A skater's "commuter" build

I totally forgot to make a build thread for this one guys, sorry. I have been banging out projects and they sort of pop-out when they are done, not when I want them too, lol. I still want to make a video about the “skater” setup in my last build thread, so I’ll try and get that done soon. This thread is about a “commuter” setup I just finished and while it’s nothing special or new, I hope my perspective on it helps.

My previous “Skater” build: http://www.electric-skateboard.builders/t/the-skaters-eskate-strength-through-simplicity/47524/31

You see, I’m a skater, not a commuter, or at least I don’t want to be called a “commuter”. I picture eskate commuters as being the people who buy the electric skateboards at Frys or any big store and they look to Evolve and Boosted for measures of what a great eskate is. Many of them are 1st time buyers of any skateboard, powered or not.

I disagree, humbly, that such electric skateboards should be the measure of what is great, and believe if it’s not serviceable, then it has no place even being considered one of the top-of-the-line on the market. I cannot tell you how many threads and posts I see in social media from people waiting on their third remote from Evolve. Too bad they couldn’t just try a different remote that might work better and install it themselves and keep riding eh? Or an extended range battery, seemingly the only option to make the boosted a viable machine.

The way those larger market share holders do things is through direct support, you must get it fixed through them, buy parts from them, and you have no options really to work on the board yourself without voiding that warranty and risking making a giant paperweight. I’m a firm believer in skateboarding being a disposable art-form. They are traditionally toys, not meant to be operated like automobiles, not to be relied on as your sole means of transportation but typically thrashed in fun sessions till you hurt yourself or get tired. that;s where I come from, so the idea that a consumer would put up with that, and a company would hold it’s customers hostage like that is beyond me. It’s not setting a good precedent.

I recently discovered commuting on an electric skateboard, and it’s a thing, undeniably. I want to put-down those “commuters” who buy complete eskates and have no idea how to build or repair their boards, but they bring in a new aspect, they bring in fresh eyes, they bring in not a new way of doing things, but a new use-model from a new perspective. And I think that’s sort of cool, but they lack knowledge, skills and abilities to really take advantage of their unique and fresh perspective and hold this new genre of businesses accountable.

As a skater, I lacked the commuter perspective, when I was a kid we just went places on our skateboards because it’s all we had, we did not “commute” and never used that word, nor did we ever call our skateboards DIY because we assembled them.

When I started doing long range eskating and pushing my distances I discovered “commuting” to be a wonderful way to train. I simply needed an excuse to put on miles and feel the pain and push my ability. So, I began commuting to work, almost 10 miles one way, and when I got off work I would go run the battery down and smash another 30 miles or so, and that’s how I began pushing my ranges till I was going 50 miles on demand. I now know what it means to commute on an electric skateboard, cold foggy winter mornings and the act of “getting places safely” verses going out for the fun of it. I get it now, I understand commuting on a skateboard now and how electrics created this new form of transportation. I can no longer put down those people when I became one, and now I’m using that experience to show you what a good DIY commuter board could be, or what one may look like.

I started with a Skateshred downhill deck, it was just cheap and easy, but you can use any longboard deck you wish. I liked this deck and had been wanting to try it for a while so this gave me an excuse to test it out. I typically include a kicktail on everything but this time I left it out because the typical commuter doesn’t even know how to use one if they do have it, not trying to be negative, it’s just a fact. The parts list is basic, yet robust and this is the same power system I was able to run multiple times to 50 miles without any issues at all. I didn’t need to solder one item on this build, it was all plug-n-play, meaning any commuter without any experience, could pull this off. The hardest part would be drilling the deck and attaching the enclosure.

As you can see the deck I choose was hardly flat, it featured fenders and rocker that created a problem when I went to mate the enclosure to the deck.

I decided to have some beer and came up with a pretty interesting way to solve the problem, I will not get into the technique here because I made an entire thread about the process over here if your interested in the “epoxy pools of flatness”: http://www.electric-skateboard.builders/t/epoxy-pools-of-flatness/48399/8

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I wanted some creative and unique grip tape art and I didn’t want to buy a print and just stick it on, so I purchased a bunch of colored grip tape and then cut it into sections that complimented the deck shape. Yellow and green have always been my livery colors, I have no idea why I like it, but it’s obnoxious and I like it that way.

I was planning to run Kegals and try them out but initial testing on the sidewalks and streets of Vegas left me wanting some Abec11 90mm right away, and that’s what I settled on. The Kegals have a sharp lip and at 80mm they do not offer enough thane to soak up the bumps and when the edges are involved in anything it gets unpredictable. The Abec11 Flywheels at least shed the rocks off the corners and are not influenced by bumps so much, whereas the Kegals need a smooth surface. They would excel at track racing or super smooth bike paths. When commuting though, you need to be ready for anything including some pebbles and rough roads. 90mm Flywheels still go over railroad track crossings and I didn’t lose any torque by using the giant 107’s which my little single motor setup would have trouble spinning efficiently.

