What to look for in an electric skateboard
Perhaps the most important factor that helps us decide which brand or model to go with. Some of us buy e-skateboards for leisure time cruises and for that, the range does not matter. But for those who commute for work a daily basis or go for long rides, range in important.
The average range these boards offer is anywhere between 12 miles and 20 miles. Small boards like the Boosted mini offer only 7 miles as they come fitted with smaller batter. Longboard style ones offer 20+ miles. Some Bioboard ones offer around 50 miles.
The second most important factor is the speed at which the board can take you flying across the street. On average, an electric skateboard can travel from 18 to 30 miles per hour. Some of them go to extremes like 45mph but they are reserved for the adventurous.
The speed also can be thought of as how quickly the board accelerates and not only the top speed. Thanks to the electric motors, we get instant torque in e-skateboards that result in exhilarating takeoffs.
The speed depends on the battery rating, the power of the motor, size of the wheels, level of incline, the weight of the person riding and the surface on which it is ridden on.
How easily can you get your board repaired should it breakdown? Are there any service centres nearby? How long should you wait for spare parts? Do they come with replaceable spare parts? Are spare parts even available? These are the questions we need to answer or have someone else answer for us.
The skateboards that come with modular parts are a big plus sign. Repairability increases drastically when the parts are modular. Upgrading also becomes very easy.
Also, companies that are based on the country you live in is a great option as well. You don’t want to buy some knock-off one manufactured in china only to ring them up again when it fails to start at some random point – An exercise in futility.
Personally, I find this to be the most important thing to look for while purchasing an electric skateboard. The range even if low can be extended by charging or having spare batteries. The speed is something you can increase or decrease at the push of a button but what about the very feel of riding it? That is crucial.
The wheels, the deck size and the deck flexibility play a very important role in the overall comfort the board provides while on a ride. To me, flexibility is crucial since it is what acts as a passive shock absorber while going over uneven pavements or rough surfaces.
Longer decks provide more stability while shorter decks provide the ability to do sharp turns. It boils down to personal preference. And the wheels – the larger the better. Smaller ones tend not to handle rough terrains effortlessly.
Two important factors to look at here: The capacity & the charging time.
The capacity determines the range heavily and the charging time determines the convenience it offers. And both are directly proportional. Bigger the battery – longer it will take to charge.
The average capacity is anywhere between 100-800 wh. Some are rated even higher, especially the bigger ones that offer more range. And when they get bigger, the charging time gets longer (usually). It also depends on the power output of the charger.
On average it takes 2 to 5 hours to fully charge a conventional electric skateboard although there are some models that boast 1-hour charge times. The shorter the duration the easier your life gets.
These skateboards are electric so they depend on the tech aspects to provide an enjoyable and safe user experience. A small thing like reaching to the bottom of the board every time to switch it on can get frustrating after doing it for the 800th time. So most of the good ones that came out recently have the switch on built into the remote. A popular alternative is the push to start where you get on the board and move forward slightly to automatically start the board.
Some high-end ones come with apps that you install on your phone to remotely control various aspects of the skateboard. You can even control the lights on your board if there are any, to begin with. Safety comes first so if you plan to ride your e-skateboard at night then make sure to get one with lights or have them installed separately.
Types of Electric Skateboards
There is not much variety in the electric skateboard section when compared to the traditional non-electric one. For instance, you don’t usually do stunts or tricks on electric skateboards for the street and freestyle ones with small wheels are often not seen here. Still, we have a few options to explore so let’s do that.
Mini Cruisers: These are the ones with a short deck that is nimble enough to zip through traffic and execute some very sharp turns. Great for the urban environment but comes at the cost of less stability.
Longboards: These feature long decks, usually above 33 inches and offer great stability. Personally I prefer these even though the huge turning radius can sometimes be a letdown. But great for cruising around, I should say.
Flexible & non-flexible: There are skateboards that come with stiff decks and flexible decks. Flexible ones offer more comfort as they absorb the vibrations from the asphalt and provide a fun feel whereas the stiff ones give you this impression of control that is drastically different from the flexible counterparts.
