Acton Blink Qu4tro (production version 02/03/18) – Huh?

This review was originally published on February 5th, 2018 and reflects my honest opinions at the time of publication. No part of this review has been redacted in any way. It has only been corrected for grammar and spelling.

Follow the discussion on Reddit here

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

Today (02/03/18) was a rare, sunny, California “winter” day. At around noon, I answered my apartment door to welcome a friend, Marvin of Bay Area Eskate, who had graciously agreed to let me ride and test his brand new Acton Blink Qu4tro. I’d previously had experience riding this board. Acton themselves had previously invited me down to their Santa Clara headquarters to test the prototype version of the Qu4tro. I had many thoughts about the prototype board at the time, but I also believed that my concerns were related to the fact that the product was in prototype phase and not at all ready for public consumption. Now that the board is in production, I will be reviewing the board as is, assuming that Acton has put in the required QC and intended for this to be the final product.

Hardware

Let’s start with the deck. The deck itself hasn’t changed much from the prototype, and I still harbor the same concerns as I did when I tried the prototype. It’s made up of three distinct pieces. The front and rear scaffolding, to which the suspension is attached, and the middle electronics housing, which… houses electronics. The deck is as durable and stiff as it was in the prototype. It is also as heavy and flat as it was in the prototype.

Because the deck is so incredibly heavy, it has more inertia than other boards. This translates into a whole host of problems, chief amongst them excessive inertia. This means that braking is a lot weaker due to forward inertia (though I suspect hub motors and the braking curve are also major contributors in this area) and carving is a lot harder due to difficulties experienced when trying to throw the deck around while fighting forward inertia (carving is also very hard because of the suspension and four wheel drivetrain; I’ll get to that later). The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the deck is also completely flat, with no curve at all. This makes it very hard for your foot to get a good grip on the surface for control. So, in addition to wrangling a heavy deck, you’re also constantly trying not to slide off. All this does not make for a very good deck, which generally is supposed to enable you to enjoy the ride, not inhibit you and be something you have to explicitly wrangle around. Plus this also makes the entire board heavy and is a bitch to carry.

Besides the rather unfortunate deck, the rest of the hardware is less grim. There are white front and red back lights as well as white side lights, all of which are controllable via the app. Though, as of the time of writing, there seems to be some bug that prevents the Android app from controlling the lights properly. It is worth mentioning that these are visibility lights, as they do not get bright enough to illuminate any meaningful distance of the road ahead of you. The trucks (not suspension!) and hub motors seem to be the same ones as the Blink S2. They work, though I do worry about some of the reports of hub motors falling off on the S2 and wonder if they could happen on the Qu4tro. I’ve included pictures of the hardware and innards for those interested below.





Suspension

I suspect the suspension system will polarize a lot of people. The main problem here is physics.

Here’s the thing. Currently, the way a regular TKP (traditional kingpin) or RKP (reverse kingpin) truck is set up, there’s a pivot cup and a kingpin that forces the truck to only rotate in a sort of semi-circular fashion in one plane around the pivot point. In other words, the truck rotates around the axis determined by the pivot point and the kingpin keeps it in place. However, with Acton’s suspension trucks, in addition to the regular RKP single plane rotation, the suspension is further allowed to deform in infinite directions due to the nature of the design. See my beautifully drawn graphic for an example of what I mean:

Keep in mind that in a traditional suspension, you only want yourself to be suspended along one axis. If you need to be suspended along more than one axis, you add more *distinct* axis along which to be suspended. You almost never want yourself to be suspended in all possible axis, because then you’re really just jiggling around. That’s what’s happened with the suspension on the Qu4tro: You’re really just… jiggling, which prevents you from properly turning or carving with confidence at any reasonable speed. The suspension will deform and neutralize the majority of your turn. It’s honestly not great, and the default hard bushing Acton includes doesn’t make it any better.

Edit: Avenue, the makers of the original suspension trucks, have informed me that they have in no way licensed their suspension trucks for Acton, nor are they working with Acton on suspension trucks. Here is their statement:

[Statement Removed Due To Ongoing Legal Dispute]

I’d originally written a how-to and review on Avenue TKP suspension trucks modded onto my Carbon GT and quite enjoyed it, so please do not let this review scare you away from suspension trucks!

Remote

The biggest thing here is the lag on the remote. It’s just inconsistent enough during low end acceleration to get annoying. Sometimes, I would try to accelerate to a slow speed but end up just sitting there for a bit before the motors kicked in. I have no idea what the issue here is.

As far as I can tell, the outer shell design of the remote is left over from Acton’s original remote-as-carrying-handle idea. They’ve simply taken off the bits that make the idea work. This is unfortunate due to several reasons:

  1. The original tradeoff of the ungainly remote design would have been fine had the remote been able to act as a carrying handle. This is no longer the case. Since you can no longer clip the remote to the board, you would obviously try to put it in your pocket. The remote does not fit in your pocket.
  2. The design itself is not very ergonomic. The angled bits make the remote very weird to hold for people with larger hands. My hands are considered small and even I felt that holding it was a bit… strange.
  3. There’s no deadman switch. Even Evolve has seen the value of a remote with a deadman switch. This would have maybe been ok if the throttle was in a less easily triggered place, but nope, it’s very exposed.

There are other design considerations that have been overlooked. The board’s charge information is not glanceable from the remote. You either have to stare at the single blinking LED on the remote to sort of gauge your battery (similar to the battery flashes on the Yuneec E-GO) or fire up the Acton app and wait for it to connect to your board to get a more detailed reading. This is in contrast to every other high end board remote that shows either individual LEDs or a percentage readout on a display. I did not find a place to attach the strap either. These sort of things just feel like UX that could have been easily improved upon but were not.

It is worth mentioning though that even while riding through areas with heavy radio activity, the remote did not lose connection once. It also instantly connected with the board when turning both on, similar to the S and S2. I was pleasantly surprised at how fast I was able to turn both on and get going. It’s just unfortunate that the design is lacking.

