Is This the Year of the Electric Skateboard?

electric skateboard

Move over hoverboards, there is a new contender for the coolest gadget around. If you are an avid skateboarder, chances are you would have joked about wishing you had an electric skateboard when it came time to skate up the hills or even along a long, flat road. Turns out that this is actually a thing! The electric skateboard exists, and it is everything that you could have hoped for and more. There will be a very big chance that this will be the year of the skateboard, so you better start adding it onto your must-have list!

In excitement for the year of the electric skateboard, we have answered all your questions about the newest toy for kids and adults alike.

What Is an Electric Skateboard?

The electric skateboard is exactly as the name suggests – an electric skateboard. They are designed and shaped exactly the same as an ordinary skateboard, and unless you were told otherwise, you would be forgiven for thinking that it was just a run of the mill board. The deck is the same, the wheels are the same (on some models) and the overall look and feel are the same. The only difference – runs on electricity rather than foot power. 

There are two main variations of the electric skateboard – the standard (everyday) board, and the more serious and robust off-road board. The standard board has the same wheels as a normal skateboard and is designed for use on roads, sidewalks and other easy, flat surfaces. They are designed and marketed as a simple transportation device, to get from one place to another. The off-road variation has much larger wheels and resembles a mini monster truck. These are able to ride over uneven terrain, thick grass, dirt and even hard sand. These off-road ones are used as more of a thrill sport and tend to attract the more adventurous and daring riders.

How Do They Work?

The electric skateboard is propelled by an electric motor, and the power is controlled by a remote control which the rider will hold in their hands. Steering is exactly the same as with an ordinary skateboard – the direction and turns are determined by the lean of the rider. The motor only affects the forward movement of the board. The appeal of an electric skateboard is simple – they propel themselves so the rider does not need to exert any energy or use their feet to move forwards.

The remote control fits comfortably in your hand and controls the speed of the board. The controls are single button push, so does not take much thought process, so you can focus on the riding experience.

What are their Main Features?

  • They can be charged anywhere you charge your phone or laptop.
  • They can be carried on public transport or in your backpack.
  • They are insanely quiet considering it is externally powered.
  • They have the amazing power and feeling of downhill cruising, even when there is a slight uphill slope.

What Are Their Limitations?

Electric SkateboardAdding a heavy motor onto a skateboard is not without its limitations. Electric skateboards are a fair bit heavier than their manual counterpart, weighing anywhere between 9 lbs and 20 lbs depending on the model. They also require to be charged, and the battery does not last forever. Typically, these skateboards use an 800-watt battery which will take you between 9-12 miles on a single charge. This is not bad and is a good run, however, you will need to keep in mind that it will probably need a charge in-between rides. You cannot do the same tricks on them as you can the ordinary skateboard – you can go to a skate park and do nifty turns, however, ollies and jumping tricks are not advised simply due to the fact that there are a battery and motor attached to it which you do not want to damage. They are more designed for cruising or simple riding on beaches and dirt tracks (if you have the off-road board).

Are They Safe?

The safety of an electric skateboard really depends on the rider and how it is used. They do hold an element of risk of course, but not much more than riding a bike or an ordinary skateboard. The key is to use the device within your abilities so don’t go too fast too quickly, and wear safety equipment. Chances are you will fall off at least once, but if you are wearing suitable protective clothing and a helmet, then the chance of you hurting yourself is greatly minimized.

And if you are worried about the motors catching fire like the infamous hoverboards, then you should know that the reason for these fires is an overcharged lithium ion battery. The batteries on an electric skateboard are much simpler than those on a hoverboard – usually a couple of circuit boards, a motor, and a small battery. Read the instructions regarding charging time, and just like any large electronic equipment, do not leave to charge unattended.

The Year of the Electric Skateboard

boosted electric skateboaThis really is the year of the best of the electric skateboard. As consumers, we are getting a real taste of adventure and are no longer satisfied with the same old things that our parents and grandparents used. We want a little bit of attitude in our products, a little bit of “Back to the Future”. An electric skateboard is essentially an ultra-futuristic take on a skateboard – a staple item in the American household. They have not drastically changed the trusty skateboard – simply added onto it in order to make it appealing to the younger and fussier generation.

There are so many benefits and great reasons to purchase an electric skateboard, as shown here. They are great for all terrain, they can ride up hills, and most importantly they are fun! The skateboard is always going to be cool. It will never go out of fashion. When people ride hoverboards they look strange and attract stares – no one thinks twice when they see someone on a skateboard. We are ready for the electric skateboard to take the world by storm. We are ready for skateboard 2.0

What’s the History of Longboarding?

