Riptide R1 Prototype Preview (09/21/2017)

This review was originally published on February 5th, 2018 and reflects my honest opinions at the time of publication. No part of this review has been redacted in any way. It has only been corrected for grammar and spelling.

Follow the discussion on Reddit here

If you want the TL;DR, see end of review

Introduction

Yesterday (09/30/17) I rolled myself down to the Embarcadero in San Francisco at 2PM to attend the Riptide Ridealong, which was an event that /u/spooky_ghost, someone who I frequently skate with, set up in conjunction with the Riptide folks. I’d been looking forward to this event, as I really wanted to try out the Riptide R1, which was one of the extremely few recent boards that list realistic specs and set seemingly realistic expectations.

During the ridealong, I was able to get a huge amount of unfiltered access to the board. I’d swapped boards with Eric, CEO of Riptide/Shredlights, so was able to ride the R1 about 4.5 miles through all types of terrain, especially significant hills and extremely rough roads. My deepest apologies to Eric, I hope you weren’t freaking out too much when us in the back disappeared… We headed to Last Mile SF as stated on the schedule after we lost you guys in front!

Notice

Please keep in mind that what I tested was a prototype and that this review should not be construed as condoning of condemning the final product.

Impressions

Notes

Hardware

This is a fun board. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s clear that Eric and co. know their target demographic, and know them well. The board itself has this stout, chubby build and look, which makes it really endearing and feel really sturdy. The deck length is about 31″ so it’s not really the most comfortable board for long rides (my legs were completely numb three miles into my long ride), but if you’re looking to bang up and down some waterside paths or a park path, it will do just fine. The dual motor setup is adequately powerful for something this small, and is actually quite torquey. Although it’s not going to beat anything else off the line, during my times riding I’ve actually been thrown off the back a couple of times due to the acceleration, though this is also in part due to another issue which I will highlight later. Throughout my ride, up and down hills, I was constantly worried that the board would not be able to make it up or brake properly going down, but those worries were unfounded as the board performed admirably even when the road got extremely potholey and rough.

I think it will be great having a board this small. You can take it anywhere, and I do mean anywhere, as it comes in under airline battery restrictions. I’m a frequent traveler, and while I don’t plan on bringing any boards with me anytime soon, I can imagine other people would want to. It’s easy to throw this board in a variety of places.

Throw it:

  • Under a strap on your backpack
  • In your carry on
  • In your trunk
  • Down a halfpipe
  • Down on the boardwalk
  • Up in NYC
  • Off a curb

Don’t throw it:

  • To the sharks
  • Off a bridge
  • On your junk

The options for where to throw this thing is endless.

Kicktail

Having a proper kicktail means that you can now do so much more due to the increased maneuverability. Turning a tight corner is now not a problem. If you’re strong and heavy enough, you can also try and do ollies, or hit up skate parks. Eric said that one of the goals for the bottom electronics enclosure was for it to be strong enough to take regular beatings, so I can imagine people more skilled than I pulling off proper tricks on this thing.

Remote

The remote is the same as the Meepo remote, that is to say it’s nothing special. It works. There’s a thumbwheel for acceleration and deceleration. Right under that is the switch for low/high power mode. At the bottom of the remote is the on/off switch. Holding the remote in your right hand, on the left surface you’ll find your battery indicator and forward/reverse button. It’s worth noting that the battery indicator here has three dots, while the indicator on the board itself has four bars. It’s an odd inconsistency, and made it confusing for me to gauge just how much power the board actually had at a given time. At one point, I saw one dot on the remote but two dots on the board, which made it really confusing for me to plan my route to the next destination. Eric did make it clear that they were using off the shelf parts, so I imagine there’s not that much leeway in what he gets to customize.

Another issue with the remote, and I think the biggest one, was responsiveness. There is extremely noticeable lag-time between action and response, which is not a good thing when you’re on a board like this. Since balancing is paramount on a smaller deck, you’re constantly shifting your weight to get the best footing for every situation. Because you’re doing so much work to keep yourself upright, you trust the board to help you. But in the case of the laggy remote, it becomes very hard to trust the remote to provide the correct amount of power at the correct time when it’s unpredictable when the remote will lag and when it won’t. I believe this inconsistent power delivery is the issue at the heart of why I got thrown off those couple of times, and Riptide does need to fix this as a high priority issue.

Technical Testing

Testride route: 

Rider specs: 125lb at 5’6″

As much as I was able to, I tried to do as scientific of tests as possible. I was only able to measure extremely limited measurements, but I’ll do my best to describe to you results of my tests as best I can. It is worth noting that I did these tests when the battery was at around 50-60%.

Acceleration

On normal mode, acceleration was slow and easy. Nothing to see here. On pro mode, acceleration was still nice, but there were some weird starting judders. It felt like grinding gears a bit. I’m not sure what it was, but it only manifested sometimes. It’s a little bit disturbing, especially when going uphill as you don’t feel that power delivery when the grinding happens, but I’ll chalk it up to prototype weirdness.