Technical Testing

Testride Route: 

Rider specs: 125lb, 5’6″

As part of my reviews, I perform a series of measured, purely technical tests on review units. These tests are meant to push the units to the extreme that their electronics can handle and reveal any problems that may have not been revealed by simple riding tests. Technical tests are done under the most favorable conditions possible.

Acceleration

Acceleration on this thing on flat ground is no joke. On all modes, the Qu4tro accelerated to top speed beautifully and as expected. The curve is smooth and ramps up linearly on all modes. There’s almost no worry of being thrown off the back if you’re prepared. Acton nailed this regard. I will say that it’s not the fastest acceleration out there by hard numbers, but the Qu4tro manages to *feel* fast while accelerating due to even power delivery from the four wheel drivetrain, and that’s really no easy feat.

Acceleration on hills is another matter. On every single significant (+15%) hill I went up, I had power delivery issues even though the app said the board was at close to full battery. Every other small bump or turn I experienced going up hill meant loss of acceleration power. Every loss of power meant ramping back up from 0 again. This only got worse as the battery drained through the course of the day. At around 50%, the board basically refused to go up hills. After charging the board from 50% to 60%, I gave it back to Marvin. After riding for a short time on some relatively calm roads, he completely ran out of power. This should not have happened on the types of road we were on and in such a short time after charging. After we wrapped up our ride, he encouraged me to write about this issue as he was pretty disappointed.

Top Speed

My speedometer said 23MPH at 100% charge and 21MPH at around 70% charge. This is pretty normal behavior and technically satisfies Acton’s top speed claims.

Braking

Good news! Braking at 100% no longer seems to shut down the board! This is a great improvement from the prototype. Braking is also very smooth! This means you will not get thrown off, unlike a certain other “evolved” board we all know…

However, braking in all instances still leaves much to be desired, unfortunately. The curve goes something like this when you apply full brakes:

This is maybe not so problematic at slower speeds. It will ease you to a sort-of-stop in a decent amount of time. Where it does get problematic, however, is at higher speeds going downhill, when you need brakes the most. It takes way too long to get to 100% braking power. I even almost ran into the back of a stopped car once because the brakes took way too long ramping up. That sucks.

Stress Handling

I do acceleration and braking stress testing in a series of eight consecutive acceleration and braking sequences on flat ground. In a system where a lot of power is transferred to and from various parts of the system, this is an important test. Unlike the prototype, Pro mode here revealed no problems. It seems Acton has fixed the braking shutdown issue. Hard acceleration and braking seems to maintain consistency, and I did not get any cutouts.

Turning Radius

Due to the suspension, turning radius was mostly unsatisfactory. I’d borrowed a Boosted Board Dual+ from Last Mile SF to test the turning radius on a standard single kingpin truck, and the radius was better than the Qu4tro’s with both kinds of trucks tuned to the loosest they would go. The suspension on the Qu4tro would also try to bounce you back to neutral with every bump in the turn. This is definitely not desired behavior.

Drag Race

Carbon GT (5.2s) edged out the Qu4tro (5.6s) in the end. We had a couple boosted boards in the race at the beginning but there was no point having them in the end. We would have had a Raptor 2 as well except its FOCbox broke so it’s now in the shop… for the third time. We tried to equalize the external variables as much as possible.

Thanks Joseph from Bay Area Eskate for operating the DJI Spark! Sorry you couldn’t catch up to us in the end with the drone…

 

Ride & User Experience

In addition to my comments on the suspension system, I have some comments about the four wheel drive system. During any sort of harder turn or carve, if all four wheels rotate at the same speed even though their radius throughout the turn is different, the wheels will slip and you will start to slide. This is by nature of the four wheel drive system, but coupled with really slidey wheels, is a huge issue on the Qu4tro. It means you can’t really safely turn or carve at speed. To mitigate this, most modern four wheel drive systems, such as those in cars, have a differential system in place to handle the rotation speed differences necessary to reduce slip. I believe the Qu4tro especially really needs something like an active differential, though I can’t imagine the complexities that go into implementing something like that. It would really solve the slipping issue.

Putting aside wheel slipping, riding in a straight line is a blast. The zero to max power takeoff of the four wheel drive system is really something to experience. The only boards I’ve felt that really parallel the smoothness on takeoff of the Qu4tro is the dual hub drive Raptor 2 and a couple DIYs by /u/Spooky_Ghost.

Conclusion

What Acton has built here, then, is something that could have been much more, but is unfortunately marred by its own nature. I have very mixed feelings about this board, and I’m not the only one. Even the owner of this board told me he had mixed feelings. My personal opinion is that if you live somewhere with smooth, straight roads and lots of hills, this is probably an excellent board. On the other hand, this board seems to struggle climbing up hills at battery levels under 70%, which is supposed to be its claim to fame. The jiggly, ineffective suspension and heavy deck doesn’t help its case either.

My, what a dilemma.

TL;DR

Wanna be fast and torquey in a straight line in a hilly area and don’t mind the weight? This is your board.
Wanna carve effortlessly or live someplace with heavy traffic? Look elsewhere.

Special Thanks and Notes

This review would not have been possible without the kindness and help shown to me by the following people:
Marvin, Joseph, Tone, and everybody from Bay Area Eskate group (woo BAEskate!)
Last Mile SF

I try to write fair, unbiased reviews for fun, not profit. All equipment used is either borrowed or purchased. Hope you enjoyed reading!

January 2018 in the Electric Skateboarding World

January in Electric Skateboarding:

Audit: Electric Skateboard Crowdfunding 2017

2017 is the year of electric skateboard crowdfunding.
Around 34 products were crowdfunded in either Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

However, there is a saying – Back an Eskate crowdfunding campaign only if you believe in Unicorn.

The pessimism is warranted as crowdfunding campaigns for electric skateboards have always been ridden with problems.
For starters, delays are the rule rather than the exception while overstating the performance is just too common.
As if that is not bad enough, there were outright scams! Anyone remembers Tinboard?

Here are the most common problems in Eskate crowd fundings.

