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Reviews

B-One Carbon Hercules Hidden Mode

The B-One Carbon Hercules has a hidden speed mode that I didn’t mention in the review. But before I get to that, I need to correct a mistake:

In the video I got confused about the ESC’s max current and said that it’s 50A. While the ESC hardware is rated for 50A, the ESC program limits it to 30A. The part of the video where I talk about that in detail has now been cut. Sorry about the mistake!

It is still an upgraded ESC from previous generation boards, particularly in the improved brake performance, but the current and voltage are otherwise the same as the 12S 30A boards from the uphill comparison video. (This board would likely have ranked near the top along with the other 12S boards.)

Hidden Speed Mode

When pairing the remote with the board, on the remote’s display you’ll be given the option to configure the board’s gear ratio and whatnot. The default gear ratio is 4.4 (66:15). If you change that 4.4 to 6.4, the ESC removes the speed limiter, upping the top speed from 45 km/h to around 50 km/h.

This affects the speed and distance calculations so the numbers you see on your remote become inaccurate if you do this.

There are a couple other features that I left out in the video but are worth a mention:

Tail light on/off

When you brake using the remote, the brake light will always flash, but you can control whether the tail light remains on or off when not braking by double-clicking the remote’s power button.

Motor detection

If for some reason you decide to change the motors, such as to more powerful motors or to direct drive, you can. Here’s how.

  1. Plug in the new motors.
  2. Make sure the drive wheels are in the air because they will spin during this process.
  3. Turn off standby mode. (While the board and remote are on and paired, turn off the board using the board’s power button.)
  4. Turn on both the board and remote. Once paired, immediately press the board’s power button 5 times.

If you did this correctly, you’ll hear an electrical squeal, and then the motors and drive wheels will spin in opposite directions. This will last for about 30 seconds. Once it’s over, you’re good to go.

If you decide to do this, you might want to double-check with B-One about the new motors’ compatibility before you get them. Most e-skate motors should work.

Standby mode

I actually did mention this in the video but only very briefly near the end. Standby mode means you can turn the board on or off using the remote so you don’t have to use the board’s power button.

When you turn the board off using the remote, it’s not actually completely off – it’s in “standby,” like your computer’s sleep mode. If you don’t use the board for 48 hours, standby mode turns off and the board becomes completely off. To turn it on again, press the power button on the board.

If you decide to get this board, use this link to get the biggest discount and help me earn a small commission. Thanks!

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News

Batterygate! Is it spreading?

Only a week ago, Exway issued an apology statement about how they handled the switch to lower capacity battery cells in two of their electric skateboard models. Yesterday it was WowGo’s turn. Who’s next?

  • WowGo 3: 180Wh (previously 216Wh)
  • WowGo 3X: 216Wh (previously 259Wh)
  • WowGo AT2: 418Wh (previously 504Wh)

Et tu, WowGo?

According to a Reddit post, people started noticing WowGo’s reduced battery capacities weeks ago. It just didn’t get much attention (at least not my attention) until u/Lelle_91 compiled the evidence from various people into a single post.

What happened wasn’t exactly the same as what happened with Exway. Exway at some point changed the batteries and later updated the battery specs on their website. They claim that it happened in that order by mistake.

In WowGo’s case, they changed the batteries and removed battery specs from their website. They claim they weren’t trying to fool customers.

But the end result is the same in both cases: customers didn’t get what they were expecting.

Hold up…

That Reddit post has a glaring mistake though: it states that the WowGo AT2 now uses Samsung 29E cells, which are 2900mAh and 2.75A discharge per cell. That would make the AT2’s 10S4P pack only 11A. Impossible.

I asked WowGo’s CEO Jason about this. He says the AT2 is using a domestic cell called Dongci (东磁) 29E, which is 2900mAh 10A. The person who guessed Samsung 29E likely made that wrong assumption because of the “29E” on the battery label.

Being 10A cells, the battery pack is still 40A like before, but the capacity has dropped from 504Wh to 418Wh.

Is it spreading?

The switch from imported to domestic battery cells is understandable given the worldwide battery shortage, but naturally prospective buyers of electric skateboards have to wonder if this capacity reduction is happening to other brands as well. I talked to two of the biggest e-skate mass producers: Meepo and Backfire.

I’d ask Evolve as well but mutual friends tell me they hate me over there. (I wonder why, lolz!) However we can make educated guesses on what cells they’re using.

By the way, check out my new range calculator! Use it to compare the range of different boards before buying.

Meepo

According to Kieran, Meepo’s CEO, Meepo has dealt with the shortage of imported battery cells by switching their use of Samsung 40T to the more expensive Molicel P42A since November of last year. This covers all of their boards above $500. While the Molicel cells are imported as well, Kieran says they are not in short supply because of their higher cost.

For boards under $500, Meepo has been using domestic cells since 2019 – and also stopped showing their battery specs on their website at that time. I don’t remember any commotion about that. Maybe no one noticed or cared? Maybe capacities remained the same? In any case, they have no need to make any changes now.

Backfire

Backfire’s CEO Randy saw this battery shortage coming a long time ago and the brand has been using domestic 21700 cells since 2019. Only two of Backfire’s boards today use 18650 cells but they too have been using domestic cells since they came out middle of last year.

To reiterate, all of Backfire’s boards today use domestic cells so they have no battery supply issue and don’t need to make adjustments. They still show battery specs on their website, but just the voltage, capacity, and cell size.

Correction (July 15): The Ranger X2, G3 Plus, and G2 Galaxy use imported cells but they simply remain out of stock when their specified battery cells aren’t available to produce more of them.

Evolve

I didn’t talk to Evolve (patent troll) but we can speculate based on what we know.