I did my 0 to full speed acceleration test eight times in quick succession. About three times out of those eight, I encountered different acceleration curves because the remote lagged when I gunned it from a full stop. This further highlights the remote/power delivery issue. I *really* hope they fix it.

Top Speed

My speedometer said 17. That’s close enough to their advertised 18mph top speed that I believe their claims. Maybe the board would have had just slightly enough power to hit 18 on full charge. Of course this isn’t the fastest board out there, but it’s quite fast for a small board.

Braking

Braking is pretty good. There doesn’t seem to be a perceivable different between normal mode braking and pro mode braking. Both bring you to a stop from top speed at a reasonable distance, and is gentle enough that you won’t get thrown off the board. It does not have a short braking distance though, so definitely keep that in mind in relation to your speed when navigating through areas with dense traffic.

One aspect of braking that I did not test was braking at 100% battery. Eric informed me that they do not yet have a solution for braking at 100% battery, but are working with their manufacturer to come up with one. I believe braking is one of the paramount issues to eskate safety today, so the fact that it was not part of the design from the get go worries me a bit. However, since I don’t have visibility into Riptide’s design process, I can’t comment very much on that. I just hope they are able to fix the issue in the final production boards because they really are risking injury to the rider.

Stress Handling

Stress handling tests involve continuously taking the board to full throttle immediately from a completely standstill, immediately braking, then immediately accelerating again in a loop. I did the cycle 10 times each on flat ground in a parking lot and 10 times on slightly sloped ground going down and up. I’m happy to report that the R1 exhibited no problems during any of these situations except for the issues I illustrated above.

Turning Radius

The R1 is capable of performing some sharp turns. There are wheel wells on the underside of the deck to facilitate really deep carves, which is great. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of the bushings they used, which seemed rather stiff to me, but that’s not really an issue since bushing can be swapped out easily depending on personal preference. No problems here!

Drag Race

I didn’t get to race the R1 directly against a boosted board, but having ridden both V1 and V2 BBs, I think the R1 would pretty much match the capabilities. There’s no point pitting it against any higher powered boards because that’s not their market. Eric specifically stated that he imagined the R1 to be people’s secondary board for shorter rides where large boards are overkill, and I respect that. I will say however, having owned a Blink S, this is much better.

A Comment On Parts

One major thing to note is that Riptide is using off the shelf parts for almost all parts of this board. This means that Riptide is relying on the parts themselves to be tested and proven durable instead of the board as a whole, though I’m sure they’ve done durability tests on the board itself. This also means that you won’t be finding anything new here in terms of performance and hardware. While the deck may change the riding characteristics of the board, if you’re not new to the eboard industry and have tested many boards, this board will feel like the many that have come before. *This is not a bad thing*, and indeed may be a good thing for some. This means the board is predictable, and you’ll be able to find documentation and replacements for nearly all parts found on the board for cheap when your warranty runs out. This also means that many of you might call this board another “China Board” and while you are not wrong, I don’t think you’re entirely right either. Yes, there are many horrible mass production “boards” out there. However, there are some good or even great mass production boards that use some of the same parts. Does that mean that the great boards should be lumped in with the other bad ones that share the same parts? I don’t really think so.

I’m not trying to defend Riptide here. I too would rather see something that’s purpose designed and built with custom parts. That’s just not feasible for a small company, unfortunately, and I don’t blame Riptide for using resources at their disposal. At the end of the day, what they’re playing here is a mix and match game, and I think they’ve hit on a pretty great match.

That’s it

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments. I’ll try my best to answer!

StarkBoard- A bumpy start for a hands-free ride

StarkBoard, a new electric skateboard by Stark Mobility launched their Indiegogo campaign on 8th November 2017.

They have concluded their Indiegogo campaign successfully as of today (9th Dec 2017), and if everything goes swimmingly (which is rare in the case of crowdfunding), we will be seeing the first Starkboard on road by February 2018.

I had been given the opportunity to interview the co-founder Kamil Banc to get a feel of the team behind this new brand and their philosophy in developing StarkBoard.

My plan to publish this piece took an unexpected turn when some controversy regarding StarkBoard the company surfaced but we shall talk about that last.

So what about Starkboard?

Short introduction

Starkboard is a dual-hub electric longboard.
It distinguishes itself for using posture sensor as the way to control the acceleration and braking, quite similar to the hoverboard or the Walnutt Spectra.

The ability to ride it without needing a remote is their main selling point.

 

What is StarkBoard about?

Well, StarkBoard is not named after Tony Stark or the Stark Industries.

“Stark in German means strong, and we want that to be the quality of our board.”

Starkboard is meant to be the ‘Tesla Model 3’ of electric skateboard world – an affordable option for everyone who wants something good but wouldn’t buy a thousand dollar Eskate.

After the likes of Boosted Board, Evolve and Inboard have shown the world what electric skateboard can do, StarkBoard aims to bring that awesome experience to the masses at an affordable price.

