Airwheel S6 Transporter Review
Standing for long periods of time can be quite tiring, and leads to a sore lower back or sore feet. But when you ride a hands-free, self-balancing board this is essentially what you’re doing – standing for extended periods of time. Airwheel has taken what at first glance looks like an IO Hawk or other similar electric scooter and has stuck a bicycle seat on it.
To my mind this still falls into the same product class as other self-balancing electric scooters because it’s still hands-free. Sure, you can hold onto the blue bit at the front of the seat, but you can ride it the same way as a Phunkee Duck or IO Hawk – standing up.
Airwheel has been in the electric self-balancing transport game for quite a while, and the S6 is far from their first product. It is, however, the first hands-free “hoverboard” style product I’ve seen from them. That’s changing with the release of their Airboard range in 2016, but for now this is the closest thing to a Phunkee Duck Airboard sells.
Airhead really does make electric versions of everything, though. Skateboards, unicycles, Segway-style vehicles – you name it; they’ve strapped batteries to it.
The S6’s hilariously poor English webpage describes it as “an elf passing through the city”. I literally have no idea what that means, but it does sort of look like a smurf in some ways.
In all seriousness though, the S6 doesn’t look “cool” by the standards of a Phunkee Duck or IO Hawk. I can’t see Kanye or Whiz Khalifa rolling around on this guy, but it certainly looks a lot more solid and expensive than those products. There’s enough metal showing to balance out the plastic, and the plastic that is in sight looks very nice indeed. The wheels, in particular, appeal to me; they’re reminiscent of Mercedes’ three-pointed star, which is probably not coincidental. There are other designs though, so make sure you get one you like.
The real eyesore to me is that seat, which is a pity because it’s a large part of the S6’s reason for being. Take it away and the S6 would be one of the best-looking self-balancing boards today, especially with that cool light-up logo in the middle. So once again, I’m stuck with choosing between comfort and looks.
With these types of products we have to talk numbers. Most boards look pretty much the same in terms of basic design, but the performance numbers can make the difference between something that’s as useful as a lead duck and a really economical way to get around.
The claimed range on a full charge for the S6 is between 19 and 37 miles. Frankly, that’s amazing – if accurate. I can’t find any 3rd-party verification of that quoted range, but the S6 has a 130 Wh battery so, depending on rider weight, speed, and gradient, its claim is not that far-fetched.
The top speed is about 11 mph, which is pretty good; speeds above this would make the S6 illegal to use on the sidewalks of many cities, as is the case with some products that hit 15 mph.
The S6 weighs 32 pounds, which is right in line with the competition and surprising, given the inclusion of the seat. The weight limit is up to 220 lbs – nothing special, and it reminds me that I really need to go on a diet. Or just buy a Phunkee Duck instead.
Assault and Battery
Battery safety is the hot topic (no pun intended) when it comes to self-balancing boards. In this category Airwheel has gone above and beyond. Their battery system has a dual-core, redundant management system. Each system can manage the battery independently, so the risk of catastrophic failure is really low. These are some top-quality lithium batteries too. Airwheel claims they’re good for 1800 full recharge cycles before needing replacement. That is a lot of range.
The system provides six protection layers: over-discharge protection, overcharge protection, short-circuit protection, overcurrent protection, temperature protection, and battery equalization.
I’m impressed and I’d feel pretty safe on this, which also explains the fact that the S6 hovers around the $800 mark, depending on the deal you get. However, plenty of self-balancing boards at that price don’t have (or don’t advertise) this level of battery safety, which is a big plus in my book.
The battery isn’t the only place the money has gone. The S6 is a smart cookie, with a neat cloud app that will provide you with positioning info, travel data, and a burglar alarm. The motor is also a quiet high-quality unit, and the videos seem to confirm this.
Two Thumbs Up
I’m pretty impressed with what’s offered with the S6. I’m not a fan of the seat, which for me takes away the cool factor other hoverboards have, but you can’t deny the practical advantages. In any case, Airwheel has more traditional products coming out that will scratch that itch. If what you’re interested in is high-end functions, components, and safety, then this is one of the most exciting products on the market. It doesn’t have celebrity endorsement, but as a grown-up who is looking for something to make my life easier, I’d seriously consider this as a daily commuter and leave the rest to the cool kids.