The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

The Best Hoverboards and Self-Balancing Scooters of 2020

The local skatepark proved great at testing how fun each board was.
Thursday February 27, 2020
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Are you shopping for 2020's best hoverboard? We've researched and analyzed dozens of boards and performed hands-on tests on 11 of the best models available. In the course of our testing we rated everything from top speed to battery recharge interval. The fruits of this labor are laid out below in an easy-to-use, comparative format. So, whether you're looking for a practical commuter scooter, a heavy-duty off-road machine, or just a fun board that won't leave your wallet light, you'll find a board that fits the bill.


Top 11 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Best Performance Board


Swagtron T6


The Swagtron T6.
Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
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  • 5

$400
List Price
See It

69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Fun Factor 6
  • Outdoor Capabilities 8
  • Support 7
  • Battery 9
Tested Top Speed: 11.9 mph | Run Time: 120 minutes
Very fast
Fantastic off-road performance
Stable
Pricey
Not as agile

The Swagtron T6 is a top-of-the-line board built for all-terrain types. This burly machine has 10" pneumatic tires and powerful 300-watt motors, allowing it to traverse most surface types and roll overall but the most substantial obstacles. This model offers one of the more comfortable platforms, and with a top speed of 11.9 mph, it's among the fastest machines we've reviewed. Moreover, when you purchase a T6, you're not just getting top-notch performance, you're also getting reliable customer support.

The rub is that this bulky board is far less agile and maneuverable than some of its smaller counterparts. Thus, it is slightly less fun to ride in close quarters. It's also one of the heavier boards in our review, making it a bit of a pain to carry. However, if you want a serious board for off-road riding, then the T6 is a compelling option.

Read Full Review: Swagtron T6

Best All Around Board


Swagtron T380


Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$269.99
(10% off)
at Amazon
See It

65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Fun Factor 8
  • Outdoor Capabilities 4
  • Support 5
  • Battery 7
Tested Top Speed: 8.7mph | Run Time: 50 minutes
Stable at speed
Nimble
Inexpensive
Limited range/ battery life
Limited performance on soft surfaces

The Swagtron T380 is an affordable, high-quality, entertaining scooter for all ages. The T380 garners these accolades due to its zippy, responsive, and agile performance in our obstacle course; especially when cornering and pirouetting. Moreover, this machine is durable, showing little signs of wear at the conclusion of our tests. Also, if something goes wrong, this board comes with some of the better quality customer service we've experienced.

While testers were quite pleased with this product when messing about on smooth surfaces (like the parking lot where many of our tests are conducted), the T380 suffered in comparison to its big-wheeled competitors on soft or otherwise uneven surfaces. Additionally, the battery life and, by extension the travel range, is relatively limited. These characteristics restrict this product to parks, driveways, and streets close to home.

Read Full Review: Swagtron T380

Best for Commuting


Segway Ninebot S


Top Pick Award
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  • 5

$489.99
at Amazon
See It

64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Fun Factor 5
  • Outdoor Capabilities 7
  • Support 9
  • Battery 7
Tested Top Speed: 10.7 mph | Run Time: 85 minutes
All-terrain crusher
Smooth Ride
Massive travel radius
Heavy
Fixed length steering column

The Segway Ninebot S looks like the black sheep of the hoverboard family. While it certainly looks different than its peers, that doesn't mean that it's performance-oriented. The S is fleet, delivers tons of power, has a stable standing platform, and can keep rolling mile after mile. Unlike other models sporting big wheels and claiming off-road prowess, the S has 800 watts of motor power to carry the rider through uneven surfaces at almost any speed. Foregoing bells and whistles such as onboard speakers, this board is utility focused for the commuter with a futuristic bent.

Our team has lots of experience testing Segway products, including the predecessor of the S. Accordingly, a number of testers were disappointed that Ninebot's designers discontinued the adjustable steering column. This one decision was the source of all complaints, particularly from taller testers. In our opinion, Segway should be increasing adjustability to this critical component, not reducing it.

Read Full Review: Segway Ninebot S

Best Bang for the Buck


Swagtron T1


Best Buy Award
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$219.00
(12% off)
at Amazon
See It

63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Fun Factor 7
  • Outdoor Capabilities 4
  • Support 7
  • Battery 6
Tested Top Speed: 8 mph | Run Time: 80 minutes
Long battery life
Good customer support
poor off-road
A bit sluggish

The Swagtron T1 packs a lot of performance into an affordable board. At 87 minutes, this machine has a decent run time, and with a max speed of almost 9 mph, it moves along at a reasonable clip. This board is maneuverable, too; particularly in corners. To top things off, Swagtron has some of the better customer service that we have experienced. So. if the board gives you trouble, they'll help you get rolling again.

