Let’s get this out of the way first: The Spectra Mini Plus is not a very safe board to ride in the city. The weight sensing mechanism, while seemingly innovative, is actually extremely finicky and didn’t register me (125lb) half the time, no matter how many times I referred to Walnutt’s feet placement manual. The first time I took the Mini Plus out and managed to get it to register me, I couldn’t brake and the board ended up running into the street. After that happened, I tried the remote app available in the App Store. One firmware update later, I was back on the board going up the sidewalk. I thought everything would be smooth sailing from then on, then the board lost connection. Suffice to say, that was the only time I seriously tried to ride the Spectra Mini Plus.
But it certainly wasn’t the only time I used the board.
This past November, for the first time ever in my life and after many trials and tribulations, I purchased a home of my very own. Around the same time, I also received the Spectra Mini Plus for testing. So what a perfect opportunity I thought, to really put the Spectra to the test… as a furniture mover!
Indeed, it was the perfect opportunity. I was moving from one apartment building to another, which required finesse in maneuvering of big furniture around tight corners. Even with the help of friends it was still hard. Then one of us got a bright idea. Why not use the skateboards as a means of moving furniture?
So ensued the testing of a bunch of skateboards as a means of furniture transportation. Many boards were tested. Arc Aileron 2.2, Exway X1, Teamgee H6, etc. However, one board stood out: The Spectra Mini Plus.
The Spectra Mini Plus is a dream for maneuvering large furniture around tight corners. The wheelbase is relatively short, and the inclusion of a sort of tiny kicktail really sealed the deal as it allowed tilting big furniture and boxes onto the back wheels for maneuvering.
Too lazy to push those big boxes? Simply turn the board on and slightly tilt the thing you’re moving forward or backwards to move forwards or backwards respectively. The board beeps upon beginning and finishing actions so people will definitely know you’re coming and watch out.
Is your box or furniture too ungainly to push? Good thing the Spectra has an app that also acts as a makeshift remote control. Now you don’t even have to even lay a hand on your object, simply keep on using your phone like usual and direct the movement of your object remotely. Very snazzy!
With the help of the Spectra Mini Plus, I was able to move large furniture and boxes around very easily. It worked so well in fact that I’m still using it as a furniture mover to this day.
It’s a really great furniture mover if you don’t wanna rent dolly with your U-Haul truck.
The Spectra Mini is special, for it is among the first electric skateboards that can fit into a backpack. On top of that, it was only the second posture controlled electric skateboard on the market when it was announced. (with the first being Zboard.)
So after riding this board for a few weeks and trying my best to incorporate it into my life, is the Spectra Mini able to fulfill its role as the most portable last mile solution?
This is the question I tried to answer.
Introduction of WALNUTT
Walnut Technology Limited
WALNUTT stands for Walnut Technology Limited.
The company first arrived at the scene in January 2017, when they showcased the Walnutt Spectra in CES 2017. However, it was only when they launched their Spectra Indiegogo campaign in May 2017 that the world got its first proper look at them.
Walnutt is by no means a small startup. It is a full-fledged company with 30 plus employees.
“Based in San Francisco and Hong Kong, Walnut Tech is advised by DJI, with its core members from University of California, Berkeley and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology”,
Walnutt is not so much an electric skateboard company but an electric vehicle company. With that in mind, it is easy to understand the design choices they made with the Spectra Series – Aiming to get you from point A to point B but not for “a skateboard-like experience”.
Without a previous track record, it is very difficult to tell what kind of company Walnutt will turn out to be: Are they a one-and-done company which will disappear after the Indiegogo Campaign? or will they stay in the community and continue to serve their customers with updates, improvements and perhaps new products? From my email interaction with their team, Walnutt reassured me that they are building a brand and are here to stay. As a paying customer, I certainly hope so.
It is a reassuring sign that, although their Indiegogo campaign for the Spectra is not without faults (needing to pay extra for delivery and delays), team Walnutt is always on point in communicating with the backers and providing updates. This alone makes them a better company than 80% of other Eskate crowdfunding startups.
Long story short, although Walnutt is still yet to prove themselves, though they are doing well so far.
