Making the leap from a regular skateboard to an electric model isn't as natural as it might appear. The things are heavy, expensive and are usually controlled by some kind of weird trigger controller. On top of that, maybe you'd find it hard to part with your trusty old longboard anyway? German startup Mellow is looking to make the upgrade a little more palatable with an attachable electric drive that can be mounted to any existing board and give it a little more zip.
The majority of electric skateboards available today rely on an electric motor to turn the wheels via a belt drive. Manufacturers are doing their best to hide these bulky motors and the batteries that power them to stop them getting in the way. In the case of makers like Evolve and the long-awaited Marbel board, this has even seen electronics built into the deck.
But the Mellow team has engineered what it considers a pretty innovative way to set its wheels in motion – two motors are built into the 79 mm (3.11 in) wheels. These were developed in Germany under the watchful eye of Mellow co-founder Kilian, formerly an electrical engineer at BMW, and the team claims they are very quiet, highly powerful and tightly sealed to fend off troublesome water and dust.
Truth be told, Mellow isn't alone in pursuing this direct-drive style of electric skateboard motor. A couple of months back we covered the Monolith electric skateboard, which takes a very similar approach, though as an actual skateboard the Monolith offers a more complete package.
Mellow, on the other hand, can be affixed to any board that uses 6-hole trucks, the type you'll find on the vast majority of skateboards. Users looking for a bit of extra go can replace the back set of trucks with the Mellow electric drive to turn their ride into a 2.3 kW high-powered cruiser. Top speed is claimed to be 40 km/h (25 mph), which is up there with the fastest we've seen (the Epic Dominator Pro takes the candy at 42 km/h (26 mph).
The battery will take two hours to charge and should be good for 15 km (10 mi), a respectable but not show-stopping range. But where the team may have fallen a little short in range they make up for with a dash of out-of-the-box thinking. Mellow's battery is swappable, meaning you can charge up a spare and throw it in your bag if you plan on taking an extended ride. This is a feature we're yet to come across in other electric skateboards, and though a single charge will be enough mileage for many, it does give Mellow another point of difference in an increasingly crowded market.
The handheld control is simple and bears only one button that is slid forward to accelerate and back to trigger the regenerative braking. Users can also switch between four riding modes at various top speeds and keep track of the battery charge with integrated LED lights.
Mellow is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, with the team looking to raise €100,000 (US$114,000) to enter commercial production, with an early pledge of €850 (US$964) to have one sent your way. If it does attract the funding and the campaign runs as hoped, it plans to start shipping in May 2016. It must be said, this almost puts Mellow in the same price category as some of the more affordable complete electric-skateboards going around, but may be worth it for those attached to their existing rides.
You can check out the team's pitch video below.