A Quick Guide to Riding a Hoverboard
I know, I know. You’re really keen to get out there and try your new shiny electric toy, but even though hoverboards go a long way toward making life easy for riders, you still have to learn and practice the basics, for your own safety and that of others.
Each type of personal electric transport has its own quirky method of operation. It’s important that you take it slow and only ride within your capability.
The other point I can’t stress too much is how important a helmet and protective pads are. It doesn’t matter how much you feel like a dork, it’s better than brain damage or crippled limbs. Have a look at my helmet and pads reviews if you’re looking for inspiration.
In this short article I look at how hard it is to ride a hoverboard and I provide some tips that might help get you started.
These are the new hot things everyone is excited about, but few personal electric vehicles inspire faceplant overconfidence like hoverboards do. In fact, it’s so common that I compile a page of the worst (best?) hoverboards fails elsewhere on the page.
The tricky thing with getting on a hoverboard at first is how you have to fight your own body’s natural balance mechanism. You’ll be trying to shift your center of gravity in response to the board, which is in turn trying to compensate for YOUR shifting weight. That’s how you get into that dreaded to and fro wobble that inevitably puts you flat on your back. So, again, wear a helmet.
The first step is to make sure your hoverboard is fully charged and calibrated. Refer to your specific manual in order to achieve this.
Once your hoverboard is calibrated and ready, step onto it with one of your feet. Make sure to position that foot as close to the wheel as possible. You want a wide stance on the hoverboard, so make sure both feet are close to their respective wheels.
Once you have your first foot on the board step onto the other pad with your other foot as you would onto a small step. This is the bit that most people find difficult to do, so you may want to have a handhold nearby or a friend who can catch you. We all have a natural tendency to be wobbly and tense up when we first step on a hoverboard, so practice getting on and off safely before actually trying to ride.
Speaking of which, general wisdom seems to be that stepping off the hoverboard backwards is the safer method. Stepping off the front makes people more prone to falling forward and it seems easier to keep the board under control if you just step back and take your full weight on that back foot.
Stand and Deliver
Once you’ve gotten the hang of mounting and dismounting, you need to get comfortable just standing still in one place. If you start to feel really unstable don’t hesitate to dismount in the way that you practiced before. Do this until you feel comfortable just standing in one spot in a relaxed way. You should be confident and comfortable doing this before you try to go anywhere.
Next up you should try a simple exercise where you slowly roll forward in a straight line and then safely come to a stop.
Find a short, clear straight path that’s as level as possible. Make sure there are no objects or people around that could lead to injury. Definitely do not do this near water. I’ve already seen some people roll their hoverboards straight into the pool; I promise you the warranty does not cover this, so don’t even bother to check.
To make the hoverboard move forward, shift your weight ever so slightly forward. Do not lean forward and don’t make exaggerated movements. The sensors are very sensitive. The experience is closer to telepathy than any real physical motion on your part.
Remember to look at your intended destination and surroundings and not at the ground directly in front of you!
To stop shift your weight back and when the hoverboard has come to a stop return to the neutral stance you practiced before.
Mr. and Mrs. Turner
Once you’re comfortable rolling forward in a straight line and coming to a complete stop, it’s time to try a turn. Remember that each wheel is operated independently by each foot. Shift your right foot forward and the right wheel will speed up. If it’s going faster than the left wheel, you’ll turn towards the left. If each foot is giving the same amount of gas in opposite directions, you’ll stand still in one spot and spin around.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Don’t believe all this “learn to ride in five minutes” marketing malarkey. Take your time to become really comfortable with your hoverboard in a safe, controlled environment. Give it the same respect as you would any other motorized vehicle. Hoverboards are not toys and you can be seriously injured if you come off one badly.
Practice these basic moves until you can do them in your sleep. Only then are you ready to traverse the urban jungle.
Also, make sure you are aware of the ground immediately ahead of you. The wheels on hoverboards tend to be small and they don’t handle even small obstacles well. You should also become familiar with the braking performance from different speeds as well. Just to make sure that you don’t get into trouble.
By the Book
If you take it slow, make sure you can do the basics before moving on, and keep an eye out for trouble, your hoverboard will provide years of fun. If not, it may provide minutes of pain and perhaps millions of YouTube views. Your choice!