Cities are trying to get people out of their cars, especially for short commutes. While ebikes and escooters get plenty of exposure in efforts to get people out of their cars. There’s another form of transport you might not have given much thought — commuting by eskateboard.
But while many flipped up their boards for good in adulthood, there’s a huge movement of skateboarding alive and well — and it’s gone electric.
That’s right, electric-powered skateboards where you don’t need to use your foot to kick-off or brake.
But skateboarding comes with a bunch of challenges. Further, there are no micromobility providers hiring out eskateboards.
So, if you want to give it a go, you need to dig into the robust but largely underground movement where information is passed on through message boards like Reddit and under Instagram posts.
I reached out to a bunch of eskaters to find out all that you need to know to get started. Here are some key tips:
Should you build or buy your eskateboard?
According to eskater GuyPaulPoullian:
The industry is still in a very early stage, so whether one purchases off the rack or builds their own, they will require some mechanical skill (more than your average product end-user). That is the most critical aspect of owning one of these boards — be prepared to do some work.
Many companies will include parts with new boards because, you are correct, getting replacements can take months between supply chain and shipping issues.
What’s the best way to buy in the absence of brick-and-mortar stores?
Buying a pre-built board, in my opinion, is better than DIY because if something fails, then you know it’s not your fault, and you typically have an extended warranty and decent customer support.
There are very few physical stores and even if there are, choices aren’t as plentiful online. That said, if there’s a choice, personally, I’d buy locally for ~10+% more.
Eskater Jed shared:
Eskating (aka Esk8) is very modular, so swapping out a bad component is easy. If your remote gets lost, you can order a replacement. Once you get the replacement, pairing it to your board takes less than a minute, including reading the instructions.
A more complicated repair like a battery replacement is still pretty quick as most batteries come fully assembled as a module. So you remove a dozen or so screws to get access to the battery compartment, disconnect three wires, remove the old battery, then install the new battery, plug it back in, and reassemble it. For most boards, that takes less than 30 minutes. But that particular repair is very rare.
Many people recommend you buy spare parts for your setup. Shops include Ownboard and eskating. It’s not just about replacing your remote, you might be in a world of pain if you are unable to access replacement batteries and motors easily.
GuyPaulPoullian suggested you start by determining what riding you are looking to do: commuting, street riding for pleasure, all-terrain riding and then zero in on the board that best suits your objective.
No one wants to break bones traveling to work. Scottie88 stressed:
WEAR GEAR! Lots and lots of gear if skin and bones are important. Pain isn’t very fun unless of course, one’s a masochist.
Helmet and slide gloves is the bare minimum equipment I ride with. They have saved me from injuries on many occasions while I was learning and even after I became proficient.
Take your time while you learn. Just because your board can accelerate quickly and go very fast does not mean that new riders should be trying that out on day two of owning their board.
At 22.5kmph (14mph) or faster, you WILL NOT be able to stay on your feet if you are forced off of your board, and YOU WILL drop AND roll or slide to a stop.
What’s next in eskateboarding innovation?
Eskateboards are getting better batteries with a longer range and faster charging. But there’s still room for improvement. Jed explained that with his own board, having the ability to cut off charging at 80% would balance the pack and significantly increase the number of charge cycles in the battery lifespan.
The most significant leaps are likely in batteries (more range with less weight, easily swappable packs) and drive and suspension systems.
Also, the next generation of these boards is almost certainly going to have a more robust interface with people’s smartphones as well as far more data and analytics.
However, like many outdoor activities, you can’t replace the visceral with the technological. Scottie88 stressed:
While tech is good, the point of fun in rideables is the challenge, both physical and cerebral. When tech takes over, I might as well stay home & go VR.
So there you have it, the slowdowns from the eskaters themselves. As we’ve seen with ebikes, the trend for mobility shows no sign of abating. This year we’re embracing all kinds of EV innovation including electric unicycles (EUC) — f you’re a rider, I would love to chat over email and Twitter!
(Credit for featured image: Esk8unity on YouTube)