THE must have gadget of 2015 was the self-balancing scooter (electric hoverboard), and although it hit a few blips along the way, the scooter turned out to be just as popular in 2016.
Known as the swegway, mini Segway, Airboard, balance board, drifting board, or self balancing scooter, this combines the benefits of a skateboard and a Segway all in one, and this nifty little gadget has been proving to be a whole lot of fun for people of all ages.
It’s even been named as the world’s ‘most viral scooter’. Just over a year ago it didn’t exist but now people of all ages, all over the world are riding this awesome personal mobility device. In this article we’re going to take a look at the best hoverboard 2016 and most importantly, we only review those that are SAFE with UL certified batteries and chargers.
A Little Background
A hoverboard is a self balancing two-wheeled board that can also be described as a battery-powered scooter. The batteries that are used to power the scooter are rechargeable. The typical hoverboard features 2-wheels that are put side by side and connected with two small platforms on which the hoverboard rider stands. The board senses the riders feet movements using an inbuilt gyroscopic pads.
The very first of the devices appeared in China in 2015 and by the end of 2015, they had become widely accepted in the United States. Part of the reason the hoverboards became popular was because various celebrities appeared on popular media. Although there have been no widely accepted many fans of the device refer to it as hoverboard scooter.
Electric hoverboards also known as self-balancing scooters can come with all kinds of premium add-ons including built-in bluetooth, all-terrain tires, high speeds, longer battery life as well as many other features. The boards have changed over the years and all kinds of new models have been introduced to the market, but they are now safer and more durable than ever before.
History of Hoverboard Scooters
The very first invention of the hoverboard is claimed by an American businessman called Shane Chen. He says that he did a Kickstarter campaign for his company, Hovertrax. In an interview he gave to Los Angeles Times, Mr. Chen expressed frustrations by the lack of regard to patents rights in China. He went ahead and alleged that Solowheel, his self-balancing unicycle was copied by Chinese manufacturers after appearing on a Chinese television show, Happy Snow. Another American company, Inventist, pursued litigation in 2015 after it claimed to hold the patents of the hoverboard. Known now as a hoverboard, they were once also referred to as personal transporters.
As of now, the Segway Inc. asserts its patents to sell self-balancing hoverboards in the US. As fate would have it, one of the manufacturers, Ninebot, acquired a majority stake in Segway on April 2015 in order to get rights to distribute the hoverboard. The Chinese manufacturing sector is so fast paced that is hard to determine which company was the first to produce the two-wheeled self balancing scooter but a magazine called “Wired” reckons that Smart S1 hoverboard was the first to be manufactured by Chic Robotics. The Chinese Robotics company was found in 2013 and has strong links to the Zhejiang University. The company was the first to patent the board but the lax Chinese patent enforcement led to the product being copied by tens of other manufacturers in the Chinese market.
By 2015, there were so many knock offs manufactured by Chines companies but it was hard to tell the difference from the real electric hoverboards. They varied in prices and design and had various quality defects. Some of the newer boards came with built in Bluetooth speakers that let the rider play music as he went about his business.
The rise and rise of the scooter hoverboards in the US market have been attributed to their common use by celebrities such as Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Jamie Foxx, Wiz Khalifa and Soulja Boy among others. The Phunkee Tree, an American company that attended the Hong Kong Electronics Show in 2014 was impressed by the design and became very involved in its distribution. Kendall Jenner was seen win a video on Instagram riding the hoverboard and it went viral. This led to other celebrities asking for the board samples from the PhunkeeTree.
- There are legal restrictions to ride that have been imposed by the United States Government on its use. In the City of New York for example, the existing legislation has banned the use of the device. Fortunately, the electric hoverboard scooter has many lobby groups that are working with the legislators to change the law.
- In the State of California, a 2016 law puts a maximum speed of 20 mph on the hoverboards. The scooters are also only allowed in the bike lanes and riders must wear helmets. People under the age of 16 are estopped from using the scooters in public.
