Articles

Teamgee H6 arrives

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The eagerly awaited Teamgee H6 finally arrived after UPS messed around for a week (my experiences lately with UPS have been universally not good). Unpacked and straight out on the road ūüôā – why do people make dull unpacking videos on youtube, even worse with music overlay?

First impressions from the weekend are really good. It’s big selling point obviously is the board’s looks and it does not disappoint – it looks great and is a real stealth board, apart from the big red “Electrical Skateboard” stickers on the underside, which did make me laugh (they will no doubt be taken off quickly).

The power delivery with the remote and ESC is sharp, but nice and progressive. This is a board easy to get confident on quickly. The remote wheel is nice and smooth, although the overall weight of the remote is a little light and feels a bit cheap; but it does not impact the control and ride experience.

The L1 and L2 settings are via a simple hard-switch on the side of the remote, rather than a soft programme control, which is good. The speed-range between L1 and L2 seems nicely spread, so that L1 does not carry you at warp speed, but it is also not boring so you are forced to go full speed. In fact, the board spent most of its time over the weekend on L1 being tested and used by my neighbours’ young teenage kids Рand got the big thumbs up from them.

Next, oldest son has to take it on some speed tests. Will do a full write-up shortly. Nice one Teamgee {thumbs up}.

E-Board: Bolt Motion

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Bolt Motion, a new company in Bergamo Italy, has launched a really small¬†motorized¬†board, just 23″ (60cm) long. Looks very cute and I really like the simplicity. personally, I am not a fan of e-skates with small wheelbases¬†– I get the advantage of portability but¬†prefer to have the greater stability at speed of longer wheelbases.

They quote a 14km (8.5 miles) range and a top speed of 30km/h (18.5mp/h), which is easily fast enough for me, on such a small wheelbase.

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Teamgee Adaptor Unit

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Video link: Teamgee Factory

A nice little video from Daniel Kwan who visited the Teamgee offices in Shenzhen; however, what is really interesting (at 1:58 in the video) is you see their adaptor unit which apparently is already sold in China. Competition for LandWheel, Onan, Ride Unlimited and the crazily expensive Mellow.

I am really interested to see how good this unit is, as we have a big stable of longboard decks that could work with such a unit.

Helmet: Giro Switchblade

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A few notes on the Giro Switchblade downhill MTB helmet, which I now use most of the time when out on the e-boards. In summary, I really like it, have no issues with it and very happy to recommend it.

I looked at the Switchblade, the Bell Super 3r and DH, some of the Fox Racing ones and the Met Parachute; in the end, I chose the Switchblade primarily for the:
  • Graphics/colors scheme (my Red and White).
  • Detachable chin guard (the Parachute does not detach).
  • Half-shell having more coverage (over some of the others).
  • Reasonable cost.

They all fitted well, which surprised me, and they all had the MIPS safety system, so my choice was really about just color, style, and cost. The cost new, after a bit of hunting around, was £160; which I was pleased with. I could not find discounted deals on the Foxes or the Bell DH, but the 3r Super and Met Parachute were available with deals at roughly the same price.

The Switchblade with chin-guard weighs 985g, which is a bit heavier than the very-light Met Parachute at 700g (but it has no metal chin lock mechanism, as the guard is not removable), but not an issue for me – I am used to much heavier motorcycle helmets. The foam padding is excellent and really¬†comfortable. It has the RocLoc¬ģ Air DH¬†system, where you just twist the wheel at the back of the head, to tighten or loosen the fit.

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The detachable chin guard is nice, but given I bought this primarily for the extra protection over my normal skate helmet, I could have lived easily with it being none-removable, like with the Met Parachute. Removing and fitting the chin-guard is easy, needing two hands. The fitting is snug and secure.
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What, however, does differentiate some of the helmets with removable chin-guards is what kind of half-shell is left when the chin-guard is removed. This is very noticeable between the Bell Super 3r and the Switchblade, with the Giro having more jaw-side cover/protection when used without the chin-guard. Not that one is better than the other, it is really just a preference thing.

 

I went with the downhill MTB style of helmet, over a full-cover motorcycle style, like the popular TSG Pass, for the extra ventilation and, being honest, it felt less conspicuous – a kind of a dumb rationale in some ways, but that is vanity for you.

It comes with alternative foam inserts, a nice carry/storage bag, and a spare visor.

Some review videos:

10 Things about Bushings

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I had some idle time, and after ordering some new ones (Bones Hard Core) to try and spares, I thought: “what are the 10 things to know about bushings?”

