Wowgo 2S Max Review – The best budget electric skateboard.

Not too long ago, we crowned the Wowgo 2S Pro as the best budget electric skateboard under $500. So imagine our surprise that just after 7 months, Wowgo find the need to one-up themselves and released Wowgo 2S Max as an update for the 2s Pro.

From Wowgo 2s Pro to 2s Max:

The obvious key changes are

  1. slight upgrade in motor wattage (500W -> 550W) and top speed (25mph ->28mph),
  2. giving the option of 105mm Honeycomb wheels for an extra $120.
  3. update in ESC

Unfortunately, the improvement doesn’t come free, as the $479 Wowgo 2S Max also saw a small price bump from $429 of the 2S Pro to $479.99 for the 2S Max. While it is a pretty foregone conclusion that the 2S Max will inherit the throne of being the best budget electric skateboard, we will have to examine if there is any flaw to the package.

As usual, let’s run through the specs to be clear about those theoretical upgrades…

Build and specs – Wowgo 2s Max

  • Deck: Canadian Maple, bamboo, and fiberglass; subtle concave with no camber/rocker
  • ESC: Hobbywing ESC; 4-speed modes, smart power-on
  • Marketed Top Speed: 28 mph / 45 kph
  • Motors: 550 W * 2 hub motors
  • Batteries: 12s2p, 5.0Ah, 50.4V
  • Marketed Range: 14.3 miles / 23 km (90mm wheels)
  • Trucks: Poseidon Trucks
  • Wheels: 90mm street wheels / 105mm honeycomb wheels
  • Board Weight: 18lbs / 8.2kg

Design & Deck – Wowgo 2s Max

The WowGo 2S Max’s deck is a combination of Canadian Maple, bamboo, and fiberglass. It only has a mild flex to it, and it’s even slightly stiffer than the 2S Pro. It also has a wide but subtle concave and is flat without any camber or rocker. As an upgrade, Wowgo put on a foam grip tape to improve vibration absorption for the 2S Max. However, this made the concave of the deck less prominent and our feet felt less secure during carving and rides.

The design on the grip tapes and the backside of the deck is pretty nice, too. The trident graphic gets to stay, and there’s another option of a new black design which looks pretty cool as well.

Trident underneath the deck (photo of 2s Pro)

For the electronic speed controller, the WowGo 2S Max used the 12s Hobbywing ESC which received minor updates from the one on 2S Pro. It also has the smart power-on feature, of course. 

Hobbywing ESC Turbo

It is a given that speed control with the 12s Hobbywing ESC is going to be strong, silky smooth, and intuitive, but we are still looking to see if the “minor update” did anything to improve on that.

There are 4-speed modes, with the highest speed mode named Turbo. 

And per usual, it uses the elegant remote that comes with telemetry. 

Now, let’s look at the trucks. These are the same Poseidon trucks that Wowgo developed for the Wowgo 2S Pro. The trucks look to be Caliber II clones, are 8- inches 50° with 85 A bushing. From our previous review, we know it is a truck that prioritizes stability over maneuverability. 

To check out our Wowgo 2S Pro review, click here.

Wowgo 2s Max have one of the strongest hubs

As for the motors, the 2S Max received a 50W boost per motor and now uses 550W dual hub motors. Judging by the numbers on paper, 550W motors will be amongst the strongest hub motors of all entry-level hub boards, with only the Meepo V4 Shuffle beating it at 620W x 2. To give you more context, most entry-level eskates use 400-450W hubs.

As a result, this 550W gave an improved marketed top speed of 28 mph (45 kph) and it did exactly that on our top-speed test.

There are also 105mm hub-sleeves and semi-all terrain wheels available. We will talk about how they perform later.

For the standard wheels, WowGo 2S Max is using 78A soft PU wheels, which is pretty usual for entry-level boards. 

And when it comes to power, Wowgo 2S Max uses a 12S2P 5.0 AH battery. This gave a battery pack of 216wh in size and had a marketed range of 14.3miles (23km).

With regular street wheels, our 200lbs (90kg) test rider managed to get only 10miles(16km).
With the 105mm honeycomb wheels installed, our test rider got 8.6miles (14km) out of a full charge.

The range is exactly the same as what we get from the previous Wowgo 2S Pro which has very similar battery stats at 5.2AH. Although Wowgo kind of overstated the range, 10miles is the usual range for boards below $500, so we weren’t exactly disappointed or surprised here.

