Segway Ninebot S Review: Everything You Need To Know

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The Segway Ninebot S is one of the best smart self-balancing personal transporters available for urban commute. Its design/form factor is somewhere between a conventional hoverboard and the bigger Segways with handles that you might have seen being used for city tours and in malls. The Ninebot S is steered using a control stick between the rider’s knees that the rider leans on to initiate a turn. This unique steering mechanism makes the Ninebot much easier to mount and ride for beginners.

The manufacturing company Segway (acquired by Ninebot in 2015) [1] is pretty experienced in the personal transport sector and they have created an excellent and affordable consumer version of their product based on their learnings. The compact high quality build, great battery life, powerful motors, good range and comfortable ride make the Segway Ninebot S a great choice as a personal transport option around your neighborhood and for commute. The Ninebot does not have a speaker, so you will need to rely on your headphones for your music.

Ninebot S

Tech specs

Length x width x height

260 x 548 x 595 (mm)

Loading capacity

88 to 220 lbs (40 to 100 kg )

Weight

28 lbs (12.8 kg)

Recommended age limits

16 to 50 years

Height requirement

4’3″ to 6’6″ (130 to 200 cm)

Maximum speed

10 mph (16 km/h)

Typical range

13.7 miles (22 km)

Maximum slope

15°

Recommended terrain for operation

Flat paved roads with less than 15 degrees incline.

Bumps of less than 1 cm height and dips no more than 3 cm wide.

Operating temperature

14 to 104°F (-10 to 40°C)

Storage temperature

-4 to 122° F(-20 to 50°C)

Permitted charging temperature

32 to 104° F (0 to 40°C)

Water resistance rating

IP54 – Dust resistant and splash resistant

Battery

Rechargeable Litihium-ion, 236 Wh, 54.8 V

Motor power

400 x 2 W (rated), 800 x 2 W (peak)

App compatible with

Android 4.3; iOS 8.0 or later

Wireless Connectivity

Bluetooth 4.2

Colors

Black, White

Quality build, powerful and smooth ride

The Segway Ninebot S requires some minor assembly out of the box. The steering column will need to be attached to the base with a couple of screws/bolts. This is pretty easy to do and is not much of a hassle.

Ninebot S
Image Credit: baumpeti

It has a great build quality. The chassis is a solid platform built with rigid and high strength Magnesium alloy materials to provide a stable base. The body is mostly built with plastic to reduce the weight of the device. Segway has opted for 10 inch air-filled tires. This is a nice touch as it provides cushioning while riding on rough surfaces and makes the ride smoother.

The Ninebot S has a dual motor design with each motor rated at 400W. They provide plenty of power but are also pretty quiet overall. They have an audible hum at higher speeds and with heavier loads. The flaps over the wheels also tend to rattle a bit at higher speeds while riding on rougher surfaces. Neither of these noises are loud enough to be annoying to the rider or the people around.

The Segway Ninebot S is available in two colors Black and white. It has LED headlights and tail lights. The colors of the lights at the back and below the platform can be controlled through the smartphone app.

The Ninebot S is rated as IP54 compliant. So it is resistant to dust and resistant to splashes of water but it is not waterproof. So avoid riding it through puddles and heavy rain.

Design tradeoffs with steering stick, plastic body, narrow base and air-filled tires

One of the issues with the Ninebot S design is that the steering column cannot be dismantled easily. So unlike a conventional hoverboard the Ninebot S takes up a lot more space while storing and commuting on public transport. It is also fairly heavy, so it is not very convenient to carry for long distances. It is also big and unwieldy so it cannot be carried in a backpack like a hoverboad.

The plastic body doesn’t have too much protection in crashes and can get damaged very easily. The flap for the charging port located in the front of the platform at the very center along with the plastic head light covers right next to it, are very vulnerable to damage if the Ninebot hits some obstacle or crashes in the front. The same goes for the plastic flaps over the wheels.

The Segway Ninebot S has a relatively narrow platform when compared to conventional hoverboards. So the rider’s feet are much closer together and for most riders this means that the feet are not as wide as the shoulders. The narrower base doesn’t feel natural to balance. It makes the rider feel that they might topple when they lean their knees against the steering stick to take sharp turns or turn without completely slowing down.

The 10.5 inch air filled tires provide a smooth ride, however they are also susceptible to wear and punctures. Segway does not offer any  replacement options for the tires. So you will have to contact their customer support to get it replaced or find a way to repair it yourself.

Steering mechanism makes it easy for beginners but has drawbacks

Segway Ninebot S has a novel steering mechanism that uses a control stick operated by the rider with their knees. The rider just need to lean their knees against the steering stick to turn the device. So unlike a conventional hoverboard the platform pads where the rider stands do not move independently on the left and right side. This makes the Ninebot S way more stable to mount. It is as easy as stepping on a stair/box.

Once mounted the rider can control the forward and backward motion of the Ninebot S by tilting the platform forward or back. The turning is controlled by the steering stick between the knees. This steering mechanism is much easier to learn for beginners and all age groups. So you will be comfortably zipping around on the Ninebot S pretty soon.