The Evolve GTR uses Samsung 35E and I believe they will continue to use that cell until they sell out and discontinue the board. It makes no sense to me that they would continue to sell such an outdated and underperforming board in mid-2021 unless they’re overstocked.

Perhaps Team Evolve mistakenly thought that their spike in sales in mid-2020 was due to their ingenious marketing so they produced more GTRs than they should have? (Every PEV brand got a spike in sales during 2020’s COVID lockdowns.)

Matty claiming his video did well for Evolve.
Oh Evolve… 🤦‍♂️

Nope, that video wasn’t a mistake and it did well for us.

Comment from Matty of Evolve Skateboards

Anyway.

Evolve openly disclosed the cell model for the GTR but not the Hadean, so I believe they are using Chinese cells in their $2500+ board. According to sources in e-skate manufacturing, the cells are likely one of these: SunPower (长虹三杰) INR21700-4000, LiShen (力神) LR2170SA, or Haihong (海宏) INR21700-4000.

It’s also possible that Hadean’s cell type hasn’t been finalized since the board won’t ship until September.

Are Chinese cells worse?

I know it’s difficult for some people to crawl out from under the rock and believe that good products can come out of China, but plenty of great products today come from Chinese companies.

I’m not saying that out of some sense of nationalism or anything – I’m not even a Chinese citizen. I just get tired of racism. Oh excuse me, that’s a harsh word for something that’s so rampant. Call it bigotry or stereotypes if that makes you feel better.

Kieran shows various 21700 cells on his YouTube video.
Specs for Molicel P42A, Samsung 40T, and a bunch of Chinese 21700 cells.

Based on Kieran’s recent video about batteries, there are domestic cells that have a good balance of capacity and discharge rate. (LiShen LR2170LA seems to be the standout winner in his table.) They’re likely expensive right now due to shortages.

Meepo and Backfire (and others) have been using domestic cells since 2019. It’s now 2021. If domestic cells as a whole are problematic, we should be seeing more reports of issues from domestic cells than imported cells, but we don’t. So far so good.

In any case, use of Chinese brand cells in mass production electric skateboards and other PEVs is now the norm and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Shopping for an electric skateboard? Be sure to visit my discounts page to get the best deals!

Categories
News

Evolve Skateboards makes desperate moves. Beginning of the end?

Evolve has applied for a patent in Australia claiming to have invented the electric skateboard. But obviously Evolve did not invent the electric skateboard.

This post has been updated. New info added to the end.

Gas-powered skateboards came on the market in the 1970s. Wireless electric skateboards came in the 1990s. Evolve was founded in 2012.

Evolve founder Jeff Anning himself stated in a video that he got the idea of making electric skateboards because he saw someone else on one.

But surely Evolve invented something, right? And they did, sort of. They put double kingpin trucks on an electric skateboard. Does that count? Seriously, that is as close to an invention as they get.

Gullwing Sidewinder truck clearly visible in Evolve’s YouTube thumbnail.

They first used Gullwing Sidewinders (the original double kingpin trucks) and then made their own copy and named them Super Carve. Sorry, Evolve fans – Evolve didn’t invent those trucks either.

Oh but now with the Hadean they have that drop-in enclosure which doesn’t offer any benefit to customers. It just lets Evolve call their deck a forged carbon fiber deck when it’s actually mostly plastic. Will they patent that?

What will Evolve do with this patent? We don’t have to wait to find out. According to Scott Davies:

Evolve have sent letters from their legal team to a number of ESK8 brands demanding they stop selling their Carbon boards in Australia, they have also demanded they turn over % profit and destroy stock & a number of other demands.

Community post on Scott Davies YouTube channel

Evolve Skateboards’ legacy

First electric skateboard company to use double kingpin trucks.

First and only electric skateboard company to make a racist video.

First and only electric skateboard company to become a patent troll.


Update – July 9, 2021

Evolve has made a response to this stuff:

The patent was applied 4 years ago and has since been approved. It does not apply to the entire concept of an electric skateboard, Evolve has been very clear that they did not invent this. It specifically addresses a moulded Carbon deck with a series of other claims about internal electronics accessible from the top cover etc. A board must infringe against ALL claims in the patent or they have nothing to worry about.

Evolve Ambassador comment in Evolve Skateboard Owners Intl. Facebook Group

So Evolve actually intended on being a dick since 4 years ago but just hadn’t been able to.

Do they really believe that a “moulded carbon deck” with “internal electronics accessible from the top cover” is some sort of innovation that deserves to be protected?

For those who don’t understand, this is basically a lid you unscrew to access the inside – like unscrewing your computer case, or unscrewing the back of your watch, or unscrewing the vent cover on the floor.

Evolve Skateboards, like all other e-skate companies, benefited from a sea of incremental innovations that came before them in skateboards, radio control, batteries, etc. And now they’re threatening competitors with a patent on a conventional lid.

Fuck off, Evolve.

Categories
News

Exway Batterygate

Exway is in hot waters for changing the batteries for the Exway Flex and Exway Wave electric skateboards without informing buyers ahead of time.

Exway apology letter

What happened

The Exway Flex and Wave had been out of stock for some time. I wasn’t following this closely so I don’t know how long, but I believe many had been waiting for more than a month. Customers were however still able to place pre-orders.

Around the end of last week, people started receiving their pre-ordered boards. And shortly after that, reports of battery discrepancies began to surface.

Instead of 259Wh batteries for the Exway Flex, customers received 216Wh batteries. And for the Exway Wave, instead of 216Wh batteries, they got 180Wh.

Although Exway’s product descriptions on their website do show the reduced capacities (though nobody knows exactly when the site was updated), there was no announcement or alert of any kind to make buyers clearly aware that the battery capacities had been reduced.

Basically nobody knew about this change until after they received their boards. Unsurprisingly, people are upset.

