Nobody these days has to tell you how exciting Electric Skateboards (eSk8s) are. You know it, I know it. They’re playing their instrumental part in making the technology world that’s constantly on the cusp of innovation.
Yet, for all their ingenuity, there are still quite a number of aspects to consider – as even the more affordable (e.g. lower-end) ones sell for $300-500. Let’s take a look at 7 things you should know about these mind-blowing, jaw-dropping vehicles.
1. The History
Knowing the lineage of skateboards, and the long-winded journey it took for them to get where they are today, is pretty cool. Now, not everyone knows that skateboarding was originally called “sidewalk-surfing” since the mid-1900’s (major props to you if you do).
As time went on, people did what they inevitably do: innovate and evolve with the times. Riders invented their own styles, and in doing so helped shape the design for many skateboards still on the circuit today.
Take for example how many decks with wider kicktails there are. Why’s that? Because nearly 41 years ago the California sun evapourated everybody’s swimming pools. So the “vert” was born as a result, which wide kicktail boards are amazing for riding. (Argue with me on that point.)
2. Is it Waterproof?
Nobody can predict the weather (sorry, weathermen – but too many times you’ve said it won’t rain… and five hours later it rained). As it is a scientific fact that water and electronics do not mix, this point cannot be overstated: if your board isn’t waterproof, water will damage it and is incredibly unsafe.
When you’re searching for a waterproof board, look for an Ingress Protection Rating – IP65 or higher is ideally a safe waterproof reading.
3. Comprehensive Warranty
Taking the time (which is admittedly time-consuming) to inspect and investigate the fine print of warranties pays off in spades later down the road.
A few general tips to keep in mind are:
- The longer a warranty is, the better (let’s say two brands offer the same product – one has a 6-month money back guarantee, and another has one full year; who would you go with?)
- Read customer responses on various online forum or on Amazon
- Find out if you’ll void the warranty by attempting to repair the board yourself 4
- When your board needs repairs, will the warranty cover the part replacement or will you pay out of pocket?
The answers to these questions (and any need-to-know info concerning warranties and coverages) should be on the manufacturer’s website. If it isn’t, consider an alternative board. A company that isn’t forthcoming about how it provides your needs isn’t a company that deserves your money.
The type of battery your board is packing determines the total max distance you’ll be able to ride. Just imagine this: you plan for a full hour of riding as far as you want, blissfully catching a nice tan on your back as you glide through the air. Then your board slowly fizzes to a stop. You’re miles from an electric socket. Now you’re forced to walk (or push) to the nearest electric outlet and charge the battery – which usually takes anywhere between 1-3 hours.
That’s why it’s crucial to always get bigger batteries – these babies hold more juice. Generally, Li-ion batteries (Samsung is the most popular) are the perfect choice in an ideal world. It’s a good idea to keep this figure in mind: on the average, 99wh batteries = ~6 miles.
While larger batteries and battery packs cost more upfront, they require less recharge cycles. Smaller battery packs, by their fundamental design, hold less juice capacity and need to be recharged more often.
What modularity means is the ability to fix parts and components yourself. If you own a bike, car or ATV (or any other vehicle) you already know that regular maintenance is not only good for your vehicle, but gives you opportunities to see any potential (and expensive) problems and fix them.
(This is where knowing the eSk8 lingo comes in handy.)
We’re taking these babies over rough terrain, at moderate-to-high speeds, and generally putting these things through hell. Sadly, electronics aren’t easy to get to – and require a certain level of knowledge to repair yourself (often by design). This is where specialists, with special tools, come in handy.
Non-powered (i.e standard) skateboards are pure hell to push up hills. Now, although it’s true electric skateboards make it easier than every for you to travel uphill – how steep the incline is and how much you weigh are factors into how much of that hill you can actually climb.
I highly recommend heading over to YouTube and entering in your list of electric skateboards; specifically, look for people who show undoctored footage of them riding “your” board uphill. This is what I mean by double-checking the “performance” of your board.
In any case, remember: it’s your ESK8, and what you want to get out of it is the key factor here. For example, would you buy a car for yourself that someone else chose for you? Absolutely not. However, keep in mind that what you could want may help your wallet lose some weight.
Without being able to customise our own boards, skateboarding wouldn’t be what it is today. Personally, half the fun of skateboarding is being able to mix and match trucks and wheels and decals and deck materials/designs. That’s why choosing the right deck that “feels good” beneath your feet is crucial: whether you’re long-boarding, going vert or street, you know how important a solid deck is that feels right.
The same holds true for electric skateboards. Personally speaking, brands that make boards which can’t be customised should be steered away from. Thankfully, most commercial boards give you full control over power and performance settings; they can be adjusted to how you like it – or, if your board is shared among family and friends, how they like it.
There are quite a few factors that go into determining the price for eSk8s. To name just a few…
- Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive than lead acid batteries, and for good reason. Li-on batteries hold more “juice” in a smaller container.
- Professionally-branded parts are higher quality than off-the-shelf parts (usually stamped “Made in China”).
- The longer a range is, the more powerful (and ergo: more expensive) battery was installed to make this range possible
Yes, those are a few, but powerful tidbits of info worth keeping in mind when you look at an eSk8board and begin wondering why the price is so high.
I hope you’ve found out some things you didn’t know about before, and that the E-Skateboard world is a lot less intimidating. There were a lot of jargon phrases and terms thrown around a lot, and to figure out what it all this talk means, be sure to read a glossary of eSk8 terms.