The hoverboards of today are not like the hoverboards depicted in “Back To the Future.” Instead of hovering above the air, hoverboards rest on two wheels. They are powered by a motor and battery, however. A better description is “electric skateboard.” These boards can fly across the ground at 10+ mph, and many are even able to tackle rough terrain like grass, gravel, and sand. If you’re curious about a hoverboard, what do you need to know? And is hoverboarding safe?
A brief history of hoverboards
The first hoverboards were created in 2013. They came out of the US and China, and celebrities were quick to jump on the bandwagon. However, fires and thousands of recalls prompted customers to ask, “Is hoverboarding safe?” Initially, not really. However, safety has significantly improved, with new standards and certifications. In just a few years, hoverboards have become much safer, at least in terms of their design. Before buying a hoverboard, you should consider the following features:
How fast is too fast? The fastest hoverboards can go over 10 mph, but if you aren’t comfortable with that, you can get hoverboards that max out at more reasonable speeds of 4-6 mph.
Battery and motor
The power of your hoverboard’s battery and motor determine how long you can ride before needing a recharge, and the hoverboard’s speed. Many hoverboards have dual motors in the 500-800 watt range.
Before you consider buying a hoverboard, make sure it’s UL 2272 certified. This is a new certification that applies to both the battery and motor, and means that the board has passed strict tests examining the risk of fire and electrical problems.
There’s a wide range of prices for hoverboards. Some are cheap at less than $200, while some can hit $1000. Consider your priorities and look at reviews as opposed to buying the cheapest (or more expensive) hoverboard you can find. There are lots of affordable boards that are UL 2272 certified and perfectly fine for most riders.
Injuries are a big reason why people ask themselves, “Is hoverboarding safe?” The most common injuries are fractures, contusions, strains, and sprains. The wrist, forearm, and head are the most commonly-affected body parts. These are injuries you’ll also see on a skateboarder. How do you prevent them? Wear safety gear. A helmet should be mandatory, while protections like wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads are highly-recommended. You can even buy padded shorts (skateboarders and snowboarders wear them) to protect your tailbone, hips, and thighs.
A lot of people buy hoverboards for their young kids. You can find reviews where people say their 5-year olds are learning to ride. Hoverboards won’t even work unless the rider is 45 pounds or so, but that doesn’t mean your kid should get on one. Are they prone to accidents? Have they shown good balance when it comes to others toys like skateboards or roller skates? If you do let your kid on a hoverboard, be sure they’re fully outfitted in all the safety gear. If they’re going for a ride down the street, be sure they know riding essentials like how to slow down and stop. While hoverboards may be safe in terms of electrical and fire hazards, they are still a toy capable of high speeds, and they still require good balance. Be responsible and smart, and hoverboards can be a lot of fun.
Way back in 2015, Gildshire wrote an article about the murky situation with hoverboards and intellectual property law. Click here to learn more.