Acton injects light materials and 4WD into its electric skateboard line

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The Qu4tro is available on Kickstarter at pledge levels starting at $1,099

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New electric skateboards are hitting the street regularly, which is great for consumers but may be a little tough for new manufacturers looking to distinguish their boards from the pack. That's no problem for Acton, which uses a 4WD hub motor system, distinct hexagonal deck, aluminum and carbon fiber construction, and integrated lighting to make its Blink Qu4tro stand out. And if you'd prefer something more affordable to shuttle you from A to B, Acton also has some new lower-tier models.

You may recognize Acton from previous electric-powered solutions like Rocketskates and the M Scooter, and it isn't a completely new face in the electric skateboard market. It currently offers the US$399 Blink Lite and $499 Blink, calling the former the lightest electric skateboard on the market. At 7.7 lb (3.5 kg), the Lite weighs about a pound (0.45 kg) less than others that have made "world's lightest" claims, including the Stary and Bolt.

Now Acton is growing the Blink family, and the new Qua4tro becomes the technological flagship. Acton calls it the most advanced electric longboard ever, and while we wouldn't make the mistake of recognizing such a title in a market as fast-moving as the electric skateboard market lest tomorrow prove us wrong, the Blink Qua4tro does have a combination of design and components we haven't yet seen from the competition.

Not every automobile with 4WD is a jacked-up, off-road utility vehicle; some high-performance sports cars, including the new Bugatti Chiron, make use of four driven wheels. And Acton follows suit with the Qu4tro, using 4WD not for off-road/all-terrain prowess, like the Dominator Pro and BajaBoard, but to improve on-street performance.

Acton takes the motors off the underside of the board, and places them inside the wheels. Last year, Inboard Sports claimed to be the first to power two rear wheels with hub motors, and Acton takes it a step further with four hub motors. Those motors combine for 1,600 watts of power and a well-rounded performance spec sheet that includes a 22-mile (35-km) range, 23-mph (37-km/h) top speed and hill climbing capabilities up to 30 percent grades.

None of those numbers pop out as "world's best," but the combination is quite impressive. The 22-mile range is robust no matter how you cut it, but some other boards do top it. However, the Qu4tro beats those in other categories.

When compared to the 3,000-watt, 31-mile (50-km)-range Evolve Carbon GT Street, the Qu4tro climbs steeper grades (Carbon GT is good up to 25 percent), holds more weight (280 lb/127 kg vs 220 lb/100 kg), and has a $1,699 estimated retail price that's $260 less. Compare it to the lighter, faster 2,000-watt Marbel board ($1,399), and while it doesn't quite reach the Marbel's 25 mph (40 km/h), it offers more range than Marbel's 16 miles (25 km).

When equipped with two batteries, the high-performance Revoll C1N we looked at earlier this year bests the Qu4tro with its 31+ mph (50+ km/h) top speed and 25-mile (40 km) range, but last we heard, that ~$3,300 board was starting at nearly double the Qu4tro's estimated retail, and that price included just a single battery and 12.5-mile (20 km) range.

If the Blink Qu4tro had hit the market a little earlier, it would have been a shoe-in for our top e-boards for the holidays guide. Maybe next year – though don't count on it, the way this market moves.

Helping the 34-in (86 cm) Qu4tro achieve its impressive performance, Acton ditches the classic maple wood for a stretched octagonal carbon fiber deck supported by an aluminum chassis. That build keeps weight down to 17 lb (7.7 kg), a respectable figure that becomes even more so when you remember that this board has four motors instead of one or two.

Another distinguishing feature of the Qu4tro is its integrated lighting, which includes a red taillight and white LED running lights along the sides. The remote secures to the board to double as a carry handle. Regenerative braking helps riders get the most range out of the Panasonic lithium-ion battery pack, which charges in three hours.

Not everyone needs to skateboard 22 miles at a clip or motor up the steep twists of San Francisco's Lombard Street. Some just need an electric board for short, flat work commutes or cruising around the neighborhood. So instead of just focusing on an all-out performance flagship, Acton is adding a couple other Blink family members, the Blink S and Blink S2, both of which feature maple wood and aluminum construction.

The S2 is the mid-range board among the new Blinks, estimated at a four-figure-ducking retail of $999. Its 1,000 watts of dual-motor power equate to a 10-mile (16 km) range, 18-mph (29 km) top speed and hill climbing ability up to 20 percent grades. It weighs in at 12 lb (5.4 kg). The Blink S (est. $699 retail) has a single 600W hub motor, 7-mile (11 km) range, 15-mph (24-km/h) top speed, 15 percent grade hill climbing, and 10-lb (4.5-kg) weight.

Both the S and S2 include lithium-ion battery packs made from Samsung cells, with the S charging in 45 minutes and the S2 in 1.5 hour. They also have regenerative braking and integrated lighting.

The Acton Blink S2 has two hub motors

And of course, it wouldn't be a new gadget in 2016 without a smartphone app. The Acton app lets you adjust ride modes, check mileage and manage other features.

Acton has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the money it needs to meet a minimum order number for manufacturing and get the new Blink models rolling out. It's offering the models at early bird pledge levels that are 30 to 50 percent off the aforementioned estimated retail prices: Blink S at $349+ pledge levels, Blink S2 at $549+ and Blink Qu4tro at $1099+. It's already surpassed its $50K goal with a month left to go.

Get your eyes around the Blink in the video clip below.

Source: Acton Global

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