Battery size vs price, you can see that everybody <$500 has a similar battery size.
(Bubble size = motor wattage, bigger is more powerful)

The board weighed in at 18 lbs (8.2kg) and comes with a 6-month warranty.

Riding Experience of Wowgo 2s Max

Now that we know the build and specs, it’s time to ride!

First, let’s talk about speed control. Wowgo 2S Max’s speed and speed control are perfect as expected of the 12s Hobbywing ESC. Both acceleration and braking of the 2S Max are buttery smooth and intuitive. The brake strength is very strong, even stronger than the previous 2S Pro. This is great news as most riders eventually learn to love and prefer strong brakes, especially when the brakes are smooth and intuitive like they always are with Hobbywing ESC.

To know more about electronic speed controllers (ESCs), click here.

Powerful Even With Semi-AT Wheels

When it comes to the torque, the 550W hub motors perform incredibly well. By using one of the strongest hub motors amongst the entry-level hub boards, Wowgo 2S Max is powerful enough for any hills on your path. Although the torque and thrill are still a step behind what a set of powerful belt motors could offer, the Wowgo 2S Max is still one of the strongest hub boards amongst all the entry-level boards we’ve tested.

Having a powerful motor is important especially when you plan to put on the bigger 105mm wheels. With the semi-AT wheels, torque, and braking from Wowgo 2s Max goes from quite strong to just “strong”. A board with lesser power would have a ride feel of “no power” at all if installed with semi-AT wheels.

Stability over responsiveness

When it comes to maneuvering the board, it was, unsurprisingly, the same as it was with the older 2S Pro. Carving is fairly fun but more on the tight side, as the Poseidon trucks prioritized stability over maneuverability. The board has a good return to center and feels very stable at high speed.

Honeycomb Wheels Reduces Around 20% of Road Vibrations

The honeycomb wheels are alright, too. On smooth roads, it’s less fun to carve with the 105mm honeycomb wheels as it takes away the silky smoothness of soft urethane wheels. On rough pavement, however, the honeycomb wheels definitely had an impact in reducing vibration at around 20%, in our opinion. This, plus the foam grip tape makes Wowgo 2S Max a good board for those who have the unfortunate fate of living where roads are terrible.

However, if we were to compare these Honeycomb wheels with the Cloudwheels Donut, we would prefer the Donuts over this ‘Cloudwheel-clone’, as Donuts are better in vibration dampening.

The VERDICT – Wowgo 2s Max

So, the verdict seems like the brand with the funny name has done it again. Wowgo is going to retain its throne three times in a row for making the best affordable electric skateboard (first, the Wowgo Knight, then the 2S Pro, now 2s Max.)

Wowgo 2S Max has the performance that either matched or outmatched its competitors, the ride feels that leads the affordable segment and the polish that is much beyond the asking price. 

Simply put, for any rider who wants an entry-level affordable hub board, Wowgo 2S Max (for now) should be the first consideration.

If you are interested in buying the Wowgo, be sure to check out our affiliate discount link here and use code: “ESKATEHQ” to receive 5% off during check out.
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!

Backfire G2 Black 2020 Review – Any surprises?

I consider Backfire to be among the Top 3 Chinese electric skateboard brands right now, and they are in the prime position to compete for the crown as the best entry-level electric longboard. With improving aftersales service and polish, the Backfire G2 Black, 2020 edition, could be a no brainer for anyone who is looking for a budget board.

Backfire G2 2020 Review – the Blackfire 20

The new Backfire G2 Black is a good representation and measure for what you can get with $419 in 2020.

  • Deck Size: 38-inch x 9-inch (97cm x 23cm)
  • Top Speed: 24mph (38km)
  • Range: 11-12.5miles (18-20km)
  • Battery Pack: 188Wh 10s2p (5.2Ah 42V)
  • Weight: 17lbs/ 7.8kg
  • Motor: 2 x 400W hub motors.
  • Wheels: 96mm 78A
  • Price: 399-419 USD

The Parts:

Deck

The Blackfire 20 uses a 38” (96.5cm) deck made out of fiberglass, bamboo, and maple. It has a tiny bit of flex, but when I was riding it, the board felt stiff.

I think we are just pampered by having reviewed too many much more expensive boards, with better decks. The deck only has a tiny concave, so small that it’s barely noticeable. There is not much camber to it either, mostly a flat profile.

