Riding the Segway Ninebot Mini Pro

Segway was supposed to revolutionize the world, but instead it became the provenance of tour guides and beach cops. And as “hoverboard” scooters became the big craze of 2015, Segway held back. But in February, the Segway Ninebot Mini Pro is finally coming to Amazon in the U.S., and it really shows what a $1,299 scooter should do.

CES 2016 Bug ArtLegit models of two-wheeled “hoverboard” scooters, mostly derived from a model by Chinese company Chic Robotics, start at around $400 (for the affordable Swagway X1) and work their way up to $1,500 without much differentiation. Once Swagway set the bar, it became a little hard for the PhunkeeDucks of the world to justify charging over a grand for very similar products.

The Ninebot Mini Pro is not a similar product. It weighs more than your standard hoverboard, at 28 pounds, and goes further, 19 miles on a charge. It’s much easier to get on and off the Ninebot Mini Pro, too. Because you control motion with a handle that’s braced between your knees, stepping on the footpads doesn’t automatically cause the scooter to move. Bigger 10.5-inch, vacuum tires rather than solid tires make for a smoother ride over bumps, and the knee-height handle felt like it might help with some of the core fatigue I felt on other scooters.

The Pro can handle 15-degree inclines and is waterproof and dustproof.

Segway Ninebot Mini Pro app

Thoughtful touches show that this should be considered an adult transportation device. It has brake lights, turn signals, a headlight, and a parking brake. Turn on the parking brake through an attached smartphone app, and it will shake and beep madly if anyone tries to pick it up. There’s no built-in Bluetooth speaker, but you can control the hue of the built-in lights with the smartphone app, for fun.

Since these things are too heavy to carry comfortably, the Ninebot Mini Pro has an extendable handle by which you can shepherd it along, walking next to it. Or you can remote-control it from the smartphone app, driving it to where you need it.

And of course, being a Segway, it’s very unlikely to explode. There are a lot of Segways on the road, and generally, it’s been a very safe brand.

There’s only one down side. Ninebot, the Chinese start-up that acquired Segway last year, is selling a cheaper Ninebot Mini it made in conjunction with Xiaomi: only $315 in China.

Segway Minipro review

Initially, I had trouble steering this way because I am used to steering with my feet, as I have with virtually all hoverboards. This, of course, is not a hoverboard, and it took me a moment to remember that this is exactly how all Segways have steered since they were first introduced in 2001.

It didn’t take long for me to get comfortable steering this way. Even so, I could only travel at a max speed of 4.3 mph for the first kilometer. Every time I went too fast, the Segway miniPRO would beep and lean back a little. I have to admit, this felt odd, but it also got my attention and I slowed down in a hurry.

When I had finally passed the apprentice mode, I could ride at speeds of up to 10 mph. Let me tell you, 10 mph feels a lot faster than 4.3 mph.

Ninebot Segway miniPRO
Segway miniPRO can handle a hill like this, no problem.

No matter the speed, the Segway miniPRO is quiet, smooth and responsive, a real joy to ride. It could stop on a dime, and it allowed me to weave in and out of groups of people with the subtlest of body movements. It handled going up and down hills with ease — I never felt like I was going to pitch forward or backward off the rider. (It’s rated for 15-degree inclines.) I could have ridden all day — or at least for 13 miles (that’s how long the charge is supposed to last).

Ninebot Segway miniPRO
The Segway miniPRO has lights on the front and back that let others know when it’s going forward or backward or turning left or right. They look cool, too.

The Segway miniPRO is heavy. Fortunately, it comes with a lift guide bar that slides up out of the steering bar when you’re not riding. When I turned on the Segway, I could use this to guide the miniPRO with just one finger. I still have to carry it to go up and down stairs, though.
App fun

The free Ninebot app is pretty simple but has a few interesting features. First of all, it let me see in real time my speed, direction, battery life and the miniPRO’s temperature. It instantly alerted me if I was riding too fast or in an unsafe manner. In addition, I could lock the device through the app; if anyone tried to move it while it was in locked mode, the app would vibrate my phone and the Segway would sound an alarm and tip over.