So, to help, my 10 things to know…

  1. They are important – a bushing is a simple polyurethane item, but with a really complex job to do (including keeping you safe) balancing complex multi-directional forces. It is worth understanding how they work and getting the right ones for you.
  2. Guides, not rules – there is no definitive rule here – use what works for you. Mix what you want. There are some good guidelines on what to use for your riding style, board, trucks, and weight, but they are just guidelines. They are relatively inexpensive, but impact so much – buy a few, buy some spares. Try different ones. Buy a bagful.
  3. Different shapes – they come in different shapes (cones, barrels, stepped…) and construction (hard center, soft center…), which all work slightly differently depending on how you want to ride. It is OK to mix shapes on the top and bottom side to tune how the board performs.
  4. Different durometer – they come in different softness/hardness (rated in durometer or “duro”) which you match to your weight and riding style. It is OK to mix the duro on the top and bottom. There are plenty of guidelines for matching your weight and style to the duro.
  5. Different sizes – they come in different sizes (people often miss this): short, tall, fatter etc. Again it is OK to mix them and mixing is common; plus two that are tall can often not fit on the same kingpin.
  6. Match the truck РSome (it is rare) trucks are different to all others and need to work with specifically designed bushings Рjust make sure you don’t get mixed up.
  7. Cup AND bushing – don’t think just “bushing”, think “cup/washer+bushing”. The cup/washer, that the bushing sits on, also impacts how the board performs. Match the size and shape of the cup/washer to the bushing size and shape.
  8. Never cut to fit – never ever cut a bushing to make it fit. Cutting it will introduce micro cuts and tears which can sheer under pressure and leave you in a whole world of pain. If it does not fit, change it or the cup/washer.
  9. Replace? – if damaged, in any way – swap them out and throw away. Any damage can introduce a fault line which can then sheer under pressure. As said, they are inexpensive – just change.
  10. Good ones? – Yes, good ones are worth paying for – they are not ‚Äúall just some plastic‚ÄĚ. The formulas are different and how they perform can be very different – surprisingly so. Bad ones also run the increased risk of sheering. Even the best, however, are relatively inexpensive, so it is worth paying for the good ones from trusted brands like Venom, Riptide, BloodO, Oust, Orangatang, Shorty etc. if not sure, trust your local skate shop.

Note, virtually all boards/trucks come with stock cheap bushings, set up for whatever they consider is the ‘average customer’ weight and riding style. I would recommend always changing to what works for you – your weight and riding style. The Paris ones that came with their trucks I like, but some of the cheap ones used on e-boards are poor and I would replace straight away.

Regarding e-boards, there is not much difference between a conventional longboard and an e-board in terms of bushings. The trucks are generally the same. Most people just set-up their e-boards as a downhill longboard, for greater stability at speed, using stiff (high duro) barrel+barrel – but you can do what you want and run them differently if you want greater carving etc.

And finally, note that there is a small optimum range for the tightness or looseness of the kingpin nut. Too tight and you will deform the bushing and it will perform worse or, worse, sheer. Don’t over tighten to change the performance (or help reduce speed wobble), change the bushing.

Further information:

A great thread on Electric Skateboard Builders on setting up bushings: link

Mechanical Longboard Brakes

I have been looking, purely out of interest, at various mechanical braking options for conventional longboards.
Most people will either just run-off the board if things are getting all scary, or footbrake if not going too fast. A few, with more experience and practice, can slide a board, but that still needs space and safe situation to do so. The concept here is of having another mechanical option.

In summary, there seems to be three different types of solutions:

1. Braking on the wheel – Mingo Skateboard¬†‚ÄėThe Frog’

Mingo brake
Mingo Skateboard’s ‘Frog’ device is attached to the exposed truck (drop-through deck) and foot pressure forces brake levers on to the wheels. The reviews I read were not that complimentary, including it scaring the wheels – a shame, and I might still try it, as it does not require any drilling into the board.

2. Braking on the road – Pogo, Handmade & Boolah Boards

German company Pogo, Korean Handmade and US Boolah Boards use the same simple mechanism of the foot forcing down a brake bad against the road. Some require a hole drilling for the foot pad and others use the space some trucks have with drop-through deck mounting. All require the arm with the brake pad attached to be attached (screwed or bolted) to the deck.

