Best Hoverboards and Self-Balancing Scooters of 2017
After spending over 120 hours researching and evaluating over 25 different models of hoverboards, we purchased the top 11 models to find which model reigned supreme. After three months of testing these products — cruising around town, traversing off-road terrain, ascending and descending the steepest hills we could find, and finding the true limits of these products, we are confident that we can help you find the perfect self-balancing scooter for your needs. Keep reading to find out which model you should get, whether you are looking for the absolute best of the best, the best value model, most practical commuter, or simply the most fun.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Updated May 2017
The rollout of new models has continued at the steady pace, with a few noteworthy models appearing and a steady turnover of lackluster models appearing and disappearing. Our previous recommendations still deserve their awards, thoroughly outperforming the competition. Of the three models we added, only one proved to be particularly noteworthy and earned an award, with the remaining two falling far short of expectations. We'll keep a lookout for anything new cruising to the scene, but are quite confident that the following boards are the best you can get today.
Best Overall Hoverboard
Read full review: Swagtron T3
Best Value for Kids and Lightweights
Read full review: Swagtron T5
Best Bang for the Buck
Read full review: Swagtron T1
Best for Commuting
Read full review: Segway miniPro
Best for Outdoor Fun
Read full review: Epikgo Classic
Analysis and Test Results
Hoverboards are here. While these two-wheeled self-balancing scooters may not actually leave the ground, these items have exploded in popularity in the past few years. While you may have seen them featured by various celebrities, you may also recall some troubling news stories about them catching fire.
Will My Hoverboard Catch Fire?
Given the past history of earlier vintage 2015-2016 (non UL-certified) hoverboards lighting on fire , you may be wondering whether every board on the market is simply too risky to consider. We understand your caution, but there is good news here with the advent of a UL safety testing standard for these products,UL 2722, which the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has endorsed. All the products we include in this review passed this new UL-certification safety test.
While we could have done this review earlier, we waited until there was a large enough group of boards that met the new safety standard to do exhaustive side-by-side testing to help you select the best. We spent countless hours researching these products, analyzing user experiences, comparing manufacturers' specifications, and evaluating their marketing claims to determining what someone looks for in a hoverboard, and what it would take for a product to be crowned the best. We then took all of this knowledge and designed a comprehensive battery of tests to push these products to limits and crown a victor.
These overall scores were based on the performance of each product in our weighted rating metrics: Fun Factor, Outdoor Capabilities, Support, and Battery. We completed a series of tests for each board in each metric and detailed the results in the sections below.
Essentially the most important aspect of these products, fun factor is the highest purchasing motivation for many people. While these can be used as a commuter vehicle or an effective method of transportation, these products thrive at hanging out and having fun on a large, smooth surface. For anyone who is not planning on using this solely as a method of transport, the fun factor is of paramount importance and constitutes 55 percent of the overall score.
To assess this, we looked at the top speed of each model and had a test panel ride them through an obstacle course while evaluating their maneuverability, acceleration, stability, and overall confidence on each board. You can see how we ranked the boards in the following chart.
While the obstacle course score made up the majority of the score, we also looked at fun extras, such as the availability of colors for each board, Bluetooth connectivity and integrated speakers, compatibility with third-party accessories, and the weight of each board — a board that is awful to carry isn't fun for anyone.
Unsurprisingly, our pick for Best Overall Hoverboard, the Swagtron T3 dominated this category, winning handily with an 8 out of 10. This model was a favorite among most of our panel, scoring it first or second in every metric they were evaluating. This board was great at doing spins and turns and felt like it had the power necessary to keep us upright if we were fully committing to rocking back and forth on it.
This model was also exceptionally comfortable to ride, a feature we greatly appreciated as we were riding these more and more. In addition, the T3 comes in six colors and features an integrated Bluetooth speaker, but the third-party carrying case and skin were bursting at the seam when we tried them with the T3.