Starkboard main purpose is to be the vehicle for short distance commuting.
Something that brings you from point A to point B comfortably. A quality mobility device for the last mile.

During the Indiegogo campaign, StarkBoard is available for around $500 for the backers. With it’s suggested retail value at $999.
It is still available for $599 for Indiegogo-in-demand for now.

For now, Stark Mobility couldn’t quote a reliable price for the time when StarkBoard hit retail. The team just hopes to have it be affordable for the masses.

Specs

 

StarkBoard is made as an electric mobility device in mind and the specs reflected that –
Good range, just fast enough for commute and light enough for its size.

It is also one of those boards that are pack with features.

  • Top Speed: 20mph (32kmh)
  • Range: 13mil (21km)
  • Weight: 17.4lbs (7.9kg)
  • Charge Time: 1-2 hours
  • Features: Posture control, Swappable battery, 2 hub motors, dust and splash proof, handles up to 15% slope, LED lights, Phone Apps, 3 driving modes.
  • Price: Around $599 Indiegogo price.  (retail price to be decided)

Speed:

Aiming as a tool for commute and not for sport, StarkBoard is configured to have a top speed of 20mph (32kmh).

“There is a dilemma when commuting on an eskate – You can either just keep a casual speed or go fast. But if you were to go fast, you had to go really fast so you could zoom past a bicyclist, or you would be in an awkward position where you were slightly faster than a bicyclist but not quite fast enough to overtake them comfortably.”

That’s why Starkboard chose not to design for higher speed but for more of a functional and stress-free commute.

It was a sound decision in my opinion, as the goal of StarkBoard was to be a mobility tool for the masses, many whom are not skateboarders, and for that 20mph is fast enough.
Well, fast enough for a person to hurt themselves definitely. (Please wear a helmet.)

And seeing that country like Singapore explicitly limit the top speed of the e-mobility device to 25kmh (15mph), it is clear that StarkBoard is fast enough for its intended purpose.

Also, California Electric Skateboard Law AB-604 outlaws any electric skateboard that has a top speed >20mph.

Range:

13mil (21km) range, if not inflated, is in the middle of the pack in the world of the electric skateboards. Long enough for most commutes, and considering it has an easily swappable battery, the range is not going to be a concern.

Starkboard pit against all boards. Click to enlarge.

For metric units of the above chart, click here.

Weight:

Considering that the hub motor weighs about 1kg each, Starkboard had tried their best in shaving down it’s weight to 17.4lbs (7.9kg).

The board is aimed to be a mobility device hence the weight is an important factor for it to be good at that. I sure am reluctant to carry a heavy eskate around.

17.4lbs (7.9kg) is a pretty standard weight among electric longboard.

For reference:
Enertion Raptor 2: 20lbs (9kg)
41″ Metroboard Slim 17.6lbs(8kg)
Evolve Bamboo GT: 17lbs (7.9kg)
Boosted Dual: 15.5lbs(7kg)
Meepo Board: 15.2lbs(6.9kg)
Backfire Galaxy 13.6lbs(6.2kg)

Battery:

StarkBoard uses 194.4 Wh Battery @ 36V/5.4Ah.
It is compliance with the UN38.3 and UL2272 worldwide industry standards.

The estimated charging time is 2-3 hours.

194.4Wh also means that you probably couldn’t carry it with you on flight.
Most airlines don’t allow battery with a capacity of more than 160wh on board.

See my guide to bringing an electric skateboard on a flight here.

Wheels:

Starkboard is rocking 90mm wheels that can handle most terrain well.
Starkboard also chooses to use treaded longboard wheel in order to better handle rough terrain.

It’s a shame that the PU sleeve on the motor is not replaceable.
That means when the PU wears down, you will have to change the hub motor with the wheels.

Stark Mobility will offer full replacement wheels and hub motor in the future.

Deck:

The deck is made of 7 layers of Canadian maple plywood and 3 layers of fiberglass so is stiff with little flex.
For those who are looking for a flexible deck, this might be a letdown.

The deck also has handle cut-out on both sides, which to me, is a must as it makes carrying the board around so much easier.

The handle cut out also provides a means to secure your electric skateboard on railings or bicycle parking rack with a bicycle chain.

Features

As mentioned, Starkboard has lots of special features, and the posture control is the one that garners the most attention.

Posture Control

“It would be great if our rider can ride the board while eating an ice cream or taking a selfie.”

StarkBoard uses gyroscope sensor & weight and motion sensors to control the acceleration and deceleration. According to Kamil, it is not the same technology from the hoverboard but the experience of riding one may be similar.

To me, it sounds very similar to what Walnutt is doing with their Spectra series.

The control is said to be very intuitive, and most people take about 3 minutes to master it.

We all, however, still remember how Casey Niestat couldn’t figure out how to ride the Walnut Spectra, so hopefully, StarkBoard’s posture sensor is more intuitive than that.

