How to Ride an Electric Skateboard
Skateboards have been around for decades, so it’s easy to assume that riding an electric skateboard is pretty much like riding a regular longboard. In fact, this is partly true. Most electric skateboards can be ridden like traditional skateboards. However, adding a motor to the mix does change things.
I’m writing this article for two different audiences. On the one hand you have people who have never ridden a skateboard before, but are looking for a great way to get around. On the other hand we have people who may be experienced longboarders looking to try out the electric experience.
Both of you have different challenges to overcome but, overall, electric skateboards are pretty straightforward to operate.
For the Complete Newbie
If you’ve never set foot on a longboard or any other kind of longboard before, it’s probably best if you put that remote control aside for now and learn the very basics of riding a longboard.
There are plenty of resources out on the web, so I’m not going to attempt a deep explanation here. This is Braille Skateboarding’s fantastic beginner’s instructional:
Take these instructions slow and steady. It can take a week or two to get comfortable with the basics of skateboarding. Different people learn at different paces, take as long as you need to get where you want to be.
Get comfortable riding the skateboard as a skateboard before you attempt the electric stuff. There are, however, some things that you don’t have to worry too much about, which is what I’ll talk about in the skateboarder’s section next.
For the Skateboarder
If you can already ride a longboard or a skateboard there’s much that’s familiar here. The biggest differences come up in two important places: stopping and starting.
You don’t need to push or pump to get the board going, which means you don’t need to take your feet off the board for any reason. The hand control will let you decide how much speed to carry and you just have to concentrate on carving and staying on the deck.
Stopping is also a different game altogether. Instead of foot dragging, pendulars, or slides you can directly brake with the motor. Most boards have a pretty smooth braking action, so you don’t have to worry about being thrown off, but they don’t come to a dead stop for safety reasons, so the last bit of deceleration is shoe-based.
Some boards have regenerative braking so the speed you scrub off downhill goes partly back into the battery.
You may also find the board heavier and less flexible thanks to the electrical components. Something that can be a drag is if you run out of juice.
It’s possible (unless you are a downhill longboarder) that you’ve never skated at the speeds an electric longboard is capable of. At 19 miles per hour the effects of carving, sliding, and every other move you may know is significantly amplified. If you have slippery wheels you may find yourself torqueing your face straight into the asphalt.
Electric Skateboard Operation
Most electric skateboards now use a wireless handheld remote. Some even let you shrink the speed range so you don’t accidentally go faster than you intended to go. The most common remote design uses a finger-operated trigger with spring resistance.
Find an open space that is safe for you to ride; preferably an area with smooth terrain and no objects to crash into.
Activate the board and remote as stipulated in your board’s manual. Step on to the board in the way you find most comfortable. Once you have your feet in place gently apply power using the remote.
First simply try riding in a straight line and then coming to a stop. Note the way that the braking action is applied.
Your board may also be fully reversible, and once you’ve come to a stop you can go backwards. If this is the case you have a wider choices of maneuvers available to you, such as reversing out of a tough spot without dismounting.
Once the straight-line stuff is firmly under your belt you can try some light carving. Note how faster speeds exaggerate the effects of your carving.
Never ride your longboard without at least a helmet, and preferably with pads as well. Longboards are capable of serious speeds, electric or otherwise. Keep your head protected since you’ll probably need it at some point.
Electric longboards can be a relaxing and fun way to get around, but need a bit more prep work than a hoverboard or Segway. The most important thing is to be systematic. Don’t run before you can walk, and everything should be just fine.