Everything felt great, until I found myself skating halfway down the steep side of the Williamsburg Bridge with the Boosted Board throttle cranked to the max. I was going too fast, and I knew it. So I dropped a foot -- a dumb thing to do.
AU Editor's Note: Although we're not sure of their legality on Australian roads, you can get a Boosted Board shipped internationally from the company's website. -- Cam
All images: Adam Clark Estes
A split second later, I was on the ground, bleeding and thinking, "This is a wicked skateboard."
What Is It?
The new Boosted Board is a Bluetooth-enabled electric longboard that costs $US1,000 (or more). It comes with an electric drive train controlled by a handheld throttle that enables you to accelerate to up to 35km per hour without touching the ground. It's a self-described commuting vehicle with a handsome fibreglass and bamboo deck built in collaboration with Loaded Boards. The second generation Boosted Board hit the market a few weeks ago and boasts at least 11km per charge for the basic set up or 23km of range with a larger battery.
But not all Boosted Boards are created equal. The Single model ($US1,000) comes with one drivetrain, a top speed of 30km per hour, and up to 13km of range. It can also handle a grade of ten per cent. The Dual model ($US1,300) offers two drivetrains and 50 per cent more wattage for a 32km per hour top speed, capability to do a 20 per cent grade, but a range of just 11km. The Dual+ model that I tried ($US1,500) offers 2,000 watts, a top speed of 35km per hour, and can do do hills with a 25 per cent grade. All the new models also let you swap out the battery -- extras cost $US100 a pop -- so you can skate away the whole day away with minimal effort.
The design is very nice -- but also nice and heavy.
For me, the power was a problem. Like any kid who wanted to be cool in the 90s, I tried to be a skater and mostly failed at mastering any decent tricks on my standard deck. But with minimal longboard experience, the Boosted Board felt immediately different, almost like a snowboard with wheels and a jet engine thrusting me forward. It was thrilling, sure. But the power demanded a level of confidence and expertise I'd surely lost in my late teens. It was still nothing short of thrilling.
My weeks with the Boosted Board ought to serve as a cautionary tale for any novice that thinks this is just a really expensive longboard with a killer engine. The difference between the skateboard you rode as a kid and the Boosted Board is analogous to the difference between a dinky bike and a motorcycle. The Boosted Board throttle amounts to a new variable that changes every aspect of the experience, for better or for worse depending on your skill level. Seasoned longboarders will love the extra power; casual skaters deserve a learning curve.
This is not a bad thing. Quite the contrary, if fact. It's thrilling! Until you end up on your back, wondering whether you've gotten a concussion or not.
The drivetrain isn't super powerful, but it does go fast.
I digress. The second generation Boosted Board is a damn impressive piece of gear. It can carry you briskly to work and back, depending on the length of your commute. The updated model can also fend off the elements and serve up status reports through a Bluetooth-connected smartphone app. The app is useful for checking stats like battery life or top speed, but it doesn't affect the rude at all. The wireless throttle as well as the app are impressively easy to operate, and the build quality in general is downright impressive. It should be for a sticker price of $US1,000.
The trigger-like remote and throttle could be smaller.
Though my skateboard skills are rusty, I did notice a couple of issues. The new design is supposed to give the truck a more nimble feel, though you'll need to crouch to get it right. It's also worth pointing out that riding a 7kg skateboard comes with a whole new set of adjustments. You're driving a bigger ship so you can't quite cut as quickly as you would with a lighter board. Furthermore, carrying the heavy Boosted Board just plain sucks.
Should You Buy It?
The real question is: do you want one? Like many gadgets, the answer to that question depends on why you might want it. The Boosted Board is a fun twist on the recent trend of electric bikes -- probably especially fun if you're a skater. It's also much more portable if you might want to ride to the bar and then take a dab bake. For my money, I'd do prefer an electric bike to boost my commute. (The Evelo conversion wheel is a great choice.) Then again, the Boosted Board kicked my arse, and I'll never forget it.
- A powerful electric skateboard that makes commuting exciting.
- Improved battery life means you can skate up to 22 kilometres .
- Takes some training to ride without hurting yourself.
- Heavy board makes it a pain to carry.
Boy is it bendy.