US recalls 501,000 'hoverboards' over safety concerns

The CPSC is concerned that the self-balancing two-wheelers can catch fire.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

When the US government said that there wasn't a safe 'hoverboard' in the land early this year, it wasn't kidding around. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling 501,000 of the self-balancing vehicles over concerns that their batteries will overheat and catch fire. If you own one, the odds are that you're affected: the notice covers models from relatively big names like AirWalk, Razor and Swagway, and Mashable mentions 10 other brands.

This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have to go without a board. If you have one of the relevant Swagway models, you can ask the company for either a repair (to bring you up to Underwriters Laboratories safety standards) or a credit for a UL-certified model, like the Swagtron T1 or T3. You might be in trouble if you're using anything else, though. The CPSC is asking you to get a full refund from either the manufacturer or the retailer if you own a non-Swagway model, which may be tricky if you bought a comparatively unknown model or went through a tiny online shop.

It's important to stress that the market is turning a corner. Swagway and others are producing safer devices that probably won't be taken off shelves any time soon, so you can likely get a brand new board with confidence. However, the recall is a reminder that the rush to capitalize on the 'hoverboard' craze had some serious consequences, and that riders are ultimately the ones paying the price.