Ninebot by Segway miniPRO

The Ninebot by Segway miniPRO is not a hoverboard. Instead, it’s a true descendant of the original revolution in personal transportation, the Segway.

Fifteen years ago, dungaree-wearing inventor Dean Kamen introduced the first Segway. His person-sized, self-balancing, rideable platform was supposed to change human transportation as we know it.

A few years later, Kamen had sold just 6,000 devices (they cost roughly $2,500) and had suffered through a recall and bad press as riders — including then President George W. Bush – took tumbles when the Segway’s power abruptly ran out. Segways were legislated off the streets and became ultimately best known as a prop in Kevin James’ Paul Blart: Mall Cop movies. The company was eventually sold off and is now owned by the Chinese firm Ninebot.

Fast forward to 2015 when hoverboards (ahem, self-balancing rideable platforms) became the hottest gadgets on the planet. Compared to the original Segways, these were ultra-tiny riders. They had six-inch wheels and small, pressure-sensitive pads used to accelerate and decelerate. They were split down the middle so you could steer by pressing down one foot or the other, and they shared some of the Segway’s self-balancing technology. They were an instant hit.

However, like the Segway before it, the hoverboards would soon crash and, literally burn. By February 2016, all hoverboards had been banned, at least until they could get Underwriters Laboratories Certification for the rideable devices and their chargers.

First of a new breed

The $1,299 ($999 on Amazon) Segway miniPRO immediately sets the bar for what all self-balancing riders should be.

Hoverboard manufacturer Swagway claims to be first back to market with its redesigned Swagtron, but I have yet to see one of those out in the wild. The company has promised to ship us one for testing.

Officially known as the “Ninebot by Segway miniPRO,” the device bears only a passing resemblance to previous hoverboards. First of all, at 21.5-inch wide x 10.3-inch deep x 20-inch high, with a pair of inflatable 10-inch wheels, the 28 pound Segway miniPRO is considerably larger than any hoverboard model.

Hoverboard with Wheels Buying Guide

The question is, which one should you get? And, more importantly, where should I buy it?

We help you navigate the best types of Hoverboards, with links to the best hoverboards for kids, the top smart balance wheels for daredevils and more!

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WHICH SMART BALANCE WHEEL SHOULD I GET FOR CHRISTMAS 2015?

If you want to buy a hoverboard for yourself, our suggestion is to get one right now, as most companies are backordered and will actually ship way after Christmas.

If you’re looking to buy a self balancing scooter as a gift, then you should consider who the recipient is. Here’s our breakdown:

Update Dec 19: Currently there aren’t many boards still shipping in time for Christmas. These are the options still available:
6.5 INCH WHEEL HOVERBOARD SEGWAY

Powerboard Hoverboard Ships in time for Christmas

The Powerboard is a solid 6.5 inch Hoverboard, sold by an American company. It comes standard with a certified battery pack and 1 year warranty standard. Good for adults and kids alike.
6.5 INCH WHEEL HOVERBOARD SEGWAY

Glyro Hoverboard Segway

The Glyro Self Balancing Scooter is another 6.5 inch hoverboard. It features plastic bumper on the wheel arches, one year warranty, and a top speed of 8 Mph.
THE BEST KIDS’ SMART BALANCE WHEEL FOR CHRISTMAS

Hoverboard For Children

This 4.5 Mini Smart Balance Wheel is specifically designed for Children. At the moment, there is only one seller who can ship before Christmas. Make sure to select the appropriate shipping option at checkout. If you want to know more or you want to explore other options for your kids’ Christmas presents, make sure to check out our Best Electric Scooters for Kids guide.

