The best hoverboard combines style, function, and safety at a reasonable price. To find the top performers in a bustling market, we taught ourselves how to ride and tested seven finalists ourselves. After rolling, zipping and occasionally eating it on hardwood and city streets, we found two boards that stood out from the rest.
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How We Chose the Best Hoverboard
Inspected safety ratings and certified hoverboards
As we started sorting through 61 initial models from 19 different brands, our primary concern was safety: We looked for boards that were UL 2272-certified, the standard used by Underwriter Labs, a third-party safety science certifier. UL 2272 puts each board through the electrical, mechanical, drop, environmental and material and component tests, as well as locked rotor checks and a manual and labeling accuracy evaluations.
This doesn’t mean that riding safety is 100 percent guaranteed, but it should add some peace of mind. Third-party certification is a voluntary, not mandatory process for hoverboard retailers, so not every board on the US market has been approved for its electrical safety. Nearly a third of the boards we looked at didn’t have safety certifications.
Before we could compare our seven brand-new hoverboards, we had to teach ourselves how to ride them. We strapped on some safety gear, learning how to mount and dismount through a series of nervous missteps. Once we found our footing, we began rolling through the office. There were a few crashes as we got the swing of it, but we found ourselves making spins and turns faster than expected.
After getting our hoverboard-legs indoors, we moved outside and tested the boards on the asphalt of Seattle. We wanted to get a feel for which boards felt the safest and most natural to ride, no matter the obstacle. We drove them over sidewalks, roads, and grass to see how they performed on different terrain. We also tested how well they handled curbs, cracks, debris, inclines and wet surfaces.
Checked battery life
While testing, we noted that most of the hoverboards’ batteries were running low after two to four hours of indoor riding. The exact rate of battery usage varied according to the rider’s weight, distance, and speed, but the Segway mini pro also seemed to have the longest battery life by far. While the other boards were dead or nearly drained after an evening of testing with multiple riders and night without charging, the miniPRO’s battery was still half-full.
Investigated apps and settings
Most boards come with mobile apps that allowed you to adjust features of your hoverboard and track your speed and location via GPS. Many let us choose among beginner, normal, and advanced modes, which adjusted the sensitivity and speed of each board.
Beginner mode was the least responsive, requiring us to lean our bodies more deliberately to get it rolling. As we scaled up to other modes, the hoverboards became faster and more responsive, until they were sensitive enough to turn a wide corner with just a light nudge. Hoverboard riding comes with a learning curve — and because that curve might be different for any two people, we gave preference to boards that let us adjust these features.
Guide to Hoverboards
How to Find the Right Hoverboard for You
Decide between a recreational hoverboard and commuter hoverboard
Before beginning your search for the perfect hoverboard, consider how you intend to use it. If you plan on commuting to work with your hoverboard, you might not need built-in speakers or flashing lights. But you might want an alarm device and a longer battery life. For simply playing with it around the house or in your neighborhood, booming speakers and multi-colored lights could be more of a priority for you.
Be wary of certain brands
Three of the hoverboards we ordered — the Epikgo Classic, StreetSaw RockSaw, and Halo Rover — were identical outside of patterns on the pressure pads and a few paint job differences. We discovered many hoverboards are produced by manufacturers in Shenzhen, China, where American importers source them and purchase hoverboards wholesale. According to Buzzfeed’s Joseph Bernstein, these brands purchase the right to “resell a factory’s product and ‘add the value’ of their name and branding” in the US. When choosing your hoverboard, research the brand to make sure they’re not simply slapping their logo on a mass-produced board.
Don’t buy cheap, uncertified boards
Though many online merchants list boards that look like our top picks at dirt-cheap prices, we advise caution. These boards are often uncertified knockoffs that haven’t undergone safety tests. While the exterior of the board may appear similar, the lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are sometimes replaced by cheap, dangerous counterfeits that may catch fire. Check your hoverboard’s battery type and certification prior to purchasing.