This will allow you to slowly come to a stop even without shifting your weight if you feel unsteady. As your skills progress, switch to faster modes.
Finding the Best Places to Buy a Hoverboard
Ready to make your purchase? Here are the most recommended retailers and options for getting the best deal on a hoverboard while still ensuring quality:
1. Online Marketplaces
Major online marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and eBay offer extensive hoverboard listings from different brands at various price points. The convenience and selection make these a great starting point in your buying journey. Some benefits include:
- Huge selection of brands and models
- You can sort by features like wheel size, range, etc.
- User reviews help discern quality
- Potentially discounted pricing
- Fast and free shipping with membership
Just be sure to vet the specs and certification info rather than going on price alone on these sites.
2. Direct from Reputable Manufacturers
While sites like Amazon provide tons of choices, you may also want to consider purchasing directly from an established hoverboard brand’s website. Some top makers include Razor, Swagtron, Segway, Halo Rover and Epikgo.
Benefits of buying directly from them can include:
- Ensured authenticity – no counterfeits
- Full product warranties
- Priority tech support for issues
- Can customize accessories or features
- Promos or sales are sometimes offered
Check for a US-based operation with customer service and support channels.
3. Brick and Mortar Electronics/Toy Stores
Major retail chains like Best Buy, Target, or Toys R Us may have certain popular hoverboard models available right in-store. This gives you the chance to see specific brands up close before purchasing. Perks include:
- Can demo board handling before buying
- No need to wait for shipping
- May price match their online prices
- Can ask staff questions about products
Just keep in mind their hoverboard selection is usually much smaller than online retailers. Call ahead to check if they carry what you want.
4. Used or Refurbished Deals
If looking to save money on a hoverboard purchase, you may be able to find used or refurbished deals on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or from pawn shops.
Common places to find discounted, pre-owned hoverboards include:
- Classified sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace
- eBay auction listings for used items
- Physical thrift stores or pawn shops
- Discount retailers like Groupon or Woot sell refurbs
As always, inspect closely and ask for specifics on battery life, damage, mileage, and charging functionality before purchasing any used smart device. Make sure used boards still have UL certification.
Key Buying Considerations and Making the Best Choice
To recap, keep these key factors in mind as you evaluate different hoverboard options to determine the best choice for your needs and budget:
1. Set Your Budget
Expect costs to range from $100 for smaller used models up to $500+ for premium hoverboards packed with features. Setting a firm budget beforehand helps narrow the options. Standard mid-range boards run $200 to $400 usually.
2. Desired Use and Riding Terrain
Consider when and where you plan to ride most. Boards with 6.5-8-inch wheels work well for indoor and flat outdoor terrain like sidewalks or driveways. Larger 8-10-inch tires are better for moderate outdoor conditions like parks and trails. True off-road hoverboards can handle rough conditions.
3. Skill Level
If you’re a total beginner, look for hoverboards with maximum speeds of 5 mph or less while learning and steering assistance features like handlebars. More advanced riders can handle faster speeds like 7-10 mph.
4. Range Per Charge
Standard batteries allow 7-12 miles per charge, while upgraded batteries in pricier boards can extend up to 15-20 miles of range. Plan your typical trip distance.
5. Weight Limits
Check the listed weight capacity and don’t exceed it. 220 pounds is common for basic models. More rugged designs support up to 300+ pounds.
Reading user reviews on Amazon, YouTube or forums can provide insight into real rider experiences with specific hoverboard models to inform your choice.
7. Safety First
Never compromise on safety – only buy UL 2272 certified hoverboards with name-brand batteries from reputable retailers. Prioritize this over all else.
Aim for at least a 6-month warranty to cover any defects or issues with parts/performance. Some offer 1 year or longer.
What Price Range is Typical?
Pricing for self-balancing hoverboards can range quite a bit depending on factors like size, power, features, and quality. But in general, these are the typical price ranges you can expect:
- Basic hoverboards for beginners – $120 to $250
- Mid-range standard models – $250 to $400
- High-end standard models – $400 to $500+
- All-terrain off-road hoverboards – $300 to $700+
- Refurbished or used hoverboards – $100 to $250
- Mini hoverboards for kids – $100 to $300
- Hovershoes – $100 to $300
In the standard 6.5-10-inch hoverboard category, you’ll commonly find:
- Entry-level boards under $250 – These affordable models cut back on features and power. Just be sure safety isn’t compromised.