THE BEST ADULTS’ 6.5-INCH SMART BALANCE WHEEL FOR CHRISTMAS

Jetson Self Balancing Scooter

The Leray Smart Balance Wheel is a reasonably priced 6.5 inch wheel scooter, and ships in 2 days, so you’ll definitely get it before Christmas. With a max weight capacity of 250lbs and a top speed of 6.2mph, this model is pretty much for everybody, from kids ages 10 and up, all the way to adults. It’s a good, solid segway board.

THE BEST OFF-ROAD SMART BALANCE WHEEL FOR CHRISTMAS

KOOLKE Electric Self Balance Scooter

Skque’s 10-inch Smart Balance Wheel is the best Christmas present for someone who wants to go off-road. It’s super easy to ride on grass, gravel, and rough terrain. The inflatable tires make for a very smooth ride. It is fast, it’s got a long lasting battery, and it ships in 2 days — well in time to be parked under the tree. If you wanna know more about the advantages of a 10-inch wheel Self Balancing Scooter, make sure to read our comprehensive Self Balancing Scooter Buying Guide. It features some pretty boomy Bluetooth speakers as well.

THE BEST HOVERBOARD WITH BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS FOR CHRISTMAS

VOKUL Two Wheel Hoverboard Self Balancing Scooter

If you want a better ride quality than a regular 6.5-inch wheel Hoverboard, and you want Bluetooth Speakers on your board, you can’t do much better than the VOKUL Self balancing Scooter.

It’s an 8-inch wheel Hoverboard, and it comes with everything you could possibly need: power adapter, remote, LEDs on the wheel arches and a pretty powerful Bluetooth speaker. It features a Samsung 4.4AH/36V Battery, which means your board is gonna have a really good range, even with the extra LED and speakers on (~12 miles claimed, around 10 miles in a real world scenario).

Also, it ships from the USA superfast and there’s plenty of stock.

THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR THE SPEED FREAK

If you really like speed, what you should get for Christmas isn’t a 2-wheel Self Balancing Scooter. You should go with a Self Balancing Unicycle instead!

The Best Hoverboard Accessories

The Best Hoverboard Accessories 2 Wheel Hoverboard Self Balancing Scooter Accessories
Now that you have your self balancing scooter, you are no doubt concerned with dings and scratches, especially as you first learn how to ride your hoverboard.

Here are some of the best hoverboard accessories that we’ve found online, to protect, carry and pimp your hoverboard.

HOVERBOARD CARRYING BAGS

DURABLE FASHION HOVERBOARD BACKPACK

Hoverboards are deceptively heavy, and if you’re going to haul yours around, you should really consider getting a self balancing scooter bag.

They come in a variety of forms, but the one we’ve reliably found to be the most popular, is this Durable Fashion Hoverboard Backpack.

Durable Fashion Hoverboard Backpack

It comes in Black and Blue, it features a mesh pouch for your power brick and remote, and it’s pretty sturdy.

CPS CAMO SELF BALANCING SCOOTER BAG

If you don’t mind having to carry the bag itself in your hand, you can find some more colorful options, like this CPS Camo Self Balancing Scooter Bag.

CPS Camo Self Balancing Scooter Bag

FUNACE HOVERBOARD BAG

Lastly, if you have a 10-inch wheel self balancing board, your scooter won’t fit in those bags. You’ll have to go for a bag that’s made specifically for the 10-inch tire version, such as the FunAce Hoverboard Bag.

FunAce Hoverboard Bag

SELF BALANCING SCOOTER BODY PROTECTOR GUARDS

Swagway Scooter Scratches

If you don’t want your hoverboard to look like a mess of scratches (especially if you’re learning how to ride it), you should consider investing in some of these “hoverboard bumpers.”

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GO GILDE CARBON FIBER LOOK SMART BALANCE SCOOTER PROTECTORS

Go Gilde makes some really interesting protective carbon fiber look rubber protective strips for your hoverboard.

