It can be said that electric scooters and hoverboards serve two very different purposes.
The hoverboard is one of the most playful, fun to use, eye-catching rideables of today. There is literally no way not to look at that kid down the streets, who possesses some magical skill. How do they wield the small weird wheeled thingy under their feet?
In case you are not familiar with hoverboards, we are not talking about Marty’s hoverboard from Back to the future. What we have is a rather small device that you ride by self-balancing on top of it. It looks like a skateboard rotated by 90 degrees.
If you haven’t seen one yet, you will immediately recognize it when you see it. They are not yet that common on the streets.
Their riders will usually be younger people. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that hoverboards are not to be taken as a viable last-mile transportation device, or even a truly reliable transport vehicle.
I’ve owned an electric scooter for almost a year now. I’ve ridden it and many other scooters extensively.
My experience with riding hoverboards is not that long. I have tried riding 2 different models and have a few hours under my belt.
But I do know enough about both technologies to compare them. If you are thinking about getting either an electric scooter or a hoverboard, it is important you know their similarities, their differences, and when should you consider each.
Electric scooters vs hoverboards
For transportation, electric scooters are far superior to hoverboards. Electric scooters are safer, easier to use, faster, have more range, climb better, and are better suited for heavier adults. They have been around longer, and are a much more tested and proven technology. Only consider a hoverboard over an electric scooter if you are curious about trying a fun new rideable.
How serious and reliable are hoverboards? How exactly do they compare to electric scooters in terms of abilities, safety, ease of use, and price? We will cover all of those questions next.
While it is impossible to know for sure, I believe hoverboards are the least safe rideable on the market.
One thing that makes hoverboards kind of safe is that they are not able to develop great speeds. Therefore, the potential for a very serious injury is limited.
Electric scooters can go quite fast. The fastest electric scooters can go so fast that the consequences can be dire. But the vast majority of people will never ride anywhere close to those speeds.
Most of the time, electric scooters and hoverboards are ridden at comparable speeds. Electric scooters are half a level faster.
What makes hoverboards unsafe is the lack of handles.
Learning to ride a hoverboard is not that hard, but it is certainly harder than riding a scooter. During the learning period, and even after that, falling down is far more likely with a hoverboard.
Electric scooters do require some balancing from the rider. But riding them is very easy. Accelerating and steering are done in a very straightforward way. The process of driving is much easier. That makes electric scooters pretty safe compared to hoverboards.
In the budget category, hoverboards and electric scooters will have comparable prices. They will range anywhere from $300 up to $600. I’d say that the prices are about the same.
In the higher-end category, though, electric scooters are far more expensive. The most expensive scooters can cost more than $5000. There is nothing in the hoverboard world that is even remotely close to that price yet.
We could say that electric scooters are more expensive. But most people will shop in the budget or middle price range categories. Very few people will spend more than $1000 on a rideable.
To get a better picture, let’s compare a hoverboard and an electric scooter made by the same company.
For example, one of the best selling hoverboards today, the Swagtron Swagboard Pro T1 is priced at $249. The Swagtron Swagger, which is their most iconic scooter, is priced at $299.
Even though it’s comparing apples to oranges, we can see that the prices are not that different.
That’s why it’s fair to say that electric scooters and hoverboards cost about the same, or hoverboards are a little cheaper on average.
Ease of use
Neither hoverboards nor electric scooters are difficult to master.
That said, hoverboards are more difficult than electric scooters.
The electric scooter has all the components of a vehicle. It has a throttle button, a brake, a handlebar used to steer and turn.
Learning how to ride an electric scooter is a matter of minutes. In fact, I have yet to meet someone that hasn’t learned how to ride an electric scooter in under five minutes.
The hoverboard is more of a futuristic sci-fi contraption than a vehicle. Speeding up, slowing down, and turning are all done using your body. It does take some adjustment and spatial awareness to become comfortable with riding it.
Tripping, losing balance or falling is more likely. That’s why you don’t see that many mature adults riding around on these things.