Why it happened

Yesterday (Monday) I spoke with my contact person at Exway. He had only just returned to work after being away for two weeks so he himself had to find out what this hubbub was about.

According to Exway, this is what happened:

The new batteries with the reduced capacities were not supposed to be used on the Flex and Wave until the end of this month (July) after proper announcements and whatnot had been made. The production team went ahead and used the new batteries by mistake.

As for why they decided to switch to lower capacity batteries in the first place, the gist of it is that there’s a worldwide shortage of battery cells due to both an increased demand from electric cars and raw material shortage for battery producers. Exway had to find alternative batteries and after testing several domestic options, they felt the ones they chose were the best overall for the Flex and Wave.

The original higher capacity batteries have been sent out to Exway’s various resellers around the globe. So if you buy a Flex or Wave from a reseller, you may still get the original battery. But eventually, all new Flex and Wave units will use the new batteries.

What Exway is doing about this

Exway has posted an apology notice on their various social media accounts and published a blog post. Customers affected can either return the board for a full refund or keep the board and receive a $50 refund.

My thoughts on all this

This reflects badly on me. My Exway Flex and Wave videos on YouTube are some of the most viewed videos covering those two boards. More than a few people have told me personally that my videos were their main reason for purchasing the Flex and Wave.

I literally have the words “everything you need to know” in my Exway Flex video’s thumbnail. And among the things people needed to know was that the Exway Flex has a 259Wh battery. But now it doesn’t, and neither myself nor the customers were informed ahead of time.

This is not the first time Exway has had to issue an apology over the past year, but this instance is probably the first one that qualifies as a scandal. The past were all for missed delivery dates.

With each apology, Exway gave customers some lame gifts or small refund as compensation which only added insult to injury. (Well the quick charger was nice.) I hate to say this but this seems like Exway’s M.O.: fuck up, apologize, offer compensation. It’s sad, and I’m saying this as a fan of Exway’s products.

I told them the $50 refund would not be received well, and it wasn’t, but I honestly don’t know what they could have offered to placate the upset customers. $75? $100? I have no idea. The fuckup shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

What now?

Buy Backfire!

I can’t imagine this being anything other than a big blow to Exway’s reputation. The only way they can recover from this is to stop having things to apologize for and slowly rebuild their image.

I’ll still use their products of course. And I am looking forward to their upcoming X1 Max more than any other upcoming boards that I know about. But I can’t ignore the fact that this incident has damaged people’s trust in the brand.

If you’ve been considering getting the Flex or Wave, should you still get one?

For the Flex, I suppose you need to see if the reduced range meets your needs. (Take off 16.7% from range tests from reviews.) If range is important to you, Backfire Zealot S is a popular alternative.

As for the Wave, I can’t really think of an equal competitor in terms of features and polish. Range was never the Wave’s strength so I don’t think the new battery impacts the Wave as much as it does the Flex.

The Wave is my most frequently used board right now and I’d still recommend it for people who want something portable for short range travel in the city. Just be aware that you should reduce any range test results you see for this board by about 16.7%.

Here is Exway’s blog post about this ordeal.

Categories
Reviews

WowGo 2S Pro Review

Watch the video for my review of the budget-friendly WowGo 2S Pro electric skateboard. I’m just sharing additional info regarding the range test in this post.

I did the test at night because lately the temperature outside has been too hot and muggy during the day (like 30+ ºC, humidity 90%). And because I did the test at night with lower visibility, I was riding more slowly so the range I got is probably a little better than what I’d normally get.

I was riding at mostly 20 to 30 km/h. I forgot to weigh myself but was probably around 75 to 77 kg. The temperature outside was 28 ºC.

I got 21.8 km on both my GPS watch and WowGo’s remote. I stopped measuring sometime after I got the 10% low voltage warning on the remote but before the board stopped responding, so I’m calling that 5%.

The battery is 225 Wh and 95% of that is 214, so the efficiency came out to about 10 km/Wh. Now that I’m a few kilograms heavier than before, 10 km/Wh is a little better than what I normally get. But again my lower than normal speed likely had something to do with it. Well supposedly the 12S battery helped too but I’m not sure how much difference that made compared to 10S.

Anyway, like I said in the video, I think this is a good board for only $430. And as usual I have a referral code you can use if you’d like to buy.

Categories
Reviews

Onsra Black Carve 2 Review

Let’s just jump into it!

Deck

The deck is about 100cm long, which is 6cm longer than the original Onsra Black Carve. Compared to other boards in the same category, it’s one of the longer ones. The amount of room to stand felt comfortable for me (182 cm).

The shape of the concave is quite nice. Like most other boards in this category, the concave is rather gentle, but it’s not just a shallow U-shape. There’s a bit more shape to it so you know where your feet are.

Drop-through mounted, slight drop-down. Foam grip tape that isn’t too grippy. Overall I like it.

Trucks

These are the same shitty double kingpin trucks used by many other brands. They’re shitty because you must compress the bushings a whole lot to ride at a decent speed without the board being too squirrely, even with all the bushings being 100A duro.

You can’t just change to using all barrel bushings with cup washers because that kind of setup won’t fit. These trucks were designed to use a barrel and cone on each kingpin. The only way to fit a barrel and barrel is to use a short barrel on the road side, which isn’t really better than a taller cone.

These trucks aren’t better or worse than most of the other double kingpin trucks out there.

Wheels

The stock wheels come in two options: 150 mm pneumatic tires and 115mm 74A rubber. They are both very comfortable. Obviously the bigger wheels can roll over more stuff but the rubber wheels also eat up a lot of road vibration.

In my range test the rubber wheels used about 15 Wh/km. For me that’s somewhere between Cloudwheels and pneumatic tires. These are much softer than Cloudwheels by the way. They’ll also wear down faster.

