Electric Skateboard

Electric skateboard parts 101

The electric skateboard, or eboard, is a beautiful piece of human engineering. It grants you the opportunity to power through urban areas and navigate both pavement and off road surfaces. Simply put, it gets you where you want to go, and fast. These denizens of the pavement can even take you uphill with ease so you can power drive yourself in an all or nothing downhill race. With acceleration and braking controlled by a convenient, handheld controller, all you need to is hop on and enjoy the ride: No pushing required.

An excellent example of both modern electric skateboard design and customer satisfaction is the Evolve Bamboo electric skateboard, GTX Series. From their Bamboo GTX Series, this board can hit a max speed of up to 26 miles per hour and do it within a 31 mile range for the street model, and up to 18.5 miles for the all-terrain model. It not only is an example of a great build, but it has amassed a good following, which translates into a more than satisfactory customer service rating.

The Deck

The deck is what you stand on when riding your eboard. If you think that a deck is nothing more than a slab of wood or fiberglass, think again. Skateboard decks are carefully crafted and engineered to offer the best ride possible, depending on the type of style the rider prefers. When you look at a deck, try to think of its shape, flex and wheelbase. The deck flex refers to how flexible it is when you stand on it, the shape can be a shortboard, cruiser, old school or longboard.  Of all shapes, it’s the longboard which is seen most often on electric skateboards, as they are perfect for long commutes or off road travels. Longboards are usually 33 inches in length or longer and designed to make long rides smooth, comfortable and easy.  As for the wheelbase, it’s the space between the baseplate of each truck.

Wheelbase

Electric skateboards are powered by motors driven by batteries. This means that you need ample room on the underside of your board for placement, and it’s the wheelbase which determines the space available for your electronics.  So, as you can see, it’s only natural for eboards to use longboard decks.

Deck Flex

As previously stated, most eboards will be built using a longboard deck, and deck flex refers to the ‘bounce’ you feel when you stand on your deck. Flexibility for these decks come in light, medium and stiff.  For the most part, a very flexible deck is not suitable for eboards, so most enthusiasts prefer medium to stiff flexibility. For example, the Maxfind Max 2 eboard has a range of 16.2 miles and can reach a speed of 23 miles per hour, and is made with a stiff deck for more control when hitting top speeds.

Concave

When you look at the deck of your choice, pay close attention to the curved shape present between the tail and nose. This is called the concave, which gives the rider a more stable ride and more durable deck. Two of the more common concaves are Rocker and Camber.

Rocker Concave

To get a good idea of what a Rocker is, check out the Leif Tech eSnowboard design, as it uses this style. Perfect for those riders into free riding and downhill racing, the edges of the rocker bend slightly upwards, like a banana. The Rocker gives you a low center of gravity ride, which is designed to give you ultimate control.

Camber

Whereas the Rocker Concave has edges that curve upward, the Camber has edges which go downward and produces a light spring-like flexibility. Camber shaped decks are perfect for those who love to carve.

Basic Deck Construction

As previously stated, a deck is not simply a slab of wood. Decks are carefully engineered to give the best ride possible, depending on the particular style favored by the rider. The Teamgee electric skateboard is a fan favorite, and has a deck made from 10 ply Canadian Maple, along with 1 ply of fiberglass, and designed specifically for riders looking for medium flex and a nice, smooth ride. When shopping for an eboard, you may come across this word, ‘ply’. This means that the manufacturer has crafted the deck based on several thin layers of wood, usually maple, which increases the strength of the deck. Maple wood is the preferred wood, as it is flexible enough to give you a nice ride, yet tough enough to handle what you throw at it. In general, the more layers used, the more durable the deck will be. These decks can have between 5 and 10 layers, with 7 being the most common. If they use fiberglass to add to the durability of the deck, all the better.

