Er…what’s the name of this toy? 风火轮, 電動雙輪平衡車, Hoverboard, Mini Segway or WTH?

Since the day we brought this toy into our office 3 weeks ago, I received so many notes from interested parties where to get this unnamed toy/vehicle. I prefer to call this the “HoverWheels” or a “H-Cruiser” as it is shaped like letter H with one wheel on each side. However, it is more popular known as the “Mini Segway”, “PhunkeeDuck” or “電動雙輪平衡車” depending on which side of the globe you are residing in.

Originally designed and produced by a company in 浙江 city (Zhejiang China) sometime mid of 2014, this vehicle created a storm and fever in the United States after Justin Bieber, Jamie Foxx and Jimmy Fallon were seen cruising on them. By early 2015, the fever spread from the USA back to Asia. Sadly, there isn’t any official name (read story here) or inventor’s credit for this toy and you can find over 20 brands and 100 online shops selling them. Most users call it a “Mini Segway” as it uses the same design and user-logic as the original Segway. 2 days ago, Xiaomi (the Chinese phone company that bought over Segway) launched the new Ninebot Segway.

Is it easy to handle?  Yes, for someone who can’t balance on skateboard, I must say this is a very easy wheeled-board to handle. (My 11-year-old son took less than 10 seconds to master it!) Most people take less than 3 minutes to master. All you need is to stand firmly still on the board, lock your knees and let your mind guide your path. Many users suffered the scary “wobble effect” on first trial. Don’t worry, it is common (happened to all 90% of first-time users). You do not need to tilt or apply too much force to cruise on it. Don’t get too impatient to speed off, just let your mind and body move the vehicle slowly.

Once you got the hang of the control, you will be able to move yourself in the direction your mind tells you. Don’t over compensate the thrust as it will throw you off balance. Just be calm, very still and sense the “pressure” to move. A lot of users tend to over-lean forward/backward on their first attempt. Always have someone beside you to hold you. One advise – NEVER embark the vehicle when it is off. Always turn on the vehicle before stepping on it! And always disembark from the back of the board. It is much stable we find. 

Comparing this with electric scooter or skateboard – It is more fun, cooler (watch the cool segway dance below) and addictive to ride on this. This becomes a “bonding toy” between colleagues in our office. It brings people together! We had so much laughter and fun cruising on this. It is like a brand new stress-reliever, just hop on and wheelie free!

Where can you buy one? In Singapore, you can order online at Falcon Website at SGD699. However, do note that this toy comes in many other configuration and price range depending on the specs you wanted. Most of them comes from China-factory-direct and it is advisable that you consider these buying tips before making a purchase:

1) Size – It comes in 5 different sizes – 6,7,8,9,10 inches. For better balancing, I recommend size 8,9,10-inch for adults.

2) Battery – It comes in different capacities – 10km, 15km, 20km, 25km. The weight will affect the distance it can travel on a full charge. If you are heavy (say 70kg to max weight of 100kg), it is advisable to get the 20km configuration. Do also note that there are 2 types of batteries – China-made and Korean-made. If you want to have a peace-of-mind, always request for Korean-made-imported batteries (from LG or Samsung), it is only RMB80 difference. Most take around 1-3 hours for a full charge.

The only problem is (like the original Segway) once the batteries run out, it becomes a heavy 12-15kg liability that you have to carry. So always watch out for the distance and the battery warning signal. Unlike the electronic scooter or skateboard, you can still ride on them manually even if the battery is flat.

3) Power – It comes in 250W and 350W. The higher the power, the stronger it can overcome steeper slopes and uneven terrain. Some sellers try to confuse with 700W engine – actually what they meant were 350W-twin-wheel power. So, do ask if you are unsure.

4) Wheels – It comes in both solid rubber and air-pump wheels. The air-pump wheels help to cushion the vibration over tougher terrains like sand, grass and gravel paths. So far, only 10-inch board comes with air-pump wheels. The others come in solid rubber wheels. Watch the terrain test by another user below.

5) Colours & Designs – There are just too many variations. Some even comes with colourful LED lights, remote switches and bluetooth speakers. It is a personal preference and it won’t impact much on the cruising experience or performance. Currently, many sellers on Taobao and EBay are offering generation 3 or 2015 edition. So, do get the latest model.

6) Weight – From 10kg to 17kg. The weight increases according to the specification. Double-capacity batteries weigh more than single-capacity model. The larger the size, the heavier. No matter what configuration, it is not a light vehicle to carry once the battery is flat.

7) Speed – 10km/hour to 16km/hour. So far, I haven’t seen any model going faster than 16km/hour. Some models come with a beeping warning when users cruise at the highest speed. At 12km/hour, it is pretty insane and difficult to make a sharp turn. So, always cruise with care to avoid injury.

8) Price – from USD200 to USD1,500! Don’t let price, brand and outer design/colours fools you. Always check and compare the internal specification before committing. Even the picture looks the same, it doesn’t mean the internal configuration is the same build. Always chat with the seller to find out more.

If these are too much for you to consider, you might just want to wait for the new Xiaomi Ninebot Segway! (九号平衡车) Taking pre-order on 3rd Nov 2015. However, it only accept orders in selected China cities.

If 2014 is the Year of the Drones, I bet 2015 is the Year of the Mini Segways or Hoverboards! You must give credits to the Chinese – they have been inventing really cool stuffs lately! Guess we will be seeing lots of these unnamed vehicles on the road after Christmas this year! For those who have Taobao Accounts, you might want to go to this shop (click link) to browse!

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