- A good example of the scooter getting a bad rap is when a rider was captured riding the hoverboard during Hajj in Mecca and went ahead to knock a pilgrim.
- In Germany and Netherlands, the hoverboard is not allowed on public streets.
- In Wales and England, a hoverboard is only allowed for private use and even there, you have to get the landowner’s permission. The Highway Act of 1835 bans use of hoverboard on public pavements while the Road Traffic Act section 170(2) prohibits its use on public roads.
- In Scotland, The Roads Act of 1984 prohibits the use of hoverboard on the public sidewalks.
- Toronto, a Canadian city prohibits the use of hoverboard unless the people using them cannot get around without motorized scooters.
- Another example of total prohibition is in in New South Wales, Australia where prohibition of public use is currently being enforced. The other states in Australia are yet to decide whether to allow the hoverboard scooters use on the public streets. However, their private use is not prohibited.
- The Hong Kong’s Transport Department has categorized the hoverboards motor vehicles since they are mechanically propelled. It has gone ahead to say they pose danger to their users and other road users and can therefore not be registered nor licensed.
- Other electric hoverboard scooters’ use prohibitions are seen in public universities, airports, and train stations among others.
Hoverboards are especially a great mode of transportation for people looking to breathe some fresh air or those with limb problems. Most buildings have disability access and you can thus move around any building with the hoverboard without restrictions. The fact that most modern devices come with Bluetooth connectivity means that you can enjoy your favorite music as you commute to work with a hoverboard. The issue of affordability is still being tackled, but once the hoverboard scooters become widely accepted as a mode of transport, their price is set to fall to within the reach of the majority.
Lobby groups will continue to lobby for them to be recognized by various jurisdictions. Manufacturers need to improve the self-balancing scooters’ specs such as battery life, Bluetooth speakers range, the maximum speed, anti-theft alarms, and their all-terrain wheel. The maximum weight that the board can take need to be enhanced so that it can take in heavier people and thus become a truly universal mode of short commuting.
So what exactly is the hoverboard?
It’s not a hoverboard in the way that most of us imagine – it’s not a Marty McFly, Back To The Future type hoverboard that hovers over the ground. The board itself is off the ground but you’ll still be moving around on wheels. A more correct term for it is ‘self balancing scooter’, but it is still more popularly known as a hoverboard.
Basically it’s like a small sideways skateboard type thing – it works using a gyroscope to balance the rider on two wheels, kind of like a mini Segway but without the handle.
It is being touted as THE mode of personal transport of the future and this tech trend looks like it will be riding high for quite a while yet. An intelligent personal mobility device like this is not just fun, but also can be useful. At approximately 6mph max speed this is quite a bit faster than walking so it’s a great way to get around.
The self balancing scooter is available in a number of different colors, weighs approximately 10kg (22lbs), and can travel up to a speedy 8mph ride on full charge for hours . There are numerous manufacturers producing these and although most look almost exactly the same, there may be differences in quality (keep reading for more on that!)
How does it work?
The self-balancing scooter is powered by rechargeable batteries and you use slight pressure from your feet to guide it where you want to go. Just shift your balance and the device will respond and move in that direction. With the lithium-ion battery, the battery life is sure to last for a nice long ride in one single charge.
It’s REALLY easy to use, the first time you hop on it you’ll most definitely wobble a bit as you try to find your balance, but after about 20 minutes you should have found your feet and be at least moving around at a reasonable pace on your new ‘hoverboard’. At the most you should be proficient in use after about a day so really there’s no great learning curve. However, when you see a hoverboard for sale it is essential to pay attention to the safety features to maximize the safety of all riders.
Here’s a video of an unboxing so you can see exactly what you get. Once you see this guy riding his you’re definitely going to want one!
But are they safe in 2017?
If you’ve read any hoverboard reviews, you may have heard stories about them exploding or going on fire. The reality is that the demand was so high over the Christmas period late 2015 that more and more Chinese manufacturers started churning out low quality, generic scooters that looked the same, but used inferior materials.
