How Do Self-Balancing Scooters – Hoverboards – Work?

How do hoverboards actually work? That is a question we get a lot at Brent’s Cool Picks. Though hoverboards are extremely popular, a lot of persons don’t actually know how they work. Here’s an in-depth explanation of what is a hoverboard and how these self-balancing scooters work so you can fully enjoy your hoverboard.

What the Popular Hoverboard is Not

When persons hear hoverboards, some of them expect a Back to Future II Marty McFly type hoverboard. But, conventional and popular hoverboards do not work exactly like Marty’s hoverboard.



They are not levitating skateboards, more like highly stylized motorized skateboards.

Conventional hoverboards do not float on air or ‘hover’ above the ground. But, their riders do look like they are hovering above the ground. And that they are floating as they keep their bodies upright and glide effortlessly from one place to the next.


Related Article: What is a Hoverboard? The History of the Self-Balancing Scooter


Some persons call them a Segway. Hoverboards are also not a Segway as this is a trademarked brand name for a variety of motorized personal transportation devices.

What Are Self-Balancing Scooters and What Do They Have to Do with Hoverboards?

What then are modern hoverboards? Hoverboards are more accurately described as two-wheeled self-balancing scooters.

The name hoverboard took off organically and is now the popular description of these scooters. So, even though they don’t hover or float, everyone will have an idea of what you are talking about when you say hoverboard.

After all, they are called hoverboards because people say they are. You can read more here about the history of the hoverboard.

We can safely assume that most persons ‘know’ what you mean when you say hoverboard. But what they may not understand is how it works. Let’s review how a self-balancing scooter works by taking a look at its parts.


Hoverboard batteries don't last forever. Replace your worn our battery with a UL certified one

What Is the Structure of a Hoverboard?

To understand how they work, we first have to look at what’s under the hood of your hoverboard. Here is a list of the main components of a self-balancing board:

  • Plastic shell
  • Steel frame
  • Logic board (motherboard)
  • Electric motors (2)
  • Infrared sensors (2)
  • Speed/tilt sensors (2)
  • Gyroscopes (2)
  • Pressure pads
  • Power switch
  • Battery pack
  • Charging port
  • LED lights
  • Central pivot
  • Wheels (2)

Each part plays a critical role in how the hoverboard works and is able to carry you around.

Wheels/Wheel Sensors/Logic Board

Your hoverboard comes with two wheels and each carries a speed sensor and an electric motor. The speed sensor detects how fast the wheel is turning (revolutions per minute or RPM). The sensor then sends this information to the control board (or motherboard). Based on all the data that the motherboard gets on speed and tilt angles, it signals the motors on what to do.

Gyroscope/Steel Frame/Pivot

The tilt and acceleration data are sent to the motherboard by the two gyroscopes in the hoverboard. This is necessary to keep the hoverboard upright. The steel frame pivots in the centre.

Battery Pack

A hoverboard is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. These should be UL certified battery packs which means they have been tested for electrical and fire safety. And to reduce fire risks, hoverboards should generally be designed to have the battery and the logic board (motherboard) on opposite sides.

Pressure Pads/LED Lights

The pressure pads are where you place your feet. They help to detect when a rider has stepped on a hoverboard and that it should start balancing. There are switches below these pads that when stepped on, they trigger an infrared LED light which in turn triggers a sensor.

How Do Hoverboards Move?

So, if hoverboards are not floating, and they are self-balancing boards with wheels, how does a hoverboard with wheels work? Do hoverboards read your mind? How do you control a hoverboard?

You control a hoverboard by the movements of your feet and body on the board. And this is done through the two pressure pads. When you are upright, and the sensor detects the infrared LED, the motors are ‘told’ to stay still. When you angle your foot or your body a certain way, you push a switch down between the sensor and the LED light. This tells the motor in the self-balancing board which direction to spin.

So, if you tilt forward, the board moves forward. If you want to turn right, your foot will activate the front left switch which makes the left wheel spin forward while your right foot activates the back right switch which spins the left wheel backward.

Now that you know all the details of how a self-balancing scooter works, head on over to Brent’s Cool Picks and check out the best hoverboards in Canada.


Hoverboard Seats with Steering Wheel

Front Wheel Drive Hoverboard Seats

The new Hoverkart 400 is a front wheel drive adapter for your hoverboard that allows you to drive and race it with a steering wheel.

If you purchased a Hoverboard or companion product though us (on we would appreciate you leaving a review on this website. Thx, and ride safely

About The Author

I am a small business owner for over 30 years and believe that the best customer service possible is the key to a successful business.