A colleague called me ‘a cheater’ in the office this morning… I disagree! I am an electric longboard evangelist!
Also just to be clear, I am 32 years old, married have 2 children and don’t consider myself a hipster.
Electric longboards have been around for a few years, made some noise during the recent 2014 and 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and have one remarkable aspect to them – they dropped in price quite significantly.
A few years back in Sydney, Australia when I bought my first electric bicycle, I fell in love with electric vehicles. This was also fuelled by the fact that we had free to borrow electric cars at the office at that time (First two small Mitsubishi iMiev which later got upgraded to Nissan Leafs).
From the outside these vehicles look pretty unremarkable, but once you sit in them, switch the fans off, kill the radio and just listen to the sweet sound of nothing, you’ll realize how revolutionary they actually are. Not even speaking from kicking the pedal to the metal and feeling the steep torque curve of the electric motor, catapulting one quickly into the soft fabric of the driver seat. Pure joy which always makes me smile but also wonder why there are still so many combustion-engine-propelled cars manufactured.
Imagine big cities, quiet and pollution free with buses, taxis and cars zipping by just leaving the sound of the tires rubbing off the asphalt.
Which brings me right back to the topic – urban transportation – what if you don’t like to squeeze in buses and trains, what if you want to be left along during the morning and evening commute, what if you want to be independent of time tables?
My resolution for this summer – an electric longboard.
A longboard, as far as I know by now, is basically a long skateboard with a relatively flexible deck (the actual wood board), larger wheels and better handling at larger speeds.
Typically you kick them forward with one foot on the pavement while the other resides on the board.
Now an electric longboard has a little battery attached to the board as well as at least one motor tunring at least one wheel typically controlled via a bluetooth remote.
I’ve dont some research into these boards when I was first hit by a factory tour of Boosted Boards in San Francisco on Kirsten Dirksen’s YouTube Channel.
Some quick research resultet in large excitement but also disappointment, the price tag for a boosted is around $1.5k which is pretty hefty for someone who never stood on a skate- or longboard in his life!
A few weeks after that discovery, I coincidentally stumbled across a product on Amazon called Yuneec E-Go – a relatively cheap electric longboard, not as powerful and fast as the boosted board, but definitely worth a second look.
The features promise 18 mile range, 1x 400W motor at the left rear wheel (my electric bike had a 250W motor) a nicely grippy deck and a remote control which looked ergonomic and can be charged via USB. All that for $699.
OK quick ROI, if I leave the car at home for the summer and commute on average 4 days a week for 4 month, I’ll end up paying about $11 per day commuting. If I charge it at work, that’ll save me another few bucks. No worries about parking, fuel, oil change, wear and tear of my car, traffic jams etc.
Now I live in Ann Arbor in Michigan and my commute is only 3 miles each way with good connection of wide and relatively even sidewalks.
I’ve had a few concerns – how would it handle on the more uneven road surfaces, would I be able to even learn how to ride a longboard when I never rode one before, does the promised range really hold true, what if I hit a stone or hole in the pavement – am I going to fly off and last but not least, what is my wife going to think?
Long story short – I ordered it anyways, promising myself to sell the motorcycle instead, that’s then safer and makes space for my wife’s car in the garage during the warm summer months. Happy wife = Win -Win!
3 weeks of commuting later… wow, simply wow.
Still, every morning I get out of bed to quickly check the weather, it’s April now and you never know what you get, might still be some snow if we’re lucky.
Once the weather problem is solved, I can’t wait to send the big one to the school bus to then hit the sidewalk towards work.
The beauty about the electric drivetrain is that you can fully concentrate your mind and body on carving, I would imagine surfing on water or snowboarding on thick powdery snow would feel like that.
It took me about 3 days or so to get comfortable with the handling e.g. which foot to put some weight on and how to twist my hips to corner properly and lose to wobbly feeling but once that was done, I could not stop smiling anymore.
The ride to work (3 miles) takes me exactly 16 minutes, down a little hill first and then up a hill before arrival.
On the down slope, I pull the remote back and the board breaks for me, on the up slow I push it all to the front to smoothly glide up.
Everybody is looking, people on bikes, in cars, pedestrians, dogs, cats, kids, everybody – It’s just way too unusual to see a board with a ride on top seemingly magically zipping up a hill.
Best part of the commute is parking – I can put it right next to my desk and it’ll be ready for the ride home anytime.
For safety reasons I am wearing a helmet every time I ride, which I would also do while bicycling so it’s no problem.
Rids to the supermarket are quick and fun, and my wife’s been wondering why I’d be volunteering for the milk and toast run so often recently, it’s that much fun! At the supermarket, I found that the board stows away easily under the trolley.
Overall a couple of weeks in, I’d say a pretty good investment, it is very enjoyable, super quick to learn and a very green way of commuting.
Personally I can’t wait for the second generation of these boards with even more range, faster top speeds and maybe even better price point.
To answer the question from the start – you’re never too old and if you get the chance, definitely test ride.