Wowgo AT2 Review – One more shot, did it count?

Introductions

Designing a new product can be scary. After all, you can never know if something new might turn out to be a dud. But I guess we all know the proven formula to make a great electric skateboard:

  1. 7-inch pneumatic wheels with the ability to swap to street setup +
  2. Dual Belt drive +
  3. Double drop deck +
  4. Double Kingpin Trucks

Give the board a pack of 10s4p batteries and throw in some hexagon-grip-tape design and you’ve got yourself a very, very effective formula. The same formula that Evolve has been cooking for almost a decade now.

Evolve GTR Carbon

It wasn’t until 2019 that we start seeing brands copy this formula. Personally, I’m surprised it took these companies so long, but there are only a few notable attempts: Backfire Ranger X1 and now X2 did it with hub motors; Ownboard Bamboo AT made an attempt that we like, and then there was the first Wowgo AT.

Wowgo AT 2 Review

We never reviewed the Wowgo AT and we know we don’t need to, because right from the get-go everyone who took a glimpse of that board knows it’s troubled. To say the least, it had a very problematic rear truck that made it a poor ride.

Long story short, they tried again with Version Two and made lots of changes this time. Now let’s run through the specs of Wowgo AT 2 real quick.

  • Size: 38-inch long board
  • Top Speed: 25mph/40km
  • Range: 22miles/35km
  • Battery Pack: 504Wh 10s4p Sanyo battery
  • Weight: 30lbs/13.5kg
  • Features: 
    • Flexy deck made out of fiberglass, bamboo, and maple wood.
    • Double kingpin trucks.
    • Dual 6368 1500W motors.
    • Hobbywing ESC with smart turn on.
    • Two wheel-configurations are available:
      • 175mm pneumatic wheels or
      • 120mm cloud wheels.
  • Price: 1099.99 USD

Unboxing

Wowgo AT 2 gave me a few of small but nice surprises.

During the unboxing, I was surprised that they included a wheel pump in the box, a funny nice gesture. A bigger surprise came when I found out that it has the smart turn-on feature previously never seen outside of Exway.

I’m also mildly impressed that Wowgo had stepped up on the polish of the board, again. From the hexagon absorptive grip-tape, they use to the overall feel and look of the enclosure, couldn’t find any blemishes. All Chinese brands had been upping the ante in the product polish, but for the past 1 year, Wowgo seems to go slightly further in this aspect than the rest (especially since Wowgo 3).

Let’s put it this way, everything about Wowgo AT 2 felt really premium, and the only thing that doesn’t feel premium about it … is unfortunately the quirky brand name.

Of course, good specs and polished finish are just the qualifiers when a board costs as much as $1099.99 especially when the consistency and ease of access to aftersales service can and is a valid concern, an issue that’s unfortunately plaguing most if not all of the Chinese brands.

In short, besides looking pretty, the riding experience has to be really good too!

Riding Experience

i. Acceleration & Breaking

Unsurprising, but equally worth mentioning, is the control. Wowgo uses a customized Hobbywing ESC where we expected smooth acceleration and smooth braking, and that’s exactly what we got.

Customized Hobbywing has a tendency to have weak brakes, but for the Wowgo AT 2, the brake is actually pretty strong. No complaints here.

ii. Vibration

Duh.

You obviously couldn’t find a much better board to combat road vibration than a board with pneumatic wheels, is belt-driven and has flex in the deck.

iii. Top Speed

The marketed top speed is 25mph (40km). We manage to hit that.

That’s not impressive. What’s impressive is that for a board that uses dual kingpin trucks, Wowgo AT 2 felt really stable cruising near top speed, in AT configuration.

This is not how I felt riding on other DKP trucks, like the similarly built and priced Ownboard Bamboo AT, for example, that board doesn’t felt stable in AT wheels despite having more aggressive drop deck and lower ride height.

Stability concern is such a none issue that switching to the 120mm Cloudwheels seems unnecessary. You get more safety with the AT wheels anyways.

iv. Range

And the marketed range is 22miles (35km).

We were able to hit that number. It’s a big pack of Sanyo GA 18500, 504Wh, in 10s4p configuration after-all.

On a side note: Evolve Bamboo GTR also uses a 504wh pack, 10s4p configuration, Samsung 35E cells. It’s marketed range is 19miles (30km) and we hit around 20-21miles on it too.

A closer look at the parts

i. Deck

Wowgo AT2 has a less aggressive drop-deck and hence a higher ride height, so it should, in theory, be even more twitchy. But that wasn’t the case; the truck is configured so well right out of the box, and thanks to the harder bushing it is actually the most stable dual kingpin we’ve ever tried.

The slightly concave double drop down deck is really comfortable to stand on, and road vibration is never better countered than with pneumatic wheels, flex deck, and absorptive grip tape.

iii. Trucks

As mentioned, the dual kingpin truck is very well configured, probably partly thanks to the harder bushing it is using? One of the most stable dual kingpin we’ve ever tried.

iii. Electronic components

The brain of the board is the Hobbywing ESC with a smart turn on. Meaning, the board turns on just by turning on the remote. This is a big deal.

I feel like a nerd for saying this but I love the components case. It’s plastic but it’s pretty and elegant looking. No more off the shelf parts this time.

iv. Remote

Single-button remote with telemetry reading. Comfortable on hand.
The connectivity range seems to be shorter on this one than other remote, bring it a few feet away from the board and it will vibrate and disconnect.

iv. Wheel

Two wheel-configurations are available – 175mm pneumatic wheels or 120mm cloud wheels.

By the way, this thing weighs in at almost 30lbs (13.5kg), in AT set-up, and switching to cloud wheels is just gonna slice a pound or two off it. In short, it’s heavy.

Let me repeat myself here, if you are picking between Cloudwheels set-up or pneumatic AT set-up, go pneumatic.

Verdict

The Wowgo team deserves a pat on their back for the AT2; it has respectable specs and it has a top-notch feel to back it up. For those who have strong feelings against Evolve, this is the board to get. For those who don’t have strong feelings against Evolve, this might still be a better choice after considering Hobbywing ESC gives you better overall control and smoothness, and the smart-turn-on feature is huge.

If you’re willing to put up with average after-sale service and the woefully unpredictable shipping time during this pandemic, you certainly won’t be disappointed by this one.

If you are interested in buying a Wowgo, be sure to check out our affiliate discount link here during check out.
It will help you get a small monetary discount and helps us out too. On top of that, you’ll be tagged as an Electric Skateboard HQ customer and probably be treated better. Cheers!

Best Electric Skateboards for any budget (April 2020)

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve finally updated our best electric skateboards list after having it sitting idle for months. And in this update, we will be recommending boards according to the price point they are in – since you know, most of us shop with a budget in mind. We are pretty sure that we have considered all viable product (or at least most of it), and all the best options have made it to this recommendation list.. 

 

As what’s right for you often comes down to preference, we’ve included a few options for each price segment – each of them better than the others on a certain aspect. And hence the numbering on this list doesn’t necessarily means the ranking of those boards or implying that one board is better than the others (unless we explicitly said so, heh).
Of course, if you are interested in buying any electric skateboard, be sure to check out our Discount Page for additional discounts.


For those who are new to ESHQ, we’ve been reviewing electric skateboard for three years now. Just look around, I’m sure there is enough proof that we are pretty well informed.


Enough introduction, let’s get started.

Best Budget Electric Skateboards: (Below $499)

When it comes to budget electric skateboards, your options are to look from the Chinese vendors, especially from the Big 4 – Meepo, Backfire, Wowgo, and Ownboard.

Nobody does affordable better than these Chinese brands, and for the past year, the Chinese brands have collectively proved that top product doesn’t have to cost top dollar. In fact, they releases some of the best electric skateboards in the past year.