Delays

Delays are the rules rather than the exception when it comes to eskate crowdfunding.
20 out of 30 boards had their delivery delayed for more than 1 month.
That is 66%!
And if you counted out 4 of those boards which were existing products (Ivory, Nuff, Maxfind C, Backfire G2), the statistic of delays would be 19 out of 26 boards, 73%!
If you are not willing to wait an extra 6 months, don’t back an eskate crowdfunding campaign.

Offenders: Most of the campaigns.

Overstating the performance

Eskate crowdfunding campaign is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

The price is too good, you think.
This must be due to an early bird discount, you think.

But more likely it is because the board is just a POS and the marketed specs straight-up lies.

Influencers may be influenced or did not give the board a rigorous test.
Even if they did, what’s stopping the company to produce something weaker than the prototypes?

Offenders: Buffalo, Leafboard, LouBoards, Enskate FiBoard.

Poor Quality

On the other hand, even if a board could hit all the numbers, but broke the very next day, what is the use?

Too many boards end up having disappointing quality.

Offenders: Longrunner, Leafboard, LouBoards, Acton Blinks, Enskate Fiboard.

Problem with import custom and delivery

Electric skateboards are very difficult to ship mainly due to the batteries they carry.

A lot of campaigners underestimated the difficulty when it comes to getting their products to the customer’s doorstep.
There are delivery companies that failed to deliver, or outright refuse to deliver the electric skateboards, which in turns leads to an unexpected increase in both the delivery cost and the duration it takes.

Be extra wary if you are not from the States because international delivery are often problematics.

Offenders: Mellow, Leafboard, Acton Blinks, Elwing, Juiced (can’t post overseas), Linky,  Enskate Fiboard

Need to top up cash

Besides underestimating the complexity of delivering the board, many campaigners underestimated the import tax or shipping cost.
They either end up requiring the backers to shell out extra or leave the backer in shock when their custom inform them to pay a significant amount to have their board to have clearance.

Offenders: Acton Blinks, Walnutt Spectra ($19), Backfire G2 (Initially asked for it, then decided not to), Leafboard.

Did not deliver

Some campaigner straight up never delivers.
Sometimes, some backer receives their boards while others did not.
This might also be something to do with the delivery company.

Offenders: Longrunner, Leafboard, Kuickwheel (went missing before delivery).

Poor post-sale service

Nothing is going to stop a new company to just disappear after delivering the boards.
They delivered the board as promised, and now there are nowhere to be found.

Luckily, not all of the offenders went MIA. Most just straight-up suck in post-sales service.

Offenders: Buffalo, Longrunner, Leafboard, LouBoards, Elwing,  Enskate Fiboard, Huger Boards

Spec or design change

Spec changes are not always bad, but it is often unexpected.
How do you feel if the board doesn’t come with the deck that you ordered?
Or if the range was sacrificed in favor of more stable voltage output?

Design changes often come with good reason, but it might not be “your” reason.

Offenders: Acton Blink, Backfire G2.

Obsolete Specs

The board that we chose to back is most often state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line new tech that came with an unbelievable price.

However, after waiting 4 months for the due date we were hit by another 3 months of delay.
By the time the board reaches our hand, it has lost its edge in specs and pricing to the latest set of new boards in the market.

New boards are always better, and this industry moves fast.

Notable board coming out from Crowdfunding

With all that said. There are actually a few great electric skateboards that came out of 2017 crowdfunding campaigns.

Mellow

Mellow only took almost 2 years and multiple design changes to finally deliver.
Costing somewhere around $1800, Mellow is super pricey, but those who have it absolutely love it.

2 years back, Mellow is state of the art. By the time it delivers on 2017, the competition definitely has caught up.

In particular, Onan took the concept of the electric booster and ran with it.
By the time Mellow was released, Onan was already in its third iteration.
My review of Onan X2 is here.

Though as pessimistic as I may sound, the proud owners of Mellows are mostly very satisfied with their purchase.
Why wouldn’t they, Mellow is powerful, packed with useful features and most important of all, of great quality.

For those who are flying with their boards, Mellow is also considered the best travel board ever, as you can just remove the battery and introduce it as your XXL power bank.

Check out Mellow

Arc Aileron

Arc Aileron is one of the few crowdfunding projects that delivers somewhat on time.
It also marks the second time Arc team has successfully delivered Kickstarter project, both times with flying colors. (After their first project, Arc Board)

Arc Aileron made it on my list for being the best portable shortboard available.
It only weighs 9.5lbs(4.3kg).

Equipped with VESC, the acceleration and deceleration on Arc Aileron are very smooth.
It uses small 70mm wheels, so in exchange for a responsive and agile feel, the board has problems handling rough roads.

By the way, Arc team has just teased about their new project, Arc Finix.

Nothing much has been revealed about Finix yet but if they choose to go to Kickstarter with it again, I definitely feel safe recommending it.

Check out Arc Aileron

Raptor 2

Raptor 2 needs no further introduction.

Although it has seen some delays, the final product did not disappoint.

In fact, Raptor 2 has made into many blogger’s lists as the best electric skateboard of 2017, that is how good it is.
It is good all around! Quality, range, torque, speed, you name it!

Michael Gatti has the best review for the Raptor 2.

My affiliate discount (200 AUD off) for Raptor 2 is here. 

Linky

Linky is an interesting board.

It is an electric skateboard with a foldable deck.
It also has a swappable <99wh battery.
The combination of these 2 features makes Linky the most portable travel board on my list.
Well, I just mentioned others say Mellow is the best travel board but well, I guess everyone has their own favorite. (Read: I am poor) 

Anyways I digress.
Linky is still new and not much user feedback has surfaced, so the quality and riding experiences are still largely unknown.
Linky nonetheless brought a new concept to the electric skateboard market and wasn’t that the whole purpose of crowdfunding? To support innovation?

Check out Linky

Bad fails of Crowdfunding

Leafboard

Really really portable board

Leafboard was a Kickstarter darling when it launch.
Cute size, good price and crazy powerful (marketing specs).

