ZBoard is an electric skateboard that doesn’t need a controller

There’s no arguing that electric skateboards aren’t efficient and fun. But most modern electric skateboards like the Boosted Board and InBoard M1 are operated by hand-held controllers that connect to the board via Bluetooth. But ZBoard, a Los-Angeles based startup, focuses on boards that eschew a controller and can be operated by sensors in the board itself.

We last looked at ZBoard two years ago when we rode one of their V1 boards. While we were impressed by the range, we thought the foot-controlled accelerator was a little too unstable to ride in an urban setting.

So last week at CES we checked out the second version of their board, the ZBoard 2. It comes in two models – the Blue with a 16 mile range and 20 MPH top speed for $1,299, and the Pearl with 24 miles of range and a 20 MPH top speed for $1,499.

Both versions include a belt-driven motor, integrated headlights and tail lights, and of course two pressure pads for your feet to move the board forwards and backwards.

At first, it was a little awkward to get used to controlling the board, especially if you normally ride something like a Boosted Board which relies on a hand-held controller. But after a 20 minute riding session it definitely became easier, and probably would become totally natural over a few weeks of riding. Sure, the pedal-based controls weren’t as accurate as a handheld controller, but it actually felt more natural once you got used to it. Ditching the controller actually made it feel more like I was just riding a regular skateboard.

There are some other benefits of not having a controller, like no chance at lost connection between the controller and the board (something that is rare, but does happen), and no need to charge another device.

Ultimately, the ZBoard is a good alternative if you want an electric skateboard but aren’t into the handheld controller. Check out the video above to see us trying it out at CES 2017.