Disclaimer: Before continuing to read this review, I want to point out that the board has not been purchased from diyeboard. Upon asking for the difference between their A grade components and the identically looking equipment I bought, I received no conclusive evidence that leads me to believe that there is a difference in quality.
Snowboarding is/or rather was one of my biggest passions. I started riding 20 years ago. However, due to the increasing prices of Wintersport vacations and the necessity to support my wife in a foreign country, I had to give most of it up about 7 years ago. The added frustration of deteriorating snow conditions most certainly did not help and I was rarely able to capture the same feeling I had when bombing down mountains off-piste all those years back.
I looked at regular mountain boarding, kiteboarding & kitesurfing, but these sports were too restrictive, especially in Germany. Hardly any decent slopes nor big lakes around.
Enter esk8. The prices were steadily dropping and several resellers were offering a Chinese made electric mountain board, sold under different brand names. They all appear to be identical, with the exception of a few specs (motors, deck/bamboo mix).
The specs as indicated by the reseller:
- 11AH LG Li-Ion
- 20-30 KM range
- 42 km/h top speed
- 2000W (total)
- climbs of 30º possible
- bamboo/maple deck
- 8’’ wheels
It comes with a 2A charger (roughly took 5+ hours to charge after a ride).
The specs that you will find are more important If you are new to ESK8, the above mentioned specs sound impressive…and they are, if you stick to flat roads and a bit of offroading with some minor climbs. However, the manufacturer/distributor/reseller will often omit the specifications that have a big influence on performance. Cheecky.
- The chinese 2.1 ESC delivers 25A per motor (50A total)
- The battery pack delivers just that, 50A
These are performance limiting factors that will turn the mountain board into something that is great for streets with potholes, but rather mediocre to terrible for serious offroading. If you expected anything more, you basically bought a lemon. And as it will turn out, it is somewhat complicated to turn that lemon into lemonade.
Malfunction I didn’t get to enjoy the board for long. After 700 meters, the ESC malfunctioned. However, since I already established that the board was not going to perform according to my wishes, I decided to try and turn that lemon into lemonade.
First upgrade - motors & VESC After doing some research, I learned that the ideal motor size for my weight and intended purpose was 6374 or even bigger. The stock motors were 6355 (Maytech - sold under different brand names). Since I was going to upgrade to VESC, I also had to ensure that I was not working with a high KV motor (VESC RPM limit) and 190KV or lower was recommended for high torque offroad builds. I chucked the stock motors and bought some SK3 149KV motors. Along with the motors, the pulleys have to be exchanged due to the inner bore diameter difference (10 vs 8 mm motor shaft).
The stock motor mounts could be redrilled to fit the new motors, but they suffered from belt slipping, which would most certainly become worse with additional power. It has no belt tensioning options, thus I chucked those too and 3D printed some alternatives after which I had the final design CNC’d out of aluminum.
Original design - no belt tensioning
Simple but effective clamped redesign Belt tension can be adjusted by moving motor
I then bought an ultrabox 206 and placed all my electronics inside of it (first ESK8.de VESC and then dual focbox). Yes, that’s allot of dirt. It’s being used as it should
Stock 10S5P Li-Ion pack - weak sauce I had some hope that I could still use the Li-Ion pack. I was very wrong. I had to walk the majority of the offroad track I drive to work, because the pack could not deal with the increased amp draw…at all. The VESC was set to pull 25A each, but even that was too much with a voltage sag of over 2V at times. In addition, the board would slow down significantly around 39 V due to the extreme voltage sag, so I could not get much range out of it in a hilly area. The last of the stock electronics had to go.
I bought 4x zippy 8000mah 30C lipos and a charger capable of delivering 14A at 24V, meaning I can usually get going again within 2 hours. That, plus no more walking. The VESC is currently set at 50A battery amps (100A total), providing enough power to conquer the hills around here.
I read all about BMS integrated systems and how they tend to cause issues (braking, over-voltage), so I decided to go with a simple & cheap, but effective approach.
- A couple of parallel & series adapters
- ISDT Q6 plus charger
- Balance board
- 24V power supply
- Cheap voltage alarms - they do their job fine letting me know when I am at 36V under load
The lipos are thrown in a padded backpack and fastened to my board. The charger is in my regular backpack. After around 900 KM (longest trip, 24 km) I can safely say that it works fine.
Recap At this point, I replaced the stock ESC, motor mounts, motors, electronics enclosure & Li-Ion pack.
still not done - stock trucks/wheels Whilst working on the board and actually using it, it became obvious where manufacturing corners were cut on moving parts. The trucks are unstable due to a variety of reasons and you will easily encounter speed wobbles beyond 30 km/h offroad or with unpredictable wind.
The reason for this is that: A. These trucks are not precision engineered (no cnc) B. These trucks do not have dampeners
The bushings and kingpin all have several mm of free play. The bushings are actually too small for the trucks (or the holes too large) and just by looking at the picture below you will see what the remaining issues are. Nothing fits. Aligning bolts and bushings is difficult if a truck is not precision engineered, so instead they decided to create oversized holes for pretty much everything. In addition to causing speed wobbles, it creates a hell of a noise.
The next step is to see if new bushings will resolve the issue. Last resort is drilling oversized holes and machining custom bushings to resolve the play. If that does not work, it will be time to invest in a more expensive board as my platform (MBS or Trampa).
In an additional attempt at trying to improve the riding characteristics, I tried to install dampers made for MBS trucks. Sadly, they are too compressed when installed, thus that is not a solution.
compressed dampers - also notice the pressed in bearings for those hubs. Maintenance will be a b&tch.
Lastly, the hubs (wheels) are out of balance. Even when removing the 8’’ pneumatic tires, I noticed that the hubs wobble adding to the instability and vibration of this board.
What I ended up with
So what I ended up with in the end was a board that did not fulfill my personal expectations, but hey…you get what you pay for. Upgrading the board did force me to learn allot about basic manufacturing (developing a motor mount) and the electronics involved. Since you won’t find expertly designed parts for these boards, you have to do it all yourself.
It also became painfully obvious that I could have bought a Trampa or similar brand at roughly the same price. It would have been a better option in the end. Still, I am having a blast with my board and with the list of improvements I made, it has turned out to be reliable enough for day-to-day commuting.