By the way, Walnutt also hasSwagtron as their exclusive distributor in Amazon. This explains all theSwagtron Spectra Ads we see.
The Walnutt Quartet
Ambitious as they were, Walnutt launched their Indiegogo campaign with the announcement of 4 boards – Spectra Mini, Spectra Advance, Spectra Pro and Spectra Silver.
With the smallest Spectra Mini measuring at just 17 inches ( 43.2cm) and the longest Spectra Silver measuring at 23 inches (58.4cm), the Spectras is a fleet of “shorter than penny” boards.
They are all posture controlled with the option of controlling them with the smartphone app via Bluetooth – a great way to break your expensive phones if you ask me.
Among the Spectras, the most popular would be the Spectra Mini.
I guess it makes sense as one won’t be buying a Spectra if it wasn’t for the small size; and if a small size is what one is after, one might as well as choose the tiniest Spectra Mini. And being cheapest at $299 Indiegogo price certainly helps.
Spectra Mini is not meant to be a powerful board and the specs showed that.
Top Speed: 9.3mph (15kmh)
Range: 5.6mil (9km)
Weight: 9.26lbs (4.2kg)
Charge Time: 45min
Features: Weatherproof, Regenerative Braking, Phone App, LED lights and flight compatible battery.
Price: less than 400 USD.
Walnutt is a big company and their product reflected that – tidy, clean and fleckless.
It is difficult to judge the quality of the internal parts but everything looks good from the outside. The trucks are thick the decks are pretty. Wheels, bushing all looks good. The finishing of this thing is tip top.
A few weeks of abusing the board with lots of flipping, and crashing into walls, Spectra Mini holds up without a problem besides the grip tape peeling away a tiny bit in the corner.
The fact that there is barely any failure reported from the early backers is another good indicator that Walnutt maintains a certain level of quality control for the Spectras.
In short, the Walnutt Spectra Mini is built well and packaged well.
The riding experience of the Spectra Mini depends on two factors- how stable the small board is and how well the posture control works.
Walnutt Spectra Mini scores an A+ in this department. It is surprisingly stable and comfortable to maneuver for its tiny size. Carving with this Mini board is fun, and rarely do I lose balance on it.
This is the result of designing the front truck to be wider than the rear while also using wider wheels for the front wheels.
In fact, the Spectra Mini feels a lot more stable and easier to ride if compares to a regular penny board; even though Mini is both shorter and higher off the ground.
Spectra Mini is also rocking surprisingly big 80mm wheels that can safely roll over most cracks and bumps. I am guessing the compact weight (9.26lbs in 17inch body) also helps in keeping the board stable during rides.
I really don’t mind if more eskates copies a setup like this.
Posture control – Acceleration and Deceleration
Now, let us get to the meat of this review, the posture control.
Despite most of us seeing Caisey Neistat struggling to get a Spectra Pro moving, the posture control isn’t really that hard to learn.
I had 4 different friends try out the Spectra Mini and all of them got it on the first or second try.
With the correct foot placement, the board will start moving once you stand up on it. Easy.
Lean forward, the board will start accelerating. To brake, one can either lean backward or lift the heel of the leading foot.
Pretty straightforward huh?
HOWEVER, there is a huge difference between learning it and mastering it.
Let’s talks about deceleration and braking first, since these are the factors that really annoyed me because braking with posture control on the Spectra Mini is very unreliable.
Let’s just say, I manage to successfully execute braking only about 40% of the time. The other 60% of the time I couldn’t get the board to brake or even slow down no matter how much I leaned backward. I end up just running off the board and rely on the board to “smart brake” by itself.
If braking to stop is already such a big challenge, imagine trying to slow down but not to stop to a halt. It is damn difficult to tell if the brake is already engaged if the braking is gentle, and braking too much is as often a problem as braking too little.
It is also quite scary to lean back when you couldn’t trust the brake. Leaning backward while the board continues to accelerate is a recipe to wipe out – Thankfully the Mini isn’t fast enough to be dangerous.
And although the acceleration is easier to execute, it is also in no-way reliable.
