Electric skateboards have seen enormous growth in popularity in recent years as an environmentally friendly and fun way to cruise around town. For those new to the electric skateboard scene, choosing the right board can be an overwhelming process if you do not know what factors to consider. The most important considerations when starting your search are the type of riding you want to do, your budget, and your riding experience level. The motor and battery configuration, deck size, and extra features will all influence how a particular board performs and handles so it is important to have a clear picture of how and where you want to use your electric skateboard.
Types of Electric Skateboards
There are several main categories of electric skateboards:
- Mini Boards – These compact and lightweight boards are under 11kg for short-distance travel and portability. Mini boards often have detachable batteries under 99Wh that are airline travel-safe.
- Street/Flexy Boards – These relatively lightweight boards have street wheels under 115mm diameter and flexible decks modeled after the original Boosted Board design. Street/flexy boards tend to have 2-piece enclosures and average range capabilities.
- All-Terrain/2-in-1 Boards – This hybrid design features larger wheels over 115mm and single-piece enclosures. All-terrain/2-in-1 boards can tackle light off-roading but are also optimized for urban use. They often have belt-driven dual motors.
- Off-Road Boards – These boards are specialized for rough terrain with mountainboard-style decks. Off-road boards have dual or 4×4 motors and top-mounted battery boxes for ground clearance. They can have suspension, bindings, and mudguards.
- Racing Boards – These high-performance boards are designed for competitive events. Racing boards feature low and stiff decks, wide rubber wheels, and advanced ESC/motors 15kW+. They have enhanced stability and rear dual motors.
Key Electric Skateboard Drivetrain Types:
- Belt drive systems utilize a belt to connect the motor to the wheels. Belt drives provide a quiet and smooth riding experience. They also make it easier to push the board when unpowered. Their modular design enables the replacement of worn belts and wheels.
- Hub motors have a compact design with the motor contained inside the wheels. While hub motors require less maintenance, they also supply less traction control compared to belt drives.
- Direct gear drives are gaining popularity for their ability to deliver high torque and climbing power. However, direct gear drives need more mechanical service than other drivetrain types.
- Dual motor setups utilize two motors to boost power and acceleration capabilities. In contrast, single-motor configurations are simpler and lighter.
By understanding these main electric skateboard categories and drivetrain differences, you can determine the ideal board for your specific needs. From compact commuting to off-road excitement, there’s a ride for everyone.
Range and Battery Life
Range and battery life are also critical factors, especially for those seeking an electric skateboard for transportation purposes rather than just leisurely cruising. Larger battery capacity naturally provides more range, allowing longer distances between charges. Some high-end boards now offer well over 10 miles of range on a single charge. It’s also convenient if the battery is removable, allowing it to be swapped out or charged off the board. Look for boards claiming charging times of 2 hours or less from empty to full. Fast charging is important if you need to top up the battery quickly between uses. Removable batteries can also be replaced down the line rather than needing to replace the whole board if the battery degrades over time.
Speed and Power
The speed and power capabilities of a board should be appropriately matched to both your riding needs and skill level. Beginners will want to stick to lower top speeds, perhaps around 10-15 mph for comfortable cruising and braking control. More experienced riders looking for the thrill of fast speeds down hills may need boards capable of 20+ mph top speeds. Similarly, steeper hill-climbing ability requires more torque from the motors. Larger and dual-drive motors will best handle hills versus slower hub motors or smaller batteries. Consider both your regular routes and desired top speed when weighing boards. Slower boards are safer to learn on, but more powerful options open up a greater range of riding enjoyment and utility as your skills progress.
Your budget will largely determine the range of options available to you. Entry-level completes can often be found for $300-500 USD, offering basic builds and shorter ranges. Mid-range boards in the $500-1000 price bracket provide greater quality, power, and range. High-end boards from reputable brands start around $1000 and the sky is the limit, offering power, speed, and features like removable battery packs on par with electric mopeds. Consider if you want just a basic setup for learning versus long-term ownership, and shop sales, or consider DIY/custom builds to save money if desired. Remember that safety gear, spare parts, and upgraded accessories mean ongoing costs too. Doing research on each board’s true capabilities versus marketing claims will help you find the best value for your needs within your budget.
There are a few additional factors to keep in mind when selecting an electric skateboard. Boards will typically list a maximum weight limit, so heavy riders need to ensure the board they choose can support their weight safely. Lighter boards are generally better suited to beginners who have less stability at lower speeds. It’s also important to understand the braking and safety features of different models. Reputable boards will have dual braking systems including mechanical brakes, and may include lights which are not just convenient but important for low-light safety. Consider how customizable the board is too – if you think you may want to make adjustments like swapping wheels or trucks down the line. Finally, pay attention to any requirements around rider experience levels – some advanced e-boards may say explicit experience is required due to the higher speeds involved.
Maintenance and Accessories
Proper maintenance and care are important to ensure safety and maximize the lifespan of your electric skateboard investment. Some basic tips include regularly inspecting and lubricating any belt or chain drives, tightening any loose hardware, and cleaning your board, especially the electronics and battery connectors. You’ll also want to be prepared for potential part replacements down the road. Motors, speed controllers, and battery packs have finite lifespans and may eventually need to be serviced or replaced, so factor repair costs into your budget. Riders also need protection – probably the most important accessories are a high-quality helmet and lights for low visibility conditions. Other handy additions include a portable electric pump for inflation flat tires, spare belts or wheels, and a backup battery. These small investments go a long way in keeping you riding safely.
Choosing the right electric skateboard can seem like a daunting task with all the different models, features, and specifications to consider. However, keeping several key factors in mind will make the process much more straightforward. To recap, think about how and where you’ll primarily use your board, your riding experience level, budget, and safety requirements. These will determine the ideal motor type, deck size, speed, and range capabilities to focus your search. Don’t forget to budget for safety gear and potential maintenance down the line. By having a clear picture of your needs and priorities in advance, you’ll be able to identify the electric skateboard that best fits your lifestyle. So do your research, compare top options, and you’ll be cruising with confidence in no time.
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