Hoverboards, mini-Segways, Swegways or self-balancing boards – whatever you call them, are in demand in the UK following the start of the craze in 2015. As with any product on the market, you can buy them almost anywhere in a variety of shapes and sizes, but what is the best hoverboard for you?
Here, we talk to you about the different features to consider when buying a hoverboard, as well as the laws regarding using hoverboard use and our pick of the best hoverboards currently available.
What hoverboard wheel size do I need?
Like with many modes of transportation, the size of the wheels is important to consider. The generic hoverboard has quite small wheels, around 6.5-7in in size, to make it smaller and more efficient.
While this is fine for smooth surfaces, hoverboard users may find that these smaller wheels will wheel spin when coming off the ground on an uneven surface (like many of Britain’s pavements) and when the wheel regains contact with the ground, it’ll jerk forward and cause some users to lose control – especially when riding at high speed.
This means that hoverboard users have to ride slowly over uneven surfaces, even at walking pace, to make sure they stay balanced and safe.
There are other wheel sizes available, namely 8in and 10in. The 8in wheels should provide a slightly higher level of stability than than those using the 6.5-7in wheels, whilst preserving its relatively small and compact form factor. If you're looking for something that can handle off-roading, we'd go for the 8.5inch variant.
Am I too heavy to use a hoverboard?
Weight is an important element to consider – both the weight of the hoverboard and the rider. Generally, standard 7in hoverboards carry a weight limit of around 100KG, or around 15 stone 7 pounds for those of us in the UK.
For those of us that weigh more than 100KG, you have two options; you can either opt for the 8.5inch Warrior hoverboard or the Ninebot Mini Pro, as generally speaking both can support heavier riders, with a weight limit of 120KG, or 18 stone 8lbs.
Warning: Buying from China
As many saw in the news, a spate of ‘fake’ hoverboards made their way to the UK in 2015 – in fact, 15,000 of 17,000 hoverboards examined from several UK ports were deemed dangerous by the National Trading Standards agency.
Many Chinese manufacturers produce their own non-branded hoverboards ready for purchase, at a much lower price point – but issues with the on-board battery and charging cable can cause them to overheat and explode.
These fake hoverboards can usually be identified by the style of box it’s shipped in – if it’s a garish box with “Smart Balance Wheels” or “Smart Balance Board” written on the side with poorly written instructions, they are likely to be fake and you should stop using it straight away.
How can you check if it's safe? As long as the seller can prove that their hoverboards are compliant with applicable safety standards, including UN 38.3 (battery), UL 1642 (battery), and UL 60950-1 (charger), the hoverboard should be fine to use.
Is it illegal to ride my hoverboard in the UK?
Before you head out and buy yourself a hoverboard, there’s something you should know; it’s illegal to ride them on public roads and pavements in the UK.
Even though hoverboards have only popped up recently, they’re illegal thanks to a 180-year old law. The 1835 Highways Act states that people cannot use the footway to “lead of drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description” which, sadly, includes hoverboards. But notice how it only mentions footways and not roads – can you ride your hoverboard in the road like a bike?
Again, nope. Any motor vehicle used on the road needs the user to be licensed and insured, as well as the ‘vehicle’ itself, according to the ‘European community whole vehicle type approval’, or ECWVTA.
It has to be road legal, which requires the hoverboard to match a host of conditions connected to construction of various elements. But what about bikes? Apparently as standard pedal bikes don’t feature a built-in motor, they don’t have to play by the same rules.
THE BEST ALL-TERRAIN HOVERBOARD
UPDATED HUMMER , WARRIOR HOVERBOARD
Why you should buy this: It’s rugged, reliable, and built to last.
Who it’s for: Those looking to take their hoverboard off the beaten path.
How much will it cost: £359
Why we chose the Warrior Hoverboard:
The Warrior self-balancing scooter, from Segwayfun, is the ultimate all-terrain hoverboard. High-tread tires ensure safe navigation across any ground cover, be it grass, dirt, or pavement, and the scooter’s sturdy design helps push it safely to a maximum speed of 12 mph. Riders can count on the Warrior to last for about 12 miles on a single charge, and both the battery pack and the scooter itself have been certified safe under UL 2271 and 2272.
This water-resistant bad boy can climb at inclines of up to 30 degrees, and LED headlights will keep you from losing your footing while ‘boarding at night. The aluminum fender cover — advertised as “indestructible,” — protects the wheels from harm, while the durable ABS chassis prevents the board’s inner workings from taking any damage.
The Warrior’s 8.5” tubeless tires help provide you with an adventurous ride! Each nylon-infused tire has a number of features including a rugged tread pattern and staggered shoulder blocks for superior traction and grip. You’ll have all the power you need to go over inclines up to 30° and thunder across just about any type of terrain.
With a superior Samsung lithium-ion battery, the Warrior electric scooter charges in just 2-3 hours; so you’re never far from your next ride into adventure.
Use the Smart app to connect to your Warrior via Bluetooth® so that you can play music directly from your phone and rock out while you ride. A UL2772 certification means that you can ride with confidence, knowing that your electronics are completely protected.
The Warrior motorized scooter comes with a 12-mile range and can reach speeds up to 12 mph (for safety, speed is governed at 7.5 mph). Unlike other electric vehicles, you never have to guess at the battery life. This electric hoverboard comes with a battery indicator as well as turning signals and LED lights directly embedded into the body, so all it takes is one look to check on your Warrior’s status, making the Warrior a great adult electric scooter as well as a kids scooter.