Budget Longboards: (Below $499)

If you consider post-sale service something important, going with a budget brand with a good track record is pretty important. Countless new budget brands have sprung up and closed down as this market segment is crowded as hell. Taking that into consideration, and after reviewing dozens of budget electric skateboards from Meepo, Backfire, Ownboard, Wowgo, Teamgee, Verreal, Yeeplay, Apsuboard. Below is our recommended list:

1) Exway X1 – $449


Exway-X1_Chart

Sleek Design – Waterproof – Highly Refined

Read our full review on Exway X1 

Thanks to the recent price drop, the once $999 Exway X1 now became THE best budget board options. Unlike other Chinese brand on this list Exway places a lot more emphasis on the design, polish, and user experience – and that sets it further apart from other budget brands.

While X1’s range may be weak in comparison to mid-tier boards where it used to belong; its specs is competitive in the budget segment. And outside of the numbers, Exway X1 simply does everything better. 

And while the numbers are merely competitive, the other aspect of the X1 blows the competition out of the water. It uses great skate parts like the seismic truck and bushing. Great electronic parts like the customised Hobbywing ESC with a companion mobile app that allows further customisation on control.  Exway great design, top-tier polish, Apple like user experience and top tier customer service also put the brand ahead of the competition. Take powering on the board as example, imagine turning on the remote and having your Exway X1 automatically power on without you needing to bend over and fish for the power button, not even needing you to push it to turn on! That only happens on the Exway and that is just one amongst the many way Exway is better in designing for refined user experience.

The X1 also has a very important features that other boards lacks- it’s IP55 waterproof. Some people even use water spray to clean it! (which we wouldn’t recommend, water may rust the bearing.)

Downside? Some people think 80mm wheels are too small, especially for a hub board on rough pavement, especially for a board with stiff deck.

With that said, Exway X1 is like an NBA player who was now a bit older and decides to play in the CBA; and is very clearly, the head and shoulder above the budget longboard league right now.

Check out Exway X1 product page (click).

2) Apsuboard X1(Hobbywing) – $465


Apsuboard X1 Hobbywing_Chart 2

Flexible Deck – Belt-driven – Smooth

Read our full review on Apsuboard X1 

The first generation Apsuboard X1 was a pretty mediocre mid-tier belt board. While it has a big battery, the imperfection in it’s control ruined the riding experience for me. And oh boy, did things get much better since.

Apsuboard X1 has since then made the ESC change to Hobbywing ESC, bringing perfect smoothness to its control. It then drop the price to $449 while retaining the big 288wh 10s4p battery – this spec simply slaughters the competition.

Outside of the numbers, X1 uses familiar part. Flexible deck with good subtle concave. Generic trucks that works okay, standard generic wheels. This all amount to decent but average riding experience.

Simply put, Apsuboard X1 has an amazing value for its price. It may lack the polish that the major Chinese brands has, but you can’t get a better value hub board with this price much less a belt-driven board which traditionally costs more. And while Apsuboard is a small brand, it’s a brand that we have know well and have enough confident in to recommend.

Check out Apsuboard X1 product page (click).

3) Meepo V3 – $429


Meepo-V3

Flexible Deck – Powerful – Smooth

Read our full review on Meepo V3.

And now, we come back to the familiar faces – MeepoBoard.
Meepo has always been the best selling budget brand since its inception in 2017 and it hold on to that status in all the subsequent years.

Meepo V3 is now the board that inherited that crown. Always emphasizing on power, Meepo now has the most powerful hub motors (because Enertion has gone bye-bye.), and this shows in torque and acceleration. The downside of a big motor is thinner urethane layer over the hub motor and hence rougher ride on a bad road (but there is always the option to upgrade to 100mm motor and wheels yourselves.)

While Meepo, with its LingYi ESC, is always said to be slightly less smooth in control than Hobbywing ESC use in some other boards, the difference is now negligible, especially after their new ‘Flux ESC’ update. The use of LingYi ESC allows them to have ‘push-to-turn-on’ features that boards with Hobbywing ESC couldn’t have.

Generally, for anyone who wants a budget hub board that are strong and pretty well polished, they should join the Meepo club.

Check out Meepo V3 product page (click).

4) Backfire G2 Black – $409


Backfire-G2-Black-02

Flexible Deck – Big wheels – Smooth

Read our full review on Backfire G2 Black.

For those who desire comfort above all, Backfire G2 Black is the way to go. 

Backfire G2 Black is a ride where you can turn your brain off. Using Hobbywing ESC, it is as smooth as can be. Big 96mm wheels are especially nice for those who want safety in wheel size and want to worry less about road bumps and cracks. The trucks are very turny, but this wasn’t a big issue as you can always a) tighten the truck b) change bushing. Anyways, the top speed of G2 Black wasn’t too crazy either so stability usually won’t be an issue.

If you want a smooth and relaxing ride, Backfire G2 Black is your best choice amongst budget longboard segments. 

Note: If you are considering buying a Wowgo 2s or an Ownboard W1S, then go for Backfire G2 Black instead. These three boards have identical specs and ride feel, but being the newest, Backfire G2 Black is slightly better in every aspect.

Check out Backfire G2 Black product page (click).

5) Apsuboard V3 – $326


Apsuboard-V3

Stiff Deck – Smooth

Read our full review on Apsuboard V3.

Remember back in 2018? When budget board just became and thing and thousand of brand such as the Meepo, Wowgo, Ownboard, AEboard, Teemo, Yeeplay etc offered their first budget boards? Those boards were often assembled together with generic parts available on market and costs somewhere around $380? Apsuboard V3 is a board reminiscing of that era – using generic trucks, enclosure, popular flex deck with handle, a 144wh Samsung 20R battery in 10s2p configuration and the LingYi ESC.
(Hobbywing ESC now available for $20 more!)

Well, you might ask: “if Apsuboard V3 is a package from the yesteryears, how did it made the best electric skateboards list then?” Good question my friend, the reason is that, it is selling for only $299.

For an electric longboard, Apsuboard V3 without a doubt, the cheapest board worth buying. If you are really tight on the budget and have to spend as little as possible, this is it. If you ever thought of going to Aliexpress or buying some no name brand off Amazon, don’t – get Apsuboard V3 instead. At least it is from a known brand that won’t rip you off and is actually a decent product and not a toy.

Check out Apsuboard V3 product page (click).

Budget Shortboards: (Below $499)

While most major budget brands have their own budget shortboard, some do it a lot better than others. After trying out the likes of Meepo, Riptide, Enskate, below are the recommended boards.

1) Meepo Mini 2 – $429


Meepo-Mini-2.jpg

Boosted Mini Dish Like Deck – Stable – Smooth

Read our full review on Meepo Mini 2 ER 

Meepo Mini 2 uses a similar deck as the Boosted Mini, a short deck with an aggressive dish-like concave that allows excellent responsive control of the board. Unlike the Boosted Mini, however, Meepo Mini 2 uses a Shredder truck with a wide 200mm hanger, which makes it very stable even at its top speed. 

It had very recently changed from using Hobbywing ESC to latest LingYi ESC (Meepo Esc 5.0). I personally think this is an appropriate change as this brings on the push-to-turn on features. It is always a great feature to have, but especially so for those who plan to make multiple short trips on the shortboard. Controls are almost as smooth as the Hobbywing but with tighter brakes, which reception on it is pretty polarised. 

With that said, all this comes together and makes the Mini 2 the best option amongst budget shortboards and the first consideration for anyone looking to buy a budget shortboard.

 

Note: When buying a Chinese brand, you will usually come across 2 ESC choices. Hobbywing ESC and LingYi ESC. Hobbywing ESC has no push-to-start but have the smoothes acceleration and braking possible. Many however, complaints that the brakes are too smooth or soft and could be dangerous when you REALLY NEED TO STOP. LingYi ESC on the other hand, has slowly been catching up on the control smoothness. With each iteration, they get smoother and smoother. (And Meepo, being THE heavy weight budget brand, always gets the latest iteration much earlier than other brands.). Braking on LingYi ESC can be adjusted, but its overall much tighter and stronger than that of the Hobbywing ESC. LingYi ESC also always come with the push-to-turn-on feature, a useful feature indeed. When you got used to the feature, the need to bend down to reach for the power button underneath the board may feel ‘disgusting’. Heh.

