E-Board: Bolt Motion

bolt-motion-2-e1526565075440.jpg

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.

bolt motion 5

Teamgee Adaptor Unit

teamgee2

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.

Teamgee on its way

teamgee1

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’s new stylish electric ‘stealth’ 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.

Norwegian Goveernment adds e-boards to e-bike laws

norway flag

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 – *Boosted, Evolve, Meepo*, all – will 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.

 

Sad to see Yuneec Boards no longer made

 

Yuneec gen1
Yuneec E-Go gen-1

 

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.

Yuneec gen2
Yuneec E-Go gen2

New Electric Conversion Units

Unlimited-Electric-Skateboard-Cruiser-Kit

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.

Units

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.

Units2.png

Vlogger FabTrav (Fabian Doerig) trying a unit out at the ISPO 2018 Exhibition: YouTube Link

 

 

 

 

Meepo now includes Import Tax

meepo v1.5

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.

tax faq
Meepo FAQ

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″.

meepo short

Links:

Body protection for riding

http://skateszone.com/skateboard-protective-gear/
Skatezone protective gear article

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.

giro switchblade

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 AlpinestarsRicha, Bull-it, UglyBrosRoadskin, 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.

Oxford-Super-Sliderz-SS2-Kevlar-Jeans-Blue-1

 

 

 

Following the motorcycle theme, if I want to go full protection for conventional downhill, or fast on the e-board, I use my British Knox under-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.

venture_1-1500x1125

 

Buying your first e-board

geekwrapped

I see quite a few people looking at, or who have bought, e-boards who are completely new to the whole scene, including conventional skateboarding or longboarding. It looks cool, which it is; fun, which it is; and a good commuting option, which it is not. The last point I will save for a separate post, but let’s assume the first two work.

Before I get into some good ways to start and what you will need, there is the fun bit of choosing your e-board and, to me, if you are new to this whole scene, there is one really big question to ask yourself first when choosing your e-board: “what am I going to do when something breaks (they all do) or when I brake it (we all do)?”.

If you are DIY handy, and with a little experience of, electrical and mechanical DIY, then it is much easier – simply buy a board which you can get spare parts for and you are good to go.

soldering.jpg

However, most people in today’ consumer world are not that capable and don’t need to be for most other things. If you aren’t DIY handy, then choose your board very carefully, is the best advice I can give you. When something stops working (and it will) do you really want to be trying to send back to China? You can buy off Amazon or eBay, but they don’t fix things when they stop working. Answer this question, work out your plan for fixing, before taking any more steps and certainly before parting with any of your hard-earned money.

What does this mean, well, if you have a local retailer, a friend with one already, someone selling in your country, choose that e-board over anything else you read is ‘awesome’ online. Even if your local option is more expensive, not as fast or, quite frankly only available in pink stripes, yellow polka-dots and with unicorns patterns in the grip-tape (hey, actually I am first in line for that).

Remember, it WILL break or you WILL break it and then what?

If you need help then there is a list of European retailers that I know of here: https://longboardlife.org/european-makers/

Answered that, then go ahead and choose what works for you and your need for speed, range, terrain, looks, carry-ability, riding style etc.

How much are you going to pay?

Import-400x267 (1)

When you do your calculations just be aware of any import duties and shipping that might apply, not just from the purchase but when you need spares or even, depending on your country, when getting an existing board fixed and shipped back. Those belts that you need to replace might only be £8 each, but £60 in total to get two of them shipped to you.

I keep thinking about getting a Meepo kit and fitting it to one of our existing longboard decks, but the import duty in the UK, shipping from China, would add on at least 22.5% to the cost, as I would have to import it and be subject to both import duty and VAT.

What to learn on

lush smba
Next, I have a suggestion for you, which you may not have considered – buy a conventional push longboard as well to learn ok and get early confidence. If you are new to all this, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to learn how to start, brake, switch-ride etc when you are doing 20mph or more with cars, people, and rough old pavements. Conventional push longboards are relatively cheap, easy to resell, and much easier to get confident on; as well as being fun in their own right. Knowing and being confident with a few skills will make a huge difference in enjoying your e-board or not.

Helmets and more

helmet

Next, choose your helmet – it is essential, a must; don’t do it without one and ignore all the irresponsible tossers and fuckwits on YouTube weaving in and out traffic with no helmet – arrghhhhh.

I very sadly have one friend already with permanent brain damage after a minor no-helmet cycle fall. Not a life for anyone. After the helmet, get whatever protection you want, it is your legs, arms, knees etc. And it is not just other traffic, people, dogs or roads that you have to worry about, remember… it will break… if it disconnects at 20mph or the wheel shears off or the motor jams, you are most likely have a trip to a hospital. The perfect empty smooth tarmac road is still not danger free. Adopt the view that your e-board, as well as everything else around you, want to kill you and you get it.