Trucks

Unlike their premium line-up, the G2 Black is not using Caliber II trucks, but instead it features Backfire’s own proprietary trucks. We will talk about how they ride shortly.

Wheels

Continuing the tradition, the Backfire G2 uses 96mm wheels with 83A. Most beginners love larger wheels sizes, so going with 96mm is appropriate for the niche it’s trying to serve.

Larger wheels can roll over bigger stuff, hence safer. It also helps to dampen some of those road vibrations when riding on rough pavement.

Battery & Range

The Backfire G2 Black uses 5.2AH battery pack, with non-branded cells in 10s2p configuration. That’s 187.2WH, and it promises a modest range of 12.5 miles (20km), which we are able to hit. Most brand has moved away from using genuine Samsung 20R for their budget line-up, as generic battery are not only cheaper but has better numbers on paper. So far, there is no noticeable performance drop, but will this translate to worse battery longevity? I’m afraid is a questions that can only time would answer.

In the budget board war, Blackfire 20’s batteries are slightly larger than it’s peers. To be precise, the standard is 4.0AH, while the Blackfire has 5.2AH. Again, showing that going with generic battery cell do give you an edge at least on the numbers.

Motors & Top Speed

Backfire G2 Black 2020 uses a set of 400W hub motors and that yield a top speed of 24mph (38km/h). We managed to hit the marketed top-speed during our test, no surprise here.

In 2020, 400W hubs are considered standard for entry-level board, as they are functionally strong enough; However, you indeed can find entry-level boards with stronger hubs. For instance, both the Meepo and Wowgo have 540W, and Meepo brags about them quite abit.

ESC and Speed Control

Blackfire 20 uses the latest Hobbywing ESC, which has the updated remote, but in usual Backfire tradition only 2-speed modes. No smart turn-on here, which is disappointing.

The Hobbywing ESC is buttery smooth, but you already know that. Everyone except beginners will be using the higher ‘Sport’ mode, as it is just as smooth as the Eco mode. The brakes are sufficiently strong here; at this point I am confident in the braking strength of Hobbywing ESCs. In fact, in 2020, I found that only the most generic Hobbywing ESC has weak brakes.

Ride Feel and Board Control

While going with Hobbywing ESC means you won’t be wrong with the speed control, the entire riding experience obviously are more than just the electronics.

First, let’s again talk about the trucks.

The Backfire proprietary trucks pale in comparison to branded trucks and came in on the tighter side. After loosening them up a bit, we would say this truck veers towards being more stable than carve-y.

Next, the deck. The fiberglass, bamboo and maple deck has only a little flex to it, and hence, again, not extraordinary for carving but great for cruising at high speed. I would love if the deck has a little bit more concave to it, so I could more easily feel my foot position without having to look down.

Stiff decks + hub motors also means the board is not the most fun to carve in and doesn’t lend much in reducing road vibration. As the previous-gen Backfire G2 Black, just a solid B in handling road vibration.

With that said, you can cruise in high speed on this thing pretty comfortably.

I get the feeling that Blackfire 20 is designed for with stability as the first consideration, something that I suppose would be a priority for newcomers to this hobby.

Summary

As a reviewer, Backfire G2 2020 is a very boring board. It has no special strength to talk about, no unique personality to angle on, and there is also not any glaring weakness to talk about.

But, please don’t confuse boring with bad.

Indeed, the Backfire G2 Black is mediocre when you compare it to higher-priced boards that have a better ride feel and far better performance, but for $419, the Backfire G2 Black 2020 delivers what it needs to deliver and some more.

It has comfortable and safe speed control, an above-average performance at the entry-level price and a top tier build quality and polish. Also, while not rated to be waterproof, the electronic components are themselves sealed, which should give good water resistance. While it has some trouble with rough road surfaces, it will ride just as nice as any board on regular roads.

Verdict

Good performance, pretty standard riding experience and top tier polish, Backfire G2 Black is undoubtedly a worthy contestant as the best entry-level electric longboard in current year and the year to come.

What’s more, while individual preference might mean everyone has a different pick as their best entry-level board, Backfire, at least at the time of this post, should come up on top when it comes to brands.
I hate to parrot their marketing pitch but, having a local warehouse in US and Europe is indeed a huge plus when it comes to delivery and aftersales service.

So yes, I do think the Backfire G2 2020 should be the standard that other entry-level boards would be compared to, and a safe pick for everyone.