Check out Meepo Mini 2 product page (click).

2) Teamgee H8 Sail – $299


Teamgee H8 chart_Chart

Sleek Design – Drop through deck – Single hub – Waterproof – Super affordable

Teamgee H8 is the cheapest entry level board in the budget shortboard segment, it will only set you back $300. 

It only has a single hub, so it will not be the fastest or stronger. The range on H8 is nothing to brag about either. With that said, for anyone who is new to eskating and want something that can’t hurt you physically and economically, H8 is that cute puppy.

Furthermore, a drop through deck with lower riding height is exactly the type of set-up a beginner should go with. So, instead of buying a no name electric shortboard from Alibaba, going with Teamgee H8 would be the better way to go.

Check out Teamgee H8 product page (click).

Best Lower Mid-tier Electric Skateboards: ($499-$700)

There was a time when no vendor would sell an eskate at this price range as nobody would dare to dish out this much money at an unknown brand, and no premium brand would care to take a profit cut to sell a product at this price.

This changed in 2019. 

As Chinese budget brands proved themselves to be reliable, those who are looking for an upgrade are happy to pay a slightly higher price to the Meepo, Backfire, Wowgo and Ownboard for something better. 

In one short year, we have seen more than a few big releases such as Meepo NLS, Backfire G2T, Wowgo 3, Ownboard W2 then Backfire G3. Then there are smaller brands such as the Lycaon GR, Enskates, ThePeakboard etc. After major price cut, Bustin’s Hybrid boards also joined the fray.

The new Once a no-man land, the mid-tier segment is now flooded with choices, and most of them are good. And for those who are anal about price per performance ratio, I would argue that the best electric skateboards for them falls within this price segment.

Lower Mid-tier Longboards: ($499-$700)

While smaller brands like the Lycaon might look impressive on paper, major Chinese brands are generally still better. Outside of the specs sheets, they use better parts and have more reliable customer service, and you won’t have to worry of them suddenly going out of business.

So below are our choices after considering both boards from small brands such as Lycaon, Enskate, ThePeak, and boards from major brands including Meepo, Backfire, Wowgo, Ownboard, Exway, and Bustin Hybrid boards.

 (I’m gonna emphasis that the number in the list are sorted by price and not ranking, they are all good, and each is best for different use case)

Note: To those who are still asking about Yuneec and Koowheel, are you guys from 2016?

1) Wowgo 3 – $499


Wowgo-3_Chart

Buttery smooth – Flexy deck – High Performance

Read our full review on Wowgo 3 

Looking for a hub board that rides like Boosted? Get a Wowgo 3.
Looking for a hub board that carves like a dream? Get a Wowgo 3.

Wowgo’s first major hit, the Wowgo 2s was endlessly compared to the Boosted board, and I’m guessing that’s the reason Wowgo chose to double down on that angle with Wowgo 3. Flexible deck, Paris trucks, and super smooth customised Hobbywing ESC makes Wowgo 3 deliciously smooth both in control and in carving.

With the riding experience so overwhelmingly good, one might even overlook the fact that Wowgo 3 is also scary powerful and has an acceleration that rivals any board in the mid-tier category. What’s crazier? It recently got a $100 price cut to make it an unbelievable deal considering the price-performance ratio.

If you are not sure about your preference but want something better than a budget board?
Get Wowgo 3. Everybody loves Wowgo 3.

Check out Wowgo 3 product page (click).

2) Backfire G2T – $499


Backfire G2T-01

Versatile – Stability – High Performance

Read our full review on Backfire G2T 

And hey! Backfire G2T got a $100 price cut too!

Stiffer maple decks, Caliber II trucks combine with the predictability of a customised Hobbywing ESC make Backfire G2T a very stable board that is easy to ride fast on. 

The ability to swap between 83mm and 96mm wheels is an understated perk. I think smaller wheels are more fun to ride on when the roads are smooth as you will be riding lower, riding stabler, and the board felt more responsive. And when the streets aren’t that nice, 96mm wheels give safety and comfort with its size.

On top of that, Backfire is pretty generous in the G2T package and includes the canon LED on it, which makes getting Shredlights an option rather than a must. Overall, the Backfire G2T is pretty all rounded; and an exceptionally good choice for those who are not quite sure on what they want.

Note: Turbo modes on the G2T sucks for its 30second time span and jarring transition out from the mode. But there is a simple workaround: don’t use it.

Check out Backfire G2T product page (click).

3) Exway Flex & Flex Riot – $649/ $699 (Best Polished)

Exway-Flex-hub_Chart

Exway-Flex-Riot_Chart


Previous
Next

Belt Driven – Flexy Deck – Smooth Control – Boosted-like

Read our full review on Exway Flex 

After establishing itself as a premium brand, Exway has been expanding to the mid and budget segment by slashing the price of their older models (Exway X1) and introducing new affordable line-up (Exway Flex). The best thing about it? They are bringing their renowned attention to details, product polish and great customer service together with them.

Using a flexy deck, proprietary Trist Truck and the best version of Hobbywing ESC, the Flexway, gives the smoothest possible control and a buttery smooth ride that trumps even the Boosted. It would have given Boosted the final killer-blow if it hasn’t already fallen months before Flexway’s releases. Flexway, however, is going to hurt other Boosted-like boards (Wowgo 3 and Wowgo 3x) a lot, like a really lot.

Why? Exway Flex stood head and shoulder above all the competitors. Flex has better polish, has a smartphone app, is IP55 waterproof, has the smart turn on (board automatically turn on with the remote), has better customer service track records, has a more complete accessories options (wheels/ pulleys), has the ability to swap between hubs and belts, etc.

It has received lots of hype, and after reviewing the board ourselves, we know the hype is 100% justified.

Check out Exway Flex product page (click).

4) Ownboard W2 – $549/ $649

Ownboard W2 4AH_Chart

Ownboard W2 (9AH)_Chart


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Belt Driven – Flexy Deck – Smooth Control

Belt-driven electric skateboards tend to cost a bit more to make as compared to hub motors, and Ownboard W2 is made well for the price it’s asking.

All other belt-driven eskate at this price range use an old version of LingYi ESC in-order to make sufficient torque possible, but that causes the board to be significantly less smooth in control. Ownboard W2 instead goes with Hobbywing ESC that allows the silky smooth acceleration and braking that we all know and love.

However, this choice is not without major sacrifices. Going with a weaker 1st Gen Hobbywing ESC means Ownboard W2 fails to capitalise on the natural strength of a belt-driven set-up – it has neither a strong torque nor brakes. W2 also seems a little bit out of place in the low-mid tier segment when it comes to the parts in it. Yes, it has ceramic bearings that are more water-resistant and might roll better. However, it is still using generic Paris clone trucks, generic bushings, generic Hobbywing remotes, and the board looks like it can use a lot more polish.

With all that said, W2 is still the best belt board at the $500 mark – sandwiched between cheaper Apsuboard X1 and better but pricier Exway Flex riot.

Check out Ownboard W2 product page (click).

5) Meepo NLS Pro- $699


Meepo-NLS-Pro_Chart

Flexy deck – Powerful – Big Wheel

Read our full review on Meepo NLS PRO 

Meepo NLS Pro is an upgrade and replacement over the original NLS – AKA, the board that started the whole low mid-tier boom. 

Unlike the other boards from the list, which mainly aim for refinement and minor performance upgrade, NLS Pro pushes the enveloped in a few ways. First, it is a speed demon and has a top speed unmatched by any board of this category (32mph/ 51kmh). It uses the same hub as Meepo V3 (but 100mm), and as mentioned, is the most powerful hub motor on the production board market right now. Second, it uses giant 100mm wheels that are practically semi-AT. NLS Pro also uses a flexible deck that is slightly better in quality compared to the competitors.

