Ever since watching Back to the Future II in 1989 I have fantasised about having a hoverboard. Unfortunately, 2015 came and went without the promised flying boards emerging on the market.
The "Hoverboards" currently available are in fact self-balancing electric scooters. While they may not levitate above the ground, they look cool. They work pretty similar to a skateboard, but are ridden horizontally. To ride, you stand on pressure sensitive pads and lean forward, the board will move with you. Leaning back will reverse. You add extra pressure on your right or left foot to steer in your chosen direction.
I spent a lot of time researching the best board for my eight-year-old. We decided to wait until he was eight because most Hoverboards are designed for kids 50 pounds and up. What age your child is ready depends on their size, and also their coordination. To ride a self-balancing scooter, they need to coordination to control the board with their body.
Having decided that my son was ready, I began my search. Here are the main features I considered.
Hoverboards vary quite a bit in speed, with maximum speed ranging from 7 to 15 miles per hour. This can be affected greatly by the weight of the rider. What speed is right for your child depends on them. Smaller, more timid children will probably feel more confident with a slower board. For the adrenalin junkies, you’ll want something faster. Some models come with training modes, which cap the speed while your child is learning. The speed cap can be removed once they are confident riders.
2. Battery Life and Safety
There is nothing worse than a battery that only lasts about 15 minutes. Your child is just starting to get the hang of it, and the board needs to be charged. The average battery life of hoverboards is about 40 minutes, though more expensive models can offer twice that.
It is also important to consider how long the battery takes to charge. This is not only to minimise the amount of time before you can use the board again. Hoverboard batteries should never be charged overnight. Overcharging can damage the board’s lithium battery, and damaged lithium batteries have been known to catch on fire. Hoverboard batteries should be checked regularly for damage. Also, make sure you buy a board with a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certified battery.
It is important to pay attention to the weight limits of hoverboards. If a rider is too light or too heavy, they can easily destabilise the board. Also, it can be difficult for lighter riders to apply sufficient pressure to steer the board properly. Luckily, a lot of hoverboards have a broad weight range, from 45-220 pounds. You can probably pick up something that both you and your child can use. If your child is at the lighter end of the spectrum, it can be useful to get them to try the board in store, even if you end up buying online.
The size of the hoverboard’s wheels affect how it works on different surfaces. In general, the bigger the wheels, the more stability on uneven surfaces. Standard wheels are 6.5-7 inches, but you can get boards with wheels between 8 and 10 inches. Tyres should also be durable. Pneumatic air tyres or puncture proof rubber tyres are best. Avoid plastic tyres as they offer little grip.
5. Extra Features
Hoverboards are designed to feel futuristic. Playing into this, a lot of boards offer extra features such as Bluetooth controlled music, and coloured lights that respond to the rhythm of the music. While these types of features may not be at the top of your list when selecting a board, it is a good idea to make sure they are functioning properly. It is still annoying when non-essential features fail.
Best Hoverboards for Kids
Based on my research, these are my top 5 hoverboards on the market for kids.
Net Weight: 17.64lbs
Max Speed: 12km/h
Battery Capacity: 4Ah
Bluetooth Range: Up to 33ft
Net Weight: 20lbs
Max Speed: 12km/h
Range per Charge: 8mi
Net Weight: 24.3lbs
Max Speed: 12km/h
GOTRAX Hoverfly ION LED Hoverboard
Net Weight: 18lbs
Max Speed: 12km/h
Range per Charge: 3.5mi
CHO Electric Smart Self-Balancing Scooter Hoverboard
Net Weight: 26.9lbs
Max Speed: 10km/h
The TOMOLOO is fully CPSC certified with a high temperature resistant, fire retardant shell. The TOMOLOO is versatile, taking kids from 44 pounds and adults up to 165 pounds.
It has quality rubber tyres that don’t need air and won’t puncture. They also offer excellent grip and stability on a wide variety of surfaces. However, they are on the smaller side at 6.5 inches.
It’s 350-watt battery offers a maximum speed of about 10 miles per hour and can manage inclines of about 15 degrees. It can travel about 12 miles on a single charge and can be fully charged in less than 3 hours.
The board also has a futuristic feel with an LED light system. It also has an associated Bluetooth app to control the lights and play music.
The TOMOLOO is the most expensive hoverboard on the list, but won’t break the bank as far as gadgets are concerned.
Suitable for kids as light as 44 pounds and adults as heavy as 220 pounds, the Swagfron T580 is a bit more affordable than the TOMOLOO.
With a 200-Watt motor, it is relatively slow with a maximum speed of around 7.5 miles per hour. Nevertheless, it can handle inclines of around 30 degrees. The battery can last up to 2 hours, and fully charges within 3-5 hours.
The Swagtron is another board that features an app that uses Bluetooth to allow the rider to control sound and music. The board is futuristic and fun.
One feature that sets the Swagtron apart is that it has a tripe riding mode. As well as standard riding, there is a beginners’ mode for those still getting used to the board. For adventurous riders, there is an advanced mode that is accessible via the app.
The board has great non-puncture rubber tyres. However, they are on the small side at 6.5 inches, which means it can be challenging on some surfaces.
The Swagtron also has a CSPC safe certified battery and they conduct rigorous safety tests. They also offer unique SentryShield and Smart Battery Management technology to alert the user to any potential battery problems early.
If you are looking for something specifically designed for kids, consider the Swagtron Classic. A more basic model without music and lights, it is a mid-range model.
The Swagtron Classic is a bit slower than some of the other models, with a maximum speed of 7 miles per hour. It is designed for smaller riders with footpads sized for smaller feet, but can take adults more than 187 pounds. It has a beginners’ mode that allows kids to learn at lower speeds.
It also comes with super traction tyres for outdoor riding. They are also slightly larger at 7 inches, offering a little extra stability.
Its battery is CSPC certified and includes the same safety features as for the Swagtron T580.
The Gotrax is one of the cheaper hoverboards available. As a more affordable model, it does not feature the music and linked lights that come standard on more expensive models. It does feature headlights that change colour when moving forward or reversing.
The Gotrax Hoverfly has a maximum speed of only 7 miles per hour. it’s dual 200-Watt motor has a battery life of around 4 miles on a single battery charge. The battery can be fully charged in 4-5 hours. Electrical, battery, and charger systems tested & certified to UL 2272 safety standards.
The Gotrax is ideal for kids as it has a further restricted speed mode for new riders, allowing them to train before hitting full speed. Nevertheless, it can take riders up to 200 pounds, so adults can use it as well.
The most economical model on this list, the CHO still comes with a fully CPSC certified battery. It also comes with Bluetooth controlled speakers and lights.
While not the fastest on the market, the CHO is faster than some more expensive boards with a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. The battery lasts for around an hour and can be fully charged within 3-5 hours.
Its wheels are relatively small ay 6.5 inches, but its vacuum tyres mean that it still performs well on rough surfaces.
The CHO seems to be less durable than some other boards on the market, and has a relatively short usage lifespan.
While the hoverboards currently on the market may not actually float, they are certainly fun to ride. Some of them come with a lot of futuristic features, but the main thing to look out for is a CPSC certified battery. Aside from this, make sure you get something that is the right weight for the rider, and the right speed. Some people get off on speed, but younger riders can benefit from slower boards, or boards with a beginners’ mode.