Article

Field Tested: Boosted Board

The Boosted Board lets you accelerate fast, skate uphill and ride up to 8 miles on a single electric charge, with almost no learning curve.

Review by L. Clark Tate. Photos courtesy Boosted Boards

Dec. 4, 2015—I was kind of a skater wanna-be growing up. A few years ago I bought a longboard at a garage sale for $10 and tried to teach my dog to pull me around. We were a mess—Chewy likes chasing way more than he likes pulling. And I could never get the timing and balance of the push-kick.

So when a Boosted Boards rep showed up at Hilltromper headquarters in downtown Santa Cruz offering to literally take the leg work out of skateboarding, I was intrigued to distraction—as was the rest of the Cruzioworks co-working community. (We’ll get to that beautiful mess of frivolity in a minute).

The Boosted Board is a California-made (headquarters in Mountain View) electric longboard that offers the flowing carves and flex of an extended wheelbase. With super-sturdy trucks, a flexy bamboo deck and orangutan-in-heat wheels, the board is called out as Tesla-esque in online testimonials. It looks good and feels solid. Sleek and reassuringly heavy, with of-the-moment splashes of neon orange, it’s a perfectly packaged big-kid toy. I saw it, and I wanted to ride it.

The session started out when Traci, Eric and I accompanied Cody DuMont, now sales manager, out to the Riverwalk Trail, donning helmets and trying to concentrate on the basic instructions before getting down to playtime. The board’s speed and braking are hand-controlled by a wireless remote, shaped vaguely like a toy gun. Using your trigger finger you roll a thumbwheel (triggerwheel, I guess)—forward to increase speed, backward to brake.

Simple enough. But I have small hands and they felt a little outgunned. The controller wasn’t an immediately comfortable fit and I was afraid that I would have trouble fine-tuning my speed. I got used to it.

There are three speed modes (beginner, eco and expert) available on all three Boosted Board models — the Single motor (1,000 watts), the Dual motor (1,500 watts) and the Dual+ (2,000 watts), which also features a pro mode. Single speeds range from 9 to 18 mph, Dual from 10 to 20, and Dual+ runs up to 22 mph. It’s easy to switch back and forth between modes by quickly pressing a button on the remote three times. We set out, devices set to Beginner.

Slowly pushing the triggerwheel forward I rolled down the sidewalk-width strip of asphalt. Very cool. As I bent my knees, flexed the deck a little, and started to settle in, the Grin started curling up my cheeks. As soon as I was feeling good about it I came to an underpass and headed downhill. As a non-skater I don’t really know how to footbrake without, you know, breaking my foot, so I experienced a spike of adrenaline.

Totally unnecessary. I let up on the wheel and then dialed it slowly back. A smooth decent followed. Score. I was now at full-on Grin status. A bit more confident, I cranked the speed a bit to climb the hill on the far side. That’s definitely the money shot—that confused feeling of zooming uphill on a skateboard with no effort.

Yes, it does feel like you’re living in a video game, but it makes good sense as a commuter tool too. And this is the kind of commuting that turns back the clock, has you arriving at work looking for your homeroom.

Soon each of us Hilltrompers was spinning around at our own pace, and in turn zoomed the length of the trail and returned to convene at our starting point. Since none of us managed to arrive at the same time, we couldn’t help but head back out for another quick run, ya know, just ‘til everyone got back. We were out there for a while.

I started fiddling with the modes, going faster, and trying to carve a bit. Oh, overconfidence, you bitch. At one point a turn swung wide and threatened to take me off the trail and over the riverbank. I panicked and finger-slammed on the brakes. The board slowed rapidly. I did not. Luckily my legs kept up with the rest of me as I ran it out on the sidewalk. Chastised, I slowed my roll. For a bit.

Cruising Cruzio

After we rolled back over to Cruzio, it didn’t take long for all the other teenagers dressed up like grownups to come out and play. We gave short demos and strapped helmets on heads just as they whirred out from beneath our hands.

I’ve never seen so many goofy grins stretching out typically office-tightened, computer-zombied faces. Apparently a lot of people have a little skater wanna-be in them.

I chatted with folks I’d seen for months but never spoken to. A couple of times we Hilltrompers turned to field a question (not that we knew many answers) from one impromptu tester, only to spin around and find that another had whipped around the corner, disappearing, with a board.

Controlled panic: “What was that guy’s name again? Do you know him? Does he work here? Is he coming back?!” Deep breath. “Crap.” At $999 to $1,499 a pop, accidentally buying one of these for some slightly shady rando was not appealing. Luckily the boards and their riders came back like little motorized homing pigeons.

Boosted Board Specs

The Boosted Board is available as a lightweight, single motor commuter ($999), a dual-motor design for optimum handling ($1,299), and a dual+ design, equaling more power and an extra $200 ($1,499).

There are a couple of heads-up aspects. The board could unexpectedly lose power, so you don’t ride it above your top foot-braking speed (a rule I readily ignored). It’s not waterproof, so sudden rainstorms, mud or snow could fry it, even at speed.

Similarly, high-impact tricks (jumps, hops, curbs, etc.) could bust your boost. Nobody likes a busted boost. Keep a beater board around for throw downs. And, you could wreck yourself. This board is dangerously fun.

The boards’s App upgrades allow you to download any new tricks the Boosted creates. It charges to 85% in just over half an hour; a total charge takes a full hour. The board can go 4.5 to 8 miles on a charge – depending on how hard you’re pushing it. Regenerative braking means that slowing the board down at any time charges the battery back up.

The Boosted Board ($999-$1499) is available at O'Neill Surf Shops in Santa Cruz and On The Beach in Monterey. In the South Bay find it at NC Boardshop in Los Gatos and Black Diamond Sports in Palo Alto.

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