It’s been a long time coming. I remember testing Raptor 2’s when there were less than five in the country (Australia). I was close to getting one then, as it was one of the only true production-performance options around at the time that wasn’t going to cost me a fortune to import down-under. It’s crazy expensive to get high-end boutique boards into Australia from the northern hemisphere, particularly North America and Europe, which is why so few of us do it. Enertion, however, is an Australian company shipping from China at a cost comparable to Evolve’s AU prices, which makes them a tantalizing alternative to Australia’s most popular brand.
But I didn’t get a Raptor 2. I hesitated. Enertion we’re still finding their feet as they transitioned into a new business model and established their operations in China. Production seemed to suffer as a consequence. As time went on there probably ended up being 4-5 subtly different versions of the Raptor 2 spanning two different assembly factories and several different suppliers of various major components, not the least of which were the motors. Whilst Enertion get max respect for their level of transparency, wanting to avoid all of this I decided to wait and only purchase when Enertion had settled on a “final version.”
When the Raptor 2.1 was announced I knew the time was right. Enertion were happy with the new motors, the FOCBOX Unity had been released, water ingress was solved, the handles had been re-positioned so the board was more balanced when carried, urethane batch issues seemed to be reducing and shipping times were shortening.
A friend and I shared the costs of Enertion’s Halloween special in 2018, getting two Raptor 2.1’s (ordered as a part of one order number) at a slightly reduced cost for the deux.
We ordered on October 26, 2018. We received the boards on April 9, 2019 for those of you playing at home.
The appeal of Enertion’s Raptor product line is simply this – Power, but also practicality (relatively speaking). Yes, there are more powerful boards out there, but how many of them are running street thane and actually vaguely resemble something like an actual skateboard? I’m not criticizing these other boards; they’re outrageously awesome (I want them all), but different boards suit different people and different purposes. The Raptor 2.1 offers power to those people looking for a little something extra, but without the additional, unwanted attention a lot of other high-powered boards bring. This is power for purists.
A TL;DR is available at the end of this review.
HARDWARE AND DRIVETRAIN
It’s clear that stability and speed were Enertion’s top priorities here. A 38-inch solid maple, top mount deck with a progressive/tub-type concave and mild rocker tell that story. Throw in an aggressive kicktail and you’ve got a pretty unique look as far as electric skateboards are concerned (which are mainly built around freeride longboards). The two blue layers in the deck of the Raptor 2.1 are also a nice touch and really pop.
The trademark handles of the Raptor product line have been re-positioned for the 2.1. They’re now aluminium, longer and set further rearward to balance the overall weight of the board when carried. They’re both functional and look good.
The deck is complimented by a coarse, all-black griptape. The whole aesthetic is minimalist, but at the same time kind of menacing.
Trucks are Enertion’s own CNC precision RKP’s. The rear truck has been re-designed since the Raptor 2. It still doubles as a heat sink (of course), but it now has thicker axles, a newer mounting mechanism for the motors and includes a liquid cooling solution to help regulate the temperature. It’s not entirely clear (to me at least) what this technology is or how it works, but it’s likely a vapor chamber with a liquid that changes from solid to gas in order to assist with keeping the rear truck/motor assembly from overheating by more evenly distributing the generated heat.
Bearings and bushings are a pretty standard. Nothing to write home about. I’m cool with e-skate companies investing a little less in this area, as most riders will change these out to items that fit their liking anyway.
Wheels are Enertion’s own 90mm 78A R-Spec Ghost wheels. 97mm wheels and 100mm “crossover” wheels are also sometimes available from Enertion’s website. The rear urethane sleeves (outwheels) are also 78A across all sizes, I believe.
Underneath the board you’ll find a long, board-length enclosure housing the 432 Wh 10s4p Samsung 30Q 18560 battery pack and FOCBOX Unity, which pushes the power into Enertion’s monster R-Spec hub motors. I’ve spoken to Jason (Enertion’s founder and owner) a few times about how to quote the power of these motors. It turns out there’s more than one way to skin a cat here and a lot of it can be spun one way or another depending on how you want to market the power output. The bottom line is these are the most powerful hub motors in production right now – So powerful they blow not only all other production hub motors out the water, they blow most production belt drives out the water too!
