Self Balancing Scooters Buying Guide

 

Self Balancing Scooters – A Guide

Self balancing scooters, also known as hoverboards even though they don’t hover are super fun and a great way to get from a to b. But if you’re buying one of these for yourself, a teenager or a kid there may be a few questions on safety and what to look for when choosing a good model.

What To look for When Buying a Self Balancing Scooter?

If you’re in a hurry here are some top tips on what to consider:

1.) Safety – Self balancing boards which are compliant with applicable safety standards, including UN 38.3 (battery), UL 1642 (battery), and UL 60950-1 (charger), should be fine to use.

2.)Where to ride it? – It is illegal to ride a self balancing board on the in public the UK. They can be ridden on private land with permission of the landowner. They can also be ridden indoors at home. Many countries allow them to be ridden in cycle lanes, in parks or on the pavement.  Check local laws before you go.

3.) Age recommendation – not for young children. Typically kids age 12 and above should be fine.

4.) Weight of the board – consider the weight of the board, you may need to carry it up steep hills.

5.) Speed – the speeds of boards can range beween 6mph (10km/h)  and 13 miles per hour (21 km/h).

6.) Charge time – most boards take 2 or more hours to charge.

7.) Distance on one charge – boards can have a range of up to 12 miles (19 km) dependent on model, terrain, rider weight and other factors.

8.) Wheel size – Smaller wheels are fine for smooth surfaces (6.5 to 7 inches). For uneven ground, consider bigger wheels (8 to 10 inches) which will offer a smoother ride on rougher terrain.

9.) Price – prices can range between £200 and £600. The more expensive models tend to be designed to go off road.

What is a self balancing scooter and how do I ride one?

A self balancing scooter is a method of transportation which consists of two motorized wheels connected to a pair of articulated pads on which the rider places their feet. Riders stand with their legs by each wheel and the sensors in the boards maintain their balance. The rider controls the speed by leaning forwards or backwards, and direction of travel by twisting the pads. The boards have a rechargeable battery inside, which powers one or  two motors at the wheels.

Which size wheels should I get?

Standard wheels on a self balancing scooter are 6.5 inches. This is fine for smooth surfaces and indoors. If you want to go over some uneven terrain, on grass or on rougher terrain look for a scooter with bigger wheels. Smaller wheels sometimes mean you have to go at slower speeds on uneven ground as they provide less stability. Smaller wheels can spin when they hit an uneven piece of ground which can cause users to lose control when travelling at a higher speed.

Other wheel sizes to be in either 8 inch or 10 inch. ​8 Inch wheels tend to still be compact but they offer a bit more stability. 10 inch wheels are the best choice for off road terrain.

Battery, charge time and range

The battery is what charges a self balancing scooter so is a major factor when choosing which one to buy. A battery which will go flat after a couple of months use ultimately will make the scooter useless, so read reviews and check what they say about the battery.

The batteries generally take a couple of hours to charge. The length of use time will depend on which type of terrain the board is used on, the incline as well as the weight of the user. If it’s used on smooth surfaces the use time will be a lot longer.  The range can be 10 to 15 miles on a flat surface and most boards will get 2 to 6 hours of use.

Weight and Portability

How much the scooter weighs may be an important factor. And in most situations the lighter, the better.

If you are considering taking it abroad, perhaps on holiday you may need to transport it on a plane. If you are likely to come across a a steep hill,  you may need to carry it. If you run out of battery when using it you will need to carry it home.

If you do need to carry it a long way, consider the weight when doing so.  Many boards come with a carry bag to make transporting it easier.

The Rider

There are a few considerations when considering the rider.

1.) How heavy are they? Most self balancing boards have a weight limit of 100kg which is around 15 stone 7 pounds.

2.) Age – most have an age recommendation of 12 to 14 and above. Slower boards will be a better choice for younger riders. Kids younger than this should really avoid their use. Hitting an obstacle is likely to result in some injury so it’s really not worth the risk.

Safety Issues

There have been many safety issues and concerns in the past. There were incidents of earlier models catching fire which has led to improvement in safety design. The best advice is to do your research. Check out the company you are buying from and see what the safety criteria there is for their board.  They should have batteries and chargers which are compliant with the following UN 38.3 (battery), UL 1642 (battery), and UL 60950-1 (charger).

Other safety issues include rider injuries. Riders really should wear knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet when riding as these things do travel at speed. ​

Here are some factors to consider to make ride a self balancing scooter / hoverboard safe:

1.) Ensure your board is fully charged before riding.
2.) Get on your board when it’s on flat ground.
3.) Make sure your board has stopped completely before getting off.
4.) Make sure you are in away from obstacles when riding your board. This especially applies when first learning to ride.
5.) Avoid puddles and mud unless it is an all terrain model that’s designed for these kind of off road obstacles.
6.) Don’t ride up or down steep hill. Irresponsible use can cause injury and damage the scooter.

Price

A standard self balancing scooter will cost around £200 to £300 with some models costing up to £600. Any less than £200 and you may need to ask what the scooters are compromising on.

The more expensive models may offer some of the following;
1.) Sturdier frames which may offer an increased weight limit for a heavier rider and less impact from uneven terrain
2.) Larger 8 inch or 10 inch wheels which are better for uneven terrain or off road.
3.) Motors which offer more power and range
4.) Built in bluetooth for music streaming
5.) A keychain remote control for locking up

Obviously higher end models are more likely to use higher quality compenents. And generally the more you spend the better quality self balancing scooter you are likely to get, although as with anything that’s not always the case.

Check the features of the scooter carefully before purchasing. Also read the reviews to see what return policies are like and if there are any recurring faults. If they are sold by a high street store such as Argos or online at Amazon this is having the backing of a retailler provides extra piece of mind. Just make sure that at stores such as Amazon you buy directly from Amazon and not a 3rd party seller.

Other Considerations and Features

Different models have varying features, here are a few more features to look out for.

1.) Led lights – some boards have LED lights for extra fun.

2.) One wheel options – most self balancing scooters have two wheels but if you fancy something that gives you a bit more adrenaline, consider a one wheel scooter. These do tend to be more expensive but a great option if you fance something a little more different.

3.) A carrybag – some models have a carry bag. These can be extremely useful for transporting and storing the scooter.

4.) Training mode – some models have two modes. One where you can learn to use their scooter and another for when you have mastered it.