Thinking of getting a hoverboard but not sure where to start? Have a lot of questions that need answers before you jump on the bandwagon? If so, you’ve come to the right place, as we have answers to all of your most pressing questions. Below are a few that can help you get started.
Is the Board Going to Catch on Fire?
There’s been plenty of media noise about this, so we might as well address it up front. Yes, some hoverboards have caught on fire. No, this is not common, nor should you expect it to happen. Remember when electric cars were first coming out, one of them caught on fire, and everyone said they were too dangerous? Well, electric cars have clearly caught on, as the success of Tesla proves, and people have found out that well-built cars are completely safe. Gas-operated cars catch on fire more often.
With hoverboards, you want to look for the same thing: quality construction. If you go with a well-respected brand that has a good name, good track record, and high-caliber boards, you have nothing to worry about. The issues that people are running into largely come from low-end boards and cheap knockoff designs. If someone came out with a $1,000 car, you shouldn’t buy it. You’d know they cut way too many corners. The same thing is likely true if you see a hoverboard that has a price that is suspiciously low. You’re better off to save up longer and buy a better one when you can.
What Are the Best Brands?
Now you know that buying a good one is key, so how do you find one? This is an emerging market, so there are new companies cropping up all the time, and some are doing a tremendous job. Read reviews and pay attention to newcomers. However, some of the most established companies, if you feel like playing it safe, are Swagway, PhunkeeDunk, Ninebot, Hovertrax, and IO Hawk. Again, this is not a comprehensive list, so don’t limit yourself too much, but they give you a good spot to start.
Can You Ride It Everywhere?
Probably not, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. In California, laws are being put in place so that they can be used just like bikes. People expect to take them to work, riding in the bike lane. California is pretty friendly to hoverboards in this regard. In other places, like parts of Europe, laws say to stay out of the street and off the sidewalks. Some cities have their own regulations. In New York, speed matters, as you can only ride on the roads if you can go over 15 MPH.
The key is to check the local laws wherever you are. Remember, a hands-free scooter is a very new device, so laws have not caught up with them everywhere. Keep watching to see when new laws come on the books and old ones change. You can absolutely ride on your own property all you want, but you do want to know the laws when going out in public.
Can You Sit Down?
Typically, no. However, there are hands-free scooters with seats and knee rests built into them, such as the one that Ninebot produces. You can sit or kneel on these and ride them if you think that is easier than standing. It may be better for long commutes. It does take some getting used to if you’re already used to the standing versions. If you’re new to these scooters entirely, though, you’re going to have some learning to do no matter what. As a general rule, assume you can’t sit down, but know that there are some designs that support it if that’s what you’re after.
Can Kids Use Them?
As with anything, you want to be careful when your kids use them. They can cause crashes and injuries can occur. That being said, most of them are far slower than bikes, and they don’t put kids as high off the grounds. Risks are part of being a kid, and hoverboarding is something that is generally safe for children —- as long as you get the right one. Some options to consider are devices with wide tires, which tend to be more stable, and devices with limit switches on the motors -— or small motors in general -— so that they can’t go fast. If you don’t want your child going 15 MPH down the streets of New York, there are models that just go 5 MPH in the driveway.
Of course, you also want to consider safety equipment, just like you would with roller skates, roller blades, bikes, skateboards, and the rest. Children should wear knee pads, wrist pads or gloves, and helmets. Falls are going to happen, especially at the beginning, when the child is still learning how to use the board.
How Quickly Can You Become an Expert?
It’s different for everyone! Definitely don’t think you’re going to get on and be able to ride perfectly right away. These devices are fun and popular because they’re not like anything you’ve ever done. You have to get used to the balance. It can take time, and it depends on how often you can practice. For some people, one solid afternoon is enough to feel comfortable; for others, it can take longer. It depends how much you’ve done similar activities. For example, if you’re already a proficient snowboarder and skateboarder, you may have an easier time than someone who never does these types of extreme actives.
Are These Even Called Hoverboards?
Yes. No. Sort of. The jury is out. People often refer to them as hoverboards, so that’s probably what you’re hearing the most. If you’ve watched Back to the Future, though, you know that they’re not hoverboards. They do touch the ground, and they’re more similar to Segways because of the orientation of the wheels. Hoverboard is the easy slang term that has cropped up, but they’re also called rideables, electric scooters, hands-free scooters, glideboards, and even hands-free Segways. You can call it whatever you want.