On the flip side, the low cost of this model does not come without some performance limitations. This model is a bit shaky at speed. Additionally, it isn't super snappy in its response to rider inputs. This lack was particularly noticeable in the back and forth portion of our obstacle course. All and all, this little whip serves up a really fun ride.

Read Full Review: Swagtron T1

Top Pick for Kids and Lightweights


Swagtron T5


The Swagtron T5.
Top Pick Award
  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$199.99
(33% off)
at Amazon
See It

53
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Fun Factor 6
  • Outdoor Capabilities 3
  • Support 6
  • Battery 5
Tested Top Speed: 7.1 mph | Run Time: 80 minutes
Low cost
Maneuverable
Sluggish acceleration
Limited max speed

The Swagtron T5 is a smaller, lighter, and less powerful board with a maximum weight limit of 187 lbs; 30-40 lbs less than other models in the class. Considering these shortcomings, the T5 might not strike you as a candidate for an award. However, this board is a hoot for smaller riders, and its attractive price will have the buyer in a good mood before the rubber hits the road.

Given the T5's limitations in power, it should come as no surprise that it lacks off-pavement and hill climbing capabilities. Frankly, this model can't reliably do either, especially if you're pushing the weight limit. Moreover, it lacks onboard Bluetooth speakers and the kaleidoscope of colors options enjoyed by other similarly marketed products. Despite these shortfalls, smaller riders with limited funds will likely be content with the T5.

Read Full Review: Swagtron T5



Why Should You Trust Us?


To find out which boards are the best, we do extensive and continual investigations of all the top brands and models, as well as considering customer reviews. We buy all the models that our research show promise to perform at a high level, then we put those products through our thorough, comparative testing regiment. Our senior research analyst Austin Palmer and senior review editor David Wise have extensive experience with electric vehicles. Austin has ridden over 850 miles (and counting) on hoverboards, electric skateboards, and scooters, making him an expert on how they handle as well as where to look for shortcomings in design and manufacturing. David comes from a mechanical engineering background and has built self-balancing skateboards from the ground up. He provides expertise on design, componentry, and powertrain systems, and he's also not shy of mounting a board and logging some miles.

The most recent update of this review was produced by Nick Miley. Nick has spent years in university laboratories posing research questions, designing experiments, refining protocols, and writing up the results. Additionally, he has a long history of reviewing consumer products.

Related: How We Tested Hoverboards


Analysis and Test Results


While many boards look alike, they can roughly be divided into two groups: small boards and large boards. Small boards are more toy-like and are best kept on flat ground, firm surfaces. Big boards, by comparison, are designed for more serious riders that want to go cruising, perhaps with some off-roading in the mix. Small boards are, in general, highly maneuverable machines easily identified by their small wheels, low clearance, and bright colors. Large boards have longer battery life, bigger wheels, higher clearance, and broader standing platforms. What the large boards gain in all-terrain performance, they lose in maneuverability. The higher demands placed on the larger boards require high-end components such as motors and batteries cells. As one might imagine, these upgrades result in higher prices.

Related: Buying Advice for Hoverboards

Will My Hoverboard Catch Fire?
Given the not too distant history of non-UL-certified hoverboards lighting on fire , you may wonder if these products are safe. We understand your caution. However, the introduction of a UL safety testing standard for these products,UL 2272, which the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has endorsed, should put those concerns to rest. In keeping with these standards we have not, and will not, review any boards that do not pass the UL-certification safety test.

The overall score for each board is based on its performance in each of our weighted rating metrics. These are: Fun Factor, Outdoor Capabilities, Support, and Battery. Each board here reviewed is run through the same series of tests that comprise each metric.


Value


We do not consider the price point when scoring the performance of products under our review. We remove cost from the equation is because we want the best products to get the top scores no matter what their price tag says. That said, we recognize that price is an important point to consider before making a purchase. To address the disparity between our rating system and the mental rating system used by most consumers, we have augmented our award categories with a Best Buy Award. However, a value purchase isn't simply the cheapest product on the market. Rather, it's the product that, when we look at the whole class of products, offers the consumer more performance than the others for the same dollar amount. Or, approximately the same performance for less money. Case in point, the Swagtron T380. This little shred machine earned average scores across the board, yet it cost significantly less than some of their peers with similar test results.