It’s clear that the hoverboard takes this point.
Hoverboards, on average, weigh about 26 lbs / 12 kg. Only a handful of models weigh over 33 lbs / 15 kg.
Electric scooters weigh around 46 lbs / 21 kg on average, which is almost twice as hoverboards. There are many electric scooter models that weigh 66+ lbs / 30+ kg. Some scooters reach weights as high as 154 lbs / 70 kg!
Even more important for portability, hoverboards are just one simple, small object, that has not many parts sticking out of them.
Electric scooters, when folded, are bigger than hoverboards in volume. They also have a stem and a handlebar that make the scooter awkward for carrying around.
If you’re a bit clumsy (as I am), expect your parts of your scooter to sometimes get stuck in the weirdest of places.
One time, I was on the bus with my scooter. I was trying to get in and get seated. I tried to place my scooter under the seat. While doing that, one of the handlebars got literally inside of the pocket of an elderly lady sitting on the next seat (yup, it was very weird).
While situations like this will not be that common, they will probably never happen with a hoverboard.
Electric scooters have been around for a few years longer than hoverboards. The public has accepted them as true means of transportation.
Competition among electric scooter brands and manufacturers is gigantic. Thus, the race towards building reliable electric scooters, that will serve their owners for years without a glitch, is at full speed.
That has resulted in electric scooters getting more reliable year over year. They will very likely continue to do so.
Hoverboards still kinda have the status that electric scooters used to have about 5-7 years ago. For many, they are fun toys for nerdy teenagers, but far from a reliable transportation device.
There are some very serious manufacturers that make excellent high-quality hoverboards (often the same ones that produce electric scooters).
Still, the hoverboard is not quite there yet. It is not yet a device that will never leave you stranded in the middle of your journey.
Also, the hoverboard, even though smaller in size, is a more complex piece of machinery.
For the most part, electric scooters and hoverboards roughly share a lot of the same electronics and main parts. They both have a battery, and the battery supplies power to a motor.
Hoverboards, however, have one added layer of complexity. That’s the sensors that they use for acceleration, navigation, and turning.
Electric scooters have a throttle, which is a lot simpler and a much more tried-and-tested electronic system.
That makes the hoverboards much more error-prone.
When it comes to being a reliable means of transportation, differences like this can matter a lot. Unlike hoverboards, electric scooters are very reliable and there are plenty of reliable models, this point definitely goes to them.
Electric scooters have come a long way in the last decade, becoming some of the most important means of transport in many big cities. That has been made possible mostly by the fact that their motors get more powerful.
Hoverboards with motor powers greater than 500 Watts are marketed as off-road. There are basically no hoverboards with motors more powerful than 1000 Watts.
Electric scooters with those kinds of power, on the other hand, are plentiful. Even average electric scooters today routinely have motors more powerful than 500 Watts. The most powerful electric scooters have motors with several thousands of Watts.
The reason why hoverboards have weaker motors is simple. Hoverboards can go nowhere near as fast as scooters. That is not their aim. That’s why they don’t need super powerful motors.
If you want to cross long distances with a rideable, an electric scooter will be the clear choice. Even the electric scooters with the smallest ranges and the children’s electric scooters will have longer ranges than most hoverboards.
Range in electric scooters varies greatly, ranging from anywhere between 6-93 mi / 10-150 km. Still, most electric scooters for adults will have a range larger than 16 mi / 25 km.
In fact, the average range for electric scooters across all models today is 23.8 mi / 38.35 km. Further, many of the more powerful scooters will have lots more than that.
For hoverboards, the typical range is anywhere between 9 and 16 mi / 15 and 25 km on a single charge.
Hoverboards, too, are also improving constantly. There are a few models that have bigger ranges than that. Still, most ranges will fall anywhere between those two numbers.
There is still no hoverboard that has more than 62 mi / 100 km of range. On the other hand, there are dozens of electric scooter models that can achieve those ranges.