Following the T3, the Hoverzon XLS and the Swagtron T1 tied for the second place spot, earning a 7 out of 10. While the Hoverzon looks astonishingly similar to the T3, riders were much more prone to rapidly dismounting (crashing) it in our tests, and most of our panel noted that both of these boards felt a little more sluggish and had less pickup than the T3 in our back and forth testing. This can actually make a significant impact on fun factor, as a board that doesn't have sufficient pickup can force you to jump off the board when switching directions rapidly, as the board lacks the power to re-center itself underneath you. The T1 comes in six colors compared to the five of the Hoverzon XLS. The Hoverzon was just a little too chunky to fit the carrying case, but the T1 was just lean enough to squeeze in.
Rounding out our top-tier of the most fun models, were our off-road models and the other Best Buy award winner. The Epikgo, Epikgo Premier, and the Halo Rover were essentially identical as far as we could tell as well as receiving similar comments from our test riders, with this trio of boards all earning a 6 out of 10 for being reasonably fun but lacking the maneuverability of smaller models. The T5 also earned a 6 out of 10. This board has plenty of agility but is a little underpowered, dropping it out of the top spot.
The burly, off-road boards are exceptionally stable and were rated the best at doing rapid, back and forth circuits. However, these boards are significantly wider than other boards, making these feel less maneuverable in cornering and carving, and gave our panel a little grief in the slalom and spin sections of our obstacle course. We also noticed that these boards seemed to fight you when trying to drive at max speed for any length of time, with the board rotating back and causing our toes to point skyward. We coined this phenomenon "pushback," which ends up being exceptionally painful after enduring it for more than 20 minutes or so.
Next up was the Segway miniPro and the Skque X1L10, both earning a 5 out of 10. The Segway model is distinctively different than the other products that we looked at it, utilizing a completely different steering mechanism with a kneebar, in direct contrast to the two-part pivoting system in every other board. This makes it much more difficult for this board to execute complete spins and sharp corners. It was also slightly less fun doing the back and forths. In essence, the Segway is a comfy, cushy ride with its pneumatic tires and wide footpads, and seems to be suited more for actual travel or commuting, rather than playing around in a parking lot or similar area. This performance aptly earned it our Best for Commuting Award.
The Skque was reasonably fun, the higher foot platform making it less confidence inspiring in the turns than other models. It felt similar to the Segway even with the different steering mechanism. The balance and turning just felt less refined than other boards, with the smaller footpads making it very easy to accidentally disengage the motors while riding.
Rounding out the fun factor metric were the two below-average performing boards: the Powerboard by Hoverboard and the Razor Hovertrax 2.0, scoring a 4 and a 3 respectively. The Powerboard felt exceptionally sluggish to our testers, both inhibiting them from reaching the speeds of the other boards, and practically causing them to faceplant on our back and forth tests. The Razor (along with the Segway) are the only boards that we tested that self-balance, meaning that they will maintain their balance without a rider on them. The rest of the products will only begin to balance and engage the motors when a pressure sensitive switch under the footpad is engaged. We noticed that this potentially made the Razor the most sensitive — but not necessarily in a good way. This board felt twitchy and extremely difficult to steer in a straight line. This twitchiness also made it very unsettling to ride this board in reverse, and coupled with a lack of power similar to the Powerboard, made for some extremely cautious testers when doing back and forth maneuvers. The nerve-wracking and unsettling ride on these boards makes for a tense experience, not a fun one.
While we did conduct much of our fun factor testing outside, we did it on ideal surfaces — flat and smooth, with no debris, bumps or cracks to trip up our boards. Unfortunately, the world is not entirely comprised of ideal hoverboarding surfaces. In this metric, we looked at what happens when everything is not perfect and how these products handled the various curve balls we threw at them. You can see the outdoor capabilities ranking in the following graphic.
In this metric, we analyzed the performance of these boards as they traversed grass, dirt, and sand, as well as how well they went up and down steep inclines. We also looked at how stable they were when crossing cracks and bumps, crossing thresholds, and driving over rough roads. Only three of the boards we look at are really designed to cope with these sorts of challenges, with their larger knobby tires, or pneumatic ones. Unsurprisingly, these were the only three boards that merited above average marks. However, there were some surprises and a definite spread in performance among the other five boards.