Tools & Checks

t-tool
Finally, pick up a few tools (you don’t need much), like a T-tool and anything else your board needs, and get familiar with some basic maintenance checks – if there is nothing from your board maker (use that as a judge on quality and support), then start here: https://longboardlife.org/2018/02/01/checking-before-riding/

Check, tighten and loosen.

IMG_20180128_161250__01__01__01.jpg

When you board arrives always check the trucks, connectors, nuts, bushings, washers, cups etc. Personally, I would always take off the wheels and check there are spacers, speed-rings etc. in place – one of our boards previously turned-up missing speed rings, so we now always check. It is easy for it to happen if the quality control is not great and with most cheap boards right now, it does not seem to be.

Tighten or loosen the wheel nuts and kingpin screws – there is an optimum for them, just like with wheel nuts, neither too loose or too tight. Remember, over-tightening the kingpin nut onto the bushing cup does not increase the stability, it just deforms the bushing and reduces its ability to progressively manage all multi-dimensional forces it has to balance.

Earlier post on “how tight“: https://longboardlife.org/2018/01/27/truck-bushing-how-tight/

Get the right bushings.

oust-bushings

Finally, on the bushings, find out what the stock/default bushings are and if necessary replace them. Personally, I have yet to be impressed by any stock bushings, so personally would always change them for ones from a reputable make, like Venoms, Blood Oranges, Riptides, Oust etc.

If you are not sure what bushings to use, I would set up your board like a conventional downhill board with barrels, board–side and road-side and a durometer rating that matches your weight for a stiff downhill ride.

If you are not sure of the durometer to use, this post includes some calculators: https://longboardlife.org/2018/01/27/bushing-duro-calculator/

12355768_10207190551617654_1249908273_o

UK Law & E-Boards

pexels-photo-373289-e1517159463364.jpeg
I have been doing some digging into what is the current situation with UK law and using our e-boards on public roads and pavements.
First off, it is important to note that I am not a lawyer, nor transport official, just an enthusiast with a vested interest, so please take this as nothing more than my interpretation and comments.
law.jpeg
I have seen a number of people comment on various forums that the situation is a “grey area” or “unclear”. Personally, I don’t think it is unclear, I think is very clear – it may wrong, based on antiquated laws and little understanding, but it is still clear and unfortunately illegal for us to be on the public road or pavement.
With the exception of cycles (with pedals) where there is specific classification, it looks very strongly that our e-boards are classified as “motorized transport” on public roads and therefore, subject to UK road law. Plus, unless you are on an OneWheel, as e-boards have four wheels, they are classified as cars and not motorcycles or mopeds. This means they need to meet safety, registration and licensing laws.
Ref: Department of Transport, Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986. 
car_photo_410482
So unless you can get your e-board through an MOT, with insurance, seat-belts, working brakes, lights etc., we are illegal on public roads; great on emissions, but still illegal. The situation is no better it seems with regards to riding on pavements; as under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 (yes, 1835!) it’s is an offense to ride a vehicle (and we are on motorized vehicles) on the public pavement.
At some point, the UK, even Europe, may do something to classify e-boards (and e-scooters) separately, like bikes and e-bikes, but there seems to be no sign that will happen in the near future or more – sadly, and frustratingly, we will be illegal on all public roads and pavements for many years to come. If you want this stupid and antiquated situation to change – write to your MP, join a (responsible) action group etc.
2013_london-Rd_
Not wishing to incriminate myself, if I was (I stress “if I was“) to consider taking my e-boards out in the UK, in an emergency situation or after a moment of illness induced memory loss, I would choose to not antagonize the authorities and keep my riding to empty back-roads (not weaving ‘NY-Casey-style’ through city traffic!) or slowly on relatively empty pavements. It would wise to even be careful with cycle lanes and paths, which are generally still public roads or pavements.
My personal experience with law-enforcement in the UK has been nothing but good. A few police officers have shown interest and just asked general questions on the technology and how you control an e-board; but then at the time I had been both riding safely and respectfully of the environment and people around me. I do fear, however, that over time the situation will change for the worse and the authorities (as with aerial-drones now getting increasing banned in public places), after some high-profile dangerous incidents, will be forced to publically enforce the laws. All it will take is one or two serious injuries, the videos on YouTube and we will all be left with only our home driveways and group-hiring of privately owned racetracks. Want to know when e-board prices will drop? This is when there will be a flood of pristine second-hand e-boards on the market, but sadly nowhere to use them.
Why do I write all this – well, besides protesting responsibly and making our views known to those in power, we need to learn a lesson from what is happening to flying drones in the UK. Please, please, ride responsibly, not just for your own safety, and those around you, but because right now we have a special time in the UK and we could lose it very quickly.