For the past week, I have exclusively been using a hoverboard to get around my office. Instead of walking to the kitchen, bathroom, meetings, and my colleagues' desks, I have been using a blue Swagway X1, which is listed for $480 on Amazon.
In certain cases I've had to abandon my hoverboard, like when I've taken the stairs or when I go to and from the office, but I estimate that at least 80% of my movement throughout my two-floor office has been on the Swagway.
During my hoverboarding adventures, which have included making coffee in a crowded kitchen and narrowly avoiding collisions with my coworkers, I have learned a few things.
Some tips for using a hoverboard
You will probably have a difficult time getting your balance on a hoverboard the first time you try it. The closest thing I can compare it to from a balance perspective is a mix of rollerblading and skiing.
It took me about 30 minutes to feel comfortable balancing myself on the board, but then after that I felt good to go. (I was also a roller blading champ in middle school, which may have helped.) After the first day, I could confidently hoverboard backwards, stop on a dime, and make sharp turns.
While cruising around the office on the Swagway for the past five days, I've given over a dozen demonstrations to my curious colleagues on how to use it.
Getting on and off of a hoverboard is the hardest part. The best practice is to place one foot at a time on the vehicle, and be sure that you never second guess yourself. The Swagway beeps when it recognizes a foot, so I told people to use that sound as an indication that it was safe to step on with the second foot.
Dismounting is also best done one foot at a time. I saw several people wipe out after trying to jump off the board with both feet.
When people step on a hoverboard for the first time, a lot of them wobble their hips in an attempt to find their balance. But 99% of controlling a hoverboard is in your feet and the pressure you apply to each side of the Swagway.
The X1 (which The Wirecutter, a reviews site, named the best overall hoverboard) is very sensitive, and all you need to do is lean into either side with your feet as you travel to have complete control. Leaning your entire body forward or backwards isn't necessary.
Another important part of hoverboarding is foot placement on the actual board. Place your feet squarely on the feet pads with your heels barely hanging off the back of the board for optimal control. Applying too much pressure with your heels or the balls of your feet will make the board move in unpredictable ways.
Awkward social interactions
While hoverboards are quickly becoming mainstream, they are still very much a novelty. The number one reaction I got from coworkers as a breezed past them in the office was a chuckle. The rest rolled their eyes or appeared worried for my safety (as well as their own).
For the record: I have not hit anyone yet, although I did nearly clock one of our video producers while leaving the kitchen. Sorry for the scare, Darren.
The Swagway X1 only goes a max of 10 miles per hour, which doesn't make it a speed demon like some more expensive hoverboards . But it's plenty fast for getting around my office, and it's made a quick run for a drink in the kitchen even quicker.
I was also impressed with the Swagway's battery life. With consistent use, it lasted roughly two days on a single charge.
I think it's going to take awhile before hoverboards are considered normal in public like skateboards. I couldn't take the Swagway on the streets of New York City since they're illegal, so being confined to roaming around the office while people were working felt a little weird sometimes.
Ultimately, hoverboarding is a lot of fun
After letting someone try the Swagway, I would frequently hear things like "That's amazing!" and "That was a lot of fun!" Many people also didn't get the hang of it and quickly dismounted, but overall, even the skeptics admitted it was cool to stand on.
There's no denying that the opposition to hoverboards is strong. Major airlines, churches, and colleges have banned them, and you can't ride them on NYC streets (although lawmakers are trying to make them legal here). Their batteries can be prone to exploding, which is certainly not good.
I'm not sure how or if hoverboards will eventually end up being as common as skateboards. It could go the way of the Segway and fade into obscurity.
But after a week of using one, I can't deny how fun it is ride.