Hoverboards, also known as self-balancing scooters, have experienced a rollercoaster of ups and downs in the last year. In a matter of months, these gyroscopic boards went from a must-have device to a feared fire hazard.
Now it has been over a year since the first manufacturer recalls began on these products, and the question looms over prospective buyers this holiday seaon: are hoverboards safe to ride now?
The answer is a resounding yes, and companies like Razor USA have plans to keep self-balancing scooters relevant in years to come.
The difference in this year’s hoverboards is the new UL 2272 Certification, a rigorously revised standard for the electrical systems that power self-balancing scooters.
This certification was put into effect in May 2016, and now, you can confidently purchase any hoverboard as long as it demonstrates its UL compliance (or bears the holographic UL certification label).
The Razor Hovertrax 2.0 was among the first of this new generation of hoverboards to be UL 2272-certified, and now this trusted US brand’s new product stands to become the poster child for this safer and more fun generation of hoverboards.
To go more in depth as to what makes the Hovertrax 2.0 special, I’ll share some insight we gained from talking with Razor’s own CEO, and offer my own review of the Razor Hovertrax 2.0.
If you want to browse some of the other UL-certified self-balancing scooters available now, you can browse my list of the best self-balancing scooters here.
The Future of Hoverboards, According to Razor’s CEO
Carlton Calvin is the CEO and founder of Razor, the company that brought scooters into the new millennium. And if anybody knows what’s next in the world of personal transportation it’s him.
That’s why I spoke with Calvin over the phone about the newest version of the hoverboard, and where this invention is headed in the future. We also talked about the lack of pro scooter riders at the X Games, and our own personal commuting preferences.
I came into the conversation expecting to set the hoverboard apart from the classic kick scooter, Razor’s first big manufacturing hit. However, Calvin corrected me early on by informing me that currently, about two thirds of Razor’s business is motorized scooters.
Children of the early ’90s such as myself likely missed the scooter’s transition into a professional role, but the addition of motor scooters to Razor’s manufacturing line shifted the company’s primary focus from recreational toys to personal transport devices.
Calvin attributed the motor scooter’s initial success back to Silicon Valley back in Web 1.0 days, and cited busy cities around the world like New York, Tokyo, and Rome as places where scooter commuters currently thrive.
This growing demand for a simple and compact motorized transportation is why Calvin expects the Hovertrax to eventually transition from recreational novelty to personal transportation staple.
The original hoverboard design was purchased by Razor from inventor Shane Chen, and it employs a gyro sensor to balance two motor hubs, upon which you can independently control each wheel with your foot. Calvin saw this as a logical step forward in personal transportation, due to its intuitive controls and compact design.
Unlike a full-size Segway, which has a similar albeit bulkier design, the Hovertrax doesn’t put you at odds with pedestrians, and is easy to take onto a bus or train for a hybrid commute.
When I asked this old school rider what he hops on when he needs to ride down the block to the store, he admitted that he still rides the larger Razor E300 Electric Scooter because, in his own words, he’s old.
But Calvin still confides that the Hovertrax can be ridden by anyone. I couldn’t help but share with him an account I had with one of my elderly neighbors, who wished that they could trade their electric wheelchair for my “magic board.”
With my own extensive testing, I can confirm that the Hovertrax 2.0 is fun, easy to learn, and most importantly, safe to ride. Razor has always kept safety at the forefront of their business, and this year’s model goes above and beyond the new UL certification by adding extra shielding to the battery and electrical circuitry.
Another new feature that Calvin was enthusiastic about was the auto-balancing feature, which allows the Hovertrax to stand itself up straight before you even get on it. This is a big upgrade, as getting on the board was what caused a lot of injuries to riders on copycat models.
Now that this hurdle is easier to clear, which means more people will get a chance to actually ride the Hovertrax, which can be learned in a matter of minutes thanks to the beginners mode programmed into the device.
Given my longtime infatuation with skate parks, I was constantly steering the conversation to the world of extreme sports, and whether or not the Hovertrax had a viable future for adrenaline junkies. Carlton commented that several guys in his office aren’t afraid to do shuv-its and other tricks on their boards, but it’s certainly not easy.
From there, I had to ask Calvin if he had any idea why kick scooters never found their way into the X-Games, but he didn’t have an answer as to why. At this time, hoverboards are certainly better suited for flatland transportation, but it’s up to each individual rider to decide how they want to use their board.
