If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably been asking yourself questions like: Why are electric skateboards so expensive? Is it really worth it? What’s the best electric skateboard if I’m not looking to break the bank? I went through the same thing a year ago and wanted to share my reflections on the journey since, in the hopes that it can provide you some guidance at the start of your e-skate journey.
About a year ago, midway into the Covid-19 pandemic, I was looking for a change–a new hobby to keep me entertained and help fight off the ever-present challenge of isolation, anxiety, and depression. So one day, I decided on a whim to buy an electric skateboard.
Why? I thought it would provide a fun activity while I was bored, something to focus on and get better at that was purely for personal enjoyment and not school or work, and potentially would be useful for short-range transportation. While I thought I’d probably be satisfied with my purchase, I wasn’t ready for just how much it would change my life for the better.
One of the things that scared me away from buying an electric skateboard at first was the price. The brand I was most familiar with was Boosted–a company made famous in part by YouTube star Casey Neistat, who featured it as his main form of transportation in many of his videos. Their boards cost more than $1000, which to me–a student at the time–was just too high for a purchase I was not 100% certain I’d get the value back out of. On a school job part-time salary, the board would cost pretty much my entire semester’s pay. It seemed crazy to me, so I hunted down a way to make getting a board more affordable.
I went on Google and started researching the best budget electric skateboards on the market, looking for high quality construction and good customer service at an under $500 price tag. After reading into it for a few weeks, I settled on the Backfire G2 Black. It only cost a little over $400–although not inexpensive, pretty much the lowest price I was able to find for a board that was actually of decent quality–and everyone online seemed to be raving about the quality to price ratio, so I figured why not?
About a week later, my brand new board arrived and my life changed for the better. I didn’t really know what to expect at first, but one year after getting the board, I can say with certainty that it’s the best purchase (of a physical item) that I’ve ever made.
There are a few different reasons for this, which I’ll go through one by one:
First up, transportation and cost savings. One of the initial reasons that electric skateboards were so enticing to me is that they come with a pretty long battery range, which makes them great for short range transportation. On the budget end, the Backfire I bought promised about 10-12 miles, but some of the higher end boards can go for more than 30 before their battery dies.
On one charge, that meant that I could commute about 5 miles either direction (or more if you pay for that feature) before my board died, or 10 miles either way if I had somewhere I could charge in-between. As someone without a lot of disposable income who wanted to minimize any unnecessary costs, this provided me with a perfect solution to one of the things that was going to take up a big chunk of my income each month: car bills.
At the time I was thinking about buying my board, I was planning on moving to a small town where everything would be within a few miles of me. I’d originally thought that since I was finally living on my own and commuting to work and school all the time, I’d have to buy a car. That thought was a little overwhelming, considering that it was going to cost a few hundred dollars a month in car payments plus insurance and gas. After looking at the board range, though, I realized that if I strategized well, I could use the board as a replacement. By spending only $400 on one single purchase, I could save myself $400 per month for at least a year.
So that’s what I did. Ever since I bought my board, I’ve been living car-less and just getting around with my board, a bike, or the bus. It’s saved me thousands of dollars already, and will only continue to save me money as long as it does enough to me to serve as a car substitute. Instead of driving, I now go to friends’ houses on my board, to the grocery store, to the gym, and to all sorts of errands.
Electric skateboards are also an excellent transportation option for those who cannot drive–either because they are too young, the traffic is too bad for it to be feasible, or because the cost of owning a car is simply too expensive.
Although this has worked great for me, I do want to provide a warning that this is not a solution for everyone. An electric skateboard will likely only be an effective car replacement for people who meet the following general profile:
- Commute fewer than 10 miles per day (total).
- Have enough time to travel only 15 miles per hour (or less) on their commute.
- Live somewhere with roads that are safe and accessible to skateboards, meaning they have a smooth sidewalk or a wide bike lane and do not have a high level of fast-moving and/or reckless traffic.
- Live somewhere where it is not constantly raining, snowing, or freezing. Electric skateboards cannot be ridden in water and perform poorly in cold conditions, leading to risk of severe battery drain
- Have decent public transportation around them or access to an inexpensive car share service. Sometimes electric skateboards will not be enough. You may need to run an errand where you have to carry more than you can easily fit on your board or want to go on a hike somewhere it’s just not convenient to carry your board. In this case, you’ll need a good backup you can rely on.
