Review: Kuickwheel Serpent-C is fun and easy, but don’t get cocky
The idea of a small, lightweight, portable, and electrified skateboard like the Kuickwheel Serpent-C is intriguing. We can all imagine ourselves going Tony Hawk all over the place on a board that propels itself. We'd be doing that, of course, on our daily commute to work on that "last mile." You know, to give a practical side to the deal. The reality is that most of us can't really board that well. Not like Hawk, anyway. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun. Lots of it.
The Serpent-C is one of two skateboards sold by Kuickwheel as lightweight, all-electric skate options. The Serpent-C is tiny at just 18 inches (458 mm) in length and 6.4 pounds (2.9 kg) in weight. It's meant as a backpack-able skateboard that can be easily transported and stored when not in use, but that is still large enough for use by just about anyone.
The Serpent-W is a longer board meant to be more powerful and capable, especially if your boarding is expected to have more distance and capability requirements. Where the Serpent-C has a range of about 6.2 miles (10 km) per charge, the Serpent-W has a range of 9.4 miles (15 km) and has more hill-climbing capability along with a higher possible speed (25 mph or 40 km/h vs 11 mph or 18km/h with the C).
The Kuickwheel Serpent series is a pre-production set of skateboards being readied for sale by Kuickwheel as a Kickstarter project. The project launched not too long ago and has already exceeded its initial goal. We received a pre-production Serpent-C model for testing.
The Kuickwheel Serpent-C is tiny, lightweight, and water resistant. Its short battery range and lower speed makes it a good sidewalk runner for getting from one point to another, and its small size means it's more fun for the kids to ride as a toy than would be a larger board meant for bigger folks. My kids, ages 6 and 7, thoroughly enjoy the Kuickwheel Serpent-C as a fun runner.
For myself, I'm not much of a skateboarder. I was decent enough when I was younger, but that was more than two decades ago. But still I've found myself having fun with the Serpent-C as it glides underneath. Once the old balance came back, staying on was not as much of a challenge as I expected, given the board's small size. Maneuvering requires more delicacy, though, due to my feet being literally larger than the board itself. Not individually, mind you, I'm not an NBA player.
Controls for the Serpent are handheld and wireless (via 2.4G). It's force-sensitive, so the harder you push the accelerate toggle forward, the faster the board will go. This means that taking off from a standstill is gradual rather than immediately at top speed. That makes it easier to stay on the board. It's still totally possible to have the board fly out from under you, but the force-toggle at least mitigates this. Letting off the button causes the skateboard to slow and stop in a way similar to its acceleration, and the motor works in reverse to regenerate power as it slows.
Large wheels on the Serpent-C give it a more all-terrain capability; at least insofar as pebbles and pavement divots are concerned. The 300-watt in-wheel motor pushes the little -C forward to up to 11.18 mph (18 km/h) with 1.2 Nm (0.89 lb-ft) of torque. Power is supplied by a 2.9-Ah, 24-volt battery under the deck. The electrical units are sealed to be water resistant to the IP54 certification from all directions. So puddles and spray shouldn't hurt the Serpent-C.
The deck of the Serpent-C is made of Canadian maple wood with medium carbon steel bearings on 91A PU wheels. The Serpent-W has an aluminum alloy deck, quiet carbon bearings, and 91A PU wheels. Both have PVC sticker packages for added bling.
The Kuickwheel Serpent-C is a good little run around and fun times skateboard, but it does have its limits. It's powerful enough to propel someone on flat ground or downhill pretty quickly, but inclines and obstacles can be a problem. Light inclines (up to maybe 6 to 10 percent in grade) are doable on the Serpent-C, provided the rider isn't too hefty. Anything more than that will begin taxing the motor and will definitely slow the little board down.
Riding the Kuickwheel also has a bit of a learning curve. Those who are already good at skating will have to adjust to the electric's force and controls, as well as the small deck and higher center of gravity. They'll definitely have an easier time of it than do novices like myself who're probably too old to be jumping on skateboards and pretending to be teenagers again. Not that I didn't do that anyway. There are memes about this type of attitude.
Kids, though, will quickly get good at riding on the Kuickwheel Serpent-C. Then they'll love it. And be bummed out to find out that it takes almost a whole hour to recharge the board when the battery is depleted. The average Netflix show is only 47 minutes. What about the other 13? Augh!
The Kuickwheel Serpent-C is smaller and lighter than competing boards with a slightly lower top speed than those competitors as well. It has a dedicated remote control rather than an app, so disconnects are far less likely, and its price point is far below most similar electric skateboards. By a lot. The Serpent-C is expected to retail at US$169 compared to the Bolt Motion board at about $900 (pre-orders are at €799) and the Spectra Mini at $399.
The Kickstarter campaign for the Kuickwheel Serpent series runs until September 7.