I didn’t range test with the pneumatics but they likely would have used about 17 Wh/km under the same conditions.

Battery

The battery is 648Wh, 21700 Samsung 50E, 12S3P, 15Ah. Some people have commented online that this battery cell would have a lot of battery sag. I didn’t experience noticeable sag until the battery was close to empty. Others have said these cells will degrade quickly. We’ll have to see I guess.

The battery charger is only 2.5A. To charge a 15Ah battery would take about 7 hours, which seems kind of excessive. A more powerful charger would be nice.

Motors

Dongxingwei 6368 motors, 170Kv, 2200W each. Those are Onsra’s claims. Other brands (Ownboard, WowGo, Verreal) that use Dongxingwei 6368 motors claim 1500W each. I don’t know if they’re different motors or were just measured differently.

Speed Controller & Remote

30A Hobbywing ESC, Hobbywing remote with telemetry display. My unit doesn’t have the standby feature but all units since June 4 should have it. Good, accurate, intuitive ESC and remote used by many many brands.

Speed & Brakes

Just based on feeling, it didn’t feel particularly faster or slower than most of its direct competitors.

I didn’t measure the top speed. Onsra claims 48 km/h with the rubber wheels, 46 km/h with the pneumatic tires. (Note that they use different pulleys.)

Brakes felt fine – again more or less like most of the direct competitors.

Range

In my range test I got 38 km when I rode down to about 10% battery (the remote gave me a 10% warning). That was with the rubber wheels, riding on mostly flat ground, speed around 25 to 35 km/h, normal acceleration most of the time. My weight was 78 kg with everything. Weather was 24 ºC.

Appearance

In terms of aesthetics, I think this board looks better than most of the direct competitors. I don’t feel like going into details but basically I like the look of the deck.

The shape of the enclosure looks all right. I like the shape of the original Black Carve’s enclosure more actually, but I like the matte finish of this one more. There are some imperfections at some of the screw holes though, like they look kind of chipped.

Anyway blah blah, said I won’t go into details. But I do want to point out one thing: zip ties. WTF. I mean, zip ties are great, just like duct tape is great, but they’re cheap solutions for something that’s supposed to be a premium product.

That battery port cover is annoying too. Somewhat difficult to push in, and looks cheap. Works fine though.

Worth Noting

I went on a downhill practice session with a friend and took this board along to get back up the hill after each run.

I changed the wheels to Boa Constrictors 100mm 83A. I would have liked to use smaller wheels but all of my wheels that use the Kegel core are 85mm or smaller in diameter, which is a bit small for the stock 45T pulleys.

My friend and I would take turns riding down the 0.8 km slope using our own longboards while the other person followed on the Onsra. Then we would both get back up the hill on the Onsra.

Myself, plus my friend (a small woman), plus our gear and two longboards, in total probably weighed about 130 kg. I think the slope on average was about 7 degrees, and we were able to do this for 15 runs before the battery gave up so that was about 12 km.

But the range is not my point – there were too many variables to make that a useful range test. The useful info I got was the power sag. The speed going uphill with all that weight remained consistent until the last couple of runs when the sag became very noticeable. So like I wrote earlier, I didn’t experience noticeable sag until the battery was near empty.

Side note: going down the hill on the Onsra – and probably most electric skateboards – was scary because brakes aren’t nearly as effective on a downhill slope as on flat ground. And with Boa’s 83A wheels the turns were very slippery.

When I said “follow” on the Onsra, I meant from a big distance since it needed a much bigger runway to brake and slow down for turns. In contrast, on our longboards, we could slow down or stop very quickly from sliding, and go through turns much more easily.

This isn’t a criticism of Onsra – most other e-boards are probably like this on a downhill slope. That’s my guess anyway. I’ve now ridden several electric skateboards uphill, but this was my first time trying to go fast on one downhill.

Final Thoughts

It’s not bad. I feel the build quality could be better. Right now I would say it feels like a slightly better looking WowGo AT2 with a bigger capacity battery.

Fabian says he’s trying to have 2-year warranty worldwide, which would be awesome, assuming the warranty is handled well.

Anyway watch my video – I share more thoughts in there.

I have discounts if you decide to buy this board.

Categories
Reviews

Onsra Challenger Review

I have the direct drive version of the Onsra Challenger. I have a lot to say about it. Let’s begin with the deck.

Deck

This deck is 90cm long and – I’ll measure the width and update later. Feels pretty wide. Since it’s a deck with a kicktail and without wheel cutouts, the entire top of the deck is available standing area. It feels huge.

Speaking of which, this is not a short board. If you only look at pictures of this board without anything next to it, it looks like a small cruiser, but it’s not. Just want to be clear about that. I have thoughts about its portability farther down this page.

The concave is a deep U-shape. It’s too much concave. Normally I’ll say it comes down to personal preference, but since this board gets wheelbite, you don’t benefit much from the added leverage from this deep concave.

It can be uncomfortable too if you can’t adapt your feet placement. I normally ride with both feet pointing sort of forward when I’m going straight, but on this board I need to point my front foot even more forward for it to not get uncomfortable.

This is different from the Exway Flex which also has deep concave but only at its wheel well flares. On the Flex, if your front foot is at a 45-degree angle, you can avoid those flares. On the Challenger you just have to point your foot forward more.

The kicktail is nice for pivoting movements and picking up the board. I don’t know if you can step on the tail to pick up the board on the belt drive version – I think the motors are in the way.

The deck is long enough that you can decide if you want to stand with your front foot closer to the front truck or with your back foot on the tail. Stand closer to the front for better carving control, or closer to the back to make frequent use of the tail.

The foam grip tape reduces road vibration a little.

The wheelbase is adjustable by a little bit. Seems like they could have added more adjustment options. There’s plenty of room in the front for more holes.