Go Gilde Carbon Style Smart Balance Scooter Body Protector Guards

You simply stick them on top of the wheel arches of your board, as well as on the front and rear, next to the wheels, in the more exposed areas that get scuffed up when the board rolls, say, after a fall. We like these because they’re light, but provide really good scratch protection. There are some protectors which are just plastic film, and we recommend you stay away from those, as they don’t provide nearly enough protection. Though these are not real carbon fiber, that carbon fiber look is really cool.

SCOOVY REPLACEMENT BUMPER FOR HOVERBOARD

If you want something that still offers quite a bit of protection, and is a little more colorful, the Scoovy Bumpers are the best choice. Note that they only protect the top of the wheelarches, and they’re designed for Hoverboards that come with the black rubber bumper, or with the indentation to add your own rubber bumper, such as the Swagway X1. However, you can still use them on any hoverboard, they will just be sitting a little higher.

Scoovy Replacement Bumper for Hoverboard

[NEW] HOVERBOARD FULL SILICON CASE

In the past few weeks companies have started making silicone cases for hoverboards which cover the entire hoverboard. These are definitely the best choice if you really wanna make sure your self balancing scooter remains in pristine conditions. Especially as you’re learning to ride your hoverboard.

The bonus is that you can get some pretty cool designs and really create a personalized “look” for your hoverboard. If you haven’t already, check’em out!

Hoverboard Silicone Case

HOVERBOARD EXTENDED WARRANTY PROTECTION PLANS

SQUARETRADE SELF BALANCING SCOOTER 2-YEAR PROTECTION PLAN

Though we’ve never had the need to send our boards back, we’ve gotten the extended warranty plans from SquareTrade on all our boards. They have 24/7 customer support, and you get free shipping on all the repairs. There are different plans based on the cost of your board. They’re as follows.

PIMP MY HOVERBOARD

MIGHTYSKINS VINYL DECAL FOR SELF BALANCING SCOOTER HOVERBOARD

If you’re looking to squeeze every ounce of style out of your hoverboard, then you might wanna look into some decals.

MightySkins Self Balancing Scooter Decals

MightySkins makes all sort of decals for you to customize your hoverboard. They claim them to be “protective” decals, but they’re made out of vinyl and they don’t do much in terms of protection really, so this is more of a style product. If you’re not feeling particularly patriotic, there’s tons of styles for you to choose from.

PROTECTIVE GEAR FOR RIDING YOUR HOVERBOARD

If you’re a novice to self balancing scooters, we recommend two things, first read our How to Ride a Hoverboard guide, and secondly, get some good protective gear. If you think that you don’t need any protective gear to ride a hoverboard, you may wanna reconsider. Here’s the best way to go:

TRIPLE 8 BRAINSAVER RUBBER HELMET

A really well-reviewed skating Helmet, that comes in a variety of sizes and colors, the Triple 8 is affordable too. It’s comfortable and light, so it’s ideal for use on a hoverboard.

Triple 8 Brainsaver Self Balancing Scooter Rubber Helmet

For maximum protection, make sure to pair it with,

SMITH SAFETY GEAR SCABS KNEE/ELBOW/WRIST GUARD SET

Smith Safety Gear Scabs Knee/Elbow/Wrist Guard Set for Hoverboard

These guards are well-made and sturdy. You don’t know how glad you’ll be when you take a tumble on your hoverboard and you’ll be wearing those elbow guards. The wrist guards feature a rigid built-in splint that offers really great protection. They come in different sizes and colors, so make sure to select the right one for you when purchasing the set.

UPDATE: if you’re REALLY afraid you’re gonna fall, you should look into getting one of these,

BOHN BUTTSAVER, BUTT AND TAILBONE PROTECTOR

Bohn Tailbone Protector for Hoverboard

It protects your tailbone in case you fall backwards and don’t have fast enough reflexes to extend your arms back, which seems to be fairly common (if you’re a beginner on a hoverboard, sometimes you’ll swing back and forth, and it’s really hard to predict which way you’re gonna fall).