Rounding out the odds and sods is an LCD battery percentage meter (now brighter than the Raptor 2), an on/off button (changed from a rocker switch on the Raptor 2) and charging port.
The Raptor 2.1 comes with a big 4A charger and Enertion’s NANO-X remote, which has two speed modes, slow and R-Spec.
You can check out my super quick unboxing video here [broken link].
PERFORMANCE: CLAIMED VS. REALITY
- Top Speed: Up to 31 mph (50 kph)
- Range: Up to 24.9 miles (40 km)
- Hills: not listed
- Weight: 25 lbs (11.4 kg)
Reality (for this section please note that I weigh about 185 lbs (84 kg) at the moment)
- Top Speed: 30.1 mph (48.5 kph) – I think there was still a bit more in it.
- Range: 13.7 miles (22 km) in slow mode or 13.4 miles (21.5 km) in R-Spec
- Hills: 30% proven [click here]
- Weight: 25.8 lbs (11.7 kg)
Obviously the elephant in the room is range, so let’s address that first. This is a big board with a hefty 10s4p battery pack weighing in at 25.8 lbs (11.7 kg). The subliminal deal you think you’re making with a heavy board is, ‘Okay, you’re a hulk of a thing, but in return for your ample poundage at least I’m going to get a ton of range out of you. That’s the whole point, right?’ Well, not so much.
My slow mode range test results are documented here [broken link] and here [broken link], whereas my R-Spec range test results are documented here [broken link]. The reason why I conducted range tests in both modes (something I don’t usually do) is because I feel the slow mode on the Raptor 2.1 is a useful mode that a lot of people will actually use. I sure do (use it). Unlike a lot of other boards that tend to have only one genuinely usable mode (out of three or four), the Raptor 2.1’s two modes are both functionally useful. For one, slow mode isn’t “slow.” It’s actually the equivalent of the fastest mode on a lot of other boards. So, the so-called “slow” mode is actually more than enough for daily use. R-Spec literally stands for race-specification. Meaning unless you’re truly wanting or needing to go at race speeds, “slow” mode is probably enough for most people. What I found interesting was that there was barely any difference in range results between the two modes. I honestly thought there would be night and day difference. There wasn’t. R-Spec gives you an incredible torque, acceleration and top speed boost, but because you can’t utilize this performance for 100% of a given ride (because of inherent braking, leaning/turning, hard corners, pedestrians, start-stopping, intersections, crappy terrain, obstacles etc.), your average speed over the entire ride tends to level things out again in terms of range. So, in either mode you can expect to get between 12.4 to 13.7 miles (20-22 km) if you have a similar riding style and are of a similar weight to yours truly.
Is it below expectations? Yes. Or is it? Well, as it turns out it’s kind of complicated.
On any other board a 10s4p pack of Samsung 30Q’s is going to get you somewhere in the vicinity of the claimed 24.9 miles (40 km) range, maybe even more. The problem is the Raptor 2.1 isn’t just any other board. The Raptor 2.1’s battery pack may be a beefy 432 Wh, but meanwhile the monstrous motors consume somewhere in realm of 20-25 Wh of power per km. You do the math. With that in mind my range test results actually seem fairly commensurate. Why Enertion advertise a range of up to 24.9 miles (40 km), I have no idea? A part from it maybe being the typical range for this kind of pack on other boards. But no one is ever going to get that on a Raptor 2.1. Even if you apply all of the usual nonsense of a 75 kg rider, riding in slow mode at a constant 18 kph, on perfectly flat ground, on a perfect 25 degree day (Celsius), with no head wind and a partridge in a pear tree, you’re still not going to get 24.9 miles (40 km) out of this board. Okay, close might be possible, but who’s really riding a Raptor 2.1 like this in the real world? If you’re riding like that, why have you got a Raptor? Get a Yuneec EGO-2 Cruiser.Now, there is some room to play around in Enertion’s FOCBOX app to reduce the battery current and keep the motor current the same in order to get a range boost. I haven’t experimented with this as yet (at the time of writing this review), but I will in due time and report on my results across my social media channels.
