Best Hoverboard of 2021
|Pros||Solid customer support, Bluetooth connectivity|
|Cons||Severely underpowered, short battery life|
|Bottom Line||This budget board fails to deliver a level of performance that would warrant its seemingly modest price|
|Rating Categories||Swagtron T580|
|Fun Factor (50%)|
|Outdoor Capabilities (20%)|
|Measured Run Time||50 min|
|Measured Weight||20.8 lbs|
|Measured Speed||7.3 mph|
|Measured Range||2.6 mi|
|Weight Limit||220 lbs|
|Bluetooth||Yes; App & Music|
|Warranty||12 months limited|
|Measured Charge Time||1 hour, 10 min|
Best All-Around Hoverboard
The Swagtron T6 is a top-tier hoverboard built for all types of terrain. This burly machine has 10-inch pneumatic tires and powerful 300-watt motors, allowing it to traverse most surface types and roll over all but the largest obstacles. This model offers one of the more comfortable platforms, and with a top speed of 11.9 miles per hour, it's among the fastest machines we've reviewed. On top of that, when you purchase a T6, you're not just getting premium performance but reliable customer support as well.
We found this board to be somewhat bulky and more difficult to maneuver with precision than some smaller contenders we tested. Also, due to its heavier weight, it can be a pain to carry around. However, if you're seeking a serious board for off-road riding, look no further.
Read review: Swagtron T6
Best General-Purpose Board
The Swagtron T380 is a far-priced, high-quality, and, most importantly, super fun product for all ages. It garnered 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 no signs of wear throughout our rigorous testing. Also, if something goes wrong, this board comes with fantastic customer service.
While the T380 is super enjoyable for cruising around on smooth parking lots, it suffers in its performance on soft or otherwise uneven surfaces compared to its big-wheeled competitors. Additionally, the battery life and, by extension, the travel range are relatively limited. These characteristics restrict this product to parks, driveways, and the streets closer to home.
Read review: Swagtron T380
Best Bang for the Buck
The Swagtron T1 offers competitive performance at an approachable price. With a max speed of almost nine miles per hour, it moves along at a reasonable pace, and with 87 minutes of run time, it can carry you a considerable distance. This board is maneuverable, particularly around corners, and Swagtron offers one of the better customer service programs we have experienced. So, if the board happens to give you trouble, they can help you get rolling again.
On the flip side, the low cost of this model does not come without some performance limitations. At speed, this model is a bit shaky. Additionally, it has marginal responsiveness to the rider's pedal inputs. This deficiency is particularly noticeable when oscillating between forward and backward movement. Despite these limitations, this little pony offers users an enjoyable ride at a manageable price.
Read review: Swagtron T1
Best for Commuting
Segway Ninebot S
The Segway Ninebot S looks like the black sheep of the hoverboard family. But make no mistake, this machine is all business. The S is nimble, packs tons of power, has a stable 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 any speed. Segway chose to forgo frills such as onboard speakers; this board is utility-oriented for the commuter with a futuristic bent.
Our test team has lots of experience testing Segway products, including the predecessor of the S. We are disappointed that the design team discontinued the adjustable steering column on the Ninebot S. This one decision was the source of all complaints, particularly from taller testers. In our view, Segway should be adding more adjustability to this critical component, not limiting it.
Read Full Review: Segway Ninebot S
Why Should You Trust Us?
To identify the best hoverboards, we initially investigated the specs of all the top brands and models. Then we bought the top models that we believe show the most promise to perform at a high level and put them through a thorough, comparative testing regimen. Our senior research analyst Austin Palmer, and senior review editor David Wise have extensive experience with electric vehicles. Having ridden over 850 miles (and counting) on hoverboards, electric skateboards, and scooters, Austin is an expert on how they handle and where to look for shortcomings in design or manufacturing. David has a mechanical engineering background that includes building 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.
More recently, Nick Miley and Hayley Thomas were added to the review team. Nick has spent years in university laboratories posing research questions, designing experiments, refining protocols, and documenting results. Hayley is a seasoned product tester and is highly versed in the nuances of urban commuting. Both Hayley and Nick have a long history of reviewing consumer products and offer scrutinizing attention to detail.
Related: How We Tested Hoverboards
Analysis and Test Results
While many hoverboards look similar, they can be divided into two fundamental categories: small and large. Small boards are more toy-like and work best on flat, firm surfaces. In contrast, big boards are designed for more serious riders that want to go cruising, perhaps with some off-roading in the mix. Small boards are highly maneuverable machines that can usually be identified by their small wheels, low clearance, and bright colors. Large boards have longer battery life, bigger wheels, higher clearance, and broader standing platforms. They are also usually heavier. Each sector has its trade-offs; large boards offer better all-terrain performance at the expense of maneuverability. The higher demands placed on larger boards require high-end components, especially the motors and battery cells. As one might imagine, these upgrades are reflected in the price.