At times, I couldn’t get the board to accelerate and it just rolled forward slowly no matter how hard I leaned forward. Other times, it slowed down without me doing anything and wouldn’t accelerate anymore until I stepped off and remounted the board.
All these factors make it impossible to control the speed while using the posture control. Slowing down without stopping or cruising below top speed on the Spectra Mini are achievements worthy of medals.
Stopping at an exact point is another skill that is so impossible to master that Walnutt should make a sporting event out of it. Use foot-braking you say? Sorry to break it to you but if you keep your front leg on the board and tried to foot brake with your back leg, the board will accelerate to top speed as you are putting your weight directly on the front sensor. Argh.
Bad enough? Just remember that all this problem is further magnified when riding in uneven terrain, as your body weight is thrown around sending mix signal to the sensor.
What compounded the problem is there is no way to tell why the posture control is not working as you intended. Is it the foot placement? Is it because I didn’t lean hard enough? Is it a problem with the sensor?
Team Walnutt did try to alleviate some of the problems by allowing the user to tweak the acceleration and deceleration profile through their mobile app. By using the app and the 3 riding modes available, there is quite a lot of tweaking one could do to make sure the board rides the way you like.
While this did help solve the problem for some users, it did not for me.
Also, adjusting the setting wasn’t the most intuitive experience. It is very hard to tell which slider does what, and the effects are not easily demonstrable as the same “posture” doesn’t always detect the same way.
For those who choose to op out from the posture control, there is an option to control the Spectra with its smartphone app.
And I would like to go on record to say this- A smartphone is definitely the worst possible remote control for an electric skateboard. Because:
It is difficult to control the dial with one hand on a big phone ( I am using Galaxy Note 8)
It wasn’t as responsive.
It takes a minute to set up, and that is if your phone could detect your board.
It is a great way to shatter your expensive phone if you either fall or drop your phone.
I was very resistant to using the smartphone remote for the above reasons but I eventually gave in as this was the only way for me to ride the board comfortably.
Not surprisingly, when you take the posture control out of the equation, Spectra Mini is actually really fun to ride. It is gentle with speed change, it is stable and maneuverable, and it’s fun to carve around on. It is everything I hoped it can be, minus a good remote.
I really hope Walnutt offers the option to control the board via a standard remote because I really like the way Spectra Mini rides, (sans the posture control) but couldn’t stand the smartphone remote.
Summary of Riding Experience
Riding using the posture control of the Walnutt Spectra Mini is really amazing when everything goes right. When the board behaves as you intended, speeding up and slowing down with just the change of your weight, the feeling is magical. Sadly, that’s only about 40% of the time.
If you are taking the Spectra on a joyride where you have a long stretch of road that allows you to cruise on top speed, Spectra will feel awesome – as you essentially took out the acceleration and deceleration problem from the equation.
However, why would anyone choose this tiny board to go on a joyride? Longboards are made for that purpose!
The fact is, if I couldn’t control Spectra Mini’s speed in a reliable manner, I couldn’t use it on city sidewalks or crowded places where tight maneuvers are required. Although the smartphone remote is a viable workaround, it is a poor one. It really hurt the experience that one can have with this otherwise fun tiny board.
Spectra Mini has a very small battery at 29.76WH. This translated to around 5.6 miles or 9km range.
In the range test that I conducted, I get around 4.5miles or 7km before I ran the battery dry. I weigh 165lbs (75kg) and kept the board at around 13-15kmh with some stopping.
Basically, if you run the motor at top speed (9.3mph/ 15kmh) on flat ground without stopping, you can expect the board to last only around 25 minutes – easiest range test ever.
There is no voltage sag until you reach 20% battery life when the top speed drops to 9mph(14kmh). You will only notice it if you are using the Pro mode.
At 10% battery life, the board will just stop. Basically 10% = 0%.
The board charged up in just 45 minutes or so, which is nice, but the range of the Spectra Mini means it couldn’t do much other than getting you around the block or to the bus station.
The Spectra Mini is really a slow board made for the sidewalks so don’t expect too much in the speed department.
I get a top speed of 11mph(18kmh) on my Spectra Mini which is above the advertised top speed and more than I need out of it.