The customization available to Raptor owners is obviously the best way to turn a frown upside-down in this instance. I could do a lot of things to try and edge closer to either the claimed top speed or range specs. I could turn the motors up to 80A and cream the top speed! Or I could turn down the battery current and get more range. Perhaps not 24.9 miles (40 km) worth of range, but more than 13.7 miles (22 km) nevertheless. Doing one would obviously be at the expense of the other (speed vs. range), but at least I, as the user, have the power to make this decision, not the manufacturer. This is a gift only given to owners (or owner-builders) of boards running VESC-based motor controllers like Enertion’s FOCBOX Unity.
I am also happy to report that I experienced minimal battery sag on the Raptor 2.1. On the two occasions I’ve drained the board to 0% I didn’t experience any major sag until the last 1-2 km. Of course, there is a very gradual drop from about 50% onwards, but this is barely noticeable and it’s actually hard to tell whether it’s battery sag or thermal throttling.
As for top speed, the Raptor 2.1 was pretty damn close to achieving this on factory settings. Click here [broken link] to check out my top speed run. Truth be told there was probably still a bit more in it. If I had dropped the hammer a little earlier, had a bit more road or been a few kg lighter, it would have been a 50+ kph run, no worries. But 48.5 kph is more than enough for my comfort levels on what is essentially a pretty standard street set-up!
In the end I feel I will probably lean towards dropping the top speed a little in the FOCBOX tool in favor of more range. The amount of times it’s even possible to safely go full speed on a regular commute are few and far between, and besides, for the purposes of this review I wanted to keep the Raptor 2.1 on factory settings to give people a real idea of what the board is like out of the box. So, there you go: Incredible speed and less range than advertised in real-world, daily use conditions.
At some point in the recent past Enertion must have removed the Raptor 2.1’s hill gradient spec from their website. I’m not sure why, as it’s a proven hill crusher! Obviously it doesn’t flinch at any of the usual 15-17.5% hills I’ve got in my local area. Why would it when it’s already proven itself to climb hills at 30% gradient! (See link under Reality/Hills).
The claimed vs. reality weight specs are pretty close. It’s a heavy board, there’s no getting around that fact. This is actually a huge positive when riding the board – more of a positive than I expected it would be (I’ll cover this more in the Ride Feel and Pros and Cons sections), but it makes it a mega burden when you have to lift, move, hold or carry it for any extended period of time. The handles make it less of a burden to carry across an intersection or main road crossing if you have to, but you don’t want to have to carry this thing around at the mall for a couple of hours whilst shopping with your partner, trust me!
AESTHETICS AND RIDE FEEL
It’s a well-worn cliché at this point, but the Raptor 2.1 is a beast! It’s just a chunky, solid and thicc piece of awesomeness. It’s big, black, heavy and menacing. It’s the Pit Bull that makes most other street e-skates look like the Mattel Hoverboard in comparison.
On one hand the Raptor 2.1 is somewhat stealth. It’s a single-kick bomber (or over-sized cruiser depending on which way you look at it) with a relatively slimline battery enclosure and in-wheel hub motors. So, at face value there’s not a lot that gives it away as an electric skateboard. But on the other hand its aggressive styling certainly turns heads. It has a street presence that can only be likened to the e-skate equivalent of the Tumbler (Bat Mobile) from The Dark Knight trilogy.
The Raptor 2.1 feels solid and stable on the ground. The weight of the board (so long as you’re riding it and not carrying it) is actually a major positive towards the ride feel. Riding the board feels like a monster truck on rails. With weight and speed behind it, the Raptor 2.1 literally obliterates everything in its path. What’s more is that you don’t even really feel the destruction going on underneath your feet. So, for those of you concerned about the board’s lack of flex, don’t. Flex isn’t the only way to create a comfortable ride. Weight works too!
Imperfect road surfaces don’t seem to matter too much as long its only for a short distance. You wouldn’t want to do an entire 10 km commute twice a day on a Raptor 2.1 if you’ve got entirely shit roads the whole way there and back. But it can handle the odd abrasive surface without it being an ankle shattering experience. The board feels sucked to the ground and weighted to such an extent that you can just enjoy the ride.