Trucks

This board uses the same type of double kingpin trucks as most other electric skateboards that use double kingpin trucks – the bad kind. Or you can call it the normal kind, depending on how you feel about them.

Since this board gets wheelbite, you can’t make full use of the tight turn radius from the DKP trucks. All right let’s talk a little about that wheelbite.

There are a number of ways to get rid of or minimize the risk of wheelbite, and none of them are ideal on this board.

The first is to add risers, but this board is already quite high off the ground so I’d rather not do that.

The second is to use smaller wheels, but the direct drive motors are so big that they already scrape the ground in some situations with the stock 105mm Cloudwheels. The smaller the wheels you use, the more the motors will get knocked around.

The third is to use more restrictive bushings to limit the turn radius. The bushings are already 100A so you can’t go harder. But you can switch out the cone bushings for barrels and cup washers, right?

Wrong! Longboard barrel bushings won’t fit on the road side positions on these trucks, just like most other DKP trucks. In this case, the kingpins aren’t long enough. On some other trucks, cup washers won’t fit.

And the final solution is to just change the trucks, but that’s not a simple thing to do on an electric skateboard because of the motors.

What I ended up doing was changing the cone bushings to short barrels, and changing all the washers to precision cup washers. I still had to make the trucks very tight, but I managed to minimize the risk of wheelbite. I can still force it, but it’s not likely to happen in normal riding.

I think a simple design change could have minimized or eliminated the wheelbite: reverse kingpin trucks. With RKP trucks you have way more options for truck setups and can limit the turn radius pretty much as much as you need without resorting to over-compressing the bushings. There’s no need for double kingpin since you can’t take full advantage of the turn radius anyway.

To be fair, here’s Fabi demonstrating that wheelbite isn’t very likely on the stock setup.

Wheels

The stock wheels are 105mm Cloudwheels. Compared to Onsra’s stock 115mm rubber wheels on the Black Carve 2, Cloudwheels are harder and louder, but still do a good job of absorbing road vibrations.

For comfort, Cloudwheels are already much better than normal urethane wheels. Cloudwheels also give you better range than the rubber wheels, but worse range than urethane wheels.

You can change all four wheels on direct drive boards, but on this one you can’t go larger because of wheelbite (not that you’d want to on this board). You can go a little smaller but just need to be aware that the motors would encounter more impacts.

On the belt drive version, I’m guessing you’d have more options for smaller wheels.

Battery

The battery is 432Wh, 21700 Samsung 50E, 12S2P, 10Ah. That’s quite a large battery for a board that doesn’t use pneumatic tires.

The battery charger is only 2.5A. To fully charge a 10Ah battery would take about 5 hours. A more powerful charger would be nice.

Motors

The direct drive motors are the same ones used on the original Black Carve. The motor diameter is 70mm. Expect the motor housings to get scratched up. That’s how it is with direct drive. They are very quiet.

For the belt drive version, I think the motors are the same smaller ones as on the original belt drive Black Carve, but I’m not sure so don’t quote me. They’re definitely smaller than the belt drive Black Carve 2’s motors.

Speed Controller & Remote

30A Hobbywing ESC, Hobbywing remote with telemetry display. My unit doesn’t have the standby feature but all units since June 4 should have it. Good, accurate, intuitive ESC and remote used by many many brands.

Speed & Brakes

The acceleration and brake performance are ok. I would prefer stronger brakes. Heavier riders may be impacted more and should probably go for the belt drive version.

I didn’t measure the top speed. Onsra claims 47 km/h with the 105mm Cloudwheels.

Range

In my range test from 100% down to 10% battery I got 32 km on my watch and 36 km on the remote. That’s a bigger difference than I normally get. When I use different devices, they’re normally not off by more than around 2 km. My watch measurement is normally pretty consistent with other devices so let’s go with its 32 km.

90% of 432Wh is 389Wh. Divide that by 32 km and we get about 12 Wh/km for the efficiency. That’s better than I expected for Cloudwheels.

That was riding on mostly flat ground, speed mostly around 25 to 35 km/h, normal acceleration most of the time. My weight was 77 kg with everything. Weather was 31 ºC.

Appearance

It’s a fairly good looking board. I don’t love the grip tape design, but it’s all right. Enclosure looks nice with that logo as part of the shape. The screw holes and design work well together. Matte black is nice.

I don’t really like the charge port cover but it’s good enough. At least it’s not difficult to access like on the Black Carve 2.

Portability

This is one of the least portable boards that I have. You’d think that a shorter board would be easier to carry, but again this isn’t a short board.

I’m 182 cm tall. If I carry this board by holding the front truck, the tail would scrape the ground. You can’t pull it the same way you pull most electric longboards. And because of the shorter wheelbase, you can’t comfortably pull it using the back truck either.

At places where I can’t ride (like the metro station), I just have to pick up the whole board. Onsra’s website says it’s 9.8 kg, so it’s noticeably heavier than most street boards which are around 8 kg nowadays. Carrying the board sucks on hot summer days.

On the belt drive version you can probably lift up and pull the motor guard since it sticks out in the back, but I’m not sure.

Final Thoughts

I think this board is for people who want both a kicktail and long range. Most kicktail boards are short, and short boards have short range. Well this one is both long range and has a tail. Not the first electric skateboard like this, but it’s uncommon.

The wheelbite issue should have been resolved before going into production though, imho. Some people might be able to tolerate it, because wheelbite is just one of those things you deal with in skateboarding. And it really only happens at very low speeds, like walking speed. You’re never going to turn that sharply at cruising speed. But on the other hand, none of my other boards get wheelbite this easily in stock setup.

Fabian says he’s trying to have 2-year warranty worldwide, which would be awesome, assuming the warranty is handled well.

