Well, an electric skateboard is exactly what the name suggests, a skateboard powered by electricity allowing riders to cover more ground easily.
Modern electric skateboards use motors and rechargeable batteries to effectively and safely power the board.
The first mass-produced power-assisted boards were called The MotoBoard, which were released in 1975. These motorised boards were powered by small two-stroke engines fuelled by gasoline. The MotoBoard changed the game for the industry standard for outdoor skate wheels, being the first widely marketed option with a polyurethane wheel until the mid-1970’s steel and composite indoor skate wheels were the only options for outdoor skate use.
The MotoBoard were sold worldwide until 1983, despite being banned in California in 1997 due to their noise and pollution. They are still produced in limited quantities to this day.
The first wireless electric skateboard was released in 1997, and a patent was filed in 1997 in California by Louie Finkle.
Since then technology has evolved to allow us to use much safer methods for motorised boards.
It wasn’t until 2004 that the technology for electric motors and batteries became efficient and powerful enough to work effectively.
The rise of modern boards took off in 2012 with a Kickstarter campaign by ZBoard for a balance controlled skateboard. The concept of the Zboard was simply for an easy and portable method of transport around a university campus, a prototype design was created by Jeff Larson and Ben Forman as a class project.
After three years of working on their design, they launched their Kickstarter campaign which was a huge success and lead to their board being featured at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2013.
This fuelled a new interest for balance boards and new forms of electric boards, media interest spiked and mass production by countless companies began.
Significant improvements have been made to the design of modern electric boards, however, this is still limited by the batteries used.
Early boards used sealed lead acid batteries, a huge breakthrough happened with the introduction of lithium-ion batteries, which are far lighter, smaller, reliable and more powerful than lead-acid batteries.
Originally, electric skateboards were made larger to accommodate the batteries and hardware, and many electric boards still use longboard decks to fit more powerful hardware and batteries inside.
There are also many smaller boards available, using penny skateboard sizing, although these boards are generally more limited in battery and motor power.
Now electric boards are available with one, two and four motor-driven wheels. Using either a toothed belt or wheel hub motors which have a brushless motor integrated into the wheel itself.
Toothed belt driven motors offer more torque but are quite noisy and create friction when used as an unpowered board, making the board move less freely.
Wheel hub motors were first introduced in 2015, and are far quieter and more responsive than the original belt-driven motors, creating very little friction when used as an unpowered board.
Electric skateboards are now able to reach a maximum speed of around 25-40 km/ph (16-25 mph).
What will the future hold for electric skateboards? How will technology improve and evolve? Will we one-day be able to follow our dreams and have a hover-board just like in back to the future? only time will tell!