I believe there is an electric skateboard for every type of person and every type of purpose. I believe, with the due consideration, that almost every electric skateboard on the market can be paired with a suitable demographic of people who might be seeking out a particular set of features and benefits – Except the briefcase board. The briefcase board can burn in hell as the single most ridiculous “innovation” in esk8 history!
The 10s5p dual belt kit from DIYeboards, however, stumps me a little. On one hand it performs well above expectations and it’s one of the cheapest ways to get some of the best performance specs out there at minimum of fuss and cost. On the other hand it’s a raw and unrefined piece of hardware that comes with considerable question marks looming over its quality and durability.
It all started with the Riptide R1. A seriously fun board that I would definitely buy if its specs were a little more suited to my needs. But alas, I’m not in college anymore…
The Riptide R1’s motor assembly comes from an overarching original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This makes it an accessible piece of hardware for DIY projects and kit buIilds alike. This got me thinking… What would a Riptide R1 on steroids look like?
I enjoyed the smaller form factor, portability and functional kicktail of the Riptide R1. It was also nice to have a smaller, more nimble and more agile option in the board quiver, particularly something belt-driven (sating my love for juicy, full-urethane rear wheels). But I hated the lack of range, battery sag and bottle-necked power as a result of the small battery and 6s ESC.
The idea was simple: I want a Riptide R1 that reaches a 25mph/40kph top speed and can get around 18.5mi/30km worth of range.
Then a rational voice kicked in, ‘That’s bloody fast and a super long distance to ride on such a short, stiff deck.’
‘Yeah, you’re right,’ I thought to myself. ‘I need a slightly longer deck/wheelbase for stability at speed and comfort over longer distances.’
‘Okay, a 34 inch, 25mph/40kph top speed, 18.5mi/30km range Riptide R1!’ Hmmm, this is becoming less and less like a Riptide R1.
‘Okay, well if the Riptide R1 Elite is $729 USD, which is around $1195 AUD (including shipping, taxes and currency conversion fees), can I build a Riptide-inspired board, built around my own needs and wants for less than the $1195 AUD price tag it would cost to buy an actual Riptide R1 Elite?’
This monologue led to my purchase of the DIYeboards 10s5p dual belt kit.
All prices in AUD.
- $712 total spend at DIYeboards. This included the 10s5p dual belt kit, 2x spare belts, 2x spare lipped bearings, 2x extra enclosure pads (just in case), 2x 8mm riser/shock pads, 2x 18mm riser/shock pads (I still hadn’t chosen a deck at this point, so I got risers in both sizes just in case I needed them), some grip tape (just in case, but I didn’t end up needing/using it), shipping, taxes and currency conversion fees.
- $105 on an Evolve ONE deck (more regarding this choice in the next section).
- $47 on bearings (Bones Reds) and bushings (Orangatang Nipples in medium).
- $0 on wheels (ABEC11 90mm Flywheels). Obtained via trade (usually $195’ish).
Total cost to me = $864 (or $1059 if I had to pay for the wheels), saving me approximately $330 (or $135 if I had to pay for the wheels) over buying a Riptide R1 Elite, and I got a ton of spares as well as better bearings and bushings for my trouble, not to mention a much better performing board!
This proved a bit of a challenge to the budget I had set myself for this project. Everything is ridiculously expensive in Australia! I turned to the second-hand market and tried my luck there. Nothing. Trying to get something the right size and shape I wanted at the right price proved futile. I ended up settling on an Evolve ONE deck, which was being made available to me at a reasonable price. It was a little longer than I had originally envisioned; 37 inches over my preferred 34, but with a wheelbase of only 26 inches and a kicktail, it was close enough and would still fulfil all the requirements of being a more nimble and more agile board for my quiver compared to my other longboards with wheelbases between 29 and 33.5 inches (and no kicktails).
Assembly was pretty straight forward. First I removed the clone 83mm wheels and standard bearings, replacing them with my ABEC11 90mm Flywheels and Bones Reds respectively. I then removed the crappy bushings and attempted to install my O’Tang Nipples. This is where I encountered my first problem. Like many of these China-direct budget boards and kits, the kingpin wasn’t long enough to support a double-barrel bushing setup. There are a few options here, 1. Shave down the smaller barrel (not recommended), 2. Source longer kingpins or swap out the trucks, or 3. Use regular cone skateboard (not longboard) bushings roadside in place of the smaller barrel. I went for option 3 as I just so happened to have some in matching duro to the medium O’Tang Nipples (87A) in my kit of spares. This makes my bushing setup as follows (from boardside to roadside): Flat washer, large barrel, hanger, small cone, cupped washer, nut.