Anyway watch my video – I share more thoughts in there.

I have discounts if you decide to buy this board.

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Questions

Where to buy replacement belts for electric skateboards

Q:
I’ve done a bit over 100 km on my board and one of the belts already has some punctures from small rocks. Is that even safe to ride now? And where can I buy replacement belts for less than the manufacturer’s website?

You can get belts for electric skateboards from places like Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, or maybe some other marketplace for your country. Check your belt for text that looks something like “HTD 290-5M”. Search for that term in the marketplace to find the right size replacement belts. Also check the width of your belt – most e-skate belts are 15mm wide.

As for whether you can continue using a belt that has punctures: if the belt doesn’t look like it’s tearing, I would keep using it but have a spare and the proper tools ready just in case it breaks.

When a belt snaps, it feels like the acceleration and brakes become a lot weaker, so be aware of that if you ride in situations that require sudden braking. That’s assuming your board has dual motors. If it uses a single motor, then you won’t be able to accelerate or brake with a broken belt.

Categories
Reviews

Exway Atlas Review

The Exway Atlas Carbon gives us a peek into the future of consumer electric skateboards. It’s such a threat to the status quo that even the police couldn’t keep their hands off it.

In previous videos, I showed you that the Atlas was created because of bigotry from a self-aggrandizing brand, and that it outperforms competitors in stress tests even in its 2WD configuration.

But important questions remain: is the Exway Atlas Carbon overpriced? What are its flaws? And where do you get this seductive Premium Power tshirt?

Price

The long-awaited Exway Atlas turned out to be more expensive than many people expected – myself included! But considering its build quality, performance, and features – which I’ll go over in this video – is it overpriced?

If you read through online comments, there seem to be two main overpriced arguments.

The first is that if you spend just a few hundred dollars more than the 4WD Atlas Carbon, you can get something like a Lacroix Jaws or a MetroboardX. I’ve never tried those boards personally but I’ve heard great things about them. So if your budget is above $2500, those are certainly boards to take into consideration. But on the other hand, the 2WD Atlas Carbon is about $1000 less than the Lacroix and Metroboard.

The second argument about price is that the Atlas’s battery capacity of 518Wh is kind of small relative to its price.

  • Verreal RS 20Ah: $1.58/Wh
  • WowGo AT2: $2.18/Wh
  • Onsra Black Carve 2: $2.84/Wh
  • Exway Atlas 2WD: $3.09/Wh

When you divide the price by Watt-hours, even the cheapest option Atlas Carbon is more expensive than many of the competitors.

So for the Atlas Carbon to not be overpriced, it has to provide superior value in other areas.

But does it?

Electronics

Motors

The Atlas is available in either 2WD like most boards, or 4WD which is the unique selling point that Exway is pushing.

Because of the small size of the motors compared to some other boards, many people assumed that Exway’s small motors would under-perform. But they were wrong.

As shown in my previous video, the Atlas in 2WD outperformed the six other boards it was compared with in uphill stress tests. Be sure to watch that video if you haven’t for a premium experience.

As for 4WD, the acceleration is nuts. With Turbo enabled, going full throttle from a full stop requires practice. And the insane amount of power is not just in the low end torque. The board continues to pull very hard until you’re near the top speed.

  • 2WD Street: 43 km/h
  • 2WD All-Terrain: 48 km/h
  • 4WD Street: 46 km/h
  • 4WD All-Terrain: 51 km/h

The acceleration of course will vary according to your weight and other conditions, but for me at around 75 kg or 165 lb, staying balanced in full throttle with Turbo is not easy. I should also mention the brakes are extremely strong.

But the main benefit of 4WD is not the acceleration. 4WD is most suited for situations where you have limited traction. Exway has shown a great example of this. Here’s a prototype Atlas climbing a steep incline with a dusty and uneven surface. With 4WD, even if one pair of wheels lose traction, you still have another pair pulling you up.

4WD isn’t great for everything though. Carving in 4WD on a flat well-paved road to me felt weird. I would even describe it as slippery and a bit unpredictable.

But that’s only when you’re supplying the same amount of power to all four wheel. On the Atlas 4WD, you can easily customize the power for the front and back motors separately. In most cases, you would keep the front motors at low power or even disable them, and then crank the power back up only when you actually need 4WD.

Battery

Due to a short supply of 18650 battery cells affecting all industries that use them, the Atlas now uses the larger 21700 cells in a 12S3P instead of 4P arrangement. The overall battery capacity remains the same at 518Wh.

I’ve done a range test for each of the Atlas’s four stock configurations. I wrote about them in detail on my website, dkwan.com. In brief, the range in 2WD is about the same as any other board with a similar size battery and similar ride conditions.

  • Atlas 2WD All-Terrain: 518Wh, 31km
  • WowGo AT2: 504Wh, 33km
  • Ownboard Bamboo AT: 504Wh, 32km

For 4WD, I did definitely get less range, but like I said earlier, the power of the front and back motors can be configured separately. For everyday use, you can turn down the power on the front motors, or even switch into 2WD.

The battery is swappable, but it’s quite large and you’d have to remove 18 screws on the cover. So if you plan on swapping batteries, you’ll probably want to use a power tool to save time.

Speed Controllers

Exway Atlas in 4WD uses two ESCs (electronic speed controllers), one for each pair of motors. And each ESC is rated for 40 amps of continuous current. For comparison, most of the direct competitors use single ESCs rated for 30 amps. What this means is the Atlas is able to send more power to the motors compared to most of its direct competitors.

(Clarification: Atlas’s 40A ESC is a single ESC in 2WD mode.)

Aside from being more powerful, Exway’s proprietary ESCs allow the Atlas to have features that few or no other boards have. Going through all of the features in detail would take up too much time for this video, but I’ll briefly go through five of the important ones.

