Remote control 'Hoverboard' rentals hit Wicker Park

  • The 200 Watt Munky Board.
The 200 Watt Munky Board. (Munky Board )
August 21, 2013|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

They’re not quite the floating, "Back to the Future II" toys, but an item from a Wicker Park merchant is probably the closest thing Chicago is going to get to a Hoverboard for now.

Briana Leduc, owner of Ash’s Tobacconist in Wicker Park, on Monday began renting out remote controlled electric skateboards called Munky Boards. It’s a partnership with Angelo Selvaggio, a Chicago inventor who designed the board and lives across the street from the shop.

“When we’re riding on the boards, everyone stops,” Leduc said. “Everyone turns their heads. The majority of the response is pure amazement.”

Leduc said Selvaggio has been selling the boards for about 2 and a half years, but this marks the first time they’re being rented to the general public. She said riding the three-speed boards -- which come in two models -- is easy, even for someone who has never tried out a traditional skateboard. The smaller model, made to look like Marty McFly’s Hoverboard from the 1989 movie, can reach speeds up to 14 mph and can go about 6 to 10 miles on one charge. A larger model, which features a CTA map design, can reach speeds up to 20 mph.

The board is controlled through a handheld remote, which has three speeds, and also features a brake that brings riders to a stop. Rentals come with a helmet, pads, charger and a map of freshly paved paths and roads throughout the Wicker Park area and beyond. Like the actual Hoverboard, it doesn’t work on water, but Leduc said it can ride through grass and packed dirt.

“It’s very simple,” she said. “It doesn’t turn for you, but you’ll pick it up really quick.”

Rentals are $89 for 24 hours for either model with a reservation, and the shop currently has a stock of 20 of each Munky Board. To promote the rentals, she said, a Groupon is planned for $39 for a day, as well as other deals on LivingSocial and YouSwoop, which is already live. 

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