Our lead tester cruising around to test the fun factor.
Our lead tester cruising around to test the fun factor.

Fun Factor


By and large, these boards are designed to be fun. There are exceptions, such as the Segway Ninebot S, that are designed as commuter or general purpose vehicles. However, they occupy a small portion of the market and are still fun to ride. The fun produced by these products constitutes 50 percent of a board's overall score.


We can't say for sure if one model or another will make you more or less stoked. However, we can say that a product that performs well at specific tasks will allow you more versatility of movement and self-expression when riding. Accordingly, we ran time trials to assess the top speed of each model. Next, we mustered our crack team of testers to ride each board through our obstacle course, judging maneuverability, acceleration, and stability.


Obstacle course outcomes make up 55 percent of the fun factor score, but we also looked at maximum speed, add-ons such as color options, Bluetooth connectivity, integrated speakers, compatibility with third-party accessories, and the weight of each board. Why weight? Well, eventually you'll have to carry your board, and we think many will agree that carrying heavy things isn't much fun.

Not surprisingly, the Swagtron T380 did well in this category. This model was a favorite among most of our testers, scoring top marks in every fun factor evaluation except those dealing with color options and aftermarket accessories. This board was great at doing spins, turns, and rapid back-and-forth maneuvers. Testers reported that the T380 has a snappy feel that produced a sense of responsiveness. However, some felt that the responsiveness boarded on twitchiness.


Back and Forth Exercise:
You might be wondering why all this back and forth business in our obstacle course test matters to the average rider. The answer is that the ability of the board to power through rapid and repeated direction changes reveals whether there is sufficient pickup in the motors to re-center the board underneath the rider when momentum is working against them. The power and responsiveness of the motors comes into play for beginners as well as those seeking to push their limits because it allows the board to more readily rebalance itself.


As far as style is concerned, the XLS sports onboard speakers, Bluetooth connectivity and a panoply of color options. The T1 and T380 have three and four color options respectively. However, the T380 has Bluetooth enabled onboard speakers while the T1 lacks these add-ons. Both T models have a nifty backpack/ roller bag available from the manufacturer.

A large number of boards in our review fall into the middling fun factor ranks with the Swagtron T5 and T6, the Halo Rover, the Epikgo Classic, and the GOTRAX SRX PRO all offering comparable, albeit average, fun factor performance. The Skque X1L10 and the Segway Ninebot S are right on their heels, overlapping the previous cohort in several tests.

The T6 is a speedy little thing, hitting a measured maximum of 11.9 mph in our tests. This result confirms the manufacturer's claims. However, this is only possible if you enable the advanced riding mode through the companion app. This model includes a Bluetooth speaker and is available in three colors. Unfortunately, it's a bit on the heavier side, weighing a staggering 31.7 lbs.

The T6 is what we've defined as a larger board. It has plus-sized wheels and tires, higher clearance, and an ample standing platform. These characteristics limit its agility and, despite being quite stable off-road, it suffers as a result in on-pavement maneuverability tests.

The large wheels made clearing small obstacles a breeze.
The large wheels made clearing small obstacles a breeze.

The T5 is very nimble when cornering, but it is a bit underpowered, struggling to execute rapid back-and-forths with larger riders and producing a relatively slow measured top speed of 7.1 mph. It also lacks an internal Bluetooth speaker and is only available in white and black. However, it is quite light, weighing about 20 lbs. and is compatible with most commonly found accessories, such as protective skins, go-kart conversion seats, and handlebar options.

The T5 is very nimble and agile.
The T5 is very nimble and agile.

Our analysis showed that the Epikgo and the Halo Rover are virtually identical in terms of maneuverability. They have a wide, stable standing platform that makes them fun in corners. However, these same characteristics reduce their agility. Additionally, these boards generate similar max speeds of 8-10 mph. While these speeds are above average for the class, testers reported that stability decreases as speed increases and the Halo in particular seemed to fight them when trying to cruise at or near its max speed, with the standing platform rotating away from the direction of travel, causing their toes to point skyward, thus compromising their balance on the board. Testers dubbed this phenomenon "pushback," and reported that it was quite uncomfortable even for short periods.


