Best off-road electric skateboards in 2018
Its funny how new boardsports come to be, with skateboarding, it first started when surfers wanted to ‘catch the surf on land’. With mountainboarding, it started when snowboarders wanted to board during the summer. Fast forward a few years and we’ve got people using electric skateboards (or “esk8s”) because they are affordable and easy last mile transport options … that are also loads of fun.
But whats the purpose of off-road electric skateboards? I can’t imagine too many people using them for commuting to say… work.
The answer is fun, simply fun. These things are basically the monster trucks of skateboarding. No terrain is off limits. You can take them on dirt tracks, on tarmac roads, on the sidewalk etc. They can do it all. They borrow the basic mountain board design and there are even esk8/offroad hybrids.
I’ve decided to write about my favorite off-road electric skateboards in 2018. Each one is better suited to one purpose than the other so it is important you read it this understand why. You should be able to pick the right off-road board for you after reading this.
The Mototec is a simple electric skateboard. It comes with dual motors, each delivering 800w. The dual motors are key as they increase traction and distribute the driving force. (Otherwise, you would just skid everywhere).
The deck is made from 12 plys so is super stiff, strong and therefore durable. Attached to it are special trucks with spring bushings so they dampen the shock from riding over rough roads. However, they don’t turn exceptionally well.
The wheels are treaded tires that are 10in tall. They are pneumatic and will grip better than urethane wheels (cause of the rubber). The wheels have anti-lock brakes that will slow you down without skidding.
The motors will take you as fast as 22mph (depending on your weight) and they are sustained by a battery with a 10mile range. It takes about 3-5hours to charge, which is reasonable as fast charging is not a critical requirement.
Altogether the skateboard weighs 71lbs and is 46.5in long, 21in wide and 11in tall. The remote used has a variable throttle to accurately control the speed, with the settings slow and fast. So beginners/users can choose to ride this at slow speeds. The battery life indicator is on the board and displayed through an LED.
This board is great, but I need to point out a concern. It doesn’t have bindings which can be an issue if you go over a bump or a rock when off-road. You could get thrown off your board if you’re going fast. Nonetheless, its a great board for dirt tracks. You can find it on Amazon.com here.
GT Powerboard Off Road Electric Skateboard
From one of the bigger brands – eGlide. This all-terrain electric skateboard features an aluminum deck. This deck will be a bit flexy but also strong and super durable. The deck is slightly lowered, so you will be closer to the driving center of the wheels. Making it more stable, easier to ride and less jerky when taking off.
It is powered by a 36v, 800w motor that can take you up to the top speed of 23mph in 5 seconds. It doesn’t need any maintenance and all the electronics come with a one year warranty. However, the single motor won’t distribute torque well and the tires might spin if you apply too much power.
It has a range of 15miles on flats and less when driving up hills. The trucks have springs for dampening, but being that wide they won’t turn too great. They are super stable though. The wheels are made of rubber and are 9inches tall. They’ll go over everything without any stress.
Altogether, the skateboard is 45in long, 11in wide 7.5in tall and finally 72lbs heavy.
Is this the best off-road electric skateboard? I think so. It features great, quality electronics and doesn’t compromise when it comes to stability and easy riding. The cost isn’t too bad either.
However it would be great if it had straps, the low deck kinda compensates for this – but it may not be enough. It’s great for off-road tracks and trails.It is also a bit expensive, but you are paying for quality and therefore peace of mind. (You can check it’s price on Amazon.com here)
Evolve Skateboards GTX All-Terrain Electric Longboard
Another industry giant. Evolve have the furthest traveling skateboard on my list.
The deck is flexible for comfort overriding different terrain. It is a drop through so the trucks are mounted on top, lowering the c of g making it more stable and easier to ride. It is made of a mix of bamboo and maple. Under the deck, you have super carve 306mm wide trucks. They will be stable but manoeuvrable enough for a little bit of carving.
The dual brush out-runner motors produce a combined 3300 watts, take you as fast as 26mph and up gradients of 25% (that super steep for a hill btw). Combined with a battery that has a range of 20miles, this skateboard is fast and will travel far. The remote has a quality LCD display, and you can choose between three modes of speed.
This board is also a hybrid, and you can get urethane wheels from Evolve to switch out when you wanna skate in the city or have to carry your board around. They are more suited for that. It’s great for both the city and some light off-road trails and tracks.
The esk8 has a brilliant low profile finish, with a black and gold color scheme. I am in love with this deck, and if you want something cool looking and low profile, this is the one for you.