In fact, it should be as unlike Spectra, StarkBoard doesn’t require the rider to stand on a certain area of the deck and hence allows for a more natural stance.

Swappable battery

If you need extended range, you will definitely appreciate swappable battery.

StarkBoard’s battery is very easily swappable.

LED lights

Front and back LED lights that let you be seen.
Always nice to have the LED lights integrated with the board.

3 riding mode

I just recently had a conversation with a fellow Eskater and he explained to me on the usefulness of having different top speed settings.

It is convenient if the eskater can change the top speed when riding on different setting or at different traffic.

Starkboard has 3 riding mode, Beginner, Normal and Master that differs in top speed and acceleration-deceleration rate.

Not quite the 5 riding mode that you are looking for but I hope you are satisfied with this, Paul!

Phone Application

Available for both iOS and Android, Starkboard’s app can do a lot of things.

It allows you to:

  • change driving modes
  • track your route
  • distance
  • average speed
  • control the LED device
  • see the working of your Starkboard including
    • sensor status
    • motor temperature
    • etc.

This also means future OTA firmware updates are possible.

However for now, the application is still in early stage of development with only the core feature available.
More extensive features will be developed down the line.

Dust and Splash proof

StarkBoards are IP62 dust and splash proof. So puddle will not be a concern but still, wheels are slippery when wet, so don’t ride in the rain.

I hope that at this point, we have established that StarkBoard is going to be a cool addition to the big electric skateboard family.

However, as I often emphasis, the company behind an electric skateboard is sometimes more important than the eskate itself as an electric skateboard, much like a car, needs regular maintenance and even repairs.

In a crowdfunding setting, the company behind the project is of course even more important, as we are putting money for the company to develop a product that hasn’t exist yet.

I did mention that there was a controversy, so, what’s the story?

What is Stark Mobility about?

Stark Mobility is a small the team of 7 people.

The team members came from various backgrounds, a few of them are engineers who designed the board, one owns a hoverboard business.
There are also team members who have a background in renewable energy.

Although StarkBoard is their first project together, the team from various background brings their own knowledge and expertise that they are confident that could make the product, and the Indiegogo campaign a success.

Most of the team members are based in Germany while the company is incorporated in the USA.

Controversy

Laurens Laudowicz and Hannes Reichelt, 2 of the co-founder of StarkBoard was previously involved in Juicies- a Kickstarter project for iphone cables that failed to deliver.
Let just say, it ended poorly with backers who didn’t receive the product calling for their heads.

Juicies. The Kickstarter iphone cable that failed to deliver.

With the damaged personal credibility of 2 of their founder, Stark Mobility was under attack since day 1 of their campaign and was being labeled as a scam project.

I’ve followed up with Kamil about this.

“Lauren is and was always involved in Stark Mobility. However, he is also working on sunsetting Juices and need to focus on that.”

He conceded that Laurens and Hannes had a failed project but stood behind them as a person.

Juices was a failed project but weren’t a scam. And their experience with crowdfunding, even if from a failed crowdfunding project is important in helping to make this one a successful one.

Indiegogo?

I wonder if any other market has the same crowdfunding fatigue as the electric skateboard market. Every other month, there will be a new electric skateboard launching their crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or on Indiegogo.

Unfortunately, not many of those campaigns deliver without major issues.
Delays, spec changes, problems with tax and delivery are few of the common issues that we are just too familiar with.

From my interview with Kamil, it is clear that the team at Stark Mobility is aware of all those possible problems that plague most crowdfunding campaigns.

They tried to be very conservative by setting their estimated delivery date in February 2018.

Hopefully, the team can learn from the mistake of others Eskate crowdfunding campaign and from their other crowdfunding project and marks StarkBoard campaign a smooth one.

Final Thoughts

Initially, I was approached by Laurens Laudowicz to cover Starkboard at its Indiegogo launch.
I decided that an interview with the team member is a bare minimum to get a feel for how StarkBoard as a company is. And that, in turn, is important to predict if the crowdfunding campaign is legit.

After some back and forth, I get to interview the very charismatic co-founder Kamil Banc.

Just before I was to publish the article, the controversy regarding Laurens and Hannes with the Juices Kickstarter campaign surfaced.
Though I am satisfied with the clarification from Kamil regarding the issue, I couldn’t really recommend anyone to back a crowdfunding campaign unless they are 110% confident on the project, and I am at most at 70%.

With that being said, StarkBoard’s Indiegogo campaign had blow by its goal despite the controversy.

So, here is my current thought:

Starkboard is a great addition to the electric skateboard market.
It is innovation that electric skateboard market desperately needs.
Not another assembled-with-generic-part electric skateboard or “Meepo-alternative”. It is only the 3rd electric skateboard we have that is posture controlled and it is different than the pressure pad controlled Z-board and the smaller size Walnutt Spectra.

And it is definitely affordable with it’s $500 price tag.

Could it be the best board to buy at $500? Time will tell.