However, the steering mechanism also has several drawbacks depending on your personal preferences and body type. The height of the steering stick is not adjustable (Segway Minipro model has an adjustable steering stick). So depending on your height, the position of the pads on the stick may not be comfortable. If you are bow legged, you will have to lean a lot more to make contact with the pads on the sticks. It doesn’t feel very natural and stable to do that. Mounting the Segway Ninebot S is challenging if you happen to be wearing a long skirt or dress as you will need to make the steering stick disappear under your skirt/dress.

You have options to workaround these issues. You can get an accessory that replaces the knee based control stick with a longer one that can be controlled with your hands. This is not included with the Segway Ninebot S and will have to purchased separately.

One of the safest personal transporters

The Segway Ninebot S is both UL 2272 and UL 2271 Safety certified. This means that their electrical system (UL2272) and the battery (UL2271) have both been rigorously tested to ensure there are no defects. The Smart Battery Management System (SmartBMS) [2] has reliable performance and overvoltage, undervoltage, short circuit and overheating protection to prevent any malfunctions. The Ninebot S is also equipped with LED headlights, brake lights and turn lights for visibility around pedestrians and traffic.

Training mode and speed limits for safety

The Segway Ninebot S has a top speed of 10mph. However, you cannot immediately hop on and hit the top speed. Out of the box the device will start in the training mode where the speed is limited to 6mph. You will need to finish the tutorial and get comfortable riding it for 1 km or (0.67 miles) before the training mode is disabled. You can use the app to reenable the training mode if you need to limit the speed for your kids or if someone else is learning to ride your Ninebot. After you are done with the training mode the top speed will be limited to 10mph.

The Ninebot S has a quirky built-in safety feature that will cause it to beep as you hit 10mph and then it will automatically tilt the device platform backwards and slow down to a ‘safe’ speed. In practice this safety mechanism will need some getting used to. It can feel a little abrupt and the forced lean back can affect the rider’s stability since the rider will be leaning forward to make it move forward. In trying to regain balance you could potentially hit the steering stick with your knees and cause the Ninebot to veer off course. This is especially problematic while going downhill. The beeping can also be annoying. There have been several complaints about this ‘safety’ feature and hopefully Segway will address it and make it better.

Zippy riding experience meant for flat terrains

The Segway Ninebot S feels really nimble and zippy to ride. The motors have sufficient power to provide a quick acceleration to your desired speed and also go up inclines with heavy loading. The speed limiting feature can get annoying as you improve your riding skills and want to push the Ninebot further.

The Ninebot S is strictly meant to be ridden on smooth paved surfaces. It does not handle bumps and dips on the road very well. Hitting an uneven part of the pavement can result in the steering sticks hitting your knees as you try to balance. This can cause the Ninebot to turn unintentionally making it more unstable on the uneven portion.

These limitations make the Segway Ninebot S primarily a person transporter for urban settings and not much of a fun toy like an all-terrain hoverboard.

Smartphone app to monitor, summon and remotely control your Ninebot S

The Segway Ninebot S has an accompanying smartphone app for Android and iOS devices. You will need to use the app to pair your phone to the Ninebot using Bluetooth. The app is used to activate the device and also digitally lock/unlock it. The app is used to download any firmware updates to the device. It can also be used to enable/disable the training mode and limit the top speed.

The app can be used as a remote control to drive the Ninebot when there is no rider on it. It also has an auto-follow mode to make the device follow you. You can also use it to summon the Ninebot S to your location when you are ready to ride.

The app can be used to monitor the following

  • Current speed
  • Battery life
  • Remaining mileage
  • Current riding mileage
  • Average speed
  • Current riding time
  • Total mileage
  • Vehicle temperature

See through mode in the app

The app has a see-through mode which will activate your smartphone camera and display the app information on top of your camera’s video feed. This mode is useful to keep an eye on the road when you are looking at your smartphone to control something while you ride. Though this is a cool feature, we recommend that you keep your eyes on the road and your surroundings at all time while you ride.

Customer support

Segway offers a 90 day warranty to cover any issues/defects with the shipped product. You will be responsible for the cost of the return shipping unless you purchased it from Amazon. Unfortunately, Ninebot doesn’t seem to have the most responsive customer service. There have been several complaints about the lack of replies to customer issues. They don’t seem to have any dedicated call centers in the US for their consumer product support. In most cases customer had to fill out a form and wait for a reply.

Great personal transport option in urban settings

The Segway Ninebot S is quality device with a novel steering mechanism and plenty of power to carry heavy loads. Its range and quick charging capabilities make it an effective personal transport option for your daily commute. It is easier to learn and is also a great option for people who are not comfortable with the individually moving pads on a hoverboard.

It does have its share of quirks, limitations and design tradeoffs. Your personal preferences will dictate how much these issues really matter. Our team had varying opinions about them. But we all agreed that the Segway Ninebot S is a solid product that is good for everyone and provides an effective solution for urban personal transportation needs.

To find out more about the top hoverboards on the market today, check out our extremely helpful guide.