The Best Hoverboard
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 that two boards in particular stood out from the rest.
Even on wet roads, cracked sidewalks, and rocky asphalt, we felt safe and comfortable on the Segway. With pneumatic tires and 800W of motor power, it’s a powerful board at the midrange price of $499. However, if you’re just looking to board for fun, you may find that the knee-controlled steering bar cramps your style.
With wide fenders, high-quality speakers, and the smoothest movements, Jetson makes for a stable and stylish ride. It's also a bargain compared to other hoverboards, at just $399. While it’s not built for rough outdoor obstacles, it’s a solid choice for riding indoors or on paved ground.
The Best Hoverboard
Do they hover? No. Are they a lot of fun? Yes. Can they get you to work, school, and back? Some of them. Whether you’re hoverboarding to the office or zooming around the block, our top two picks offer the most natural, intuitive, and fluid rides.
Our testers unanimously agreed that the Segway miniPRO provided the safest ride both indoors and outdoors. The tall wheels and powerful motor lumbered solidly over sidewalks, grass, asphalt, and debris, even on hilly terrain. We also liked that the miniPRO’s sensors automatically slowed down the hoverboard and tipped it slightly back when rolling down steeper inclines. With a knee-height steering bar and wide foot platform, this hoverboard is user-friendly and a great starting choice for beginners. The battery life was also the best by a wide margin. The Segway miniPRO retails for $499 and comes with a 1-year warranty.
The Jetson V6 won us over with its intuitive movement and wide, stable frame. Riding the Jetson indoors and on smooth sidewalks felt nearly as natural as walking — it was responsive without feeling slippery or slow, and it was the most maneuverable of the boards we tested. It also had the most user-friendly mobile app, with an attractive interface and high-quality audio for blasting music during your ride. The Jetson V6 retails for $399 and comes with a 1-year warranty.
How We Found the Best Hoverboard
The origin story of hoverboards is convoluted and controversial, but most sources agree that Shane Chen, an American inventor, first patented the basic design, and that a Chinese company called Hangzhou CHIC Intelligent Technology was the first to start producing them wholesale in China. In any case, the mechanics of hoverboards are basically the same all around. For two-wheel hoverboards, pressure pads sense your weight when you step on. Changing the pressure activates the motors, while the speed sensor and gyroscope measure speed and balance the board. All these parts relay information back to the motor control board, which controls what moves and when.
Though the way these boards work is essentially the same, what distinguishes a top-notch hoverboard is an excellent user experience, riding stability, and smoothness of movement. The best hoverboards also have perfect sensitivity — not too much or too little, but just enough for the board to feel like a secure extension of your feet. We started with 61 popular models currently on the US market and focused our attention on bestseller lists from mega-retailers like Amazon and Target, as well as US manufacturers’ sites and blogs. Though single-wheel electric scooters are also popular, they’re a different animal (one which we may tackle in the future). For now, we focused exclusively on comparing two-wheel boards.
We started with boards that wouldn't explode.
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.
As you may have heard, hoverboards literally made an explosive impact on American households when they were released. After numerous reports of boards catching fire or causing falls that sent people to the ER, large retailers like Amazon, Target, and Overstock.com removed hoverboards from their inventory. Since then, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has urged hoverboard retailers to ensure that the products on their shelves adhere to national safety standards.
So, 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 electrical, mechanical, drop, environmental, and material and component tests, as well as locked rotor checks and a manual and labelling 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.
We ultimately chose seven models to test based on their top ratings and frequent appearance on bestseller lists, choosing the flagship models from each of the top brands. Though there was a lot of buzz around popular models such as the PhunkeeDuck and IO Hawk, many were uncertified. Among the UL 2272-approved boards, the Epikgo Classic, Halo Rover, Jetson V6, Razor Hovertrax, Segway miniPRO, StreetSaw RockSaw, and Swagtron T3 consistently topped online “best-of” lists.
Then we rode around indoors...
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. The first few times, we needed a table or desk to stabilize ourselves while our feet adjusted to the hoverboards’ movement. Everyone (even a long-time skateboarder) went through a learning curve characterized by wobbly limbs and timid scoots forwards. But 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.
How long will it take me to learn how to ride? None of the testers had previous riding experience, but the learning curve was pretty short. It took us about 10 to 45 minutes to reach full riding confidence, depending on the athletic ability of the tester.
