Hoverboard purchasing advice: how to choose the right product
- What You Need to Know
- A hoverboard is an electric rolling board that is used for recreational fun.
- Depending on the ground conditions, a board with small solid rubber tyres or large pneumatic tyres is suitable.
- The hoverboard may only be used on private property and never in road traffic.
- With some boards, an app provides access to more functions.
Riding fun with the feeling of hovering
The hoverboard became famous through the 1989 film “Back to the Future 2”. The board on which actor Michael J. Fox escapes his pursuers as Marty McFly in the film is a kind of floating skateboard. However, real hoverboards are not quite as spectacular as their futuristic film role model. Nevertheless, they are a lot of fun to ride. They look more like a small Segway without handlebars than a skateboard and roll instead of hovering. Thanks to the electric drive, the rider glides along the road at speeds of up to 30 kilometres per hour without his or her feet touching the road. For beginners and advanced riders, models that reach a top speed of 12 to 15 kilometres per hour are recommended, which is the standard for most hoverboards. The term hoverboard comes from English and means “floating board”, which is not quite correct for today’s variant, but at least corresponds to the driving experience.
How does a hoverboard ride?
Riding a hoverboard requires a sense of balance, as there are no handlebars. An electric motor drives the board, and the power comes from a rechargeable battery. The battery life depends on the model, on average it is about three hours. The board is steered solely by shifting weight. For this purpose, there is a built-in motion sensor called a gyroscope. It is located underneath the tread, reacts to every shift of weight and prevents the board from tipping backwards and forwards.
The ideal leisure time fun
The electric rollerboard is considered a fun and sporting device. And when all the conditions are right, riding is really fun. It doesn’t matter how old the user is. Using the board requires a little practice and patience, but is otherwise simple and can be made even easier with the help of extras. Often, the board can also be used to cover longer distances of up to 15 kilometres.
The hoverboard and its alternatives
There are three types of hoverboards: The classic hoverboard, the monowheel and the hover kart.
The classic hoverboard
The classic hoverboard is also called a twowheel or balance hoverboard. Each of the two wheels is equipped with a motor with an output of 350 to 400 watts. The board reaches maximum speeds of 10 to 30 kilometres per hour and is available in various designs and performance classes, has a manageable purchase price, is often equipped with the self-balance function and requires less practice to drive than a monowheel. However, it usually has a higher dead weight.
The Monowheel is most suitable for advanced riders, as it is not ridden on two wheels, but only on one. The wheel is in the middle of the board and contains the motor and the sensor. The Monowheel is also controlled by shifting weight, but it is more difficult to keep the balance when getting on and off the board than with a Twowheel. Therefore, the user should definitely wear protective clothing. Monowheels are usually a little more expensive than Twowheels.
The Hoverkart resembles a go-kart, but the basis is the electric go-kart. It is not steered by the weight of the driver, but by pulling and pushing two steering rods. The seat is located between the handlebars. However, the hoverboard is not available as a whole, but only as an additional set to be assembled and attached to a normal hoverboard. It provides a more stable riding experience than the other variants and guarantees easy steering. However, the seat is uncomfortable in the long run and it is necessary to assemble the set before the first ride.
Off-road or on-road riding
Depending on where the hoverboard is to be used, different features are relevant. If the hoverboard is to be used mainly on smooth terrain such as an asphalted road, solid rubber tyres with a diameter of 6.5 inches are perfectly adequate. They have the advantage that they do not burst and have a good grip on slippery ground. Their disadvantage, however, is that they do not bounce and, due to their small size, cannot overcome stones on the asphalt. Therefore, they are not suitable for riding on uneven ground.
On an off-road board, the tyres should be eight to ten inches in size and inflatable. This guarantees good suspension and small bumps are not an insurmountable hurdle. Unlike solid rubber tyres, however, they can burst, which is why the tyre pressure must be checked regularly. The inflatable tyres usually have a coarser tread to prevent them from slipping. Overall, models with these tyres are more expensive than boards with solid rubber tyres.
Since hoverboards are electrically powered, they are not suitable for riding in the rain. The technology is not waterproof and will break down if it gets wet.
What matters when buying
If you want to buy a hoverboard, you should find out beforehand what is important. The most important criteria are explained below:
The motor of the hoverboard is one of the most important aspects a buyer should pay attention to. Hoverboards with a total motor power of 700 watts or more, or 350 watts per wheel, are recommended. If the board has less power, you may have problems climbing slopes and travelling longer distances on uneven ground.
If you want to enjoy your Hoverboard for a long time, you should pay attention to the quality of the battery. The board should have a lithium-ion battery, as this is more powerful than a nickel-metal hydride battery. Batteries from the manufacturers Panasonic and LG are of particularly high quality. With cheap no-name batteries, there is a risk that they will start to burn. In addition, the batteries of the above-mentioned manufacturers have the longest service life and thus ensure longer riding fun. The range of the hoverboard also depends on the battery. Most boards travel up to 15 kilometres, some models even manage 20 kilometres. The range is always specified by the manufacturer. Since you may only use the board on private property, a range of 15 kilometres is usually sufficient.
