Unlimited Eon R Kit vs. Mellow Drive: The Ultimate Showdown

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

Update from Paxson:
On 10th July 2019, Unlimited announced the fusion between them and the Loaded. Hence born Unlimited X Loaded. You can read about the news and the changes on Unlimited after the update here.
The following post is written prior to the update, but almost all of it stays relevant.

The Rundown: Mellow Drive (April 2018)

Note: The version of the Mellow Drive I reviewed was from before their switch to paid software unlocks. I will not be covering that in this review.

The Mellow Drive. The swappable, flexible drive kit that started everything. Originally conceived as a Kickstarter project and funded on June 11th, 2015, it’s famous for enabling the dream of turning any board electric. The dream was within reach!

The hardware engineering on the Mellow Drive is flawless. Heavy, durable construction can be consistently used to describe every facet of the physical product. It’s impressive, really, how nice the drive unit itself feels in the hand. It’s so hefty and solid in fact that I would say you can knock somebody out with it.

The battery packs are well engineered as well. 7S2P and each with its own BMS, they’re water resistant up to IP65. I was given two batteries to test, and had no difficulty carrying one in a small backpack to swap out on rides. At under 99Wh, they fall below most airlines’ safety regulations and so can be carried onto planes to double as a battery pack to charge your stuff (USB port is included on each pack).

The Mellow app provides a really nice interface for looking at vital information on the fly. Setup is easy. All you have to do is connect the app to the Drive. Software updates are also provided this way, and are pretty easy to apply. During troubleshooting sessions with Mellow, the level of access they were able to obtain through the app was astounding. It’s really all a very, very nice setup.

The Rundown: Unlimited Eon R Kit

If the Mellow Drive is the ruling big brother from Germany, the Unlimited Eon is the underdog younger brother from Spain.

Where Mellow went for the one piece design, Unlimited went for the fully modular approach. The entire drive system is meant to fit on almost any setup you can think of. The hubs are designed to be installable on almost any truck, and the battery and ESC setup under almost any deck. The only limitations are drop decks and trucks with non-standard axles, such as the 10mm on Surf-Rodz.

Speaking of the battery and ESC setup, I’m quite impressed with their forward thinking approach. Each ESC runs FOC and comes in a pigtailed module that connects to each other via an external CANbus module. That same middleman module also allows the ESCs to connect to the battery modules, which are each 10s1p packs with their own BMS and rated IP65. What this means is you can have ultimate flexibility in your setup. Want to optimize for mileage? Run one ESC with two batteries. Want to optimize for board weight? Run one ESC with one battery and carry the extra one. Want power? Slap both batteries and ESCs on there my dude. It’s also worth noting that the batteries come with USB ports for charging devices as well. Unlimited does provide a fast charger, although only a 3A fast charger as the internal PCB traces may burn at a higher amperage I’m told.

Unlimited does have an app, though it’s only a very basic one for updating firmwares. I was not able to test it as I had to return my review unit before the app was released, but I was able to take a look at it after the fact and can only assume it works though the interface is extremely utilitarian.

The Matchup: Flexibility

Consider: any deck? or any deck and any truck? I’ll take the latter please. The Unlimited hub system is really a game changing system. Easy to install on almost anything with no modifications and easy to remove after, I was able to put it in many ridiculous configurations and setups. At one point I even put it on a G|Bomb push pumping setup.

The Matchup: Cruise

Living in San Francisco means it’s much easier to get from point A to point B using alternative transportation methods due to traffic and street layout. However, the frequent and frequently steep hills means that it takes a vehicle with decent power and good brakes to get up and down those hills to cross town. Unfortunately for Mellow, it sort of all starts to fall apart once you start maneuvering those hills. The max hill grade for the Mellow Drive is about 20%, or 11-12 degrees. I found this to be true most of the time, although many times the Drive would start beeping at me and slowing down going up a 9-10 degree hill, and I’m not even that heavy (125lb). The Unlimited kit would power up the same hills no problem, though even though it’s rated for 36% grade hills (20 degree), it can’t reasonably power up anything more than 25%.

Going downhill sucks as well on the Mellow Drive. Often times, I have to brake down a hill and stop at an intersection while still on the hill. The Mellow Drive does this thing where it will actually cut brakes once you drop below a certain ERPM. What this effectively means is that I will almost stop at an intersection then the brakes will suddenly let go and I’ll start rolling again. It got to the point where I had to start relying on foot braking more than the actual brakes. The Unlimited R Kit didn’t have these issues, though the brakes on both drive units were pretty weak so weren’t that effective at stopping you anyways.

There’s also a feature that stops the Mellow Drive from accelerating without a rider on it, although it doesn’t always work. I’ve had the Drive shoot into traffic a couple times, as well as cut power while I was doing some heavy acceleration. I did bring the issue up to Mellow, and the response I got back after much troubleshooting was that I was likely too light and that it wasn’t likely to be fixed. Welp.

Where the Mellow Drive really shines, though, is flat, wide open spaces where I can just crank the throttle all the way up and carve. There’s no other feeling that can come close to carving at speed on a smooth, long road devoid of pedestrians, and the Mellow Drive simply delivers on that front. While testing, I found zen by going to Crissy Field, turning on Endless mode, and just carving without having to deal with a remote. While the R Kit does also have cruise control capabilities, it doesn’t feel as refined and sort of “jerks” into the mode when the button is held and vibrates when it’s activated while not moving, a side effect of unsensored motors. In comparison, the cruise mode on the Mellow simply feels a lot more refined.

