Published on October 31st, 2017 | by Kyle Field0
Evolve Skateboards Carbon GT 2 In 1 Review (CleanTechnica Exclusive)
October 31st, 2017 by Kyle Field
Powered skateboards hold potential for transit riders, students, and local commuters alike as a solution to the ‘last mile’ challenge. Transit riders and commuters often find themselves farther from the next bus or train stop than they would prefer to walk, and personal electrified portables like Evolve’s powered skateboards have the potential to solve that for riders who are comfortable on a skateboard.
Beyond that, they are just a ton of fun. With 3,000 watts of power, 50 kilometers of range, full carbon fiber construction and rugged all-terrain tires that take the edge off of small bumps, the Evolve Carbon GT 2 in 1 is the ultimate downhill board that can also be used to get from place to place. Did you catch that it has a 50km range? That’s far and away the longest range of all of the powered skateboards we have tested, seen, ridden, and read about, making it a board that allows for commuting across distances that simply weren’t possible before.
- Power: 3000 watts from 2 rear-mounted, belt driven motors
- Range: 31 miles | 50 kilometers on street wheels, 18.5 miles | 30 kilometers on AT tires
- Top speed: 26 mph | 42 kph on street wheels, 25 mph | 41 kph on AT tires
- Hill grade: Can climb hills up to 25% gradient in GT mode
- Weight: 21 pounds | 9.5 kilograms
- Charge time: 4-5 hours on included charger, 3 hours on fast charger
- Price: $2159 USD
A Beautiful Build
The first thing that stands out about the Evolve Carbon GT is the beautiful carbon fiber deck. It is gorgeous and truly a work of art. The top of the deck is necessarily covered in a heavy coating of grip tape to ensure the rider has something to hang onto when being propelled up or down hills. Flipping to board over reveals a beautiful expanse of exposed glossy carbon fiber that screams from the rafters that the board is high quality, loaded with technology, and built to last.
The Evolve Carbon GT deck not only makes the board look amazing, it also adds a completely new feel to the ride. Instead of the flex and give that wooden and bamboo boards lend to the ride, the carbon deck is stiff as a rock. That is great, as every nuance of your movement is translated directly to the trucks, which makes the board super responsive but it does take some getting used to. When I first took off on the board, it felt stiff and unnatural but after a few laps around the neighborhood, I realized that it was just a different way to ride and a different feel to the ride.
The board comes with trucks that have a double kingpin design that is another sharp detour from the status quo. For those who aren’t as familiar with skateboards, the kingpin is the part of the trucks that holds the axle (the part that the wheels mount to) to the baseplate (the part that mounts to the board). These two parts are held together by the kingpin which squishes the axle to the baseplate with a few urethane bushings in between. This is what allows the board to turn as the rider leans into a turn. The addition of a second kingpin to the mix lets the trucks pivot further, ultimately resulting in a board that can turn much faster and at much tighter angles.
On the Evolve Carbon GT with street wheels, that tighter turning ability coupled with the massive amount of power being applied to the rear wheels made the board feel a bit squirrely, like the wheels wanted to break loose from the ground if I were to give it too much power or carve too hard. Some riders like this as it allows them to slide sideways as a means of slowing down. I’m more into carving which uses the extra friction created when pushing into and out of turns to slow down, so this configuration wasn’t my favorite but would likely appeal to riders who are into downhilling and sliding.
That’s when the board took a turn towards the unexpected. The Carbon GT 2 in 1 comes with that name because it can rock street wheels AND all-terrain wheels. These wheels are fatboy wheels that are actually inflated with air…like baby bike tires.
Switching from street wheels to the all-terrain wheels isn’t just as simple as switching out the wheels but instead requires a ~15 minute replacement of the belt drive for each rear wheel, replacement of the belt drive covers, tensioning of the belt AND replacement of all four wheels. I went through it a few times and while there was a learning curve, it’s definitely something you could get used to with some practice. Dropping the AT tires in changed everything about the board for me and drastically improved the riding experience.
First off, with the sheer amount of power the motors put to the ground combined with the double kingpin design, the board felt like it just wanted to break loose and run away out from under me. Slapping the AT wheels on the thing drastically improved this with the inflated tires absorbing more of the bumps in the road, drastically improving traction and allowing me to carve to my heart’s content without having to worry about the board trying to slide out from under me.
To delineate the difference, I would say that the board with street wheels (normal rubber longboard wheels) is perfect for those who love sliding around turns, breaking traction at every opportunity. Conversely, slapping on the AT wheels is great for those who love commuting around town, as it’s better at absorbing bumps and riding over rocks as well as for those who like carving around. For me, the choice is simple, as the AT wheels are simply beautiful to ride on. They inspire confidence and smooth out the ride, making joyful rides around the neighborhood and longer jaunts across town pleasant and relaxing.
