“Meepo should release a belt-driven board.” We hear that quite a lot in the forum. And ta-dah! Here it is.
Much unlike Meepo typical habit of getting product out of the door fast, the Belt Meepo was in the labor room for quite a while. In fact, 8 months ago I had already been shown the photo of the prototype belt Meepo.
A lot of things can happen in 8 months, especially when we are in the year 2020. Among the tragedies of 2020 was that Boosted went down.
Well, It’s the ultimate altruistic act to be an organ donor. The idea is, don’t let the most valuable parts of you die with you. So, when Boosted went down, Meepo became the recipient for the organ transplant. Basically, Meepo reached into Boosted’s grave and came out with the drive train system, the trucks, and the 85mm wheels. They transplanted them into a board of their own and creatively named it, the NLS Belt.
Meepo fans should be glad that these proven parts are now part of the new Meepo board, but many were troubled when the specs of the new board were announced.
Meepo NLS Belt Review
See, priced at $699, The NLS Pro Belt was right in what we call the mid-tier price segment and a direct competitor to the Exway Flex and also the Backfire Zealot. This is not a great place to be for Team Meepo. In terms of customer service and delivery, these 2 competing brands are performing better than the Meepo, at least recently.
We thought the specs of the NLS Belt are worse than the competitors as well, but after a closer look, they actually weren’t. In reality, it’s only the top speed that’s lower.
- Deck Size: 38-inch x 9-inch (96.5cm x 22.8cm)
- Top Speed: 22.5mph (36km)
- Range: 18miles (30km)
- Battery Pack: 288Wh (Samsung 40T in a 10s2p, 8Ah)
- Weight: 18lbs/ 8.2kg
- Motor: 2 x 900W belt motors.
- Wheels: 85mm 78A
- Price: 699 USD
Let’s take a look at the electronic components:
Motors – Why so slow?
You see, the NLS Belt uses the same motors from the Boosted Stealth, rated at 900W each, but it only gives a top speed of 22.5mph (35kmh). This came as a surprise to many, including myself, as Meepo has traditionally been obsessed with speed, sometimes to a fault. But this time, apparently, what bottlenecked the top speed is the LingYi ESC, and also their choice of a larger gear ratio. We will talk more about the speed a bit later.
Battery – Good range with Samsung 40T
In the range department, the NLS Belt uses the same great ER battery, made of Samsung 40T in a 10s2p setting, that’s 288wh and has a marketed range of 18miles (30kmh), which we managed to hit in our range test.
ESC and Remote – Cosmetic upgrade.
The board comes with a LingYi ESC, and hence we get the push to start feature. What’s not typical of the LingYi ESC is the new and much better-looking remote. It’s slightly different than the updated Hobbywing remote but obviously takes some inspiration from the Boosted remote. It goes well with the whole Boosted theme.
Enclosure – Same as always.
The electronics are housed in Meepo’s usual plastic enclosure, which has a digital meter to show the battery percentage; a godsend when trying to know the battery % when charging the board.
Now let’s look at the skate parts of the NLS Belt, or you may say, of Boosted.
Deck – the same deck that was the best feature of NLS.
NLS Belt, of course, uses the same 38” flexy deck as the original NLS and it’s made out of 7 layers of bamboo and 2 layers of fiberglass. It has a mild concave, some camber, and a lot of flex.
Remember back when the original Meepo NLS was released, everybody was amazed by how good it is? Other brands have since caught up but personally, I still think it is one of the best if not THE BEST flexy deck from any Chinese brand.
Yeap, I like it more than Exway Flex’s deck, bite me.
It’s deliciously flexible and the mild concave will help to let you know where your feet are.
Remember the original NLS use to have the electrical cable visible below the grip tape, and the NLS Pro just remedied it by adding a foam layer below the grip tape it? The latest NLS doesn’t have that anymore, everything is smooth now. However, I’m really not a fan of the latest grip-tape design.
The C&C’ed trucks and bushings are also from Boosted, instead of Meepo’s Shredder trucks.
It’s funny how every Chinese Brand seems to use two sets of trucks now: Branded trucks for their premium model and proprietary trucks for the budget model.
- Wowgo: Paris Trucks & Paris clone
- Backfire: Caliber II & Caliber clone
- Exway: Seismic & Exway Triss
- now, Meepo: Boosted & Meepo Shredder (Bear Kodiak clone)
I like Shredder Trucks, a lot, but Boosted’s are better.
Wheels – Boosted
The Wheels are 85mm 78a, the same as Boosted 3rd gens.
Boosted 85mm wheels are good & comfortable; especially when going head to head with generic wheels from typical Chinese brands; but everybody knows that Caguama is better.
So, those are the specs, and after going through that a seasoned eskater would probably have been able to predict how the NLS Belt would ride.
Top speed – Might be too slow for you
Let’s start on the weakest point, the top speed. There is no way around it, if you want a board that rides above 22.5mph (35kmh), then this will be a deal-breaker.
