With all the hubbub surrounding Electronic Skateboards (aside from the inherent “coolness factor”), tech insiders like to throw around industry jargon and technical terms that may pass over regular Joes and Janes. It isn’t anyone’s fault, however: passionate people will always use terms that their equally-passionate brethren will understand; it’s how we communicate with one another.
Sometimes, though, particular specs may go over peoples’ heads. Least of all when it comes to electronic skateboards. There are so many specific details, qualifications, and terms used to describe the specific components and working parts of these boards that… may alienate you.
With that in mind, we’re today going to dissect and discuss several (if not most) “industry-speak” terms you may come across and possibly shed the light on what these terms and descriptions mean.
In previous article we’ve discussed the power wattage of boards, inclination angles, recharge time, Li-on batteries, dimensions, battery specifications, patented truck turns, and more. This issue is easy for me to talk about because I am admittedly a tech geek. So, we’ll put these terms and descriptions in laymen’s terms for “non-geeks” as well as what to look for when you’re buying your first (or next) Electric Skateboard.
Power and Performance
When you come across any electric device, you’ll hear about Watts (300, 700, 1600, etc.) This refers to the total moving power of your devices – in this case E-skateboards. The higher the number, the more faster you can travel and the “harder” you can skate.
Any time you see the term “range” in an article or review about E-Skateboards, you’re seeing someone talk about the total distance (usually in miles) that can be travelled on a single battery charge.
These parts that factor into your max speed (mph) also let you climb inclination angles (or degrees – such as a 20-degree hill or slope). The power of your motor (whether it’s a hub motor system or belt motor system) affects what type of battery your board is powered by, as well as the total recharge time (which is usually 2-5 hours).
Let’s talk about warranties and what clauses/parts of the warranty you should be on the look out for. I’ll reiterate the section from that article about warranties and say that, yes, reading warranties is time-consuming – I know nobody who relishes in reading them. They are, however, extremely important for “covering your behind” when components malfunction or parts break.
For example, skimming over a warranty’s fine print might end up hurting you. Let’s say that your front truck is cracked in half. When you read the warranty, you saw that the manufacturer replaced broken trucks. What the fine print revealed, however, was that they replace this broken part within six months of purchasing the board. Since you’ve had your product for 8-9 months, the manufacturer is no longer obliged to replace your broken part, and you’re left to shop for one and pay for it yourself.
Thus it’s incredibly important–especially considering how huge of an investment an E-Skarteboard is–to “take a magnifying glass” to every line of warranties and go through the fine print with a fine-tooth comb.
When it comes to portability, the width and length (called dimensions) of an E-skateboard are worth knowing. Otherwise your deck may be too big to carry. Another detail that goes into the portability of E-Skateboards is their total weight. While most are between 17-25lbs., some boards (such as Yuneec’s E-GO2) weight considerably less, such as 13.9lbs.
Previously, I talked about a hub motor and a belt system motor. Let’s take a look at what those are, and what the difference between them is. Quite simply, belt/pulley motor systems are a belt that revolves around gears, propelling the machine forward. Hub motors turn stored electricity into forceful power via a coiled wire sitting between a magnet’s poles; this coil, when it spins, powers the machine and lets you ride.
Hardness levels exist between 75-101 on the Shore durometer hardness scale. The higher the number is, the harder the wheel is. Wheels themselves typically range between 45-85 mm in diameter. Smaller, harder wheels make it easier to perform tricks and turns.
For general purpose skateboarding, wheels 52-55mm with a 95 (or higher) hardness level is ideal. If you plan on riding on rougher surfaces (using an off-road board), be sure to find softer wheels to make the ride smoother.
Most high-quality wheels are made out of a material called polyurethane (PU), as this material has a near-perfect friction index that suits different riders who have different skating styles. One of the main reasons PU is used is because it doesn’t easily break under impact, due to its high-tensile strength. Another reason is that the material can be molded with varying hardness levels. These levels “shift” the ways a longboard skateboard slides, for how long, and how much traction the longboard has. Hardness levels don’t apply to mid-sized skateboards, as those boards we never designed to be slid – that’s what longboards are for, remember? The harder your wheels are, the smoother ride you’ll have with your Longboard.
