We bought the highest-rated hoverboards currently available and put them through a battery of tests (and battered them a little in the process!) to gauge which boards are best overall and at specific tasks. The metrics that comprise this comprehensive evaluation are defined and discussed in detail below. To see which models ranked the highest, dive into our comprehensive hoverboard review.
These boards are inherently fun products, which is the primary reason people purchase them. While we admit that it is hard to quantify fun, we think our method of aggregating the individual scores of our professional testers while they assess the maneuverability and speed is effective. The majority of this metric is based on the speed of the board and how it performed in our obstacle course, but we also looked at the weight of each board, Bluetooth connectivity functions, available accessories, and the stock color options.
The most important test in this metric was our obstacle course. The obstacle was set up on flat, smooth concrete and required the rider to perform a series of maneuvers such as rapid back and forth direction changes, spins, slaloms, and cornering. We had a diverse panel of testers — tall and short, light and heavy, cautious and bold — ride the course, taking notes on what boards they liked and in what tasks each excelled. We also had each tester switch boards after each lap to ensure that their critiques were comparative and not anecdotal.
Having completed the obstacle course, we moved on to speed trials. These trials were simply a run down a straight track to calculate each board's top speed. Each model was given three trials, and the results were averaged.
Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads…
While this might have been true for Doc's DeLorean, it doesn't apply to every board. All of the tested models performed admirably on smooth, flat surfaces; however, performance dropped dramatically as the terrain became more demanding. To quantify how each board performed when forced out of its comfort zone, we ran each board through various terrain types and evaluated the performance compared to the other models.
First, we looked at how each board performed on a steep incline (14%), going 750 vertical feet up, turning around, and descending the same slope. This test provided our analysts with the opportunity to look at both the power of the motors to propel a rider and the ability of those same motors to arrest a rider on the descent.
Next, we looked at how well each model traversed rough pavement, wide cracks and whether they could safely and comfortably clear a threshold. Finally, we addressed the concerns of the more adventurous riders out there and assessed the performance of each board on grass, dirt, and sand, averaging the scores to make the final determination.
As we learned in our testing, these products can and will break when pushed to their limits. It's important to know that the manufacturer stands behind their product or that you can at the very least get in contact with them about an issue or a warranty claim.
Throughout our testing regimen, the boards experienced a variety of crashes, and some handled them better than others. We rated how each board stood up to this abuse by visually inspecting each product for physical damage. Next, we contacted the manufacturer of each board with a technical question via email and rated their response. Finally, we evaluated the manufacturer's warranties; what is the period of coverage, and how comprehensive is that coverage.
Our final analysis addressed all aspects of battery life. This metric is split into three parts — run time, range, and recharge time — with run time comprising the largest percentage of the metric's score. The run time test evaluated how many minutes a fully charged battery lasted in our obstacle course, with riders switching every lap so that no board was unfairly penalized for having a larger rider. Scores are based on how long each board ran, thus providing a general idea of how long each board would last when playing (e.g., doing spins, turns, and rapid direction changes).
Our range test assessed a board's travel radius in ideal conditions. We started by measuring out a test track in a flat, smooth parking lot. Next, we ran fully charged boards around the test track until the battery of each board was depleted to the point that they could no longer propel the rider. The number of laps traversed was then converted to miles, and that produced the board's range.
In between the run time and range tests — when the batteries of the boards were fully drained — we timed how long it took each board to charge completely after being fully depleted. The elapsed time from when the charger was plugged into when the full charge light illuminated is the charge time.
It is our hope that by providing you with a thorough description of our testing practices that you will agree that we do, in fact, produce the world's best consumer reviews. If you are curious about the results of our exhaustive test regimen, take a look at our comprehensive hoverboard review or read through our Buying Advice for a more in-depth analysis of the important considerations and concerns that you should be aware of before purchasing a board.