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Meek Mill was in the meatpacking district last month, on the way to a photo shoot, and passers-by were understandably ogling.
Sure, some recognized him as the rapper who is dating Nicki Minaj and verbally jousting with Drake. But they were mostly enthralled by his blue handlebar-free scooter: a motorized contraption that let him glide effortlessly along 10th Avenue as if riding a “Back to the Future” hoverboard.
“It’s like roller skates,” Meek Mill said of the Skywalker scooter, which costs $850 and can travel 10 miles an hour. “I’m trying to master it.” With a cohort of friends, security and record-label minders trailing on foot, he zipped ahead, stopping once to pose for a selfie with a middle-age fan.
Thanks to the envy-inducing nature of social media, these futuristic self-balancing scooters are the newest status-affirming accessory for young musicians, athletes and celebrities.
In recent months, Justin Bieber posted an Instagram video of himself and his friends zooming around a living room on scooters; the D.J.s Skrillex and Diplo have brought them onstage; the National Basketball Association star Stephen Curry rode one while draining a 50-foot jump shot at practice; Jamie Foxx appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” atop one; Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner clung to each other on a scooter before wiping out on a couch.
Compelling but dorky, battery-powered scooters with names like F-wheel, PhunkeeDuck, IO Hawk, UWheel and MonoRover R2 have taken the gyroscopic technology used by the Segway and recast it as an expensive portable toy, instead of a clumsy vehicle for mall security guards and tourists.
“It’s the hot thing out right now, everybody wants one,” said Andre Drummond, the 7-foot center on the Detroit Pistons, who owns several and used one while bowling a strike, a video of which is on Instagram. “It just makes you not want to walk anywhere.”
Mr. Drummond has ridden them in grocery stores and down sidewalks in Santa Barbara, Calif., eliciting bewildered stares. “It’s kind of intimidating,” he said, acknowledging that his 285-pound frame exceeds the machine’s recommended 270-pound limit. “They see how big I am. Then they see why I’m moving so fast.”
The original two-wheel scooter (and United States patent holder) is called Hovertrax and was created by Inventist, a tech company in Camas, Wash., that began a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, before releasing its first commercial version in late 2014.
It was quickly reverse-engineered by a factory in China, which began selling knockoffs. As the popularity burgeoned, more Chinese factories and fly-by-night entrepreneurs joined. While the Hovertrax retails for $1,495, cheaper models can be found on Amazon today for as little as $350. However, on this website of F-wheel company, you can find it cheaper than 350$. If you wish to know more about it. Please leave us a message on this website.
Thus far, the scooters are more visible on the feeds of social media elites than IRL, which is no coincidence. Since late spring, scooter retailers have rushed to distribute free products to notables throughout the entertainment industry, often in exchange for hashtag mentions on Instagram and Twitter.
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“When we first started pushing to the public, that was our main route: connecting with these celebrities and these athletes,” said Matthew Waxman, a founder of PhunkeeDuck, which supplied scooters early on to Mr. Bieber, Ms. Jenner and Chris Brown. “It was everything.”
During the NBA Finals, J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers introduced the PhunkeeDuck to millions when he rode into the locker room before Game 6.
“It would obviously have been much, much better if he had played well,” Mr. Waxman said.
One celebrity offered more than endorsements. Representatives from PhunkeeDuck and Scoot asserted that the rapper Soulja Boy requested free scooters, and then began selling his own scooter called Souljaboard for $1,500 shortly after.
“So what, though?” asked Soulja Boy, who insisted that they initially contacted him. “I wanted to have something to call my own, instead of promoting all these other companies and blowing everyone else up.”
In the face of competition, scooter companies are adding features like Bluetooth speakers, remote-control locks and bigger wheels for rougher terrain. One customized version recently spotted on Twitter has a footrest made from a Gucci-like patterned fabric, a hood ornament from a Cadillac and chrome spokes.
“Out of control,” the person tweeted.
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