Hoverboards suffered very poor public perception back when they first started getting popular. Between being sources of public nuisance and their batteries spontaneously catching fire, hoverboard technology had to undergo a massive overhaul to be deemed practical and reliable devices. A shining example of this breed of next-generation hoverboards is the Segway miniPro. Is the miniPro worthy of carrying the name of the super popular Segway brand?
Design and build quality
At first glance, it is easy to get the impression that the Segway miniPro was deliberately designed to be a down-sized version of the classic Segway personal transporter. It retains a somewhat minimalist design that is available in both black and white color variants. In a departure from the model of most hoverboards, the Segway miniPro features a small steering bar that juts outs of the center of the board. According to Segway the height of this control shaft can be accommodated riders from 3’ 3” to 6’ 6”.
A closer look at the Segway miniPro will reveal that it looks and feels like a premium product. The body is made from a combination of carbon fiber, aluminum alloy, magnesium alloy, and titanium alloy. The choice of these materials ensures that the miniPro is highly durable but is also lightweight. Most of the screws are hidden from plain view so that they do not detract from the aesthetics that Segway was going for.
At 28 lbs, the miniPro is light enough to carry around, albeit with a good amount of effort. The control shaft can be quickly detached for easier transportation and storage. A pole can also be extended from the control shaft so that you can just pull the miniPro behind you when you’re not riding it.
The Segway miniPro features 10.5″ pneumatic tires that come with visually distinct hubcaps. They are covered by fenders on either side so that you can be protected from debris or water spatters. Rubber mats do double duty by providing both a non-slip surface and a small amount of shock absorption. The power button and an LED indicator for the remaining battery level sit right between your feet when you ride the miniPro. Underneath this central panel is a plastic lid that can be flipped open to reveal the hoverboard’s charging port.
The Segway miniPro has an IP54 rating, indicating that its electronics are sufficiently protected from splashes that it may endure when riding in wet roads. However, the miniPro is still not the type of hoverboard that you would want to ride while it’s raining. You would also want to avoid riding through puddles or in the snow.
The miniPro does not have a shortage of lighting options. Super bright white LED lights at the front allow you to see the road ahead of you, while rear lights keep you visible at night. The rear lights can light up with a number of exciting patterns and can also act as stop and turn signals.
The biggest issue with the design of the miniPro is that it does not look cool enough. The combination of the minimalist color scheme and the oddly shaped control shaft means it’s probably not the kind of hoverboard that cool kids will ever be caught riding. Still, we like to think that the build quality and ease of control of the Segway miniPro more than makes up for its lack of visual appeal.
The Segway miniPro is powered by a set of 800 W high-performance motors. This allows it to carry passengers up to 220 lbs., more than enough for average-sized adults. Segway advertises the miniPro having a maximum speed of 10 mph, although this feels like an artificial limit imposed by the miniPro’s firmware. Perhaps this a safety consideration, but there is currently no way to go over the 10 mph speed limit. In any case, 10 mph is nothing to be sneezed at – it might not sound impressive, but it’s just the right speed to be fun.
Aided by its pneumatic wheels, the miniPro can comfortably go over small obstacles such minor bumps, rocks, or twigs. However, objects higher than an inch and deep potholes may be a little more problematic. It is also powerful enough to climb inclines up to 15 degrees.
The miniPro is equipped with a 310Wh battery which delivers a range of up to 14 miles. It takes about 4 hours to charge the battery from 0% to full capacity.
Despite the sophisticated looks of the Segway miniPro, it is probably one of the most beginner-friendly hoverboards available today. For the first kilometer of its operation, the speed of the miniPro is locked at a measly 4mph. Even if you’re massively uncoordinated, you should get the hang of riding the miniPro in just 5 to 10 minutes.
The addition of the steering bar is a genius idea that makes steering and controlling the miniPro so much easier and more intuitive. In other hoverboards, making zero-degree turns involves awkwardly leaning your feet in opposite angles. For the miniPro, you only need to lean with your shins or knees towards the direction you want to turn. In fact, even making a full 360-degree turn is incredibly easy. By making use of a combination of the movements of your feet, shins, and knees, the miniPro with the steering bar offers a finer level of control than conventional hoverboards.