Although there were only a few cases out of millions sold, the fires that did happen caused extensive damage and because of this, large online marketplaces such as Amazon, removed them from sale. Other major retailers such as eBay and Overstock followed suit, and also banned the sale of hoverboards until they were properly safety certified.
The good news is that a few months on, there ARE self balancing scooters that meet all US safety requirements. Underwriter Laboratories introduced a new safety standard specifically for hoverboards called UL2272 early in 2016. This involves passing an extremely rigorous testing process to ensure the safety of the electrical and battery and charger systems.
Currently there are only a few products that have received UL2272 certification. Those products are some of our top choices for best hoverboard as they are the safest on the market today.
There are a few other good products on the market that don’t have the UL 2272 certification, but do contain UL certified, branded batteries, and have UL certified chargers. These are also considered to be relatively safe, as most of the fire related issues were to do with cheap, generic, unregulated batteries and chargers overheating.
Now for the most important question – which are the safest and best hoverboards?
The following are (in my opinion) some of the best and safest hoverboards 2016. I do regular research of the bestseller lists and hoverboard reviews to make sure I’m showing you only the best rated scooters and those that are safest and most value for money. I only recommend products that I truly believe will be good for my readers! So here goes:
Best Hoverboards 2017(Safest Hoverboards)
|Product Name||Monorover R2||Segway MiniPro||Skque|
|Battery||Samsung Lithium Ion||Branded Lithium Ion||Branded Lithium Ion|
|Charge Time||60-90 minutes||4 Hours||1-2 hours|
|Range Per Charge||9-12 miles||14 miles||11-15 miles|
|Incline Power||30 degrees||15 degrees||30 degrees|
|Full UL Certification||UL certified battery & charger||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year|
|Riding Modes||1 Mode||1 Mode||1 Mode|
|Colors||Black & White||Black & White||Black, White, Blue, Red, Pink|
|Where to buy||Buy On MonoRover.com||Check Price On Amazon||Check Price On Amazon|
ScooterEra ONE (better then Swagtron T1!)
Although you can see from the table above that the specs for all our top choices are pretty similar, the ScooterEra one is shaping up to be the most popular self balancing scooter this year. Brand new to the market for 2017, this product is the latest offering from Scooter Era. Swagway was the manufacturer of last years most popular, the Swagway X1 but this year it looks like the title will go to ScooterEra.
Although the main competitor Swagway was an awesome scooter and was considered to be safe due to its use of a branded UL certified battery and charger, the Scooter Era ONE does have some nice upgrades (and it still costs the same as the original!)
Swagway X1 Vs T1 vs Scooter Era ONE
The Scooter Era ONE comes with the patented UL2271 listed Sentry Shield Battery. It also is a slightly smoother and more stable ride, with non slip footpads and a learning mode which makes it easy for all first time users to learn how to ride their scooter. ScooterEra ONE features a features a smoother and more stabilizing gear and motor system compared to the X1 and T1 from Swagway.
The shell has been designed to be even more durable, at 22lbs it’s a little lighter than the original Swagway and it has a smart battery system that means your battery charge will last even longer. With the great safety features, this self-balancing scooter is also light weight and will allow the rider to reach maximum speed with the all-terrain tires.
The Scooter Ear ONE and T1 is also UL 2272 certified while the Swagway X1 was not (the certification was only introduced this year).
Top Speed: 8mph
Maximum Weight: 220lbs
Range per charge: 7-12 miles
Charging Time: 1 hour
Modes: 2 – Learning and Standard
Bright LED Lights
Battery: Branded Lithium Ion with Sentryshield protection
Product weight: 22lbs
Climbing capability: 30 degrees
UL 2272 Hoverboard certification – Swagtron is one of the first brands in the world to achieve this. Scooters go through rigorous testing to ensure their electric systems and battery and charger systems are completely safe and won’t go on fire. Drop tests and a 10 ton crush test are also used to make sure the outer body of the self balancing scoote r is safe too. The Swagtron T1 and T3 also use patented Sentryshield technology – the battery is contained in a fire proof aluminium chamber specially designed to protect from fire and explosions.With the LED lights and safety features, the rider is also able to enjoy this electric hoverboard at night.