It is somewhat comforting to know that the Mini will never be too fast for a running bail, considering the posture control is scary, to say the least.
The Walnutt Spectra Mini is powered by a single 200W hub motor on its right front wheel.
It is definitely weak.
At 165lb(75kg), Walnutt Spectra Mini is only strong enough for me on the flat ground. It could not run up any incline at all. So if you are heavy, or intended to climb any hill, Spectra Mini is definitely not for you.
And, just a friendly reminder, posture control and hills don’t mix well.
Walnutt hasn’t been around long enough to prove its customer service. So far, however, they have been really prompt in addressing any issue that backers faced, and from the looks of it, they resolved those issues well too.
There also hasn’t been any complaints about the company. So I couldn’t subtract marks there.
I’ve interacted with Walnutt’s post-sales team to track my shipping and PR team for research in writing this post. They replied to me promptly and courteously on both accounts.
So far, so good. Keep up the good work team Walnutt!
The best thing about Spectra Mini is its portability. It has such a small body that it could fit into a big backpack. There is no other board on the market that can do this yet. (Maybe the upcoming Ionpod could?)
The smartphone app is definitely the most important feature that the Spectra has.
For starters, you need the smartphone app to change between 3 riding modes. (Beginner, Sport, and Pro mode.)
Acceleration and deceleration can be also tweaked through this app.
Last but not least, it is this app that turns your phone into a remote control.
Spectra Mini has a pair of LED headlights that is fairly bright. It can be switch on independently with a button at the right side of the board.
I backed the Spectra Mini with the hope that it could be the board to I bring anywhere I go. It would be nice to ride to the train station/ shopping complex and then store in my backpack.
By abandoning the posture control and sticking with the sub-par smartphone remote, the Spectra Mini can do just that for me. The lack of a proper remote took a lot away from the experience and I am certain some cheap board from Alibaba can serve the same purpose for a lot less money.
Now that I have it, the Spectra Mini is definite the board I bring when I visit an E-vehicle friendly city like Singapore, but I would not recommend for anyone buy it as an everyday commuter.
TL;DR The Walnutt Spectra Mini is fun to ride, however, the posture control (its biggest weak point), is unfortunately, a dealbreaker. Unless Walnutt can solve the posture control woes miraculously through firmware updates, there isn’t much value in it. Even if Walnutt can by-pass this problem by making a remote control available, at $399, the board is still overpriced for the little things that it does well. It will make existing customers like myself very happy though!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The company/ team had done it successfully before. Arc, Enertion
The founders are reputable in the Eskate community Enertion, Riptide
The product already somewhat exist. Backfire G2, All those Onan clones
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eric Birkemeier’s Riptide R1 and R1 Elite aredual 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.
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.
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…”
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.
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!)
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.
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.
*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.
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.
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 shipin 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!)
StarkBoard, a new electric skateboard by Stark Mobility launched their Indiegogo campaign on 8th November 2017.
They have concluded their Indiegogo campaign successfully as of today (9th Dec 2017), and if everything goes swimmingly (which is rare in the case of crowdfunding), we will be seeing the first Starkboard on road by February 2018.
I had been given the opportunity to interview the co-founder Kamil Banc to get a feel of the team behind this new brand and their philosophy in developing StarkBoard.
My plan to publish this piece took an unexpected turn when some controversy regarding StarkBoard the company surfaced but we shall talk about that last.
So what about Starkboard?
Starkboard is a dual-hub electric longboard. It distinguishes itself for using posture sensor as the way to control the acceleration and braking, quite similar to the hoverboard or the Walnutt Spectra.
The ability to ride it without needing a remote is their main selling point.
What is StarkBoard about?
Well, StarkBoard is not named after Tony Stark or the Stark Industries.
“Stark in German means strong, and we want that to be the quality of our board.”
Starkboard is meant to be the ‘Tesla Model 3’ of electric skateboard world – an affordable option for everyone who wants something good but wouldn’t buy a thousand dollar Eskate.
After the likes of Boosted Board, Evolve and Inboard have shown the world what electric skateboard can do, StarkBoard aims to bring that awesome experience to the masses at an affordable price.