If you are interested in buying a Backfire, be sure to check out our affiliate discount link here and uses code: “ESKATEHQ” during checkout.
It will help you get a small monetary 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!

Apsuboard V3 Review – The most affordable Electric Skateboard.

Back in 2018, we saw the first wave of budget electric skateboards. Retailing below $400, the typical budget electric skateboard back then was raw but serviceable.

In the past 3 years however, we have seen that their quality has improved, and the price slowly hiked. Today, most budget boards retail at around $450. There are a few exceptions, and the star of today’s review Apsuboard V3 is one of them.

The Apsuboard V3 takes the price war to an extreme, it retails at $319 with shipping included, undercutting all of its competitors. Although they aren’t among the biggest Chinese brands, Apsuboard has been around for a couple of years now and has always been a brand that focuses on value per dollar. They also do have some good products, for instance, we consider the $465 Apsuboard’s X1 to be the best budget belt drive on the market right now.

Apsuboard V3 Review

So, back to the V3. What corner did they cut to get to this price?
The answer is – a little bit of everything.

Speed Control

The Apsuboard V3 uses LingYi ESC as its speed controller. Those who had ridden a LingYi ESC board will find the control similar. It has 4 acceleration modes and 4 brakes mode that can be chosen independently from each other. However, Apsuboard perhaps is using an earlier generation of LingYi ESC as the controls do feel a little more raw than the current-gen ESCs, nothing too jarring but noticeably less refined.

Acceleration in the 1st and 2nd modes are beginner-friendly;
3rd mode is for the veteran and 4th mode for the thrill-seekers. With the adjustable brakes, beginners can start with soft brakes and gradually move up the strength. At maximum strength, brakes with LingYi ESC can be pretty tight. Last but not least, LingYi ESC comes with everyone’s favorite feature ‘kick to turn’ on. A very handy feature indeed.

Update:
I’ve suggested Apsuboard to make Hobbywing ESC available as an option to the base version of V3 (LingYi ESC), and they took that suggestion. Starting from now, for $20 extra and a total price of $339, the V3 will come with standard Hobbywing ESC. For those who don’t know, Hobbywing ESC would be silky smooth in both acceleration and braking and would be my recommendation for most beginners. The trade-off would be softer brakes and going without the kick-to-turn on feature.

With that said, I believe the Hobbywing version would be a better version.

Motors & Wheels & Decks

Enough about the ESC, next we move on to the hubs. The 250W 90mm hub motors are pretty weak when it comes to torque and acceleration and they can be noisy. Even a medium slope will be a challenge to overcome.

The front wheels aren’t the softest, and that, plus the hub motors and the stiff deck, makes the V3 an uncomfortable ride on rough roads. However, the deck does have a subtle concave to it, which is a plus point.

Trucks

Other than that, the other parts on the V3 are pretty generic. A pair of generic trucks, generic enclosures, and one of the nicer generic remotes that features telemetry readings.

Summary:

Riding the Apsuboard V3, I feel like I’m back in 2018, when every budget board was raw and purely functional. As mentioned, the controls on the V3 are only satisfactory, turning and carving with the generic trucks felt pretty average as well. This is somewhat subpar compared to major Chinese brands, which have all pretty much transitioned into using proprietary trucks for their budget line-up, and genuine brands for their more premium feel. What’s on par for the V3 is the battery. 10s2p 20R cells are still the standard in budget boards, and Apsuboard put them into the V3 too. They give it a 9 mile or 15km range. Since we’re talking about numbers, the top speed we got is a modest but adequate 23mph or 37kmh.

Verdict:

With all of that said, what is my opinion of the Apsuboard V3?

Remember in 2017, the first Meepo came out for $380 after shipping and everyone went crazy for it? The Apsuboard V3 is almost the exact same board, selling at an even lower price, but featuring a bit more polish! The only thing that changed compared to 2017 is that we have options now in the sub-$500 range, so those who weren’t about to compromise don’t need to.

Still, the beauty of a truly affordable board transcends time. For those of you who want the biggest value per price, or doesn’t mind an unrefined riding experience, you would be happy with the Apsuboard V3. It is certainly cheaper than all of the parts combined if bought individually, and the parts certainly come together to be a decent board. If I was building a board and concerned only with the price, I would probably build it the same way.

So, if $300 is your budget, or you just want a simple electric skateboard – the Apsuboard V3 is a great option. Think about it, a single VESC would cost you almost as much!

Click to check out Apsuboard V3.

