Electric Skateboards: Awesome or the End of Civilization?
Is the emergence of the electric skateboard a sign that electrified and alt-fuel technology has integrated itself into every nook and cranny of vehicular culture or, conversely, does it confirm that today’s skater youth are pampered beyond comprehension? Philosophical questions aside, Kef Design, a Portland, Oregon based company, is powering forward with its line of electric skateboards known as Metroboards. These decks can reach top speeds of 19 mph in five seconds and shuttle riders up to 15 miles on a single, two-hour charge. Driven by a 600-watt motor and a lithium battery pack, Kef says the Metroboard has enough power to propel riders up a nine degree slope.The Metroboards feature nine rider-adjustable power levels (from beginner to advanced), allowing riders to fine-tune their ride to their personal own comfort and skill level. The decks are controlled by a small, wireless remote controller that uses Bluetooth digital signal to communicate with the motor controller located under the deck.
The controller uses two buttons and a small joystick to control speed and the deck’s regenerative braking system. Starting at 2 mph, the controller can work in 1 mph increments all the way up to top speed. If the remote is accidentally dropped while riding or if the board gets away from the controller by more than about 10 feet, the brakes will automatically be applied to prevent a runaway board.
For such a small package, the decks are packed with bells and whistles. Aside from the regenerative braking the boards also feature a front and rear LED lighting system, a remote control bell to warn pedestrians, and a fuel gauge built into the remote control that warns of a low battery via a series of beeps. There are four Metroboard models that start at around 17 pounds.
The smallest deck, the Gravity Mini, is 27 inches long while the largest model, the Longboard, stretches to 41 inches. Kef has done the math and figures the boards get about 1,500 mph using equivalent electrical energy. That translates to about $0.0005 per mile. And yes, if the battery dies and you are forced to do the unthinkable—actually push the board forward with your legs—it’s possible due to what the company calls its low pulley ratio.