Starkboard main purpose is to be the vehicle for short distance commuting. Something that brings you from point A to point B comfortably. A quality mobility device for the last mile.
During the Indiegogo campaign, StarkBoard is available for around $500 for the backers. With it’s suggested retail value at $999. It is still available for $599 for Indiegogo-in-demand for now.
For now, Stark Mobility couldn’t quote a reliable price for the time when StarkBoard hit retail. The team just hopes to have it be affordable for the masses.
StarkBoard is made as an electric mobility device in mind and the specs reflected that – Good range, just fast enough for commute and light enough for its size.
It is also one of those boards that are pack with features.
Top Speed: 20mph (32kmh)
Range: 13mil (21km)
Weight: 17.4lbs (7.9kg)
Charge Time: 1-2 hours
Features: Posture control, Swappable battery, 2 hub motors, dust and splash proof, handles up to 15% slope, LED lights, Phone Apps, 3 driving modes.
Price: Around $599 Indiegogo price. (retail price to be decided)
Aiming as a tool for commute and not for sport, StarkBoard is configured to have a top speed of 20mph (32kmh).
“There is a dilemma when commuting on an eskate – You can either just keep a casual speed or go fast. But if you were to go fast, you had to go really fast so you could zoom past a bicyclist, or you would be in an awkward position where you were slightly faster than a bicyclist but not quite fast enough to overtake them comfortably.”
That’s why Starkboard chose not to design for higher speed but for more of a functional and stress-free commute.
It was a sound decision in my opinion, as the goal of StarkBoard was to be a mobility tool for the masses, many whom are not skateboarders, and for that 20mph is fast enough. Well, fast enough for a person to hurt themselves definitely. (Please wear a helmet.)
And seeing that country like Singapore explicitly limit the top speed of the e-mobility device to 25kmh (15mph), it is clear that StarkBoard is fast enough for its intended purpose.
13mil (21km) range, if not inflated, is in the middle of the pack in the world of the electric skateboards. Long enough for most commutes, and considering it has an easily swappable battery, the range is not going to be a concern.
Starkboard is rocking 90mm wheels that can handle most terrain well. Starkboard also chooses to use treaded longboard wheel in order to better handle rough terrain.
It’s a shame that the PU sleeve on the motor is not replaceable. That means when the PU wears down, you will have to change the hub motor with the wheels.
Stark Mobility will offer full replacement wheels and hub motor in the future.
The deck is made of 7 layers of Canadian maple plywood and 3 layers of fiberglass so is stiff with little flex. For those who are looking for a flexible deck, this might be a letdown.
The deck also has handle cut-out on both sides, which to me, is a must as it makes carrying the board around so much easier.
The handle cut out also provides a means to secure your electric skateboard on railings or bicycle parking rack with a bicycle chain.
As mentioned, Starkboard has lots of special features, and the posture control is the one that garners the most attention.
“It would be great if our rider can ride the board while eating an ice cream or taking a selfie.”
StarkBoard uses gyroscope sensor & weight and motion sensors to control the acceleration and deceleration. According to Kamil, it is not the same technology from the hoverboard but the experience of riding one may be similar.
To me, it sounds very similar to what Walnutt is doing with their Spectra series.
The control is said to be very intuitive, and most people take about 3 minutes to master it.
In fact, it should be as unlike Spectra, StarkBoard doesn’t require the rider to stand on a certain area of the deck and hence allows for a more natural stance.
If you need extended range, you will definitely appreciate swappable battery.
StarkBoard’s battery is very easily swappable.
Front and back LED lights that let you be seen. Always nice to have the LED lights integrated with the board.
3 riding mode
I just recently had a conversation with a fellow Eskater and he explained to me on the usefulness of having different top speed settings.
It is convenient if the eskater can change the top speed when riding on different setting or at different traffic.
Starkboard has 3 riding mode, Beginner, Normal and Master that differs in top speed and acceleration-deceleration rate.
Not quite the 5 riding mode that you are looking for but I hope you are satisfied with this, Paul!
Available for both iOS and Android, Starkboard’s app can do a lot of things.