History of LongboardingLongboarding: an athletic pastime and earth-friendly way to commute. An iconic symbol of today’s youth and a subject for many songs, longboarding has taken the millennials by storm, though they are following in the footsteps of the generations before them. What are the origins of this phenomenon and how did it get so vastly popular? What are the differences from skateboard and where did the two split? Those are questions we are going to dig into as we explore the history of longboarding.

The 1940’s: The birth of street surfing

Longboarding was actually born out of skateboarding, but that is not the complete origins of the history of longboarding. Skateboarding was created by surfers in the 1940’s who wanted to surf the sidewalk on days the sea was too rough, or there were no waves.

The very first street surfboards were created in backyards out of 2 x 4’s and roller skate parts. They were an interesting sight when they first hit the streets in Hawaii and California.  These were not very safe or stable boards, but they did just what the surfers wanted, and that gave way to this new craze called street surfing.

Street surfing was what skateboarding was called before. As the craze caught on, the surfers who had made their own boards learned how to make them better and several started businesses, producing these boards for other surfers. Originally, this was supposed to supplement the desire to surf during downtime, so the moves were mostly emulating that which was done on the water, and many surfers skated barefoot.

The 1960’s: The rise and fall of skateboarding

As the 1960’s rolled on in, street surfing became more popular, with several companies making these boards across the California coastline. The first exhibition of these boards, which were more like small surfboards on wheels than skateboards, was in 1963 in a Junior High school in California, and it spawned a television show called ‘Surf’s up’ to help promote the new sport as something fun to do.  By now, they had adopted the new name, skateboarding, and the moves were moving away from surfer tricks and toward the base of modern day tricks.

But with new toys come new problems and by the end of the 1960’s the skateboard craze was waning because of how dangerous it was. A variety of sources spread the dangers and that made parents and shop owners alike concerned about having them on the streets. They were not that stable and with metal and clay wheels; they would often fall apart, sending the rider face first into the street. This caused the popularity of skateboarding to almost bottom out.

longboard

The 1970’s: The reinvention of the wheel and dividing of the sport

Then, in the early 70s, the polyurethane wheel was created by Cadillac wheels. These safer wheels provided more traction and performance. This was the breath of life that skateboarding needed. The 1970s is also where the divide between skateboard and longboards began.  They were a cult-like existence at first, at the fringes of skateboarding popularity. They sought to bring back some of the surfer techniques and wanted longer boards to reclaim that surfing the streets feeling.  It fell into an underground hobby, where longboards were custom made in garages with parts from both skateboards and rollerblades.

The major differences for longboard riding, as opposed to the growing popularity of skateboarding, is that longboards were made for riding on streets and cruising, and the primary focus of the skateboard was tricks and maneuvers. These differences would only grow as time moved on.

The 1990’s: Longboards surface from the underground

It wasn’t until the early 90s that longboards were formally produced by a company, and that company was Sector 9. Sector 9 helped to revolutionize the longboard construction by making reverse kingpin trucks. This development made longboards that were more stable and with more control. 

Another development in the 90s was the internet, which allowed small groups of like-minded individuals to meet when location would normally prevent it. Longboarders began to build online and offline communities and share tips, tricks and construction ideas amongst each other. This helped to grow the sport even further.

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The 2000’s: Developing of the sport

As the 90s moved into the 2000s, longboarding gained traction, becoming more and more popular as a street sport. It was still smaller than skateboarding, but it was growing quickly. Many sub-branches of longboarding began to emerge, and some of the best longboard styles emerged. Shalom or obstacle riders, downhill longboarders, dance, free riding, sliding and many others became different aspects of the longboarding sport.

Now the sport was picking up speed, and while the skateboarders were grinding and doing half pipes, the longboarders were reaching speeds of 80 mph as they downhilled through the streets. Speed and distance became the trademarks of the longboard like the Ollie and board grab became go-to for skateboarders.

The 2010s:  Going Pro and Getting to Class

As the current decade has rolled in there has been a dramatic increase in longboarding popularity and acceptance. Many of these sub-branches have moved on to become professional sports, with downhill longboarding being perhaps the most popular. Longboarding began appearing in sports and leisure magazines as well on television and sports broadcasts.  As they gained more exposure and more people interested in the sport, more companies began to create longboards, including the established skateboard companies.

Longboarding has entered a phase of acceptance and normalcy in our current generation. More often than not there are young adults and teens longboarding to classes, using the longboards ability to go long distances to create a more active, healthy and eco-friendly commute.  It is not an uncommon site to see an adult, suit, and tie, commuting with the board through busy city streets between different forms of public transit.