- Mid-range boards $250-$400 – This price point gets you a good quality hoverboard with decent speed, range and more durability.
- High-end boards $400-$500+ – Top-of-the-line standard hoverboards boast extras like Bluetooth, apps, premium batteries.
- Refurbs under $250 – Used boards or factory reconditioned ones can offer big savings. Inspect condition closely before buying.
For all-terrain and off-road models with larger tires and suspension, expect to spend $300 to $700+. Mini hoverboards for younger kids and lightweight riders cost a more affordable $100 to $300.
The cheapest boards often cut corners that compromise quality and safety, so be wary of anything under $100 and heavily discounted deals that seem too good to be true. Spending a bit more ensures you get a solid product that will last and work properly. Consider it an investment in both fun and mobility!
Beginner Riding Tips for Using Your New Hoverboard Safely
Once you’ve purchased your new hoverboard, here are some key beginner riding safety tips to get rolling on your self-balancing new wheels:
1. Master Balancing First
Find an open, flat space like an empty parking lot or driveway to switch on your hoverboard for the first time. Step on with caution, have someone assist you, and work on finding your balance before trying to move around. Let yourself get a feel for the gyro sensors and weight shifting required. Take all the time needed to gain confidence first.
2. Protective Gear is a Must
Before progressing beyond basic balancing, be sure to wear a helmet plus pads for wrists, elbows and knees every time you ride. Falling is almost inevitable as a new rider, and injuries happen fast even at low speeds. Gear up for safety until very experienced.
3. Start Slowly with Limited Speed
Most hoverboards have different speed modes. Keep yours at the slowest setting (often under 3 mph) in open areas until you operate smoothly without wobbling or veering off course. Never go full speed as a beginner. Ask someone to monitor your battery level.
4. Avoid Traffic and Crowds
Steer clear of any cars, bikes, pedestrians and crowds while learning. Look for empty spaces to have ample room for starting, stopping and turning as you improve your skills. Distractions and obstacles multiply your chances of a crash.
5. No Tricks or Rough Housing
Trying stunts like jumps or tricks of any kind as a beginner is dangerous. Avoid horseplay or letting others ride your hoverboard to prevent collisions and falls leading to trauma. Try to ride in a focused, safe manner only.
6. Check Local Laws
Hoverboard use on sidewalks or streets may be prohibited in some areas. Check your city, county, and state regulations regarding where they are allowed. Obey all posted signs to avoid traffic incidents or penalties. Homeowners associations may ban use in the neighborhood.
7. Avoid Hills and Slopes
New riders should practice exclusively on level ground. Any kind of hill, slope, or uneven terrain can throw off your balance and control fast. Build core skills on flat land before even attempting an incline.
8. Look Ahead
Keep your eyes focused well ahead of you, not down at the hoverboard or feet. Scan side to side to anticipate terrain changes and obstacles in your path as far as possible. Steer clear of any cracks, bumps, debris, grates, or holes while riding.
9. Remain in Control
If at any point you feel unstable, off balance, or reaching maximum speed, slowly lower your center of gravity and ease off your momentum. Regain control by placing your feet flat to brake. Don’t force speeds you’re uncomfortable with.
10. Practice Regularly
Riding a hoverboard takes time and practice to improve. Try to schedule regular sessions in a safe area as you continue progressing from beginner to intermediate skill levels. The more miles under your belt, the more natural it will become.
11. Stay Sober
Never attempt to ride a hoverboard while intoxicated or after consuming alcohol. Balance, coordination, and reflexes need to be sharp to ride safely. Being impaired dramatically raises your chances of a crash.
12. Know When to Dismount
If losing control, prepare to step off your hoverboard away from traffic. You can also drop to your knees or squat low if unsteady. It’s better to safely exit than ride out a fall.