If you are in the market for a hoverboard, or are just looking to take one for a spin, there are a couple of things you need to know. One, learning how to ride a hoverboard without looking like a complete fool is a lot more difficult than you would expect; and two, learning how to mount and dismount a hoverboard without looking like a complete fool is a lot more difficult than you would expect. I know this because I recently reviewed the Swagtron Hands Free Hoverboard, and my first experience was less than elegant.
My first hoverboard ride
I don’t really know why I expected to master the Swagtron immediately, but I did. Perhaps it had something to do with the “cool” factor bestowed upon me by my nieces and nephews when I told them I had been asked to review one, or perhaps it had more to do with my inability to admit that I am not as spry and athletic as I like to think I am. Regardless, once I had read the instructions and charged the hoverboard fully, I was ready to take it for its inaugural ride in a very open, flat, and uniformly paved area.
Within minutes of turning it on, I realized I was in for a bit of a challenge. First of all, the board starts to turn the second you place your first foot on one of the foot panels, so mounting it without the help of a wall or a friend was quite challenging. Then of course there’s the challenge of propelling it forward “without making any sudden or jerky movements.” Easier said than done my friends! As you can see in the video below, my arms flailed around like a manic windmill, which was ever so graceful. After quite some time I did start to get the hang of it, so here are some tips that might help you when learning to ride a hoverboard.
Tip #1 – Read the instructions
I rarely read instructions, and opt instead to figure things out for myself, but when the product in question involves you standing on a board with two wheels that can go up to speeds of 12km or more, a thorough understanding of how it works is warranted. By reading the instructions your safety and that of others will be ensured, plus you’ll learn all about its various functions and ultimately get the most out of what it has to offer.
Tip #2 – Charge it appropriately
It’s important that you do not overcharge your hoverboard and that you follow the manufacturer’s recommended charging times. Typically speaking, hoverboards take no longer than one or two hours to charge, so there’s no need to leave them plugged in and charging overnight. Similarly, you never leave it unattended while it charges, which is something I overlooked when I did my review of the Swagtron. I plugged it into the wall and then went out for a cup of coffee to read the instruction book. As soon as I read the note about not leaving it unattended, I ran back home.
Tip #3 – Wear safety gear
You may think you’re “too cool” for safety gear, but do yourself a favour and at the very least, wear a helmet! You may also want to consider knee and elbow pads until you get the hang of mounting and dismounting. I didn’t fall when testing the Swagtron, which is strange considering the fact that I am a walking accident, but I was grateful I wore my helmet. It gave me that much more confidence standing on the board and learning its ins and outs.
Tip #4 – Start in Learning Mode
If your hoverboard has a Learning Mode, use it until you get comfortable. Because Learning Modes typically govern the maximum speed of the hoverboard, you can practice balancing and movement without accidentally catapulting yourself into some nearby bushes. This is actually something I did when first learning to rollerblade eons ago. I went down a steep ramp before learning how to stop, and ended up like a rag doll in a neighbours hedge.
ip #5 – Mounting the hoverboard
As mentioned, mounting a hoverboard for the first time is a little tricky. To make it a little less tricky, hold on to a solid structure like a wall or railing for stability and place your dominant foot on one of the pedals. Once that foot is on, quickly lift your other foot and place it on the device and stand up straight. The biggest thing I learned was to just relax and to make sure your body weight is equally distributed on both legs.
Tip #6 – Moving your hoverboard
Don’t do what I did and bend over in half to propel your hoverboard forward. I read somewhere that you should “think” of where you want to go and lean into it by shifting your weight forward and pressing down on your toes. You shouldn’t lean more than about 10-degrees, but the more you lean the faster you go. To move backwards, shift your weight backwards a maximum of 10-degrees, and to stop, simply align your body upright.
Tip #7 – Dismounting your hoverboard
Getting off your hoverboard is just as tricky as getting on, but it gets less terrifying each time you do it. Make sure your hoverboard has completely stopped, then step backwards with your dominant foot, then quickly step off with your other foot.
Tip #8 – Always go UL2272
You may have heard of some hoverboards catching fire earlier in the year, so to protect your property and your safety look for a sticker on the packaging that states the board meets UL2272 – Electrical Systems for Self-Balancing Scooters regulations. UL2272 was introduced in February of this year and covers all electrical components and materials that could potentially contribute to a hoverboard fire.
Once you get past the initial trickiness of riding a hoverboard, you’ll find that they are a tonne of fun! Especially when you can stream music through them via Bluetooth as was the case with the Swagtron. Just be safe, smart, and have a great time.
Main image courtesy of ElectricScooters.com