The riding experience is controlled by an innovative handheld controller that fits comfortably in the hand for precise control over the board. Acceleration is controlled by a slider trigger that arcs forward and back. Sliding the trigger forward engages the motors and eases the board forward, while pulling the trigger back engages the brake. Unlike the Boosted Board which will actually go into reverse, the Evolve Carbon GT simply slows the board down to a stop.
I personally prefer the ability to throttle all the way from acceleration to deceleration all the way back to going in reverse, but can respect how the team at Evolve chose to built the board and the controller. It seems like something that would be easy to adjust to one way or the other after spending more quality time on the board.
On the top of the controller is a color LCD screen. The screen displays the speed you’re travelling at in real time, the distance traveled, charge state and riding mode. Those are helpful and useful to have handy. An LCD screen isn’t something I’ve seen on any other controllers I have tested or used and while it’s neat and allows for some settings to be changed, I’m not totally sold on it. I tend to be very hard on my things as evidenced by the numerous scratches on literally every other powered skateboard controller I’ve used.
Some sacrificed themselves when a board acted up and decided it didn’t want to play nice, some met the ground under less harsh conditions, while others simply get tossed around and treated poorly. Adding a less durable LCD screen to that mix is one more thing I have to worry about not breaking which is perhaps why the team at Evolve Skateboards shipped it to me in a protective case. It comes with all of their controllers and I think if I were to own one of these, I would probably end up using the case on a regular basis. I’d rather have a controller that doesn’t need the case, but hey, it’s also kinda neat to have all that functionality in the palm of your hand too, so there’s that.
The controller also allows settings to be changed, such as the size of the wheels on the board and the gear ratio. Setting these correctly allows the board to know how much power it’s actually putting down and how fast you’re actually going.
All the Range
The range is the killer feature on the Evolve Carbon GT. 31 miles is a ridiculous amount of range in a powered skateboard. Look over at the Boosted Board with 7 miles of range or at an Inboard M1 which sports about the same, then back at the Evolve Carbon GT. 31 miles is crazy! That’s more than 4 times the range in a board that’s in the same price range (more on that in a bit). 31 miles means it can be used for actual commuting for way more people than competing boards.
For me, my average commute is around 5 miles downhill. Doing that on a Boosted Board is easy but getting home is a non-start, even if I do charge it up fully at the office as the uphill sections eat batteries for breakfast. Flipping that over to the Carbon GT and it becomes an actual discussion again. I wasn’t able to test this particular route on the board given the brief period we had our review unit for but I was able to absolutely thrash the board I had on the hills in my neighborhood and was consistently impressed at just how well it did up and down the hills without ever seeing excessive usage on the battery. It handled the hills well and after my testing, I’m confident it would handle my commute with ease. The Evolve Carbon GT has far and away more range than comparable boards and stands in a class of its own when it comes to range.
The Evolve Carbon GT 2 in 1 is at the top of its competitive group in almost every way. More power, better quality build, more range, more functionality on the remote and all of that comes at a higher price. It’s the best board out there for those who want a long-range electric skateboard. It’s also the best performing downhill board for those looking for a board that lets them push their personal limits just a bit farther.
It’s also the highest quality board I’ve seen, tested, heard of, or read about. While the carbon fiber that it is constructed from will scratch and show wear, it is absolutely solid and rigid and is built to last. The Evolve Carbon GT 2 in 1 also comes with two sets of wheels and two sets of belts — which only adds more to the cost. But seriously, at $2159 USD, this board is a great value compared to its peer group. The Boosted Board uses a bamboo board that will last, but isn’t nearly as bombproof as the kevlar reinforced carbon fiber that this board is constructed from. Yes, it’s a few hundred bucks cheaper but they’re in the same ballpark.
The Evolve team says the Carbon GT is “a thug dressed in Armani” and I have to agree. It packs an absurd amount of power that will have even the most adrenaline-hooked speed freaks shaking in their boots after speeding down a hill or across town at 26 miles per hour. The construction is unsurpassed and because of the space age materials it was built with, it doesn’t weigh much more than a normal board with 7 miles of range, but instead packs in a class-leading 31 miles of range. Finally, it rides beautifully. The All-Terrain tires tame the raw power of the board, pushing it straight through to the street while absorbing bumps and rocks that would normally take down a powered skateboard with street wheels.
Check out our video review below, then head over to Evolve’s website to have a look at the Carbon GT 2 in 1 or one of its other boards, for more information or to order one of your own.