Review: The all-terrain, all-powerful Dominator Pro electric skateboard
Every time an electric skateboard crosses our desk here at Gizmag, it seems to be because somebody clever has worked out a way to make them lighter, run for longer, or fold up in some weird shape that we've never seen before. One glance at the latest addition to Epic Skateboard's lineup and it's pretty obvious that the team wasn't all that concerned with building a commuter-friendly transport option you can slide under the bus seat. The four-wheel-drive Dominator 3200 Pro is the most powerful skateboard the Australian company has ever produced, so it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that we fired it up and took it to for a spin.
Plenty of unique electric skateboards have popped up in recent years, each with their own claim to offering a one-of-a-kind four-wheel experience. But for the sake of comparison, let's run over the power outputs of some of the notable ones. The Yuneec electric longboard which launched last year runs on a 400-W motor. The weight-sensing ZBoard uses a 500-W motor, while the Marbel board, claimed to be the lightest electric skateboard in the world, packs an impressive 2,000-W motor.
The Dominator 3200 Pro has an 800-W brushed motor attached to each wheel. That is an almost-scary total of 3,200 kW, or the same power output as 16 street-legal electric bikes. Pushed to its limit, this translates to a top speed of 42 km/h (26 mph). Those watching this space closely might note that this isn't a great deal faster than other models (the Evolve which we tested back in 2013 is capable of hitting 36 km/h (22 mph), while the Monolith unveiled earlier this month tops out at 39 km/h (24 mph)).
So where is all this extra power going? Designer and owner of Epic Skateboards Adam Riley tells us that the thinking behind whacking these powerful motors on each wheel is to cultivate an off-road beast capable of handling all kinds of terrain.
"Logically, you would think more power would be quicker but the computer only puts out the same power distributed between the four motors as two, so the four-wheel-drive it is built for rough surfaces and soft sand that need four-wheel-drive," he says. "When it comes to distance, four motors draw more power and are heaver than the two-motor board, giving it less range."
So while it may not go much faster than other models (how fast do you want to go anyway?), we can confirm the immense power and acceleration of the board is felt from the moment of take off. Through our testing, we'd estimate that it takes less than five seconds to hit top speed from a standing start.
This speed, by the way, should certainly be approached with caution. The board features 10-inch off road tires with some pretty serious tread, attached to spring-loaded trucks to absorb the impact, you can nonchalantly roll over objects in your path like a turbo-charged army tank. But even then, traveling at 42 km/h you will start to notice "speed wobbles," where the board seems to take on a mind of its own and starts to shudder independently of the wheels.
So with all that power, it won't come as a huge surprise that the board weighs a hefty 31.4 kg (70 lb). This weight and power combined means the board is incredibly tough to steer. Shifting your weight to either side of the deck will start to turn the board in that direction, as it does on a regular longboard, but this very much a gentle veer more than a sharp turn or carve.
Turning a 90-degree street corner was challenging enough, weaving in and out of traffic on your way to work with a latte in hand is definitely out of the question. So bulky is this beast, that changing direction often involved us hopping off and shuffling it around like a loaded wheelbarrow. This is where the glaring omission of a reverse function really hits home. Riley tells us adding this feature in an updated model is a possibility and they have engineers working on it, but it is complex because of the type of motors used.
Off-road, Dominator 3200 Pro is well and truly in its element. The board took rough grassy hills in its stride and handled some pretty treacherous off-road terrain, complete with three-inch-deep ditches and jagged rocks. Riding a skateboard over these rugged landscapes certainly felt unnatural at first, but there's a lot of reassurance packed into those chunky tires and beefy suspension. There were moments when I was convinced I was about to be thrown off or the wheels would get jammed against a rock, but the board managed to power through.
The 36 V lithium battery is packaged into a big black box on the underside of the deck. This is plugged directly into a regular wall outlet and takes between 3-5 hours to charge, with each full charge promising 1.5-3 hours of riding time, or between 20 and 40 km (12.5 and 25 mi). In our testing this pretty much checked out, though we did start to notice a little dip in power after riding the board hard for around one hour.
As is common with electric skateboards, the Dominator 3200 Pro is controlled by a simple gun controller. Squeezing the trigger forward will see it start to accelerate, while the braking will kick in naturally as soon as as you release. This brings you to a stop in a reasonably gentle fashion and shouldn't throw you over the front. If you do need to stop suddenly, however, pushing the trigger forward will apply the brakes more heavily, but this will require you to carefully lean back to counter the force.
So is it worth the asking price? The US$1,715 (AUD$2,250) tag will be a deterrent to some, but we would say whether this is a worthy investment would depend entirely on where you live and where you'll be able to ride it. In our few weeks of testing, there wasn't a single person that took it for a ride who didn't come back buzzing with adrenaline. The sheer power makes for a thrilling experience, and as you grow comfortable on the board, pulling the trigger tighter and tighter is nothing if not addictive.
As we suggested earlier, if you are looking for a cooler and more efficient way to get the work and are eying this monster off as your new ride, then we'd suggest directing your gaze elsewhere. But if you live near challenging off-road trails, or even closed pathways without many people around, then Epic Dominator 3200 is a vehicle you could have a hell of a lot of fun with.
Check out the Epic Dominator 3200 in action in our video review below.
Product page: Epic Skateboards