“Hoverboards” are dangerous. They often shake like that dude in the “Beat It” video and occasionally burst into flames. None of the boards sold during the holidays were safety-certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and all of them were deemed unsafe by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
But they’re a lot of fun to zip around on. The Ninebot by Segway MiniPro aims to fulfill your need for (low) speed while keeping things safe on the conflagration front. Segway’s VP of marketing Brian Buccella says the company didn’t develop its new self-balancing two-wheeler to cash in the hoverboard craze. The timing is just a coincidence.
“The MiniPro has been in development for quite some time,” he says. “We don’t consider the MiniPro a hoverboard; it’s an entirely different class of product.”
Whatever you want to call it, you can pre-order Segway’s safer new ride on Amazon today for $999. It ships July 1. The MiniPro’s big selling point is that it’s the first self-balancing scooter to qualify for UL’s 2272 electrical system safety certification. That should minimize any risk of spontaneous combustion. As for the vehicle’s convoluted name, Ninebot bought Segway last year.
The MiniPro differs from your standard-issue two-wheeled battery-powered conveyance in several ways, but the most obvious is the adjustable “knee control bar” between the footrests. The board won’t run without it, and leaning left and right with your knees steers the MiniPro as you zoom along at up to 10 mph. It’s relatively heavy at 28 pounds, between three and eight pounds heavier than similar devices.
Beefier motors and tires contribute to the added heft. Each 10.5-inch wheel, which is an honest-to-goodness inflatable tire, is driven by an 800-watt motor. Segway says this thing should be able to handle 15-degree inclines on pavement and dirt.
Another big difference is that the Segway has an Intel-powered brain inside of it. Buccella says the internal computer tracks your movements than 100 times per second using a variety of sensors to keep you upright. The system will also learn your riding habits. Its lithium-ion battery pack is protected by a durable magnesium alloy frame, which Segway says helps with shock absorption. A four-hour charge gets you 14 miles of travel, and because everything is weather-sealed, you can ride in the rain.
The requisite companion app shows how fast you’re you’re going, how many miles are left on the battery, and lets you change the colors of the headlights and taillights. But the coolest feature: You can have the MiniPro roll alongside you when you don’t feel like riding it.