With Riptide entering the market with their two short e-boards, and Boosted Boards announcing yesterday the Boosted Minis, there is now more than ever interest in shorter e-boards, as opposed to the well established bottle-nose longboard. We have had short boards, typically based on sub-30” decks, for a while, but it is Riptide and Boosted who have generated the latest marketing noise. Plus, I also suspect that, as e-boards become more established, a lot of people are thinking about portability for last-mile commuting.
Note: I stand by my views on commuting on an e-board: unless you are already familiar with skateboarding/longboarding, get a scooter or cycle – they are cheaper, easier, safer, usually faster A-B and more robust. Not as fun as an e-board, IMO, but better commuting options for the mass majority of people.
For those who do want a shorter e-board (putting aside hub-motor vs belt for a minute), I would consider that there are actually two very different types of short boards available:
Kick-tail and short wheelbase
No kick-tail and longer wheelbase
For example, a 28″ Predator Banshee is shorter than the 31″ Riptide, but has a longer wheelbase at 23″, compared to the Riptide’s 14″. This is because roughly a third of the Rip’s deck is a kick-tail hanging off the rear drive wheels. Having such kick-tail means that changing your stance (pressure on the kick-tail) will quickly change the ride and balance of the board – way more than on a shape like the Predator. If you know what you are doing, skateboard already, this will not be an issue and give you lots of control for quick turns, even an olly. If, however, you are not used to this type of short kick-tale deck, you could easily move your stance too heavily and be off the board.
Shorter wheelbase of the Riptide (with kicktail)
Predator with the longer wheelbase (no kicktail)
Why I would get one?
For me personally, the main reason to get one (and I am considering) would be that it would be fun and different from our existing longboards. Although I don’t need one to commute on (I prefer cycling), I can also see the portability advantages, especially as a last-mile commute option: easier to take on public transport, put under your desk, even stick in a backpack.
When to not get a short-board?
It is a (relatively) free world, so if you want one – get one; however, I would advise caution if:
You have not skateboard/longboarded before– longer boards are easier to get used to, more stable at speed and help build up your confidence quicker.
You are a heavier rider – given they are all top-mounted and not bottle-nose, you have an increased risk of wheel-bite, especially if you are a heavier and more aggressive rider. Wheel-bite at speed is a whole world of pain.
You are riding constantly over rough roads and pavements – a lot fo the ride dampening and bump handling comes from deck flex. Short-boards have little or no real flex to take the bombs. Especially with hub-motors their rides are harsh and really need smooth surfaces.
You like going fast – longer wheelbase will just be more stable, shorter less so.
Hub vs Belt?
The pros and cons of hub Vs belt are well documented (overly documented), however, I think the choice is a key part of choosing a short-board. Short-boards have little or no deck flex, as the battery has to go the length of the board and make the best use of the space that it can, this means that there is little protection from vibration in the deck. Although hub-motors have their benefits, being quieter and with more clearance, they will add to that the vibration and can produce on short-boards a harsher ride. Using all real (soft) wheels, with a belt system like on the Rip or Boosted mini, will give some help and protection on bad street surfaces. Not a reason to ride hub-motor short-boards, just that the surface you want to ride over most of the time needs to be taken into account in making your choice.
Personally, I would accept all the downsides of a belt-motor for the ride comfort, given I live in London with all our crappy Victorian pavements and roads, but that is just my preference.
So what short-boards to consider?
For me, the #1 rule still stands: get a board you can fix easily and cheaply, the company has great customer service and you can get individual parts easily and fix things yourself. This applies even more to short-boards, which are probably going to lead an even harder life than longboards, especially if you are using that kick-tail to slam up and down curbs.
There is also one other excellent option for a short-board, which is to assemble (from a kit), build (from parts) or adapt (using a unit) your own deck. A good option because there are lots of decks you can use and lots of options for building, assembling or adapting; plus fixing any issues after can be relatively simple especially if you built it using a kit or parts. People have been doing transplants to short boards ever since the first board sold, this is nothing new.
As ever, let me know if I have missed some make/board?