If your kids are gonna ride a hoverboard, you can either purchase a children’s hoverboard which comes with a helmet and pads, or you can get some protective gear for them separately.

We recommend,

EFORSTORE SPORTS 7PCS SELF BALANCING SCOOTER KIDS’ HELMET AND PADS

Well made and cute, your kids will actually like wearing this protective gear. The set comes in blue and red as well, if your kid isn’t too keen on the pink version.

Eforstore Sports 7pcs Self Balancing Scooter Kids’ Helmet and Pads

That is all for now! If you’d like us to review a specific self balancing scooter accessory, please let us know and we’ll do our best to add it to the article!

How to Ride a Hoverboard Segway

How to Ride a Hoverboard
So you’ve been waiting patiently for your new Self Balancing Scooter, and now it’s here! You put one foot on and the hoverboard starts to move. You step off, and try again. No go.

We’ve been there, so we thought we’d compile a short guide to show you, to get you going in 5 minutes!

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GETTING ON THE HOVERBOARD

So, first things first, make sure your board is fully charged up.

Turn it on and place it in front of you, right in front of your toes.

If your board features a beginner mode, enable it now. Click here for instructions on how to do this with your remote.

DO YOU RIDE A HOVERBOARD WITH THE LIGHTS IN THE FRONT OR BACK?

We get asked this a lot. Some people say that the LED lights are supposed to be a sort of “turn signals” for the people behind you, so they should go in the back.

Truth is, there is no forwards and backwards. , you can ride however you please.

How to Ride a Hoverboard

What you want to do is you want to put your right foot (or left, whichever is more comfortable) on the scooter. You’ve got to make sure of two things:

Your foot is as close as possible to the wheel. A mistake we made when we first started was that our feet were not as wide as possible, and that makes riding the hoverboard A LOT harder.
You keep the board “flat” (as in, level with the ground).
How to Ride a Hoverboard

Now, once your right foot is on, just “step on” the scooter. If you overthink it, you will fall. Just step on it like you would on stairs.

Your first reaction will be to tense up, and this will cause you to wobble back and forth.

The best thing you can do is to look in front of you—not down—and relax. Just stand. Don’t think about moving yet, just loosen up and stand on the hoverboard.

Got it so far? Good.

MOVING AROUND ON THE HOVERBOARD

GOING IN A STRAIGHT LINE

How to Ride a Hoverboard Instructions

Now, to move, the best way I can describe it is, just “think” of where you want to go.

As you probably already know, on a hoverboard segway, you lean in the direction you want to go. This may make you think you have to do more than you actually do to move.

It’s not as much leaning as it is slightly shifting your weight. If you lean too much, you WILL fall.

So, just try going forwards first.

TURNING

How to Ride a Hoverboard Instructions

Then, attempt a slight turn. This should come naturally, it’s almost like the scooter “knows” what you want to do. But, basically, you turn by “twisting forward” the foot that’s opposite your turning direction: say you wanna turn left, just push your right toe forward.

To attempt sharper turns, you may want to start “twisting back” the other foot too, that is pushing down the heel. When you’re an expert, you can literally spin in place like this.

Now try to go backwards, too.

THE BEST WAY TO PRACTICE WITH YOUR HOVERBOARD

Once you got these basic movements down, you should try to do laps, turning in one direction only (think Nascar circuit), until you get more and more comfortable.

When you feel comfortable enough, try to do one lap in one direction, and then another in the opposite direction.

STEPPING OFF THE HOVERBOARD

To step off the hoverboard, you simply want to “reverse” what you did to get on. Try to shift your balance to your dominant foot, and then step off with your non-dominant foot. Sometimes you’ll have the instinct to sort of “jump off,” but try to resist it, and do a controlled dismount. You’ll avoid scratching your hoverboard, and possibly injuring yourself.

