Swagtron T5 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, stable, agile
Cons: Sluggish, poor off-road
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Swagtron T5 is a whittled down version of the T1. This less expensive, less powerful model is our Top Pick for smaller riders or kids looking to ease into the hoverboard market. While the stated weight limit for the board is 187 lbs, the repercussions of over-burdening this board increase the closer one gets to that limit. The heavier the rider, the more sluggish the board becomes — an outcome that substantially decreases its appeal. If you're looking to save some cash and are approaching or exceed the weight limit of the T5, have a look at our Best Buy award winners as they are better suited to adult riders.
To evaluate the quality of each hoverboard in our review we conducted 16 different tests and analyses designed to tease out the critical elements contributing to a reliable and fun product. These tests are divided among four weighted metrics — Fun Factor, Outdoor Capabilities, Support, and Battery — which allow for direct comparison amongst the products reviewed. The following sections detail the T5's performance in each of these metrics and how it measured-up to its peers.
The most important metric in our review is Fun Factor, and as such it accounts for 50% of each board's total score. While fun may be a difficult concept to quantify, we think a board that is more maneuverable, responsive, stable, and fast will produce a more enjoyable experience. Weight, color options, Bluetooth connectivity, and aftermarket accessories were also included in this metric because style matters. We made use of a much larger group of testers in the practical evaluation than is usual for our reviews. This decision was made because fun is a bit vague, and we thought that augmenting our sample size would render a more reliable consensus. The Swagtron T5 finished slightly above the class average in the fun factor evaluation.
This board was well received by our panel of testers. They reported that the T5 felt nimble and maneuverable. Additionally, several testers appreciated how stable the board was in turns.
As was to be expected based on the board's weight limit, the T5 feels underpowered and slow when baring larger riders. However, even with the appropriately sized rider the board remains limited in its max speed, topping out at 7.1 mph. Despite being below average for the class, this speed is better suited to kids new to such products.
Many may wonder why weight is essential to fun. That's a good question. The answer is simply that one has to carry the board at some point and that schlepping heavy articles isn't that fun. Imagine a kid trying to get one of these 30 pounders up a flight of stairs. Fortunately, the T5 is one of the lightest models in the class, making it relatively easy for kids to carry if the need should arise.
Additionally, the T5 will fit in most third-party carrying cases and roller bags, making it even easier to transport. The T5 is only available in black or white and lacks Bluetooth connectivity. However, this board easily fits in most third-party skins if you want to add a bit of flair to your board.
Outdoor capabilities refers to how a hoverboard performs when steered off flat, smooth surfaces — the primary habitat of hoverboards. Figuring that one can't always cruise on easy street, we rode these boards on as many challenging surfaces as possible. We rode them up and down a steep incline, over packed dirt and sand, across swards and bumpy roads, as well as over the threshold in a doorway. To be clear, most of the boards in this review are not designed for this kind of terrain. Accordingly, we weighted this metric to account for 20% of the total score.
The T5 board made a poor showing when directed off the road. It didn't matter what the surface type happened to be — pack dirt, a freshly mown lawn — if it wasn't smooth pavement the board faltered. This model lacks the wheel size, power, and clearance to overcome even the most modest of obstacles.
The incline test rendered slightly better results, though not by much. The T5 struggled to carry an adult tester near the board's max weight up a 14% grade. Early in the ascent the board started to deliver pushback — a rolling of the standing platform that tilts the leading edge upwards — making it challenging to stay on the board. Additionally, the electronic motor brakes were inconsistent on the descent. The effect was a feeling that the motors might go out at any moment.
Crack and thresholds presented similar difficulties to the T5. Again, the issue is wheel size. This board has some of the smallest wheels in the class. As such, the board is easily overwhelmed by uneven or otherwise inconsistent surfaces. As for crossing thresholds… Let's just say that we don't recommend attempting this feat.
As with all Swagtron products here reviewed, the support is among the best in the class. Normally, we do not consider the behavior of a manufacturer in a review. This is because our experience has shown us that the best products will need very little, if any, input from the manufacturer post-purchase. However, it has been our experience that even the highest quality hoverboards require some customer support at some point. As such, we decided to rate the quality of said support and weight the results to account for 20% of the board's final score. The tests are simple. We investigate the warranty, what it covers, and for what duration. Perhaps more importantly, we make contact with the manufacturer and pose a simple, though technical question to them. We time the period required for a response to be issued, and we evaluate the quality of the response. Finally, we assess cosmetic durability post-testing because we hammer on these machines pretty hard in the review process. It's our thinking that the most durable product will require less support.
The T5 held up quite well to our battery of tests, sustaining minor scratches, and scuffs from a handful of crashes. These were strictly cosmetic and had no impact on the performance of the board. Unlike many other manufacturers, Swagtron provides a phone number that you can call. And, when the connection is made you get to talk to an actual person! Yeah, we were surprised, too. Swagtron's representative provided a helpful response to our question. Additionally, the board comes with a basic 1-year limited warranty, the full terms of which can be found in the manual or on their site.
Discussions of battery life and charging times may not be as interesting as musings on what makes a board fun. However, they are as critical, perhaps more so. Unlike an electric scooter or skateboard, a hoverboard is dependent on gyroscopes and accelerometers to balance the machine and electric motors to propel it. Accordingly, a dead battery transforms a board into dead weight. To avoid this unpleasant scenario, we measured how many miles each board can travel on a smooth, flat surface. We also measured the run time of each board when negotiating an obstacle course; a more realistic representation of how these machines will likely be used. To round out the analysis, we tested battery recharge times. This metric represents 10% of the total score of each board reviewed.
Given the intended consumer (smaller, younger individuals) for this product, it is no surprise that the T5's performance in our battery of battery tests was below average. Yet, the results weren't abysmal. The board kept its chin up for 5 miles in the range test before throwing in the towel — about average for the smaller boards.
The T5 performed similarly in our runtime test. In this evaluation the board was directed through our obstacle course which requires a variety of turns, spins, and direction changes. The T5 gives its best for an hour and twenty minutes. It should be noted that while this average for the class, it's enough time to wear out most riders! Finally, the T5 earned a few extra points for charging quickly, taking less than an hour and a half to top off.
Value means different things to different people. For us, value means that one is getting greater performance out of their purchase than they would get from a competing product of the same price. Or, getting the same amount of performance, but paying less money for the product. The Swagton T5 certainly falls into the latter category. As such, we consider it to be quite the value purchase.
This board is relatively fun, fast, and maneuverable as long as it's operating on a flat, smooth surface. The Swagtron T5 struggles with rough roads, steep hills, and of course, off-road. These issues are exacerbated when the board is bearing the burden of a full-size rider. For kids or other users well below the weight limit, this is a great introductory board.
— Nick Miley, David Wise and Austin Palmer