All-terrain: Usually the electric skateboards are built with the urban setting in mind but some are built for the dirt and the gravel. They sport big wheels that can take a beating and also come with powerful motors. You can ride them pretty much anywhere.
To understand what new electric skateboard to pick up, it’d be a good idea to go over the basics and know what makes it what it is.
The electric skateboard is just a regular skateboard but with electric components that drive it forward. So there are the traditional parts and electric parts. Let us go over each below.
The deck is the wooden board that is the heart and soul of a skateboard. The better that materials used, the longer it will last and the more precise it would perform.
The Grip tape is the coarse sandpaper-like material stuck on the deck to provide grip while performing tricks or cruising around.
The Trucks are the metal components which can be thought of as axles to the wheels. They contain the hanger, kingpin and the bushing. Essential items.
The Wheels are what decide how the board roll over a given surface and with the traditional ones that we are gonna build, we’ll go with smaller ones.
The bearings are small metal ring-like components that aid the wheels in rotating. Better the bearings the smooth the wheel will roll.
The motor would naturally be the most essential part since it is what drives the wheels and hence to board forward. The longevity mainly depends on how well this particular component stacks up.
The motor contains a silver shaft that usually comes out of one end which is connected to a pulley attached to a belt which runs the wheels. There are 3 phase wires and sensor wires that comes with it.
The pulley system is what connects the motor to the wheels. It transfers the energy from the motor to the wheels. Usually, a smaller pulley would be connected to the wheel and a larger pulley system will be installed at the wheel’s end.
The mounts and the clamps are essential hardware that keeps the motor in place ie attaches the motor to the deck. Not something to think about every now and then but important nonetheless.
The Battery is what gives power to the motor and stores energy for the propulsion. Bigger the battery longer the range you’ll get but heavier the board it will be. So chemically a better battery would be a great option.
The ESC or Electronic speed control is the brain of the board. It is an electronic chip installed on the underside of the board that controls how much energy is sent from the battery to the motor. So we can think of it as a middleman than stands between the motor and battery.
The remote is a wireless extension to the ESC that allows you to control it on the go. It can be used to accelerate or and can also, in some boards switch the electrics on.
Things to consider before buying
Safety comes first, no matter what recreation activity you are into and e-skates are no different. As these ones come attached with a motor that can take you up to speeds of 30 miles per hour, safety gear becomes an obvious thing. Your brain looks much better inside your skull than on the asphalt.
Prerequisite knowledge of skateboards
This is very self-explanatory. You need to know the basics of skateboarding before trying out the electric ones. Because the electric ones are skateboards but with motors attached to them. The non-electric ones themselves are pretty dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. So imagine motor and batteries attached to them. Even though there are exceptions, people ride e-skateboards better when they already know how to ride a traditional one properly.
Quality of the roads
The roads in your area should not have a lot of uneven surfaces and bad asphalt. The last thing you want is your wheels getting stuck on a big crack right in the middle of the road and you being propelled 10 feet off the board into the traffic ahead.
Big urban settings
Know the popular Youtuber Casey Niestat? He makes e-skateboards look cool while zipping through the traffic in New York and that is key since these big cities like these often offer a lot of amenities that favour skaters and skateboarders.
Portability and storage
This is not something we think of that much before investing in some brand new wheels but shouldn’t we? Of course, you could easily store it in your house once you return from your destination but where will you keep it once you reach your destination? If it is for you college purposes then would it fit in your locker? Ask these questions and buy appropriately sized boards.
Lastly but most importantly – does your city or state allow e-skates?
The answer to this question varies greatly depending on where you live.
A generic answer would be “They are not illegal.. But they are not legal either”
There are some countries that allow them freely and some which strictly forbid it. And most countries fall in a grey area where there are not quite sure and rules remain ambiguous.
In the US, places like California, Michigan and Florida clearly allow e-skates (with certain conditions like wearing a helmet or obeying speed limits) while the other states lie in the grey area.
Countries like Singapore & Australia have clearly included e-skates in the transportation laws where they are either treated like pedestrians or as bicycles.
But countries such as Netherland, Ireland, Switzerland & Germany have strictly stated and classified electric skateboards to be illegal.
So it would be a very good idea to check on your rules before you make a purchase.
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