(I am sure others will come to market quickly with an option and I will try and add them as quickly as I can)
New US maker Boa (might just be new to me), has brought out two longboard wheels, which interestingly have the same core hole system as the Orangatang Kegel, meaning that they can be used as a direct replacement, with no change of pully or belt, with Boosted V2 boards.
The wheels, both 83a, are the Constrictor at 100mm and the Hatchling at 90mm.
UPDATE (7/4/18): Ordered some Constrictors and will write a review when they arrive.
The UK company Slick Revolution are now offering for pre-order (available June 2018) an interesting wheel kit for Boosted Boards, to work both with their own large 110mm Rough Stuff Wheels with treads or, usual favorites, the softer 75a ABEC 11s.
The kit is a really good value at £29.99, for the 56-teeth pulleys and belt-covers. The Rough Stuff 87a duro wheels, which come in red and black, are extra at £74.99 (including bearings); although, I don’t know how they will perform against the slightly more expensive ABECs. on vibration and ride. Equally, I need to check the compatibility with existing belts and the torque and speed impact with the new 56t pulleys and 110 wheels, compared to the stock 50t pulleys and 80mm wheels. Different gearing can increase speed, but reduce torque, or visa-versa; personally, I would like to keep the torque and am not bothered about increasing the speed.
UPDATE: I checked with Slick and it works with the existing belts, with the gearing giving it an increase in speed (and decrease in torque).
I have been looking at various wheel-kits, including the excellent Booster Box kit, for the last month. Much as I like the Orangatang (Loaded) Kegels, at 80mm, on the Boosted they don’t give much clearance for the belt guards and we constantly grind them when traveling over our local rough Victorian pavements and roads; running a 110mm wheel would give greater clearance.
Sadly it looks like Yuneec has stopped making e-boards (although I have found no official statement). They are still making their other products, drones etc., it seems that they have just stopped selling their e-boards. I say “sad” as we have had one of the first-gen boards and it is still going strong, it has been bomb-proof, and now used very happily by my 8-year-old.
Its single belt-motor is now a little slow compared to most current modern 20mph+ boards, but now perfect for my youngest getting used to real e-boards (and not toys). It has excellent real 90cm wheels, a progressive remote control, and a nice flexing deck; plus, as said, ours has had great reliability and with minimal battery age sag after 2 years!
You can still buy them from some independent retailers, some of them now significantly discounting them, however, I imagine getting support and things fixed will not be so easy going forward unless you can pick up cheap salvage units to strip for the parts.
I can understand why they stopped, it is still a niche market that is overcrowded with options and now a flood of budget hub-motor boards, some of them really good. Tough competition and not really the market demand to scale up manufacturing and make a good profit – the same reason most of the crowd-funded struggle and sadly will disappear.
Virtually all of the budget boards are now hub-motors; not my favorite technology for our crappy old victorian pavements, but they are significantly cheaper to make than belt-drives – just basically fewer parts and assembly. Hence, it was good to see Riptide and Jed Boards launch recently belt and gear-drive options, I hope they do well and make it to some form of sustainable scale.
Sad to see the E-Go be no more. Been great; thanks, Yuneec for the excellent work and all the fun.
I have just found a new European maker, Ride Unlimited, based out of Barcelona. Interestingly they produce both complete e-boards and units to convert existing decks. Three models, of conversion units, are available (pre-order for spring 2018 right now): a “Solo” single hub-motor and battery unit, single hub-motor but double battery “Cruiser” unit, and a double battery and hub-motor “R” unit.
The Solo and Cruiser units, with the single motor, looks on paper low-power rated with a max of 840W. The faster R unit, with the double motor, has a more respectable max 1680W, but still not matching the top performing units on the market. In the end, however, only real-world riding will tell how they perform and what is fast enough or not.
What is interesting, besides general design including replaceable hub-motor polyurethane, is that they are specifying IP65 dust and water-resistance (rated as: “dust tight and protected against water projected from a nozzle“), like the similar focused Mellow and Onan units.
Vlogger FabTrav (Fabian Doerig) trying a unit out at the ISPO 2018 Exhibition: YouTube Link
The very well regarded, and competitively priced, Meepo v1.5 hub-motor e-board is now priced with shipping and import tax (duty and VAT) to the EU, as well as the US. This is great news as not only is it a good spec board for less than £500 (I have tested the v1 and v1.5 looks even better), but their customer support is very well regarded and, importantly, you can purchase individual components or it all as a kit. This makes fixing issues, although from China, much easier than other similar £500 options.