The top performer in this category was the Segway miniPro, earning an exceptional 9 out of 10 and redeeming itself for its lackluster performance in our fun factor testing. This model has the largest tires, and is the only board with pneumatic ones, affording its rider the smoothest and most comfortable ride. This model did the best in every category of this metric, zipping over cracks and bumps, and not faltering for a second when going over dirt or grass. This model also excels at the steepest inclines and would be a great pick for someone who lives around steep hills.
Next were the remaining larger wheel boards, the Halo Rover, Epikgo Premier, Skque X1L10, and the Epikgo Classic, all scoring a 7 out of 10 in this metric. The Halo Rover, Epikgo Classic, and the Epikgo Premier didn't do quite as well as the Segway on cracks and thresholds, lagging it by a few points, but closely followed it when it came to steep hills and traveling over dirt or sand. While these boards slightly lagged the Segway, they were substantially more fun. This performance could have netted any of these boards an award for their standout performance in this category, as well as their solid showing in fun factor, but the Epikgo Classic took home the crown for the Top Pick for Outdoor Fun for the best combination of all-terrain competency and lower list.
The Skque did very well at covering off-road terrain and rough roads but it didn't inspire confidence when heading up or down steep hills.
These three aforementioned boards are the only ones really suited to this terrain, and there exists a decent discrepancy between their performance and the remaining five boards. The Hoverzon XLS and the Swagtron T3 both earned a mediocre 5 out of 10. The T3 did the best of the "standard" hoverboards on the steep incline, but in no way was it an enjoyable experience. When heading down steep inclines, this board felt like it lost power, but still was applying some resistance to the wheels. This is in direct contrast to the Hoverzon, which went into a completely free-wheeling mode, thoroughly terrifying our testers and making them hesitant to repeat the test.
The Swagtron T1 and the Razor Hovertrax 2.0 were acceptable going downhill, only feeling a little squirrely, but both caused us to stumble on the uphill. Literally. These board pushed back when attempting to go full speed up the hill, knocking our testers off. Surprisingly, the Powerboard did the best of the normal boards, and while it wasn't fast up or down, it didn't knock us off — a clear case of slow and steady winning the race.
Unfortunately, this board couldn't maintain its performance trend, and the Powerboard did relatively poorly at comfortably crossing cracks and thresholds. The worst performance on cracks was the Razor, which actually broke when going over a crack that every other board made it over, forcing us to send it back and get a replacement (Razor did this free of charge). The Hoverzon XLS redeemed itself slightly, doing the best job of clearing cracks and cruising over dirt and sand, just barely edging out the T3.
In summary, the Powerboard did the best at the steep hills, while the Hoverzon XLS and the T3 did better at cracks, rough roads, and dirt. This should all be taken with a grain of salt, as all of these standard boards struggle with this terrain and it would be easy to take a fall on any of them. If you are looking at primarily going on this sort of terrain, your best bet is the Epikgo, our Best for Outdoor Fun award winner, or the Segway, our Best for Commuting award winner — if you are willing to spend the extra cash.
This metric mainly evaluates the manufacturers of these products, rather than the products themselves. These boards aren't a trivial investment for many people, and it can be unsettling to spend that much of your hard-earned cash with a company that you will never be able to contact in the event of a problem. And problems do occur. As mentioned above, we completely disabled one board in the course of our testing and had to consult the manufacturers of several other boards with questions or concerns. We also evaluated the relative durability of the products by rating how well they stood up to our testing process. Hoverboards lack the extensive repair network of more common products, and a broken hoverboard that has poor support may just become an expensive doorstop, collecting dust. Reinforcing the point that support is critical, hoverboards break OFTEN. You can see the support score for each board in the following chart.
