Buying your first e-board

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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.

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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/

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Checking before riding

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Thought it worth getting down on virtual paper what I check before riding, as I was asked a few days ago by someone who had just taken up skateboarding.

When I take any of the boards (conventional or electric) out of the under-stairs cupboard, I always do the same quick 30-second check with a T-tool in hand.

At the end of the day, the last thing I want when traveling at 10, 20mph or more is anything jamming, disconnecting, losing grip or breaking.

What I do:

  1. Check the grip-tape is not coming off.
    (turn over the deck)
  2. Trucks are screwed tight to the deck – no wobble or any movement.
  3. Bushings are not deformed or cracked.
  4. Kingpin nuts are not too loose or tight (at their optimum)
  5. Wheels not torn or cut (and about to shred).
  6. Wheel nuts not too tight or loose.
  7. Wheels bearings run smooth and quiet (each wheel) and not rusted.

As said, usually no more than 30 seconds.

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Dual-motor Boosted.
For the E-Boards, I then spend a few extra minutes on:
  1. Battery status – remote controller and board.
  2. Ensuring all exposed electrical connectors are tightly connected.
  3. All compartments (battery and controller) are tight to the deck.
  4. The motors tight and aligned (we run belt drives).
  5. No belt wear or damage – anything, and I will change them.
  6. Remote control wheel/trigger moving freely (not switched on).
    I then switch on the board and put on the ground (I am not stood on it) to give it some resistance.
  7. Remote pair the board and handset and quick forward and back.

That’s it, done; only takes a couple of minutes. Happy to know if I have missed anything you do.

 

UK Law & E-Boards

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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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.

Interesting Gear: Ridge EL1

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Ridge, the Liverpool (UK) based company have brought out a small, almost a penny board 27″ deck, in-hub motor e-board called the EL1, that weighs only 3.5kg. The main thing, however, besides the obvious European support is that it is only £350. My first thought was “toy”, but reading the Esk8 review on their site, it needs to be taken seriously as a small high portable fun deck.

Esk8 Sweeden also did a good video review:  youtube review

Video review of small e-boards

 

Interesting Gear: Waterbourne Surf Adaptor

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Spotted the interesting Waterborne Skateboards ‘Surf’ (truck) adaptor.

What I like about this idea is that, unlike some of the other surf and carve trucks, it has some form of progressive resistance from the bushing. It looks crude with the single bushing, and with some potential risky stress and fracture points, but worth a try and  I will order one (hey no freebies on this blog, LOL – just my hard earned money being spent).

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Braille Skateboard Review Video

Patrick Dumas Video Footage

E-boards, trucks & bushings

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Red 93a Paris bushing

With rain outside (yet again), I changed the bushings on the Boosted Dual. The stock bushings are apparently 86a durometer, which in theory are too soft for me at 85kg (187lb). I say “in theory” because they don’t feel like 86a, they feel much firmer; however, they are easy to change, so why not. I had some spare Paris made barrels, so put in 93a boardside and 90a roadside. I may step up to 94a+93a, but will try the 93a+90a combination first.

UPDATE: After trying it (I am 85kg), I moved up to the 94a+93a combination and have settled on that.

I used Paris bushings for now (the 94a’s I have are DohDoh), as they are what I had spare, but any good make would work. I see a lot of e-boarders using Orantang Nipples, but there is no reason any good make will not work: Venom, Riptide, Mindless, Bones etc.

I like to run the e-boards like conventional downhill boards, based on the premise that both need to be stable at speed: two barrels and firm, rather than my usual barrel+cone cruising set-up on the conventional push boards. In simple terms, barrels have more surface area over cones and will hold their shape more.

 

 

With e-boards and their high-speeds, my preference would be to not run bushings at all and use spring trucks, like the Trampas or Seismic G5s. A polyurethane bushing has a complex job to do, given all the multi-dimensional forces it has to react against. Their dominance of the truck world comes from skateboarding, where they are cheap and make truck manufacturing easy; but skateboarding is not e-boarding, especially at speed. For now, however, I will live with the Boosted and Yuneec running conventional longboard trucks, but if there is ever an upgrade option, or I replace one of the boards with a Nottingham made Trampa or some exotic derivative, I will do it and go for springs.

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Finally, I see a lot of people jumping into e-boarding having not ridden push boards before, not a problem if people take it easy to learn e-boarding and build up the speed carefully. One thing, however, that does become apparent, with those who have not push boarded before, is that lack of awareness of how important bushings are and the need to use ones with a durometer that matches the rider and type of riding. Given how inexpensive and simple they are to change, there is a need to get greater awareness in the community and new riders using what is right for them; especially, given the job of a bushing is to keep you out of a hospital and enjoying the ride.

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Riptide bushings (note – there is no color standard, all manufacturers use different colors for their various durometer ratings).

Links:

 

Curfboard Arrives

 

Amazingly quick, the new Curfboard arrived from Germany with its new-fangled unique (to Curfboard) front carving truck.

It is just the front truck that is different, the rear is a nonormalKP truck. The front ruck for carving just swings on the two pivots and does not use bushings, it is all down to the pressure applied on the angle.

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All the parts look well made, the deck, trucks, wheels etc. Sadly, I can only comment on how it looks and feels in my kitchen and hallway as it arrived in a storm and I have yet to actually get a chance to get out on it.

The deck has a high flex in it and covered with clear grip-tape, which I will replace quickly – just my personal dislike for clear grip-cover (it is never actually ‘clear’ and gets ugly with dirt). The 70mm wheels are standard longboard wheels, which seem similar to my 82a Hawg Mini Monsters.

Interesting Gear: Baja Board

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The engineering masterpiece and off-terrain monster the Australian Baja Board. Now shipping from Germany, although it is not clear if it is also supported by the German distributor/warehouse, as opposed to having to get fixes and parts from Australia. I love the engineering and looks, but at €4.500 it is way above my next board budget {sigh}. Lovely.

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Youtube Advert for Baja Board

Jungle Board Arrives

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My Jungle deck arrived (as a Christmas present) from Sam at Jungle Longboards, based in South London, and a stunning deck is. Lovely custom veneer work on a stiff old style pintail; very much a traditional longboard and cafe-cruiser.

To keep with the jungle theme, I fitted Paris’ Adam Colton custom trucks. I was planning to fit some of my green Walzen Insul wheels but, in the end, preferred the 77mm purple Metro Express 78A wheels, running Bronson G3 bearings.