It allows you to:
change driving modes
track your route
control the LED device
see the working of your Starkboard including
This also means future OTA firmware updates are possible.
However for now, the application is still in early stage of development with only the core feature available. More extensive features will be developed down the line.
Dust and Splash proof
StarkBoards are IP62 dust and splash proof. So puddle will not be a concern but still, wheels are slippery when wet, so don’t ride in the rain.
I hope that at this point, we have established that StarkBoard is going to be a cool addition to the big electric skateboard family.
However, as I often emphasis, the company behind an electric skateboard is sometimes more important than the eskate itself as an electric skateboard, much like a car, needs regular maintenance and even repairs.
In a crowdfunding setting, the company behind the project is of course even more important, as we are putting money for the company to develop a product that hasn’t exist yet.
I did mention that there was a controversy, so, what’s the story?
What is Stark Mobility about?
Stark Mobility is a small the team of 7 people.
The team members came from various backgrounds, a few of them are engineers who designed the board, one owns a hoverboard business. There are also team members who have a background in renewable energy.
Although StarkBoard is their first project together, the team from various background brings their own knowledge and expertise that they are confident that could make the product, and the Indiegogo campaign a success.
Most of the team members are based in Germany while the company is incorporated in the USA.
With the damaged personal credibility of 2 of their founder, Stark Mobility was under attack since day 1 of their campaign and was being labeled as a scam project.
I’ve followed up with Kamil about this.
“Lauren is and was always involved in Stark Mobility. However, he is also working on sunsetting Juices and need to focus on that.”
He conceded that Laurens and Hannes had a failed project but stood behind them as a person.
Juices was a failed project but weren’t a scam. And their experience with crowdfunding, even if from a failed crowdfunding project is important in helping to make this one a successful one.
I wonder if any other market has the same crowdfunding fatigue as the electric skateboard market. Every other month, there will be a new electric skateboard launching their crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or on Indiegogo.
Unfortunately, not many of those campaigns deliver without major issues. Delays, spec changes, problems with tax and delivery are few of the common issues that we are just too familiar with.
From my interview with Kamil, it is clear that the team at Stark Mobility is aware of all those possible problems that plague most crowdfunding campaigns.
They tried to be very conservative by setting their estimated delivery date in February 2018.
Hopefully, the team can learn from the mistake of others Eskate crowdfunding campaign and from their other crowdfunding project and marks StarkBoard campaign a smooth one.
Initially, I was approached by Laurens Laudowicz to cover Starkboard at its Indiegogo launch. I decided that an interview with the team member is a bare minimum to get a feel for how StarkBoard as a company is. And that, in turn, is important to predict if the crowdfunding campaign is legit.
After some back and forth, I get to interview the very charismatic co-founder Kamil Banc.
Just before I was to publish the article, the controversy regarding Laurens and Hannes with the Juices Kickstarter campaign surfaced. Though I am satisfied with the clarification from Kamil regarding the issue, I couldn’t really recommend anyone to back a crowdfunding campaign unless they are 110% confident on the project, and I am at most at 70%.
With that being said, StarkBoard’s Indiegogo campaign had blow by its goal despite the controversy.
So, here is my current thought:
Starkboard is a great addition to the electric skateboard market. It is innovation that electric skateboard market desperately needs. Not another assembled-with-generic-part electric skateboard or “Meepo-alternative”. It is only the 3rd electric skateboard we have that is posture controlled and it is different than the pressure pad controlled Z-board and the smaller size Walnutt Spectra.
And it is definitely affordable with it’s $500 price tag.
Could it be the best board to buy at $500? Time will tell.
Starkboard has enough bells and whistle to distinguish itself from your typical generic electric skateboard.
Swappable battery, smartphone app, LED lights, IP62 water & dust proof and a changeable urethane for the motor wheels is all very neat feature to have, but the success of Starkboard mainly rely on 2 factor: The riding experience and the built quality.
If it can be as intuitive to ride and as well made as promised, it could very well be the go-to board for a ≈$600 last-mile vehicle.
Those are things that we won’t know until the board shipped so if you are interested, saved up and wait for the on-hands review to come in.