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Ride in style - hoverboards are back, and they still make a great gift!
Riding a hoverboard
UL 2272 Certified Hoverboards - a new chapter in hoverboard safety
What is a hoverboard?
A hoverboard is a two wheeled self balancing scooter. The rider is so still and the ride is so smooth (on carpets and tile), that the observer is given the impression that the rider is hovering over the surface.
Don't hoverboards catch fire?
This was the first question I kept hearing as I was riding my hoverboard around. The situation is as follows - hoverboards imanufactured before May 2016 had a chance of receiving a defective battery which could overheat while charging or riding, causing fire. The relative number of fires was low, but the risk of fire is not something most people take lightly. And so began the series of troubles for the hoverboard manufacturers - numerous recalls, being unable to take a hoverboard on a plane, etc.
Hoverboards made after May 2016 and specifically UL 2272 certified hoverboards do not have the same risk of fire as earlier models.
Are hoverboards safe?
As with any skateboard, there's a risk of falling. I found that a bike helmet to be useful, but never bothered to put on kneepads, wristpads and elbowpads, even though I bought them. I had one nasty fall, while trying out some really dumb stuff - riding a hoverboard while operating a quadcopter FPV system.
Swagtron T1 UL 2272 certified hoverboard Review
Swagtron T1- UL 2272 certified board
Learning to ride a hoverboard is easy
Start riding indoors, preferably on a carpet. I had over 10 people try to ride mine and most got the hang of riding a hoverboard within a couple minutes. Once they stopped trying to balance the board themselves, and allowed the electric motors to take over, a big smile came over their faces, as they hovered around the office :)
- Get an open area with smooth floor
- Find a chair to lean on with one hand
- Turn on the board and level it
- Step on a board with one foot while holding the chair
- Step on with the other foot
- Feel the board balance your weight
- Lean forward to move
- Tilt one foot to turn
- Let go of the chair when you feel comfortable
- To step off the board - quickly put one foot behind you and shift weight onto that foot
Kids love them, adults love them!
I'm an adult and ordered a hoverboard after trying one out at the mall. It came to be about 400$, but provided quite a lot of enjoyment. I enjoy my board, and take it out to ride and read reddit :)
Kids however, absolutely adore the board. First thing I noticed is kids shouting at me from across the street "Hoverboard"! Some point, some smile, many ask me for a ride.
Colleagues around the office were pleasantly surprised when they tried my board. Many thought they could not ride it, but learned very quickly.
What is UL2272 Hoverboard Certification?
Hoverboards use powerful motors that require a lot of electrical power at high voltage. Currently only Lithium batteries, similar to those used in laptops are capable of providing this kind of power while keeping weight and bulk to the minimum. Unfortunately, such batteries are also very expensive and dangerous, capable of violent explosions and catching fire.
In 2014-2015, in an effort to keep the price of the product low, several manufacturers cloned existing hoverboard designs, but used cheaper, defective batteries. These batteries were using wrong voltage or defective cells and several hover boards caught fire while charging or riding. Because consumers were not able to distinguish between legitimate and knockoff designs, all hover boards got branded as unsafe by Consumer Product Safety Commission. Leading retailers like Amazon pulled all products off their website, and sites like Ebay prohibited resale of used hover boards. Airlines prohibited hover boards from being carried on board airplanes. Risk of fire is not something people take lightly. This resulted in recalls of tens of thousands of units.
UL 2272 is a new electrical system safety certification which hoverboard manufacturers can voluntarily comply with. It evaluates safety of electrical drive train, charger and battery systems of a hoverboard.
The certification is a response to Consumer Product Safety Commission issuing a letter to hoverboard manufacturers asking them to comply with increased safety standards.
UL 2272 Sticker
STOP! How to protect your new hoverboard from scratches!
While I'm sure you are super excited to ride your new hoverboard, taking a few minutes to protect it from scratches while you are learning will go a long way towards preserving the value of your board.
I permanently scratched my brand new shiny board within 10 minutes of taking it out into the parking lot. Even after applying fairly thick insulation tape, I found that it is too thin to adequately protect the underbody and front of fenders. Here's what you can do do protect your board:
- The hoverboard comes with 2 rubber strips to affix to top of wheel of fenders, but they do not protect the front of fenders or underbody
- Buy affixable transparent silicone dots for furniture protection
- Affix dots liberally to front of fenders, under the rubber strips
- Add more dots to the underbody (under headlamps)
- Your hoverboard should look like it's covered in water droplets
- Start learning your hoverboard indoors
When you take your hoverboard outdoors, it will roll away from you a number of times. These rolls on hard pavement leave deep scratches on plastic. The protection above would reduce or eliminate the effect of rolling completely.
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