Motorized one-, two- and three-wheeled personal transport innovations like the Solowheel and the cheap and cheerful Solaron certainly look like a fun way to get around, but if it's four-wheeled action you're looking for then the new RoamBoard is definitely worth a look. The result of two years of designing, building, testing and tweaking, this stand up transportation solution brings together technologies seen in the electric skateboard, bicycle, snowboard, and automotive industries and merges them into a land-surfing motorized skateboard.
The RoamBoard story began with a young man's request to his father to build him a motorized caster board. Impressed by the maneuverability of the family's Wave Board, Rob Green noted that the device utilized different steering methods for high speed and low speed control - just like a bicycle. Riders would lean into corners to turn at speed or manipulate the steering mechanism during slower movement for impressively tight turning circles. Work then began on the design of a street board capable of both high speed carving and tight turning control and stability at low speed.
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"The RoamBoard carve comes from two innovations," Green told Gizmag. "First, the steering axles protrude off the front and rear of the board, allowing the board plane to be at the axle level. Second, all the electronics are packaged above the board under a cool motorcycle-esque tank. This above board battery and electronics design is completely new to stand up power boarding. With these two innovations, all of the user's carve push goes into the wheels, and not into tipping the board."
Joining the electronics and responsive 36v/10 Amp-hr Li-Polymer battery pack in the tank is an onboard battery charger that offers individual cell balancing and a four-hour charge time. The battery powers a rear-mounted 450 watt DC motor controlled by a 2-inch (5 cm) nylon tethered hand controller with thumb throttle and three-level LED charge indicator. The LiquidRoam RoamBoard is said to have a range of 12 miles (19.3 km) and a top motorized speed of 15 mph (24 km/h). The integration of Drive Wheel Clutch technology, however, allows the drive system to freewheel - potentially catering for downhill coasting at higher speeds.
"With all that speed available, only the best brake would do," says Green. "The RoamBoard has a hydraulic disc brake integrated into the design for positive controllable stopping power."
At lower speeds, the RoamBoard offers superior turning performance and stability thanks to an articulated two piece board design working with automotive-inspired, proprietary Tie Rod Assist technology that's integrated into the dirt board spring truck design at the front. The rear board connects to the front through a torsion spring assembly that allows the user to twist the front or rear part separately using ankle motion - making for slower and tighter turning without needing to lean.
The RoamBoard's 200 x 50 mm (7.87 x 1.96-inch) pneumatic tires on custom designed and CNC-machined aluminum mag wheels with front rubber compression washers help absorb some of the bumps for a smoother ride.
Green told us that the first early adopter RoamBoards are now ready for sale, although they're not currently categorized as street legal.
"We just did not anticipate how good the RoamBoard would be for transportation during development," he says. "With the pneumatic tires, wide stance, and hydraulic brake we use them all the time for local transportation. As a result we are working hard at this point to incorporate headlights, tail lights, turn signals, and other items needed to classify it as an electric scooter. All seems doable at this point."
The standard model costs US$2,475 and has maple ply front and rear decks, gray/silver metallic paint and clear, small grain sand grip with protective clear coat. A custom model is also offered at US$2,875, which has boards made from bamboo ply for extra carving performance and is available in a choice of custom colors.
The following video describes a few of the key features, and is interspersed with Peter Green making riding the RoamBoard look painfully easy: