The Winter Eskater’s Guide to Jackets

It’s that time of year again folks.

North America is beginning to ice over, the days are getting darker and shorter, and the majority of eskaters are packing it in and getting tucked into their computer chairs, preparing to argue with each other on Reddit for the next 5 months.

(Yes, this is where I live and yes, I did ride that day)

This is also the time of year when the hardy among us get in some of the most intense, exciting, fun, and at times, serene rides of our lives. I am a staunch advocate for eskating in the winter time. There is something strangely satisfying about floating down the street on my EUC alongside banks of snow, while surrounded by Christmas lights, with the smell of a wood fire lingering in my helmet.

Of course, this is not possible with your run-of-the-mill outfit. The clothing required for winter riding must be as specialized, hardy and deliberate as the brave men and women who choose to ride in these conditions.

Seeing as this is my third winter commuting in New England snow, I figured it was about time that I begin to share some of the knowledge that I have gained over the past couple of seasons. It’s tough enough to ride along through the cold nights of winter, so let me try to make that journey a little less cold, and lonely, by sharing my experiences with winter gear so that you can learn from my mistakes and excel from my successes (and look at that sweet, sweet gear porn)

(Boston rider “Ghost” was happy to snap his winter load-out for our guide)

To kick-off the guide, I will start by talking about the core of every winter warrior’s arsenal, the jacket. But not to worry! In future weeks, we will go on to tackle the topics of gloves, shoes, pants, and head-wear.

The Jacket


(Rarely captured footage of the NYC eskate crew voguing) 

I have seen winter eskaters in all manner of jackets, from the thin flexible Columbia fleece, to the giant Canada Goose Arctic Expedition parka.

For the purposes of this guide, I will try to call out the features that I find make the best eskate jacket, rather than the particular models of jacket that I recommend (though I will give some specific recommendations as well).

The Must-Have List:

The perfect eskate jacket should have the following features:

-Cuts wind
-Insulates you to keep warm (down is key here)
-Covers and seals at your neck
-Covers some of your upper leg
-Resists abrasion if (god forbid) you take a digger on some stone-cold asphalt
-Is waterproof

Since wearing a full-face helmet is one of the easiest ways to keep your head warm during cold weather riding, a hooded jacket is not necessary, and may even get in your way unnecessarily. I personally recommend looking to cold-weather motorcycle and snowmobiling jackets for eskate purposes. These jackets typically feature warm, wind-proof design with a tight fit around the neck, and occasionally have some armor built in as well.

Baby, are you down, down, down, down, down.

With regards to warmth, down is king. Pound-for-pound, down is warmer than synthetic material, which means that less can be used to keep you warm. This means a jacket filled with down will be warmer than if the same amount of synthetic insulation were used and allows you to be lighter and less bulky on your commute.

Some things to keep in mind:

-If your jacket features flaps on the side of the hood with buttons on them (such as in the above image), they will flap against the side of your helmet at speeds over 20 mph and drive you insane. Ask me how I know.

Some motorcycle jacket manufacturers *ahem* Revzilla *cough* insist on adding these, non-removable, “features” to their motorcycle jackets, so it is important to keep an eye out for these flaps when purchasing a jacket online or in-store.

-If your jacket has tight fitting or bulky cuffs, you may be unable to comfortably fit gauntlet-style gloves into/over them. Typically sizing up your jacket from what you normally buy will prevent this issue (and leave you some room for additional base layers.

-Days get shorter in the winter, so you may find yourself riding in darker conditions more often. Choosing a coat in a brighter color, or finding a model with reflective piping can be the difference between a driver seeing you on a dark roadway or not.

My Recs:

I have had particularly good luck with the following jackets:

The Fly Racing Snow Outpost Jacket

This jacket features a very warm, snow-mobile centric design that keeps wind out, particularly well at the neck, and features reflective piping and bright colors that will make you stand out like THE GODDAMN SUN when car headlights hit you. No, I am not exaggerating, this jacket makes you look like a part of an EDM festival at night, and remains quite visible during the day (at least in the bright orange color that I chose).

It also features reinforced seams as well as reinforced panels to prevent wear from (it’s like they made this for eskating) backpack straps, as well as on the elbows and forearms. This jacket also has one of the best collars for eskaters that I have had the pleasure of using. It comes up nice and high to meet the bottom of your helmet, and features insulation all the way to the edge of the collar. This ensures that your neck is toasty warm and that pesky, cold winter air has even less space to get in. I ride with this jacket into 10-20 degree fahrenheit conditions without issue.

The Land’s End Expedition Winter Parka

When winter gets REALLY cold, I always find myself turning to this coat. With a temperature rating from -34° to -5° Fahrenheit, a 100% waterproof shell with seam-sealing, and 600 fill power down with a downproof quilted lining, this jacket is a godsend. The 100% nylon shell ensures that it will stand the test of time and abrasions that you might run into on the road. The ample pockets ensure that you have room for all of your eskate gizmos and gadgets (I hardly ever need to bring a backpack along with this jacket).

All of these features are great, but one of the best features of this jacket is its optional “Tall” cut. I HIGHLY recommend that you get this jacket in a “Tall”, unless you are fairly short, as it extends the bottom of the jacket to cover some of the user’s upper leg as well. One of the biggest problems with riding at-speed in the winter is wind-chill, and the part of your body that will feel this the most, from my experience, is the front of your thighs. Having a jacket that can cover up this key vulnerability is an invaluable tool for an eskater, and a feature that makes this jacket the core of my winter arsenal

TL;DR

Get a coat that:

  • Is long/large enough to make room for layers and covers your waist
  • Is abrasion resistant
  • Blocks wind
  • Is waterproof
  • Has goose down for maximum warmth
  • Covers your neck and seals tightly to prevent wind egress
  • Has bright colors and/or reflectors for nighttime visibility
  • Does not have the “hood flaps of doom”

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on winter commuter gear. Feel free to comment on this article with your favorite pieces of winter gear and I will make sure to include them in the guide.

Until next time, stay warm out there skaters!

The MaxFind Max 2 – Dual Review

When you look at the MaxFind Max 2, you may be struck by its appearance. This board looks more like a piece of stolen alien technology or a prototype government aircraft than it looks like a skateboard. The all-black diamond-cut fiberglass deck is sleek, sexy and utterly smooth to the touch, and the grip tape is…not there.

Instead of traditional grip tape, MaxFind has elected to have their board’s riding surface comprised of a synthetic PVC material.

After riding it for a couple of weeks, I am confident in its ability to hold you to the board for light cruising. I would not take this board into a downhill race or attempt to do any slides with just this material for grip, but for fair-weather commuting, it should do the job while avoiding scuffing your favorite pair of sneaks.

While we are looking at the exterior of this board, get a look at THESE:

To keep up with the prototype aircraft aesthetic, it appears that MaxFind have elected to bolt two jet turbines to the back of their latest board. I have to admit that even I was a little intimidated by these formidable hub motors. It is worth noting that this particular model runs 90mm wheels, and it seems that a good 80mm of them is taken up by these enormous cheese-grater vents.

This all makes sense when you take size of the dual 1000w motors into effect. Motors like this need to be kept cool, and in order to keep cool they need to breathe, and breathe, they do! I was able to find a (long) bike path and run this board at full speed for nearly 2 minutes at 21mph without experiencing a reduction in speed. (MaxFind advertises this board’s max speed as 23mph, but I found the top speed to be a bit lower with my 190-pound frame on it.)

The big vents in the wheels should not be a problem for water intrusion however, as the board is IP65 waterproof. I was concerned about water getting into the hub motors when I first got the board, but was assured that the motors are fully encased inside the wheels. This seems to be the case, as I have not had an issue with moisture yet, despite riding this board on several wet days and this awesome bit of footy released by the manufacturer:

(Note: I do not condone trying to empty your home pool with this board.)

While looking at the beefy motors, your eye might also be drawn to the equally beefy trucks. I have to admit that these cast trucks look GOOD. The stealth black, sharp angles and geometry reminiscent of Caliber make for a seriously impressive truck, and I haven’t managed to snap or even really dent mine yet, so it looks like they can really take some abuse!

MaxFind could really benefit from some in-house skater expertise though. When my review unit arrived in the mail, the trucks were tight and unresponsive. After a quick switch up of the stock bushings (dead and reboundless), I had the MaxFind turning a bit better. I hesitate to make this setup more carvy, as the 90mm wheels are definitely a risk for wheelbite, one of my biggest skateboarding demons. Luckily, the unique shape of the MaxFind deck gives you some wheel-wells to help avoid this particular problem.

This is probably a good spot to talk about the ride. Right off the bat, I noticed that this board feels like it is geared HIGH. For those of you that do not drive manual cars, this means that the board has less torque at lower speeds, and achieves a higher top speed. I vastly prefer this type of ride to boards that have jerky low-speed acceleration *cough* WinBoard *cough* as it allows for a much smoother takeoff, and a higher cruising speed.

Once you fix the trucks, this board carves well, and rides really smooth on the huge 90mm wheels. I found myself really enjoying light carving, even at higher speeds, though the lack of concave on the deck was a little unsettling. I chalk this more to my downhill background than anything, I know that people have been beach cruising on pin-tails for a long time and carving without concave since before I was born.  

Speaking of board feeling, this board feels LIGHT! At 13.6 pounds, this bad boy comes in even lighter than its Meepo and Boosted counterparts. I loved having this board as my commuting buddy for a couple weeks, as it was exceedingly easy to jump on a bus, train, or up a flight of stairs without too much hassle. I will often not bring an eskate or EUC into the city when I am meeting up with Muggle (non-riding) friends, as I know that I will be schlepping whatever I rode around with me all day. This was not the case with the MaxFind, as it was easy enough to pop under my arm and walk around with.

NOTE: Before closing out this interview, I am compelled to note that the reports of support for MaxFind’s customers have been…sketchy to say the least. We have had multiple reports to EskateHQ of customers who have reached out to MaxFind about issues with their boards, only to be met radio silence. I did not have an issue with my board over the 3 weeks that I tested it, but the lack of support is something that should be taken into effect when making a purchase decision.

The SoloWheel Glide 3 Review: An E-Skater’s Thoughts After 200 Miles

Introduction

Hey eskate squad! It’s been a while since my last article, but fear not! The wait is over. Tons of you have been messaging me asking for updates to my One Wheel adventures. It HAS been a while since the 300 mile review, and I am happy to report that I have wracked up ~1,000 miles between my One Wheel Plus and XR, but today I would like to discuss something a little bit different. Allow me to introduce you to the SoloWheel Glide 3, and outline my love affair with this little one-wheeled beauty.

For those of you who are new to my content, my eskate journey has been interesting. I started off as a sponsored downhill skateboarder in 2011, purchased my first One Wheel in 2017, and since then I have ridden tons of different boards of all shapes and sizes. My love affair with single wheels has always persisted however, and whenever the going got rough, I would always reach for my trusty Plus to get me to work.

All of that changed when I received my Glide 3 review unit.

…well, not at first.

Out-of-the-box this wheel is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to ride unless you have prior experiences with unicycles. I assumed that my vast experience with skateboards and One Wheels would give me an advantage.

I was wrong.

Learning to Ride

I spent the first 5 hours of my Glide 3 ownership in the parking garage at my workplace, precariously rolling forwards 2-3 feet at a time. After 3 or so hours, I was able to ride through the garage with relatively few incidents, and after a total of 5 hours, I felt comfortable enough to take the wheel out on the open roads of Cambridge.

One of the first major differences I noticed between the Glide 3 and the One Wheel is that the Glide 3 does NOT stay still. If you are not constantly rolling forwards, you will lose your balance and have to step off. At red lights, where I used to roll back and forth on my OW, I now have to dismount, or ride as slowly as possible and wait for the light to change. That being said, dismounting and remounting can be quite hard until you have the practice. It was about 2 weeks before I wasn’t making a complete arse of myself when the lights turned green.

Pro-Tip: Set the neutral angle of your EUC in the app to tilt forwards slightly (not as much as in the picture above). I found that this helped with comfort when maintaining speed. No one wants to feel like their wheel is pushing them over backwards while riding.

Ride Quality

Once you are comfortable on them, EUCs ride like a dream. They are super maneuverable, very stable at speed, and offer a fairly comfortable riding position that allows you to use your knees to absorb any bumps or potholes that the roads might throw at you. When I was still in my first couple of weeks on the wheel, I experienced a very unsettling oscillation  when exceeding 10 mph, which was very reminiscent of ‘speed wobble” on a skateboard. This ended up not being a problem once I relaxed my body a little bit and built up the muscles needed to keep the unit stable (also much like dealing with speed wobble).

Once through the initial learning stages of riding, I found myself continually surprised by what this wheel could do. Curb-drops were no problem, the large, 16-inch tire eats up the bumps and vibrations of road riding, and off-roading was easy!

The 800W motor, combined with the low ride height and centered weight of the rider, makes for a truly confidence-inspiring riding experience. Even after 1,000 miles on One Wheels, I still always feel like I am walking a thin line between cruising at a high speed and nose-diving into a potentially serious injury. Conversely, you really have to work hard to get the Glide 3 to set off its warning alarm (GREAT feature. Take notes Future Motion) and even then, I have never felt in danger of getting dumped by the wheel.

The performance numbers on the Glide 3 are also amazing. With a cruising speed of 18.6 mph, and 24 miles of range on a single charge, all in a sleek and sexy 30-pound unit, there are few other personal electric vehicles (PEVs) that can even TRY to compete with the Glide 3. At the $900 price-point, there are none that even come close.

Power

Power delivery is smooth and consistent, inspiring confidence at all speeds, but there is something to be said for the significant voltage sag that occurs once the Glide 3 reaches ~60% of its battery capacity. On longer rides, I have found myself limited to a cruising speed of around 15 mph after about 5 miles have passed. While this doesn’t sound too bad, it can be quite annoying when you are on group ride and have to keep up with a large pack of Boosted boards cruising at 18.

Range

Currently it is pretty cold in Boston, so I had to do my 100%-0% range test in 40 degree temperatures. I have no doubt that this, along with my 185 pound body, impacted the battery life, but I was still able to squeeze 16.5 miles out of the Glide 3 before it kicked me off for dangerously low battery. InMotion advertises “30 miles of total freedom” but I think that this claim might be a bit of a stretch. Certainly a lighter rider, cruising at 15 mph in a more temperate climate might be able to stretch that range a bit better than I did, but 16.5 is still a far cry from 30.

Usability

This is where the Glide 3 really shines. I have never encountered an electric board that has integrated itself into my daily commute so well! For the sake of keeping this simple, I have divided this section into several different categories:

The Handle

Image result for glide 3 handle

Holy mother of eskate, this is the single best feature that I have ever encountered on a device that I have reviewed. The one thing that SUCKS about commuting on any sort of PEV is lugging that huge piece of technology up stairs, into trains and buses, and then into your place of work/home. I am by no means in bad shape, and I cannot STAND lugging my 30-pound One Wheel more than a couple of blocks. Boosted boards also have a large footprint and I cannot even imagine what it takes to get a Kaly build or LaCroix up a flight of stairs.

The Glide 3 features a telescoping handle, much like you would find on your airport luggage, that allows you to guide the wheel around with ease. The handle allows you to engage the internal motor on the Glide 3 which takes all of the strain out of pushing or pulling it to your destination. Simply tilt the handle in the direction that you would like to go, and the internal motor takes care of the rest.

The Looks

With the handle extended and the LEDs turned off, the Glide 3 has all of the appeal of a slick piece of rolling luggage. I have been allowed into bars and clubs that have denied me access because I had my One Wheel or skateboard in-tow simply because the Glide 3 looks like it BELONGS.

I thought I got a lot of interest when I carried the One Wheel around, but I was wrong. Since bringing the Glide 3 on my daily commute I have spoken with all sorts of people. “What is that thing?” is a refrain I have heard so many times at this point, that I have a whole pre-scripted explanation ready. I have even had older gentlemen in suits stop me in the elevator to ask about the elegantly designed Glide 3 on a daily basis.

One you put the handle down, and turn on the side LEDs and front headlight, you go from a sleek and sexy Batmobile to a rolling discotek. Where most eskates require several aftermarket installed lights to stay visible at night, but the Glide 3 has everything that you need to be seen from all angles at night pre-installed. There are also additional patterns you can set in the app!

(The lights also have the side effect of drawing college students and homeless people to you like moths to a flame, so be mindful of this when operating your Glide 3.)

The headlight itself is also quite serviceable up to about 7 feet in front of you. This is enough to spot most obstacles in your way at lowers speeds, but I would like a little more light when I am trucking along at 18 mph on the dark, notoriously crappy streets of Boston.

The Size

At 30 pounds, the Glide 3 is not the smallest wheel out there, but its slim profile and fold-able footpads make it shrink down to the size of a standard bicycle wheel in seconds. Even in a crowded rush-hour train, I can easily fit the Glide 3 between my feet. When I get into the office, I can hide it easily under my desk, and at the bar, it sits nicely under my chair.

(This is my preferred hiding spot for the SoloWheel in a crowded rush-hour train)

The Waterproofing

Unlike all but the most expensive eskates, the Glide 3 comes with an IP55 waterproof rating, meaning that it is rated to withstand jets of water. This, combined with the enclosed design that keeps spray from the wheel off of your backside, makes it an ideal commuter for wet or rainy days. Unlike my One Wheel, which seems to erratically shut off every once-in-a-while when riding in the wet, the Glide 3 has been nothing but perfect in the 200 miles that I have logged on it. In fact, I get tired of being wet long before the wheel does. It is now my go-to choice for bad weather, though I have not yet ridden it in the snow.

(At the tail end of my “Torrential downpour test.” Expect my Glide 3 snow-ride review to drop sometime in January…)

PSYCH, it snowed RIGHT  before this review went up, and boy did it snow a TON. Cars were stuck all over Boston when this unexpected 4 inches of wet and slippery snow hit us. Naturally, being the crazy person I am, I decided to take the Glide 3 up the 10% grade hill that I normally use to test hill climbing power at the height of the snow storm.

As you can see from the photo evidence, I was able to make it up most of the hill before sliding out at lower speed. The next day, I took the Glide 3 out in the settled (less wet) snow and it performed admirably. This is absolutely my new go-to choice for snowy weather and actually amazed me with its performance. Most cars would not have been able to make it up that hill during snow that heavy, but the Glide 3 made a fairly easy time of it.

Durability

You would think that with its gorgeous design and mainly plastic body that the Glide 3 would be a pretty fragile machine. You would be wrong. My review unit has been crashed, slid countless times, even been hit by a car, and so far has only sustained cosmetic scrapes. Not a single part of the wheel has broken or malfunctioned in over 200 miles. If having a scraped up shell bothers you, you can always buy a replacement one for $25. In fact, you can buy almost any replacement cosmetic parts that you need on the InMotion website.

If you don’t believe me, check out when InMotion went to the Braille house and absolutely beat the stuffing out of these machines.

This is one of my favorite pieces of eskate content out there, and a great testament to the abuse that these machines can take. (My contacts at InMotion told me that they only had to replace the plastic covers on the units used in the Braille video before they were 100% good-to-go again!)

The App

Everyone has a weakness right? Superman has kryptonite, Aussies have Vegemite and Metallica made St. Anger. Unfortunately, the Glide 3’s Achilles’ heel comes in the form of the InMotion app. This app is such a garbage-fire, that I have decided to air my grievances in the form of a bulleted list.

The InMotion app is guilty of the following:

  • Showing me the TOS and making me agree to it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I start the app.
  • Featuring a weirdly gamified social aspect that seems to reward proprietary currency when you complete items listed in the “Task Center” (fun!).
  • Having a VERY inaccurate range estimator that starts at 30 and appears to tick down at pre-set increments of battery capacity, with no regard for rider weight or prior power consumption. If I relied on this app function to plan my rides, I would have been stranded a LOT.
  • Resetting my top-speed limit to 14 mph within SECONDS of me setting it to 18 mph.
  • Having some very hard-to-understand English that could be fixed by a quick once-over by a native speaker

If InMotion can boil the app down to the important stuff: setting lights, top speed, ambient tilt, showing speed/range, then this is an easy fix, but as it stands now, the app is barely functional. I have heard from other EUC riders, that this is one of the better apps in the industry and I believe it, but it is worth mentioning that third party apps like DarknessBot are the accepted standard if you buy a EUC from a major manufacturer. 