Longboarding has come a long way from its surfing roots over the past seven decades, with major improvements happening all the time to improve the performance of these boards and the skills of the riders.

And that is the rich storied history of longboarding.

Why Should you Start Longboarding?

Should start longboarding

This is not an uncommon question, uttered from the skeptical to the nervous. The pondering of why you should partake in any sport you may know nothing about is normal, and asking questions about it are the only way to go.  Without asking and learning, you might just dismiss or turn your back on something that could enrich your life, boost your confidence and build a social group.

Longboarding has all the potential to do those things and more. Every sport, hobby or interest has a way to open new opportunities that you would never have encountered if you were not into it.  However, before we get into the grand world that you can be introduced to, let’s talk about what longboarding is.

What is longboarding?

Longboarding is a style of skating on a longboard, which is traditionally between 40 and 48 inches.  These boards come in different sizes and shapes and serve different purposes. Some boards are great commuter boards, meaning they are made for riding long distances comfortably and with less effort, whereas others are racing boards, built for speed and control. Don’t let that scare you, because racing boards are often just as good at cruising as commuter boards.

The major thing that you should know about starting longboarding is that you should not start on an expensive board. Get something cheap, durable and stable. When you learn to longboard you fall, crash and wipeout and that can ruin the look and ability of an expensive board. Resist the urge to get the very best and get the lower end boards. You will be glad you did when you scratch up your $80 board instead of a $500 board. While we are on the top of boards, let take a look at the basics.

What do I need to know about a longboard?

There are a few basic parts to a longboard:

Deck

This part of the longboard is the part you stand on.  It can be made of a variety of materials, from bamboo to poplar wood to resin and can be solid or multi-ply. What your deck is made out of determines its durability, control, flexibility, speed, turn radius and weight. That is a lot relying on one piece of wood, so it is important to do your research and test out as many boards as possible.

In addition to that, decks come in different styles, such as the drop through style or down drop style which is made for downhill longboarding, and the pintail and top mount boards are made for cruising and carving through the streets on your commute. Paying attention to the type of deck you get is important when starting out.

Trucks

Trucks are the metal axles that hold the wheels.  They are attached to the deck at the bottom with a kingpin, and there is a reverse kingpin style where, you guessed it, the pin is the reverse of how it would be on standard longboards.  Trucks determine the balance, speed, control and turn radius of the board. Higher trucks will be better for tricks and commuting as they are easier to maneuver and use. Lower trucks give a better center of gravity and allow for the rider to pick up more speed while remaining in control.

Wheels

Wheels are almost always made of polyurethane, and that is because of its durability and customization. Wheels determine the smoothness of the ride, how well the board grips the road, speed, and acceleration. Softer wheels make for smoother rides and are best for the commuter and the downhill longboards alike.  Harder wheels are more for tricks. Make sure you test different wheel combinations when you test out boards.

Bearings

Bearings are rated by a system called ABEC. ABEC is a rating system from the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee and the rating goes 1,3,5,7, and the pinnacle is 9. The higher an ABEC rating, the better the precision, and speed of the bearings, though they do not always mean that the wheels will spin faster, it is all depending on the wheels you have in the board.

Grip

Most boards come standard with grip tape. Grip tape is sandpaper like layer on the top of your board meant to give your shoe traction to keep you on the board.  Some boards do not come pre-gripped, and you need to be aware of that so that you don’t get a slick board that you slide right off. Don’t worry if your board has awesome details, because they have clear grip tape, just for that purpose. There are different levels of grip tape from super grippy to slightly and as a beginner, you want something in the mid-range for you to get used to it.

What can Longboarding do for my life?

In addition to enriching your life by learning a new skill, you can gain lasting friendships from fellow longboarders, build your self-esteem and even get job opportunities.  Almost everyone who works in a skate shop, skates in some fashion and having that skill is something that could land you the job of your dreams.  Longboarders also tend to navigate to the same places and due to this, you have a chance to expand your social group and share an interest with others.

If you aren’t looking for social improvements, the health ramifications can be something to start longboarding.  Now, barring some scraps, bruises, and cuts from falls, longboarding can improve your health. It is a part of an active lifestyle and as such it can improve the following areas:

  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Response time
  • Stress Relief
  • Improves Self-Esteem
  • Self Confidence
  • Lowers chances for high blood pressure and other diseases from a sedentary lifestyle

Conclusion

After looking at all of these factors, and taking a serious look at the benefits that you could reap from longboarding, isn’t the better question, why haven’t I started longboarding yet?