Batteries

When we talk batteries and electric skateboards, we are usually referring to one of three main types: The Lithium ion, Lithium Polymer, and LiFePo. Of the three, the one you’ll run into most is the Lithium ion battery. The LiPo battery is the one most favored with enthusiasts who build their own boards.

Lithium Ion

This is the battery type that you’ll find in most commercial electric skateboards. It holds less risk for the rider and also has a nice, long lifespan. This battery is easy to source, which helps to keep costs low.

Lithium Polymer

More commonly known as the LiPo, they are often selected by hobbyists due to their price point. These are inexpensive for builders, but require more care and attention than say, a Lithium ion.

Lithium Iron Phosphate

Also known as the LiFePO4, this battery gives you the best of both worlds. You get the long life of the Lithium ion, with the power of the LiPo. However, they are expensive and not easy to manufacture, so are not seen in too many eboards.

Swappable Batteries

If you’re looking to add range to your ride, then look for models, such as the Inboard M1 or the Leif Tech eSnowboard which are designed with batteries you can swap out while you’re on the go. This means that as soon as your batteries begin to die, you can replace them with a new, charged set.

Regenerative Braking

We know what you’re thinking, why talk about braking in a section for batteries. The reason is that many boards, such as the Evolve Bamboo GTX use regenerative braking which means that slowing down when you brake can add some charge to your battery, which equates to longer rides, a greater range.

Wheels

In skateboarding, a wheel does much more than just roll. Depending on your chosen ride style, wheels must also be able to handle rugged terrain or be able to glide quickly down pavement, while others have integrated  hub motors. Some wheels are polyurethane, while others are large and designed with intricate tread-work. The type of wheel for you, will depend entirely on your intentions, soft wheels give more grip, while hard wheels give more speed.

All-Terrain Wheels

Taking a look at the Evolved Bamboo GTX all-terrain board,  you’ll notice their large 6.5 inch size and treads. These are called pneumatic rubber tires, and are inflated with air. The large size of these all-terrain tires, along their material and treads make them suitable for riding over grass, gravel or dirt. Since all-terrain boards are designed to handle such demanding rides, they are equipped with belt driven motors, so it’s rare to ever find such a board with hub motors integrated into their all-terrain wheels.

Longboard Wheels

Longboard Wheels are generally made from polyurethane are great for pavement but not so good on off road adventures. As you can probably guess, the hardness of the polyurethane wheels means that you won’t get much grip on the pavement, not like pneumatic rubber tires.  Longboard wheels are low maintenance, easy to switch out, fast and are the wheels of choice for urban commuters.

Hub Motor Wheels

These wheels incorporate an electric  motor in their hub.  Hub motor wheels are the ones for you if you’re looking for a nice, quiet ride down paved streets. Hub motor wheels have their pros and cons. For instance, if the battery dies, you can still push kick your skateboard just like you would a traditional model, and braking is pretty solid since the motor is integrated directly into the wheel. A good representation of an electric skateboard utilizing hub motors is the Boosted Electric Skateboard.

Remote Control

Remote controls for electric skateboards are as unique as the board itself. Some eboards will have triggers, others accelerator wheels, while some may use a joystick. No matter what type of board you choose, keep in mind that you want a controller that has a smooth, ergonomic and organic design. After all, if you take a tumble that last thing you want is a sharp controller corner jamming into the palm of your hand, or worse.  

Evolve’s Bamboo GTX Series board’s remote is a superb example of a proper controller setup. First of all, it comes with four riding modes: GT, Fast, Eco and Slow. This ensures that you get the proper ride for your level of expertise. So, if you’re a beginner you’d select “Slow” mode, and if you’re looking to conserve energy, you’d choose the “Eco” mode. In order to check on your riding data like how far you’ve traveled, how fast you’re going, etc. all you’d have to do is to glance at its easy to read LCD digital screen. All of this convenience in one, comfortable ergonomically designed handheld controller.