Starkboard has enough bells and whistle to distinguish itself from your typical generic electric skateboard.

Swappable battery, smartphone app, LED lights, IP62 water & dust proof and a changeable urethane for the motor wheels is all very neat feature to have, but the success of Starkboard mainly rely on 2 factor: The riding experience and the built quality.

If it can be as intuitive to ride and as well made as promised, it could very well be the go-to board for a ≈$600 last-mile vehicle.

Those are things that we won’t know until the board shipped so if you are interested, saved up and wait for the on-hands review to come in.

Goodluck Starkboard!

Acton Blink Qu4tro Prototype Preview (09/21/2017)

This review was originally published on September 22, 2017 and reflects my honest opinions at the time of publication. No part of this review has been redacted in any way. It has only been corrected for grammar and spelling.

Follow the discussion on Reddit here

If you want the TL;DR, see end of review

Introduction

Today (09/21/2017) I went over to Acton’s Headquarters in Santa Clara, California, and tested the Blink Qu4tro. I was invited the previous day via email, and the person I corresponded with was extremely nice and extremely prompt when responding. I’m writing this review for future Qu4tro owners as well as Acton engineers, who I’m also linking to this review.

When I got there, there were two other people there, as well as a huge number of engineers gathered around. We were taken to the back through their prototyping garage, which contained all sorts of boards in half built states, including another Qu4tro with its internals spilling out.

  • What we were allowed to test ride:
    Blink Qu4tro with “Avenue collaboration trucks” (these are a HUGE deal, I’ll come to that later)
  • Blink S2 with “Avenue collaboration trucks” (not as big a deal on the S2, but still big)
  • Blink Lite (original)

Let’s get the unimportant stuff out of the way first. Blink Lite was same old. The interesting stuff starts with the Blink S2.

S2

What they basically did was put the “Avenue collaboration trucks” that were meant for the Qu4tro on the S2. Peter allowed us to ride this S2 while they were trying to fix the Qu4tro. More on this later. I’d previously ridden a production S2 and owned an S for half a year so I know what the originals are like. This was nothing like the original. While everything electronic stayed the same, the ride quality was completely changed by the spring suspension. I won’t say it was ruined, but these trucks the way Acton has them currently configured are not meant to go on such a light board. You become completely disconnected from the road because you feel like it’s all you can do to hang on. Turning radius was also ruined, but more on that later. Bottom line, suspension trucks on the Blink S2 will only appeal to extremely select people and will ruin the board for the vast majority. I have a feeling this won’t make it to production.

Blink Qu4tro

Please keep in mind that what I tested was a prototype and that this review should not be construed as condoning of condemning the final product.

Hardware

The deck itself is constructed with three distinct sections. The front and back load bearing sections are constructed from cast aluminum. The mid section is constructed from seemingly the same material as the Blink extrusions. The deck itself is durable, but I don’t think anybody doubted that, but just for anecdotal evidence, I’m a 125lb girl and jumping as hard as I could on the deck felt like I was jumping on the floor. That is to say, it’s incredibly stiff. Some people will like that, some people won’t. In the end, it’ll be up to preference, but I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Compared alongside the Carbon GT’s 40″ deck, it seemed around 3″ shorter, so I’d say the deck is around 36-37″ in length.

What is a huge deal, however, is the weight. Due to the materials used, battery density due to power required, and just overall design decisions, the deck is heavy. Extremely heavy. And dense. Picking up the prototype feels like picking up one and a half Evolve Bamboo GTXs. If you imagine the weight of 1.5 GTXs but squeezed into a denser package, you’ll get the Qu4tro. I even struggled a bit to pick one end of it up to turn around. It’s that heavy. Peter says that they’re still attempting to make the whole package lighter, and that they’re using a different material than cast aluminum for the front and rear load bearing sections (he neglected to tell me what they’re switching to) so hopefully production models will be lighter.

Avenue “Collaboration” Trucks

Now you might be thinking that weight doesn’t matter if you’re never picking it up. You’d be wrong. Part of what makes a board good overall, especially for eskates, is weight and trucks, which brings me to my next point. This is a huge point. The new suspension trucks. These trucks… boy… where to start…

Let me start by saying that they’re not the same as the current Avenue longboard trucks that you can pick up from Avenue’s online store. The trucks on the prototype boards that we got to ride were actually hand made prototypes based on the Avenue trucks. They rode extremely high, and did not really play well with the hangars. This by itself probably wouldn’t have been too much of an issue, but combined with the weight of the deck and high center of gravity it forced, the board became basically uncarvable and unturnable. If you tried to carve, the bounce back from the springs would try to throw you off. If you tried to turn, the trucks would try to bounce back and you wouldn’t be able to turn. It wasn’t until I loosened the kingpin to basically unridable levels that I could turn 180 on a decently wide road, and even then, I could just barely do it. Basically, Acton needs to serious work on these trucks.

