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