Though you pay for what you get, and the quality reflects in the price. (You can see the price on Amazon.com here). If you have the cash go for it if not, the GT Powerboard offers a similar experience but in a bulkier form.
Ninestep electric skateboard
The only board with straps on this list. So whilst the other options have mountainboard like features, it can be said this is genuine electric mountain board. It has two brushless motors producing 2000w. These will easily take you up to speeds of 25mph and up 30% gradients. Combined with this is a strong battery that takes you between 20-30km and only chargers in 3 hrs. The brakes used are also regenerative so they recover some of the energy when you brake. The wheels are pneumatic (meaning they have air), they are tall and treaded to roll over things and provide extra grip.
The straps are great and will keep you locked in when you go off-road or over bumps. The trucks are wide and use springs to aid in absorbing some of the vibration and roughness of riding off-road. Altogether the setup weighs only 13kg or 29lbs. Much lighter than all the other options above.
As I said earlier, this is a true electric mountain board, the other esk8s are simply all-terrain electric skateboards. The others are great, but this is better as it is more purpose driven.
Especially if you specifically want a powered mountain board. The others are more rounded and can suit many purposes. However for the price, it is reasonable, and having a purpose-driven product is amazing if it meets your needs. Price on Amazon.com can be seen here.
Airwheel M3 Electric Longboard
The most affordable option on my list. This esk8 comes in the traditional fish tail shape – meaning it only has one kicktail. The deck is made from maple, other composite materials and finished with grip tape.
The max weight the deck can hold is 100kg. The board takes you up to a max speed of 20kmh/12mph and has a top range of 20km. However, the range is affected by your weight, how you ride it, the road etc. The motors are powerful and will take you up gradients of 15%.
It uses a Sony lithium-ion battery which only takes 2 hrs to charge. The tires used are not pneumatic but they are made of rubber. They are all-terrain and come in at 4.5in tall, the shortest on my list.
All together it weighs a small 11.55kg/28lbs. It comes with a one year warranty and a one month warranty on the tires. Feedback highlights that the tires run out quickly. They are not easily replaced and a lot of customers have had challenges with that.
This esk8 is more in the genre of regular offroad skateboards. Meaning yes you can take it offroad, but it won’t perform as great as the others on this list. Its more of a general skateboard and would suit someone who wanted something to handle the offroad, but in a small shape to be carried around the city. It can be bought on Amazon.com here.
How to pick the right off road electric skateboard?
So what do you want from an off-road electric skateboard? You need to decide if you want a general board that can handle the offroad track now and then. Or a board that is specifically for offroad tracks, and that it will
rarely ever touch tarmac. Some boards can handle both, the Evolve GTX is a good example. The option to change between offroad and on-road on the same esk8 is amazing.
Off-road skating in itself is amazing. It will allow you to conquer new terrain and explore where you’ve never gone before. Some equipment is better suited than others and below I will describe why.
Stiff deck? With straps or not?
Straps or no? If you really want to go hard and go fast off road I would recommend a board with straps. When you are going fast, going over a large bump or dip in the road could throw you off your board.
Straps will allow you to hold on and stay on the deck. It’s not fun falling off a board when going 20mph. The road rash isn’t worth it.
If you are not gonna go so fast off-road, then a strapless board will do just fine.
The deck can be flexy or stiff. It’s personal preference. Some people like the shock absorption and bounciness of the flexy decks. Others say they want a stiff deck to have more input and control on their board.
My recommendation is to get a stiff board when going off-road and going fast. It won’t absorb a lot of vibration, but it won’t bounce you off when you go fast and hit bumpy spots. If you are gonna take it chill, the flexy type of board is what you should go for.
Wheels big, filled with air!
In order to handle the offroad, wheels have to be large, have good treads, made of rubber and filled with air.
Rubber is/can be “sticky” and will deform well around the surface to provide maximum grip. Having air in the tires makes them easy to maintain, as well the air can be released to make the tire ‘softer’ so you can have a bigger tire footprint and thusly more grip.
Traditional skateboard wheels are made from urethane. Urethane is denser than rubber and will accelerate faster. However, it will not provide as much grip and work poorly on dirt roads.
The wheels have to be tall. When they are tall they can roll over anything, ever seen an off-road car with tiny wheels?. If they are 10in tall they will handle all terrain easily.
Wheels smaller than 10in, like the Airwheel, won’t perform as well. They will go offroad and on some tracks, but not for heavy duty stuff. They need to be treaded. The tread allows the wheel to dig into the dirt road and prevent slipping from side to side. IN this aspect, the GT Powerboard has the best wheels.
The right trucks are crucial!