It’s not all bad. I was assured by the engineering team that the spring curvature would resemble the Avenue ones more, which should mean less ridiculous spring and lower center of gravity, which in turn should help with reducing the effects of the weight which again in turn enables better carving and turning. I’ll believe it when I see (ride) the production trucks.

Remote

The remote was surprisingly nice. It uses a thumbwheel system with **no** deadman trigger, and was not sensitive at all. The version of the remote I tested was definitely 3D printed, but it had a nice feel and heft to it. There’s an indicator light on the bottom top facing side of the remote that blinks to indicate battery life and board status. It’s akin to the status indicator of the Yuneec E-go remotes, which is to say that getting your current status while riding by reading colors and counting blinks will get annoying. Right underneath the indicator light is the on/off switch. Connection, as with the other Blink series boards, is instantaneous. There’s no mode switching on the controller *still*. Mode switching has to be done from the app.

Ergonomics of the remote is mostly ace, or at least the part you grip is ace. I’m not sure why they’re keeping the top and bottom portions that stick out if the controller doesn’t act as a pull handle anymore, as all it does now is look weird and keep the controller from comfortably fitting in my pocket or purse. There were no controller related cutouts while I was riding the board hard. (There were definitely points where I lost control completely but I’ll get to that later)

Technical Testing

As much as I was able to, I tried to do as scientific of tests as possible. I was only able to measure extremely limited measurements, but I’ll do my best to describe to you results of my tests as best I can.

Acceleration

Acceleration curves on Normal mode was nice and easy. Acceleration on Pro mode was still nice, definitely feels more like the Raptor 2 acceleration curve and not the “Extreme G-Force” acceleration on the GT modes on Evolve boards. I think Acton nailed this aspect of the board’s UX, but I could see myself missing the exhilaration of the GT mode’s full power at 0 seconds. Peter says that’s not the market they’re targeting, so I’m not going to argue with that.

The dozens of times I went from full standstill to max speed, there were only a couple of times where it felt like the acceleration curve was uneven. I could chalk it up to prototypes not having the fully completed power delivery system, but that and other issues I’ll describe later makes me worried.

Top Speed

My speedometer said 22mph. That’s on the 88mms Acton had on the demo board. Compared to the 27mph measured on my CGT with 97mms on the same exact course. 3 repeated tests produce the same results. It’s “fast enough” for most people, but definitely not the fastest.

Braking

In normal mode, braking was fine. It slows you down to a complete stop pretty gradually, so you don’t have to worry about being thrown off. At the same time, don’t expect the braking to save you from oncoming traffic if you’re trying to stop at an intersection and you don’t know how to footbrake. In pro mode, braking **at full charge** will **shut down the board**. This happened twice. Once before the Facebook live stream, and once during the Facebook live stream. If you were watching, I was all the way at the end of the road near the turnaround and an engineer had to run and fetch the board. As I explained to both Peter and the engineers, this happens on the Blink S and Blink S2 and can *easily* be fixed with an overcharge resistor. The resistor would convert energy into heat which you can pipe into the all metal frame of the Qu4tro. This issue is even more crucial with the Qu4tro because instead of two motors pumping regen charge into the system, there’s now four. Twice the amount of power, twice the likelyhood of shutdown. I stressed this point to Peter and the engineering team there multiple times since there’s such a huge increase in risk of death. **They said they’d fix it**. If they don’t by launch time, y’all know it’s not because I didn’t try.

Stress Handling

After the shutdown incidents, they didn’t let me back onto Pro mode, so I ran the rest of the tests in Normal mode. Stress handling, where you accelerate to full speed then brake to a complete stop, is often used to test systems such as eskates where large amounts of power is transferred to and from various parts of the system. Doing this in Normal mode revealed no problems, but of course our concern here is Pro mode.

Turning Radius

Please see my thoughts above on the truck setup. No accurate tests could be performed.

Drag Race

I didn’t get to directly race the two boards against each other, but I did let the Acton engineers try the CGT. I’m not sure if they knew that Mandarin was my native language, but they were talking amongst themselves after trying the CGT and the phrases “insane acceleration”, “way faster”, and “crazy” got thrown around a lot so I’m going to assume they were reasonably impressed. I did find it strange that they apparently had no idea companies like Evolve or Enertion even existed. It seems to me that if you’re going to build a product that’s supposed to compete in this kind of market, you’d at least try stuff from other companies… Anyways, from my personal testing, there’s really no comparison. Both acceleration and top speed on the CGT blows the Qu4tro away.

Suspension Trucks

See my earlier section on this. I will add though that they were actually quite stable at high speeds. Might have to do with the weight of the board though.

That’s it

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer.

What about the Huger Boards? Huger Classic, Huger Travel & Huger Racer Preview

Huger Tech, a new startup company launched an Indiegogo campaign back in July 2017 bringing us not one, not two but three new electric skateboards.

Introducing the Huger Trio

Huger Classic – A $499 budget friendly E-skate that still provides decent speed and range. It also has the skateboard kick tail – Hence ‘Classic’.
Huger Classic is $349 for Indiegogo backer.

