There’s no lazy thrill quite like not having to kick-push while riding an electric skateboarding. And now ZBoard has added more miles of effortless cruising to that dream with its new bigger-battery generation of vehicles. But a core design problem still poisons the ZBoard experience: you clumsily control acceleration and braking with foot triggers on the deck that clash with the laws of physics.
The new $999 ZBoard Blue weighs 16 lbs and get 16 miles per charge, while the more premium $1199 ZBoard Pearl is 18 pounds and goes 24 miles before it needs juice. Both are available for discounted pre-order now through Indiegogo. Here’s how the ZBoard 2s compare to ZBoard’s old models:
Front and tail lights are nice touches for safety. And carved out handle holes in the deck make the ZBoard much easier to carry than its competitor the Boosted Board. But the basic interface flaw remains.
To go forward on the ZBoard, you stamp down on the trigger at the front. Yet whenever you accelerate on anything, momentum pushes you back. That leaves you in a less stable stretch as you reach forward but your weight shifts back. Similarly, braking by pressing on the back trigger sends your weight hurdling forward. The instability is compounded by the fact that you have to shuffle or slide your feet around while riding to hit the triggers. The ZBoard founders tell me that’s not an issue because if you stretch forward but your weight shifts back when you accelerate, your weight goes to the center of the board again. I disagree, though, and find all that shifting a bit sketchy while flying over unforgiving asphalt.
If you’re mostly riding on flat deserted roads at relaxed speeds, balance won’t be too big of a problem. But if you’re going to ride on busy streets with car and pedestrian traffic, hills, or take lots of turns, you might find the ZBoard a bit unsteady.
The new ZBoards also only have a motor connected to one back wheel, not both, which can cause it lose accelerator or braking traction if that wheel tips off the ground. And with only 500 watts of power, they can’t power up especially steep hills.
If safety is your top concern, the dual-motored wireless handheld remote-controlled Boosted Board may give you more precision in navigation while keeping your feet firmly planted. But with a range of just around 5 miles per charge, the Boosted may run out steam before you reach your destination. The new ZBoards will likely have plenty of range for where you need to go, as long as you can maneuver it.