Well, not many people are still expecting Leafboard to deliver after they stop responding to Kickstarter comments and shut off their webpage.
They were, however, still somewhat active in their Facebook group with updates now and then, and,
finally, to most of our surprise, Leafboard delivered in September 2017.

Too bad the woes didn’t stop there. It starts with complaints of backer getting hit by surprised import charges. Then there were complaints of how the boards under-performs and felt cheap in quality.
Well…What a shame.

LouBoard

Turns out Louboards are not a real deal.
After a few months of delay, backers who received the boards were largely unimpressed.

The final product under-performs it’s marketing specs and break easily.
There were also multiple complaints about SoFlow’s customer services.

Turns out a misogynistic company wasn’t that trustworthy after all.
(Much like a misogynistic politician.)

Acton Blink Series

For Acton, the first clue of troubles was when the Indiegogo campaign ends with a 2651% funding.
How are they going to produce that many boards?

Initially, I was one of those who applauded Acton for setting a new standard for affordable high performing electric skateboards.
Their Indiegogo pricing for Blink S, S2 and Qu4tro all undercuts the competitions in value for price.

Then the Acton starts to announce delays, that was to be expected.
What was not cool was how Acton straight up lie about the delivery dates.

It frustrated the backers when Acton told them that they are shipping the very next month -failed to do so, then proceed to give the same promised for the following month and then repeats.

International backers have it worse as they have to wait another few extra months (like 3 months) for the board to finally arrive.
To add insult to injury, at one point Acton’s site listed Blink S as having ready stock for purchase while their international backers still waiting to receive their board.

Blink S and S2 are meant to be the best affordable boards.
However, it took so long for Acton to deliver that, by the time they were out, better budget options like the Meepo and Backfire G2 were already roaming the streets.

It is even more disappointing if you consider that Acton already had a Kickstarter experience (which they somewhat screw up too) under their belt.
Speaking of not learning from experience.

Final Thoughts:

Backing a crowdfunding campaign can be a very tricky ordeal.
Considering the risk mentioned above, most of the time, it is not worth the risk.
However, a successful crowdfunding campaign usually has a few characteristic.

  1.  The company/ team had done it successfully before.
    Arc, Enertion
  2. The founders are reputable in the Eskate community
    Enertion, Riptide
  3. The product already somewhat exist.
    Backfire G2, All those Onan clones
  4. It’s not Acton

Best Electric Skateboards – ElectricSkateboardHQ’s Recommendations

update 4th May 2019:
Winboard Panther is out, Backfire G2T is in.
Updated Budget Longboard Section.
update 21st August:
WINboard Panther and Lynx.
Backfire G2s and Ranger X1.
Exway X1.
update 1st June 18:
Added Boosted Mini.
Updated Gen 2 Meepo. 
Update Arc Aileron V2.
Update 2nd April 18:
Removed Spectra Series from portable board recommendation after reviewing them myself. 
Most Anticipated Penny/Nickel Board list is empty for now.

update 24th February 18:
Add in UnikBoards, Kaly.NYC and DIYeboards AT kits are valid choices in for the all-terrain needs.
update 9th January 18:
Mentions Metroboard Micro Slim in place of Metroboard shortboard as consensus is Micro Slim> Shortboard.
Winboard & community feedback -Winboard GT-M8 2.0 not for sale anymore.
Backfire G2 back on the menu as feedbacks are their customer service doesn't suck anymore.
 

There are a lot of “Best Electric Skateboard” posts out there, most of them, however, are more sensational than helpful to someone who is looking to purchase an Electric Skateboard.

Sure, Enertion Raptor 2 might be the best electric skateboard in consensus right now, but it would be insane for me to simply recommend it to anyone who emails me, without first understanding what they want out of their Eskate.

“Hey, I great blog! I just want to ask…”
“Enertion Raptor 2. Say no more.”

Among the hundreds of electric skateboard that I’ve researched/ tried on, there is often one or a few electric skateboards that fit best for certain people.

This is that list.

And of course, the list will be updated when a better option comes around and old boards fell out of favors.

So let’s get to it. The best board for those who are looking for the …

1) Best Penny/ Nickel board

To a lot of people, an electric skateboard is mainly a means to commute, and among these people, some value portability above everything else. There is no use to ride to a mall and ends up carrying a 20lbs longboard for the next 2 hours you are there.

There are portable options for both longboard and shortboard too, but for those who are looking for penny/nickel size board, these are the boards that are best in their categories.

Best in general:

Arc Board (899 SGD ≈ $699 + $80 FedEx international shipping.)

Arc Board is simply the best electric penny board you can get on the market right now.
It is penny board size with a 22 inch(55.9cm) deck and only weighs 7.7lbs(3.5kg).

The range and speed is nothing to write home about but it gets the job done.

With the help of the VESC, the acceleration and deceleration of Arc Board are very comfortable.
70mm wheels, however, means good roads and sidewalk only.

With that being said, electric penny board is best to be considered by those who are experienced, as balancing on such a narrow wheelbase is not going to be comfortable for beginners.

Every Arc Board is manually assembled by the Arc team in Singapore and hence the quality is assured. They also come with a 6 months warranty.

Check out ArcBoard

Best budget option:

With 28″ Meepo Campus discontinued and being replaced by 32″ Meepo Campus 2, there isn’t really any small budget electric skateboard that I can recommend on the market.
If there is any board that you feel fit this category, please let me know in the comment section so I can check it out!

These are the other boards that were considered but weren’t picked:

Bolt, Louboard, Winboard GT M8 Mini, Maxfind C

Acton Blink Lite is now known as Blink Go, it is a small, cheap, single hub motor Eskate. There was simply no reason to pick Acton Blink Lite over Meepo Campus as, for the similar price, the Campus has better performance and Meepo are way more reliable than Acton.

However, now that the Campus is discontinued, it left the $200 Acton Blink Go the only board 

I still wouldn’t dare to recommend an Acton because of their poor reputation on how they take care of their customers.

Acton Affiliate Link, if you wants to go against my advice and buy it anyways.