3. Braking on the truck – Brakeboards

Australian Brakeboard use a daily sophisticated truck based mechanism a little bit like a bike disk-brake. Mechanical more complex than the others, but can be used without screwing or drilling any holes into the deck. Shipping and tax are sadly incurred getting it to the UK, plus the only options seem to be either buying that Rat Board, with 150mm trucks, or their custom 180mm trucks at $500; add in tax and shipping and the latter is a very expensive solution.
(As ever, let me know if I have missed any other solutions).


To start with, I thought I would try with a braking on the road solution and ordered the Korean company Handmade’s Slide Brake (which seems to be just sold on Amazon). It is quite a simple solution, to work with one of our drop-throughs (probably the ZenitAB, but might use the Kaliber Affe) but it does require me to drill a hole for the arm screw/bolt… which will hurt!
I will do another update once installed and tested.

Teamgee on its way

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Being an old-time (or older-timer!) longboard fan, I am a sucker for a retro pintail¬†(owning two conventional pintails already); so I was immediately interested when I saw Teamgee‚Äôs new stylish electric ‚Äėstealth‚Äô pintail announced, with its hub-motors, hidden in-board battery and twin-stripe grip-tape.
Having talked to the company (thumbs up for their initial responsiveness) about importing one, a nice new one is now heading our way (at my cost) to join the stable. I will post comments and a review, once it is here and we have taken it out a few times.

UPDATE: Here is a link to a good video Ronnie Sarmiento did on the Teamgee board.

Hot-cast & cold-cast Urathane

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I have learned something new and interesting – the difference between hot-casting and cold-casting of polyurethane wheels (I did not even know there were two processes for making polyurethane wheels).

There have been a growing and significant¬†number of posts on various e-board forums about how the polyurethane¬†of hub-motors is cracking and breaking up far too quickly; and not just the usual budget companies, top end boards like¬†Entertion’s Raptor seem to also have batches with the issue (Entertion¬†aparently identified a bad batch). A few companies, inc. Backfire, Entertion and¬†Verreal, offer replacement polyurethane for the motor; however, there is¬†a concern, which I share, that there is a fundamental¬†problem here with a lot of the hub-motors in the market right now.

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https://www.reddit.com/r/ElectricSkateboarding/comments/88ttji/raptor_new_97mm_already_cracking/

Part of the challenge, and why hub-motors require high-quality and not cheap low-quality polyurethane, is that the polyurethane unlike with a real wheel is effectively just a wrap or sleeve around the hub-motor. Not only this the amount of polyurethane much less than a real wheel (why there is more vibration to the ride), but the hub-motor will also be getting hot and heating up the core of the wheel.

One of the posts on /r/electricskateboarding¬†highlighted (thanks Predator Boards) that the potential biggest issue is how the sleeve is made,¬†namely if the polyurethane¬†has been cold-cast or hot-cast. In summary (and I am far from being an expert here): hot-cast, where the wheels are baked in an oven, is more expensive but produces high-quality polyurethane wheels (all duros); as opposed to cold-cast, where it is set in a mold at room temperature. In addition, cheap cold-cast wheel often don’t¬†use a vacuum as part of the process, to¬†take the air (micro-bubbles) out of the wheel.

And, in response to “how do we spot if a wheel has been cold cast or hot cast?”:

This isn’t a guarantee, but hot-casted thane usually goes through a vacuum/compression process. You can inspect the inner edge of the wheel and see if there are any air bubbles. If there are, then it’s likely cold-casted. If there aren’t any,¬†then it may still be cold-casted and vacuumed.

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I have not 100% understood all of this, and I need to do more reading, but it has first-off helped me with the question: “why don’t I just buy those cheap wheels from Ebay?“. As for hub-motors on e-boards, I just think that you have to accept it as part of the downsides (against their upsides), especially if you are buying a budget board which will almost certainly use cold-cast urethane sleeves. Having replacement¬†sleeves is a distinct advantage with some makes, although there is an argument that just replacing the whole hub motor is actually the right/safer option. I think it all just reinforces the recommendation to only buy an e-board where you can fix and¬†replace¬†the parts easily. Cold-cast wheels are just going to damage easily and need replacing.

 

 

 

 

 

Short e-Boards and Long e-Boards

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‚ÄĚ 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.

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.

 

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Arc Board portability

 

When to not get a short-board?

It is a (relatively) free world, so if you want one Рget 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.
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Medium Article: https://medium.com/@michaelgatti/raptor-2-part-2-the-comprehensive-comparison-1c8bf438f1b8
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.
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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.
Some options to consider:
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.
See:
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)
UPDATE: Added Ownboard & Bolt Motion.

