We hear you're going places? That's what school is all about, after all. But we're being a little more literal: Getting to class is often half the battle. That's why we've dedicated a whole section of our back-to-school guide to the best personal electronic vehicles for navigating your way to campus or between classes. We also know that every journey is different, so we picked a few different modes of transport that should cover all the bases -- whether you're going 20 miles or 20 yards to the vending machine. (We're not judging.)
What did we consider when compiling this list? Glad you asked. For us, the key factor had to be that each ride was focused on a different type of commute. After that, we considered portability, price (hint: these things don't tend to come cheap) and good old-fashioned fun. Going to school can feel like a chore, so we wanted to make the experience as enjoyable as it is practical. Below you'll find our top picks, with arguments as to why each is perfect for the job.
Boosted Mini S
Boosted boards have been on the wish lists of many a college student over the years, but with the launch of the Mini S, last year the dream became a lot more realistic. The $749 list price isn't chump change, but it's comparable to a mid-range mountain bike. For that sum, you get a retro Dogtown-style look with a very maneuverable 29.5-inch length and 18-mph top speed. You'll get to a full charge in just an hour and can go around seven miles on the standard battery. The drawback is that range, which is half that of other Boosted boards, along with the heavy 15-pound weight and lack of comfort compared to longer boards.
-- Steve Dent, Contributing Editor
For the medium-distance ride to school, Brompton's Electric offers a good balance of range, weight and fun. The bike only assists your ride up to 15MPH, over a distance of 25 to 50 miles per charge, but in return you'll have less weight to haul up those daunting college stairs (36 pounds with the battery). The smaller 16-inch wheels and slim frame mean the Brompton will stow under your desk more easily than some bigger bikes, so you might not have to worry about leaving your $3,500 investment chained to communal bike racks. Despite only having two gears (you can upgrade to six for an extra $250), Brompton claims it can tackle "most" San Francisco hills -- meaning your local mound should be no challenge.
While there's no storage rack on the back, Brompton has a solution: The battery is housed in a bag that straps to the front. The default option has space for smaller items (phone, notebooks and snacks), or you can upgrade to one of the larger bags, including a detachable City Bag option ($200) that'll fit a 15-inch laptop. This means you can charge the battery at any outlet while your bike is stowed; plus there's even a USB port for charging your gadgets as you ride: vital if you dozed off while studying the night before and forgot to top up your phone.
-- James Trew, Managing Editor
When it comes to electric skateboards, bigger isn't always better. Sure, that long board might be sweet for carving up the streets, but it's a handful to carry and even the lowest curb can stop you in your tracks. Enter the Miles Dual from Miles Boards. This diminutive deck was pretty much designed with the college campus in mind. At 12.5 pounds it's lighter than Boosted's Mini S and faster too (22MPH over Boosted's 18). It also offers a range of up to 18 miles (Boosted lists the S at 7) -- all for about the same price ($769). If you don't need as much juice, the lighter, cheaper Single model ($499) will still last for up to 12 miles and reach 18MPH.
Another perk with Miles is the swappable battery, which means you can keep riding without stopping to charge, and the small kicktail makes popping up curbs a cinch. Last, you can choose from a range of different grip tape designs and graphics to make the Miles fit your style. -- J.T.
Segway Ninebot KickScooter
Booting around campus on a scooter gives you a leg up on fellow students, but if you want it to last until you graduate, you'll need something serious. Ninebot's Segway ES4 Kick Scooter should fit the bill, as it marries durability, comfort, high performance and advanced technology. You can hit speeds of 19 mph and travel up to 28 miles, and a second battery guarantees that you're always ready for the next class. It's comfortable, thanks to the 30-pound weight, easy to fold up and packs advanced tech like cruise control, an LED display and Bluetooth capability. The drawbacks are the extra weight and $769 price, but if that's too much, you can sacrifice some range and speed and go for Ninebot's ES2 or ES1 for $589 and $489, respectively. -- S.D.
Tern Vektron D8
Riding a bike is fun, but your quads might not always agree. If you buy an electric one, however, you'll get the freedom and exercise of a bike with motorized support when you need it. The Vektron D8 from Tern is ideal for those who live a few miles from campus and don't want their ride to dominate the school day. With eight gears and five levels of assistance, even big hills become easily surmountable. Meanwhile, the low center of gravity (thanks to the motor placement) makes it a good option around town, too.
One charge should be good for between 25 and 55 miles of assisted riding, but once you get above 20MPH, you'll be picking up the slack (still, that's pretty fast). The hydraulic disc brakes will safely slow you down, and as the Vektron is foldable, you can tuck it under your desk or easily take it on public transport if you need to. We also like the Vektron's rear storage rack, which is handy for lugging all of your gear to class. -- J.T.