Electric skateboards occupy a funny old space in the world of consumer goods. Are they just adult toys half-heartedly disguised as clean and efficient commuters, or an unapologetic, high-voltage way of souping up an already exhilarating action sport? Whatever your motive for charging up before checking out, ever-maturing technology means you can now hit the streets on super-fun electric skateboards that are slimmer, slighter and smoother than ever before. Here we scour the industry's current offerings, and consult our own attempts at riding the things, to compile a selection of the best electric skateboards for the upcoming holiday season.
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A seemingly endless stream of crowdfunding videos paint life with an electric skateboard as effortlessly gliding from place-to-place, cruising through pedestrian traffic with a latte in hand. But the reality is, you're going to spend a good deal of time trying to lug the thing around, whether it's up the office stairs, on the bus, through the supermarket or across the campus lawn.
Longboards are long and awkward by nature, and when you throw heavy batteries and motors into the mix things get quite cumbersome indeed. At just 10 lb (4.5 kg), the Marbel board inconspicuously packs the electrical components into the carbon fiber deck and is the lightest e-board currently available (though some lighter competitors are in the pipeline). It also has a zippy 25 mph (40 km/h) top speed and healthy 16-mile range (25 km).
If you do go down this road we'd recommend bringing a bit of patience with you. The Marbel board arrived on the crowdfunding scene way back in May 2014 and it is fair to say the journey to production has been a little bumpy. Readers have alerted us to the slow progress, shipping delays for backers and refund requests. Nonetheless, the company claims its Marbel board is now in full production and shipping out to US customers within a 3-4 week timeframe, though if you're an international customer you are likely in for a longer wait.
The Marbel board is priced at US$1,399
Evolve Carbon GT
We have ridden a number of products from Australian company Evolve, and this year's Carbon GT is definitely its best work yet. The polished award-winning e-board handles beautifully, has swappable all-terrain wheels for off-road adventuring, and packs a huge punch courtesy of twin brushless motors pumping 3 kW through the rear wheels.
It can hit speeds of 43 km/h (27 mph), will carry you 30 km (18 mi) on each charge and while not the lightest e-board, at 7.9 kg (17.4 lb) it is certainly not the heaviest either. The battery is hidden away inside the deck so it can be comfortably tucked under your arm when on foot and it is controlled by way of an ergonomic, intuitive Bluetooth controller.
The Evolve Carbon GT is priced at $2,660.
Boosted Board 2
The world of electric skateboards has seen many startups come and go, through the nurturing but ultimately unforgiving nature of crowdfunding campaigns. When one raises half a million dollars, delivers the goods and then matures into a successful business, you know the company runs a tight ship built on rock-solid products.
The popular and tastefully designed Boosted Boards of 2012 were the lightest of their time, and while they have since been undercut in the weight stakes the company is keeping its product lineup fresh through some other innovations.
The second generation of Boosted Boards retain the bamboo deck and signature orange street wheels of the originals, but improve on the modest range of 6 mi (9.65 km). They ship with a standard 99-Wh battery and 7 mi (11.2 km) range, but this can be swapped out for a 199-Wh battery for 12 to 14-mile range (19 to 22 km). Oh, and the new model encases the electronics for water resistance.
The Boosted Board 2s begin at $999 and the bulkier battery will set you back an extra $100. More powerful variations are available at a higher price points.
The M1 (formerly known as Monolith)
Sealing motors away inside the deck or behind the rear wheels are a couple of ways to make an electric longboard a better travel companion, and hiding them inside the wheels is another. The M1 is billed as the world's first electric skateboard to feature hub motors, which are set in the two rear wheels to thrust riders down the road at up to 24 mph (39 km/h).
Better portability aside, the approach means that the motors are less likely to become caught up on obstacles and damaged, and the creators claim they are water-resistant and lighter than a conventional motor. Each 90-minute charge of the M1 should be good for 10 mi (16 km) of riding and the board weighs 14 lb (6.35 kg).
Inboard, the company behind the M1, is currently taking orders for the skateboard for a cost of $1,399, but if you're looking to roll out of your driveway on Christmas morning it's perhaps not the best bet. It says it has a bit of a backlog and orders placed now will be shipped out in January, so there might still be time for some tail-slidin' through the tail end of your break.
You might have noticed a bit of a theme here. Electric skateboards tend to be kind of expensive, particularly for a someone just looking to test the waters. The E-Go from aircraft-maker Yuneec offers a much more affordable way to get in on the action.
The board doesn't topple its competitors on any of the key specifications, but could be the perfect cruiser for a newcomer on a tighter budgets. Its top speed is just 20/kmh (12 mph) which may be more than enough clicks for some, and it has a generous 18-mile (30-km) range stuffed into nicely crafted 14 lb (6.3 kg) package.
The Yuneec E-Go is priced at $699.View gallery - 22 images