Bear in mind that stepping on and off your board is probably the hardest thing of the whole process and it’s what’s going to take you the longest to master. Practice just stepping on and off for a little while to get used to it.

HOW TO USE THE HOVERBOARD’S REMOTE

Because of the nature of hoverboards, some manufacturers include more or less functionality in the remote that comes with your hoverboard. The following instructions apply specifically to the IO Hawk, but they should be applicable to most other manufacturers’ remotes too.

(Click here for a list of the Best Hoverboard Brands on the market.)

TURN ON THE HOVERBOARD

You can only turn on the hoverboard by pressing the button on the hoverboard itself.

TURN OFF THE HOVERBOARD

You can turn off the hoverboard by holding the “lock” button on the remote.

IO HAWK Remote TURN OFF

LOCK THE HOVERBOARD

You can lock the hoverboard by pressing the “unlock” button on the remote. You unlock by pressing the same button again. (Notice the battery light is red when locked, and green when unlocked)

IO HAWK Remote LOCK

SET THE HOVERBOARD TO BEGINNER MODE

Beginner Mode will set the hoverboard to a top speed of 3mph as opposed to the regular 6.2mph. It’s a good way to gain confidence in the board.

(Note that not all hoverboards have a beginner mode like the IO Hawk.)

To enable Beginner Mode, simply press and hold the “unlock” button for 3 seconds. The “IO” symbol will flash green. Press and hold for 3 seconds again to disable Beginner Mode.

IO HAWK Remote BEGINNER MODE

CALIBRATE THE HOVERBOARD

Sometimes the gyroscopes on your hoverboard will get confused as to what is level. It happens sometimes after crashing. So how do you fix it? You re-calibrate your board.

Simply put your hoverboard on a level surface (this is crucial), turn your hoverboard on. Lock it by pressing the unlock button once. When the battery symbol is red, press and hold both the “lock” and “unlock” buttons on your remote.

The hoverboard will beep, the battery symbol will be orange and flash together with the “IO” symbol.

IO HAWK Remote CALIBRATE

If you’ve followed this guide, we’re confident that you’ll be zipping around on your hoverboard in less than 5 minutes.

If you haven’t yet bought your hoverboard, make sure to check out our Self Balancing Scooter Buying Guide.

Have fun!

HOW CAN I PREVENT HOVERBOARD FIRES?

The best way to prevent hoverboard fires is to buy from a trusted manufacturer that uses high quality components.

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Another good way is to monitor the charging process, at least when you charge the smart balance wheel for the very first time (as opposed to plugging it in and going to sleep).

If you wanna make absolutely sure that you have a good quality charger, even though your board doesn’t come from a reputable vendor, you can purchase an external universal charger.

While this won’t prevent fires caused by the piercing of the battery pack, it will definitely prevent the most destructive fires, the ones caused by overcharging (which mostly seem to happen during the night, while you’re charging your hoverboard).

Another good way to avoid fires is to simply be careful with your hoverboard. Don’t drop it, kick it, or hit sharp objects with it. Any of these things may damage the separator sheets in the battery pack and cause a fire. This is extremely unlikely, but if the board’s construction isn’t solid, it’s a possibility.

EDIT: There is a company now that’s selling “hoverboard fire resistant safes,” which would ensure that any Li-Ion battery pack fire caused by overcharging (i.e. while the board is charging), is actually contained and extinguished. You can get one here. Make sure to select the appropriate hoverboard wheel size (6.5 or 8 inches—no option for a 10 inch hoverboard unfortunately).
Hoverboard Fire caught on camera

WHICH HOVERBOARDS ARE SAFE THEN?

All of the hoverboards we recommend on our Buying Guide are absolutely safe. We know which companies are using which manufacturers, and we simply avoid the bad ones.

If you’re interested in finding out more technical details on How Hoverboards Work, click here.

Stay tuned for a brand new Buying Guide featuring the new hoverboards on the market. It’ll be out soon, once we finish testing the new boards!