This city is a complete shit-show when it comes to boarding. You’d think, since this state is ground zero for electric planks, that the streets here would be a bit more friendly towards them. Hell, this is one of the only urban centers on this backward little planet where you can legally ride in the road and not get hassled by a badge.
I’ve got a daily commute of about three and a half miles (easy), up and down some steep hills (not so easy), on the certifiably worst urban roads in this country (and arguably the worst urban roads in the first world). The conditions of the roadways here are so bad that they beggar the imagination. Anyone surfing these streets better have deep experience and good kit. Helmet is mandatory (if you want to live), and anything less than the strongest gear is destroyed almost instantly, often on the first real ride.
At walking speeds, on smooth level sidewalks, just about any disposaboard will do. The streets are a whole different level and you’ll need a LOT more if you want to carve them up without taking a giant dump. I’ve destroyed over a half dozen in the last 6 months alone. This town will gladly chew up your $1500 board for breakfast if you are not VERY careful.
What’s it take for a power plank to make it in a rough-and-tumble town like this, anyway? Well, for starters, you want to pick the right gear and eliminate failure points. Even expensive boards get trashed with regularity here. Don’t just throw your money at the first shiny thing that catches your eye.
With all the rough and uneven surfaces, you’d think that going all-terrain with larger diameter inflated tires would be the play. Not a bad thought, but this city has so much debris in the road and so many hard cracks that inflated tires don’t usually last long.
Regular skate wheels also have their problems. It’s incredibly easy to chuck your thane on a metal hatch cover or a sudden rough patch. If you are weaving through traffic a foot off the bumper in front of you, it’s not like you can see much of your road ahead. Gaps everywhere means lots of stiction with smaller skate wheels in the cracks. It’s super easy to get tossed as your deck comes to a sudden complete stop.
That’s why I only ride large diameter solid wheels. They allow me to bounce out of most cracks and I can pick the metal and glass out of them when I get home each night. I’m also upgrading to some new large diameter contoured wheels that will give me a fast roll when I’m going straight and some ability to deal with debris and wetness far better than flat profile wheels do.
It should go without saying that you should be running some kind of lithium pack at this point in time. The battery pack, with all of it’s interconnections, is one of the most common failure points. If you are DIY, the easiest play here is to buy a standard, high-production-volume lithium battery pack and matched charger from a major corporate builder who makes millions of them with very low failure rates. If you are buying a pre-built, make sure your builder is building (or sourcing) the highest-quality battery packs available. Embedded battery electronics should be potted for added protection against moisture and vibration (if possible).
Everyone asks about a plank’s top speed or its range or how long it takes to charge, but often the motor itself is not a specific consideration. Almost all boards produced to date use belt-drive motors, but these belts are susceptible to debris intrusion and subsequent damage to the belt or the gear. Belt drive motors can only transmit so much torque effectively and then they skip or the motor tears them apart. Further, belt-drive motors are often tucked under the board, where they are more likely to be struck by debris or other unexpected road conditions.
Clearly the next big thing are the newest in-wheel motors that are coming out now. These motors are fixed to the axle and the wheel cup spins around them. The very best ones are high power, completely water and dust-proof, and have easily replaceable thane. Mellow in Germany and enertion in Australia are leading the way here with better design and more power respectively.
Mellow’s controller design is the most advanced in the world, bar none and they let you use whatever board you prefer. enertion saves design money by using the most reliable off-the-shelf controller they can source, then put their main effort into designing and delivering the best overall high-performance experience of any product in the category with wildly powerful motors and a sweet custom chassis complete with handles.
Whatever you end up riding, be sure to look beyond brand and wheel color and try to find the best hardware to deliver the experience you are looking for.
surfreQ : coastal western quadrant : earth