With millennials ditching car ownership for mass transit en masse, a gap has arisen in the otherwise blissfully efficient model — known as the “last mile.” This speaks to the inevitable delta between the endpoints of the mass transit models — bus stops, train stations, subway stations, and the like — and the destination. Whether on the way home, to work, or to a friend’s house, nobody wants to show up sweaty and exhausted from a hot walk and, as humans do… innovations are popping up to fill the gap.
Remember the “hoverboards” that were all the craze for a few months, with teens and celebrities alike hopping on, only to fall on unreasonably hard surfaces in uncomfortable (even to watch) angles? Oh, and the catching on fire while charging thing didn’t help. These were hailed early on as the poor man’s Segway, but fell way short.
Millennials were not just going to sit down and accept the latest iteration of innovation from their parents, though… they wanted to do things their own way. The latest wave of innovations in personal transportation aimed at the last mile is electric skateboards. These were initially a toy for the rich — at several thousand dollars each — and arrived on the market looking like sidewalk tanks.
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After a few years of innovation and exploration supported by new and improved battery tech, today’s electric skateboards are lighter, faster, and have ditched the wired controller for encrypted bluetooth connections. Suffice it to say that these babies are much improved in just about every way.
Having used a longboard skateboard to commute to college back in the day, even going so far as to rock in tandem with my all-too-trusting girlfriend at the time sitting up front while we bombed hills, I’m a huge fan and find the flowing, carving feel of longboards to be liberating. Building on a Digital Trends list, below are my top 3 electric skateboards that just might be enough to give you the confidence to take the train to work and bridge that last mile in style.
- Boosted Dual + by Boosted Boards
This is clearly the Cadillac of purist electric skateboards and even boasts an eco-friendly bamboo deck built in similar proportion to most downhill longboards, meaning riders won’t have to sacrifice the look and feel of a normal board. Further lending itself to the traditional look and feel of a downhill rig, the batteries and motors have a low profile, meaning they don’t just beg to bang into rocks, curbs, or squirrels that get in the way (be nice dude, don’t try to hit squirrels!). Don’t be deceived by the slim profile of the internals, as this board packs a punch! The dual motors pack 2000 watts of combined power, enabling it to zip off the line with ease. The power pack holds enough charge to travel from 7–9 miles, which can be topped up in a single 60-minute fast-charge session.
- Stary Board
This is the sleeper of the bunch, with a look that would have you wondering if it’s anything more than a normal longboard… until you pick it up. Weighing in at 8.8 lbs, it’s a lightweight amongst powerboards, but still quite a bit heftier than a normal rig. The Stary Board takes advantage of the flexibility of bamboo layered in with Canadian Maple on top of a strong base of carbon fiber. Where are the batteries, you ask? The flexible batteries are built into the deck and utilize a unique suspension system that keeps them safe and stable even at heavy loads. The team didn’t stop there — they also tossed out the idea of using an externally mounted motor (or two) and instead designed a patented 1350-watt, in-wheel motor with a deceleration planetary gear set, completing the sleeper board look. The Stary Board is moving into production this month and will have a 10-mile range — the highest from our list.
- Leif Tech eSnowboard
Leif took an evolutionary approach to developing an electric “eSnowboard” that rides and feels more like a snowboard than a skateboard. This translates into allowing riders to steer with toe and heel lean vs whole foot and body lean, and was accomplished by designing the motors to sit off of the axle on individual casters that rotate not with the trucks but with the direction of travel of the board, independent of the other 6 wheels. It sounds crazy, but from the looks of it in action in the video below, seems like they accomplished the goal. It packs a total of 2,590 watts of combined power, weighs in at 18 lbs, and can travel 8 miles on a charge.
It’s clear that electric powerboards are coming of age and the sheer amount of energy and innovation coming from the industry is impressive to see. With the 40-year ban on powered skateboards in California recently being lifted, it looks like it might be their time to shine.