Most trucks are super wide. This is to accommodate the large wheels and increase stability. However, this comes at the price of maneuverability. If you think about it though, you don’t want an esk8 that turns really easily, if you go over something slippery you could get wobbles and the deck would go out from under you. Same when you are hitting the top speeds. Really turny trucks are not appropriate for this type of skating.
It is important for them to have springs. The springs absorb the road vibration. This is key for off-road where you can expect a lot of vibration. Skating with a normal longboard on a slightly rough road will leave your ankles and feet sore for a whole day. Imagine skating off road for a whole session, your feet will be sore. Thusly trucks with springs are necessary.
Powerful motor and battery for going uphill!
You need something powerful enough to take you up gradients/hills on rough roads. However, they need to provide power smoothly otherwise you will have a lot of wheels spin before taking off. This is also how traction control works in cars. TBH you don’t need a lot of power when going off-road, this is why off-road cars have a low gear option. You do need the power to go up hills though.
The battery needs to last a long time. On an off-road you don’t know what terrain you can expect, having a large battery can handle the unexpected and allow you to have enough juice to get back.
Having a battery from a big brand (Sony, Samsung etc.) will guarantee that it actually works well. It will be more expensive but better in the long run.
All the esk8’s above except the Airwheel have belt driven motors. The belt driven motors are easier to replace and deal with. They are more expensive to manufacture but are better for beginners and the like.
The belt motors have a gear system so you don’t have to balance the remotes trigger to maintain certain speeds.
The Airwheel has a hub motor. This means the motor is inside the wheel. It has fewer parts but you cannot easily replace and maintain it.
The weight matters more than you think!
If are gonna have more than one purpose for the board, then weight needs to be low. Nothing worse than commuting or going around town on a heavy board. When you have to, it would be hard to carry it for even 5 mins.
However if its strictly off road, a heavy board might be nice. You’ll be able to mash through the gravel, rocks etc. The momentum and weight will carry you through.
Maintenance will be a part of your journey!
You are gonna punish these boards for sure and push them to their limits. Thusly they should be easy to maintain and replace any broken parts.
Most of the boards come with a warranty so within the first year you are ok. The Evolve and GT Powerboard have the easiest maintenance and have (arguably) best customer service from these companies.
You can easily purchase all the replacement parts or upgrades you want. The Airwheel has the toughest maintenance and it’s hard to replace some parts. Finally, you will simply have to keep charging the batteries, keep the tires inflated, regularly oil the bearings and tighten the trucks/nuts to your preference.
Does top speed matter?
Not really. The difference of 1 or 2 mph between boards is negligible and should not be the deciding factor. Besides its unlikely that one will be going top speed every time they use the board. Speeds of 20mph are pretty fast and dangerous to be doing every day.
They also cause your equipment to wear out faster. It’s better to keep it chill and moderate.
What else will you need?
I recommend buying mudguards (or making some for yourself). To stop the wheels spraying mud or water back at you. To customize your setup and make it more comfortable. You can get different grip tape designs if you wanna be creative. You could even paint your own.
If the grip tape isn’t coarse enough for you (grippy enough), you can peel it off and then get coarser ones from skate shops.
I would also recommend some lights. Some boards come with led lights, but if yours doesn’t you can get some. They are super useful in the dark or in low light conditions. Think early morning or dusk. They are easy to put on and some come even glue to your board. You can also get a skate stand to place your board on when you come home. They are nice and a neat way to keep your boards.
A helmet is a must. You are traveling at high speeds and this is risky. If you fall off you can hit a tree, a rock, the ground etc. It is wise to have a helmet to protect you.
Wear it going slow too, it’s not the speed that hurts you but the fall from the height. There will always be a 6 feet difference between your head and ground. This doesn’t change if you are going 20mph or 1mph. Hitting your head at either speed sucks, trust me I know!
I also recommend knee and elbow pads. Especially if you’re a beginner or maybe trying a more powerful board. Once you’ve fallen a bit and found the limits of the board you can take them off.
Ready to bomb some mountain trails?
Finally, most of these boards are purpose built so make sure you know what you want before buying. Those in the mid-ground who simply want an all-terrain machine, the Evolve bamboo is great or the Airwheel.
Those who want a full-on mountain boarding menace, go for the GT Powerboard. If your budget won’t allow it, the Ninestep is good too and its got straps!
For beginners, the Ninestep would probably be the best. The straps will keep you locked in and the lightness will make it easy to handle.
If you want your first esk8, I would not suggest going for any of these (maybe only the Evolve). I have a list of some cheap esk8s that you can buy and try out. It would a shame to commit so much money, so be sure of what you want.