Using electric skateboards as an alternative transportation method to cars has had the additional benefit of dramatically reducing my carbon footprint and making me feel much better about my impact on the environment.
The average car emits around 4.6 metric tons (a little over 10,000 pounds!) of CO2 annually. Per mile, electric skateboards emit only about 1/50th what the average car gives off (primarily through the efforts required in charging). Given that total annual mileage should be a lot less for a skateboard due to its short range and lower flexibility for transportation conditions, real world emissions are likely close to 1/100th or lower that of owning a car.
If you are concerned about global warming and want to take action to reduce your own impact on the problem, an electric skateboard is a really easy way to do so. You can have fun riding, while also feeling good about what you’re doing for the world! It’s a win-win.
One of the more unexpected benefits of investing in an electric skateboard was the impact it would have on social life and community.
I used to ride my skateboard around a local park most days and would have people regularly stop me to ask about my skateboard. It was a great conversation starter, helping me feel more connected to my community. It also served me really well for friendship building. At this point I’ve taught more than 10 people to ride, and it’s been an easy way of bringing people together. I’ve offered free lessons and people have always taken me up on it and loved the experience. Every single time, whomever I taught came away excited and ready to learn more, which provided good opportunities for continued friendship (you could probably use this tactic to get people to swipe right dating sites, too, if you were really invested).
If you live in a big city, electric skateboarding can provide an even bigger community. Many cities have Facebook groups where riders get together for skate meetups and group rides. Through participation in those events, you can meet others who share your hobby and make new friends. This is an especially great option if friendship isn’t something that comes naturally to you, since bonding through shared experience is a lot easier and less stressful way to make connections than just walking up to someone and starting a conversation cold.
Although the money and environmental protection are great, what’s most important in the long run is your own mental health and happiness, and that’s the area where I think buying an electric skateboard gave me the most benefit.
Skateboarding gave me a way to escape the stress of life. When I cruise down the street on my skateboard, I get into a rhythm, zooming back and forth in a repetitive pattern. It’s very calming, but it also requires focus to dodge sticks or rocks that might cause me to fall. This combination has proved really successful at getting me out of my own head and into a sort of flow state. When I skateboard, I’m not thinking about a frustrating work problem or homework assignment, I’m just cruising and relaxing.
Making it even better is the fact that skateboarding is an activity done outdoors without the need for a screen of any kind. I’ve always found excessive usage of computer screens to be exhausting and excessive time spent indoors to be a trigger for increased feelings of depression. With skateboarding, you have an opportunity to be outdoors, enjoying the wind, the birds, and the greenery, and a chance to take a break from screens–helping both with mental health and with eye strain and headache.
Participating in active transportation–skateboarding instead of driving–also has the benefit of getting you a small amount of exercise, waking you up in the morning, and giving you a hobby to think about while traveling to and from school or work instead of thinking about those places. While bikes can do this for you as well, electric skateboards have the particular benefit of being incredibly fun. Biking–one of the most popular forms of active transportation–can feel monotonous after a while, but for me, electric skateboarding has never gotten old. It’s always a thrill to hop on the board and always makes my day better.
So would I say my board was worth $400? Absolutely. Before I bought one, I didn’t know if it would be worth it, but a year later, I think it was an absolute steal. Electric skateboards are absolutely worth it if you make the right choice. The board I got has brought me thousands of dollars of benefit and has improved my life in so many ways, and I’m so grateful that I decided to take the plunge and get one.
While I think that the budget board I chose was a great purchase for me, I don’t think that all electric skateboards are great deals, nor do I think they are right for everybody. Some come with incredibly hefty price tags––topping at multiple thousands of dollars––and that is likely not worth it for the average individual. Even a budget board may not be worth it if you live in a location that’s not conducive to electric skateboarding. However, if you live somewhere where skateboarding is convenient and have enough disposable income to afford it, a budget or mid-tier board could be a fantastic investment in the long run. Just make sure to do your research and pick an option of high quality. My Backfire has been fantastic, but it’s not the only great brand out there, so you should do your research and choose what’s right for you!
Let me know your thoughts on electric skateboards in the comments! Do any of these points sway you? If you have been looking for a while but haven’t bought one yet, what factors are limiting you?