Remember the Segway, that awkward looking personal vehicle that Weird Al references as the culprit of his “White and Nerdy[ness]?” Of course you do, and you’ve probably only ridden one on a scenic tour where everyone had the opportunity to look awkward together so that nobody is embarrassed. I want you to do me a favor as you read this review, don’t compare the Airboard to the Segway in any way. Despite some technical similarities, the Airboard outpaces the Segway in too many ways to be compared; the most important of which is in style.
I can define the Airboard in two words: intriguing and exhilarating. This stylish skateboard/segway combo captures the attention of anyone that sees it. When we first received the device, I posted a quick video to my social media account. The response was surprising. Friends I haven’t spoken to in years suddenly want to “hang out” because they want a turn with the Airboard. While the Airboard is certainly intriguing, does its performance match its “wow” factor? Read on to find out.
Ease of Use
One of the main questions I received on multiple occasions was, “how hard is it to learn.” I stepped on and was comfortable using the device almost instantly, but I have a background in wakeboarding, skating, skateboarding, and a variety of other balance intensive activities. To get a better idea of how hard it is to learn, I had a number of other people give the device a try while I assessed the learning curve. I’m pleased to say, everyone was able to pick up and feel comfortable with the Airboard within just minutes.
The device is self balancing, so it’s not so much a matter of getting your balance on the device as it is figuring out how your lean controls the device. Leaning forward and backwards accelerates in the respective direction. Stepping on and off the device is the hardest part for beginners. To get an idea of what learning looks like, take a look at the video montage we put together. If you fast forward to 21 seconds, you’ll see Curtis’ first time ever using the Airboard.
While he nearly falls on the first attempt, within seconds on his second attempt he was cruising around the basketball court like a champ; a testament to how easy learning to ride the Airboard really is.
Maneuvering and Transportation
Once you get past the initial learning curve, you’ll find that the Airboard is extremely agile. Not only is it zippy (up to 12 MPH), but it can turn on a dime and even do 360 degree spins. We did learn the hard way, however, that fast turns are the easiest way to get thrown from the Airboard.
The device also has surprisingly good battery life. You can travel between 6 and 8 miles on a single charge depending on how and where you’re riding. Long distance riding is a surprising work out. My longest trip was 2 miles and at the end of it, both my thighs and feet were burning as if I had just finished a P90X workout. You use a surprising number of stabilizer muscles in both your thighs and feet to stay in control. It’s likely that over time you will build up endurance with more use, the Airboard just forced me to use muscles that I haven’t used in a long time. (probably a good thing) As long as you don’t mind getting some thunder-thighs, you’ll love getting around on the Airboard.
From a speed perspective, I was able to travel a mile in around 8 minutes meaning I averaged about 7.5 MPH while comfortably riding. We tested the Airboard’s max speed by riding it next to a vehicle while monitoring speed. While the Airboard can definitely reach speeds of up to 12 MPH, I never felt comfortable going faster than 10 MPH. Any Shift of your weight causes the board to turn. Riding on an uneven street and hitting bumps can cause the Airboard to weave and lose control at high speeds. There were plenty of times where I nearly fell off of the Airboard as a result of traveling at high speeds and hitting an uneven spot of pavement. FOr that reason, I averaged closer to 7.5 MPH in most of my travel. It’s worth noting that my testing of the device was limited to two weeks and it remains unknown as to how comfortable a seasoned rider could become.
It’s hard to put into words what maneuvering is like on the Airboard. Once you get the hang of it, it feels extremely natural. It really says something about how good it feels to maneuver when you spend the first night with the device watching TV while cruising around your living room for over an hour straight. I simply can’t get enough. Even my wife, who isn’t into technology whatsoever, wants to buy one after giving it a whirl.
It’s safe to say that the Airboard is an incredible travel experience, however, it’s not a perfect one. I’ve already mentioned the challenges of high speeds and uneven pavement. The Airboard also does not do well with large bumps. The airless wheels are made of a hard rubber material that don’t absorb very much shock. There were a few times that a severely uneven sidewalk crack threw me from the Airboard. Thankfully, jumping straight forward and running off your speed is relatively easy. Despite all of my “falls” I never went down on the pavement.
Overall, travel on the Airboard is a great experience. Don’t expect to travel a consistent 12 MPH and be careful when going over bumps to ensure you don’t get thrown from the device.
Design and Durability
Design and durability rarely go together in the same category, however, with the Airboard, they are closely related. The Airboard is designed to look very futuristic. The glossy black paint, blue LED lights, and stylish wheels make for a pretty package. In fact, many people who saw my initial videos thought I was actually hovering from the illusion created by the blue LED lights.
The Airboard’s strength in design is also one of its weaknesses. The glossy black paint is prone to scratches and trust us, you’re going to scratch your Airboard the first time you use it. If you ever have to dismount from the device, the Airboard rolls end-over-end on the pavement and scratches the paint on the wheel-wells. Additionally, there is not a lot of clearance between the ground and the bottom of the Airboard. Simply trying to go up a gutter scratched the bottom of the Airboard. While the device would certainly lose some of its sleekness in style, I would have preferred a more scratch-resistant matte paint job. This way only the deep scratches would be visible.
Paint aside, the Airboard can definitely take a beating. Despite falling off multiple times and enduring a number of people getting past the learning curve, the Airboard never stuttered once. Our time with the device was limited to only two weeks, so our durability testing is not comprehensive.
When reviewing devices we like to look for whether it has what we call the “Smash Factor.” This can be earned by either showing incredible innovation or overall outstanding performance. The Airboard achieved both. While certainly not perfect, between the sheer exhilaration of using the device and its inherent “coolness” factor; the Airboard definitely earned the “Smash Factor” award.
You can purchase your own Airboard here for $850 US dollars. If you want an insider secret, use the promo code walknomore to get a discount on your purchase.
Update: We’ve found that Amazon has various other brands of self-balancing uni-cycle scooters and they are much cheaper than the Air-wheel brand. You can check them out here.