Overall, each board did what it was designed to do: go forward, backward, and turn with minimal effort. But as we zoomed around our office for a few weeks, a few boards began to stand out: The Segway miniPRO was a universal favorite for its stability, and more experienced boarders praised the Jetson V6 and SwagTron T3 for their fluid movement. Though the Epikgo Classic, Halo Rover, Razor Hovertrax, and StreetSaw RockSaw performed adequately, the riding experience wasn’t quite as smooth, and they weren’t particular favorites for any of our testers. The treaded tires of the Epikgo Classic, Halo Rover, and StreetSaw RockSaw felt somewhat bumpy on our smooth hardwood floors, and the Razor’s slight plastic body felt a lot less stable than the other boards.
While testing, we also noted that most of their 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 miniPRO 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 a night without charging, the miniPRO’s battery was still half-full. These boards generally took between two and four hours to charge, depending on the model, so the Segway’s extended battery life meant less waiting around.
...and made some observations.
One of our most interesting discoveries happened before we even stepped foot on a board: 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. They even had the same robotic voice saying, “Awaiting Bluetooth connecting,” when powered on, as well as the same mobile apps, and they all flashed red and white warning lights if we stepped on the boards while they were charging. We did a little digging, and found that 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.
All three of these boards performed fine, but be wary of brands that claim their products are greatly superior and charge higher prices for essentially the same product. There were small differences — the Halo Rover automatically adjusted itself to be flat when turned on, unlike the others — but nothing substantial in their riding performance. Given those similarities, we saw nothing to justify StreetSaw RockSaw’s whopping $799 price tag, or even the Epikgo Classic’s $699, in comparison to the Halo Rover’s $597. In fact, the boards were so identical, we started talking about them collectively as “the triplets.” The Epikgo Classic also required us to attach the fenders ourselves — a simple-sounding task, but we spent half an hour straining to lock the pieces in place. In the end, our arms tired out, and we gave up despite one screw still not fitting into place. We also weren’t sure why we had to put the Epikgo together when the Halo and the StreetSaw came fully assembled (and in Halo’s case, for $100 less).
We took things outside.
After getting our hoverboard-legs indoors, we moved outside and tested the boards on the asphalt of Seattle. To put the hoverboards through all the challenges of a real commute — poorly paved roads, cracked sidewalks, litter, and inclement weather — we rode on the most variable and challenging terrain we could find. On a hot, sunny day, we rode around outside to get a feel for which boards felt the safest and most intuitive 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.
Our main focus was determining which hoverboard had the safest, quietest, smoothest performance across a variety of road conditions. Only the Epikgo Classic, Halo Rover, StreetSaw RockSaw, and Segway miniPRO are marketed as outdoor hoverboards — the Jetson V6, SwagTron T3, and Razor Hovertrax were only designed for indoor riding. But we took them all outdoors, just to see how they stacked up. As it turned out, the manufacturers were right: The “off-road” boards felt much more comfortable going over the cracks and uneven sidewalk terrain, and they were the only ones that could go any distance on grass — although that was a bumpy ride even for the best performer.
And we scrutinized the mobile apps.
Most of the boards came with mobile apps that allowed you to adjust features of your hoverboard and track your speed and location via GPS. Most of the apps allowed us to 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. Because there’s a learning curve for riding the boards — and because that curve might be different for any two people — we liked the ability to adjust these features. The Razor Hovertrax is the sole exception: It doesn’t have a mobile app, so there’s no way to adjust the board’s settings.
The Segway miniPRO had a lot of special features the other boards did not, such as a lock mode (which caused the miniPRO to sound an alarm when stepped on by someone other than the app user) and remote control (which allowed us to guide it around on its own). However, we didn’t love the app experience. We had to create an account and confirm it within two minutes — a struggle if you have unreliable email — and once we were signed up, we were greeted with an unattractive, confusing interface that defaulted to Chinese. The Segway was also the only board that required us to use the app — when we first attempted to ride the board, it flashed a red light and beeped continuously, only stopping when we downloaded the app and finished the two-minute signup race. That didn’t stop half the office from riding the beeping Segway miniPRO for an hour, but the noise and flashing were irritating. And music lovers, know that the Segway miniPRO doesn’t have built-in speakers, like the other app-enabled boards do. You’ll have to supplement with another gadget to get your music fix.