Conclusion

I hope you guys are in the mood to see a lot more EUC content because I do not plan to stop riding my Glide 3 anytime soon. The great range, functionality, and durability offered by this product make it the perfect choice for my commute, and as the days get colder, we will really be able to see how it performs in adverse conditions. I love my Glide 3, and I am certain that other people will too. The only problem standing in the way of the massive popularity of these machines is the pretty large learning curve that goes into riding one. If you can get past the initial 3-5 hour investment, I think you will find this machine as one of the best options for mid-to-long commutes, and one of the easiest PEVs to use in your day-to-day life.

Fun Fact: The “hands-free” nature of the Glide 3 means that you can hold an umbrella while riding it! I used this advanced strategy to keep my body dry while flying to work in less-than-perfect conditions!

If you are interested in buying a Glide 3 or other InMotion products, I have wrangled a special coupon code “DFR10” that you can use at checkout on the myinmotion.com website for 10% off of your order!

The WINboard Lynx Challenge Launch Review

“WINboard? Never heard of it” was what I told my editor when I was told I would be reviewing a new full-carbon fiber eskate a month ago. He quickly educated me that WINboard is a company that has been around for a while and actually has a history in the eskating game, helping to produce parts for boards like the Predator Banshee, Haloboard, and Louboard for a couple of years now.

“Alright, I am a sucker for carbon fiber, send it along.” was my response, and then a week or so later, I was greeted by this crazy little guy at my doorstep, I knew almost instantly that we would be friends.

EskateHQ readers, meet the Lynx Challenge. The faster, big-brother of a new lineup of eskates being released by WINboard this month.

The Looks:

The Lynx has perhaps the sexiest look of any eskate that I have had the pleasure of reviewing. The unibody carbon fibre deck is a sight to behold, and the stylized covers on the in-hub motors, along with the gorgeous grip tape has made this board stand out from the pack. I have even had reactions from non-skaters who are quick to call out what a sexy hunk of carbon fiber this board is.

(WINboard also sent me a gorgeous second option for grip-tape that featured a lot more purple. I am saving it for when I ruin my first roll.)

 

The short, rigid deck, set up on 90mm stealth-black wheels truly makes the Lynx look unlike any other board out there. And while this particular setup has its drawbacks, it is surprisingly rideable as a high-speed city commuter.

The full carbon fibre deck also makes this board very light, and extremely easy to bring on board the bus or train. I was able to commute to the train and then simply pop the board between my legs and stand over it, even in a packed rush-hour car load of people. The Lynx is an ideal size and weight for a city commuter who is always on the go.

The Remote:

The remote is light and feels very cheap in the hand, but allows for good control and has a ton of useful information right on the tiny screen. After riding the Lynx for a couple of week, my remote is not too broken up, but I have had the wrist strap slide right out of the little notch, which appears to not connect all the way through. These are all acceptable problems for a budget board to have, but would also be an easy fix for WINboard.

The coolest thing about the remote (besides the dope display) is the fact that it has a forward/reverse toggle. I may be newer to the eskate game, but I had a ton of fun shooting the board away from me and then shifting it into reverse and having it come running back. Kind of a stupid feature, I know, but still something that a potential buyer should know!

The Performance:

This board has some POWER. Two 1500 Watts is a lot of power, and bolting these two powerful hub motors onto a small, rigid deck really puts that power into perspective. I was able to take the board up to 27 mph (44 kph) pretty regularly over the time I spent testing it and it still felt solid as a rock. We are used to seeing companies over-promise when it comes to top speed and range on their boards, but in WINboard’s case, they have underestimated what their board is capable of by listing its top speed as 25 mph.

This power was difficult to manage at lower speeds however, as the board was a little jerky in starting and stopping. I have most of my riding experience with Boosted boards and One Wheels, so I know that I am a bit spoiled in regards to smooth acceleration and deceleration, but it took me a couple of days to really get used to (and brace for) the power that the Lynx puts out when you push on the throttle.

The remote has 4 riding modes that you can toggle on-the-fly:

My brand-new friends enjoyed learning the board on S and then would graduate to M after a couple of rides. My mode of choice was mode H which gave me access to all of the speed that the board had to offer, but calmed down the crazy accel and decel that the Lynx was capable of.

The H+ mode was like letting a rabid cat out of its cage. It “thrusted” very quickly from a stop or slow push and was a challenge to stay on under partial throttle or hard braking. More veteran eskaters might be able to handle it, but it has the same top speed as H, so why risk it? As a rider, flow is very important to me, and running my board in a mode that ruins that flow, just so I can have more power on-hand, is counter-productive.

It should be said that setting up this board for deep carves and tight turns is nearly impossible. Due to the nature of the 90mm wheels mounted over the short sop-mounted deck, it is very easy to get wheel-bite. WINboard has taken this into effect and shipped the board with a very rigid setup that does not bite, but after taking the board into my laboratory and attempting to replace the trucks and bushings to get some lean out of the damn thing, I found myself getting wheel-bite almost immediately.

