Electric Skateboards vs. Traditional Skateboards: Which One Should You Choose?
Apr 14, 2023
- Overview of Traditional Skateboards
- Overview of Electric Skateboards
- Pros and Cons of Traditional Skateboards
- Pros and Cons of Electric Skateboards
- Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Electric and Traditional Skateboards
Electric skateboards and traditional skateboards are popular modes of transportation, but they differ significantly in their design, capabilities, and riding experience. Understanding these differences is important in determining which board is right for you. Electric skateboards, or boards, have motors that provide power to propel the rider, allowing them to go faster and handle hills more easily. Traditional skateboards use the rider's footwork and momentum to roll and maneuver. E-boards offer more convenience but less freedom of movement, while skateboards provide a pure riding experience with complete control. Comparing electric and traditional skateboards will help riders choose between convenience, power, flow, and practice.
Overview of Traditional Skateboards
Traditional skateboards originated in the 1960s and 1970s as a means of countercultural expression among surfers in California. Crafted from wood, metal, and urethane wheels, skateboards allowed riders to recreate the feeling of surfing on land. Early skaters used empty swimming pools, empty parking lots, and scattered staircases as places to practice tricks and hone their skills.
Skateboards are constructed from durable but lightweight materials, allowing for maneuverability and the ability to pull off tricks. The deck comprises 7-8 plies of laminated maple or beechwood and measures around 32 inches long. Spindly trucks attach to the deck, allowing the wheels to roll and spin. Wheels are made of polyurethane, a durable plastic composite, and come in sizes suited for different riding styles.
Skateboards are primarily used for recreation, challenge, and style. Skaters love finding unique spots to practice kickflips, heel flips, shuvits, and other tricks. Skateparks with pipes, pools, banks, and bowls have become popular destinations for skaters to gather and share new tricks. Skateboarding provides a sense of freedom and expression with no rules and endless creativity. For many, skateboarding also remains a countercultural movement and lifestyle choice. Skateboards continue to evolve along with skateboarding culture itself.
Overview of Electric Skateboards
Electric skateboards, or boards, emerged as a new mode of transportation in the 2000s. E-boards integrated lithium-ion batteries and electric motors into a skateboard design, allowing riders to power down the street without pedaling. Early adopters often looked for an eco-friendly alternative to driving cars short distances.
E-boards are constructed from similar materials as traditional skateboards but with added electrical components. They have decks, trucks, wheels, bearings, lithium-ion battery packs, motor controllers, and hub or belt drive motors. Depending on legal limits, the motors can produce 300-1000 watts of power to reach top speeds of 15-30 mph. For WowGo's boards, highest speed can be up to 31 mph. Riders can control acceleration and braking with hand throttle or remote control.
Electric skateboards are primarily used for commuting, transportation, and recreation. Commuters appreciate not having to use potted energy to power their daily trips. Adventurous riders employ boards for exploration and embarking on novel paths. Analogous to conventional skateboards, certain boarders execute maneuvers, cuts, and traverse varied terrains on their boards. Nevertheless, boards generally wield greater capability and capacity, allowing for extended journeys between recharges.
With swifter boards, safety assumes a crucial aspect. Proper protective gear like helmets, elbows, and knee pads are recommended, especially when riding high speeds. Laws and regulations on boards are still evolving in many areas. Understanding local rules will help board riders stay within legal limits for a safe and enjoyable experience.
Pros and Cons of Traditional Skateboards
Traditional skateboards offer several advantages over electric skateboards. However, they also come with some downsides to consider.
One of the biggest pros of skateboarding is freedom and independence. Skateboards require no batteries, motors, or controls; simply your feet and balance. This provides a pure riding experience that is completely free and requires little maintenance. Skateboards are also typically cheaper upfront since they have fewer complex parts.
