The most popular thing to do in the electric skateboard world right now could probably be – swapping the deck of the Meepo Board.
Sometimes I wonder, if you already have a good longboard deck lying around, why not just buy a booster to convert it into an electric skateboard?
It’s a 15 minutes work and voila, an electric skateboard with your favorite deck!
So, for electric skateboard booster, there are actually quite a few of them in the market.
However, only 3 of them seems to matters.
1st and for most, people talk about how Mellow is great but super expensive.
2nd, people talk about how Landwheel is very ambitious but unreliable.
And last but not least we have the Onan.
Onan – Background
Onan is manufactured by Guangzhou WOW Electric Technology Co., Ltd.
A company founded in 2006.
They do Electric skateboard, Electric scooter, Electric Bikes etc.
Onan X1 is rather unexciting.
Not going fast enough for most of the people and not going far enough either.
It was, however, reliable and affordable. (Looking to buy one? Too bad it was discontinued.)
Onan X2 arrived at the market at Oct 2016.
It was made for people who demanded a powerful booster.
It has a top speed that, for me, are well into the ‘danger zone’ and it also has more torque compares to the X1.
This is the Booster that Onan sent me for review.
Onan X3 arrived at the market in April of 2017. It was meant for people who didn’t need to go that fast or to climb that steep. (Someone like me, actually), and doesn’t need the big 93mm wheels that Onan X2 has. It is $100 cheaper than X2.
To facilitate their sales and service, Onan has enlisted a few reseller such as Griffin Boards, Ivory Boards, Nuffboards and Flight Mode.
The wonderful part of this arrangement is, the reseller could and did work as an extra level of quality control, and also act as an intermediary between the manufacturer and the skaters – something that other China Eskate manufacturers could very well use, seeing that they are known to have their PR efforts backfire on them.
Onan and Mellow
Let’s address the elephant in the room.
Mellow first made popular the concept of Electric Booster back on 12 May 2015 when they launched their Kickstarter project.
However, delays after delays, they only manage to ship the Mellow Drive around August 2017.
Meanwhile, Onan took the concept of the electric skateboard booster and designed the Onan X1. Without missing a beat, they started shipping Onan X1 in April 2016, more than a year earlier before the day Mellow Drive finally arrives.
Onan claims their design is not a copy of the Mellow Drive (of course it wasn’t, the designs of those boosters are very different).
Today, Onan also is very reluctant to be associated with the Mellow (probably for legal reasons), but I doubt their similarity with the much more recognizable Mellow is bothering them that much.
I mean, if it’s hurting them somehow, why don’t they just… you know.. don’t use blue and black?
Anyways, I believe no one will mistakenly buy a $600 Onan thinking it is a $1600 Mellow, so I don’t see any ethical problem just for being born from the same concept.
Competition benefits us all, after all.
Onan X2 Review
China Boards always comes with amazing specs with an amazing price.
Onan X2 is no exception, especially if you intend to compare it to the Mellow Drive:
- Top Speed: 25mph (40kmh)
- Range: 6mil (10km)
- Weight: 9.9lbs (4.5kg)
- Charge Time: 1.5-2.5 hrs
- Features: Swappable battery, Flight compatible, 2 hub motors, waterproof, Regenerative braking, handles up to 25% slope.
- Price: Around 600 USD
The great thing about electric skateboard booster is, you can slap it on any deck and it will automatically turn it into an electric skateboard.
But this is exactly the exhibit A for a case of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.
There is a reason why Meepo-deck-swap is such a trend right now!
The absolute truth of electric skateboard is, the deck is one of the most important deciding factors of the riding experience, and a shitty deck is going to give you a shitty ride.
Allow me to share with you how I started playing around with the Onan X2.
I tried putting the X2 on my penny board.
I couldn’t get it to fit, the battery case is just too big to also fit in the front truck.
(A nickel board is the smallest deck it could fit, I think.)
So I got myself a second-hand regular skateboard and put X2 on.
And damn, the riding experience is HORRIBLE.
The wheelbase is so narrow that each acceleration and deceleration threaten to throw me off the board.