(In the end, I ended up swapping out the bushings and front truck for a Paris 180mm, also adding some Shredlights (use discount code “EskateHQ” for 25% off!) to decrease some of our “Stealth” factor during night riding.)

I would recommend that inexperienced skateboard builders keep the board in its stock, not-turny, setup unless you are willing to dance with death every now and then and know how to avoid biting on hard turns (I still have not mastered this and ate total shit on a sidewalk in Boston at 1 AM….such is life as a skater).

The Stats:

For the price, this board’s stats are insane:

With a higher top speed and the same range as a Boosted Stealth for around half of the price, the Lynx is an amazing eskate for the money. Add to that the awesome form factor of the small size and light-weight, and you have one amazing deal. It is also worth noting that the board is IP65 waterproof (I took mine out in the rain a lot!) and perfectly shaped to keep the rider dry above-deck.

As with all untested brands, time will tell on the quality of the Lynx, but based on my couple of weeks riding, and beating the hell out of mine, it should stand the test of time. The board has all of the indicators of a manufacturer who cares about quality, from the redundant waterproofing measures on the battery wires, to the spacers used in the wheels.

The one concerning feature I noticed when taking my review copy apart was the fact that the front truck was not quite symmetrical. I found myself unable to get the provided skate tool around the mounting bolt on the underside of the front truck because it was closer to the center than the other bolts.

This indicates that the QA for the trucks might not be the best, and while we have had a recent spate of truck failures in the eskate community this concerning, but the rest of the board appeared rock-solid.

Conclusion:

If you are looking for an eskate that out-performs a boosted board at nearly half of the cost and can deal with slightly less-smooth starting and stopping, this is the board for you. The carbon fiber looks amazing, the speed and range are some of the best-in-class and its small enough to fit in a locker. I am honestly considering buying another so that I can teach more people how accessible and fun eskating is.

The entire Lynx line goes on sale from WINboardUSA on August 18th, and the boards will be on sale at launch for $829 with an extended 1-year warranty (if purchased on launch date)! Definitely worth a pickup if you need a fast, sexy little commuter. Be sure to use coupon code “EskateHQ” at checkout to get a free grip tape eraser, extra roll of grip tape and extra red bones bearings. Additionally, 5% of all orders on launch day will get their boards for free (I have no idea how this works, but it sounds really cool so I wanted to include it here.)

Wanna learn more about the other Winboards?

Lynx Infinity Review – By Samuel James

Winboard Panther Review

Click to enlarge

 

The Mellow Drive Review: Gliding into a New Era for Eskating

When we talk about eskates, we hear about a lot of companies coming out of California, and China. We do not often think about Germany, a country where eskating is illegal, but with a rich history of technical innovation and precision engineering. One company has taken on the mission to apply the German mindset to eskating, and have created a product that is truly as refined and precise as one would expect.

The Mellow is an eskate notorious in the community for its high price. At $2,299.95, the Mellow Drive is one of the most expensive bolt-on kits that money can buy, but is it worth the high price tag? I spent some time commuting-on, racing, and generally abusing the heck out of my Mellow Drive to find the answer to that question.

First, let’s get the tech specs out of the way.

The Board

The Mellow Drive is an Eskate bolt-on kit that replaces the rear trucks of any skateboard with two 1000 Watt hub-driven motors, turning it into a fully-functional eskate. It boasts a top speed of 25 mph, in “pro mode”, with a range of 6 miles, or a top speed of 15 mph with a range of 9 miles in “eco” mode.

The kit features acceleration and regenerative braking controlled by a remote that is a bit different from your standard eskate controller.

Unlike controller “wheels” that you roll forwards or backwards with your thumb, the Mellow features a proprietary “sliding” action that takes some getting used to. In order to accelerate, you slide the top portion of the remote away from you, and to slow down, you slide it back towards you. The method of control does take some getting used to, and I have sometimes found myself crossing some wires in my brain and accelerating when I meant to start braking.

Needless to say, having the board perform the opposite action than that which the rider intends can get quite dangerous, so Mellow have instituted a top speed limitation of 15 mph as a safety measure on new drives until a user has logged 18 miles on the board as well as several other cool safety features:

“The Mellow Remote does not have a classic dead man’s switch but a set of other features in order to have increased safety even without the switch.
  1. Push Start. The mellow board will not start from a standing stop but the rider has to push to start in order to engage the motorsThis is critical to avoid the board shooting of by accident and either hurting other or getting damaged itself by shooting into rolling traffic.
  1. The “Run Away Blocker” monitors the acceleration within the first 5s of skating. This functionality monitors the wheel speed increase and decides whether there is a rider on the board or the board is running of alone. If there is no rider on the board the wheels rev up at a ways higher rate (read – the board shoots of). If this is detected then the board will beep twice and apply 10% breaking power. Enough to stop the board after 1-2m but not enough to knock of a rider. After 5s of riding the system is switched of so there is no interference while i.e. jumping off curbs and revving wheels due to that.
  2. Emergency braking. In case of a loss of BT-Connection between the remote controller and the drive (i.e. because the remote has not been charged in a while) the drive will run a emergency braking sequence by gradually applying the brakes. It starts with 10% and slowly goes up to 100% braking to bring the rider to a full stop. You can test this by switching off the remote while riding. After about 3s the drive will start braking automatically.”