The performance pros and cons that were apparent in the Epikgo and the Halo Rover are congruent with all the larger boards in our review. These boards are stable and powerful, and so they are the best at doing rapid, back and forth circuits. However, these boards are significantly wider than the other boards in the review, and that makes them less maneuverable. Our panel of testers reported difficulties in the slalom and spin sections of our obstacle course. The pushback from the board pushed back the fun factor score for most of these boards.


While the Segway Ninebot S shares the pushback issue with the other large boards, it has some unique features that set it apart. First off, the Segway employs a unique steering mechanism. Riders of the S alter their direction of travel by engaging a padded bar between the legs, pushing it towards one wheel or the other with the inside of their knees. This is in contrast to the foot-pivoting system utilized on every other board in the class. The S's steering mechanism makes it difficult to navigate sharp corners and make rapid changes in direction because the steering column is narrow and shifts out of place when the board is delivering pushback at speed. Steering issues aside, the Segway offers a capable and cushy ride with its pneumatic tires and ample footpads. As such, it seems best suited to covering lots of ground as one would do during a commute. Accordingly, the S earned a Top Pick award for best commuter board.


Outdoor Capabilities


We conducted the majority of our fun factor testing on ideal surfaces — smooth and flat, with no debris, bumps or cracks. Unfortunately for hoverboard enthusiasts, the world is not entirely covered in perfect pavement. Accordingly, the outdoor capabilities metric analyzes the performance of these products when we take them out of the flats and off the road.


To assess outdoor capabilities we measured the performance of these boards as they traversed grass, dirt, and sand. We also looked at their performance on inclines. For the incline sub-metric we took the boards up a 14 percent grade for 750 vertical feet, turned around and descended the same grade. This test allowed us to assess both their hill climbing power and also the ability of their electronic motors to control speed on steep descents. We then looked at how stable they were when crossing cracks, bumps, and threshold weather strips. Only a few of the boards are designed to handle these obstacles; they stand out with their large, knobby tires and broad standing platforms. Boards of this type are growing in popularity, but they still occupy a limited portion of the market. Consequently this metric makes up just 20 percent of the overall score of each product.

The Premier handled packed dirt and sand like it was pavement.
The Premier handled packed dirt and sand like it was pavement.

The top performer in this category is the Segway Ninebot S with its pneumatic tires and the largest wheels (10.5") in the class. The S crushed the outdoor capabilities sub-metric, zipping over cracks and bumps, and rallying through grass and over dirt. This model also excels at steep inclines, making it an excellent pick for folks living in hilly areas.


Finishing a close second to the S is the Swagtron T6, which delivered an impressive off-road performance. This board matched or was just behind the S in each of our outdoor capabilities tests. In the incline test, the T6 made it to the top of the hill without any noticeable signs of struggle, though the S was a little easier to pilot. The T6 also matched the performance of the S on packed dirt and sand but issued some feedback from cracks and bumps.

Roads? You don't need roads with the T6.
Roads? You don't need roads with the T6.

The Halo Rover and the Epikgo Classic, the remaining large-wheel boards in the class, didn't do quite as well as the S on cracks and thresholds. However, they nearly matched the S when it came to steep hills and traveling over dirt and sand. While these boards slightly lagged behind the Segway in terms of performance, they were substantially more fun despite their shortcomings.

There are several other boards in this class that don't warrant discussion in this section — they have small, solid (non-pneumatic) tires and motors that aren't appropriate to these terrain types. So, if you're primary goal is to head off the beaten path on your board, and you're willing to spend the extra cash to do so, your best bet is the Swagtron T6, one of our Editors' Choice award winners, or the Segway, our Best for Commuting award winner.


Support


The support metric primarily evaluated the behavior of hoverboard manufacturers rather than the products they produce. We wanted to know how easy it was to contact these companies, how long it took for them to respond to our inquiries, and how helpful they were in their responses. Moreover, we wanted to assess what their warranties will cover and for how long. These boards are not a trivial investment for many people, and it can be disappointing to hand over your hard-earned cash to a company that will be difficult to contact in the event of a problem. And, problems do occur. We broke one board in the course of our testing, and several other products required us to contact the manufacturer with questions and concerns.


