Segway-Style Scooter Reviews: Attack of the Clones

The original Segway products caught the imagination of the world when they were first revealed. Here, finally, was the future.

OK, some of us thought it looked pretty dorky, but the technology was undeniably amazing and even the most skeptical person at least wanted to ride on one once. That excitement was seriously dampened as soon as the conversation turned to the price of a Segway. “How much?” was the cry of the Segway hopeful. “As much as a cheap car” was the inevitable answer.

Much time has passed since then and an original Segway isn’t quite as pricey anymore. Still, they are beyond most mere mortals, which has opened the market for almost-as-good Segway clones from all over the show.

The new hands-free “hoverboard” self-balancing scooters may have stolen the show, but there’s still a lot of life in the more accessible Segway-style scooter.

I’ve put my top picks first, but don’t forget to check out my buyer’s guide in case none of these strike your fancy.

My Top Pick: The Airwheel S3

By now Airwheel’s reputation as a electric personal vehicle builder is pretty well cemented; the S3 exemplifies the reason for this. For a third of the price of a Segway you get 80% of the value. In fact, in some ways the S3 can outperform the Segway as it isn’t particularly beyond the base functionality of the device.

The first thing you should know is that this scooter is IP56 rated for waterproofing. If your hoverboard just gets some soda spilled on it, it’s game over, man. The S3 is an all-weather transport, so get your umbrella out. You can wash this guy like a car – just spray it down.

It’s very user-friendly, according to buyer descriptions, and pretty popular with the elderly set, which means it has to be easy to use. It has headlights, a brake light, and signal lights.

The S3 has all the electrical and mechanical safety features you could want, and it’s rated for 100,000 hours of continuous operation. It’s also made from some pretty high grade materials, like magnesium and aviation aluminum.

There’s a 520wh and 680wh battery option, with the latter providing up to 40 miles in range, depending on your weight, speed, and terrain. Maximum speed is 11 miles per hour, but you’ll get a warning beep at 7.5 miles per hour. Both battery options will quick charge to 80% within 90 minutes. The maximum user weight is a respectable 265 pounds; not bad for a device that weighs about 50 pounds itself.

This is it; this is the real Segway for the masses. Close enough in quality and far enough away in price. I have no trouble recommending the S3 as my top pick in this product category.

Airwheel S3

Airwheel S3

The “I’d Buy It” Choice: The Airwheel A3

I had a bit of a debate with myself on whether the A3 should go into this category or not. It doesn’t really fit in anywhere, to be honest. You sit on it and rest your feet on footpegs like a bike, but it’s not an e-bike or moped. It’s self-balancing, but it’s not a electric unicycle since the wheels are not in the center.

Basically this is a wacky Segway bike…thing.

And I love it.

This is like something I’ve seen on the cover of an 80s Sci Fi anthology magazine. It has the advantages of a Segway in that it has a zero-degree turning circle and small footprint, but promises to be much more comfortable. You can even stand up on it if the terrain demands it. This looks like one of the easiest self-balancing scooters to ride I’ve seen.

The best part is that the fatigue of standing on a Segway-style machine is not a problem here. It really is the best of both worlds. I can’t give it my top pick because technically it isn’t really Segway-style device, but of all the products on this page this is the one I actually want to buy.

Let’s have a quick look at the features.

It has automatic turn signals, a built-in kickstand, a nice LCD display, a remote to switch it on, and a lovely spring-dampened seat. The 16-inch tires should go over most urban terrain, and in demos it quite clearly handles grass and a little bit of dirt.

Since this is an Airwheel product I really have no doubts about the quality. When the A3 first came out it was hovering around the $2000 mark – these days you can pick one up for less than $1500 if you’re lucky, but my opinion is that it was a bargain even at the higher price.

It has a weight limit of 265 pounds, which is one negative in my book. I thought that the design would allow for a higher weight capacity, but I guess not.

Top speed is about 12 miles per hour and the maximum range is a fantastic 40 miles. There are front lights as well; the LCD screen will show you how much juice is left and how fast you’re going.

The battery is also great quality and made by Samsung. It’s good for 1800 full charges, so you’ll be tooling around for years.

Airwheel A3 1

Airwheel A3

The Best Off-Roader: The Airwheel S5 SUV

Taking the 16-inch wheel size from the A3 and sticking it on a supersized S3 turns out to be a really good idea.

This is an IP56 waterproof all-terrain monster, but it looks as modern and refined as the urban-oriented models. None of this faux monster truck nonsense. Hey, if you like that kind of thing then more power to you, but when you get back to civilization your tractor tires will look ridiculous parked outside a Starbucks.

Airwheel clearly has the golfing set in mind with the S5 SUV, which is why it has a neat folding control shaft, which makes it short enough for trunk storage. Also, the picture of the S5 with a full golf bag attached to the fender holder was also a clue. Just saying.

The design cues for the S5 are more Land Rover than BigFoot and that’s a fantastic selling point, in my opinion. You can see it’s more ruggedized, but it’s not “throwing mud on Mom’s RAV4” pathetic either.

