While it’s not quite the hoverboard envisioned in Back to the Future 2, the Kaiser Baas Revo Glider could be the next best thing.
Note: Since we published this review, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) expressed concern that some hoverboards imported from overseas may not comply with Australian (and New Zealand) electrical standards. Following this, Amazon pulled a number of hoverboard models from its website, citing safety concerns after a series of fires in the US and UK blamed on hoverboards. It appears the problems are due to low quality lithium-ion batteries.
In light of this, we strongly recommend checking that any hoverboard has the RCM mark or C-tick, which show that it meets electrical safety standards. See here for more information.
When the Segway launched in 2001, its inventor claimed it would revolutionise personal transport. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos went as far as saying “cities will be built around this device”. That didn’t quite come to pass, with many blaming the Segway’s lacklustre sales on the simple fact consumers weren’t keen to commute on an ungainly oversized scooter. But eventually it found a niche, proving popular with tourists and mall cops the world over.
Fourteen years on, an Australian manufacturer of adventure technology (think action cams and drones) is echoing those bold claims. Kaiser Baas says its Revo Glider, which retails for $999, will “change the way we think about personal transport”. Basically, it’s a Segway without the handle, and with a smaller platform and wheels, meaning you can easily operate it indoors. We trialled one to see what all the fuss is about.
The Revo Glider uses two gyroscopically-stabilised internal motors, powered by a 36V lithium-ion battery. Kaiser Baas claims this gives an average range of 12-15km on a single charge. To move forward, you tilt your toes to the ground, then flatten your feet to stop moving. Leaning your heels back puts it in reverse. Turning is less intuitive: to go right you push your left foot towards the ground, a bit like turning on skis.
We found it requires a subtlety of movement that takes getting used to, but after about twenty minutes we were gliding about the office with ease, and with a little more practice we could even spin around in one spot. The learning curve can be flattened with its “beginner” mode, which makes the glider slower and more forgiving.
Kaiser Baas claims you’ll “cruise around with grace and style”, which is a bit optimistic. It’s not as inelegant as a Segway, but the rigid forward-facing position isn’t as graceful as carving on a longboard.
It’s probably a bit underpowered to function as your main transportation device. The Revo Glider has a leisurely top speed of 12km/h, and slows to a crawl on all but the gentlest inclines. The New Zealand Transport Agency classifies it as a “low-powered vehicle”, so you can’t use it on public roads.
We liked the Revo Glider’s design and styling, and the build quality is generally good: the wheels are non-inflatable compound rubber, so punctures aren’t an issue. But its IP54 waterproof rating means it can only handle small splashes of water, a concern for a machine intended for outdoor use.
Unlike most modern rechargeable devices, the battery lacks overcharge protection, which means charging doesn’t shut off when the battery is full. The manual advises not leaving it plugged in for longer than its charge time of three hours to safeguard from potential overheating and fire, which isn’t very convenient. We strongly urge you follow these directions, and don’t leave it plugged in overnight.
Our verdict: The Kaiser Baas Revo Glider probably won’t revolutionise urban transport. That said, it’s great fun. But in light of the ongoing safety concerns around hoverboards, we don’t recommend it, as we can’t guarantee the safety of its battery.
Kaiser Baas Revo Glider
- RRP: $999 (from Harvey Norman, currently the only New Zealand retailer)
- Max distance claimed on full charge: 20km
- Average distance claimed: 12-15km
- Origin: China
- Max capacity of rider: 120kg
- Min capacity of rider: 20kg
- Terrain requirements: Smooth and flat only
- Battery charge time claim: 180 minutes from flat
- Max speed: 12km/h
- Waterproof rating: IP54 (small splashes of water)
- Dimensions measured (WxHxDcm): 58.5x18x18
- Weight claimed: 10.4kg
- Max climbing angle: 15°
- Min turning radius: 0
- Tyre size: 170mm
- Tyre type: Solid non-inflatable
- Battery type: Lithium-ion
- Battery model: Samsung 36V Li-ion, 4.4Ah
First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.
By George Block.