Every acceleration, the nose will lift and with every brake, the tail will lift, and I struggle to balance on it.
The stiff deck of the skateboard also makes poor road UNBEARABLE.
I was riding outside hospital carpark with poorly maintained asphalt and it’s so AGONIZING I feel like admitting myself into the hospital.
Obviously, it is totally unfair to Onan X2 if I don’t give it a serviceable deck for review.
I don’t have a good longboard deck lying around so I did what I could… I gutted my Meepo’s Deck and put on the Onan X2.
Well, with a longboard deck, Onan X2 rides significantly more comfortable.
With the wider wheelbase, I no longer feel that the acceleration and deceleration were too jerky.
The rides were basically very similar to Meepo’s.
Vibration problem on cobblestone road also much reduced with a more flexible deck.
(Yes, as average as Meepo’s deck maybe, it is still better than a cheap skateboard deck that my friend probably bought from a supermarket.)
The take-home message here is – The Deck Matters!
Eventually, I get used to riding on the Onan X2 on that stiff cheap skateboard deck. On smooth roads, and after learning to position my body weight better, the rides become more relaxed.
Still, wouldn’t recommend it for beginner eskaters to put the X2 on a small deck. It’s just not as comfortable.
Acceleration and Deceleration
I felt like the acceleration and deceleration of Onan is a tiny bit joltier than other boards like Backfire and Meepo. Perhaps this is also due to how the remote was designed, more on that later.
However, with time, I actually find myself getting used to the acceleration and deceleration.
Still don’t like the remote though. Never will.
The brake will give a soft electrical buzz like “eeeeeeee” when you are applying it.
The harder you apply the brake, the louder the buzz.
I am not sure if the braking noise a side product of the regenerative braking or it was by design, but I love that the sound was there.
It gave me feedback on how hard I was braking, useful especially when braking downhill.
I feel that the brake of Onan X2 wasn’t that strong. The brake doesn’t lock the wheel but just increase the rolling resistance. I could not trust the brake to stop the board completely when riding downhill.
It could slow almost to a halt alright, just not completely stopping to a halt 100% of the time.
Onan X2 doesn’t brake downhill if it has a full battery, same as most of the board.
It’s kind of personal preference but I love big wheel more. (Probably because most of the road we have here are bad).
93mm wheel means water hose, small branches aren’t going to throw you off the board. A poor road is much more manageable with bigger wheels too.
The urethane on the motor wheel on Onan’s Booster is exchangeable, they even gave you a pair of them out of the box. Awesome.
Not a big fan of remotes that uses a dial to control the speed.
With this kind of remote, I feel like I am controlling the speed, not the acceleration.
Pushed the dial all the way up from standing still and the board tried to get me to the max speed at that very instance. Scary as hell.
Accidentally removed my finger from the dial -> the dial sprang back to center position -> the board decelerated significantly at that instance that it was also scary as hell.
I get very anxious with this remote. But no disconnection, no delay (unless the battery is low.)
The riding experience of Onan X2 could be good or could be bad, depending on what deck you married it to.
I would love a different remote and if the acceleration and deceleration are 10% gentler, but with a longer, let’s say 44 inches deck, the acceleration, and deceleration might be just right the way it is.
Riding experience of Onan X2 is basically decided by the deck that you put it on.
The jerkier acceleration and deceleration means beginner won’t like it as much, but one would get used to that.
Onan X2 has a premium feel from the get-go.
The packaging is nice. The finishing is pristine.
The steel that they use for the motor unit & battery case is very heavy, giving it a sturdy and expensive feeling.
The trucks also look and feel strong and beefy.
Not bad, in fact, quite good!
Except the remote somehow breaks open for no reason, I don’t remember ever dropping it…
All the Onans can be fitted with 2 types of battery.
- X-BP10 battery pack with 90WH battery cell (making it flight compatible)
the marketed range is 7.5-9 miles (12-15km)
- X-BP20 battery pack with 158.4WH,
the marketed range is 15.5-17 miles (25-28km)
The range of Onan’s boosters really varies according to riding condition, but the consensus is the range was grossly inflated.