Related: Buying Advice for Hoverboards
Given the not too distant history of non-UL-certified hoverboards lighting on fire, you may be wondering whether these products are safe. We understand these concerns. However, the introduction of a safety testing standard for these products, UL 2272, should hopefully put those concerns to rest. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has also endorsed these standards. 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 evaluation for each board is based on its performance in each of four rating metrics: Fun Factor, Outdoor Capabilities, Support, and Battery. Each board reviewed here was run through the same series of tests that comprise each metric.
We do not consider the price when scoring the performance of products in our reviews. We remove cost from the equation because we want the best products to receive top scores regardless of their price tag. However, we do recognize that price is an important thing to consider before making a purchase. While we do not consider price in our scoring, we do grant value awards to the products that provide the best balance of cost and performance.
A value purchase does not equate to the cheapest product on the market. Instead, it is the product that supplies more performance than the others for the same dollar amount or offers similar performance for even less money. Case in point, the Swagtron T1: this little shredder of a machine earns only slightly lower scores across the board, yet it costs significantly less than several of its peers with similar test results.
By and large, hoverboards are designed to be fun. As the market has grown, exceptions have arisen, such as the Segway Ninebot S, which is designed for commuting and utility. These practical models comprise a small portion of the market and are still fun to ride. Therefore, the fun factor of these products constitutes 50 percent of a board's overall score.
Although the level of fun each model provides is subjective, products that perform well at specific tasks give the rider more versatility of movement and self-expression. Speed is a big part of our fun factor metric, so our hands-on testing included time trials to assess the top speed of each model. Then we gather a team of testers to ride each board through our obstacle course designed to evaluate maneuverability, stability, and acceleration.
The conclusions for the obstacle course accounted for a large portion of the fun factor score, but we also considered 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 doesn't evoke joy.
To no surprise, the Swagtron T380 does well in this category. This model is a favorite among our testers, scoring top marks in every fun factor area, except those dealing with color options and aftermarket accessories. This board is great for spinning, turning, and rapid back-and-forth maneuvers. Testers reported that the T380 is quite responsive and has a snappy feel. However, some noted that this responsiveness borders on twitchiness.
You might be wondering why all this back and forth business in our obstacle course test matters to the average rider. The board's ability 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. A more powerful and responsive motor allows the board to rebalance itself quicker and easier, which both beginners and advanced riders will appreciate.
A large quantity of the fleet lands in the middle of our fun factor ranking sheet. The Epikgo Classic, GoTrax SRX Pro, and Tomoloo Q2C all offer comparable, albeit average, fun potential. The Segway Ninebot S is right on their heels, overlapping the previous cohort in several tests.
The speedy Swagtron T6 hit a measured maximum of 11.9 miles per hour in our tests. Although this result confirms the manufacturer's claims, it 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, with a staggering weight of 31.7 pounds, it's a bit on the heavier side.
The T6 is what we consider as a larger board. It has plus-sized wheels and tires, higher clearance, and a roomy standing platform. These characteristics limit its agility, and despite being quite stable off-road, it suffered a bit in our on-pavement maneuverability tests.
The Epikgo has a wide, stable standing platform that makes it fun in corners. These same characteristics, however, reduce its agility. Additionally, its max speed is 8-10 miles per hour. Although these speeds are above average for the class, the stability decreases as the speed increases, seeming to fight the rider when trying to cruise near its max speed. Testers observed the standing platform rotating away from the direction of travel, causing their toes to point skyward, which compromised their balance on the board. Testers dubbed this phenomenon "pushback" and described it as uncomfortable, even for short periods.
The performance pros and cons apparent in the Epikgo are consistent with all the larger boards in our review. These boards are stable and powerful, and they excelled at doing quick back and forth circuits. They are, however, significantly wider than the other boards in the review and correspondingly less maneuverable. Our testers reported difficulties in the slalom and spin sections of our obstacle course. The pushback from the board also negatively impacted the fun factor score.
Although the Segway Ninebot S shares the same pushback issue as some other large boards, it has a few unique features that set it apart. To start, the Ninebot employs a unique steering mechanism, a padded bar situated between the legs. Riders can change directions by pushing it toward one wheel or the other with the inside of the knees. This is in contrast to the foot-pivoting system utilized on every other board in our lineup. The Ninebot's steering mechanism makes it difficult to navigate sharp corners or make rapid changes in direction because the steering column is narrow and shifts out of place while the board is suffering pushback at speed. Steering issues aside, this board offers a capable and cushy ride with its pneumatic tires and ample footpads. As such, it's best suited to covering lots of ground as one would do during a commute.
We conduct most of our fun factor testing on ideal surfaces — smooth and flat, with no debris, bumps, or cracks. Unfortunately for hoverboard enthusiasts, the world isn't covered in perfect pavement. Accordingly, we also focusde on the products' ability to perform on hills, push through cracks, thresholds, and other obstacles that users may encounter when riding.