The speed depends on many different aspects, such as the motor power, the battery, the environment and the weight of the rider. If you are a beginner rider, you will not ride as fast and will be able to get away with a board with less power and therefore lower speed. Most beginner boards have a maximum speed of 15 kilometres per hour. However, if you are an advanced or professional rider, you should go for a more powerful board. Professional boards can even reach speeds of up to 30 kilometres per hour. To ensure that you get more out of your hoverboard, it is advisable to choose a board with several speed levels. This way, you can use it when you are a beginner, but also still when you have advanced to a pro.
The tyres your hoverboard should have depend on the terrain you plan to ride it on. If you are using it on level ground, they should be solid rubber tyres with a size of 6.5 inches. If you are riding on uneven terrain, a board with larger pneumatic tyres is recommended. These have more bounce and are better able to cope with stones and uneven ground. However, always pay attention to the air pressure of the pneumatic tyres, as the tyres can burst.
The tare weight
Since you will also be transporting it from one place to another, you should pay attention to the weight of the hoverboard. Light models weigh about 10 kilograms, heavy ones are 15 kilograms and more. If the hoverboard is used by children, a light model is more suitable. Adults can also carry a board with more weight. Some models have an accompanying carrying bag that makes transport easier. It also protects your board from dirt and scratches during transport.
Besides the features of the hoverboard, there are additional extras that increase the fun of riding or ensure control. If you want to use the board in the dark or simply give it a cooler look, you can go for a model with built-in LEDs. If the board is also used for easy jumps over hills, additional pegs on the wheel housings are useful for more grip. If you are a novice rider, you will benefit from the self-balancing function. This helps by balancing the board. A hoverboard with app compatibility is particularly useful. With the help of a Bluetooth interface, an app gets access to various information and gadgets. Depending on the model, functions such as GPS trackers, control over the speed of the board or constant monitoring of the battery and condition of the hoverboard become accessible.
Useful extras for more comfort and fun
A hoverboard brings a lot of riding fun. However, this can be enhanced with various extras. If you want to give your board a cooler look or ride it in the dark, you can buy a hoverboard with LEDs. These provide a chic illumination in different colours, which can be selected at will and changed at any time. Some hoverboards also have pegs on the wheel housings that ensure that the rider’s feet remain on the board. This means that jumps and fast riding over stones and hills are no longer a problem. For all users who like to listen to music while they ride, there are hoverboards with integrated speakers and a Bluetooth interface. This way, you can connect the board to your mobile phone at any time and listen to your own favourite music.
Your own mobile phone as a control element
With some hoverboards, it is possible to control various settings via an app on your mobile phone. This makes operation easier and also provides some useful additional functions. The following functions of the board can usually be controlled via a smartphone app:
- Family members can save preferred settings in profiles.
- Depending on whether the user is a beginner, advanced or professional, the maximum speeds also vary. These can be changed at any time via the app. Some apps also have special challenges in the modes.
- The app shows the current temperature of the device – so that the battery does not overheat, the device switches itself off if it threatens to overheat.
- Almost all hoverboards are equipped with coloured LEDs. The respective colour can be conveniently selected at any time via the app.
- A child safety mode allows the maximum speed to be regulated. However, some models do not reduce the speed when the limit is reached, but only emit a warning sound.
- The self-balance function and the sensitivity of the steering sensors can be adjusted individually – this is particularly beneficial for inexperienced drivers.
- The app shows the exact speed in real time at all times.
- In the event of electronic damage, an error display sounds the alarm.
- A GPS tracking function makes it possible to follow the routes travelled. In addition, it is possible to locate the hoverboard in real time, which allows parents to find out the whereabouts of their children.
- Battery status informs about the current charge level.
- Range presents the distance already covered and provides an estimate of the range in relation to the battery level.
If you want to use a hoverboard, you must know in advance exactly who is allowed to use it, when and how. There is no minimum age for users of a hoverboard, the benchmark is the minimum weight of the rider, as the steering sensors do not work if the weight is too low. Depending on the model, the minimum weight of the rider is between 20 and 40 kilograms. Other prerequisites for riding are the enjoyment of movement and a lot of patience, as it requires a certain amount of practice and a well-developed sense of balance.
The matter of the driving licence
In Germany, it is not permitted to ride the hoverboard on public roads, pavements and squares. This is because the Road Traffic Act stipulates that vehicles travelling at more than six kilometres per hour must comply with certain safety regulations. These include that the vehicle must be equipped with a handlebar, brake lights, a mirror and a seat. A hoverboard has none of these. A violation can be punished with a fine in the three-digit range and a point in Flensburg. The police are even entitled to confiscate the hoverboard if they deem it necessary. Therefore, the user may only use his board on private property.
A question of safety
Riding a hoverboard requires balance and, above all, practice. Since it is a wobbly affair, falls and thus injuries occur quickly. Therefore, it is highly recommended to wear protective clothing. A helmet protects the rider’s head, which is particularly sensitive and can suffer serious damage in the event of a fall. Knee pads, elbow pads and hand guards protect other sensitive parts of the body from injury.