They’ve been called hoverboards, self-balancing scooters, mini Segways and electric unicycles but one thing’s consistent about all of them – they’re popular and set to be the must-have gadget this Christmas.
But not all of these products have been created equal.
They’re currently pouring out of China with cheap models flooding eBay.
Customers lured into buying one of these cheaper models have been hit with problems, poor performance and no after-sales service to rely on.
Enter 3VOLV, a company based in Brisbane, who wanted to give customers a better product designed for use in Australia but also offer the after-sales support that was sadly lacking from these other opportunistic sellers.
The 3VOLV model is called the ZoomR and Tech Guide took it for a test drive.
If your regular hoverboard is a Toyota, then the ZoomR is a Mercedes Benz.
For our review we out our hands on a cheaper generic hoverboard to compare it with the experience of riding the ZoomR.
The difference was clear both in terms of quality and performance.
So how do you ride one of these things?
When a person boards the two-wheeled device and finds their balance they simply transfer their weight slightly forward to move forward and slightly back to go backwards. That’s it.
Apply more weight on one side to turn. All up it’s a 10-minute learning curve and you’re up and running.
The ZoomR we reviewed was the Sports model which has a more aggressive and angular design.
The other Classic model has a more rounded look and also different rims.
Both have the same 6.7-inch hard rubber tyres which will never need inflating and they work the same way.
The ZoomR Sports seemed to offer slightly better performance in terms of speed, acceleration and responsiveness.
But the ZoomR Classic is still a fine and reliable product.
Looks-wise, the ZoomR Classic looks like the cheaper generic options, but that’s where the similarities end.
There are also two front lights that illuminate when it senses a foot resting on the pad.
On the rear of the unit is the charging port and the on switch.
Either ZoomR model is also available in different colours – four the Classic and five for Sports.
The first time I stood up on the ZoomR I had someone holding on to me. I was told to plant my dominant foot (my right foot) on the right pad.
And then I learned that getting your second leg on the ZoomR was like lifting your foot and transferring your weight as if you were walking up a set of stairs.
Once on board and you get the confidence of balance you’ll feel like the ZoomR is part of your body.
The ZoomR Sport lives up to its name – it’s the sports car version of the product and has a bit more zip and responsiveness.
Under the hood the ZoomR has actually four times more torque than other self balancing boards on the market and has enough power to climb 45 degree hills.
That’s actually 30 per cent more than other boards.
ZoomR can take up to 120kg of weight and this will affect how the board performs.
It has a top speed of 10km/h and a range of about 20km on a full charge but heavier riders might see a shorter range.
I’m not the lightest person in the world – I weight more than 100kg – but the ZoomR easily handled my weight and still performed brilliantly.
But you do need to take care. The ZoomR instruction booklet warns that riders should wear a helmet and other appropriate padding and protective equipment.
Think of this like riding a bike or skateboard – you might not go as fast – but if you come off you could get injured.
During our testing, we came off a couple of times including one time when we landed on our behind.
The main use for the ZoomR, apart from zipping around for fun, would be as a transporter for people who need to move short distances faster.
It can handle riding on pavements but watch out for the big cracks and bumps – the ZoomR will power ahead, you just need to keep your balance.
It does offers a very smooth ride and the ZoomR Sport can even easily run on grass.
And when you get where you need to go you can store the ZoomR in the free bag that comes with the product.
But weighing just over 10kg, ZoomR isn’t the lightest thing to carry around so hopefully you won’t have far to go.
WHERE YOU CAN’T RIDE ZOOMR
The general rule of thumb for ZoomR is it can be ridden in the same places where you can ride a skateboard.
So the footpath and in the park is fine but you can’t ride ZoomR on the road.
And places like shopping centres and other large venues – where skateboards are banned – are also out.
It’s also limited by the terrain and while it can be ridden on grass it can’t be ridden over rocky and really bumpy surfaces.
You also can’t ride ZoomR through puddles so if it’s been raining you’ll need to leave it behind and just walk it.
In these slippery conditions it wouldn’t be safest time to ride the ZoomR anyway.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
There’s hardly anything we didn’t like with the ZoomR.
Battery life is great but when charging the battery, you’re instructed that you can’t charge it for more than three hours.
The instruction booklet says overcharging the battery – which is similar to the battery found in power tools – may affect how well it can hold a charge.
So having to set a reminder or a timer when charging the battery will be something new for people.
We would have thought in 2015 there would a battery that could simply shut off when it was fully charged.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR TECH GUIDE READERS
The ZoomR Classic and ZoomR Sport are priced at $999 and $1199 respectively but Tech Guide readers will receive a 20 per cent discount when they use the special voucher code: gimme20offtechguide on the 3VOLV website.
This bring the prices for the Classic and Sport down to $799.20 and $959.20 respectively.
The ZoomR from 3VOLV is easy to learn and a lot of fun to ride and it can help you get around a lot faster.
And the excellent product is backed by equally good customer service so Australians can rest assured they won’t be left high and dry in the unlikely event that something will go wrong.