Unorthodox design aside, the Mellow remote SCREAMS quality. With a matte finished front that features bright LED’s that indicate your board battery level and riding mode, it is easy to quickly take in relevant information about your board in an instant, in even the brightest conditions. The back of the remote features grippy rubber, which is particularly useful for retaining the fine control needed to execute precision remote-sliding maneuvers at high speeds or on bumpy terrain.

The one thing that every eskate remote should have that the Mellow remote lacks in its simplicity, is a deadman’s switch. I always tell myself, “you are an experienced eskater, you won’t have THIS board go running off on you.” which is generally followed by said board zooming off from under my foot at max speed into traffic, while I watch, dismayed. The Mellow was no exception in this regard, and is powerful enough to easily jump right out from under your foot if you apply pressure to the remote accidentally (as I did while skating with some stuff in my hands.)

I have noticed a slight sticking on my remote that does not allow it to return to perfect “neutral” in the center position, but this may be due to the fact that I have fallen onto the remote before, and scuffed up the plastic. This is a very minor issue that is not dangerous and rarely impacts my ride, but it is worth mentioning.

While we are on the topic of quality, MELLOW. HECKING. SLAYS. IT. Everything from the box it comes in:

(look at this beautiful box and board! It is even designed with steps in mind to guide you through the unboxing process.)

To the online learning support:

And the literature included:

In all of these regards, Mellow goes entirely above-and-beyond anything else that I have seen in the eskate scene. If there is one thing that I hope other eskate companies take away from Mellow, it is this extremely high standard for quality parts, online support, and usability.

One aspect of Mellow as a company that I LOVE, is their commitment to skater education. Even if you don’t own a Mellow, I would urge all skaters to check out their “Mellow School” videos that teach valuable skills that any eskater should know, particularly:

Emergency Stopping

Eboard Stances

Safety Tips

These videos are created by real skaters and highlight a lot of the lessons that many eskaters have had to learn the hard way (they even slide a board under-power in the emergency stopping video in a pretty gnarly slow-mo shot).

This attention to detail is also reflected in the drive itself. The battery feels solid, well-designed and easy to snap into and out of the drive. It and the mount are encased in rubber and dampening foam which help solve the issue that most bolt-on kits have, incessant amounts of rattling. Another cool feature on the Mellow battery is a small port that allows you to use the battery as a power-bank for your devices. I haven’t utilized this particular feature yet, but it seems like a great way to charge a remote or cellphone in a pinch!

(Pardon my dirt, had to test the water-proofing…)

All cables on the Mellow are recessed into the a specially-designed channel in the trucks that gives the drive a very clean look and ensures your cables wont get caught or rub on anything.

The Mellow is actually pretty indistinguishable from a regular skateboard if you overlook the small black box that is mounted on the bottom. Add this to the fact that the drive itself is IP65 waterproof, which means it is splash, water jet and dust resistant, and you have yourself a very robust commuter! I tested the waterproofing claims in-depth (literally deep puddles) and in the rain and found them to perform as-advertised.

Operation is easy. Simply snap the battery into the drive, click its big button, turn on your remote, and you are good to go. You can even easily snap in another battery in seconds once your first one runs out.

(my typical commute involved bringing my two batteries with me and snapping another one in after 5ish miles of aggressive riding had drained the first one)

The board is so user-friendly, it’s crazy. The closest analogy that I can think of is; its like if Apple designed an eskate, it’s so simple to use that a monkey could ride it. To test this theory, I lent the board to my roommate without any explanation and she found she was able to ride it in minutes without any prior skateboarding experience, besides one hiccough that also got me, the rolling start.

Unlike other eskates, the Mellow will not work from a complete stop. It has been designed to only allow a user to accelerate after the board has already begun rolling. I will admit, I thought that I had a defective unit for about an hour until I did my research and discovered that the Mellow requires you to push a couple of times before you can engage the drive.

This serves two purposes:

  1. It eliminates jerky starts where a user must apply a lot of power with their remote in order to overcome the moment of inertia for their mass. These starts rarely look graceful on other boards and, let’s be honest, you should all be pushing into your accelerations anyway. I understand that we, as eskaters, are not the biggest fans of physical work, but we can all afford to push once or twice at the start of our journey.
  2. It saves a lot of power, thus extending range. As I mentioned above, a lot of engine torque must be applied to overcome the moment of inertia for an eskater and their board. All it takes to save a large amount of that energy, is to give the board small push and start rolling before you apply throttle.

Since I have started testing the Mellow, I have incorporated rolling starts into my eskate routine with ALL of my boards, and I have found that my quality of life, and my range have increased as a result. Enough about the specs and the tech, let’s talk about…

THE RIDE

When they named the Mellow, they did a good job. The first thing you notice when you apply the remote and begin sliding forwards is just how damn SMOOTH it is. Acceleration and braking don’t come on suddenly or surge, and feel almost uncanny in the way that they carry you forwards, almost like a gust of wind or wave that carries you along. It also helps that the board is very, very quiet. After riding the Mellow for a couple of months and jumping on my Boosted, I was surprised by the loud whine of the belts and turning of the motors. The Mellow, by contrast, is almost silent…almost too silent in fact. I often find myself startling people as I pass them, a problem that I never had on my Boosted.

