We know, we know. Technically, these boards don’t actually hover, but “hands-free scooter” just doesn’t sound as cool. It’s been a tough few years for the hoverboard industry. For a time, the damn things just wouldn’t stop catching fire. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, hoverboard-related fires between December 2015 and February 2016 were responsible for more than $2 million in property damages nationwide. Some college campuses and airlines have banned self-balancing scooters altogether, and the United Kingdom has completely outlawed their use in any public space.
With all this negative publicity, you might wonder, “why buy a hoverboard?” Uh, because they’re awesome. These motorized, self-balancing devices are easy to pick up and tons of fun to ride, and, honestly, the hardest thing about a hoverboard is trying to look cool while riding it. These puppies can actually be an effective mode of transportation, capable of reaching speeds close to 10 mph and “hovering” for nearly 20 miles on a single charge. Best of all, there are finally self-balancing scooters on the market that are guaranteed not to explode violently at your feet! Amazon even rescinded its February 2016 decision to cease hoverboard distribution.
With that in mind, here are our picks for the best — and least explode-y — hoverboards on the market.
Razor Hovertrax 2.0
Why you should buy this: It’s compact, affordable, and simple to control.
Who it’s for: Anyone and everyone
How much will it cost: $400
Why we chose the Razor Hovertrax 2.0:
Remember Razor? Chances are, you’re familiar with the scooter that put them on the map around the turn of the millennium. They haven’t gone anywhere, and now that they’ve received their UL 2722 safety certification, they’re making moves to get into the hoverboard game. The Hovertrax 2.0 — so named because the first edition was pulled from stores after safety concerns arose — is a true rival for the Swagtron series, offering all the same bells and whistles, for the same price, with a more recognizable brand name.
The Hovertrax is also capable of supporting 220 pounds for about an hour of riding, and it features a battery pack that automatically shuts off once it reaches a full charge. Razor’s board doesn’t bring anything new to the table, sure, but it’s bringing competition to a market that didn’t have much, if any, which is only a good thing for the future of hoverboarding.
Razor also released an upgraded version, called the Hovertrax DLX 2.0, that includes some awesome new paint jobs and multi-color LED displays. Unfortunately, they’re currently only available from Brookstone for nearly $600.
The safest hoverboard
Why you should buy this: It’s attractive and unique, with superior battery life and easy-to-master gyroscopic controls.
Who it’s for: Those who prefer a little more support while riding
How much will it cost: $600
Why we chose the Segway MiniPro:
Okay, so this guy isn’t exactly what you were expecting. The MiniPro blends the typical self-balancing scooter with the Segway flagship aesthetic to create a hands-free personal transportation device that’s truly one of a kind.
The MiniPro’s unique knee steering bar — adjustable from 20 inches up to 34 inches high — allows the rider to turn by simply leaning into the knee pads, and simultaneously provides a sense of stability and balance. The knee bar is detachable for storage and transportation purposes, but the board won’t function without it.
Capable of carrying up to 220 pounds and traveling around 14 miles on a full charge, the MiniPro offers a simpler, safer experience than your average hoverboard. The MiniPro also works in concert with a Bluetooth app that lets you customize the color and pattern of the scooter’s tail lights, as well as providing antitheft security and data for your most recent trip.
Oh, and you can control the scooter remotely from the app. The MiniPro is also UL 2272 certified, so you won’t need to worry about your personal scooter unexpectedly turning into a personal rocket launcher.
The best all-terrain 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: $600
Why we chose the Epikgo Classic:
The Classic self-balancing scooter, from Silicon Valley-based Epikgo, 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 10 mph. Riders can count on the Classic to last for about 10 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 15 degrees, and LED headlights will keep you from losing your footing while ‘boarding at night. The aluminum fender cover — advertised as “indestructible,” though we’re not certain of this — protects the wheels from harm, while the durable ABS chassis prevents the board’s inner workings from taking any damage.
Epikgo also offers a Sport Plus model, boasting a more powerful motor and a Bluetooth speaker, and a Premier model is in the works as well. The Classic isn’t as flashy as the other boards on our list, but it’s got a certain rugged je ne sais quoi that earns it a spot on our list.
How we choose
We do not do on-site hoverboard testing at Digital Trends, but we compiled this list with a lot of research. The Razor Hovertrax 2.0 is a staple in our New York office, where members of the DT team can be seen whizzing from room to room and pulling donuts in the hallway, and it’s the best hoverboard we’ve used, all around. As far as we can tell, the most important trait for a self-balancing scooter is safety.
Your best bet is to make sure the hoverboard you’re buying is certified under UL 2722, and we are not recommending any boards that do not meet this safety standard. The labs put these toys through a rigorous series of inspections to make sure they’re safe; below is a list of tests that UL requires to certify a scooter under UL 2722 (Electrical Systems for Self-Balancing Scooters).
Note: This list was sourced from the “UL/Safety” tab from the SwagTron T3 Hoverboard site. These tests are strictly meant to ensure the safety of the device from an electrical and flame retardancy perspective. They do not evaluate for performance, reliability, or rider safety.
- Overcharge Test
- Short Circuit Test
- Over discharge Test
- Temperature Test (Determines the failure temperature of a product.)
- Imbalanced Charging Test
- Dielectric Voltage Test
- Isolation Resistance Test (Testing Isolation Transformer.)
- Vibration Test
- Shock Test
- Crash Test
- Drop Test
- Mold Stress Test
- Water Exposer Test
- Thermal Cycling Test (Testing the effects of extreme differential temperature change.)
- Label Performance Test (Comparing products against other leading brands.)
- Strain Relief Tests
- Motor Overload Test
- Motor Locked Rotor
- 20mm End Product Flame (Test that determines flame resistance.)
There are a few UL-certified boards that didn’t make the cut. The Kiwano KO-X made a big splash last year as an all-terrain option, but the Kiwano website appears to be experiencing some technical difficulties, and Amazon stock is running out fast. Swagtron, one of the most popular brands, has several board options that are certified safe, but the differences between the X1 and X2, as well as the T1, T3, and T5, are difficult to discern. A little transparency goes a long way when considering products with safety concerns.
Hoverzon’s XLS scooter has received UL 2272 certification, and it’s certainly a defensible choice. Target also offers the Jetson V6 hoverboard, which boasts a unique aesthetic design and a dedicated mobile app that allows you to change the maximum speed and steering sensitivity — essentially, a child lock system.
There are also several brands and different types of scooters out there that haven’t yet been certified under UL 2272. Beijing-based Ninebot — which acquired Segway in 2015 — has its own line of scooters called the Ninebot One, which look like some kind of cross between a unicycle and the rolling ‘droideka’ battle droids from Star Wars: Episode I. The Ninebot, priced between $450 and $1,300, figures to make an impact on the hoverboard market if it received UL certification.
We’re not sure what the next move is for companies like PhunkeeDuck and IO Hawk, who manufactured high-end (read: more expensive) hoverboards, of which they sold thousands when self-balancing scooters blew up in 2015 (literally and figuratively). PhunkeeDuck claims that their battery cells are UL certified, but it’s unclear whether the boards are altogether safe. IO Hawk has made no such claims.