Putting it all together, the NLS Pro is very powerful, reasonably smooth (even more so after ‘Flux’ ESC upgrade), very comfortable in both carving (Flex deck and Shredder Trucks), sufficiently stable for me to test the top speed (the new Macroon bushing are great) and practical in most terrain (big 100mm wheels).

For those who likes power but still want something that are smooth and carves fun, NLS Pro is it.

Note: It might be a little bit confusing as NLS Pro (and Meepo Mini 2 ER) change the ESC they use from Hobbywing to LingYi ESC mid-year. This move makes the brake stronger, brought back the push-to-turn-on features. And with November “Flux ESC” update, it should not be any less smooth than Hobbywing ESC now.

Check out Meepo NLS Pro product page (click).

Lower Mid-tier Shortboards: ($499-$700)

This section is easy to write, as there aren’t many contenders here. Looking up to the future, I am excited to see if the new iterations of Arc boards can make this list.

But for the moment, these are my recommendations.

1) Backfire Mini 2 – $599


Backfire-Mini-Chart-01

Sleek unibody stealth design – Carbon Fiber Deck – Agile – Powerful

Read our full review on Backfire Mini

Backfire Mini has lots of things going for it. It has a beautiful, sleek, stealthy, unibody carbon fiber deck that allows the board to be light. It rides very agile and is super powerful, in fact a little bit too powerful for its size. Not to worry, that power is smoothly controlled with the new 12s Hobbywing ESC.

Backfire Mini is also one of the most flight friendly boards as it allows us to swap out the 175Wh battery to a smaller and flight-compatible 99Wh battery – by removing just eight screws on the deck.

Sadly, this beautiful board isn’t without its flaws. Backfire Mini’s most notable shortcomings would be its vulnerability to water. Its electronic compartment with top access can very quickly turn into a water bucket when it rains. Backfire Mini is also relatively weak in range when compared to boards at this price, as some of your money had evidently went into the design and the material cost.

Check out Backfire Mini product page (click).

2) Meepo Mini 2 ER – $629


Meepo-Mini-2-ER.jpg

Boosted Mini Dish Like Deck – Stable – Powerful

Read our full review on Meepo Mini 2 ER 

Unlike the base version of Meepo Mini 2, Mini 2 ER is a beast.

Forgoing the Hobbywing ESC, Mini 2 ER uses LingYi ESC for extra power, torque, and push-to-turn-on-features and stronger brakes. And with the ‘Flux’ update on the ESC, control smoothness should be almost equal to the Hobbywing ESC.

Mini 2 ER is NLS PRO with 90mm wheels and shorter deck. They use the same internal and have the same beastly performance. Of course, it is worth repeating that Meepo Mini 2 and 2 ER rides very stable thanks to the wide 200mm Shredder trucks. While some longboard felt sketchy going past 26mph/41kmh, Meepo Mini 2 ER stays pretty stable beyond that.

It is heavy; it is stable, and it is wide – Meepo Mini 2 ER rides like a longboard, as opposed to an agile shortboard. Don’t buy this if you are looking for portability, though; the thing is heavy.

Check out Meepo Mini 2 ER product page (click).

Budget All-Terrain: ($499-$700)

And finally, at this price segment is also where our first all-terrain board makes an appearance. A few company actually tried their hand in developing budget AT board, but little of them are actually good enough.

We will continue to be on the look out for other choices, but for now, your only option for budget All-Terrain will be …

1) Meepo City Rider – $679 – discontinued


Meepo-City-Rider_Chart

Semi-AT – Comfortable – Stable

Read our full review on Meepo City Rider

Meepo City Rider is the most affordable board with giant wheels out there. For $679 you get an AT set-up that’s comfortable to ride.

City Rider is, however, strictly speaking, a semi-AT board. As the name suggested, it used should be confined to roads instead of difficult terrain such as sands/ trails, etc. This is for two reasons: 1) Airless AT means the board will bob and bounce rather badly when riding on uneven terrain, and throw you off the board. 2) The hub motors may get dirt stuck on it, requiring maintenance work.

With that in mind, if you are looking for a big-wheeled board for your exceptionally poor city roads, Meepo City Rider is awesome. The board has very recently switch from Hobbywing ESC to the LingYi ESC and now is with tighter brakes (and push to start feature). Unlike most AT that likes to go with double kingpin trucks, City Rider went with Shredder Trucks with extended length making it super stable in top speed while still plenty good in turning.

Check out Meepo City rider product page (click).

Best Higher Mid-tier Electric Skateboards: ($700-$1000)

Now, let’s look at the best electric skateboards between $700 and $1,000. 
Interestingly, just three years ago, $700 used to mean ‘budget board.’

Now, the higher mid-tier price range gives you boards that are very well rounded. Of course, each of the board in this list is here because they excel in something that others don’t.

This price point also give us a few good AT options.

Higher Mid-tier Longboards: ($700-$1000)

Most of the major Chinese brands that have products in this price range make this list. Why? Because they are all pretty great. My guess is, as they are expanding to the premium market segment, a lot more effort was put into making sure the higher priced boards are truly good.

1) Exway X1 Pro/ Riot – $749/$799 (Best polish/Belt)

Hub drive

Belt drive


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Carbon fiber deck – Sleek design – Powerful – Polished

Read our full review on Exway X1 Pro Riot

If you are the type of person who wants no compromise in product polish, customer service, or just simply couldn’t decide between belt-drive or hub-drive – Exway X1 Pro and Pro Riot is the board for you.

Exway X1 Pro and Pro Riots have their drive train set up modularly so that you can switch between hub set-up and belt set-up conveniently. Exway X1 Pro is probably the more popular amongst the two, as the hub set-up is more consistent with the overall theme of stealth, sleek, and light. The belt-drive Pro Riot has the added benefit of powerful torque and acceleration that bested the Boosted, and the option to use your favourite wheels be it the Orangatang or Abec Flywheel (need to buy the pulley).

While Exway is always pricier, it is for a good reason. It has a refined control, which can be further tailored to your preference with the companion app. The whole user experience with an Exway product is also outstanding, akin to that of the Apple’s: Smart turn on, magnetic charging port, different control slider and ride modes… the list goes on.

Check out Exway X1 Pro product page (click).

2) Backfire G3 & G3 Plus – $799 & $999 (Best Hub)

Bamboo  + Fiberglass dec

Carbon Fiber Deck


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Flexible deck – Comfortable – Powerful

Read our full review on Backfire G3

Read our full review on Backfire G3 Plus

Backfire G3 and G3 Plus are basically a slight variation of the same product.

(G3 Plus has a bigger battery, use carbon fiber deck and slightly stronger motor).

What doesn’t change is that both of them will be the best hub motor longboard in this price segment, as they do everything quite well. They give comfortable ride and has specs that matches their price.

Some may say their brakes can be stronger, and they underperforms in range test (if riding aggressively), but for the majority of the riders with appropriate expectation (on the range), G3 and G3 Plus is undoubtedly the best hub board in this price segment.

Note: Personally, I think G3 Plus is the way to go. Extra 85mm sets of wheels, bigger battery, and carbon fiber deck for $200 extra? Worth it.

Check out Backfire G3 and G3 plus product page (click).

3) Wowgo 3x – $749 (Most Boosted-Like)


Wowgo-3x_Chart

Flexible deck – Buttery Smooth – Powerful

We said Wowgo 3 is one of the best mid-tier longboards that are available right now, and Wowgo 3x is everything that, but with belt drive – and belt drive means even stronger torque and even smoother ride (thanks to having more thane by using 4 real wheels).

Flexible deck, Paris Truck, smooth Hobbywing ESC means Wowgo 3x is both buttery smooth and awesome for carving. The 12S customised Hobbywing ESC is thrillingly powerful for the hub-driven Wowgo 3 and even more so for the belt-driven Wowgo 3x. 259wh battery pack promise a range of 14miles or 22.5km, equals to that of the Boosted Stealth, making a direct comparison between the two irresistible.