Apply decent wheels, bearings, bushings (and pivot cups if you’re so inclined) to any budget board or kit and you will instantly transform it into a premium-feeling machine!
Next I turned my mind to mounting the enclosure. Simple enough, I used the enclosure itself as a template and marked out where on the deck it was going to be mounted and where the holes were going to be drilled. Once everything was mapped out, I drilled the holes from the bottom of the deck and then countersinked from the top. Next I applied the enclosure pads. I ended up using three due to the space created by the concave of the deck, which leaves a gap around the edges of the enclosure. I only used one complete pad. The second and third pads were cut to fill in the edge gaps to create a tight seal. Once applied, I made holes in the enclosure pads with a Phillips-head screwdriver, poking the screwdriver through the deck holes, then through the pads ready for the enclosure to be bolted on. Easy.
Now everything was ready to assemble. I ended up using the 8mm risers. Together with the 90mm wheels, this was all that was needed to ensure good wheel clearance from the deck and good enclosure clearance from the road. Everything went together really well. Nice and simple.
QUALITY AND HARDWARE
It should be fairly obvious at this point that we’re not exactly talking about the highest quality kit in the world. I’m not an expert in steel alloy, but I would imagine quality here would be on the lower end of town considering the price. I don’t have too much of a problem with that. I would have a serious problem if there was a ‘1’ in front of the price I paid for the kit, but there wasn’t. Quality is usually (but not always) commensurate with price. Knowing full well that I’m probably getting myself into a fairly low quality situation, it simply means I have to be more mindful regarding how I treat and inspect this product before, during and after rides.
The motors are 5055, 270kV, 2000W (max) outrunners. Pretty serious pieces of hardware. It is these motors (shared by the Riptide R1) that I wanted to see unleashed. Depending on battery size, ESC and gearing ratio, these motors are capable of about 31mph/50kph. A far cry from the Riptide’s 20mph/32kph. With a 10s setup DIYeboards claims a top speed of about 26.5mph/43kph for this kit, which is more than enough and ticks the top speed spec I was aiming for.
The enclosure is pretty low grade plastic, as you’d expect, but it does the job. It’s on the bulkier side as far as enclosures go, but it has to be to house the 10s5p battery pack, which is in brick configuration, together with the sandwich configuration, dual motor ESC (the dual belt 2.1 for those playing at home).
The 10s5p battery pack is made up of LGMF1 18650 cells. No doubt these are pretty average cells, very much the lower end of town and the same cells used by the original Meepo. The low quality of the cells is somewhat compensated by sheer amount them. I mean, there’s 50 of them! Running them in 5p also helps reduce battery sag to a minimum compared to the typical 2p setup these cells are usually used for. However, the range isn’t anywhere near as good as you’d expect from a higher-grade 10s5p pack.
The battery voltage meter on the enclosure is an odd choice. What’s the point when a percentage meter is now the industry standard?
The remote is the well-known Winning/Nano clone (recently updated to a new, more refined design with four speed modes). I like this little remote. On all the boards I’ve used with this model remote it’s never let me down. Not one pairing, connection or drop-out issue. Ever.
My completed setup weighed in at 19.4lbs/8.8kg.
For this section please note that I weigh about 90kg/198lbs these days. Top speed was measured in the highest of the three speed modes, whereas range was measured in the second of the three speed modes. I ride flat-out as often as possible.
Top Speed: With the board setup as described I managed to achieve a top speed of 26.8mph/43.2kph. A hairline over the advertised top speed!
Range: This is one of the few boards where I haven’t felt it necessary to test the range in the highest speed mode. I’ll discuss this more in the next section, but for cruising and commuting the second speed mode is certainly more than enough, even for speed freaks!
From full battery to dead-flat I managed to milk 16.6mi/26.7km worth of real-world range out of this kit. I was still able to hit a 25mph/40kph top speed in the middle speed mode from the beginning of the ride all the way down to about 20% battery.
Hill Climbing: The board destroyed my local 15.7% test incline without batting an eye! It barely dropped any acceleration at all. I would expect it to perform just as well on anything up to 20%. Beyond that it’s performance might start to suffer a bit.
