Segway Clone Buyer’s Guide
The original Segway and, let’s be honest, even modern Segways, are priced at a level most people will never consider. The vision for us average Joes and Janes whizzing around like a Jetson seems pretty far away, if the Segway is all we have to go by.
However, technology moves on, and where Segway has had trouble making its product relevant, other companies (usually from the Far East) have stepped in and made them for the common person.
Unfortunately, this means that there are also some really terrible and downright dangerous products on the market too. I’ve put together this short buyer’s guide to help you tell if the Segway-clone you’re considering is worth it or not.
The sweet spot for Segway clone prices seems to be between $1000 and $2000. Scooters under $1000 are unlikely to be any good, and if they are significantly more than $2000 think hard about where that money has gone. When you step into that price range you may want to consider a brand-name Segway or Ninebot, which is now the owner and sister brand of Segway.
Is it Really Segway-style?
Thanks to the sudden popularity of “hoverboard” self-balancing scooters, some manufacturers have taken hoverboards and essentially stuck pointless faux handles on them to make them look like Segway-style scooters.
One key way to tell is if the wheels on these scooters are too small. Most hoverboards use 6.5-inch wheels and rarely a model may go as large as 10 inches. Segway-style scooters will more typically exceed 10 inches and be as large as 16 or even 21 inches. Segway-style scooters are meant to be more versatile and work in varied urban environments. A scooter with six inch wheels probably isn’t going to cut it.
The average weight capacity for a Segway-style scooter is about 265 pounds. Some heavy-duty offroad models can accommodate as much as 330 pounds, although that is relatively rare. Hoverboards, in contrast, average around the 220-pound mark.
Most Segway clones have a top speed of 12 miles per hour and that’s a good thing. The braking method these devices use probably would not stand up to much higher speeds anyway, and 12 miles per hour is plenty fast when you’re weaving between people on the sidewalk.
Thanks to their greater size and more efficient motor technology, many Segway clones can achieve a range of 40 miles. That’s one of the longest ranges of any personal electric transport and it’s really only pedal-assisted e-bikes that can beat that at this point. So if going very far on one charge is important to you, pay attention to the rated range.
Remember that your weight, the ambient temperature, the incline grade, and your speed all affect the range. The stated speeds and range are usually done on a flat piece of terrain with an individual weighing 130 pounds. While that may be an average weight in China, in the Big Mac-loving West this is probably not you. So curb your expectations.
Good Segway clones have headlights, brake lights, and automatically-activated turn signals. Segways are not legal on the sidewalks and streets of many states or local towns and cities, so having proper road safety gear like signal lights can only help your case to get them legalized in your town. Also, it’s better if other pedestrians know what you are doing.
Just like on the instrument dashboard in a car, it can be very useful to have a display that tells you how fast you are going, how much range is left, and if anything has gone wrong. Some Segway clones have a handle that doesn’t do anything but give you a place to hold on to.
If you care about being informed, then check if there is an info display.
Some Segway clones will connect to your phone via Bluetooth, allowing you to play music through built-in speakers (please don’t do this, it annoys everyone) and to interact with the scooter via an app. This can be as simple as a stats counter for mileage to GPS integration and full remote control of your scooter. If this kind of thing appeals to you then be sure to see if the scooter you are looking at supports smart functions.
There’s a good chance that at some point you’ll be caught in wet weather while out on your Segway clone. So it’s imperative that you check for an IP56 or similar weatherproof rating. Most of the good brands have water resistance or waterproofing as a standard feature. If not, you may need to find a shelter ASAP if the rain starts falling.
The same rules about lithium batteries apply to Segway clones as it does to all other electric transports. Make sure the manufacturer has received all relevant safety certifications. Make sure the battery is made by a reputable brand such as Sony, LG or Samsung.
An easily removable battery is a good advantage, and the very best batteries in these products will last for 1800 recharge cycles or about five years of average use.
Make sure that the tires fitted to the scooter are right for the terrain you want to use it on. Some tires are not meant to displace water, for example. So while they’ll work fine on a dry sidewalk, a puddle may mess with the traction and you could end up face down in it.
Will the Real Segway Please Stand Up
The clone army can be daunting, but there are some really good bargains out there that are just as good as the original. If you keep an eye out for obvious issues and pay attention to what users have said about their experiences, you should have no trouble finding your new favorite form of transport.
Be sure to check out my page with reviews of a few good (and not so good) Segway clones.