I know this is an overused cliche but… Wowgo 3 and 3x are the Boosted killer that we’ve been waiting for. For anyone looking for a riding experience very similar to the Boosted, Wowgo 3x is the one for you. 

Considering the riding experience, performance, polish, price and popularity of the Wowgo 3x, I would consider it the product of the year for 2019 and the best electric skateboard coming out of 2019.

Check out Wowgo 3x product page (click).

3) Meepo AWD – $849 (Best Power)


Meepo AWD Pro_Chart

Double Drop Deck – Heavy duty – Powerful – Big 100mm wheels

If your idea of best electric skateboard is the one with the most power, Meepo AWD Pro will sit high on your list. With Enertion Raptor 2 out of the picture, Meepo AWD Pro is now the most powerful hub board out there. With four powerful hub motors, there are no hills too steep and no riders too heavy for the AWD Pro.

Meepo AWD Pro has the highest top speed of all boards outside of the premium boutique boards and it uses a double-drop deck that’s on the stiffer side make sure the board is enough stable for its speed.

Besides having insane torque and crazy top speed, Meepo AWD Pro is an experience similar to the regular V3. It has a similar range using two sets of 10s1p Samsung 40T cells. It uses giant 100mm wheels just like the NLS Pro, making it practically semi-AT.

So, if you need the torque or have lots of hills to climb, Meepo AWD Pro is your only option as Enertion Raptor 2.1 is now off the table, and Acton Qu4tro is un-recommendable. 

Check out Meepo AWD Pro product page (click).

Higher Mid-tier Shortboards: ($700-$1000)

Finally, this is where you can get the most affordable Boosted. There are, however, limited selections of shortboards from other brands. We have the Riptide R1X, which I don’t recommend – and nothing else. My guess is – most of the company had strategically avoid putting out boards that are in direct competition with the Boosted and that’s probably the right business move. 

1) Boosted Mini S and X – $799 & $999 (RIP Boosted)

Boosted-MiniS

Boosted-Mini-X


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Dish like concave – Agile – Smooth – Polished

Note (March 2020): Boosted has gone under. Yes, you heard it right. So, you probably wouldn’t be able to and also shouldn’t get a Boosted at the moment.

While Boosted was never a great buy in the sense of performance per dollar, it is still the best selling electric skateboard brand. Brand name, product polish, design, and customer service is what you are paying for when buying a Boosted.

If you want a shortboard that’s a bit lighter and air-travel friendly, go for the Mini S. If you want something sturdier, has more power and don’t mind the weight? Mini X it is.

Check out Boosted Mini product page (click).

Mid Tier All-Terrain: ($700-$1000)

And finally, at this price segment is also where the true all-terrain board makes appearance. 

As everything affordable, we look to the Chinese brands to find the best value per dollar, and after considering everything from Backfire, Ownboard, and Wowgo. Below are the recommended boards sorted by price.

1) Ownboard Bamboo GT – $999


Ownboard Bamboo GT_Chart

Semi-AT – Comfortable – Turny

(Full Review Coming Soon)

Ownboard Bamboo GT is an easy recommendation. 

They are comfortable to ride on with thick 120mm cloud wheels, double kingpin, and smooth Hobbywing ESC. It is also versatile as it is agile enough for both city commute and light off-road usage.

With good ride feel and great performance, the only nitpick that I have on the Bamboo GT is it lacks in refinement. This I mean by – a little better polish? A higher-quality bushing? A slightly tighter brakes? Oh! And the cloud wheels, as comfortable as they are, might not be as durable as a regular thane wheel.

I will put it this way, Ownboard Bamboo GT is 9/10 boards as it does everything 9/10, almost perfect; leaving you to ponder on the what-ifs.

Check out Ownboard product page (click).

Premium boards: ($1,000-$2,000)

For those who are new to the eskate world, these are probably the only boards that they heard of, namely Boosted and Evolve. Inboard M1 too, started at this price range before they  went under. Enertion Raptor 2 was here before they sort of went under. The weakest specced single drive Trampa Orrsom falls in this price range too (but falls out of recommendation list.) Other than that, you can get some premium boutique brands such as Hoyt St and some decent AT boards for this price.

Instead of splitting boards by category, I’m going to introduce them by brands as few of the boards here allow switch between streets and AT.

1) Ownboard Bamboo/Carbon AT (Best Belt AT) – $1,399 & $1,599

Ownboard Bamboo AT_Chart

Ownboard-Carbon-AT_Chart

Ownboard Bamboo GT_Chart

Ownboard Carbon GT_Chart


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Double Drop Deck – Comfortable – Turny

Ownboard Bamboo AT/GT and Carbon AT/GT are obviously ‘inspired’ by Evolve Bamboo and Carbon series. That, however, doesn’t stop them from being really good. 

Using a Hobbywing ESC, the Ownboards are as smooth as can be, more so than their Evolve counterparts. The ride feels with its own double kingpin trucks are as carvy as it can be – perhaps too much so – a drawback that can be mitigated by changing the bushings.

Like the Evolve, the Ownboards also allow the wheels to convert between the street and AT.

All in all, successfully imitating a proven concept of an Evolve AT series while only asking less than half of its price is precisely why Ownboard Bamboo/Carbon AT are the best belt-driven AT boards for most of us right now.

Check out Ownboard Bamboo AT product page (click).

2) Backfire Ranger X2 (Best Hub AT) – $1,199


Backfire Ranger X2_chart

Double Drop Deck – Powerful

Backfire Ranger X1 was the best all-terrain hub board when it was first released, and the Ranger X2 saw improved performance and hence inherited the throne.

With the 12S Hobbywing ESC and 12s3p battery configuration, Backfire is both smooth in control and powerful in torque. It’s double kingpin trucks are also amongst the nicest outside of Evolve’s Supercarve trucks.

Even though the Ranger X2 now has thicker wheels, airless wheels still don’t work as good as pneumatic or even honeycomb when it comes to shock absorption. With that said, for those who want an AT board with hub motors (for a reduced need of maintenance and waterproof ability perhaps?), Ranger X2 is the clear winner.

Check out Backfire Ranger X1 product page (click).

3) Boosted Plus and Stealth – $1,399 & $1,599

Boosted-Plus

Boosted-Stealth


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Flexy Deck – Comfortable – Polished

Read our full review on Boosted Stealth

Note (March 2020): Boosted has gone under. Yes, you heard it right. So, you probably wouldn’t be able to and also shouldn’t get a Boosted at the moment.

You either know you are going to buy a Boosted, or you know you won’t. Numbers and words are unlikely to convince you otherwise. As everyone already knows, Boosted was never about performance per dollar. It’s brand name, design, polish and reliability are the main selling point. At 2020, you can’t even argue that Boosted has a superior riding experience – competition had definitely caught up; what you can argue is that, Boosted is going to age better than the competition, last longer than competing products and kept its resell value better.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If you want the functionality of a Boosted but don’t quite care about the brand name? Get two Wowgo 3x. One for yourself and one for your friend. Share the love. 
However, if you want the most reliable board on the market right now, Boosted is still it.

Check out Boosted product page (click).

4) Evolve Bamboo GTR and Carbon GTR – $1,699 & $1,999

Evolve-Bamboo-GTR-Street-1

Evolve Carbon GTR Street

Evolve-Bamboo-GTR-AT-1

Evolve Carbon GTR AT


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Swappable AT & Street – Easy to Turn – Powerful

Read our full review on Evolve Bamboo GTR 

There are a few plus points for someone to go for an Evolve board. 1) Brand name; 2) Swappable between AT & Street wheels; 3) Reliable customer service 4) Double Kingpin Trucks that allows sharp turn and fun carves; 5) You live in Australia (where the boards are made).

