In our previous post, we reviewed the impressive Backfire Zealot X, a $1200 belt-driven electric skateboard that excelled in power, aesthetics, build quality, and riding enjoyment. Today, we’re taking a closer look at its more affordable sibling, the $849 Backfire Zealot S2. If you haven’t read our review of the Backfire Zealot X yet, we recommend checking it out first.
Main Differences Between Zealot S2 and Zealot X
The two boards share many similarities, but three key differences make the Zealot S2 $400 cheaper.
|Specification||Zealot X||Zealot S2|
|Deck||38″ x 10.6″ Composite Deck – Glass Fiber, Maple. Stiff, minimal concave||Similar|
|ESC||14s Hobbywing ESC; smart turn-on||Similar|
|Remote||Halo Remote, OLED display, 4-speed modes||Similar|
|Battery||Samsung 50S 14S2P, 504Wh, 50.4V||Samsung 40T 14S2P, 403.2Wh|
|Motors||1500W x2 – Belt Motors||875W x2 – Belt Motors|
|Marketed Range||34 miles / 55 km||30 miles / 48 km|
|Marketed Top Speed||31 mph or 50 km/h||30 mph or 48 km/h|
|Trucks||8.5″ Forged Truck (10.6 inch / 270 mm CNC Precision Forging)||8″ Cast Trucks|
|Wheels||96MM / 80A Street wheels||Similar|
|Other Features||Ice Blue Board Light, Smartphone App||Similar, but with Purple LED lights|
1. Battery Size and Range
First, the Zealot S2 has a slightly smaller battery, using Samsung 40T cells instead of the Zealot X’s Samsung 50S, resulting in a 403.2Wh battery compared to the Zealot X’s 504Wh. Fortunately, the Zealot S2 maintains the 14s2p configuration, giving it an advantage in power and torque over other boards in this price range, which typically use 12s configurations.
The Zealot S2 boasts an advertised range of 30 miles or 48km, and our 155lb 70kg rider achieved 23 miles or 37km while riding at high speeds. Surprisingly, this is slightly better than the range we got on the Zealot X. With a heavier 220 lbs 100kg rider, the Zealot X managed only 20 miles or 32 km. This highlights the impact of rider weight on mileage and, perhaps, the smaller motors on the Zealot S2 limit how fast one can drain the battery.
2. Motor Power
That brings us to the second difference, the motors: the Backfire Zealot S2 uses a pair of 875W 5255 motors, while the Zealot X features 1500W 6358 motors. Even with smaller 875W motors, the Backfire Zealot S2 never feels underpowered.
We reached a top speed of 30.5mph or 49km/h in turbo mode, practically identical to the Zealot X. The only difference is that the Zealot X accelerates rapidly from the start, while the Zealot S2’s acceleration isn’t as aggressive. For some context, the Zealot S2’s power and torque are slightly behind the Meepo Voyager X and neck and neck to the Exway Flex Pro.
The third distinction lies in the trucks. The Zealot S2 utilizes a pair of cast trucks, while the Zealot X has forged trucks, which, unsurprisingly, perform better besides being more durable. When we reviewed the Zealot X, we were impressed by how good the trucks are. The Zealot X turns easily like a double kingpin truck while still amazingly stable at top speeds. In comparison, the Zealot S2’s 8″ reverse kingpin trucks felt slightly tighter and less responsive, sacrificing a bit of carving fun in favor of stability.
However, this is not to say that these trucks were bad. They are still very good; it just goes to show how exceptional the trucks on the Zealot X are.
Shared Features with the Zealot X
Apart from these differences, the Backfire Zealot S2 shares all the fantastic features and outstanding build quality of the Zealot X. This means the Zealot S2 boasts cool elements like the LED light strips along the deck, this time in purple; the premium-feeling halo remote, and the included Kegel pulley for easy wheel swaps.
The ESC remains the 14s Hobbywing ESC, which is well-known for being smooth, intuitive, and powerful in both acceleration and braking.
Shared Drawbacks with the Zealot X
However, the similarities between the two boards also extend to certain drawbacks. For instance, the Zealot S2 shares the same deck as the Zealot X, which is a 39-inch composite deck made of ABS, glass fiber, and maple.
The deck is stiff and mostly flat, featuring only a subtle concave at the edges. Consequently, it can be challenging to gauge foot placement without looking down or readjusting during the ride. The stiff deck also doesn’t provide much comfort when riding on rough terrain.
Thankfully, as a belt-driven board with sizable 96mm wheels, the ride isn’t too uncomfortable on rough roads, but there is room for improvement. Upgrading to larger wheels would enhance the board’s vibration-dampening capabilities, as well as increase top speed and ground clearance – rather important, as the motor mounts currently sit quite close to the ground.
By the way, we tested Backfire’s 120mm wheels and were pretty impressed. They provided excellent vibration absorption and maintained a solid grip even on wet roads.
Comparison with Competitors
So, how does the Backfire Zealot S2 fare in comparison to its competitors?
Priced at $849, the Zealot S2 is likely to be compared with the $899 Exway Flex Pro and the $999 Meepo Voyager. Among these, the Zealot S2 holds its ground quite well. Although it offers slightly less exhilarating acceleration and a lower top speed than the Meepo Voyager, the Zealot S2 and Flex Pro both surpass the Meepo in terms of smooth speed control. Moreover, the Backfire and Exway boards boast a more premium feel in their build and design.
On the flip side, we find the Zealot S2’s deck to be the least appealing among the three, as it’s too flat for foot comfort and too stiff for enjoyable carving. In contrast, the Flex Pro features the most flexible deck with a comfortable concave, enhancing carving fun at the expense of high-speed stability. Meanwhile, the Voyager’s deck strikes a balance between the two, offering slightly more flex than the Zealot’s deck and a comfortable concave.
In terms of battery capacity, the Zealot S2’s 403Wh battery outperforms the 345Wh battery in the Exway Flex Pro but falls short of the Meepo Voyager’s 544.3Wh.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Backfire might argue that the Zealot S2 has better spec than the Exway Flex Pro Belt and offers a more enjoyable riding experience than the Meepo Voyager – and, indeed, there is truth to that claim.
If you’re seeking a stylish, sub-$1000 electric skateboard with a premium appearance, solid specs, and stability at high speeds, the Backfire Zealot S2 could be an ideal choice.
It may not be the perfect fit for those who prefer a more flexible deck with a pronounced concave, but this minor shortcoming is easy to overlook when everything else is near perfection. Undoubtedly, the Backfire Zealot S2 will be a popular pick for the best electric skateboard under $1000.
If you are interested in buying the Backfire, be sure to check out our affiliate discount link here and use code: “ESKATEHQ” to receive 5% off during checkout.
It will help you get a small monetary discount and help us out too. On top of that, you’ll be tagged as an Electric Skateboard HQ customer and probably be treated better. Cheers!