Refurbish & repair old esk8s | How to upcycle & restore a Fiik Street Surfer with modern esk8 technology

There are a lot of early generation esk8s showing up on Used markets. The Mechanical Platforms may be sound, stuffed with Dead-Flintstone Electronics.

This is not about the latest $6k super board, but how to give new life to a flea-market special. This topic is about what to fix, what to throw out, what the gotchas are, what cheap parts are decent-enough for a working-class upgrade.

As a case study, this is my just-died Street Surfer. I am a bottom-feeding noob in esk8 withdrawal. Should I do a fancy upgrade or cut my losses with bargain electronics?


This is a great topic!

I really think there is some opportunity to bring these old beasts back to their original, if not (much) better, condition.

The good news is these things are built extremely tough! They are very heavy/robust and mostly seem to be mechanically very strong.

I think the battery & ESC are kind of easy problems to solve…

The biggest potential issue in a refurbishment project like this is what to do with that motor, they are big, heavy and don’t compete with the power output of the more modern brushless outrunners. I am not sure that VESC based motor controllers that most esk8 builders use can run these motors, from memory, these are all brushed motors… so the first hurdle is solving the motor issue

  • If you CAN drive the motor with VESC the future is looking bright for these old beasts. Just drop a vesc, a big li-ion pack and new remote and you have a bulky & very fun tank board to ride.

  • If you CAN’T drive these motors with VESC, finding a nice hobby-grade motor that has the same RPM & bolt-hole-spacing is the next challenge. Changing the motor kind of has a domino effect, could also mean you need to rework the drive train components, the existing motor pulley probably won’t fit a brushless outrunner shaft, then you probably need new belts, possibly some wheel pulley compatibility issues next, maybe an entirely new motor mount. So, now it’s starting to get complicated, expensive etc.

  • If you CAN’T drive motor with VESC & Can’t be bothered reworking the drive train to suit a Burshless Outrunner motor you should probably try to source the old/original ESC that can drive the existing motors (assuming the motor still works well), that is probably the easiest and probably cheaper.

  • Then just pour all your cash & focus towards a decent capacity li-ion battery, i think some kind of clip on bike frame batteries might fit under there, or just build a custom battery to suit the existing box! and finally maybe some more lightweight rims & fresh rubber!

I do believe retro-inspired, suped-up, oldschool esk8’s are likely to be a new trend in the coming years.

Upcycling for the win!


100% agree, but I do feel the weight of these could work counter-productive.

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Thanks for the detailed reply. I guess this about 2009 design. Hmmm, the motor brush issue is a puzzler to solve. Is brushless three-phase three-wire, and brushed two wire?

Yes, these beasts are like classic cars just begging for love. The wheels are unstoppable, even potholes and many curbs barely slow it. Its got a kicktail, use it a lot. The deck is so big I can walk it like Capt. Ahab.

These beasts could be even bigger and cooler. Is anyone building giant esk8s? Why not?

Contrary to popular belief vesc based esc can In fact run a brushed motor.


Some discussion here about it… seems it is possible! VESC for the win!

Yeah, Cool, I have now just discovered this! :face_with_monocle: Never tried it personally…

Have you been able to have some good results? I imagine getting the acceleration & braking to function well sounds like it would require some careful testing trial & error etc. With safety beer gear of course.


Yeah, getting the weight down as much as possible will make these tanks way more agile & fun to rip around on…

Whenever I have ridden these big tanks, they kind of feel like driving a boat :rowing_man:

Once you get the speed & power tuned up a few notches you need that handling to be dialled in…

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Its not worth trying to make a boat into a 35mph carver. It does 22 with beginning of speed-wobble, with original motor and ESC. Sheer inertia is a safety feature (sometimes) when it barrels thru what would stop dead a lighter board with smaller wheels.

It carves like a farm plow, barely making right turns in-lane. Slowing to a crawl to kicktail turn, reversing for a better angle, even getting off to hand-turn the ship around is part of the style. Then there is the tremendous height, people look like ants; be ready to duck near airports. Beautiful women jump out of limos to throw themselves at it. “Welcome Aboard”. They never complain it handles like a yacht.

The proper upcycle is original speed performance at modest cost, with improved reliability, serviceability, and usability. It could last a hundred years that way.


Good one…

Well, then you’ll want a vesc based esc and a brushless propeller. Find out the gear ratio of that geardrive and dimensions of the motor to replace it with a brushless one thats suitable, or get a new geardrive made, or even go dual motor and have decent brakes, with similar speed and feel as before.

Maybe the most simple option is a Scooter/Hoverboard hub motor… probs similar weight to the big brushed motor.

Whoaaa, 4WD with Scooter motor hubs?


The problem is bent axles. They need some kind of fork support.

Concept: take surfboards and turn them into street boat ESK8s.

But I mean, what did die on that Fiik ? didn’t state that yet.

And hubs. yes,. but hard to mount on original trucks indeed.

What died? Perhaps only the receiver. Suddenly the Remote no longer saw the Board. Battery was fully charged, power button lit, but no connection. No obvious board fault.

Maybe all I need is new remote and receiver, but am worried about compatibility and futzing if the whole system is fried or not worth saving.

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VESC will give it more power and you could adds a display for speed and range on the board or in the remote.

Hooray, original motor is brushless-


So its looking like a TB VESC single plus remote. I would program for efficiency rather than more speed or torque, if that is doable.

Leaving this board to stay itself, more or less, and holding out next for a hot $2k build as my second ride. Planning to be rich any day now, even a bit overdue…

That said, do I have any battery or motor compatibility issue to watch out for? I only know the battery charger is 42V, and the capacity is 13Ahr.

Here’s a conversion project-



check the receiver. I had some dumped in water, a nice clean did some wonders, Otherwise, if your voltages and chargetimes are good, It seems like a solid plan.

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I haven’t ran one on an esk8 or scooter. No I made some moving targets for shooting. Actually work great for this application. Cause america and guns are a must… But instead of spending a shit load on actual targets, that are questionable at best, I made some that work better. At least until to hey get hit.

Pretty cool making targets. Bet they are one use only tho

No the esc is obviously connected to the motor, which is has a chain drive moving different things simultaneously. It’s pretty cool.