When the board is new, it is limited to a measly 15 mph which isn’t very exciting. Once the full, 25 mph top speed is unlocked, the Mellow really starts to spread its wings. I have a lot of boards in my stable currently, but when I have to get somewhere in a hurry, I always grab the Mellow. For my typical, pothole ridden, bumpy, city-riding commute, 25 mph is plenty of speed, any more than that begins to feel unsafe. The torque is great as well, you can tell that the Mellow team put a lot of work into building the torque curve to utilize the power of the two 1000 Watt motors without making the ride jerky and dangerous.

One area that I notice the Mellow Drive to be lacking in is the braking department. Though the Mellow boasts having 2 brakes per wheel that help double-up on braking power, I have noticed that the ECU is a little TOO protective of over-braking, which often results in decreased braking ability at lower speeds. This problem doesn’t seem inherently dangerous, as the board provides great braking power at higher speeds, but at lower speeds, I always find myself rolling a few more feet than I expected when coming to a full stop.

I can totally understand that Mellow does not want you to be able to apply the brakes hard enough to throw yourself from the board, but at current levels, it just doesn’t provide enough braking when slowing to a stop. As a former DH racer, this is not a problem, I can slow myself down just fine with a footbrake, but eskate-exclusive riders, might find this a little annoying.

I should mention at this point, that I ran the Mellow in as stock of a setup as I could, including their strangely-named “Cruiser” deck which is actually shaped like a shorter top-mount DH deck more than anything else. Let me tell you, this is close to the ideal eskate deck as I have ever seen. It is short enough to store easily and be maneuverable. It has cutouts for big wheels, a very light and strong construction, and a little bit of a tail for jumping off of curbs and pivoting on those tighter turns.

The “Mellow” brand double-barrel bushings that come with the trucks were also surprisingly springy and close-enough to an ideal rebound that I didn’t have to swap them out with some Venom barrels (something that I do with almost every eskate that I ride). The setup feels turny and responsive right out of the box with great rebound that makes for really good carving. This is yet another testament to Mellow’s commitment to a great skating experience, over just creating another high-powered eskate and bolting it to a deck.

The two 1000 Watt hub-driven motors provide ample power (very similar to the feeling of my Boosted V2) and the 80 mm wheels are a good size for eating up bumps and cracks in the sidewalk on your ride (especially needed with the reduced urethane for the hub-driven motors in the rear). I was even lucky enough to pick up some sizable debris from a construction site on my way to work!

(A couple seconds with handy-dandy pliers and I was good to go again)

The W concave on the deck is also a god-send, and something you rarely see in a sea of flat and bouncy Loaded Vanguard copycats. I like to feel the road under me when I ride, and want to be locked in on my heels and toes with a comfortable concave, not be bouncing around on what essentially amounts to flat trampoline covered in grip-tape.  Hell, if the concave on the Mellow deck was a little more aggressive, I might even consider racing this thing as a regular skateboard.

Speaking of regular skateboarding, Mellow offers a unique riding mode called “Endless” that does something that I have never seen another electric do, it mimics real skateboarding.

The way it does this is by allowing the rider to manually push the board up to a given speed, and then simply continuing that momentum with the hub driven motors. It sounds great in practice and is advertised as a way to get a “real skating” feeling while extending battery life. I come from a skate background, so I was very excited to try out this feature, but quickly came to the realization pushing off and continuing the be pushed forwards at a constant speed feels very far from “natural.” Sadly, you still have to have your remote with you to slow down and stop, but this mode is great for extending your battery life, and I found myself making use of it several times to limp home with <5% battery life.

What I would LOVE see is a mode that uses the hub motors to subtly add a little more “glide” to each push, extending the power that a rider is able to put down, and allowing for a little bit of a motor-assisted skate session without requiring use of a remote. 

In Conclusion:

The Mellow Drive is the best bolt-on kit that we have tested. If you have deep pockets, and are not into soldering wires and programming your own ECU’s, but still want an eboard that can mount on any household deck, this is unquestionably the right choice for you.

Additionally, Mellow is making great advances in the fields of eskate tech, ease-of-use, and putting the rider experience first. Their products truly reflect a love of skating and a consideration for skaters that goes beyond what we see from the rest of the industry. In a world where Chinese manufacturers are constantly copying each other’s designs and pumping out boards with bigger and bigger motors bolted onto shitty, flat decks with trucks that fall apart during real use, it is important to recognize that Mellow is focusing on innovating eskating as an experience.

We can buy products from the Meepo and Wowgo’s of the world for a hundred years, and I can almost guarantee that the eskate landscape will look very similar in that time (albeit, extremely cheap if they keep up their current trends) but it takes companies like Mellow to actually bring new features, technology, and ideas into reality that will truly innovate the eskate industry. (after 2 months of abuse, this is what a Mellow looks like. It handled light rain, dirty roads, and Boston traffic and came out looking none the worse for wear)

I hope you liked this month’s long-term review. If you have any questions about the Mellow or have an idea for a product that you would like us to review or compare next, feel free to email me at [email protected]lectricskateboardhq.com.

Until next time, stay rolling, stay upright, stay stoked!