Evolve used to be the go-to brand when it comes to pure performance. That advantage had long disappeared since the rise of the Chinese brands. Evolve also used to be known for the Double Kingpin trucks and the ability to switch between AT/Street wheels. This advantage was too, gone after a slew of Chinese boards starts to offer one or both of these features. Just to name a few off the top of my head, we have the Ownboard AT/GT, Backfire Ranger X, Verreal RS, and other lesser-known brands like the Vestar and OneWow.

At the end of the day, Evolve still stands for its reputable brand name, reliable customer service, and large groups of die-hard fans. Oh, and they also have a $999 shortboard call the Stoke.


Evolve-Stoke

Read our full review on Evolve Stoke

Check out Evolve’s product page (click).

Best Cost-A-Kidney Boards: (Above $2000)

If price is not a factor, the best electric skateboard obviously are those with meteoric price. However, ranking the board in this segment is pretty impossible, as there is just no way to compare boards at this price. When a board is selling at this price, what’s great about them usually aren’t about the number but about their design. These boards are the small scale boutique brands, or DIY based vendors that aim to craft the fiercest monster money can buy.

P.S.: If you want to get a taste of these boards without shelling out the money, try going on FriendWithA to rent one! ($10 off with our affiliate link).

Now, I’m just gonna list them according to price.

1) Hoyt St – $1,999


Hoyt-St

The stylish one

I know, I know, it’s $1,999 and not over $2,000.

But on a performance per dollar ratio, Hoyt St belongs squarely in this super-premium boutique board list.

Not everyone can pull off the ‘same spec as Boosted but higher price’ move. Hoyt St can because it is so very well crafted.

Check out Hoyt St product page (click).

2) Metroboard X (AT and Street) – $2,379

Metroboard X (Wheel)-01

Metroboard X AT-01


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The Powerful

If you want a high quality 2 in 1 board made in the USA, the Metroboard is it. 

Metroboard is one of the oldest brands of Eskate and has been making high quality premium electric skateboards for a while now. Their latest flagship MetroboardX is not only pushing up the price, it’s also doubling down on the quality, using many parts that were made specially for it. 

Of course, it also has beefy specs, as all board in this price segment usually do.

Check out Metroboard X product page (click).

3) Kaly.nyc – $2,850-$3,600


The Beast

If you want to get a premium Trampa built, get a Kaly. 

It is powerful, uses gear drives and looks freaking cool, and I think 2/3 of us in ESHQ have one so it probably is best electric skateboards? 

It starts at $2,850 for the base model and the highest specced XL40 is ‘only’ selling at $3,600.

Check out Kaly.nyc product page (click).

4) Lacroix family – $2,500 – $4,000

Lacroix-Jaws.jpg

Lacroix-Nazare.jpg

Lacroix-Nazare-Lonestar.jpg


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The Tank

The Lacroix is the most expensive electric skateboard on the market right now and the Nazare Lonestar is most likely the most powerful board with the beefiest battery in production right now.

Personally, I think Lacroix is tailored for those who are blessed with a wide and endless roads as those roads allow one to take a long cruise in high speed. Lacroix is a very stable ride but wasn’t easiest to turn (or maybe its just not made for my weight) so it probably wasn’t the board for everyone. (But those who have it swear by it!)

Check out Lacroix product page (click).

5) Bioboard family – around $2,100 – $4,150


The Elite

I stand corrected, the Bioboards are the most expensive electric skateboard money can buy right now. Bioboards are made in Sweden, and they aim to offer the highest performance possible.

Let’s go through some numbers, their flagship – Bioboard’s Thorium X4 is an all-wheel-drive with four gear drive. Powered by 12s6p Samsung 30Q battery. It has a top speed of 48mph (77kmh) and a range of 37miles (60km)…

Check out Bioboard product page (click).

Final Words:

So, these are the best electric skateboards for every price point. I hope you enjoyed this list and found it helpful to make an informed purchase decision.

If you think a board is worthy of being on the list (by knocking one of them off of course), please comment below!I hope you enjoy this list and find it helpful to inform your purchase.

And again, do check out our Discount Page for our affiliated discount code. Using them will help us out too!

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!

Backfire G3 Plus Review – Is the world ready for a premium Backfire?

Backfire has been making a lot of business moves in the past few months, creating waves with its release of the G3 Plus, Ranger X2, G2 Black and it’s IndieGoGo campaign for the Backfire Mini. But the G3 Plus is extra special, as at $999 it would be the most premium street-board offered by the brand, which is otherwise known for offering products that are polished but affordable.

So, the obvious question is: Just what are we paying more for? Especially now, when boards at the $600-700 mark, like the Wowgo 3, Meepo NLS Pro and Backfire’s own G2T are all already very good.

Backfire G3 Plus At first Glance

A quick glance through the product page will show off the most obvious improvements that Backfire has put into the G3 plus. A new carbon fiber deck, 12s battery and ESC, stronger hub motors, and the back truck has been upgraded to the Caliber II. Plus, there are some minor aesthetic upgrades, making it even more eye-catching than its predecessor. Looking at it closely, the G3 Plus does have the premium polish and looks that make it worthy of the price tag. Oh yeah! And they finally allow the turbo mode to be switched on without cooldown!

Riding Experience:

In the real-world test, all of this comes together as expected, to equal a pretty great riding experience. In my opinion, the carbon fiber deck plays a big part in it. The new deck has a better flex than the older Maple deck that the Backfire G2’s use. It also has a slightly more pronounced concave to it, which I like.

Deck Flex

The carbon fiber deck also allows the Backfire G3 Plus to be surprisingly light, only measuring in 16lbs or 7.2kg. This adds to the portability of the board. You can comfortably carry it around with your AlterBag.

Video of this review is sponsored by our friend at AlterBag, which is a very cool yet practical electric skateboard rucksack!!

Combining the deck with the Caliber II front and back trucks, the Backfire G3 Plus rides very-very comfortably at any speed. Stability and predictable is what caliber II trucks are known for, and combining that with the predictability and precision of the Hobbywing ESC makes the Backfire G3 Plus a ride that’s so relaxing that you can turn your brain off.

For those who are wondering how the new 12s Hobbywing ESC compares to the Gen 2 Hobbywing ESC on the G2T – Well, they felt the same – except, that turbo mode now lacks any sort of cooldown, which is huge! Changing speeds is still a perfectly smooth process. Braking strength too remains unchanged, which I feel is perfect for most riders. However, those who likes their boards to brake really strong are gonna bitch about it. You know who you are. =P

Compare to other boards of the same price, one other big change for the G3 Plus is the inclusion of 96mm wheels. Continuing the tradition of the G2T, the G3 Plus is going to ship with both 85mm wheels and 96mm wheels. This, again, is going to add to the versatility of the G3 Plus, catering to lovers of both small and large wheels. 85mm wheels are what many think are the optimum size and 96mm are practically semi-AT; many people, including myself, like the safety in size. The larger 96mm wheels and the flex in the carbon fiber deck combine to soak up vibration quite well, making the board less uncomfortable on rough roads.

Now, the lowlights.

Overall, I think Backfire did a pretty great job with the G3 Plus, but there are always things to nitpick on, and for G3 Plus that happens to be about the numbers.

The G3 Plus rocks a pack of 12s2p Samsung 21700 40T batteries. It’s a 346wh pack that has a marketed range of up to 25 miles or 40km, but I managed to kill it in just 15miles or 24km, riding in Turbo mode with the 96mm wheels on. While the battery pack is objectively large and good, the ability to Turbo the whole distance probably means you can drain it way faster than you are supposed to. You can get to the marketed range if you ride on Standard mode and on 85mm wheels, but power users will definitely need to lower their expectations when it comes to range.

The 2nd nitpick I have on the G3 Plus is the top speed, which is only about 27.5mph or 44kmh. Pushing for higher top-speeds was never Backfire’s forte, and the G3 Plus did nothing to change that.

“This post is sponsored by Visit Singapore 2020”

Many will tell you there is no value having a top speed higher than that of 27mph but for $999, I would prefer my board to have top speed ceiling that I won’t be able to hit. One good thing is that there is very little sag on the battery and the G3 plus maintains its ability to hit 22mph or 36kmh even at 25% battery level.