Understanding Electric Skateboard Motors – How to choose?

While there are many types of motors (Outrunner, hub motors, direct drives), they operate on a similar basis, and once you understand one of them, you will know how each board compares and which motor to pick for your DIY build.

Outrunner Motors

Exway X1 Pro Riot

Every motor stats

Eskate manufacturer and motor manufacturers always throw around a few specs; they are the Sizes, Kv, and Watts.

For example, This is Flipsky motor

Size

The 4 digits of the motor denote the size of the motor. For example, the motor sample on the photo goes by 6384. It means 63mm in diameter and 84mm in length. This usually means the outer dimensions of the motor can itself; however, minor variations may occur due to can design.

Logic may dictate that a larger can size usually means a more powerful motor. However, the strength of the motor can come from a variety of many factors, such as internal construction methodology, type and shape of magnets used, airgap between the stator and can, and size of the stator itself.

It is usually a good idea to ask the manufacturer for the size of the actual stator itself instead of the motor can as that number in combination with the motor size is a better indicator of how powerful a motor is.

KV ratings

KV is the number of revolution per minute (rpm) that a motor gives when 1 volt is applied to the motor. That is when we let the motor spin freely without load. This means that the higher KV, the faster the motor spins. However, all other factors being equal, a higher KV also means a lower torque output.

The usual KV ratings found in an electric skateboard outrunner motor will range from 140KV to 220KV. This is different for a hub motor; however, as hub motors don’t have pulleys and gear reductions to final speed and torque. As such, they are usually much lower KV (80-100KV) to maintain comparable torque.

  • Lower KV – higher torque, lower top speed
  • Higher KV – lower torque, higher top speed

For example, Enertion Raptor 2, which is known to be torquest hub motor, has 85Kv, while generally hub motors have 100Kv.

Watts

As we all learned from high school, power is measured in Watts. And Watts is calculated by Voltage x Ampere. If you have a high wattage motor, meaning it can handle a lot more voltage and/or ampere, and this in turns means it can be more torquey or go faster.

In an electric skateboard world, the power of a motor can differ by a considerable number. A simple hub motor can only have a power of 250W or 350W each, but will still work pretty nicely. On the other hand, Enertion’s R-Spec Ghost, which is the most powerful hub motor on the market, has a power of 1680W each. (and it gulps down battery like nobody’s business)

Outrunner motor tends to have a higher power. The motor in production belt-driven eskate usually ranges around 600W each (Wowgo 3X) and those with AT wheels around 1500W (Ownboard AT).

For DIY, you can get motors ranging from 1000W to 4000W.

Ampere

Every motor has the maximum current it can pull. For example, 50A. You have to make sure the ESC max output is higher than the max current draw for the motor, by a small margin (5%). If the motor draws higher ampere than the ESC can provide, the ESC may be fried. Cutting it too close also hurts the longevity of the ESC.

So if your motors can draw 50A each (total 100A), make sure the ESC can support at least 5% above that, meaning 5% above 100A, meaning at least 105A. If you are using a VESC and can set the current limits, be sensible and make sure you don’t go over both the maximum motor current limits (this kills the motor) or the maximum limits of the VESC (this kills the VESC).

Voltage

Every motor specs will tell you what is the voltage that the motor supports. Generally, however, the voltage of the motor doesn’t matter too much as they usually support a very wide range of voltage – somewhere between 3s to 12s (4.8V-43.2V). (If you don’t understand specs of the battery, check out my comprehensive guide on the battery)

Sensored VS Unsensored motor

Some motors come with the sensor cable; some don’t.

Sensored motor allows the motor to detect the position of the motor at all times, which translates into a smoother start-up. Unsensored motor, on the other hand, often is jerky when starting from a standstill and often requires a kick push to have a smooth start.

Nowadays, practically every production board you can buy comes with sensored motor. And there is no reason to get an unsensored motor. By the way, a sensored motor will still work as an unsensored motor if you choose not to plug the sensor cable in.

For DIY-er, you probably should know that sensor cables are not all the same. Some come with 6 pins head (as it includes a temperature sensor wire), some only 5. You might need to change the pinhead yourself if the sensor wire doesn’t match with your ESC.

5 pin sensored wire’s head on the left, 6 pin on the right

Where to get your motors:

There are a few places you can get your motors.

If you are buying any DIY part, do check out our “discount code” page as we might very well have affiliated discount code for some of them!