I did do some truck upgrades and wedging to get the long wheelbase to come alive and be maneuverable. I decided on Calibers because of their zero rake stability and I’m out of precision Avenue’s right now. I installed a Randal 35-degree downhill baseplate on the rear truck, upgraded with Riptide WFB pivot cups and APS barrel bushings, and left the 50-degree baseplate up front further wedged another 15 degrees to 65. This setup allows me to keep the bushings nice and soft so I can carve at will, but the dead angle of the rear truck keeps me stable always. No wobbles at any speed, and the front turns on a dime to get me around tight corners on the sidewalk. It’s actually quite maneuverable for such a long board and wheel base and stable for how maneuverable it is.

I really like this setup, it will be my grab-and-go daytime board now. It’s not a long range super star but that’s sort of the point. This is an example of where the DIY industry is, if you want something practical, robust and simple that will last a long time and be 100% serviceable, this is a good place to start. Everything is easy to get and it was completely plug-n-play, with zero soldering. I did get creative with the epoxy and I splurged on truck upgrades because I’m normally pampered with precision trucks. I’m happy with the performance of this setup and it would serve anyone well. I plan to do some longer commutes with it and use it when I need a solid board to just get me places, like to pick up more beer!

Range is near 25 miles, top speed is 22mph and both numbers are acceptable and useful for my needs. The Torque Boards battery really made this build easy, but it’s cost was nearly half the build. This setup is over $500, but nowhere near the prices of those complete commuter boards ruling the market right now. The benefit of a DIY commuter like this is the fact you can always work on it, you know where to get parts and you can always upgrade freely.

Commuting isn’t as bad as I thought it was, but the boards still need some work to be considered reliable means of transportation. As a skater, I would choose to travel this way to get places, simply because I enjoy skateboarding so much. But if I had to rely on the device to get to work on time, pick up the kids from school or go on a date, then I think there’s room for improvement. The goal of a commuter skateboard should be to get you places, without breaking down, time and time again. We all know these things break down so the next best thing at this point is serviceability.

If you cannot service, fix, repair or maintain your own board without voiding its warranty, then I would call that an utter failure of a commuter design, and a very poor business decision for a skateboard company. We want options, we want to be able to fix it ourselves, interchange parts and keep on riding, skaters and commuters alike. How can the DIY community help make a more reliable and serviceable standard for all electric skateboard companies to learn from so we can keep skating with less problems?

and last but not least, the video:

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Extra strength Velcro.

I totally understand your thoughts on boards and commuter isms. However. Take vehicle drivers. You have a wide spectrum of people who do all their own vehicle maintenance on one side. The other has people who can’t even pop the hood on their car. Sometimes buying a board is the I want it now factor as well. I bet some of @longhairedboy customers send their boards back to be fixed as well. Everyone has different wants, likes, and needs. But building a board is an awesome experience for those who wish to do so. I learned a ton.

Great points…but in a world where the vehicle works for years or thousands of miles without maintenance is not our world yet, eskates are far from being mature or robust enough for such a scenario.

In this current world, current state of affairs, we need serviceability because the reliability isn’t there yet for those consumers. Our 1st sign is that people need to send them back for repairs or get them maintained by the builders. If such a time comes when the length of time between repairs becomes longer than the lifespan of the battery and it’s cycles then the board becomes obsolete and replaceable. Imagine a board so robust it just works till the battery dies, then we can market to consumers who will never lift a finger to maintain them…but it’s a shame that this market is being fueled by the lost funds of people with $350 paper weights they cannot maintain or even find parts for…

While I agree with everything you’ve said. There’s one thing I cannot agree on without enclosed wheels. Bearing replacement/maintenance. I consider this to be the equivalent of an oil change.

Carbon builds up in oil and no longer properly lubricates. Dirt builds up in our bearings needing a cleaning and fresh lube…

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But even within the diy community it’s the same problem. How many “this is my build, what do you think?” threads have guys who didn’t bother reading any sticky pages or build logs. Smoking battery packs, blowing drv, wrong motors, cheap Chinese mounts and ESC, frying bms. You could easily blow just as much on a diy build if you don’t pay attention and skimp on parts, not to mention safety. When I first found this community to build a board the way I wanted did I think it was going to cost more than my boosted board. But thanks to this community along with asking questions and reading, only real extra crap I’ve got left are belts, pulleys, and a free Enertion nano X remote which I fixed. So two remotes🙂

There is so much knowledge on this site. Just have to get people to want to use it.

