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In 2015 a new fad was born: hoverboards. Since then they’ve been through internet obsession, celebrity endorsements, bad press, and downright bans. And even if the hoverboards’ popularity is dwindling down, they’re still fun to ride and kids still love them.
So if you’re thinking about getting one, here are the answers to your burning questions: how much is a hoverboard and is it worth it?
What Exactly Is a Hoverboard?
It would be the coolest thing in the world if you could pull a Marty McFly and actually hover above the ground on a board. But most of the time when people say “hoverboard,” that’s not quite what they mean.
The official name for the hoverboard you have in mind is “a self-balancing scooter.” It’s an hourglass-shaped frame on two wheels that uses a gyroscope and an electric motor to move.
When you lean forward on a hoverboard, the gyroscope detects that and sends a signal to the logic board, which in turn tells the motor to spin. That means the stronger you lean forward, the faster you go. The system is uncomplicated, but getting your hoverboard legs may take some time.
How Much Does a Hoverboard Cost?
Hoverboards are fairly pricey, which may seem unjustified—it’s pretty much a toy. But since your health and safety are going to depend on the quality of your device, you may want to pass on the sketchy $12.99 model your Google search has yielded.
We turned to Amazon for prices on legitimate hoverboards, and they varied from $105 to $775 for a typical model. The real hoverboards that are more like those in Back to the Future II (look like a skateboard that almost hovers above the ground) can be as expensive as $1,999.
How Much Is the Cheapest Hoverboard on Amazon?
The cheapest hoverboards on Amazon are models by Cho Power Sports and Dartjet. The Cho Electric Self Balancing Dual Motors Scooter Hoverboard comes with a $105 price tag and free shipping.
The flashy Dartjet 6.5″ Smart Self-Balanced Hoverboard costs $107.99 with free shipping—the price is valid for the Chrome Gold and Chrome Rose color options.
Both hoverboards are UL-2272 certified, which means they’re not deemed a fire hazard, and come with built-in Bluetooth speakers and LED lights.
What Is the Best Hoverboard for the Price?
If you want a decent hoverboard that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, the TOMOLOO Hoverboard w/ Bluetooth and LED Lights is a great option for its $199.99. The unit has non-tacky design and glowing reviews, plus it looks sturdy and comes well-packaged.
Most customers praise the hoverboard’s battery life and say it’s easy to ride on various surfaces thanks to larger wheels and higher clearance. And of course, it’s UL2272-certified.
Things You Should Know Before Buying a Hoverboard
The price is not the only thing on your mind when you’re shopping for a hoverboard. There are definitely concerns associated with putting your 10-year-old (or yourself) on a self-balancing piece of plastic. Are hoverboards safe? How old should a child be to ride one?
Here are the answers to the questions you likely have.
Are Hoverboards Safe to Ride?
Hoverboards have been given a bad name lately, so of course you’re wondering about their safety. Some models are known to catch on fire, because the lithium-ion batteries that power them overheat. And then there’s the risk of injury, because it’s so easy to fall off the self-balancing board.
According to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics, “from November 2015 to January 2016, 2.3% of all fractures were related to hoverboards.” But while hoverboards are risky, they aren’t necessarily dangerous. In terms of injury, hoverboards are about as safe as roller skates and skateboards—provided they’re used responsibly.
As far as fire safety is concerned, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps a close eye on hoverboards and has recalled several models it deemed a fire hazard. The CPSC has also shared safety tips you should follow to reduce the risk of fire.
Let’s go over those and other precautions to take when riding a hoverboard.
How to Make Sure a Hoverboard Is Safe
The thought of your new hoverboard catching fire is definitely not a comforting one. Here’s what you should do to make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Check the list of hoverboards recalled by the CPSC. If the CPSC has recalled the model you’re eyeing, you should definitely take your business elsewhere.
- Make sure the hoverboard is compliant with the UL 2272 safety standard. The packaging or the product should have a certification mark for self-balancing scooters or a personal e-Mobility label. Make sure the whole unit is UL 2272-certified, not just the battery or the charger.
- Buy from a reputable seller. If the hoverboard is significantly cheaper than similar ones, or the store looks questionable, the unit may not be safe to use. It’s important to understand that just because a hoverboard is on Amazon, that doesn’t mean the seller is Amazon itself.
- Charge carefully. Only use the charger that came with the hoverboard, and keep an eye on the device when it’s charging.
Now, if we’re talking about injuries, the study above shows that the most common ones are fractures, mainly of arms, fingers, and ankles. Their causes are either falling off the hoverboard or getting one’s fingers trapped between the wheel and the wheel well.
Here’s how to make sure riding a hoverboard is safe for you and your child:
- Wear protective gear, such as wrist guards, a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads. It’s a default for roller skating, but people tend to ignore protection when riding a hoverboard. Wrist guards alone reduce the impact of falling on your hands by 50%, so wearing them can help you avoid broken wrists and forearms.
- Don’t hold the hoverboard by the wheels or the wheel wells. Generally, keep your hands away from the moving parts of your hoverboard, even when it’s not moving.
- Ride on even surfaces with ample space for maneuver. A bump on the road can cause you to lose balance and fall, while crashing into furniture in a cramped living room increases risk of fire. Also, keep in mind that many cities have banned the use of hoverboards in public spaces.
What Is the Minimum Age and Weight for a Hoverboard?
Hoverboards typically work for riders who weigh between 45 and 300 pounds. But do check the manufacturer’s website to see if the hoverboard you’ve been eyeing has a different weight requirement. If the rider’s weight is too low, the hoverboard might have trouble balancing.
Most manufacturers say the minimum age to ride their hoverboards is eight years old; some don’t recommend their hoverboards for children under 13. But keep in mind that certain cities and states may restrict the rider’s age even further (for example, a California bill requires you to be at least 16 years old to ride a hoverboard).
How Long Does a Hoverboard Battery Last?
How far you can go on a hoverboard depends on just one thing: battery charge. And how long the hoverboard’s battery charge will last depends on the following:
- The brand of the hoverboard
- Your weight
- The steepness and smoothness of the terrain you’re riding
- The temperature outside (extreme heat and cold drain the battery faster)
- Whether you’re going at a steady speed or stopping from time to time
If you look at the specs for different hoverboards, you’ll see the riding time doesn’t necessarily increase with the price. A cheaper hoverboard like the Cho model above can go for over an hour at maximum speed. And the more expensive Swagtron hoverboard will perform roughly the same. It travels up to eight miles per charge at a maximum speed of 7.5 miles per hour.
Should You Buy a Hoverboard?
If you’re shopping for a hoverboard out of sci-fi nostalgia or simply because your kid won’t stop talking about it—by all means, buy it. Just follow the safety tips, and you’ll enjoy the ride.
But if you’re looking for a sustainable way to get around, a hoverboard may not be your best option. With an average of 7-8 miles per charge, it won’t get you far enough to actually replace transport. There are more options to choose from, like some of our favorite rideables.