My final nitpick on the G3 Plus is that the LED ambient lights can be annoying. The G3 Plus also doesn’t come with the canon LED light like the G2T does. I guess that’s because the spot on the nose of the deck is taken, so you will probably have to go with shredlights for this one

Verdict:

At the end of the day, the Backfire G3 Plus is all about a comfortable and relaxing ride. It rides comfortably on any road surface, good or bad, at high and slow speeds. Although G3 Plus’s range and top speed is nothing to brag about, it is by no means weak. As long as you know what to should expect for the range, there is nothing not to like about the board.

If you are interested in buying a Backfire board, be sure to check out our affiliate discount link here and uses code: “ESKATEHQ” during check out.
It will help you get a small monetary discount and helps us out too. On top of that, you’ll be tagged as an Electric Skateboard HQ customer and probably be treated better. Cheers!

[Updated] Evolve Bamboo GTR First Look & In Depth Review – Evolve, Evolved

Follow the discussion on Reddit here

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

The Email

It was a day like any other day on March 30, 2019 when I got an email from Jeff Anning.

“Hi Sophia,” it started. “My name is Jeff Anning, I’m the founder of Evolve Skateboards based in Australia and we have been manufacturing and distributing Electric Skateboards since 2009.  I’m emailing you to see if you would be interested in doing a review for us.  We have some cool things ahead and now at a stage where we are looking for potential reviewers who may be interested in working with us.  We do have our USA partner whom can assist with logistics etc and is more than happy assist with anything that may be required. If you have any questions please let me know, cheers for your time :)”

Of course, I leapt at the chance. Evolve Skateboards. I mean come on! They’re one of the few companies in the eskate world that cater specifically and directly to high end consumers. Their boards are fun to ride despite their well documented problems, and they’re secretive. Who wouldn’t want to get a first look at what they’re up to?

My Evolve Carbon GT circa June 2017

My first experience with Evolve was with their third generation board, the Carbon GT. At first, I thought it was the best thing ever. Then I started to experience the issues. Remote disconnects, battery sag up hills, almost no power to do anything meaningful once it drained past half battery. The problems were exacerbated here in San Francisco as it’s a very wirelessly dense and hilly city. After a while, I became unhappy with the performance and moved on to bigger and better things.

However, I always wondered what Evolve would do to fix these problems. Make no mistake, these weren’t isolated incidents I was having, the problems were very real. There’s no way they wouldn’t be working to fix this stuff.

Well, what have Evolve been up to all this time? Let’s find out.

Digging In

When I first opened up the box and caught my first glimpse of the Bamboo GTR, my immediate first impression was that it simply looked fantastic. An all new super flex deck, new thicc enclosure, new white (!) wheels, new matte finished trucks. The combination just looks great. I love classic looks, and this is most surely a classic look. The wide wheelbase coupled with the natural wood deck striped with griptape on either side is just super. You’d be hard pressed to find a better looking board.

The Hardware

I’m told by Evolve that the new GTR series shares no components with the 3rd generation GT series. Even if things look similar, every component has been at least re-engineered. A new manufacturing method for the trucks (forging and CNCing instead of casting), a new deck manufacturer with a different construction method, a new motor construction with a focus on reliability, and new wheels with new formula poured by AEND, the same factory that pours wheels for other leading wheel brands like ABEC.

New wheels. Let’s talk about the wheels for a second. First off, they’re really great. I mean really. I’ve tried all the ABEC wheels, all Evolve’s old wheels, and a whole bunch of other wheels. The rebound on the urethane is great, and it really grips the road and takes potholes well. I run Boas on my main DIY board, and honestly I like these 97s ever so slightly better. It’s high praise, I know, and the durability and long term coloration of these wheels are still to be determined, but so far so very good.

Speaking of so far so good, the deck is also a lot improved from the previous bamboo deck. There’s a lot more flex, a lot more distinctive concave, and personally I think the design is a lot better. It’s also a bit longer than the previous one at 38 inches, and features multiple sets of mounting holes so you can adjust your ride position. Of course, the enclosure that goes on the deck is equally flexy and solidly built, with improved waterproofing by way of rubber gaskets and improved sealing, and in my opinion the battery pack that goes inside is also much improved. But let’s talk about that later.

All this coupled with the new more precision made trucks makes for a fantastically comfortable ride. I had absolutely no problems rolling over any potholes that I otherwise would have to watch out and brace for, even though I’m on 97mm wheels. It’s so cliche and cheesy saying this, but I can tell they really focused on the ride first and foremost. So good!

Of course, no Evolve product is complete without the ability to swap to all terrain hardware. I did not get to test this feature in my review as they didn’t send me any AT hardware, but if it worked like it did in the previous generation, I’d expect it to work quite well. There are new tire colors, sizes, and rims, something for everybody. I’m also told that the new Evolve website will have a board builder feature where you can customize your perfect board and have that arrive at your doorstep instead of a stock configuration. I think this is really great and an unprecedented option in eskate.

But skate hardware is not everything when it comes to eskates right?

Right. The electronics are of the utmost importance and tell the other side of the ride story. Performance, control, and reliability of electronics all play a huge part in how an eskate handles and feels to ride. Previously, on the 3rd generation GTs, some of my most major complaints were somewhat jerky early braking curves at high speeds, weirdly jerky throttle application, remote disconnections, and inconsistent power.

Let’s start with the braking curve. I’m happy to report that compared to the previous generation, it’s much improved. The same Evolve motor control algorithm is present, and the customary motor whine is still there, so if you were hoping for that to go away, you will be disappointed. However, braking from high speeds no longer jerks on initial application but instead comes on smoothly and predictably. This was a painpoint for me as bombing hills at high speed is something I do regularly and it really used to be very nervewracking on the Carbon GT. Now I no longer worry when I’m on the GTR. As for throttle during acceleration, while it does feel smoother than the previous generation, it’s not so much of a difference that I’d say it’s gamechanging.

But braking and acceleration curves mean nothing if the dang thing isn’t reliable. So let’s talk about that.

The Remote

The R2 remote was somewhat controversial when it first launched. The design was wholly unique, and many people’s opinions were split. I personally even preferred the original remote and eschewed the R2 because of that.

However, I’ve come to realize that all I really had to do was stick with it. Now, on my second go at using the R2 remote daily, I’m finding that it really is a fairly good remote in terms of ergonomics and controls. I have smaller hands so it’s ever so slightly on the chunky side, but it’s not so bulky that I have a hard time using it. It’s now heftier due to a larger battery than the original R2 and even comes in several colors if you’re into that sort of thing. A battery saving features has now been built in as well where the screen automatically turning on/off depending on if you raise to look at it or not.

Now all that is well and good, but the major headlining feature for the GTR R2 remote, is the Bluetooth connection. There may be some confusion around this subject so let me explain. Evolve did not actually change the radio technology they use to transfer data. Bluetooth is a protocol, transmitted via the same radio frequency they used to use, 2.4GHz. Done correctly, 2.4GHz remotes are some of the most reliable remotes available.

Now, it’s no secret that old Evolve remotes have had connection issues. It’s also no secret that their remotes have had pairing issues. I’ve had many an instance where I’ve simply turned on my old Carbon GT as I regularly did and had it simply refuse to connect. I’ve also had many an instance where the remote would simply disconnect on me while riding. I know firsthand that these things happened with the old R2. And although I no longer have an old R2 remote, I also know exactly where I can reproduce disconnections on bad remotes in general. Now that I’ve been given this opportunity to put the GTR through its paces, I must also test the remote as thoroughly as I can.


Please note before you read the below that my board and remote was both running prototype firmware. There were some bugs in general that did not affect riding.