Classic Plus hoverboard
- RRP: £19.95
The Classic Plus hoverboard available from segwayfun.uk is one of a new range of hoverboards now available in the UK that won’t explode like those when the hoverboard hype was at its highest in 2015.
Why? Unlike the cheap knockoffs available back then, the Classic Plus has authentic Samsung battery cells (4400mAh) and a UK charger fully compliant with UK electronic safety regulations.
In terms of design, the Classic Plus is one of the more eye-catching of all the hoverboards we’ve seen. Available in different chrome and non chrome colours with 7 colour led light , bluetooth speaker and app feature which detects faults, can be used to customise speed among other features.
In terms of dimensions, the Classic Plus measures in at 21.6in x 7.3in x 7.0in with 6.5in wide wheels and a weight of 12KG. Admittedly it’s heavier than some of the other hoverboards we’ve seen, but that is due to the 4400mAh Samsung batteries that offer almost double the capacity compared to other, lighter options. The Classic Plus comes with a handy carry bag too, making transporting the board (when you’re not on it) a little easier.
The most important question is, how does it perform? Is it easy to ride? The Classic Plus features a plethora of built-in tech that makes it incredibly easy to ride with a very small learning curve. After you’ve found your centre of balance, just adjust the pressure on your feet to move forwards, backwards, left and right with ease. The small wheels do make it a little difficult to use on uneven ground – those looking for an ‘off-road’ hoverboard should opt for one with bigger wheels.
Powering the wheels under the hood are two 350W Silent Drive Motors, providing an *almost* silent experience. You’ll hear a slight hum as you build up speed on the board, but it’s not enough to get noise complaints from the neighbours when you’re whizzing around the neighbourhood.
Those twin drives provide a maximum speed of 12kmph, or around 7mph, with around two hours of use before it requires a top up. That time somewhat depends on the weight of the rider – someone who weighs 50kg will get more out of it than someone that weighs the maximum weight (100kg). But despite the large capacity of the Samsung batteries, the Classic Plus only takes around 2-3 hours to be fully charged.
If that wasn’t enough for you, the Classic Plus also offers a built-in Bluetooth speaker. Simply connect your smartphone and play your favourite tunes as you whizz around. The speaker quality isn’t amazing, but it’s loud and should be sufficient for most users.
Xiaomi Ninebot Plus
- RRP: £875
The Ninebot Plus from Xiaomi is a bit different to the other hoverboards in our round-up, and with two 400W motors quite the beast.
As with the others here you lean forward and backward to propel the device, reverse and to bring it to a halt, but to turn corners you bend the centre-mounted 'stick' with your knees. This takes a little bit of getting used to because when you turn, say, left, your body will naturally want to move to the right to stay upright. However, it quickly becomes natural.
At which point the Ninebot Plus actually feels a lot more stable than most hoverboards - partly due to having something extra to cling to, and partly due to a pair of large 11in anti-slip tyres that do a great job mounting small curbs and basic off-roading. It helps that the board is self-balancing, and unlike other models won't shoot off as you climb aboard, but when you turn off the power the Ninebot will come crashing to the ground.
The Ninebot Plus can handle wet surfaces, thanks to special grooves in the tyres and a waterproof (IPX6) battery cover.
This stick has another function, too, allowing you to mount a camera (not supplied) to the Ninebot. It seems a crazy thing to do, putting a camera between your legs, but you won't look any more silly than you would with said camera strapped to your head. A storage compartment here allows you to stash away the camera when not in use.
The other thing that marks out the Ninebot Plus from other hoverboards is its remote control, which connects over Bluetooth with an operating range of around 20m. Using this you can remotely control the Ninebot, and even get it to follow you in 'puppy' mode - ideal if you want it to carry the shopping, or simply don't feel like riding or carrying it (it weighs around 12kg). The remote can also activate a lock, and if anyone tries to walk off with your toy it will sound an alarm.
The Ninebot Plus works with the Ninebot mobile app, too, which lets you turn off the otherwise automatic headlight, change the colour of the reversing/brake lights, see how fast you're going and how much battery remains. It's also through the app that you turn off the speed limiter, allowing you to take the board from around 6mph up to a maximum just short of 12mph.
When used at top speed total mileage will obviously be reduced, but Xiaomi says you'll get somewhere between 20- and 35km from the 18650mAh battery, with the rider's weight also affecting things here. The Ninebot Plus can cope with a rider up to 100kg in weight.
Overall the Ninebot Plus offers a huge amount of fun.
- RRP: £99
While this isn't technically a hoverboard, it's a really cool accessory for those that already own one, or are looking to invest in one.
The HoverKart attaches to the standard 6.5in hoverboard and turns it into a makeshift go-kart, providing extra functionality and a safer way to ride the hoverboard.
Ninebot Mini Pro
- RRP: £649
The Ninebot Mini Pro is an exciting choice for those looking to purchase a hoverboard in 2017, as it provides users with a slightly different way of controlling the balancing board.
While you’ll still use your feet to control movement, users have a new steering wheel controlled via the knees that looks natural and intuitive. It can go up to 10mph, can handle 15 degree hills and can go up to 14 miles on a single charge.
It’s pretty portable too, weighing in at 12.8kg, only slightly heavier than the hoverboards everybody was using in 2015.