How do electric Skateboards work? Plain and Simple!
Today I will be talking about the how esk8’s work. If we compare them to a car, the motor is engine that drives the wheels. The battery is the fuel tank where the charge/fuel is stored. The seat is the deck where you stand, the trucks are your ‘steering wheel’ and the trigger on your remote is the gas pedal. There is also a ‘clutch’ but we’ll dive deeper into that in the rest of the article.
Understanding how your skateboard works could help with quick repairs and maintenance. So you might find this article useful even if you already own an electric skateboard. We can split the components of the electric skateboard into two parts. The electric and mechanical components.
The mechanical components.
The motor uses electric energy (or charge) from the battery and uses it to turn the pulley, which in turn, turns the wheels. They come in different shapes and sizes, some more powerful than others. Some skateboards use two motors for extra torque – having on motor with a lot of power could result in the wheels spinning a lot before take off, two motors makes more sense.
Two types of motors
There are two main types of motors available. The first is the belt motor. As mentioned above it uses a belt to turn the pulley. It is easier to maintain and its parts are easily replaceable. It allows you to freely choose whatever wheels you want for the board, finally it produces a lot of torque, climbs hills better and has a lot of power. However it is expensive, noisy and doesn’t allow your skateboard to roll freely.
The other motor is the hub motor, it is built into a wheel. It is more lightweight, quiet and lasts longer than the other option. However it is difficult to replace and you have to use the wheeloptions available. It’s not as customisable as the belt motor. It is a cost effective option and you see them on a lot of affordable setups. You can also learn more about cheap electric skateboards and how to differentiate between good quality and bad
The way the work
The belt motor has a pulley and is enclosed in a plastic case. This makes it better at dispersing heat and at being water resistant. The hub motor is a single unit inside the wheel with wires connecting the battery. It has holes for ventilation and thusly air cooling, but these make it vulnerable to water. The motors are a super important part. They affect how your skateboard will perform over time.
Both motors are brushless. Brushless motors are more energy efficient, lighter and send power to the wheels far more effectively. They only draw what energy they need from the battery and nothing more. They are the best option for electric skateboards.
The motors convert the electrical charge to a force that is manifested by the pulleys rotating. The pulley then rotate the wheels and you have motion. The wheels usually used are an average height of 80mm. This is the best height, as these wheels will roll over obstacle (twigs, pebbles, rocks etc.) and have good momentum. They also have a large enough tread for the power from the motor to be put down effectively. The height also produces a smooth ride.
How the steering works?
Our steering wheel, the trucks work by turning when you lean to either side of the board, the more you lean the more it will turn. They use bushings which provide resistance as you lean. To make it more stable you can get harder bushings or simply tighten the truck down. If you only tighten the back truck, the skateboard will become more stable but will still turn as much as normal. Trucks on a electric skateboard act differently, so read my guide on riding electric skateboards for more tips
Various types of decks are used. The standing platform can either be stiff or flexy or even in between. The stiff ones work better and are more stable at higher speeds and the flexy ones are more forgiving on the feet and absorb some of the shock of road vibration.
The decks are also made from various materials. Majority of the affordable decks are made with simple wood. Others are made with plastic of fancy composites like Carbon and fiberglass. The composite ones are lighter and thusly easier to turn, carry around and will accelerate faster.
The electrical components
The battery simply works by storing electrical energy. There are typically two types of batteries available. The lead-acid battery and the lithium-ion battery. The lithium-ion battery is by far better. It is lighter, stores more charge, has a much faster discharge rate and lasts for more use cycles. It delivers power to the motor through wires. This is an important part of the electric skateboard, they affect how far you can go. Its important to get quality ones otherwise they simply won’t last a long time.
The electronic speed controller (ESC) is a gadget receives data from the bluetooth controller. It basically functions as the control centre and directs the motor and battery accordingly. For example, when you select the slow speed setting and pull the remote trigger, the ESC receives this command, directs the motor and pulls the appropriate amount of power from the battery.
People underestimate how important this part is. Imagine if it malfunctioned … fortunately there are fail-safes built in to prevent this from ever happening. The bluetooth remote control controls the braking and acceleration of the skateboard. Most controllers will typically have 2 more speed settings. The control receives your input and then sends them to the ESC via a bluetooth message.
How it all comes together?
Combining all of the above objects gives you a complete electric skateboard. Some parts are more important to be of good quality, whilst you can compromise on others. Others make a greater difference and a small change in them will affect the way the whole system operates.
For example, a bigger motor will deplete your battery faster but you will have more torque, climb hills better and go faster. Though it will be more expensive. On the other side, having cheap trucks won’t really change the ride too much, and unless you are experienced you wouldn’t notice the difference.