I really tried to get this remote to disconnect. San Francisco is a very wirelessly dense city with tons of interference, and I made sure to run through the thick of it. In my test, I rode through all the challenging areas of SF: The streets of Chinatown, the heart of the Financial District, directly under high voltage bus lines, up Twin Peaks and around the high powered radio towers. I ran errands on the board, commuted to work on the board, did 20+ mile nonstop rides across hilly and mountainous terrain on the board. Not a single drop while riding where the old R2 once had issues for me.

There is one caveat though. If I stand at a certain street corner near my house for a period of time, I can maybe make the remote disconnect. I can’t reproduce this reliably (in fact the two times it happened I was not attempting to reproduce it at all) and it’s only happened twice and only on this specific street corner, but I believe it bears mentioning. There were a few other firmware related issues with my review unit, chief amongst which was a bug where the remote wouldn’t re-establish connection with the board after the board times out and turns off then is turned back on again, so I’m more willing to chalk this issue up to a firmware bug. Evolve tells me these issues have already been fixed on the release firmware, but only time will tell if they really have been fixed. All I can say is that in my times testing it, I have not had a single issue where I most surely would have already on the old hardware.

The Battery

If the remotes were the foremost controversial thing about the 3rd generation GT boards, the battery packs that ran them were the secondmost.

Reports of battery sag and being kicked down to Eco mode going uphill have been abound for the last few years, and it’s been a major sticking point for the GT series boards. It’s also no secret that CEO of Evolve Jeff Anning has had very public strong opinions about Evolve’s then battery technology of choice: lithium polymer prismatic packs. In any case, this was something Evolve dearly needed to fix. And fix it they did.

Let’s get some facts out of the way. The new Evolve Powerflex packs are 10s4p Samsung 35e batteries. This means the cells are arranged in packs of four, wired in series. 35e cells are 3500mAh cells that can do 8A discharge. It’s somewhat surprising that Evolve has chosen to go this route, as the 35e drops voltage faster than another popular cell for eskate, the 30q. Here’s a comparison between the 35e and 30q:

And here’s a comparison between the 35e and VTC6, yet another popular cell for eskate:

As you can see, voltage drops quite drastically in both single cell performance comparisons, which means packs built out of 35e cells will experience more battery sag than packs built out of the other two cell types.

But does it matter?

When Evolve told me about their new battery technologies, they stressed that their first main focus was battery safety. Their second main focus was power at all battery levels. This means that regardless of the state of charge, you should experience similar torque. Taking off at 100% in GTR mode should feel the same as taking off at 10% in GTR.

I’ve tested this to the best of my ability and, well, they’re not lying. Torque is similar at all battery levels. Climbing hills at 10% felt the same as 100%, albeit slower, and I remained in GTR the entire way. The battery indicator did not fluctuate wildly either. This is honestly a fantastic improvement. With this, one of my major complaints about Evolve boards was solved completely.

Heading to the top of Twin Peaks, San Francisco is a route I ride regularly, and it’s no easy route. It’s a fairly steep climb all the way to the top if you start at Market St near the Castro or the Panhandle near Golden Gate Park, and it’s the route I take if I want to test performance of a board under high constant load. I took the Bamboo GTR up that route, and recorded the whole thing. Here’s the video. Note that the video starts when I was already halfway up:

I’d say that’s pretty impressive. The whole route up I only dropped 20% battery according to the remote, and maintained power the entire time.

Range is quite good too. On range tests over very hilly terrain (basically all of San Francisco), I was consistently hitting over the 20 mile mark riding briskly. As you can see in the ride tracked on the left even an 145lb person can do a 21 mile run and still get home with 7% battery all in GTR. This includes literally riding up a mountain. This is extremely good and quite impressive for a board in San Francisco. I have no doubt on flatter ground it’s entirely possible to hit the 30 mile range advertised even in GTR mode. Really good shit.

The Internals

One of the major improvements Evolve claims they’ve made to their battery system is that they’ve found a way to allow the entire pack to flex an insane amount.

I’m not talking about just a little bend, I’m talking about you can bend the entire pack into an almost tube shape. They also told me they’ve redesigned every single internal electrical component. So of course I opened it up, and here’s what I found.

The electronics enclosure is split into two parts: the ESC housing and the battery pack and BMS housing. You can remove one or the other quite easily simply by removing the screws from the top. Each enclosure has been dustproofed and waterproofed, though Evolve won’t say what the rating is.

Each enclosure has a plastic cover that’s screwed down, and there are o-rings and gaskets around every point of ingress. It’s very clean.

Opening up the battery enclosure, we find the underside of the flexible battery PCB. The entire assembly is pressfit into the enclosure tightly to prevent movement, so it takes quite some effort to pull out.

But pull it out I did, and here’s what it looks like.

You can clearly see how flexible this pack is. I’m actually very impressed with the design of this pack. The traces on the PCB can actually carry around 200A, even though the full pack is rated at 32A continuous and 52A burst. Evolve says that average continuous riding will hit 20A discharge and that in their side by side comparisons with the same pack made of 30q cells, the 35e performed better. I don’t claim to know what metrics they’re looking at for performance, but this is what I’ve been told.

Going over to the ESC enclosure, we remove its cover to find the newly redesigned ESC.

You can see the ceramic antenna for the remote embedded on the right side of the ESC, and two wires going to the USB breakout board. These power the two rear facing USB ports for accessories.

I think time will tell how well this enclosure system holds up. Evolve tells me they got to where they are now from breaking countless iterations, fixing, and breaking again so they’re very sure of the hardware, and honestly I believe them. Everything I see here is quite high quality and obviously built to last.

So after all that, I have a few observations.

The GTR is a brand new product inside and out. It may look similar to the 3rd generation GT boards, but honestly, it’s really not. As far as I can tell, almost everything is improved in a forward thinking way. Even the motors have been redesigned with stronger components, are now vented, and now feature a single hot swap connector for some mysterious purpose.

I think a lot of people will look at this board and go “well it looks similar to the old one, why upgrade? I can just send my current GT to a battery upgrade service and be done with it,” and of course, you can do that. But I think unless you’re also planning on swapping the ESC out for something like a FOCbox Unity, the new GTR would probably still be a better bet due to the numerous upgrades.

I really love the new 97s. I think they’re a great wheel with great rebound, and I love the white color scheme even though it gets dirty fairly quickly here in SF. They’re so good that I’m willing to jump in and get four sets. HMU Jeff Anning 😉

I think it’s a good move for Evolve to move to 18650s, even if they’re not admitting they were wrong in the past. It’s an even better move for the consumer as now they don’t have to deal with the headaches related to voltage sag and can just ride. We’ll call it a win-win yeah?

The new Bamboo GTR deck is just great. You gotta take it for a ride.

But Sof, would you recommend it?

I’ve been riding the new Bamboo GTR for the better part of two weeks. It’s less time than I would have liked, and certainly less time than I typically ride other boards before I give my opinion.

In addition, the release schedule of this review had to be very unexpectedly and very annoyingly bumped forward quite a bit because of certain circumstances regarding a certain YouTuber, but I think what it boils down to is this.

Riding an electric skateboard, as with any other leisure sport, is an activity that should be enjoyed. That’s the bottom line. If your only focus is speed and that’s what you enjoy, this is not the board for you. If you hate belt drives, this is not the board for you. But at the end of the day, there’s only one question that needs to be asked. Do you smile when you ride the GTR? I know I do.

Update On Remote Connection

Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that I was getting dropouts on the remote at certain places during my testing. Evolve chalked it up to issues the prototype unit had and assured me that the issues wouldn’t persist in the production unit. Of course, I didn’t simply believe them, so Evolve was kind enough to arrange for me to get on a production board and ride to my problem spots around San Francisco to test if things have really gotten better.

I’m happy to report that I had no issues whatsoever. Down Polk, down Market, up the entirety of California, around Chinatown, no disconnects occurred. Of course, this is not a comprehensive testing and consumer results remain to be seen, but in areas where I previously had issues with the prototype, I now had no issues with the production unit. I’m fairly satisfied for now.