Standby. Of the 7 boards we tested in the previous video, only the Exway and WowGo have standby. Standby allows the board to be turned on or off using the remote so that you don’t have to constantly bend over to push a button on the board. Kieran hates that, and so do I.

Free Mode. This turns the brake control into reverse so that you can seamlessly move forward and backward without having to stop and click a button.

Drive system settings. Like Exway’s other boards, you can change the belt drive system to a different one, such as direct drive when it becomes available.

Custom power curves. You can set the acceleration and brake curves for each of the four speed modes. And on the 4WD Atlas, you can set the front and rear power curves separately.

Firmware updates. Like many other high tech consumer electronics, you can update the firmware on your board and remote over the air. Exway has provided updates in the past for things like improving battery indicator accuracy and reducing the effects of voltage sag.

Not only does the Atlas has some of the best electronics for a mass production electric skateboard, it also has some better skate components than its direct competitors.

Skate Parts

Trucks

Exway Atlas uses double kingpin trucks. If you’ve watched other videos from me, you know that I’m not a big fan of this type of truck – at least not for electric skateboards. I know some of you don’t feel the same, but many people do.

I’m happy to say that Exway’s double kingpin trucks are different. I don’t normally ride at top speeds, but I’ve gone up to 47 km/h on these and felt totally confident. I didn’t change the bushings, didn’t change the washers, and didn’t tighten the trucks.

These are the only double kingpin trucks I’ve used that can use eight longboard size barrel bushings with a cup washer on each of them. Others are stuck with using cone bushings or short bushings because they’re essentially copies of the Gullwing Sidewinder.

Even though the stock setup is great for me, some of you might decide to fine tune and use 3rd party bushings. These trucks give you more flexibility in using different types of bushings and washers than other double kingpin trucks.

Another benefit of Atlas’s trucks is that you can adjust the lower kingpin nut with a skate tool without taking apart the truck. Competitors: please copy Exway.

Wheels

The stock Exway Atlas comes with either all-terrain wheels only, or all-terrain and street wheels in the 2-in-1 package.

The all-terrain wheels are 160mm with pneumatic tires. And the urethane street wheels are 90 x 64mm, 78A. Personally I love the street wheels, but certain situations call for the all-terrain wheels.

For example, there’s a bike path that I used to love, but now it’s terrible. It’s falling apart and has pebbles everywhere, making the corners dangerously slippery with street wheels. But with all-terrain wheels, those pebbles are far less of an issue.

Exway also sells wheels with 175mm knobby tires for more extreme off-roading. And if you want to use your own tires, you can also buy just the hubs.

For third-party wheels, Exway has pulleys that support wheels from Orangatang, Boa, Boosted, Cloudwheel, and others that share the same wheel core designs. Exway is also making pulleys to support certain wheels from Seismic and Landyachtz, although those are probably more for the smaller boards.

Deck

The carbon fiber deck on the Atlas is 100 by 25.5 cm. It’s more on the longer side and feels pleasantly roomy for me. I’m about 182cm or 6 feet tall.

The deck uses foam grip tape for a bit of shock absorption and improved grip.

Like most other boards in this form factor, the trucks are drop-through mounted, and the standing area is slightly lower than the baseplates. These features add to the overall stability of the board.

The concave is relatively shallow making this deck more appropriate for long distance rides compared to, for example, a more aggressive concave on the Exway Flex. There’s also a slight W concave mainly in the middle which some people may like.

Accessories

The Atlas has a number of accessories designed for it that come in handy but you have to pay extra for them. I’ll quickly go over my thoughts on them.

I would get the handle. It’s much more comfortable than pulling the truck hanger or the motor guard.

If you have the 4WD Atlas, I would at least get a motor guard for the front, but the board might look nicer with one on each side.

I don’t have the sealed belt covers but they’re probably a good idea for places where stuff can easily get into the belt drive. I’m curious to see how well they keep stuff out and also how they affect maintenance.

The fenders work really well to protect you from splashes. They even have adjustable height to fit different size wheels. If you won’t be riding in wet conditions, then I don’t think these fenders are very necessary. They are convenient for mounting ShredLights though.

Save 10% on ShredLights at checkout by using this link!

Appearance

Exway Atlas has got to be one of the best looking electric skateboards with the best looking components. Just take a close look at the deck, the ESC covers, the baseplates, the trucks, the motor guards, the fenders, and even the tire treads. They’re all beautifully designed. They even have embossed labels on the pulleys, which is great for people with too many pulleys.

You know what this board doesn’t have? Obnoxious giant branding all over the board.

The way a board looks is so important. Look at any consumer electronic device that you own. Your Playstation, iPhone, camera, drone, rice cooker, water flosser, massager, whatever. They look more professionally made than most electric skateboards.

I’ve received multiple boards over $1000 that use zip ties. And why do most boards have terrible charge port covers? Most of them are built like somebody’s hobby project.

I don’t know what the boutique boards are like, but for boards around $2000 or less, I haven’t seen anything that comes close to the Atlas in build quality, even in its prototype form. From a distance, sure, they all look kind of similar. But once you look up close, you see a stark difference in the engineering and artistry.

But of course nothing’s perfect, and the Atlas has its share of flaws.

Shortcomings

This board is heavy and can be difficult to carry, especially the 4WD with street wheels. Because there are motors on both sides, you can’t just pick up the side with the motors like you would with 2WD.

I tried different ways to carry the board with street wheels, and in the end I find it’s best to just carry the board with both hands. Another option is to use an e-skate backpack if you have a couple minutes to pack. (Save $20 with my discount code!)

The remote could use a couple more buttons. Right now there’s a function for double click, triple click, quadruple click, and … 6 clicks – I don’t even know what to call that. I don’t think users would mind having one or two more buttons.