Like other newer Airwheel products the battery in the S5 SUV is good for 1800 recharges and is removable. Airwheel estimates a 5-year lifespan for these batteries under normal use, so this is a long-term investment.

Maximum rider weight is 265 pounds and the maximum speed is not quite 12 miles per hour. According to the efficiency claims of Airwheel, the S5 should be good for just over 40 miles, but your mileage may literally vary.

If I needed the offroad ability I’d have no qualms about getting the S5 SUV. It’s obvious where the extra money is going.

Airwheel S5 SUV

Airwheel S5

The InMotion MoGo

I’m not sure how I feel about the InMotion MoGo. At about $2500 it’s very expensive compared to something like the Airwheel S3, but I have a hard time seeing where the money went.

The first thing you should know is that, although it looks like a Segway, the MoGo is actually more like a hoverboard. That handle is removable and optional; I would have never guessed if I didn’t see the video.

So that handle does nothing as far as I can see, except perhaps help people get used to the device or allow the elderly or those with impairments to use it.

The MoGo has a maximum speed of nine miles per hour and a range of between 10 and 18 miles. It takes 3.5 hours to charge and only weighs 35 pounds. It’s a neat little machine, but with those specs and that price I’d have a hard time convincing myself that I wanted this instead of the S3.

The ForTech Mini Smart Balancing Scooter

The fact that the ForTech has 6.5-inch wheels leads me to believe that it’s basically a cheap hoverboard with a Segway-style handle stuck to it. The sub-$400 price would be worrying on a hoverboard; on something that purports to be a Segway competitor it’s downright panic-inducing. The fact that the manufacturer lists the problems you’re likely to encounter when using the ForTech on the product description page is not only a good way to flunk marketing 101, but also a great way to put off potential customers. Basically I’m saying not to buy the ForTech.


ForTech Mini

The Freefeet/Chegway 4000W

Swagway has taught me not to immediately dismiss a product because it is an obvious knockoff. Lots of companies try to pawn some of the Segway brand identity off, but at least the Swagway is knowingly funny.

This humongous Chegway Segway-alike scooter is rife with things that trip alarms in my mind. Yet they are asking just over $4000 for it. You’d think a company selling such a premium product could hire someone just to fix the language in their marketing material, but apparently this was not to be.

The Chegway is a bruiser of a scooter. It can take a 330-pound load according to the stat sheet, and the offroad version has what appears to be tractor tires fitted to it. Really, it looks like you’re riding around on the front nose of a monster truck that somehow escaped from the rest of the vehicle.

The range is an insane 24-31 miles and once again I have to point out that it has 21-inch tires.

The top speed is a more pedestrian 12 miles per hour, but the info doesn’t say if this was measured while driving over little model cars.

In all seriousness, I can’t recommend that someone spend this much money on a brand I’ve never heard of or a product I can’t find reviews for anywhere. No matter how much the little kid inside me wants to say yes, I’d skip it until we know more. Even better, find someone who has actually bought one and try theirs first.

The Robin M1 Robstep Mini

The M1 Robstep is sending me mixed signals right out of the gate. In one picture we can clearly see two M1s easily stored inside a hatchback. In another picture there is a very pretty girl along with two M1s and a McLaren P1 hypercar.

What are you trying to tell me, Robin? Will the M1 fit in a McLaren P1? Do girls think it’s as cool as a McLaren P1?

Anyway, this is no cheap thrill as the price edges towards the $2500 mark. Robin really wants you to think of the M1 as a lifestyle accessory for things like golf or shopping. There’s also an optional seat for purchase, and the company wants you to contact them if you are disabled. Hopefully they will also sell the seat to people (like me) who are simply lazy and like to sit down.

One neat feature is that you can control the M1 using an included remote or any Android device with the right app. Hopefully they don’t mean ANY Android device, or else I may have a very fun weekend planned just outside the Robstep dealership.

This is a very, very small Segway-style device. It’s a selling point for people who want to get around in tight confines or who need mobility indoors.

Robin has a lot say about lifestyle things, but very little about numbers. We know that the M1 weighs 40 pounds and is “strong enough to pull a car”, although the car in question is not specified.

One 210-pound user reports getting about 12 miles out of it, and elderly users say it’s easy for them to use. The reported top speed is 12 miles per hour, and there’s apparently an easy mode that only lets you hit 6 miles per hour.

All in all the M1 is a tad pricey, but buyers seem happy with it. If the small size is not a selling point for you, though, I’d strongly recommend something from Airwheel instead.

One Horse Race

OK, OK. I know that all my top picks are from Airwheel, but that’s only because Ninebot is now Segway and so technically Ninebots ARE Segways, so they can’t go here. Still Airwheel is one of the top manufacturers for a reason.

If you don’t find a model of Segway-style scooters here that takes your fancy, be sure to check out my Segway-style scooter buyer’s guide.