Sag: The board could still achieve close to top speed at 20% battery power. It only showed signs of slightly slowing down at around the 15% mark. For the last 10% performance started to feel about half. This is actually a tremendous result for a $864 AUD board with seriously average cells. It owes thanks to the 5p setup for the that one!
This is a 26.8mph/43.2kph top speed, 16.6mi/26.7km range, 20% hill grade board that cost me $864 AUD! That’s insane! I would not have thought that was possible just one year ago! A close rival spec wise might be the Evolve Bamboo GT. Having owned both I would choose this kit over the Evolve any day of the week! My reasoning – the spec difference is trivial, the quality difference is arguable, the 10s5p kit packs a torque and acceleration hit that Evolve has lacked since their R2 firmware update, the 10s5p kit uses bottom shelf 18650 cells that are still better than Evolve’s generic pouch cells, onset battery sag is much better (later in the ride) with the 10s5p kit and it’s considerably cheaper by a large margin.
This kit has a super raw, aggressive and untamed power curve, which I quite enjoy. I mean, smooth is nice, but every now and then you want something that puts the fear of death in you (but in a good way). Some people might call this a lowlight, but I’m a bit weird.
I have been and always will remain a fan of the Winning/Nano-style remote and other awesome little features like smart turn on, which is included on all DIYeboard ESC’s.
Almost all of the lowlights I included in my Riptide R1 review are still applicable here. They include:
Lack of a belt tensioning system. The dual belt drive system is a complete sub-assembly from an overarching OEM. This complete sub-assembly lacks any kind of belt tensioning system. This is likely to have an adverse (faster) effect on the rate of wear of belts and even the drive gears.
The noise. This dual belt drive system is not a quiet system. Most belt drives are on the louder side compared to hubs, but this is next-level!
The ESC/braking. This ESC also suffers from a strange type of “double braking” effect, where the brakes initially slow your motors’ RPM’s down to a certain rate, then the second stage kicks in, which can be kind of abrupt and catch inexperienced riders off-guard.
Also, a note on quality: I already covered this in a previous section, but this is not the highest quality kit in the world. It certainly performs well above its price tag, but performance certainly doesn’t equal quality.
In well over 100km of riding I personally haven’t experienced any problems at all. But that could just mean all my problems are piling up and are just around the corner! Many other riders have had nothing but trouble with their kits, which puts me on high alert. The thing with these boards is you should check every nut and bolt every ride. Avoid riding on wooden slat bridges and underpasses or other abusive terrain. Street boards are meant of bitumen and concrete. Stay vigilant and treat your gear with respect and it’s more likely to treat you with respect in return. I’m hoping this philosophy keeps this board in tip-top shape for the medium to long term…
SO, WHO IS THIS KIT FOR AND SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
This is actually a tough one. I certainly achieved what I wanted to achieve when I set out on this project. I built a “Riptide R1” with twice the performance for significantly less cost. It performs exactly as I expected and wanted it to. On that basis alone I highly recommend this kit, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatically for everyone. It’s by no means perfect. Far from it.
I can’t recommend this kit to inexperienced riders. The ESC is just way too raw! If the insane torque isn’t going throw you off, the challenging braking system certainly will. Inexperienced riders are far better off with something like a Meepo/Wowgo/Ownboard/Verreal (or similar).
Experienced riders who might get a thrill out of the untamed wildness of this kit are far more likely to be preoccupied with their own higher-end DIY projects. This makes the target demographic for this kit a bit of grey area.
If you’re an experienced rider who wants a back-up board with more guts than a Meepo/Wowgo/Ownboard/Verreal (or similar) and want to do it cheaply, quickly and easily, then maybe you should consider this kit. If you’re intrigued by DIY but aren’t entirely sure on where to start, a kit like this could be the starting point you’re looking for. With the basic esk8 environment laid out for you, you can upgrade each component on an as-needs basis.
I’ve come close to selling this board once or twice, but I’ve never quite been able to let it go. It’s just too much damn fun! It gives me a thrill most other boards around this price-point (and even a few in much higher price-points) can’t come close to!
It’s a challenge to ride in a lot of ways. There’s a learning curve to it. It requires an amount of taming. But once you “get it,” it’s good. It’s very, very good!
How long it lasts is the million dollar question.