  • Click × 2: Cruise control
  • Click × 3: Reverse/Forward
  • Click × 4: Neutral steering (Tank Mode)
  • Click × 6: Top speed limit menu (for regional laws)

I’d also like to see an odometer on the display but Exway decided to put that in their mobile app.

The power indicator at low voltage can jump around quite a bit and be kind of confusing. And the percentage where the board stops accelerating seems to be different on every ride. I only ran into this issue because of doing multiple range tests. Normally I wouldn’t discharge the battery to that level but I think it’s still something that Exway could improve through a firmware update.

2WD or 4WD

If you’ve decided to get the Atlas, I hope I’ve given you enough info to choose between 2WD and 4WD. If you still have trouble choosing and price is not a factor, I’ll tell you what I prefer and my reasons.

4WD is an awesome concept and I love what Exway has done with it. But I live in a dense city where I have to frequently pick up the board and even carry it up and down stairs. So for me, lighter is better, and the 2WD Atlas already has more than enough power for my use cases.

However, if I were to live in a house in a US suburb – let’s say Fremont, California – I might prefer the 4WD. Unlike Shanghai, the Bay Area has lots of places that would be great for exploring on an all-terrain board. The 4WD might even come in handy.

Final Thoughts

The main reason I’m excited about the Atlas is because we finally have a mass production all-terrain board that has a build quality on par with the brand name consumer electronics we use everyday.

I know this sounds like a diss at all the other mass production e-skate brands, but too many of them have been taking the “chabuduo” approach.

Chabuduo is an ancient Chinese philosophy that means “good enough.”

Zip ties are an example of chabuduo.

Charge port covers that break or don’t stay in. “Aiya, chabuduo.”

Boards that are fucking ugly! “Chabuduo la! Meiguanxi!”

“Chabuduo” isn’t always a bad thing. In the startup world, “chabuduo” is known by other phrases like “minimum viable product,” “Pareto Principle,” “80/20 rule,” “Done is better than perfect.”

The “chabuduo” philosophy allows these companies to bring ideas to market really fast with low risk and high reward. And as a result, we end up with a bunch of boards that are just marginally better than the previous generation boards – because they’re good enough to sell, or “chabuduo.”

But if you think every Chinese company is like this, you’re wrong. I’ll give you two examples that are very popular here on YouTube: DJI and Insta360. Both make some of the best products in their respective industries, and both are Chinese companies headquartered in Shenzhen.

Even people who promote the idea that if a product is from China it must be bad use products from Chinese companies. Maybe they didn’t know they’re using Chinese products.

Another company, also from Shenzhen, that does not take the “chabuduo” approach in their products is Exway.

While most other mass production e-skate brands are doing the bare minimum to make better boards, Exway has implemented new features and created entirely new parts with every single new board they put out.

The Exway Atlas isn’t for those looking for the most range or the lowest price. It’s for those willing to spend a bit more for much higher quality. Innovative boards like this is what pushes the industry forward and is what the future of consumer electric skateboards should look like.

Anyway. Chabuduo le.

Categories
Reviews

Exway Atlas 4WD All‑Terrain Range Test

Recently I measured the range on my pre-production Exway Atlas in 4WD configuration with the stock all-terrain kit. I’ve already done range tests in the other stock configurations:

This test was performed with the original 518 Wh battery with 12S4P 18650 Samsung 30Q cells. Due to a shortage of 18650 cells, the Atlas has switched to using 21700 cells in 12S3P, and still 518 Wh. The performance of the new battery is expected to be similar.

Also, note that the front motors on my Atlas are the smaller prototype motors (less efficient), and the rear motors are the larger final motors (more efficient), and both sets were configured to their maximum power. Normally the power for the front motors should be reduced.

Remember, lots of things affect range so please read through the ride conditions. This post isn’t a full review. This is only covering my recent range test.

Conditions

I rode from 98% battery down to 13%. My unit has an issue with the BMS or something so it wouldn’t let me charge to 100%. At around 10% or so, I got a 4% low voltage warning. After clearing the warning, the battery indicator was back to 12%, and then 13%. The indicator percentage seems to fluctuate when the battery is near empty. (Exway tells me this is normal at low voltage.)

The mudguards protected my pants and shoes from the nasty water.

For this ride I was using speed mode 3 (out of 4) almost the entire time. Unlike my previous tests, I didn’t use full throttle very much this time. I went exploring and the places I ended up didn’t have many clear straightaways. The terrain I rode on this time wasn’t very smooth, but wasn’t too bumpy either. There were lots of dust and cracks. They are paths that I would generally avoid if using longboard wheels.

My weight was 79 kg since I was carrying a bit more stuff. The weather was 18 ºC (64 ºF) when I started and about 16 ºC (61 ºF) when I stopped.

Results

I measured the range using the Ride app and my GPS watch.

On the Ride app I got 24.6 km (15.3 miles), and on the watch 22.7 km (14.1 miles). Like I mentioned earlier, I stopped at 13%. I probably could have eked out another kilometer but I had to take a dump and I happened to be next to a mall.

This rear mudguard is positioned to protect the rider but not so much the ShredLight and anyone behind the board. It can be flipped around.

Exway’s website claims 27 km (16.8 miles) for 4WD all-terrain which isn’t too far off from what I got. If I had stayed at a more constant speed and picked a smoother route, I probably could have gotten their claimed range.

Also, the finalized Exway app is supposed to let you adjust the power for the front and rear motors separately. That may affect the range as well. For normal everyday use, I would set the power for the front motors very low, or even set the board to 2WD.

Exclusive Offer

If you plan on getting an Exway Atlas, don’t miss my special deal: $30 off, plus a pack of stickers, plus a $25 DFFECTIVE gift card! Using my offer also helps me earn a little commission.