It should be noted, though, the Raptor product line is build around speed. These things are built to go fast! Everything else is sort of a second priority. That is to say although a Raptor 2.1 can be used for cruising, commuting and carving, if this is your primary intended use for a board there are other boards out there perhaps better suited to these tasks. But if you want to go fast, and I’m not just talking about top speed here, I’m talking about class leading off-the-line speed and bombing up hills whilst you’re at it, then the Raptor 2.1 has got to be up there on your list, particularly if you strictly want a street board (sporting regular street wheels).
The Raptor 2.1’s weight, stability, stiff deck and bomber shape all re-enforce what this board was built for, and it achieves it’s intended aim in that it feels incredibly stable at high speeds. However, a short wheel base (compared to, say, a freeride longboard), narrow truck span (compared to say a Kaly, LaCroix or even an Evolve) coupled with its insane amount of torque (even in the upper end of the curve) can still make an otherwise stable ride have more than its fair share of “holy shit” moments.
Is it a fun ride? Yes. Can you chill, cruise and carve in slow mode? Yes, somewhat. Is it a comfortable and smooth ride? Yes. Can you also seriously crap your pants riding this thing if that’s your desired aim? Also yes.
A word of advice to perspective owners. Carry a skate tool with you at all times. I found I needed dramatically different truck tension depending on what I was doing. For daily cruising I like to have the set-up quite loose. It keeps the board more carvy and responsive. But when speed is the name of the game, I really had to tighten the trucks down quite a bit in order to feel confident on the board. It was elusive trying to find a tension that suited both styles of riding.
As for the controls, acceleration and deceleration etc. I found all of this to be dialed in really well on factory settings. Again, bear in mind all of this is adjustable in Enertion’s FOCBOX app, so you can really fine tune your board to your liking. In fact, as I’m writing this I’m thinking I would like slightly stronger brakes in slow mode. So, that’s something for my ‘to do’ list.
There’s no jerkiness at all on the 2.1’s standard set-up. The FOCBOX Unity manages the power really well. Although you’ve got torque for days, the only time you feel in danger of the board shooting out from under you is if you give it a little too much gas when your back foot is also on the kicktail during a moment of laziness, e.g. when you’ve stopped paying attention to your stance and weight distribution. Be careful of this.
Despite the NANO-X not being my favorite remote in the world (I prefer more room for the throttle and brake to travel and I detest little, knobby joysticks. Give me a nice scroll wheel any day), it does a good job of precisely interpreting your input. It does what you tell it to do; a little equals a little and a lot equals a lot. We can put a lot of this down to the VESC-based FOXBOX Unity, because other boards running similar remotes with lesser ESC’s, well, the experience is night and day.
Something I haven’t experienced on other boards that I do experience on the Raptor 2.1 is a feeling of negative-g (for lack of a better term). Like I’ve said previously, there’s so much torque in this thing, even in the mid-curve and high-curve, that as you continue to build speed in R-Spec, if you just decide to lift-off the throttle and let the controller snap back to centre, there is a sort of mild negative-g effect. This is less of a phenomenon when you’re in the lower battery percentages, but on a full battery this is something that can genuinely catch you off-guard, especially seeing as how (if you’re riding correctly) you’ve got your weight so far forward during acceleration; the lift-off of the throttle is almost like a braking force. On a full battery in R-Spec you’ve really got to roll out of the throttle, not just lift-off if you’re going to avoid this.
PROS AND CONS
The Raptor 2.1 is a fast, solid and stable board. Smooth as silk too thanks to the FOCBOX Unity. There is a learning curve, though, when it comes to fully taming R-Spec mode. Amateur riders need to spend a lot of time in slow mode and build up to R-Spec.
Letting the package down somewhat is the NANO-X remote, which is simply an Enertion stylized Winning remote. It does the job and I like the size, but it does feel cheap compared to the quality of materials comprising the board itself. Aside from that, the remote is as basic as basic gets. For me, the use of this kind of remote clings a little too tightly to Enertion’s DIY roots. The Raptor 2 product line is supposed to compete with the biggest production board manufacturers in the game. Production boards are supposed to have production features. I’m not asking for an OLED display here, but some LED’s representing the board’s battery percentage on the remote should be a minimum requirement these days, especially seeing as how every single budget board over the last three years has managed to achieve this, it shouldn’t be too much to ask from a company such as Enertion. The board is genuinely worthy of something as unique and bespoke as the Hoyt St puck. Hopefully we’ll see something new from Enertion in this space soon.
