ESK8 (short for electric skateboarding) is everywhere. Whether you’re beachside, walking through a park, or down the sidewalk of a college campus, we can pretty much guarantee you’ll see someone riding an electric skateboard within moments. This fun activity and reliable mode of transportation has rocketed in popularity in the last few years, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Brands like Meepo and Boosted Boards were virtually unknown until the past few years, and now they possess a significant amount of the skateboarding market share. Where did these boards come from? How do they work? Are they safe and reliable? Today we’re telling you everything you need to know about the worldwide trend sweeping skateboarding: ESK8!
Electric Skateboards aren’t necessarily a new concept. In fact, as skateboarding itself was coming of age in the 1970s, a student at Berkely patented the first motor-powered skateboard. If you know anything about the sleek and well designed electric skateboards of today, imagine the exact opposite, and you’ll get a perfect vision of the MotoBoard. A gasoline-powered outboard motor pushed the board forward, and control wasn’t exactly straightforward. It’s unsurprising that California later banned the skateboard for environmental and safety reasons. We can’t blame them. Riding around crowded cities on a flammable deck powered by gasoline and a weed-trimmer motor sounds less than safe. But the idea had been hatched, and as with most great ideas, it wouldn’t lay dormant for long.
The idea resurfaced in the early 2000s as battery technology improved. These models were the first to utilize wireless technology, allowing their control to remain literally in the hands of the rider by way of a remote. And while powering a skateboard with electricity was far safer and greener than the previous gasoline models, batteries and micro-motor technology was still a new and developing field. One of the first electric skateboards would have set you back over $1500 in 2001 – yikes! But as lithium battery technology improved, and the world became accustomed to all things wireless, skateboarding manufacturers were finally able to create an electric skateboard with enough torque to produce a decent speed at a low enough price point to be tempting to the general skateboarding populace. From 2012 through 2015 tons of ESK8 companies raced to bring their products to market and get in front of consumers. And by 2016 electric skateboarding was a full-blown trend!
Electric skateboards are powered by lithium batteries, and they create their movement in two main ways. Some models have batteries that power a motor that uses a pulley to move the wheels, and others have motors within the wheels themselves! You’ll notice a speed and consequently a price difference between the two types. Motors within each wheel are less complex (hence the lower price tag), but produce less power and therefore a slightly slower board. Pulley motors create higher speed, but are more mechanically complex and therefore more expensive than their wheel motor counterparts. As for control, you also have two options: a handheld remote, or a system that allows you to shift your weight to control speed and direction, much like a Segway scooter.
While they’ve always been entertaining as a sporting toy, these boards are quickly becoming a primary mode of transportation for a large swath of people. Students to urban businesspeople are quickly seeing the draw of the electric skateboard for commuting. While you won’t get much (or any) exercise using one of these boards, with top speeds of 20-30mph you can reasonably commute short to medium distances on and ESK8 board, as long as you have a paved surface from your home to your place of business or study. In many cases where population and traffic density is a huge issue, electric skateboarding to work or school could actually be faster than driving your car! As with any fast-moving vehicle, safety is of the essence, which is why we recommend skaters of ANY type always wear a helmet, remain aware of their surroundings for theirs and other’s safety, and ride with Board Blazers to make themselves more visible in the evening hours. Skateboarding safety is even more essential when you’re eskateing - traveling at speeds that rival those of an automobile.
Electric skateboarding isn’t going anywhere. These companies have staked out their market, and skaters are fiercely loyal to different brands like Boosted, Meepo, and InBoard. And as with any new industry, the boundaries are being pushed even further. Lately, off-road electric skateboard models are en vogue, able to easily traverse grass, gravel, and even compact sand! With wheels that look like those of a fat tire bike, soon skateboarders will be all over the beach itself, not just the boardwalk!
We’re digging this new ESK8 trend, and we’re glad it’s here to stay! What about you – love it? Hate it? Reach out on Instagram @BoardBlazers and tell us what you think!