If you’re planning on taking up hoverboard riding, first of all, congratulations! If you forgive the rather obvious play on words, you’re in for one seriously enjoyable ride! Nevertheless, you probably have a whole bunch of questions regarding how the whole thing works. Truth is, there are plenty of self balancing scooter veterans out there who really have no idea what goes on under the hood.
They know what a hoverboard is, but how hoverboards work is a different subject entirely. That’s why we thought we’d put together a concise yet helpful overview of self-balancing scooter technology. Nothing too complex, but simply the basics on how these fabulous feats of engineering do what they do.
What is a Hoverboard?
In the simplest terms possible, a hoverboard is an electric scooter that uses gyroscopic technology to stay upright. All hoverboards are unique, but nonetheless contain the same basic components as follows:
- A primary motherboard or circuit board
- A heavy-duty metallic frame (chassis)
- A high-capacity rechargeable battery
- Two wheels (one on either side)
- Two independent electric motors
- Pressure pads connected to control sensors
- An outer protective shell or ‘skin.’
- LEDs or other exterior lights for visibility
- Entry-Level Hoverboards – Relatively simple boards with lower top speeds and limited ranges, designed with kids and newcomers in mind. Often available for no more than around $100.
- High-Performance Hoverboards – Faster boards with an extended range and the capacity to deal with more challenging terrain, while also supporting heavier riders. Some boards can carry adults as heavy as 400lbs.
- All-Terrain Hoverboards – Typically fitted with much larger wheels that sometimes feature pneumatic tires, which can be used on anything from grass to dirt to sand and even light snow.
- Single Wheel Hoverboards – A somewhat niche alternative to the usual two-wheel design, there’s a growing market for ‘unicycle’ hoverboards which feature just a single central wheel.
- All-Weather Hoverboards – More hoverboards than ever before are being designed for all-weather use, having been officially certified as waterproof and safe for use in wet weather.
- Bluetooth Hoverboards – Bluetooth connectivity is becoming standard for self-balancing scooters, allowing the board to be controlled and interacted with via a compatible mobile device.
These are the primary components that go into the makeup of almost every self balancing scooter. Dozens of additional extras can be thrown into the mix by any given manufacturer, but the basics tend to remain the same.
How Does a Hoverboard Work?
Understanding the components is one thing, but how do hoverboards work? More importantly, how do hoverboards apparently defy gravity and remain upright while in use?
Controlling a hoverboard is relatively easy. It’s simply a case of tilting your body in one direction or the other, which tells the control sensors in the board to move forward or backward. If you exert more pressure (forwards or backward) to the left or right sides of the board, this will prompt the board to turn.
Each of the wheels is controlled by an independent motor, which is why hoverboards can spin on the spot with a zero turning radius. The size of the wheels and the composition of the tires will usually determine what kinds of surfaces the board is compatible with.
In terms of stability, hoverboards remain upright by incorporating gyroscopic sensor technology. This basically means that at all times, the board’s intelligent circuitry knows whether the board is perfectly level, or tilted forward or backward to any degree. When titling is detected, the board is propelled in the appropriate direction to keep it upright.
As a result, the rider actually plays very little part in keeping the board stable while in use. Cutting- edge gyroscopic technology makes it incredibly easy for even the youngest riders to keep hoverboards stable, safe, and upright while in use.
How Fast Do Hoverboards Go?
Maximum speeds vary significantly from one self balancing scooter to the next. There are also some premium quality boards with adjustable settings, making them perfect for experienced riders and newcomers alike.
Entry-level hoverboards tend to have a maximum speed in the region of around 6kmh to 8kmh. At the top end of the market, premium scooters can often reach speeds of 12kmh to 15kmh. However, a board’s top speed will always be affected by the weight of the rider, the smoothness of the surface, and the angle of ascent/descent (where applicable).
What Are the Different Types of Hoverboard?
Over the past couple of years, the market for hoverboards worldwide has diversified enormously. Buyers in 2020 will find themselves spoilt for choice, with hundreds of different scooters to choose from of all shapes and sizes.
However, the vast majority of quality hoverboards can be separated into the following categories:
Of course, it’s entirely likely we’ll be seeing various new classifications and categories of hoverboards entering the mix throughout 2020 and beyond. Best of all, as quality standards continue to grow, average hoverboard prices are only set to continue plummeting indefinitely.
Even with no more than around $150 to $200 to spend, you can already set yourself up with a seriously impressive piece of engineering.