Bolt -899EUR ≈ $950 USD

At its price, there is little to pick Bolt over Arc Board. Arc Board has more range and bolt has a slight edge in speed.

But at the end of the day, I would choose Arc Board which has proved to have good product quality and customer service. Saving extra 200 bucks is just the icing on the cake.

Check out Bolt

LouBoards –$449, $790, $990

Turns out, Louboard is not the sure thing.

After months of delay, the backers of Lou board was disappointed by the actual product.
Quality, customer service aside, the main complaint is the board doesn’t perform as it boasted.

Outside of Kickstarter campaign, Lous don’t have that attractive of a price anyways. 

I don’t think anyone is looking for a highspeed penny board but Lou 3.0 is basically the penny board with highest top-speed if you are into that kind of things… …

Check out Lou …

Maxfind C

Reviews had shown that Maxfind C is weak, has poor quality and breaks easily. It is more like a toy than an Eskate.

Check out Maxfind C

WinBoard GT-M8 mini – not for sale anymore.



2) Best Shortboards

Shortboard lovers are in luck.

There was a time when there is not much option in the electric shortboards market.

Not anymore, there are a lot of new players joining the shortboards niche and it is a red ocean out there.

Best in general:

There are so many good shortboards in the market that it is difficult to pick a best in general.
So I will cheat a bit by subcategories them into different motor drive – Belt, Geared, and Hub and pick the best amongst them.

WINboard Lynx ($699-829) -Hub drive

At this point in time, still relatively unknown, Lynx is a treasure to be discovered.

One of the first product put out by Eskate manufacturing giant WINboard, it has all the benefit of a China Board – Great price for performance; while not suffering from the lack of finesse in control, build and design that is characteristic of Chinese electric skateboard aggregator company.

And that unibody carbon fiber design that is shared by the Predator Banshee? Gorgeous.

Light, powerful, refined, there isn’t much of the Lynx that I can pick on.
Well, perhaps the lack-of kick tail might be the deal breaker for some.

With their customer support now properly set up, I wouldn’t hold back to say Lynxes are the best electric shortboard available right now.

Check out our review on the Lynx Challenge

Boosted Mini X ($999) -Belt drive

Boosted Mini X is the exception from the high price, high polish but low-performance stereotype that we know Boosted for.

At 20mph(32kmh) top speed and 14miles(22.5km) range, the Boosted are just slightly behind its competitor in specs, something that the quality, polish and brand name definitely more than made up for.
Comparing to it’s weaker brother Mini S($749), Mini X has better value/dollar ratio as it has 2 times the range for just $250 extra and should be the first consideration.

The only downside of the Boosted Mini X would be the weight. At 16.8 lbs(7.6kg), it was really heavy, especially for a shortboard.

If weight is not an issue for you, (then why not buy a longboard?!), Boosted Mini X should be among your first consideration when shopping for an electric shortboard.

Check out my summary on the Boosted 3rd Gens

Arc Aileron V2 ($1249 + $80 FedEx international shipping)

– Geared Drive

Arc Aileron V2 is one of my favorite electric shortboards!

The board from reliable Arc team nailed almost every aspect that makes a good electric skateboard from quality to performance. The big 90mm wheels (which is compatible to 107mm wheels upgrade!), a light 12.1lbs(5.5kg) weight, and geared motor that free-rolls like dream, Arc Aileron is the perfect board for a lot of people.

Its only weakness should be the torque. As always, a single drive has its limitation.

Check out my review for Arc Aileron V2

Best Budget Option:

Meepo Campus 2 ($299 US only)

For those who are in the US, Meepo Campus 2 at $299 is a no-brainer for anyone looking for a budget electric shortboard.

Besides the limitation in torque, the Meepo Campus 2 has an all-rounded spec, making it a fine choice for anyone who doesn’t care about speedy acceleration and crazy top speed.

The polished that came with the 2nd Gen Meepo’s also is something rarely seen at this price range.

My 2nd favorite boards of all time, I would recommend the Meepo Campus 2 to anyone who is not looking for torque.

Check out my full review of Meepo Campus 2.

For those who need more torque or if Meepo Campus 2 is yet to available in your area, my budget recommendation would be the 30″ Meepo V2P, or the Wowgo Mini 28″depending on which deck suits you best.

(Wowgo remote seems to have finer control than that of Meepo, but with some sacrifices in features. Meepo has the better track record in post-sales service, that’s why I always suggest Meepo first.)

These are the other boards that were considered but weren’t picked:

Pulse Echo, Predator Banshee, Arc Aileron V1, Riptide R1 and R1 Elite, Metro Micro Slim, DIYelectric Torque Speedster, Acton Blink S1, S2, Yuneec Ego-2, Huger Classic, Huger Travel.

Pulse Echo ($999) – Hub Motors

At one point, Pulse Echo was considered best shortboard on the market right. It is fast (25mph/40kmh), it has a decent range (12mil/ 19km) and has all the important features such as VESC, swappable battery, swappable PU sleeves and water resistance.

However, it seems like the board was never ready for purchase. Early reviews have been positive for this boards, but it is still undergoing refinement and improvement. The lack of availability really makes it a difficult board to recommend.

Pulse founder is from the Eskate community so there is a lot of faith in the product and company.

Check out Pulse Echo

Predator Banshee ($1099)

Predator Banshee has a problem- Winboard Lynx exists now.

Q’s Predator Banshee has a different philosophy than the Winboard Lynx.
Catering more to speed demons and thrill seekers.

Similar looks aside, both of them are only sharing deck and battery.

With Winboard Lynx undercutting Predator Banshee in price while also being equal in performance…

Check out Predator Banshee

Riptide R1 and R1 Elite – ($599, $729)

Eric Birkemeier’s Riptide R1 and R1 Elite are dual belt-motors electric shortboard.
They are powerful, fast and light in weight.

It rides pretty well too.

However, priced @ $599 and $729, the Riptide R1 are the victims of a new Boosted Mini series.
It’s hard to see anyone pick the R1 over Boosted for $150 and a few pounds lighter. The quality, customer service, and comfort of the Boosted brand make going the Boosted way a more logical and common choice.