The one that I got was the larger, X-BP20 battery pack.
For me, I get it at around 8 miles (12.8km) before almost fully drained the battery.
The range may not be the best but considering that you can carry extra batteries with you ($139.99 per battery), this is forgivable.
I am not one that is comfortable to challenge 25mph(40kmh) on an electric skateboard, especially with the smaller deck I have.
The highest speed that I felt comfortable is around 20mph (30kmh) and I could reach there with Onan X2 with a lot of holding back. I weigh 75kg. (165lbs)
That speed 20mph (30kmh) however, is my friend Arne Bernheim’s max speed in his youtube review. However, he weighs 90kg+ (200lbs).
The top speed from the community varies between 20mph to 25mph (30-40kmh).
It definitely is fast enough for me.
Onan X2’s range and top speed amongst all boards. (Click to enlarge)
During normal riding, Onan X2 can handles most hill no problem.
However, when I did the stop and go test on a parking lot incline ramp as I did for Backfire Galaxy, it actually couldn’t do it.
It could definitely climb through it if I maintain the speed, but Onan X2 can’t start it’s climb in the middle of the slope.
The torque seems to suffer most when the battery is low. When the battery is at its last bar, it can’t climb hill nearly as well.
I heard of worries that the motor might overheat after a long uphill climb.
So I found myself a small hill that has an over 10-minute climb, to test that out.
The motor wasn’t even warm to touch at the end of the test, so I don’t think it would cause any problem in real-world use.
Onan’s customers’ service is quite good. Had heard praises of them, haven’t heard any complaints.
As I have mentioned, the presence of reseller also adds to the customer service.
It’s worth mentioning that one of their reseller Griffin-Boards is very active in Reddit and always shows up to answer questions and provide information.
You could definitely have peace of mind if you choose to buy from Onan themselves, or from one of their resellers.
The swappable battery is definitely the best ‘other features’ Onan has.
I am a bit surprised that it hasn’t become an industry standard.
If you plan to bring your eskate on the plane. The smaller battery pack X-BP10 is a 90WH battery, making it flight compatible. Even the larger X-BP20 battery pack is 158WH and is allowed by some of the airlines.
(See my guide on flying with electric skateboard here.)
Onan’s boosters were also graded to be waterproof.
I did not try to submerge the booster into the water but the way it was designed, it can definitely handle splashes no problem.
You don’t want to ride an electric skateboard in the rain anyways, skateboard wheels are very slippery when wet and you will probably damage your deck when the moisture seeps in.
The earlier version seems to have a problem where there were sparks when charging. It was said to be solved now. I did not encounter this problem.
As mentioned, the earlier version of Onan X2 also seems to have the problem of motor dying due to overheating when climbing hills that are too steep for too long. Haven’t heard of that problem for awhile. Again, I didn’t experience that problem.
As mentioned, Onan X2 also can’t brake downhill with a full battery. This is most definitely true.
Onan’s boosters is an easy recommendation for someone who already owns a good longboard deck and wants to convert it into an electric skateboard.
For most of the people who don’t exactly need high torque and high speed, Onan X3 is probably the way to go. By going from X2 to X3, you save $100 and shave 500gram off the total weight.
Go for X2 if you don’t want to sacrifices on speed and torque.
However, if you don’t have a good longboard deck sitting around, there is little reason to spend $600 on an electric skateboard booster when there are a lot of good ‘Completes Electric Skateboards’ in the market right now.
For a budget longboard, there are the Meepo Board, Backfire Galaxy.
For a budget shortboard, there are Torque Speedster and the Arc Aileron or you can back the Riptide.
For a budget penny board, there are the Meepo Penny, Arc Board and the Walnutt Spectra Mini.
But that is the point, isn’t it? Onan’s booster may not be the best choice for electric skateboard of any size, but it could be at any size at different times.
If you have a Sector 9 or a Loaded deck lying around that you want to make into an electric skateboard, and you want the board to go fast, and you don’t have $1500 to buy a Mellow, Onan X2 is kind of the only legit choice right now.