The miniPro has also been equipped with features that make the riding experience more comfortable. Aside from the shock absorption provided by the pneumatic tires, the 3.5-inch chassis is also supported by a basic suspension system. This combination makes the miniPro very stable and comfortable even if you have to traverse bumpy roads and uneven surfaces.
As mentioned, the miniPro firmware seems to have been programmed with an artificial 10-mph speed limit. This manifests in a beeping sound should you start to approach high speeds (around 7 to 8 mph). The hoverboard then starts to compensate and slow you down. This speed limiting system can feel disorienting, especially if you are naturally gaining speed while riding downhill.
All in all, the Segway miniPro is an exceptionally easy to use hoverboard that requires minimal training and was designed to be used by almost everyone. With its intuitive controls, its also incredibly fun to ride the miniPro, especially when you have gained enough confidence to utilize its capabilities fully.
Mobile app connectivity
The Segway miniPro can connect via Bluetooth to the Ninebot mobile app, which is available for both Android and iOS. This mobile app is one of the most versatile we have seen for hoverboards, offering features that are unique to the miniPro.
Much like other hoverboards, the Ninebot mobile app can be used to display relevant data on the miniPro such as the current speed, mileage, and remaining battery life. You can also add your friends as contacts in the app, allowing you to compare your riding stats to them. The mobile app has a function that will enable you to see the location of other nearby Segway users while also broadcasting your location to them. Frankly, we don’t see a scenario where transmitting your location to complete strangers would be a good idea.
The mobile app can also be used to change the colors of your LED backlight, as well as its blinking patterns.
One of the unique features of the mobile app for the miniPro is the ability to control the hoverboard remotely. Using an onscreen D-pad, you can actually move the hoverboard while no one is riding it. This is a fun little feature for playing around with your pets or your kids. However, controlling the hoverboard via your phone is incredibly clunky. The slight delay between your commands and the reaction of the hoverboard means you are likely to crash it in this mode. Segway seems to have anticipated the difficulty of controlling the hoverboard remotely and substantially reduced the speed when it is moving under remote control.
The second unique feature is the ability to lock the miniPro using the mobile app. Developed as a means of theft protection, this feature prevents the wheels of the hoverboard from rotating. The miniPro will also slightly vibrate if anyone attempts to move it. Of course, a thief can still carry the miniPro, but at least, the thief is not going to be able to ride it away.
When the Segway miniPro was first launched in 2016, it came with a $1000 price tag. In the context of the original Segway personal transporter, this was only about 1/6 of the price of the flagship Segway product. However, $1000 was still in the higher end of hoverboard products.
Nowadays, you can probably find a Segway miniPro for about $600 or less. Considering that this hoverboard uses the same excellent technology as the Segway personal transporter, this is an excellent price range that really gives bang for your buck.
Is it worth it?
The Segway miniPro is an undeniably fun and enjoyable way to get around. With its intuitive controls, it is one of the most responsive and easy-to-use hoverboards even until today. It also has a solid design and construction that is befitting of the Segway brand. The visuals might not have focused on making the miniPro look cool, but its minimalist design is also appealing in its own way.
We think that the miniPro is an excellent option for city-based commuters who want to be able to enjoy the benefits of a personal transporter which can also be carried onboard trains or other public transport. It is sufficiently durable and water-resistant, allowing it to go over small obstacles or through wet roads. The security features of the miniPro which can be accessed via the mobile app also help make it an appropriate personal transportation device to aid daily commutes.
Even at its current $500 to $600 price range, the Segway miniPro is still one of the more expensive options for hoverboards. However, Segway actually eschews the ‘hoverboard’ label for the miniPro. By insisting that the miniPro is more than just a toy but represents the next level of evolution of personal transportation, perhaps they have found a way to justify its higher than the usual price tag.