The miniPRO app has lots of features, but the design isn’t especially user-friendly.
The Epikgo Classic, Halo Rover, and StreetSaw RockSaw apps had a hard time connecting to the boards, and more often than not we gave up and just rode without the app. When we did manage to connect, the app was relatively simple to use — however, the Halo app did suddenly change difficulty levels on us without being touched, which could be alarming for anyone just learning to ride.
The Halo Rover’s bare-bones mode-select screen (left) and tracking screen (right) were simple enough to understand, but we did have some connection issues.
The Jetson V6 and SwagTron T3 apps were easy to use and had simple, attractive interfaces. The Jetson’s design was easier to navigate, and also boasted more features, such as tracking personal records for speed and distance. The Jetson app was also the only one that allowed you to control your music from within the app itself, which we found convenient. Connecting our music was straightforward, and we found the sound quality to be the best of all the boards. The SwagTron’s audio quality was the lowest of the boards we tested — it sounded muffled and fuzzy, and lacked the range of the Jetson speakers.
The Jetson’s mode-select screen (left) offered more options and features than SwagTron’s version (right).
Our Picks for Best Hoverboard
Best for Commuting
If you’re intent on making your commute via hoverboard, the Segway miniPRO is easily your best option. The Segway was far and away the top performer in the face of outdoor obstacles: Even over rocks, cracks, bumpy roads, and grassy inclines, the miniPRO’s large pneumatic tires bumped along cheerfully. The miniPRO had the largest wheels of our finalists, and the air-filled tires absorbed enough shock to keep our feet from feeling sore and tense, like they eventually did on the Razor Hovertrax and SwagTron T3. If you’re riding one of these every day, that extra comfort is going to pay dividends over time. And while we felt a deep sense of our mortality speeding downhill on the other boards, the miniPRO’s sensors slowed the board down and tilted us back when we were going too fast. Even after two-plus hours of riding, the wide foot pads and high fenders made for a stable, comfortable feeling for our feet. The miniPRO was also the only board to have a “guide bar,” which popped out to allow you to drag it like a piece of luggage. Since the boards were all 20-plus pounds, this feature was definitely more convenient than carrying the boards by hand. If you’ll be riding to and from work or school, the miniPRO should get you there safely and comfortably.
The miniPRO was also the best at handling inclines: None of the boards were quick to accelerate uphill, but the miniPRO was able to reach normal traveling speed after a few seconds — other hoverboards barely managed a slow crawl up any noticeable hill. That superior performance is largely a result of the miniPRO’s powerful motor, which was twice as powerful as the ones offered by the Epikgo, Halo, and StreetSaw.
The miniPRO wasn’t all perfect, though. It balanced itself solidly when turned on, but fell down immediately when powered off — a problem that the other boards didn’t share because they didn’t have the same knee-steering hardware. And while all of our testers agreed the miniPRO provided the most high-quality outdoor ride, there were minor concerns about steering using the knee bar. Our taller testers struggled to adjust it to a comfortable position, and suffered sore knees until they found the right height. (We recommend adjusting the lever just above your knee and gripping firmly while riding.) Another tester found that it was difficult to keep her knees straight when going over larger bumps, which sometimes resulted in sudden jerking turns. Two of our testers said the miniPRO required too much effort while turning, and that they preferred the tighter turning radiuses on other boards. Outside of these factors, the ability to steer with your knees was a favorite feature for less-confident riders, who felt safer with the more deliberate turning motions it required.
While the Halo Rover, Epikgo Classic, and StreetSaw RockSaw were branded as off-road boards, we were surprised by their lackluster performance compared to the miniPRO. Though the Halo performed decently on paved sidewalks, it ground to a halt on grass. The miniPRO, on the other hand, was able to make its way through grass with a little bit of encouragement. Worst of all, while riding on a bumpy road, the Halo got caught in a crack, pitching one of our testers off the board and resulting in a bloody elbow and sprained wrist. By contrast, the miniPRO rolled over the cracked roads with minimal jostling. In addition, the other off-road boards — our identical triplets — are all more expensive than the $499 miniPRO (the Halo Rover retails for $597, the Epikgo Classic for $699, and the StreetSaw RockSaw for $799).