The ScooterEra ONE instead of the Swagtron T1 is sure to be a top seller this year, especially coming up to Christmas. For a while we thought the hoverboard industry was dead, but with the introduction of the new UL 2272 hoverboard certification we can now buy safety certified scooters with confidence. The T1 and ScooterEra ONE meets all US safety guidelines so you can be guaranteed safety, speed, and enjoyment for you or the recipient of this scooter.
This product has just about everything you could want in a product – reputable US brand, guaranteed safety, fast shipping, 1 year warranty, responsive customer service and more. It’s not available on Amazon or EBay but is available at their website… See the links below to read user reviews or purchase:
Use Coupon Cod “best2wheel” & Save $20
Also made by ScooterEra and not Swagway, the ScooterEra Extreme compares favourably against the Swagtron T3 which is certainly similar to the T1. The ScooterEra extreme is built to be the cadillac of hoverboards with bluetooth connectivity, great range, speed and very robust feature set! Things like speed, range, size and weight etc. are all superior to the competition. There are still some extras that are worth mentioning and that make it worth the extra price. With a single charge, your riding should last for hours.
ScooterEra Extreme Extra Features:
- Redesigned, sporty looking body, unique to the ScooterEra Extreme
- New HQ Audio Built-in Bluetooth Speakers – pair it up with your mobile device and listen to music while you ride
- 3 riding modes – learning, standard, and advanced. Start with whichever mode you feel comfortable with and then move up to advanced when you’re feeling confident.
- ScooterEra app – this versatile app (for iOS and Android) makes it easy and fun to track your route history, monitor monitor battery status, speed and much more.
- Premium Carry Case – The case for the ScooterEra Extreme is worthy of the model. It features a premium case for easy and safe carrying.
- Improved Robustness (weather resistant!) – Take this anywhere on road, off road and through puddles!
Like the others, this is UL 2272 certified and you’ll find a holographic UL sticker on the bottom of your product that will prove this. It is also listed in the UL Online Certifications Directory. Don’t buy a scooter that doesn’t have this or you’re putting yourself at risk of fire or battery explosions.
Because of the extra cost the ScooterEra extreme won’t be for everyone, but at approximately $550 its certainly still very affordable for a safety certified hoverboard. Bluetooth, off road and app enabled hoverboards always cost a bit more, but this has plenty other reasons you might want to fork out for this over a T1 or ScooterEra ONE. If you’re already a bit of an expert in hoverboard riding you may well appreciate the 3rd ‘advanced’ mode that this offers, and the app is a pretty cool addition that you won’t find with any other hoverboard. If you want a great off road bluetooth hoverboard you certainly won’t find better than this for the price.
(use coupon code “best2wheel” to save $20)
If you’ve got a bit more money to spare and are looking for something high end, but still with the added benefit of UL safety certification then the Segway MiniPro might be for you. Costing more than twice the price of the T1 this isn’t cheap, but those who’ve tried it say it’s worth the extra investment. I’ve even heard of it referred to as the ‘Ferrari’ of hoverboards, and that it outshines all other self balancing scooters on nearly every level! Let’s take a look at the features:
Wheels: 10.5″ air filled tires (suitable for traveling over a variety of terrains – on road or off road)
Top speed: 10mph
Distance: 14 miles on full charge
Knee bar: Comfort, precision steering and better control (removable for easier carrying)
Bluetooth: Connect to the mobile app (iOS and Android) for a range of different features including speed control, customizable lights, anti theft alarm, remote control operation and vehicle diagnostics
I’m not going to go into detail as I’ve talked about the UL 2272 certification ALOT already but it’s important to mention that the Segway Mini Pro IS UL approved so completely safe – you can see it listed in the certified products section here if you need more info.