Another downside is the reality that Enertion still don’t really have a handle on their quality control. As mentioned during the opening of this review, my board has a brother and they were delivered together as a pair. In theory one would have been right behind the other on the production line. One has (so far) been faultless. Luckily this happens to be mine. My friend, on the other hand, hasn’t been so lucky. It was his choice. Both were completely boxed and he had first dibs. His unit was faulty right out of the box. Motors weren’t calibrated, one didn’t move whilst the other shuddered in reverse. Calibrating the remote, motors and flashing/updating the firmware all did nothing. The urethane quality had some faults too. He’s since sent it off to a repair agent. Another person in our local riders group also received a Raptor 2.1 within weeks of mine. His has also been riddled with faults. SkateMetric recently received their unit, also with faults right out of the box. Suffice to say that although a functioning Raptor 2.1 is fantastic board, getting a functioning Raptor 2.1 still seems like somewhat of a lottery. Although these teething issues still persist, Enertion have invested heavily in their customer and after sales support. Those I know with issues are getting them sorted as we speak. No doubt Enertion collect a ton of data from their service arm and feed that back into their production arm. Things will only get better over time.
Even though my 2.1 has (so far) been perfect, I do have some minor gripes: All of the deck, enclosure and handle bolts seem obscenely long. It spoils an otherwise quality finish. Also, although the battery percentage meter has been brightened (compared to the Raptor 2), it’s still pretty useless in virtually any outdoor light. I honestly thought mine was broken until I got it back inside after a recent ride. That’s another reason to have some sort of board battery indication on the remote.
A definite highlight is the inclusion of a 4A charger as standard. For a lot of other brands a “rapid” or “fast” charger is an optional extra. Most standard chargers hover between 1.5-2.5A. Enertion aren’t mucking around in this department. They know a big battery requires a big charger.
The weight trade-off is a downside because it’s not really a trade-off. You can accept a heavy board in return for big range, but Enertion’s motors are so huge and energy consuming that you don’t get close to the type of range you’d expect from a 10s4p pack of Samsung 30Q’s.
Finishing on a high has got to be the overall smoothness and solid feel of the Raptor 2.1 on the road. It feels blissful to glide near silently on some of the most powerful motors in the industry and feel locked into the road whilst doing so. It is such as smooth ride and provides a genuine rush and a grin from ear to ear that you certainly don’t get from every board. Something about the way the Raptor 2.1 responds… Something about having that power on-tap just… Well, you have to ride one for yourself.
VERDICT / TL;DR
Enertion as a company is still suffering from some growing pains, the evidence of this is clear, but the Raptor 2.1 does exactly what it says on the box. It is the worlds most powerful direct drive electric skateboard; direct drive in this case simply meaning a 1:1 drive ratio, which all hub motors are (as well as axle mounted motors, which are now more closely associated with the term direct drive).
Even with less real-world range than expected (13.7 miles (22 km) vs. the claimed 24.9 miles (40 km)), the Raptor 2.1 manages to tick all the boxes for a production-performance street electric skateboard.
It’s not just the 30.1 to 31+ mph (48.5 to 50+ kph) top speed on 90mm street urethane, it’s also the smooth, yet somehow “steel trap” launch speed coupled with endless torque and devastating hill crushing capabilities that keeps this board close to the top of a lot of people’s wish lists.
A super solid, stable and smooth ride, the Raptor 2.1 soaks up the road and glues you to the black top with confidence.
Built entirely for speed, the Raptor 2.1 isn’t as versatile as other boards, but its sheer power (especially for a street board) is bound to excite thrill seekers.
If you’re a range seeker and the Raptor 2.1’s 10s4p 30Q battery caught your eye, you should probably look elsewhere. The Raptor 2.1’s motors being what they are means this board is the opposite of economical. But if you’re all about power, torque, top speed and hill performance in a street package, then this is the board for you – especially if you also want something sleek and silent, but also a little bit dangerous (in a good way)…