The long-standing concern of battery quality and recent woes of quality concern wasn’t helping too.

Check out our Riptide R1 Elite Review

29″ Metroboard Micro Slim – $1099

Metroboard has been around for a long time and is known to build quality belt motor boards.

Unless you are in love with the design, there is little reason to go with the heavy 29″ Metroboard Micro Slim today. The other boards I mentioned were either faster, lighter or cheaper or in some case just better overall.

Check out 29″ Metroboard Micro Slim

Acton Blink S1, S2 – $449, $999

Ughh, Acton…

When I first came to the eskate scene, Acton’s board is a company I like. They have boards in every tier and always edge out the competition in pricing.

As more and more good budget eskate came to the market, Acton no longer has the edge in pricing.
On top of that, the bad reputation of Acton for their customer services and board quality makes me uncomfortable in recommending any of their board.

While there are a lot of “this is the best board I have ever ridden” video, there is, even more, posts of “My Blink S2 broke…”

Would not recommend.
However, if you want to buy at your own risk: Here is the Affiliate link & discount code<— XD

DIYelectric Torque Speedster -$774

At one time, DIYelectric Torque Speedster is my go-to recommendation for a budget electric skateboard.

A year back, it was the best performing budget board.

Nowadays, there is a lot more budget and better boards, leaving Torque Speedster without a niche.

And as mentioned, Diyelectricskateboard are putting the production on hold for now so you couldn’t buy it anyways…

Check out Torque Boards

Huger Classic -$449

Only a few have received Huger Classic after a 2 months delay in their Indiegogo shipping.

So being a new brand (that I have no confidence in), I would not start recommending it before the review comes in.
Even if it is all it promised, at $449, Riptide R1 would still be an all-around better purchase.

Check out Huger Boards 

Huger Travel– $799

Poor riding experience due to the short wheelbase. Preview and early review are all negatives.

Just avoid it.

Check out Huger Boards 

Yuneec Ego-2 ≈$340

Yuneec Ego and Ego-2 have been the staple of the budget electric skateboard for a long long time.

There are quite outdated at this age.
In comparison with the new budget boards, it is slow with unreliable quality and customer service. There is no reason to recommend Yuneec Ego-2 to anyone anymore.

Check out Yuneec Ego-2 on Amazon



3) Best Longboards

Too many grounds to cover here, we will go down the price list:

Cost: A Kidney

La Croix  ($2299)

You know what’s costing 2 grand yet sells like a hot cake? La Croix. 

Range: 37.5 mile/60km
Speed: 18mph-22mph (30km/h to 35km/h)

All terrain wheels, very flexy deck, carbon fiber enclosure.

And a waiting list.

Check out La Croix official page

Custom Trampa Build ($2200 Onwards)

You can build a powerful beast with Trampa deck, and the most known way to do it right now is to go to Kaly.nyc for it.

Check out Kaly.nyc

Premium Tier:

Enertion Raptor 2.1 ($1785)

I have to agree with the consensus that Enertion Raptor 2 is the overall best electric skateboard on the market right now.

Fast, Powerful with great range, Enertion Raptor 2 is the complete package.
The ability to switch between 90mm, 98mm or 100mm wheels is just icing on the cake.

Early reviews of the Raptor 2 are overwhelmingly positive.

I think the best on-hand review of the Raptor 2 is done by Michael Gatti.

All in all, a great performing board that is made of quality parts by a reputable company.
Raptor 2 is an easy recommendation.

Affiliated discount link for Raptor 2.

Boosted Stealth ($1600)

As long as the Boosted Stealth’s rather limited range can get you where you need, it should be among the first consideration when shopping for a premium board.

Going Boosted is about putting all your money in to ride comfort, board quality and … well… brand name.

My buddy Samuel James has a very good article written about his rationale on getting a Boosted Stealth, take a read to see if that resonate with you.

Boosted Stealth – The Decision (by Samuel James)

Best middle high-end:

Exway X1 ($900)

Exway X1 has been around for a while, and it has largely flown under the radar.

In a world that China Boards are frown upon for being raw, unrefined with poor customer care.
Exway X1 is none of that.

With the performance, ride feel, control, quality and service that rivals that of the Boosted, while asking only for two-thirds of the price. Is EXWAY X1 THE BOOSTED KILLER? (Oh my gawd what did I just said, I sound like the rest of them now!)

Check out our Review on the Exway X1

Best mid-tier:

Backfire G2T ($599)

Backfire G2T has made alot of noises this year, and rightfully so.

It has a perfectly smooth control thanks to the Hobbywing ESC.
It has a powerful torque when the Turbo mode is activated.
It uses great Samsung 30Q batteries which provide range while eliminating voltage sag.
It uses Caliber II trucks that delivers stable and comfortable rides.
It comes with both 83mm and 96mm wheels which allows the board to be versatile in any road type.

It’s hands down, the best board at $599.

Check out our Review on the Backfire G2T

Best Budget Option:

I define a budget board as a board that are asking for less than $500. With the rise of Chinese brands, we are spoiled with choices and for that, I have made a separate list introducing and comparing boards in this price range.

You can click here to read about it.

But my personal favorite in this segment goes to Meepo Classic ($399)

Click to read the review of Meepo Classic here.

Best for portability:

Linky (999USD)

*Marketed as a longboard, the Linky is only 31.4inch(80cm) in length, it is more like a shortboard actually.*
*credit to Armin from Discord community who spotted this*

I think it goes without saying that the only electric skateboard that can be folded and put into a backpack is the most portable electric longboard.

After few months of delays, Linky was finally delivered to fellow Indiegogo backer in December 2017. Too bad there wasn’t review out to know how well the board rides.

It is 12.1lbs(5.5kg) in weight only, and can be folded into a 15.8inch(40cm) package that can be easily stored in backpacks.
Linky is also packed with features – phone app, swappable battery, LED lights and is waterproof.

It is the most special electric skateboard I have researched on so far.