Huger Travel – A $899 e-skateboard that sits somewhere between cheaper Huger Classic and pricier Huger Racer. Calling it Huger Travel is a misnomer because it weighs 14.5lbs (6.5kg). A heavy board for such a small body – Most likely you aren’t going to travel anywhere with it.
Huger Racer is $699 for Indiegogo backer.

Huger Racer – A $1199 e-longboard that provides good specs. It’s going to compete with the top dogs such as Boosted, Evolve and Inboard.
Huger Racer has a huge discount for Indiegogo backers at $899.

Huger is looking to deliver all three of them by October 2017 – a short timeline.
I don’t think they can make it for all three of the boards.

It will be clear why I thought so by the end.

Overview

The first thing that struck me when seeing a Huger boards for the first time is how good the finishing is.

Actually, everything that Huger Tech does looks pretty. The board’s finishing, the packaging and well, the advertisements are all very well done.

They are just some beautiful, beautiful boards.

It also looks like Huger Tech is trying to distinguish their boards by packing in lots of features.

A horn that is controlled by the remote?
Swappable battery for Huger Travel and Racer?
LED lights that include brake light and turn light?

No other board in the market are fancy like that.

Huger also undercuts the competitor of similar specs in term of pricing, aiming to be the first consideration for every price range.

Watch out, Acton! A new company is coming to eat your cake!

Huger Classic

Huger Classic is a skateboard size electric skateboard that comes with a good price.
($499 retail price, $349 Indiegogo backer price)

An easy way to think about Huger Classic is, a nicer Acton Blink Lite.
On paper, it has the specs of Acton Blink S but in reality, it seems to be only as strong as the Blink Lite.

The board itself doesn’t provide much torque and kick-push from a stand still is needed to get the board starts rolling.

Range(6mil/9.6km) and speed(15mph/24kmh) are on par with the electric skateboard this size and this price.
And Huger Classic is really light.
At 8.6lbs/ 3.9kg, Huger Classic is more travel-friendly than most e-skate, and the Huger Travel.

Reviewers consensus for the Huger Classic has been mostly positive.
Well let’s be honest, you can’t be too critical for a board at this price.

Overall,
it is a budget electric skateboard that also looks very nice.

Huger Classic should fit nicely for someone on a budget, wants an E-skate that is light and with a small deck and doesn’t have much needs for the power, speed, and range.

Competitors: (Skateboard/Penny Board that are cheap)

 

One thing for sure though,
if Huger Classic can deliver what it promised, there would be little to no reason left to buy an Acton Blink S or Blink S Lite.

Huger Travel

Huger Travel is made to be the filler between budget Huger Classic and the higher end Huger Racer.

$699 for Indiegogo backers and retail @ $899, the board has the specs of Acton Qu4tro (minus the torque)!

However, with the current design, the testers hate this little board.

The riding-experience-sucked!

Top speed of the board is 20mph/32kmh but trying to go that fast on Huger Travel is asking for trouble.
Every Youtuber that tried on Huger Travel complaint that the wheel base is too narrow, making it dangerous to balance on.

The Huger Travel also seems to be disappointing in torque despite the on paper specs and the top speed.

At the end of the day, riding experience is more important than any specs.
Huger Tech may and may not be able to change the design at this stage of development.

And if nothing was changed, Huger Travel is a bad bad board.

If you are looking for a budget electric skateboard with good speed and range, looks elsewhere.

Competitors: (Skateboards of the similar price range)

Huger Racer

Huger Racer is how Huger Tech plans to challenge the top dogs of E-skate world.
Can Huger Racer beat the likes of Boosted, Evolve, Inboard and the Metroboard?

For $1199, it is already a few hundred bucks cheaper than the big names.
And you can get it at $899 if you back them at Indiegogo.

Better yet, Huger Racer often came out on top when it comes to specs and features.

25mph/ 40kmh top speed with 20miles/ 32.2km range is on par with Evolve Bamboo GTX, Enertion Raptor 2 and Acton Qu4tro and totally blew Boosted dual out of the water.

Usually, you will be looking at a China Boards such as Backfire G2 or Koowheel if you want this kind of spec on the cheap. (Here is my comprehensive guide on the China Boards.)

To put the icing on the cake, Huger Racer is armed with features up to the teeth.

Waterproof, swappable battery, smartphone apps are the usual suspect.
LED lights that include brake lights and turn lights are gimmicky but nevertheless fun to have.
And that remotely controlled horn? That’s just a cute and funny feature that stuck with me.

The deck is not as flexible and the riding experience definitely won’t be as nice as the flexible deck of Boosted boards, but reviewers opinions on the Huger Racer are mostly positive.

To sum it up, Huger Racer positioned itself quite nicely.
If you are wallet conscious but still want a board with a great top speed with great range (and you don’t want a China Board) – then Huger Racer might be the board for you.

Competitors:( Longboards that are cheap/ top of the line.)