Norwegian Goveernment adds e-boards to e-bike laws

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The Norwegian Government announced last week that they are bringing e-boards and other electrical vehicles into line with cycles/e-bikes and their use on public roads and pavements.

This is in-line with the EU recommendations on personal electric vehicles and on the face of it this looks good, with headlines such as: ‘e-boards legal on public roads in Norway‘…. however, it is not that simple or in my view that welcoming, when you go into the detail and understand the¬†objectives behind it.

Press Release. Date: 10.04.2018
Source: https://www.regjeringen.no/no/aktuelt/sma-elektriske-kjoretoy-blir-likestilt-med-sykkel/id2596831/

(Translation)¬†Simpler rules, less bureaucracy and more fun in everyday life. Now we simplify the regulations for small electric vehicles, such as electric bicycles and castors. They are very similar to the bicycle in terms of use. Therefore, we are now equating such vehicles. They should now be able to be used in the same areas and under the same conditions. This makes it easier for both users and authorities, “said Minister of Transport, Ketil Solvik-Olsen.

The government has today set new regulations for small electric vehicles.
“This government will simplify regulations and remove unnecessary prohibitions. In 2014, the government made use of self-balancing vehicles legally in Norway. Now we take new steps and change the regulations so that other small electric vehicles are also allowed, and it will be the same rules for all such vehicles as for bicycles. There will be no age limit, and you can use the same areas as cycling and walking, ” says Solvik-Olsen.

Classification as a bike will mean that there is no obligation of approval, nor any registration duty or insurance obligation. The user is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle meets the terms of use as a bicycle.

Same care requirements as cyclists

The rules of particular care against other road users when using the vehicle for example on sidewalks or walkways shall also apply to users of small electric vehicles.

For road safety reasons, the weight of such vehicles is limited to 70 kilograms, including battery. The width should not be more than 85 cm, the length not more than 120 cm, and the maximum speed does not exceed 20 km per hour. The technical requirements correspond mainly to those that have been applicable to self-balancing vehicles

The vehicle shall be equipped with headlamps, tail lights and reflectors. There is also a requirement for braking power. In addition, the vehicle must have a signal horn or a signal bell, similar to that of a bicycle. However, exceptions to these requirements may be granted where such equipment cannot be fitted. There is no requirement for helmet or mandatory training.

“Although there is no requirement for helmet use, I would urge anyone who travels on both bicycles and small electric vehicles to use a helmet, drive carefully and pay attention to other road users, especially towards walking,” says Solvik-Olsen.

The objective of this law is to bring the increasing plethora of personal electric vehicles, scooters, e-boards, one-wheels, hover-boards etc. in line with existing restrictions on e-bikes and, here is the crux of it all, their physical restriction to a max of 20km/h (12mp/h).  Note, importantly, this must be a physical restriction of the transport, it is not a speed limit. It will be illegal, with penalties, to use on the public road or pavement any personal electrical transport that can exceed 20km/h. It does not matter if you are only doing 5km/h, if the board can do more than 20km/h, which virtually all non-toy boards can, you are not allowed on the public road or pavement and will be prosecuted.

So, all current mainstream e-boards Р*Boosted, Evolve, Meepo*, all Рwill now be illegal on the public roads and pavements in Norway.  We do, however, need to recognize that they already were illegal: as in most countries, only vehicles specifically approved for the road are allowed on the road. Most of us, around the world, ride illegally on public roads and pavements because we are not approved for the road.

So why do I still see this Norwegian law as a bad thing? You could argue that at least it is allowing boards, even if restricted to 12mph, on the roads? For me, it is that this law is purely setting a threshold of 12mph, to match a previous judgment on e-bikes, not in any way to help reduce urban congestion, fossil-burning pollution or even encourage e-boards. It is just set at 12mph because they did not want challenge what had already been implemented for cycles years ago. The law-makers did not look at how the technology has advanced and will advance, it just pushed e-boards and scooters back to when cycles and e-bikes first entered the market.

Finally, I am also very disappointed that it did not address the actual main safety concern with riding – the wearing or not of a helmet. If an accident is at 10km/h, 20km/h or 22km/h, it is highly likely that it is the lack of a helmet that will be the major contributing factor to the seriousness of the injury. I would happily see laws, like with seat-belts in cars, making helmets compulsory on public roads.

Norway, sorry don’t celebrate just yet, I think you actually just took a step backward. It will be interesting to see now if the board makers actually consider it a market now worth selling to. In the end, this law could not actually encourage e-boarding in Norway, it might actually kill it.