Three different manufacturers tied for the top score in this metric, all earning a 7 out of 10. We received the best customer support from the makers of the Swagtron T3, Swagtron T1, Swagtron T5, Powerboard, and the Segway miniPro. We sent in a minor question to the Segway technical support team, asking how to fix a flat tire. Their team responded quickly, with detailed instructions on how to fix it, as well as stating that we could follow their instructions if we thought it was severe enough to send back under their warranty program. Powerboard responded within a day to our inquiries, giving helpful instructions on how to calibrate the board and what steps to follow if that did not work. Swagtron responded quickly, but it wasn't the most helpful response compared to the Powerboard or Segway team. The Epikgo Classic and Epikgo Premier actually had our favorite customer support experience of the bunch. Unfortunately, this board showed some of the most damage throughout our testing, even though all the boards were put through the same tests. This knocked the Epikgo models down to a 6 out of 10, solidifying their spots in the second tier in this category.
The Razor Hovertrax 2.0 earned the same score as the Epikgos. This board broke when we tested its abilities to clear 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 Halo Rover had about average support, where we received a response quickly that wasn't helpful. It was a generic email requesting that we upload a video to them for analysis. This earned it a 5 out of 10.
Next was the Skque, earning a 4 out of 10. We found the support team to not be terribly helpful, though the board held up well to our testing process.
Rounding out the bottom of the pack is the Hoverzon XLS, scoring a dismal 1 out of 10. The only method of contacting the manufacturer was by phone. When we attempted to contact them, we were routed through an automated message system and never successfully contacted them. While the Hoverzon did state that it had a warranty, we felt this was somewhat negated by the fact that they were impossible to contact.
The final aspect of these products that we looked at was the battery performance, making up 10 percent of the final score. This metric boils down to one basic premise: Which of these boards can you ride the most? This is an important measure of these products, as unlike an electric skateboard, scooter, or bicycle, these boards become exceptionally large and awkward paperweights the moment their battery dies.
Riding these boards to the limits?
Be careful when you hear the low battery indicators on your board. When the battery dies, these boards instantly stop, usually immediately tip over, and can definitely startle an unsuspecting rider.
To test this, we split this metric into three separate components: range, runtime, and charge time. For range, we rode each model on our test course — a flat, smooth parking lot — until the battery died, tallying the laps as we went to determine total distance traveled. This is essentially how far you could get on one of these boards in ideal circumstances. Our next test was the obstacle course, where each board was forced to spin, start, stop, and change directions frequently, compared to simply driving forward in the previous test. We timed how long each board lasted throughout this to determine scores. Finally, we checked how long it took for each board to fully charge after it was completely depleted.
The Segway dominated the competition in this metric, earning an exceptional 9 out of 10. This model lasted for 2:25 in our obstacle course, over a half hour longer than the next closest model, the Epikgo Classic, and over double the runtime of the worst performing model, the Razor Hovertrax. The Razor lasted a little over an hour, so you should be able to reliably count on at least an hour of play time, no matter which of these boards you get.
A similar pattern continued for our range test, or maximum distance traveled. The Segway once again led the pack, this time with an even larger discrepancy between it and the next closest finisher. Lasting an incredible 14.7 miles, the Segway earned a 9 out of 10, going almost 6 miles further than the Epikgo Premier. The Epikgo Classic, Skque, Halo Rover, and the Powerboard all had similar results, traveling 7.2, 7.2, 7.4, and 7 miles respectively. We ranked the Hoverzon and the Swagtron T3 about average for their approximately 5 miles of travel, and the Razor rounded out the bottom with its meager, 3.4-mile range.
The final aspect we looked at was charging time, conducting our own test rather than relying on manufacturers' claimed time. The three fastest boards were the Hoverzon, T3, and T1, all taking between 1:15 and 1:20 to fully charge. The slowest being the Segway, at around 3 hours to completely charge — understandable, as this board has such a massive battery when compared to the others. The off-road models (Epikgo Classic, Epikgo Premier, and Halo Rover) took about 2.5 hours to recharge. We were a little disappointed that the Powerboard and the Razor both took about 2:40 minutes to charge, where they didn't really have the exceptional range or runtime to compensate for taking so long to charge.
While there exists a huge variety of different boards on the market, there isn't a single hoverboard that is the perfect fit for everyone. It is necessary for you to balance your budget for one of these with your expected use, whether this will become your daily commuter vehicle or a source of entertainment, and what terrain you plan on traversing to pick the perfect board for you. Hopefully, this testing process will have aided you in narrowing down which model to consider.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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