Huger the Company

The company behind the product is definitely as important as the product itself especially when it comes to electric skateboard.
Boards have to be maintained, broken parts have to be repaired so chances are you will definitely require some kind of assistance from the company down the road.

It is unsure what kind of E-skate company Huger will turn out to be.

Best case scenario, they follow the lead of Boosted, Evolve and Inboard to be great in both in selling and caring for their customers.
On the flip side, the worst thing Huger Tech can be is to become a company like Acton – poor communication with customers, repeatedly break promises, and just simply inconsiderate at times.

There is not much out there to judge what company Huger Tech will be but there are some warning signs that make me uncomfortable.

1) Huger Tech doesn’t seem like a by E-skater for E-skater company, but a company run only by businessmen.

None of the marketing material put out by Huger mentioned any about why they got into this market.
The team member of Huger doesn’t seem to be skaters, they are designers, marketers, and campaigners.

What’s more, the company emphasized that it is based on Orange County US while tries to avoid mentioning the parent company IDT International which is based in Hong Kong.

Just look at the about page of Huger Tech and the Indiegogo Campaign page and ask yourself how you feel about the company.

Definitely not a company founded just for the purpose of making e-skate.

Logically, this should not be a concern.
The motive of the company shouldn’t matters, what matters is how good the product is, and how well the after-sale services are. Right?However, in the E-Skate world, a company that prioritizes on profit often makes questionable product decisions.

I would hope so.However, in the E-Skate world, a company that prioritizes on profit often makes questionable product decisions.

However, in the E-Skate world, a company that prioritizes on profit often makes questionable product decisions.
They cheap out on quality, use customers as guinea pigs, making false claims and provide horrible post-sale services.

On the flip side, E- skater’s company always tried to do their best to perfect the board and the result speaks for itself.

Sanjay Dastoor of the Boosted, Ilan Sabar of the Metroboard, Jason of the Enertion Raptor, the Arc Board team, DIYelectricskateboard, Unik and my pal Kieran of the Meepo Board are all good examples. They see their board as their pride.
Try telling Jason his Raptor 2 suck and wait for his reaction, it’s clearly not just about profit.

2) The noises coming from Youtube.

If you ever searched ‘Electric Skateboard’ in Google, you definitely know how active Huger Tech has been in advertising.
It is the only ad I see on Youtube and Facebook through Huger’s campaign month.

Huger Tech also has been busy sending YouTubers such as Big Kids, Press Reset, Dylan Kowalski, FabTrav its board for ‘their input to help improve the end product’.

And the result is confusing.

We see the board couldn’t brake going downhill (Regenerative braking overcharging the battery again perhaps?), LED lights malfunctioning and almost everyone spotted the same problem: Huger Travel has too small of a wheel base to be safe.

Everyone but people from the Huger Tech.

It really begs the question: Does anyone in Huger Tech rides their own board?

And, could they even change the truck placement this late in the production?
They seem to have electronics in the deck where the truck should move to so can it be done?

If they are changing the design, could they make the Indiegogo date of delivery?
If they are not, what does it say about the company?

And also, according to the Indiegogo timeline, this is supposed to be the final testing stage, why are the board still having this much of a problem?
Wasn’t this kind of review and testing suppose to be done behind closed door and problems sorted out before the board is being marketed?

If Huger Tech dare to send problematic boards to the influencers, what can regular folk expect to get?

3) Bad PR

I like to feel the personality of a company to better understand the electric skateboards they put out.
It has been difficult trying to get to know Huger.

The official site www.HugerTech.com is basically the extension of their Indiegogo campaign.
Not much info there.

And when I came across the representative of Huger in the forum, they always came across as sale-sy when promoting and dodgy when tough questions were asked.

The best part? I reached out to Huger Tech through email and after some back and forth, I was promised an interview with someone from team Huger and then never saw an email reply to finalize the date.

I reached out to Huger Tech through email and after some back and forth, I was promised an interview with someone from team Huger and then never saw a reply again to finalize the date.

Verdict:

Even though I am shorting Huger Tech as a company, some objective suggestion can be made.

Huger has the help of its parental company – IDT International and hence manufacturing and delivering the Huger boards should not be a problem, as evident by the quality of their packaging and finishing. They should have no problem delivering to their IndieGoGo backers on time barring design changes.

Meaning, they should have no problem delivering Huger Classic and even Huger Racer on their Indiegogo delivery date.

However, it’s hard to see how Huger is able to change the design of Huger Travel and meet the October 2017 deadline at the same time.

My recommendation:

Huger Classic, a board rated well by consensus is a recommendable board if it suits your need.
However, a $349 Indiegogo price is not a huge discount from the $499 retail price and hence you could just play safe and buy when it’s out.

Huger Racer has garnered good review too and the discount from $1199 to $899 is reasonably tempting. If you like what you see from Huger Racer and is comfortable with Huger Tech, well, go for it.

Avoid Huger Travel.

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