Electric Skateboard

The History of Skateboarding & The Evolution of The Electric Skateboard

The Birth of Skateboarding

Once upon a time, somewhere in the late 40’s or 50’s the world gave birth to the very first skateboard. Who invented it, who thought it up? No one knows for sure. However, one thing is certain, that these “sidewalk surfers” were most likely developed by California wave riders who were looking for a way to surf on land, when the waves slowed. From these early skateboards, made by attaching metal roller skates to planks of wood, evolved the stylish, fast personal transport vehicles we see today.

Skateboarding on its own, can be quite an exhilarating experience for riders as they cruise down pavement, go off road on an all-terrain board, or indulge in the breathtaking experience of kite boarding. However, the creation and development of motorized skateboards such as the Tomoloo Hoverboard with Bluetooth took skateboarding to a whole new level. The electric skateboard soon became known as a cost effective, fast and eco-friendly mode of urban transportation for boarding enthusiasts everywhere.

The Emergence of the Motorized Skateboard

Throughout human history, evolution, inspiration and innovation have led to some pretty sweet inventions, and one of those is the electric skateboard. Micro vehicles, otherwise known as personal transport vehicles, have become extremely popular today when it comes to both recreation and urban commuting.  By using personal transport vehicles such as scooters and skateboards, commuting between short distances is a snap, taking their rider from parked car to train in a manner of minutes.

When you first come across an electric skateboard, you’ll notice that they are built a little differently when compared to a standard kick skateboard.  Electric skateboards rely on motors powered by rechargeable batteries to propel you to your destination. They also come with wireless hand throttles whereby you have control over many of your boards features, such as braking, mileage and speed. As for features, you can select a less expensive basic model with little or no extras like the HiBoy S11, or a top of the line eboard such as the Evolved Bamboo, which comes equipped with a feature rich, ergonomically designed remote.  As for propulsion, today’s electric skateboards use either a hub motor system, where the motors are located inside the wheels, or a belt and pulley system.

Now that we know what the eboard is, it’s time to take a look at how it came about. The first motorized skateboards were not powered by rechargeable batteries. Instead, they were fueled by gasoline. Many skateboard enthusiasts who were interested in motorized skateboards created them in their own garages, so to speak. These fans tweaked and tinkered among themselves, to create their own DIY motorized skateboards. However, these were projects fostered by the individuals love, passion and experimentation for skateboarding. It wasn’t until 1975 when they truly emerged on the scene.

The first mass produced motorized skateboards were manufactured by MotoBoard in 1975. They used two stroke motors which required gasoline to get them going. Urethane, or “Stoker” wheels came into being in 1973, and were quickly sought after due to the smooth and quite rides they gave. MotoBoard was the first motorized skateboard to switch out the old, hard steel skate wheels in favor of the new, polyurethane ones.

It was Jim Rugroden from Berkeley California who created the very first MotoBoard, working out of his brothers garage in Campbell, California in 1975. Entrepreneur Bill Posey joined Rugroden to create Quantimotion, Inc., DBA MotoBoard Intl. MotoBoards were featured in high-end catalogues such as Hammacher Schlemmer and Abercrombie and Fitch. However, due to their high price point, they were out of reach for the everyday enthusiast. Today, you can still visit the MotoBoard website and purchase one of their two gasoline powered skateboards, The MotoBoard or the All-Terrain Surfer.

Louis Finkle – “Born to Understand the Machine”

“Electric Louis”, as his fans affectionately named him, is the man who started it all. In 1999, Louis Finkle filed a patent in California for his wireless, electric skateboard design which he created in 1997. Inspirations? Who knows where they come from or why they strike certain people. In this case it was nothing more than a simple visit to a local hobby shop.

It seems that Louis was scouting the shelves for a motor, and ended up purchasing not only a motor, but a wireless controller. He considered his friend who built long-boards, and decided that the long-board, motor and wireless remote could all be merged into one entity.  Louis’s board was propelled by having the riders trigger finger come into contact with a metal strip. This caused a low-frequency signal to be transferred to the feet to the boards receiver.  

Finkle’s board was a quick one, hitting speeds up to  22 miles per hour in only 4 seconds. He charged a cool $995.00 for his board, which meant only those who could afford it could try it, so like the MotoBoard, was still kept from the majority of riders. In total, over 1500 of these boards were manufactured by eXkate to very satisfied and happy customers. Finkle has since sold his electric skateboard company and now owns and operates a manufacturing company. By 2004 the technology was finally developed where rechargeable batteries could transport an adult rider securely and efficiently.

Rise of the Kickstarter Campaign

The advent of the kickstarter campaign gave creative and innovative individuals the avenue to acquire much needed capital to manifest their dreams into reality. In 2012 Sanjay Dastoor, Matthew Tran and John Ulmen began a Kickstarter campaign for their eboard design, the Boosted Board, and set the goal at $100,000. Their campaign was a resounding success and garnered nearly $500,000. The result was a 12 pound, 20 mile per hour electric skateboard. Their company continues to be a success to this day, with their third generation boards receiving rave reviews from riders and publications such as Gizmodo and Tech Crunch.

Another electric skateboard company, Marbel, started a Kickstarter with a goal of $90,000 with the purpose of developing a tough, sturdy and light eboard. In the end, Marbel raised a whopping $365,966 from 542 backers. It promised to deliver its ultra light electric skateboards by July of 2014. Today, Marbel is a trusted brand, and loved by riders who desire an ultra-light, reliable and dependable eboard. By looking at it’s early history, one can most certainly state that the eboard was the result of human creativity, drive and passion.