Mobile Phone Apps and Other Added Features

In 2014 an eboard company called Marbel engaged in a kickstarter with the purpose of crafting the worlds lightest skateboard, weighing in at around 9 pounds, whereas the Evolve can weigh in at close to 20 pounds. One of the features of the Marbel eboard, included an app which would allow the rider to control their Marbel board with their smartphone. It gave riders to opportunity to keep track of speed, direction and acceleration.

Today, manufacturers of eboards include apps and additional features  in many of their designs. The Acton Blink Lite, for instance, comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and LED lights to make riders visible during dusk or night time rides. Lixada Koowheel has wheels with integrated LED lights and Board Blazers sells underglow lights for your board.  Apps and extras may not be necessary, but being able to check your riding stats on your smartphone, or having sweet brake lights integrated into your deck can make for some added fun.

Final Considerations

There you have it, a basic introduction to some of the more important terms and concepts regarding electric skateboards. The world of electric skateboarding is a complex one, with each new season bringing with board designs with new, groundbreaking features. Before we go, it might be a good idea to bring up some last minute considerations.

Board Weight

Electric Skateboards, especially those that are designed to take on all-terrain adventures, can be quite large and heavy and can weigh up to 20 pounds. So, if your only interest is urban commuting, look for a board that’s a lot lighter, like the Blitzart Mini Flash, one that you can slip into a convenient tote bag in case your battery runs out, and you need to hoof it home.

Weatherization

Whether it’s a traditional push skateboard or an electric one, in general skateboards are not made for wet weather. Traditional skateboards risk their components rusting, and electric boards have electronic components which can be easily damaged going through puddles. Bearings will rust over time, especially if not cleaned and lubed properly. If this is your concern, you can purchase ceramic bearings online to replace the metal ones.

However, if you live in an area such as Seattle, where rain is more common than Phoenix Arizona, you do have some options as some manufacturers have worked to tackle this issue. The Inboard M1 designed their electrical components to be encased within the deck itself, so they are completely out of harm’s way.

When it comes to decks, it’s obvious that those made from wood wouldn’t hold up well in wet conditions. Those who make their own eboards and are looking for a weather resistant deck will usually use fiberglass, plastic or carbon fiber. Finally, know that no eboards are waterproof, they may be water resistant, but they are not waterproof. For a board to be completely waterproof, it would have to be completely submerged, with the vulnerable components remaining free from water. Water resistant means that it is resistant to water, but not impermeable, and can be damaged via contact .

User reviews

As you can tell by the following infographic, around 9 out of 10 online shoppers find online reviews to be helpful and actually influence their decision to purchase a product.

Infographic by- Invesp

Manufacturer Reputation

When a consumer purchases a brand name, they’re not only getting a solid product, but also purchasing years of research, development and customer satisfaction. Companies that produce cheap knock offs know that they won’t be here for the long term. In fact, most are in it for the quick buck, and not interested in longevity or brand quality. However, when a company develops itself to a well-respected brand, they are most certainly in it for the long haul. This means that they take quality and consumer expectations seriously.

The manufacturers of electric skateboards are no different. Whereas companies that produce barely ride-able copies use cheap parts and base their designs on the blueprints of the more reputable, trustworthy brand names, makers that take what they do seriously will make an effort to do the opposite. Brand names such as Leif Tech will be diligent in securing customer satisfaction in the form of creating a sustainable community and offering superb customer service.

Competitions

Finally, as you know by now, electric skateboards are powered by motors. These may be hub motors or belt driven, but either way, these skateboards are meant to go fast. So, knowing our need for speed, it’s only logical that we’ve created competitions here and there, such as the Evolve Skateboards World Cup eboarding event , where fans of the Evolve electric skateboard meetup to test their mettle against other enthusiasts. If events aren’t your thing, know that there are plenty of skaters like Baptiste Boirie, who search to find unique ways to integrate everyday sports with their electric skateboards. In fact, Boirie has been so successful in blending his skateboard into the sport of pole vaulting, that he can clear 19.36 feet using his board!

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