Nonetheless, skateboards are constrained by their restricted power and scope. Ascending uphill or covering lengthy distances can prove arduous in the absence of an electric motor. Furthermore, skateboards do not provide protection against the elements, leaving riders vulnerable to wind, rain, dirt, and inclement weather. Safety remains a pressing concern in the lack of electrical components to safeguard against damage to the apparatus.
Skateboards present an optimal opportunity for acquiring new abilities and executing stunts. The absence of power renders honing techniques such as kick turns, shuvits, and other maneuvers more manageable. Once these skills are mastered, skateboards offer an unparalleled platform for advancing tricks and pushing boundaries. However, novices may encounter difficulties maintaining balance on skateboards in comparison to boards. If you want to learn how to fall off your electric skateboard without hurting yourself, follow these tips in this blog.
While skateboards require more physical effort, this can provide added exercise. Skating helps build strength in the legs, feet, ankles, and core muscles. High-speed riding and tricks become cardiovascular exercise. However, some may find skateboarding too demanding or tiring as a mode of transportation.
Pros and Cons of Electric Skateboards
Electric skateboards provide several advantages over traditional skateboards, but also some downsides to consider before purchasing.
Power and range are major benefits of boards. The motors can propel riders up steep hills, long distances, and high speeds that are difficult to achieve with feet alone. Eboards allow for adventure and expansive exploration. Batteries also protect from weather and elements that can reduce range and damage components on a traditional skateboard.
E-boards are often more convenient than skateboards. They require no physical effort or balancing practice to ride, simply acceleration and steering. This makes boards more accessible and suitable for riders of all ages, abilities, and fitness levels.
However, boards have higher upfront and ongoing costs. The additional motors, batteries, and electrical components increase the price of boards compared to skateboards. Batteries must also be recharged regularly, which requires an electrical outlet, adding to maintenance and expense. Replacing batteries every few years further adds to the total cost of ownership over time.
Control and responsiveness may feel less direct on a board. While hand throttles and remotes provide precise control, some riders feel a loss of tactile feedback compared to balancing on a skateboard. E-boards also typically can't achieve the same sharp turns or sudden stops and starts as skilled skateboards.
E-boards offer less opportunity for tricks and progression. Without perfecting balance and flipping mechanics, boards limit progression in skating styles and skills. Some boards lack flex, the impact feels, and pop that enables trick elements. Freestyling, grinding, and unpredictable movement feel less natural on boards.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Electric and Traditional Skateboards
Several key factors must be considered when deciding between electric and traditional skateboards. E-boards provide more power and range but often at higher costs, with limited control feel and fewer opportunities for tricks. Skateboards offer a free riding feel, lower costs, and the ability to develop skills but lack power for long distances or uphills.
Your riding needs, style, and technical abilities should guide your choice. If commuting long distances, traversing hills easily, or wanting advanced power and speed are priorities, an electric skateboard is probably right for you. Those focused on pumping, freestyling, or perfecting skating mechanics will likely prefer a traditional skateboard.
Consider how much you want to invest, including upfront costs and maintenance and replacement expenses over time. E-boards have significantly higher costs due to components, while skateboards provide an affordable riding experience with minimal investment. Make sure any budget can accommodate the ongoing charging costs, repairs, or battery replacement if you go electric.
Riding feels, and responsiveness also differs between the boards. E-boards provide an effortless, powered ride using throttles or remotes. Skateboards give the tactile feel of balancing on a narrow deck, which takes practice to master. Think about which riding experience feels most natural and enjoyable for you.
Safety is another factor to weigh. E-boards typically have additional components that shield them from the elements, while skateboards offer less protection. However, high-speed riding does come with risks on any board. Make sure to weigh safety gear needs versus top speed capabilities based on where and how you plan to ride.
Ultimately, choosing between an electric skateboard and a traditional skateboard comes down to your riding needs, style, and budget. Determine what factors are most important to you and which board best aligns with how you want to ride. Don't feel locked into one or the other-you could even start with one and end up switching or keeping both! The most important thing is getting out and enjoying the ride.