Legislative Influence

In 1977, the state of California made the decision to ban gasoline fueled skateboards. It was this act that prompted a few skateboard enthusiasts to search out alternate ways to add a motor to their skateboard.  However, it seemed that despite their efforts, the skating world was not quite ready for a motorized skateboard, as motorized skateboarding began to slip into the abyss of a fad that had lost its way. Gasoline fueled boards such as MotoBoard were admired, but its hefty price tag kept it out of the hands of the everyday skateboard enthusiast.

That was then, and this is now. Today, fans of motorized skateboards are enjoying their comeback. In 2014, Kristin Olsen introduced a bill in California which would give permission for electric skateboards to be able to travel in bike lanes, but kept from sidewalks and roadways. Why the change of heart? Zboard was an electric skateboard company that resided in her district, and wanted to extend their use. In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, making them legal once more.

What is it That Makes Modern Day EBoards so Great?

After all that history, it’s only natural that you’d be a tad curious as to the state of today’s electric skateboards. In fact, the boards of today are so much more than their ancestors, their range and speed far exceeding that of their gasoline powered ancestors. The electric skateboards have evolved to such a point that you can easily purchase one for your urban commutes, or one designed to conquer off road terrain. Why, you can even purchase kits and parts to customize your boards or build your very own from scratch.  

Wheels

Gone are the cold, hard steel wheels of yesteryear. Today’s Electric Skateboards have durable polyurethane wheels. The soft wheels give you a good grip on the surface, and the hard wheels are great for speed.

Deck

A good electric skateboard comes with a durable and flexible deck, with the best decks being crafted from layers of high-quality wood. The more layers you have in your deck the better it will be.  Common deck materials include carbon fiber and bamboo.

Battery

Electric skateboards use rechargeable, lithium batteries. When you are shopping for your eboard, check out the specs so you select a battery that has a nice, long lifespan.

Speed and Range

Current Electric skateboards design offers potential buyers the choice of purchasing electric skateboards that can hit top speeds of 24 miles per hour or more with ranges up to 7 miles. Riders control speed with handheld controllers. In fact, the high-end models can even handle 15 to 25 percent inclines.

Electric Skateboards and Off Road Adventures

Much of the talk which revolves around the Electric skateboard usually touts its supremacy when it comes to urban commuting. But that’s not all they do. You know us humans, once skateboarders developed a knack for surfing the sidewalk, they looked for a new challenge: Enter the all-terrain electric skateboard, or ATB..

All-terrain electric skateboards have much more powerful motors, and a durable, flexible deck supported by large, treaded, rubber pneumatic tires. These boards are monsters compared to their smaller, sleeker urban Electric skateboards. Their sturdier build ensures that they can carry a rider with a full backpack over gravel, dirt, grass and inclines. Those riders who excel at their all-terrain, off road activities often become proficient in downhill skateboarding as well as kiteboarding.

Mountainboarding is a currently little known extreme sport that is quickly securing its place among off road riders. The first mountainboard was patented in 1989 by Morton Hellig, and began to acquire skateboarding fans in 1992 from Australia, the U.S. and U.K. In the UK it was brothers Dave and Pete Tatham, along with Jim Aveline and Joe Inglis who began to search for some adrenaliine downhill speed that didn’t depend on surfing the snow or waves. The result was NoSno Boards. Similarly, Joel Lee, Patrick McConnell and Jason Lee were hungry for a summertime ‘snowboarding’ experienced, so founded MountainBoardSports in 1992. Australia saw surfer John Milne looking for a way to surf the terrain when the waves were flat, so developed his own style of mountain board in 1992. To give you a good idea of the appearance and features of mountain boards, we’ve included a few examples:

Mountainboarders are a competitive bunch. So, as you can probably guess, there are quite a few mountain-boarding events designed to test the spirit of the rider, and the design of their eboard. The first mountainboard competition was held in 2002 in the French Alps. Called the Morzine Mountainboard Fest, it attracted all-terrain electric skateboard enthusiasts from all over the world . Today, these competitions are spreading worldwide, so if this tickles your fancy, a good place to start is the International Mountainboard Association . There, you’ll be able to learn about events held throughout the year.

Health Benefits of Electric Skateboarding

Don’t let the fact that it’s a motorized skateboard fool you, these eboards can actually give you a great workout. In fact, the mere act of standing and keeping balance on the board during your urban commutes is terrific exercise for your body, especially your center core and lower extremities. Being physically fit is so important when it comes to riding either the push or electric skateboard, that riders often specifically target these muscle groups in the gym, in order to give themselves more control over their ride. Some of the best exercises to perform included the seated leg press, abdominal crunches and calf raises.

Who are Electric Skateboards For?

As we’ve seen, electric skateboards are a great way to commute or enjoy off road adventures. Electric skateboards are provide a way for kids to get out and relish the great outdoors, get some exercise and perhaps enter a friendly competition or two. However, did you also know that the Electric skateboard is a great way for newbies to learn how to skateboard? That’s right. Those new to the sport often find training on an Electric skateboard gets them up on the road faster than on a push board. Finally, there’s those fans who were active enthusiasts in their youth, but slowly forgot about their boards after college. By purchasing an eboard, they’ll quickly find that it’s a good way to go out for a quick cruise around the block now and then, without even breaking a sweat.

Summary  

Personal transport vehicles are extremely popular today both for recreation and urban commuting. By using personal transport vehicles such as scooters and skateboards, commuting between short distances is enjoyable, cost effective and eco-friendly. Electric skateboards give riders an eco-friendly, low cost and convenient way to commute in urban areas and college campuses. Urban commuters can bring along a battery charger, ride their Electric skateboards to the train, stash it in your backpack as you board your train, and charge it when you get to your destination.  The addition of apps give you even more control. Add to this, the fact that you no longer have to kick and push yourself to your destination, and you can see why electric skateboards have attracted and kept their fans. So what are you waiting for? Get out and try an Electric skateboards today!

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