To test the response time as well as the quality of the response we sent a basic, though technical, question to each manufacturer. Segway, Swagtron and Epikgo were all standouts in their timing and/ or their responses. The Segway team responded quickly with detailed instructions on how to resolve our issue as well as a statement about their warranty program. Swagtron's response time and helpfulness varied — there are a number of their products in this review, and so we ran this test more than once. Sometimes they were prompt with their response but not particularly helpful. Other times they took several days to get back to us, but the response was detailed and accurate. Although we only ran this test on Epikgo once, they provided the best customer support of the bunch. Their team replied to our inquiry in an hour and a half and had accurate, helpful advice to resolve our problem. However, the Epikgo Classic incurred an inordinate amount of body damage throughout our testing. This damage knocked the Epikgo down to the middling tier of this metric.

The Epikgo suffered a little during our testing and came out worse for the wear.
The Epikgo suffered a little during our testing and came out worse for the wear.

The Razor Hovertrax 2.0 earned the same score as the Epikgo. However, the board broke when we were testing its ability to pass over cracks, and initially we received a malfunctioning charger with the unit. In spite of this, we received very good support from Razor and were able to exchange the broken unit for a new one, as well as a new charger.

The GOTRAX customer support team is quite helpful, responding promptly to our technical inquiries and providing accurate and useful information via email. There is also a contact phone number (which is not the case with all manufacturers). Their boards held up reasonably well to our testing process, exhibiting only minor scrapes and scuffs, though the SRX PRO raised questions about durability. Unfortunately, GOTRAX only offers a limited warranty (90-day) and that shortcoming prevents their products from earning a top spot in this metric.


The Halo Rover had about average support — we received a quick reply but it wasn't helpful. It was a generic email requesting that we send them a video for analysis.

Battery


The results of this analysis make up 10 percent of the final score. Unlike an electric skateboard, scooter, or bicycle, these boards are unrideable when they run out of power. And as discussed in the fun factor section, some models are pretty heavy and would not be pleasant to carry.


Riding these boards to the limits?
Be careful when your board's low battery indicator sounds an alarm. When the battery dies, these boards immediately stop self-balancing, tip over, and can buck the heedless rider.

To test the batteries, we split the category into three separate sub-metrics: range, run time, and charge time. For range, we fully charge the battery of each model and then ride them on our flat ground test course until their batteries die. We then tally the laps completed to determine total distance traveled. This is a measure of how many miles these boards can traverse in ideal conditions. As the batteries are completely drained by this test, we then record the time needed to completely recharge each unit. Having fully recharged batteries, we proceed to the obstacle course. In this final test, each board must start, stop, spin, and change directions frequently. These maneuvers are more practical representations of how these boards will be used out in the wild. We record the amount of time these boards could continue the obstacle course rather than the number of miles traversed. We refer to this sub-metric as run time.


The Swagtron T6 dominated the competition in this metric, lasting for two hours in our obstacle course. It was seven minutes longer than the Epikgo Premier and 70 minutes longer than the worst performing models such as the Hoverfly. This spread in run time isn't insignificant, but you can plan on charging all of these boards routinely when in regular use.


A rankings pattern similar to that of run time emerged in our range tests. The T6 once again led the pack, cruising for 12 miles before the battery was finally depleted. The Segway came in a distant second with 9.8 effective miles (this excludes the 1.5 very jerky and somewhat scary miles that the board continued as the battery wound down). The Epikgo Classic and the Halo Rover were neck and neck, traveling 7.2 and 7.4 miles respectively.The Razor and Hoverfly rounded out the bottom with their paltry 3-4 mile ranges.


The final aspect we look at in this metric is charging time. Experience has taught us that we can't regularly rely on the manufacturers' claims, and charging time is no exception. Using our own tests the fastest charging board is the Swagtron T580 at 1 hour 10 minutes. Several other models take slightly longer, such as the Swagtron's T1 and T5 at approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. On the other end of the spectrum is the GOTRAX SRX PRO at 3 hours. Interestingly, the GOTRAX and the T580 have the same run time.

For such a small board  the T5 had an average battery life.
For such a small board, the T5 had an average battery life.

Conclusion


With the myriad of self-balancing scooters and hoverboards on the market it can be difficult to pick one without some reservations. That's where we come in. We bought all the best boards and took them to their limits in our testing regimen. The result is an accurate breakdown of the different types of boards on the market, the terrain that each board is best suited to, and the strengths and weaknesses of each model. You can choose your board with confidence and know you're getting the best product for your needs.



Nick Miley, David Wise and Austin Palmer