For your information, there are a lot of fold-able decks in the China Market, an attempt to copy Linky’s design. A friend who tried out those board reported that those counterfeits were very very heavy, definitely not on par with Linky in the portability sense.

Check out Linky

Best off-road:

1) Evolve Carbon and Bamboo series

If you are looking for doing any real off-roading, Evolve Bamboo and Carbon AT series is about your only choice.

Unless you are planning to break the bank and go for a custom build Trampa. Or the La Croix.

The Evolves are great performing board made by a great company. (With a known case of remote connectivity issue and notorious problem with voltage sag on battery.. well.)

Check out Evolve Boards
Buy it from Amazon Here.

2) Backfire Ranger X1 ($699)

Early reviews of the Ranger X1 has all been positive, making it the most affordable option for All Terrain.

Check out Backfire Ranger X1

3) One Wheel

Is one-wheel an electric skateboard? Well …it is electric and we skate on it so.. yes?
Check out our review on OneWheel here.

Note: In the more DIY side, many Eskate makers offers custom all-terrain builts, famously with Trampa boards. You can check out UnikBoards or get in touch with Kaly.nyc for that.
These makers tend to provide top of the line service and quality.

On the other hand, although I am not particularly a fan of www.diyeboard.com, their 6″ Wheels All-terrain Electric Skateboard DIY Kits 10S2p @ $599 is probably the cheapest AT setup available. I have strong opinions against how they conduct their marketing campaigns, but consensus is that their products and customers services are solid.

Most anticipated longboards:

1) JED Dual wheel drives & All-Wheel-Drives ($1199, $1599)

JED Board was founded by Jeremy Bogan and incorporated in Singapore.

JED Boards are designed to be outstanding.

JED boards have a lot going for it.

  1.  Minimalistic design
  2. It uses a self-designed direct drive which enables it to
    1. Allow the use of standard longboard wheels (=thicker PU in motor wheels)
    2. Eliminate the use of belt
    3. More efficient power delivery
    4. Better Free-rolling
  3. Using very good parts for Trucks, Bushing, Bearings, Remotes.
  4. Very light.
  5. 2-year warranty.
  6. Good specs with good price.

With the downside of being very loud.

JED board is due for early 2018 delivery.

Check out Jed Boards

2) Carvon Evo and REVO 4WD ($1999, $2999)

Carvon Evo and Revo 4WD have booked their place as the champions of high-speed electric skateboards.
After months of delay in their Kickstarter delivery date, they are estimated to ship in February 2018.

The Carvon Evo and REVO 4WD are too rocking a different kind of direct drives and have most of the same benefit such as power efficient and allow the use of standard longboard wheel.

Best on-hand review for Carvon Evo from an early backer can be found here.

(This time, I am not going to list down all the electric longboard that were considered because there is just too many of them!)

Check out Carvon

Final words:

If there are any boards that you felt should be the better for any section, please let your opinion be heard in the comment section.

Again, this post will be updated from time to time as new boards releases.

I did not mention most of the electric skateboard from the China market, you can read about them in my piece on China Board where I tried to cover all the big name electric skateboard brand from China.

Wanna see how all electric skateboards spec charts and how they stack up against each other in a big top speed vs range chart? It’s on the Comparison Chart and the infographic page.

Acton Blink Qu4tro Prototype Preview (09/21/2017)

This review was originally published on September 22, 2017 and reflects my honest opinions at the time of publication. No part of this review has been redacted in any way. It has only been corrected for grammar and spelling.

Follow the discussion on Reddit here

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

Introduction

Today (09/21/2017) I went over to Acton’s Headquarters in Santa Clara, California, and tested the Blink Qu4tro. I was invited the previous day via email, and the person I corresponded with was extremely nice and extremely prompt when responding. I’m writing this review for future Qu4tro owners as well as Acton engineers, who I’m also linking to this review.

When I got there, there were two other people there, as well as a huge number of engineers gathered around. We were taken to the back through their prototyping garage, which contained all sorts of boards in half built states, including another Qu4tro with its internals spilling out.

  • What we were allowed to test ride:
    Blink Qu4tro with “Avenue collaboration trucks” (these are a HUGE deal, I’ll come to that later)
  • Blink S2 with “Avenue collaboration trucks” (not as big a deal on the S2, but still big)
  • Blink Lite (original)

Let’s get the unimportant stuff out of the way first. Blink Lite was same old. The interesting stuff starts with the Blink S2.

S2

What they basically did was put the “Avenue collaboration trucks” that were meant for the Qu4tro on the S2. Peter allowed us to ride this S2 while they were trying to fix the Qu4tro. More on this later. I’d previously ridden a production S2 and owned an S for half a year so I know what the originals are like. This was nothing like the original. While everything electronic stayed the same, the ride quality was completely changed by the spring suspension. I won’t say it was ruined, but these trucks the way Acton has them currently configured are not meant to go on such a light board. You become completely disconnected from the road because you feel like it’s all you can do to hang on. Turning radius was also ruined, but more on that later. Bottom line, suspension trucks on the Blink S2 will only appeal to extremely select people and will ruin the board for the vast majority. I have a feeling this won’t make it to production.

Blink Qu4tro

Please keep in mind that what I tested was a prototype and that this review should not be construed as condoning of condemning the final product.

Hardware

The deck itself is constructed with three distinct sections. The front and back load bearing sections are constructed from cast aluminum. The mid section is constructed from seemingly the same material as the Blink extrusions. The deck itself is durable, but I don’t think anybody doubted that, but just for anecdotal evidence, I’m a 125lb girl and jumping as hard as I could on the deck felt like I was jumping on the floor. That is to say, it’s incredibly stiff. Some people will like that, some people won’t. In the end, it’ll be up to preference, but I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Compared alongside the Carbon GT’s 40″ deck, it seemed around 3″ shorter, so I’d say the deck is around 36-37″ in length.