Electric scooters are a clear winner when it comes to range.
The top speed of even the fastest hoverboards will be no more than 15 mph / 25 kmh. They are simply not designed for fast rides.
Pretty much all electric scooters will be able to reach speeds greater than 15 mph / 25 kmh. A big number of electric scooter models will be able to go much faster, some even faster than 100 km/h.
As we said before, those kinds of speeds will be off-limits for most people. But still, a lot of the time, being able to go with 18-22 mph / 30-35 kmh will be useful. This is especially so for longer commutes with large stripes of clear road.
Speeds like that are common in electric scooters, and non-existent in hoverboards.
At this point, you are probably already guessing…
Electric scooters will be much better at climbing than hoverboards. It mostly comes down to raw motor power, and to some extent to battery charge and voltage, as scooter batteries are getting bigger with every passing year.
Electric scooters usually have more powerful motors on average. That enables them to achieve greater climbing angles.
On average, electric scooters can climb angles of around 22 degrees. Some scooters that specialize in climbing even claim crazy numbers of more than 60 degrees of climb angles!
Hoverboards that can climb hills steeper than 20 degrees are rare. Their mass may be smaller, but their motors are a lot less powerful, even in the off-road category.
Plus, have you tried climbing a steeper hill on a hoverboard? The only word that comes to mind to describe the experience is “weird”. You simply have to lean forward so much that you don’t feel safe.
Given all of that, we can safely say that electric scooters are great for climbing, and we can’t say the same for hoverboards. They are the preferred mode of transportation for hilly areas and uneven terrain.
We could say that this one will depend largely on the person riding.
Many people will only have fun if the ride is not too difficult and doesn’t require constantly maintaining balance and staying alert.
However, even though both the electric scooter and the hoverboard are very new inventions, the hoverboard came out a bit later. Or became widespread later at least.
The electric scooter has already established itself as a viable means of transport in big cities. Everyone and their grandma have already tried them out, either by borrowing one from a friend or through a ride-sharing app.
Many of those people have become true enthusiasts and have converted into owners.
The electric scooter is already a device that a large part of the population owns. Very often, people use them for nothing other than transportation and commuting.
The demographics of electric scooter users are very diverse. Many people over 30 or older own one.
The hoverboard, on the other hand, is a whole different story for the most part.
It is not nearly as widespread as the electric scooter. Because of the comparisons in this article, it will likely never even be so.
It still maintains a very playful, youthful vibe around it. The instances where a person over 25 will own a hoverboard will be very rare.
Because of that aura of fun and joyfulness, this point must be awarded to the hoverboards. Even if for some people scooters might be more fun because of the better safety and ease of use, hoverboards are simply too much of a blast for many people.
When to get a hoverboard instead of an electric scooter?
There only a handful of scenarios in which a hoverboard would be superior to an electric scooter. Those are when your primary motivation is fun, novelty, or curiosity.
As we saw, hoverboards are typically a lesser means of transport in many regards. The only advantage they may have over electric scooters is that they are more recent, and thus might be more fun for some people.
Keep in mind though, that motivations like this may be a part of the marketing plan of some brands. While there’s usually nothing wrong with buying a product you like, you may not be so excited about it a few months after buying it. It will only gather dust in your garage.
If you are curious, try and borrow one from someone to test drive it. Only get one if you are sure that you will not be throwing your money away on something that will not be fun to you in a week.
When to get an electric scooter instead of a hoverboard?
Usually, there is no dilemma between choosing an electric scooter or a hoverboard.
Unless you are absolutely determined that the hoverboard will still be fun for you three months down the line, do yourself a favor and buy an electric scooter.
If you need a commuting or a last-mile transport vehicle, choosing an electric scooter is a no-brainer. Millions of people throughout the world ride electric scooters to and from work already. There is a reason why billion-dollar companies are renting electric scooters instead of hoverboards.
In about 99% of the cases, you will want to go with an electric scooter instead of a hoverboard.