Longboarding Vs Skateboarding: which is better?

skateboarding vs longboarding

On the surface, one could easily argue that these are both one and the same, not two distinctly different sports. After all, the boards look the same to the untrained eye, some are longer, some have funny shapes, but they are all still just skateboards, right? Wrong. While skateboarding and longboarding share the same origins and Longboards branched off of skateboarding, they are done in very different locales and with a different purpose.

This is not to say they share no similarities, after all, they are often made of similar materials. They share the same jargon or specialized language around their sport. They even share safety equipment, but that doesn’t make them the same sport. It’s like saying soccer and American football are the same because they both use cleats and balls. It doesn’t work that way.

In the skateboarding vs. longboarding debate, there needs to be some clarification, some determining what makes one distinctly different from the other.  We will start with the one that came first, skateboarding.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding started as a way for surfers to enjoy the sensation of surfing while not in the ocean. This was either for bad weather days or when they had to go someplace where there was no surfing.  They took short boards and designed wheels for them so that they could cruise streets the same way they did the big waves.

Eventually, this took off all over the world, and it developed as a sport. The primary concern of the sport of skateboarding is tricks, which are moves and maneuvers that require skills and technique that vary in difficulties.  The locale where most skateboarders skate is designated skate parks. Skateboards, while versatile, have some limitations when it comes to rougher terrain and therefore the smooth concrete of a skate park suits their board best.

Also, skateboards are not that comfortable for long distance riding, so riding in skate parks allows them to get enough speed to roll up ramps and do as many 360s as they please. As a skateboard rider grows in skill, they eventually learn more and more difficult tricks ranging from ollies to flip tricks and aerials.

Another favored use of the skateboard is grinding. This can be done in urban environments away from skate parks, on benches, curbs, and staircases, although, this is generally illegal. Most cities and states have laws and ordinances against riding skateboards in this style or riding them at all, because of the damage to public property by those who choose to grind there.

For those that have decided that skateboarding is for them, it’s more or less for the tricks, the ability to show off what you can do, and impress others involved in the sport.  After all, what is the point of learning tricks if you can’t show them off to your friends?

Now, for a better look at the younger sport, longboarding in this debate of skateboarding vs. longboarding.

Longboarding

Longboarding was born from skateboarding. As skateboard riders developed more diverse skills, and as more advanced manufactured products came to the market, the sport changed for some skateboarders. They were ready to leave the enclosed confined skate parks and take on bigger and longer rides.  Longboarding is not often, if at all, done at a skate park, it’s out on the streets.

Those who use longboards use it for a few different reasons, but two of the main are commuting and cruising. Commuting by longboard is a healthy, eco-friendly way for those who are conscious of their health, to get around and not to mention, it adds a little fun to your commute. The financial advantage of commuting, especially for students, is why it is an overwhelming favorite.

Longboards are often lighter than standard skateboards and that makes it easier when moving around campus or taking it into a building. Longboards were created for longer distances, with softer wheels to handle bumps and flexible boards to maneuver around obstacles.

One of the other sports of the longboard is downhill longboarding. Longboards handle speed and slopes far better than their shorter skateboard parents. Because of this, they have developed into racing boards in some aspects. Downhill longboards are heavier than the commuter board, and that is to give the rider stability when careening down a hill at speeds that a car can go. Downhill longboarders have been clocked at 80 mph before, meaning that with the right board and balance, you can break speed limits. Downhill longboarding can be practiced anywhere there is a slope and concrete, meaning that longboarders more often than not, end up sharing the road with cars, making this sport a little more dangerous than the rest.

Now, all this does not mean that longboarders don’t have tricks as well. Sliding, dancing, and spinning are the primary tricks up a longboarders sleeve, and they are no less impressive.

It still is no secret that those that choose the longboard over the skateboard in this debate are still in it for the long ride, not the big air.

Conclusion

Skateboarding vs longboarding is a long-standing debate and not one that can be solved in one blog post, or one hundred. In the end, it all just comes down to preference and what you are looking to get out of your experience. Your experience with a board is way more important than anything anyone else has to say about the two.

So if you choose a longboard because speed is really what gets your heart pumping, or you just want to get to class on time without having to catch two buses, then that is the better for of boarding for you. And if you choose to skateboard because getting air, doing flips and board grabs are more your speed, and you like having smooth concrete in skate parks to ride on, more power to you.

So in the end, neither is better than the other, regardless of popularity or origins. Each individual has what they want and don’t out of boarding and which every style you choose, that’s the better one.