The Ninebot Segway MiniPro certainly won’t be for everyone due to the higher price; and the knee bar which although could be a selling point for some, might be a dealbreaker for others. It’s certainly quite a bit different to the usual ‘hoverboard’ self balancing scooters we’re used to! The battery life and built-in bluetooth speaker and connection are features that make this a premium electric scooter allowing for all kinds of easily accessible controls.
Firstly, the air tires mean that you can travel safely on a variety of terrains like grass, gravel, and others. Other hoverboards have solid rubber tires which make for a bumpy ride unless you’re on flat ground. The Segway’s air all-terrain tires resist and absorb shocks better, are more stable with better traction, and minimize the risk of skidding.
The knee bar is also an added plus as it allows you to maneuver much easier and more comfortably than the foot pivoting method we use with other hoverboards. With this all you have to do is gently press left or right on the knee bar. The height is adjustable, and although it must be in place for riding, you can take it off when not in use for easier carrying.
Sure it’s a few pounds heavier, and more than a few pounds (dollars) more expensive, but it does have its plus points and is definitely a more functional, durable machine than most self balancing scooters. Because it has so many more features, it’s more fun too! Definitely recommended if you can afford it.
As you can see, the products from Swagtron and Ninebot Segway are pretty awesome, however I couldn’t talk about the best hoverboard brands without mentioning Monorover.
Monorover make a number of rideable products, the most popular being their Monorover R2 self balancing scooter. Like the Swagway X1, this was one of the most popular products of 2015 and looks set to be pretty big in 2016 too.
Top speed: 8mph
Battery: Samsung Lithium Ion – UL certified
Wheels: 6 inch, rubber wheels
Load capacity: 220lbs
Charge Time: 60-90 minutes
Outer shell: Hard plastic
Distance: 9-12 miles per full charge
I must disclose that the Monorover R2 does NOT yet have UL 2272 certification – however, it has been submitted for UL testing and I’m pretty confident that it will have full certification in the very near future.
For now though, it DOES have a UL certified Samsung battery and charger, and seeing as the battery and charger are what causes fires, I think the Monorover is a pretty safe bet and worth mentioning.
Currently on sale at $299.99 (reduced from $499). Discounts available for those buying more than one.
Fast, free shipping available on the official Monorover website. International shipping will take longer.
UK, EU and US
My very first self balancing scooter was a Monorover R2, and although our household has seen a few other brands since, the Monorover is still going strong. Although not yet UL 2272 certified (but soon to be) we already know that it has a UL certified Samsung battery and charger, and as there have never been any stories about fires or explosions I’m pretty confident this brand is safe. After the Swagway X1 it was rated best hoverboard of 2015.
Spec and price wise it’s pretty similar to the Swagtron T1 but the Monorover ships to the UK and EU as well as the US so is more widely available. It’s also better priced if you’re buying in bulk (like one for each of your kids).
Swagtron however has the benefit of having more colors available as the Monorover is normally only available in black and white and it also has a learning mode, which makes it a good buy for kids or those not as firm on their feet! Both are good brands though with a 1 year warranty and good customer service so either would be a good purchase.
There are other less well known brands of hoverboard available online but the ones we’ve mentioned above are the best hoverboards that have currently obtained the UL 2272 certification. If safety is a priority (and it should be – hoverboard fires are no joke) then you should be investing in one of the above, because these really are the safest hoverboards 2016. Obviously our best hoverboard 2016 list is short at the moment, but as more products get certified I’ll certainly add them to the hoverboard reviews we’ve already included.
Or course you should still make sure you read the reviews carefully before buying. I recommend buying from Amazon where possible because it’s the best place to read user reviews and Q and A’s which will help you to decide which is right for you.
Just remember you don’t need to go crazy and spend $1000+ on a top brand model (unless the name is really important to you). The best hoverboard is NOT necessarily the most expensive. Although I do love the Segway MiniPro, the other UL 2272 products listed cost less than $500 so you really don’t have to break the bank to get a safe scooter.