As mentioned, the limits on the top speed come from the LingYi ESC, but not from the motors. The choice of going with a larger gear ratio of 17 to 56, or 1:3.3 also means that Meepo prioritized torque over top speed. The NLS Belt will not accelerate past 22.5mph (35kmh), but it sure as hell will get you there fast.
Torque – this is the fun part
Meepo designed the board prioritizing torque over top speed, and this actually makes the NLS Belt very fun to ride.
I love how the board rockets off the starting line and left other riders in the dust (until they caught up eventually due to the higher top-speed). NLS belt would probably be the champion in many drag races. (How I wish @Skatemetric is still around to visualize the drag race.)
Let me put it this way, if you like the thrill of going fast without actually needing to be fast, NLS Belt will be purrrfect.
Speed Control – How’s LingYi ESC now?
Acceleration – good but can be better.
Another nitpick that I have with the NLS Belt would be the speed control on the LingYi ESC. First things first, for those who are uninitiated, LingYi ESC’s have 4 acceleration modes and 4 brake modes, independent of each other.
Everyone by now should know that a LingYi ESC on a Meepo board is meant to be ridden on the 3rd acceleration mode, the perfect balance of smooth and strong. Going over to the highest 4th pro mode means the board is too strong and too raw for comfort; it’s almost only for certain situations and for drag races – where you uncage the beast and don’t mind it being untamed.
However, even ignoring the intentionally harsh 4th-speed mode, the Meepo NLS Belt and the current LingYi ESC are still slightly less refined than the Hobbywing ESC. and it is more pronounced during uphill or when turning on rough surfaces. Many riders probably wouldn’t notice the difference, I didn’t, but my friends who also rode the board did notice it.
Brakes – Brakes are perfect.
The brakes are strong and smooth though, even the 1st braking mode is plenty strong, and the strongest 4th braking mode is still plenty smooth. I always set it on the strongest brake mode for myself, and the lightest mode when I let others ride it. Everybody is happy.
Ride feels – Boosted imbued
Now, let’s talk about how well the board controls, and this is where the Boosted parts come in. Carving and, maneuvering on the NLS Belt is as nice as it was on a Boosted board. Of course it is! It’s the same trucks and bushings after all. Read or watch one of the hundreds of Boosted Stealth reviews, and that’s exactly what you get with NLS Belt. In short, it’s very stable, very comfortable, and very smooth for carving.
The wheels are the same. The 78a 85mm wheels are the same set from the Boosted Stealth – and they are known to be soft, comfortable and durable. However, as mentioned, the fact is that the Orangatang Caguama is still better, and many Boosted riders did make the swap, so that’s what we did too on the NLS Belt. It’s an easy swap and makes the ride silky smooth.
For those who hate road vibration. NLS Belt has no trouble on rough pavement. With a Flexy deck and 4 soft wheels, the NLS Belt is one of the most comfortable boards when riding on a poorly paved road.
For those speed zealot – consider Cloudwheels
For diehard Meepo fans who can’t live without a higher top speed, the easy fix is to swap to bigger wheels. (The harder fix is swap the ESC)
This is what you get for switching to Cloudwheels:
- Top speed increased to 27mph (43kmh)
- Slightly reduced range: around 15miles (25km) of range [preliminary test]
- Increase comfort in rough terrain and increase safety from pebbles
- Less fun when carving.
The switch is super easy, as Cloudwheels’ has the Boosted pulley sets that work seamlessly (obviously) here. It will only take you 10min and … money [$129 (wheels) + $39.9 (Boosted pulleys)].
I’m pretty surprise why Meepo doesn’t just tear a page out of Backfire’s playbook and advertise the NLS Belt with Cloudwheels.
Disclaimer: We are obviously the affiliate partner of Cloudwheels (& almost every other Eskate stuff).
So, if you are interested in buying Cloudwheels, be sure to check out our affiliate discount link here and uses code: “ESKATEHQ” during check out.
It will help you get a $10 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!
So, is the NLS Belt a good replacement for those who would’ve bought a Boosted?
Nope. People love Boosted not only for the riding experience but also for the brand and everything that comes with it; Meepo and the NLS Belt don’t have all of that yet. When it comes to style, product polish, or customer experience, Meepo isn’t on the same level as what Boosted was. What the NLS Belt is at the end of the day, is a board that’s most physically close to the Boosted, but is not, in any way, the successor of the Boosted experience.
Taking it outside of the Boosted comparison, the NLS Belt is in itself a board that’s great in everything but the top speed. Meepo could’ve reduced the gear ratio, sacrificed some torque, and allowed the board to hit the standard 25mph (40kmh) top speed, but they didn’t.
Trading off thrilling acceleration for a mere 2 mph increase in top speed is certainly a deal that many won’t knowingly make, but unfortunately, most people don’t think past the marketed stats. Or Meepo could, you know, upgrade the ESC, even if it means increasing the selling price.
But it is what it is. The NLS Belt today is not a board for those who can’t look past the lower top speed; but for everyone else, the thrilling acceleration, good range, and the great riding experience made possible by the use of Boosted parts, is indeed thoroughly enjoyable.