As soon as I saw the video, I knew I had to have one. Displayed before me on my screen was a guy carving around in a parking lot at twenty miles an hour on an electric skateboard. It was a beautiful thing.
Years prior Mystery had goaded me into riding a Segway.
"They're SO nerdy."
"Trust me. Once you ride one you won't care."
He was right, but the things were too expensive and too big. Still, I liked the idea of a small electric vehicle for urban transportation. The skateboard was much cheaper and much smaller, so I ordered one.
Since then I've had at least four different boards, which is as much a testament to how much I love them as it is to their biggest weakness: they break easily. Still, I keep buying new ones or buying parts for the old ones.
So what's so great about an electric skateboard?
- They're really fast. Twenty miles an hour may not seem fast to car drivers, but that's pretty zippy for a skateboard. Errands get done quickly.
- Besides being fast, it's unbelievably fun. Taking a twenty minute ride to the grocery store is nothing short of a delight. For months after we got our boards, we would all convene in a parking lot and just fly around in circles.
- It feels like you're flying (very low). When you zoom around you tend to look forward, which means that you never see your feet. Optically speaking, it's identical to just gliding six inches off the pavement.
- The range is pretty decent. The best I've done is a ten mile ride, which left the battery on its last legs.
- They're tiny. You can meet a friend somewhere and easily throw the board in a trunk to drive somewhere.
You control the board with a pistol grip controller that governs the acceleration and regenerative braking. It's pretty easy, even if you've never ridden a skateboard before. In fact, it's a lot easier than a regular skateboard because you always have both feet on the deck.
The only downsides of the electric skateboard are that they break fairly easily, and go slowly up hills. The brand I recommend, E-Glide, has a good warranty, though, and you still go up hills faster than you would if you were walking.
There are two companies who make these boards: Altered, previously known as Exkate, and E-Glide. Altered has cool wireless controllers, but the boards are made in China and the customer support is really bad. E-Glide, on the other hand, is pretty focused on high quality, and the owner is a great guy who really truly cares about the boards he's selling.
I visited their workshop last year and got to see some of the stuff they're working on. These guys are true innovators.
I personally ride an E-Glide 42. I'd prefer a smaller board, maybe a 36", but the 42" is the smallest one you can get with the big battery pack. Make sure to buy the Goodyear tires; they're expensive, but worth every penny for the smooth ride.
Check out the boards at E-Glide or Altered (not linking to them because they have lied to me before and I don't vouch for them).
And last, here's a cool video of both brands: