What is a hoverboard? Is it legal?

You’ve probably heard of a powered hoverboard but wondered what it was. Why, it’s almost like they’re hovering, except they’re not, so what on earth is this thing people call a ‘hoverboard’?

What is a hoverboard?

A hoverboard is not actually a hoverboard. Not at least like Marty McFly’s ‘Back to the Future’ device But these gadgets were given this name.


Rather, these are technically ‘self-balancing e-scooters’ but the sexier, hoverboard name has stuck.

Skywalkers offers up insight into what makes a "hoverboard" work.
Sky Walkers offers up insight into what makes a “hoverboard” work.

What they are is two rather thick platforms with sensors that pick up on the minute pressure movements exerted by the feet. You can lean forward, back and sideways and the battery and two wheels moves you forwards, backwards, or turn slightly.

Is it dangerous to use a hoverboard?


Like any motorised piece of transport, it can be risky getting on a hoverboard, and that’s because this is a gadget that moves, and can move quickly.

In fact, any form of transport, even short haul transport, can be dangerous.


A hoverboard can reach 20km/h depending on which brand it comes from. Not terribly slow, and fast enough to do some damage if you fall off, which happens often until you master it.

In fact, while a few in the office are quite good at these things, some are scared to get on, while other reviewers in Australia have broken limbs or electronics devices just using them.

Use with caution, and if you have one, practice, practice, practice. Preferably with protective gear.

What makes a hoverboard different between brands?

The brand is one thing that will separate them, as is the price, but really, the majority of the difference appears to stem from the battery used.


At least one company — Sky Walkers (above) — told GadgetGuy that it relies on a Chinese company Zhuoneng New Energy Technology for its board, but went further and gained “IEC 62133” certification for its battery to make sure they were stable.

Likewise, Kaiser Baas told GadgetGuy that its Revo Glider featured a Samsung battery that had been certified for various charging standards around the world.

But not all are the same and some hoverboards have exploded.

The Revo Glider from Kaiser Baas

Is a hoverboard legal to use?

We saw a guy driving one inside a shopping centre wondering if the end of civilisation had arrived now that walking was pointless — all states and territories have made them illegal except on private property.

This is probably illegal.
This is illegal.

Worse, though, if a member of the constabulary catches you using it, you’ll have to fork out between $300 and $2000 for a fine. Merry Christmas.

Your driveway should be legal.

Are they portable?

We’re not trying to dump any negativity on hoverboards, but one thing they are not is portable.

In theory, you can see why people would think they are. Like a mechanical scooter, they look small and compact, and the sort of thing you’d just hoist under your arm and take with you.

Unfortunately, the weight of these things is a little prohibitive, with the various sizes weighing between 8 and 12 kilograms, making it heavier than most backpacks, and sort of like carrying a large computer around.

To put it into perspective, think of it as carrying one long block that weighs as much as a bag or two of groceries.


Hoverboards have maximum weight limits of between 90 and 120 kg too.

Should I buy a hoverbooard?

It all depends on whether or not you think you will use it and if you have a suitable private property to use it on.

More respected retailers and e-tailers don’t sell them anymore. But Google lists a range of perhaps dodgy online retailers who don’t seem to care about legalities.


You may want to read our advice on e-scooter and powered wheeled devices here.