10 things to consider when buying an electric skateboard
RANGE Range is the distance an electric skateboard can go on a single charge under average conditions. Calculate the distance you would typically ride and add some wiggle room for heavier riders or hilly conditions.. Last mile Vehicle? Carving/Fun? Commuting? Getting around on the weekends? All of the above? Can you comfortably get there and back without worrying about mileage? Will you ride to and from work on a single charge or will you need to charge at work?
WEIGHT An electric skateboard is a versatile transportation option, but sometimes needs transport itself. Whether it’s from your building’s entrance to the elevator or across long train platforms, weight matters. If you think you might be carrying your board a lot or plan to run out of battery and kick push, weight can make or break a love affair with your skateboard.
PERFORMANCE The difference in eboards is akin to the difference between cars. You have electric skateboards that get you from A to Z, like a practical and functional Ford Focus. And then there are electric skateboards that are pure pleasure to experience, like a Porsche or Ferrari. Look at the wheels and trucks and ask the question – How would this board perform without the electrical setup? There’s a big difference between a budget off-the-shelf electric skateboard and a premium electric skateboard. The parts are key to the performance and whether you buy from a Chinese or an American/ European company usually makes a big difference on many levels.
WARRANTY, SPARE PARTS AND SUPPORT How long is the warranty? How often will you have to replace the belt and wheels or other parts and are they easily interchangeable? What is customer support like if ever there is an issue? Will you be speaking to an eskate expert in the US or to a high school kid in China who uses Google translate to answer your request? Electric skateboards are a complex product, needing maintenance and follow-up therefore having a good warranty, spare parts, and a local support team is vital to being able to enjoy your electric skateboard.
PRICE What are you getting for your money? Remember to compare apples to apples:
Lithium batteries are more expensive than lead acid batteries. The range depends on the type of battery, with more expensive batteries having a longer range.
Professional branded skate decks are more expensive and much better quality than off-the-shelf decks from China.
Who has designed the entire board? Is it off-the-shelf where cost is the bottom line, or has it been made by someone who is an eboard rider and passionate about performance?
Are the parts professional skate brands or generic parts? Did the board maker test and refine the board and use the best parts available?
There is a large gap in the electric skateboard market in terms of price and materials used, the rule of thumb is ‘you get what you pay for’. It’s also a very good idea to read reviews and research how long the company has been trading for and how they treat their customers!
MOTOR WATTAGE – Motor wattage is how much power your motor has. But that’s not the whole story, a lot more is involved to achieve ideal performance. For example, gear ratios and motor controller parameters also affect torque in a huge way! By adjusting gear ratios on a motor you affect torque and speed in the same way a 10 speed bike’s torque and speed adjust when you change gears for hills or flat riding. It is vitally important to have a complete system designed to work smoothly in unison, with proven and verifiable performance. Check out videos and customer reviews to really see the performance a board can offer you
2 MOTORS OR 1 MOTOR? - Both can have benefits! Only recently has motor technology evolved enough to allow good performance from two motors - without sacrificing the smooth free roll so important to the feel of a good skateboard. Single motor boards were the old industry standard and still offer notably impressive performance. In more recent models though, specifically designed sensored brushless motors take advantage of the increased grip and performance from two motor-driven wheels, while still offering smooth performance and excellent free roll. The key again, is in the design of the entire system.
HUB MOTORS or DIRECT DRIVES Vs. GEAR/PULLEY MOTOR SYSTEM? - Hub motors do not have the acceleration, hill climbing and braking power that you get from a direct drive or with a geared/ pulley system. If you’re looking for performance uphill and downhill, then a hub motor gives you a bit more control and power.
REMOTE CONTROL - A high quality remote control can make a good experience amazing. The electric skateboard remote relies on quick commands from the remote to your board, but not all remotes can do this as fast or as efficient. Brand name remotes with a reputation are the best bet.
MAKING YOUR OWN BOARD - Making your own electric board sounds easy and romantic, but it’s really not. It requires a lot of time, patience, tinkering and money. There are many DIY options out there, however enter at your own risk and be prepared to wait for parts and spend lots of time. That’s in addition to warranty issues or miscalculations while planning or mistakes building it along the way. DIY boards are most suitable for those who are already serious “tinkerers” and those with experience building electronics or vehicles.