During our testing, we ride over plenty of dirt, sand, and grass to gather data about the outdoor capability of each model. We also take into account each model's performance on inclines. We use a hill with a 14-percent steepness grade for 750 vertical feet for our ascending and descending tests. This test allows us to assess the hill-climbing power and the electronic motors' ability to control speed on steep descents. We then look at how stable they are when crossing cracks, bumps, and threshold weather strips. Only a few of the boards in our test suite are designed to handle these obstacles — they are easy to pick out as they all have large, knobby tires and generous standing platforms. The larger, all-terrain boards make up a small portion of the market, although they are increasing in popularity. Consequently, this metric makes up just 20 percent of the overall score of each product.
The top performer in this category is the Segway Ninebot S with its pneumatic tires and the class's largest wheels (10.5 inches). The S crushed this metric by zipping over cracks and bumps and rallying over grass and dirt. This model also excels at steep inclines, so it is a great option if you live in an area with lots of hills.
Up top with the Ninebot S is the Swagtron T6, which also delivers impressive off-road performance. This board matched or fell just barely behind the S in each of our outdoor capabilities tests. The T6 made it to the top of our test hill without any noticeable signs of struggle, though the S was a little easier to pilot. The T6 also matches the performance of the S on packed dirt and sand, but it issues some feedback from cracks and bumps.
The remaining large-wheel board, the Epikgo Classic, doesn't perform as well as the S on cracks and thresholds. However, these two boards are nearly matched when it comes to steep hills and traveling over dirt and sand. But, while the Classic lags slightly behind the S in terms of performance, our testers find it to be a bit more fun.
The boards that feature small, solid tires and motors aren't appropriate for rough terrain. So, if your primary goal is to head off the beaten path on your board, be sure to look critically at the type of tires, wheel size, and motor specs.
The support metric primarily evaluates the behavior of hoverboard manufacturers rather than the products they produce. We wanted to know how easy it is to contact these companies, how long it takes for them to respond to inquiries, and how helpful they are in their responses. Moreover, we wanted to assess what their warranties will cover and the duration of coverage. For many people, these boards are not a trivial investment, and it can be disappointing to hand over your hard-earned cash to a company that will be difficult to contact if a problem were to occur. And problems do occur. During our testing, we broke one board, another was stolen, and several other products required us to contact the manufacturer with questions and concerns.
To test the response time and 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 and included a statement about their warranty program. Swagtron's response time and helpfulness varied — there are a number of their products in this review, 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. The Epikgo Classic, however, incurred an inordinate amount of body damage throughout our testing. This damage knocked the Epikgo down to the middle tier of this metric.
The GoTrax customer support team is quite helpful, responding promptly to 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 board held up reasonably well to our testing process, exhibiting only minor scrapes and scuffs, though the SRX Pro raised questions about durability.
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 unpleasant to carry.
Be careful when your board's low battery indicator sounds an alarm. When the battery does die, these boards immediately stop self-balancing and tip over, which can buck a heedless rider.
We split this category into three separate sub-metrics to test the batteries: range, run time, and charge time. For range, we fully charged each model's battery and then rode it on our flat ground test course until the batteries died. We then tallied the laps completed to determine the total distance traveled. This is a rough estimate of how many miles these boards can traverse in ideal conditions. With the batteries completely drained by this test, we then measured the time needed to recharge each unit completely. With full batteries, we proceed to the obstacle course. In this final test, each board had to start, stop, spin, and change directions frequently. These maneuvers are more practical representations of how most people will use their board out in the real world. We recorded the amount of time the 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. Surprisingly, the dark horse Hover-1 Titan came in just 10 minutes after the T6, which is remarkable considering that much more affordable.
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 drained. The Ninebot S travels 9.8 effective miles — we excluded the 1.5 miles of very jerky and somewhat scary travel that the board supplied while the battery wound down. And once more, the budget-friendly Titan impressed us with an excellent range of 10.6 miles.
The final aspect we looked at in this metric was charging time. Experience has taught us that we can't regularly rely on the manufacturers' claims, and charging time is no exception. At 1 hour 10 minutes, our tests indicated the fastest charging board is the Swagtron T580. Several other models take slightly longer, such as the Swagtron T1 at approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. On the other end of the spectrum is the GoTrax SRX Pro at 3 hours. Interestingly, the SRX Pro and the T580 offer the same run time.
Given the number of hoverboards on the market, it can be challenging to pick one with confidence. That's where we come in. We bought all the best boards and took them to their limits with our testing regimen. Our analyses render an accurate comparative breakdown of the different types of boards on the market with details such as the terrain and activity each board is best suited to and the travel radius of each model. With this information, you can choose your board with confidence and know you're getting the best product for your needs and budget.
— Nick Miley, Austin Palmer, Hayley Thomas, and David Wise
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