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:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sad to see Yuneec Boards no longer made

 

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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 Рthe 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.

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Yuneec E-Go gen2

New Electric Conversion Units

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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.

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

 

 

 

 

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‚Äô consumer¬†world are not that capable and don’t need to be for most other things. If you aren‚Äôt 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 Рone 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.