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I can’t agree more with almost everything you say. The one thing I will add is

I wish there were esk8 repair shops I could drop one off at on the way to work! There are auto shops everywhere, but I have no interest in owning any more cars, ever

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If you lived in NYC…:smirk:

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I wish I had the ability to lug more things with me when I go skating…I always take a small should bag/cooler with a few beers and snacks. I always have a small tool kit with me when I ride with a spare belt in it. I think there’s a market for a bag of some kind that works well and is comfortable for long range skateboarding. I don’t want to drag a wagon or put boxes or anything on top of my skateboard so a nice eskate commuter bag would be nice to have. I hate wearing a backpack when I skate but I guess they work well.

I demand that they come visit now and then. Actually out of all the boards i’ve built and sold i’ve only had maybe 5 come back for anything at all.

some were serious, others were just tweaks.

I actually encourage people to send it back if they want an adjustment, but usually the shipping is a deterrent.

Even when its been over a year.

Hell, especially when its been over a year.

In fact i think i’m going to start a mailing list for my 2015-16 customers now.

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Well I have a few longer rides on her now and all I can say is the W concave is cramping my foot…other than that, it’s perfect for getting around town. Smashing miles like they are nothing but I do miss my Avenue suspension trucks, I really need to get Paul to make some more. This Hobbyking skateboard motor and speed control really are robust…it might not be super speed power board but for getting around I don’t want that, I prefer to get there nice and steady and safe. I really do like the 12cell over the old 10cell batteries I was using, a lot more pull from this 125kv motor, it really comes a live at higher voltages.

The one thing I may add is some LED lighting on a small regulator, there’s room in the enclosure so I just need to figure out what kind of configuration I want. I need some safety for night time now…

Here she is out in the wild stretching her legs, because there’s no point in building something this cool and not riding the shit out of it!!

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I can’t hang with W concave at all, because foot cramping

I thought just having in the rear foot would help but it doesn’t, now I just notice that my front foot feels fine while the back cramps up…I guess as a test it’s a success, but the failure is now I have a short range commuter…it’s ok though, this thing only goes 25 miles and I can knock that out easy…my 100 mile board is flat as hell…like a Hamboard…

I know this thread is old but could you tell me what ESC you used? You said it was one of the RC car versions from hobby king but which one did you use for this build. I am looking to build my first board and it will be a commuter board to get me from home to the bus and train them to work and back. This build is almost exactly what I would like to do. I currently use a Segway and it’s a bit slow and cumbersome but makes a good standby source of transportation.

should be a sticky, very well-said

that build with the akashas is all-time

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@Socalscare I used the Hobbyking VESC or esk8 ESC in their skate section, it runs the latest firmware.

I recently upgraded this daily "commuter " build because I was sick of the W concave in the rear and I wanted to try out this Prism Theory. It has a slightly shorter wheelbase so I also took out some angle in the front truck and it rides perfectly. I like how it feels short yet it’s stable and functional like a longboard for going fast. I really wish it featured a kicktail and I don’t think I will be picking any deck in the future without one.

I also upgraded the battery to a long haired boy 12s5p 30Q and boy does it rock, I haven’t touched my top range yet (estimate about 39 miles) and just keep running it and shredding.

This build also features Refly wheels now and I would highly recommend them over the classic thane abec11’s, they are just smoother, stickier and more comfortable in every way. I am running the 97’s here.

The rest of the running gear is the same stuff I have been torturing for a while now. The old enclosure did crack near a bolt and I think the DIY or torque boards enclosures are weak and won’t last forever. Dave’s are much better and you get what you pay for. I used another DIY enclosure cut to size here but this is still disposable testing. Stay tuned for more…lol

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@squishy654 Awesome!! Thanks for the quick reply. I am going to start gathering parts to get something built hopefully soon! (Tired of going 10mph on the Segway!!! LOL) I will definitely be looking for a deck that is flatter without a lot of concave. I look forward to seeing any updates you make.

I started breaking inserts, they would actually break apart inside the hole and fall apart. Upgrade time to increase robustness…

Upgrading the inserts, left is new right is the old… 20180827_175055

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I bought a 190kv 4000w motor to test as a viable upgrade for those wanting more speed and power. Initial tests on 15/36 97mm Reflys leaves me wanting more torque and low end power, while it does have a much higher top speed.

So the next test is 90mm Reflys on a 15/40 gearing, going to test that today and try to get my low end power back, if it fails to satisfy me I will be going back to the 125kv.

I also have a new Bonzing deck with a kicktail to swap over because I’ve been really wanting a kicktail on my commuter, its called the Boomer. I miss having a kicktail for many reasons and I also have one more deck to test after this so I will keep the thread going as I learn more.

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This deck looks epic. Look forward to your findings good sir.

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Width is not enough yet…but loving the kicktail! Everything needs a kicktail…

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