The Matchup: Performance

There’s no question the R Kit is simply way more performant than the Mellow Drive. Off the line, the R Kit can put out more torque and so wins straight up. The R Kit hub motors are pretty strong and though it is unsensored (mandating kick pushing off the line to get started), the R Kit takes off faster once the ESC catches.

Now, you must allow me to rant a little bit as I’m passionate about this subject. Personally, I’m not a fan of unsensored motors for eskate. In a city like San Francisco (and this is true for any dense urban environment as well), having the ability to accelerate from standstill without having to kickpush is a godsend. Often times, it’s hard to achieve an acceptable speed kickpushing uphill for the ESC to discover the stator position, which means you can’t accelerate. Sensored motors solve this problem handily and I don’t quite understand why they still aren’t considered standard.

Unsensored motors aside, riding hard on the highest speed modes finds that the R Kit lasts longer (though not that much longer) than the Mellow on one battery. This makes sense since the R Kit technically has six more cells than the Mellow Drive. There is a caveat to this though, which is the fact that we’re comparing two physical batteries for the R Kit to one physical battery for the Mellow. If you want to swap batteries for the R Kit and carry extra batteries with you, you will need to carry two physical batteries vs. the one battery for the Mellow Drive.

The Matchup: Remote

Now we must discuss a huge sticking point for most electric skateboards: the remote. The Mellow Drive remote is… not too great. While it does have a rock solid connection, the remote is largely ruined by its form factor and ergonomics. The slide mechanism, while novel, is not great in practice. It often sticks and yields less than ideal control, and while Mellow has done throttle control smoothing to try and remedy the issue, it just doesn’t induce confidence.

It’s also often hard to see what mode you’re in in direct sunlight. The mode indicators are hard to read, and there’s no speed indication, an unfortunate omission.

On the other hand, the Unlimited remote is ergonomic and fits quite well in my small hands. It uses a more traditional thumbwheel with nub based approach, and really is quite well designed. Again, rock solid connection here, and the integrated display is quite readable in direct sunlight. This isn’t to say that I don’t take issue with some aspects of the design, however. The battery indicator on the remote showing the R Kit’s battery status never quite reached full. At first I thought it might be a pack balancing issue, but I was not able to fix it even if I charged the batteries separately. Navigating settings was also a slight bit difficult due to a combination of slightly questionable English translations and settings bugs, chief amongst which was I wasn’t able to get the measurement units settings to persist across remote restarts. This was supposed to be fixed in an upcoming update, though I never saw the update. There is also a cruise control button on the remote, though I found it funny that it would just vibrate the motors if you pressed it while standing still.

The Verdict

In the end, it depends on what you’re after. I can’t speak to the durability of the R Kit, but I’ve heard good things about how much the Mellow Drive can take a beating. I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the friction mount system employed by Unlimited in their hub motor mounting system, but I have never had an issue while using my review unit. If you’re looking for power, Unlimited might be a good bet. If you’re looking to just cruise on mostly flat terrain, Endless Mode on the Mellow Drive is very enticing.


I’ve included a pared down version of my notes that I took while reviewing the two drive kits. Use them as a tl;dr of the above.

As of September 2019

Mellow Notes:

  • Sensored but no standing start, cites safety but is major inconvenience
  • No-rider safety braking system works most of the time but not all the time, board shoots into traffic
  • Braking doesn’t work without weight, and cuts off once drive senses you’re adequately slow. Weird when going down hill and reaching bottom. when board rolls away you have to chase it instead of just braking
  • Push start is a bit unforgiving. You can only kick it once, kick it twice and you’ll likely lose your balance
  • Remote slide mechanism is a bit “tacky”, not a completely smooth as I’d hoped, otherwise pretty effective Remote
  • Onboarding UX is excellent. UX in general is excellent for the most part, including in app. Too many manufacturers forget about the UX part
  • Batteries feel solid this time around, unlikely to fall out
  • Doesn’t run for very long on top power mode

Unlimited R Kit Notes:

  • Unsensored, must push above certain erpm to start, big dislike
  • Lightweight and properly powerful
  • Pretty small and nice remote
  • Hub motors were mountable on any truck I tried, very solidly built and clever securing mechanism. Super innovative
  • Custom built ESC they call “MESC”, R kit links dual MESCs together via CANbus, passthrough charging multiple packs at once. Very clever.
  • UX was a bit confusing and felt unpolished
  • App launched as of 12/07/18, feels super unfinished, was not able to test if functional
  • Unable to use faster charger than 3A because charging traces may burn internally
  • Batteries last an ok distance on top power mode, 8-9 miles

Note On Unlimited Kit Availability

While Unlimited kits have been shipping, the R kit is currently unavailable for purchase. Unlimited states the following: “We are currently manufacturing a big batch of product that we are hoping to have available during spring to summer.”

Update by Paxson:
Along with the announcement of Unlimited X Loaded, Unlimited Kits are now available for purchase. Finally, the wait is over.
Check out Unlimited X Loaded here.

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 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 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 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


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.


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

Electric Skateboards Of 2017 Preview!

Electric skateboard scene might not be huge right now, but it is definitely getting hotter by the days.

It feels like there is a new electric skateboard kickstarter project every two weeks and with newer technology! This is definitely an exciting time to be an electric skateboard enthusiast!

It’s hard to foresee any unexpected development in the future, however we can definitely look forward to these electric skateboards that are scheduled to roll out this year.

Continue reading “Electric Skateboards Of 2017 Preview!”