What is a huge deal, however, is the weight. Due to the materials used, battery density due to power required, and just overall design decisions, the deck is heavy. Extremely heavy. And dense. Picking up the prototype feels like picking up one and a half Evolve Bamboo GTXs. If you imagine the weight of 1.5 GTXs but squeezed into a denser package, you’ll get the Qu4tro. I even struggled a bit to pick one end of it up to turn around. It’s that heavy. Peter says that they’re still attempting to make the whole package lighter, and that they’re using a different material than cast aluminum for the front and rear load bearing sections (he neglected to tell me what they’re switching to) so hopefully production models will be lighter.

Avenue “Collaboration” Trucks

Now you might be thinking that weight doesn’t matter if you’re never picking it up. You’d be wrong. Part of what makes a board good overall, especially for eskates, is weight and trucks, which brings me to my next point. This is a huge point. The new suspension trucks. These trucks… boy… where to start…

Let me start by saying that they’re not the same as the current Avenue longboard trucks that you can pick up from Avenue’s online store. The trucks on the prototype boards that we got to ride were actually hand made prototypes based on the Avenue trucks. They rode extremely high, and did not really play well with the hangars. This by itself probably wouldn’t have been too much of an issue, but combined with the weight of the deck and high center of gravity it forced, the board became basically uncarvable and unturnable. If you tried to carve, the bounce back from the springs would try to throw you off. If you tried to turn, the trucks would try to bounce back and you wouldn’t be able to turn. It wasn’t until I loosened the kingpin to basically unridable levels that I could turn 180 on a decently wide road, and even then, I could just barely do it. Basically, Acton needs to serious work on these trucks.

It’s not all bad. I was assured by the engineering team that the spring curvature would resemble the Avenue ones more, which should mean less ridiculous spring and lower center of gravity, which in turn should help with reducing the effects of the weight which again in turn enables better carving and turning. I’ll believe it when I see (ride) the production trucks.

Remote

The remote was surprisingly nice. It uses a thumbwheel system with **no** deadman trigger, and was not sensitive at all. The version of the remote I tested was definitely 3D printed, but it had a nice feel and heft to it. There’s an indicator light on the bottom top facing side of the remote that blinks to indicate battery life and board status. It’s akin to the status indicator of the Yuneec E-go remotes, which is to say that getting your current status while riding by reading colors and counting blinks will get annoying. Right underneath the indicator light is the on/off switch. Connection, as with the other Blink series boards, is instantaneous. There’s no mode switching on the controller *still*. Mode switching has to be done from the app.

Ergonomics of the remote is mostly ace, or at least the part you grip is ace. I’m not sure why they’re keeping the top and bottom portions that stick out if the controller doesn’t act as a pull handle anymore, as all it does now is look weird and keep the controller from comfortably fitting in my pocket or purse. There were no controller related cutouts while I was riding the board hard. (There were definitely points where I lost control completely but I’ll get to that later)

Technical Testing

As much as I was able to, I tried to do as scientific of tests as possible. I was only able to measure extremely limited measurements, but I’ll do my best to describe to you results of my tests as best I can.

Acceleration

Acceleration curves on Normal mode was nice and easy. Acceleration on Pro mode was still nice, definitely feels more like the Raptor 2 acceleration curve and not the “Extreme G-Force” acceleration on the GT modes on Evolve boards. I think Acton nailed this aspect of the board’s UX, but I could see myself missing the exhilaration of the GT mode’s full power at 0 seconds. Peter says that’s not the market they’re targeting, so I’m not going to argue with that.

The dozens of times I went from full standstill to max speed, there were only a couple of times where it felt like the acceleration curve was uneven. I could chalk it up to prototypes not having the fully completed power delivery system, but that and other issues I’ll describe later makes me worried.

Top Speed

My speedometer said 22mph. That’s on the 88mms Acton had on the demo board. Compared to the 27mph measured on my CGT with 97mms on the same exact course. 3 repeated tests produce the same results. It’s “fast enough” for most people, but definitely not the fastest.

Braking

In normal mode, braking was fine. It slows you down to a complete stop pretty gradually, so you don’t have to worry about being thrown off. At the same time, don’t expect the braking to save you from oncoming traffic if you’re trying to stop at an intersection and you don’t know how to footbrake. In pro mode, braking **at full charge** will **shut down the board**. This happened twice. Once before the Facebook live stream, and once during the Facebook live stream. If you were watching, I was all the way at the end of the road near the turnaround and an engineer had to run and fetch the board. As I explained to both Peter and the engineers, this happens on the Blink S and Blink S2 and can *easily* be fixed with an overcharge resistor. The resistor would convert energy into heat which you can pipe into the all metal frame of the Qu4tro. This issue is even more crucial with the Qu4tro because instead of two motors pumping regen charge into the system, there’s now four. Twice the amount of power, twice the likelyhood of shutdown. I stressed this point to Peter and the engineering team there multiple times since there’s such a huge increase in risk of death. **They said they’d fix it**. If they don’t by launch time, y’all know it’s not because I didn’t try.

Stress Handling

After the shutdown incidents, they didn’t let me back onto Pro mode, so I ran the rest of the tests in Normal mode. Stress handling, where you accelerate to full speed then brake to a complete stop, is often used to test systems such as eskates where large amounts of power is transferred to and from various parts of the system. Doing this in Normal mode revealed no problems, but of course our concern here is Pro mode.

Turning Radius

Please see my thoughts above on the truck setup. No accurate tests could be performed.

Drag Race

I didn’t get to directly race the two boards against each other, but I did let the Acton engineers try the CGT. I’m not sure if they knew that Mandarin was my native language, but they were talking amongst themselves after trying the CGT and the phrases “insane acceleration”, “way faster”, and “crazy” got thrown around a lot so I’m going to assume they were reasonably impressed. I did find it strange that they apparently had no idea companies like Evolve or Enertion even existed. It seems to me that if you’re going to build a product that’s supposed to compete in this kind of market, you’d at least try stuff from other companies… Anyways, from my personal testing, there’s really no comparison. Both acceleration and top speed on the CGT blows the Qu4tro away.

Suspension Trucks

See my earlier section on this. I will add though that they were actually quite stable at high speeds. Might have to do with the weight of the board though.

That’s it

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer.