This year, I have decided to experiment with an electric skateboard to solve the “Last Mile Commute Problem”. Step one is picking my first electric skateboard. There are lots of resources for learning about these devices. You can read Reddit, lots of videos on Youtube, vendor pages and generally search the Internet for reviews and opinions. The first thing I learned is that electric skateboards have been around for a long time. Even with this long history the technology is rapidly evolving. The second thing I learned is that there is no perfect all-around solution for everyone. Each board has good and less good stuff about it.
My first decision I realized was to determine if I wanted to go the DIY route. Seems fun but not at this time for me. That sent me evaluating production boards. The next interesting tidbit was that there are lots of boards manufactured from Chinese parts. It is easy to buy a complete board from a Chinese company, or you can buy a Chinese board that has been marketed by an American company, just for a significant markup. Some of these boards were compelling. However, in the end I wanted a board that would come with good customer service from a company that was clearly trying to build a brand and move the technology forward.
Next up I had to figure out what traits were important to me when I was evaluating boards. This boiled down to range, speed, weight, ease of use and reliability. The downside of my EUC is that it is difficult to get started going uphill if you don’t have something to hold onto. My EUC is 25 pounds and you do not want to carry that for long distances. After the EUC experience I knew I wanted to get under the 25 pound mark. My ride is only about 2 miles each way and I can charge the board at the office. I also know that I’d like to go on longer rides on the weekend so I was looking for something in the neighborhood of 12 miles of range. I do not need the fastest board, but I also do not want the slowest board. I assume I will get more and more comfortable and be able to increase my speed as I do. I wanted a remote that had smooth acceleration and braking and had a reliable connection. This was how I began to evaluate boards.
I wound up with three interesting boards. First, the Boosted Board, which seem to be very common and it is a US company out of the Bay Area. Second, was the Evolve Carbon or GTX. They have a US distributor for an Australian company. Finally, I was very intrigued by the One Wheel. This is from another US company out of Santa Cruz and the board embodies the snowboard/surfboard style. Boosted Boards are available at several shops in town. They have had a great marketing campaign and several YouTube VLogers have made them famous, especially Casey Neistat. The Boosted comes in around 15 pounds, 7 mile range, 22 mph top speed and reviews all claim it is one of the most user friendly boards and remotes. The range was the only negative on this board, but if I can charge it at the office maybe this is not such a big deal. Price for the board around $1400.
The Evolve boards have an all-terrain wheel option which is compelling given all the cracks and bumps in the pavement on my way to the train. The boards come in around 21 pounds for the all-terrain option, 17 pounds for street. They have an amazing range of 18-31 miles depending on the wheels you are running. A top speed in the 22-26 mph area. The remote is reportedly twitchy especially in GT mode. Their v1 remote had an issue dropping the connection to the board quite often. That is supposed to have been fixed by the v2 remote that boards ship with now. I like Evolve because they appear to be innovating and the option of street or all-terrain would be nice. Price for the 2 in 1 Evolve Carbon $2160.
Finally, the One Wheel is not exactly a skateboard. There is no remote, it looks more like a balance board with a large wheel. I have watched a guy in our neighborhood rip on one and it looks fun. The original One Wheel has a 5-7 mile range, the new model claims 12-18 miles. Top speed of 12 mph and no remote to deal with, your body is the remote. This one will have a learning curve since it is another self-balancing device, but you ride it much the same as you ride a snowboard so that makes sense to me. However, it rolls in at 25 pounds and looks like it might be more awkward to carry than my EUC and I anticipate some similar hill start issues, or maybe not. The One Wheel come in at $1500 to $1800 depending on the version you get.
Well that is it, I narrowed it down to three and finally picked one of these. Which would you pick? Next time we will unbox my new board and then see if an old guy can learn to ride one of these and eventually commute on it.