Cost (at time of writing) is £302.52 for the std battery and £446.92 for the more powerful Sanyo model. Cost is the same for either the short 30″ or my preference, the longer 38″.
I am a big supporter of always wearing helmets when out on the e-board, and most of the time on my conventional boards, always wearing mine (a standard skate helmet by Bullet). For once, I will leave out my usual diatribe on reckless fuckwit social-celebrities promoting helmet-less city traffic riding and just cover some options for protective gear.
I have considered a full-face skate helmet, with greater protection but lighter than a motorcycle helmet, and may get one depending on my riding.
UPDATE: I got a full-face Giro Switchblade MTB helmet, sadly one accident too late – I involuntarily came off and kissed a tree. That will teach me! Now I have the switchblade to save my pretty smile. I went with the MTB helmet as it was cooler than a full-face TSG and, for pure vanity, less conspicuous for me.
The other things I consider essential are my gloves, where I use normal cycling gloves as they offer decent friction protection without limiting remote-control movement.
In addition, when going fast (and not nice and friendly with my youngest son) I use my armored motorbike jeans made by Force Riders, with armor in the knees and, importantly, hips. Previously I have had a bad pelvic injury, so protection of my hips is important for me. Interestingly, pelvic protection is not normally worn by skateboarders, but as I have learned it can be a fragile body part if you fall in a specific way.
I am not sure if Force Riders jeans still exist (I could not find any links to them – mine were bought on Amazon), but there are other makes, including Alpinestars, Richa, Bull-it, UglyBros, Roadskin, and Draggin, who are well established and with a solid reputation. My Force Riders were relatively inexpensive, but I replaced the basic foam protection that came with them (same with many of them) with much better and more flexible sorbothane and shock foam CE rate armor. They work really well, especially when out just cruising around the local cafes (looking less kiddie-like than external knee pads), and I would highly recommend wearing them.
Following the motorcycle theme, if I want to go full protection for conventional downhill, or fast on the e-board, I use my British Knoxunder-armour under whatever I am wearing at the time and is not going to shred easily. Again it is light, very comfortable and works really well allowing good movement on the board.
(myth – “a widely held but false belief or idea”).
I see a lot of people looking, who are new to e-boards, many who are also new to skateboarding or conventional longboarding – which is great, the more that get to enjoy it, the better the community and the industry will get. Come on in. Consequently, I thought it worth getting some of the re-occurring myths busted to help new folk – so my starter for 5:
E-boards have brakes and can stop – any abrupt stopping capability would be highly dangerous, the good ones have an ability to progressively slow you down, that’s it. You need technique and riding skill, as well as finger control.
It is safe and legal to ride through city traffic (like some no-helmet reckless social-celebrity fuckwit in NY) – in most cities, it is not legal and certainly not safe (god-forbid no helmet).
E-boards are good for long commutes – they are actually a PITA: slower, more stressful, more dangerous and certainly less robust than any cycle. Get one for fun, and the occasional commute, but really just fun.
You can ride happily in the wet – a few e-boards have water-resistant ratings on some parts, but that does now include things like the bearings, which will rust quick. More importantly, you significantly lose grip both on the road and deck in the wet – 20mph with minimal grip..? I can show my accident photos as to why it is not worth it.
They are consumer ready items, just buy and go – this is still early days in the market evolution. Based on the community and personal experience, more e-boards turn up with faults or quickly develop faults, than not; hence, be ready and think how you are going to things fixed. Equally, they all need a basic set-up and importantly set-up for your weight and riding, which may mean changing the bushings. I am still amazed that e-boards don’t ship with a range of different duro bushings and some instructions as to why they are important and how to change.
Disclaimer – sure, these are just my opinions, nothing more. I am happy if you disagree, just not on the no-helmet riding bit – just don’t do it folks. Brain damage is not cool.
I found another small European maker, the French company Alkamist Longboard, with some nice looking downhill boards and some very stylish wheels. I will have a look more at the wheels and am very tempted. Never been one for white wheels, but these are the first that got my attention.