When we talk about trucks, we’re talking about the “axle”-like part that attaches the wheels to the deck. Most trucks are made of aluminum for their lightness. However, some lower-end skateboard trucks are made of steel as they are more durable but heavier, resulting in more board weight. A third option is carbon fiber, which is 10x stronger than steel.
Whenever you see the term “waterproof,” be on the lookout for the Grade IP56 or IP65. This is an official industry-standard grade and confirms the board is indeed waterproof or splash-resistant.
At any time, you see a board called “off-road”, expect it to be a lot more expensive as these E-skateboards are designed to be all terrain vehicles. These “upgraded” boards can travel walking paths, rocky environments and uneven surfaces.
Difference In Board Sizes
Typically, there are three types of boards: Short, Mid-sized, and Longboards. Regular skateboards immediately know the difference, but it isn’t hard to figure out why these terms are called what they are.
Shortboards – Usually have harder wheels, which makes you faster on hard concrete. These boards usually have tighter trucks which offer more stability. Shortboards are the traditional-sized skateboards we’ve seen over the years, used by skating superstars Tony Hawk, Bam Margera, etc.
Longboards – These usually have softer wheels and lighter trucks (which, remember, means you can turn faster and smoother). It’s because of this reason that longboards are generally more preferred by riders for transporting across town – as longboards are easier to “steer”, since all you have to do is simply lean.
To travel from A to B, it’s definitely recommended to get a longboard around 32” or 40” with 66+mm soft wheels. However, boards with a sort of “flex” in them (i.e the deck slightly bends) offer you slight suspension when you’re riding. On the other hand, stiffer boards offer more stability but are more rigid and not as “agile” as their soft-deck counterparts. On the whole, shorter boards are easier to carry as there is less weight mass to lug around.
E-Skateboards For Kids?
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of E-Skateboards designed primarily for kids. When one is for kids, it will usually have “Kids” in the name – such as Swagtron’s NG-1. One of the main differences between a kids-only board and “regular” E-Skateboards is that kids-only boards generally have less Wattage power.
However, kids themselves can ride these “adult” skateboards as long as they are supervised and exercise supreme caution. Electric Skateboards are “controlled” by a remote. This remote is responsible for acceleration, braking, and speed. Kids may accidentally go faster than they initially planned – resulting in an inevitable wipe out, particularly if they’re inexperienced with skating at high speeds.
Spare Parts and Accessories Availability
It’s inevitable that wheels and trucks may break – or perhaps you’ll lose an important nut and bolt from your E-Skateboard, such bearings, risers, extra batteries, etc. Even the remote control you use to accelerate/brake may break. (There really is no way to tell when something could go wrong.) Aside from checking your warranty (to make sure that the manufacturer replaces broken parts), be sure to check the store to see if additional parts can be ordered online.
Doing your due diligence will truly pay off in the event that your wired mainboard randomly defects – if this happens and you can’t find a spare part, you may as well turn your “electronic” skateboard into a regular one, if it weren’t for the fact that e-skateboards are awesome.
Here is a small list of things you may need to consider for replacement in the future:
- Battery charger
- Drive motor/hub
- Battery pack (and batteries)
- And so on.
What Do Inclination Angles Mean?
When we talk about inclination angles, we’re typically referring to what degree of an angel you can safely climb up without backsliding or stopping completely. This angle degree typically depends on the power Wattage (W) of the single/dual motor. Typically, most E-Skateboards safely climb between 15-25degrees with relatively low problems.
It’s worth remembering that the rider’s height and weight determines a part in the inclination angle/wind resistance.
I hope this glossary of E-skateboard terms and phrases gives you more insight when you’re shopping for an e-skateboard. Not sure which e-skateboard to buy? Have a look at Top Electric Skateboard for a selected list of high-quality boards. As always, be sure to ride responsibly.