Since hoverboards are so new, there are still some limits on where they can be legally ridden, but Carlton is eager for people to catch on to their convenience, especially now that they are safer and more reliable.
As the product continues to evolve, it will easily become the next big thing in public transportation, and this year is the first time we’re seeing hoverboards as a viable personal transport device.
Razor hooked me up with my own Hovertrax 2.0 so I could feel the difference myself, and after a few months of riding mine around, I have my own positive thoughts to share on the device.
My review of the Razor Hovertrax 2.0
If you’ve read this far, you are probably already familiar with some of the features that sets the Hovertrax 2.0 apart from it competitors (as well as its predecessor). That’s why this section will focus mostly on my experience with riding the Hovertrax. But first, some specs:
Max Rider Weight: 220 lbs
Colors: Red, Blue, White, Black, Green
Product Weight: 27 lbs
Product Dimensions: 24.5″ L x 9″ W x 8.75″ H
Speed: 8mph/13kph cruise speed
Battery Life: Up to 60 minutes (36V LG Battery)
Recharge Time: 240 min
Frame: Shatter-resistant polymer with fender bumper protection
Wheels: Rubber tires with aluminum hubs
Motors: Silent, dual 135 watt (cruising power), 350 watt (peak power) hub motors
Steering: Foot controlled, seamless maneuvering
Foot Platforms: Anti-slip rubber
The Hovertrax 2.0 reflects a year’s worth of improvements on this relatively new technology, and spares no expenses providing every feature you need to enhance your riding experience.
The first time you pick up a hoverboard, you will likely be surprised by their heft. The Hovertrax 2.0 weighs 27 lbs, which makes it tricky for some younger riders to carry around. To alleviate this, the new model does have a recessed loop to attach a carrying strap, and likewise, you can find a hoverboard backpack specifically designed to carry one.
Thanks to the auto-balance feature, getting on for the first time is easy, though there is nothing wrong with using a wall or railing to help keep your balance. The scooter first boots up in training mode, which limits your max speed and slows your turning.
One of the hardest things to get used to is the fact that you pitch your toes to move instead of shifting your body weight. You don’t need to lean while riding at all, and learning to stand up straight actually makes riding easier.
The cool-blue LED display on the board serves as a turn signal, and works best facing forward so pedestrians can more easily anticipate your movement.
The motor is fairly silent, so you can easily catch people by surprise when you ride past them. Therefore, it is best to practice in an isolated area first.
Another detail to get used to when riding is the lack of breaks. Those who are more used to bikes will want a way to instantly decelerate, but hoverboards need some space to gradually decelerate, which you do by flattening your feet on the footpads.
If you pick the board up while it is still on, or if you try to ride it on an unstable surface, the board will vibrate aggressively, warning you to keep it flat while it is on.
Once you get used to riding the Hovertrax, you can switch out of training mode, which will allow you to travel at speeds up to 8 Mph before you get speed wobbles.
Don’t expect to be able to exceed this by bombing a hill either, as going downhill makes balancing quite a bit more difficult. As for going uphill, this will push the dual hub motors to their limit, at least if you approach the max rider weight of 220 lbs like I do.
You will be able to go over small humps and hills, but steeper inclines or even large cracks in the pavement will cause instant problems for its solid rubber tires.
Riding the Hovertrax might look effortless, but the level of balance you have to exert to move your feet while standing up straight can definitely have you sweating over a long riding session.
You won’t likely have the energy to outlast the 60 minute battery life in a single riding session, but this won’t stop kids and adults alike from trying. The manual suggests you recharge your battery after every use, and that you unplug it as soon as it reaches maximum life, to avoid overcharging your battery.
The 36V battery can be swapped out for a fully charged unit with ease, as long as you are able to find an extra battery online. All in all, the Hovertrax is on its way to replacing my cruiser skateboard as my main sidewalk transportation, and promises to impress and entertain riders for years to come.
Price: $349.00 (24 percent off MSRP)
- Responsive controls and smooth deceleration
- Self-balancing feature allows for easy mounting
- Handy training mode for new users
- Cannot go uphill easily
- 1 hour battery life could be better
If you still want to browse some of the other UL-certified self-balancing scooters available, you can browse my list of the best self-balancing scooters here.