Though we loved the Segway miniPRO, it can’t handle all terrains. Despite their marketing, even the most high-tech hoverboards can’t climb steep hills or power through completely unpaved, rocky roads. If you want a ride that will take you through rocky terrain, distances longer than 10 miles, or inclines over 30 degrees, bikes are a better choice.
Best for Recreation
The Jetson V6 offers a smooth ride, stable footing, and a fun riding experience. At $399, it’s $100 cheaper than the miniPRO, and struck a good balance between intuitive and controlled movement. Testers consistently described it as “smooth,” “stable,” and “in sync” with riders’ movements. While some testers said the SwagTron T3 seemed overly sensitive, almost impossible to keep still, the Jetson V6 was able to accelerate and decelerate smoothly. Its wide fenders provided stable support that made steering simple and intuitive — the Jetson just seemed to know where we wanted to go. Even though it was one of our cheaper finalists, it had the second-strongest motor (only the Segway was more powerful).
The Jetson’s biggest con wasn’t a dealbreaker for us, but it may be for some: When turning the board on or off, a loud electronic voice announces your activity with the phrases, “POWERED ON,” “POWERED OFF,” and “BLUETOOTH PAIRED.” We couldn’t find a way to turn this off, and just endured the embarrassment. However, we also found that of the boards with Bluetooth music capabilities, the Jetson had the highest audio quality.
Though not designed for off-road riding, the Jetson was just as responsive outdoors as it was indoors. Turning felt as intuitive and fluid on sidewalks as it did on hardwood, and we didn’t have to strain in order to get the board to move in the direction we wanted, as we did with the Razor. It couldn’t handle grass, large cracks, or steep inclines, and didn’t absorb shocks nearly as well as the Segway miniPRO. But it still outperformed the SwagTron, Razor, and Halo in stability and smoothness on flat surfaces and minor inclines. While the Razor felt skittish, the SwagTron too slippery, and the Halo lumbering, the Jetson had a consistent glide.
With its smaller wheels and plastic-metal frame, we definitely wouldn’t recommend riding the Jetson off-road, or over surfaces gnarlier than typical sidewalk cracks. But for fun jaunts on paved ground at home or around the neighborhood, this is a solid choice.
Did You Know?
How to safely ride a hoverboard (what to do, what not to do):
- As with any other personal transportation device, there is a high risk of injury with hoverboards if not used properly — we learned that the hard way. We recommend wearing safety gear while riding, at least until you feel absolutely comfortable in whatever environment you plan on boarding in. While the exact choice of footwear is up to you, be sure to wear flat shoes with high-grip soles so you can effectively distribute your weight. Never ride a hoverboard in heels or without shoes.
- Before mounting the hoverboard, make sure it’s properly self-balancing. The two panels should be level, and the wheels should respond to small amounts of pressure on top of each panel. But if the wheels aren't activating, restart the board.
- To step onto the board, put your dominant foot on first, as close as possible against the fender (wider stances are more stable). Try to keep that foot flat as you quickly step on with your other foot — if your weight shifts to your toes or heels, the board will move as you step up. We recommend bracing yourself against a table, wall, or friend if you feel uncertain.
- To get off of the board, squat slightly, and step off backward with your non-dominant foot first. Again, the key is keeping your weight balanced — any forward or backward pressure will move the hoverboard.
Who shouldn’t ride a hoverboard? Riding a board safely requires good coordination and judgment. A lot of hoverboard advertisements show children riding these products; however, Segway recommends its product for people aged 16-60, with good balance and motor skills. Based on our experience, we’re inclined to agree with Segway.
- The boards move by sensing pressure — shift your weight toward your toes to roll the board forward, and press back on your heels to make it drift backward. Some riders might find it easier to lean slightly in the direction they want to go. To turn, press forward with the opposite foot of the direction you want to go (if you want to turn left, put your weight in your right toes). It sounds counterintuitive, but your feet will get the hang of it. To stay still, stand straight and keep your weight in the center of your feet. If you feel unsteady, squat slightly.
- With practice, riding the board will feel increasingly intuitive. Try looking at your intended destination and think about moving there — the board will follow the slant of your body.
In some places, hoverboarding is against the law
Hoverboards have been banned at college campuses, malls, airports, and certain roads in several states and countries. Be aware of local laws before riding in public.