I had one of the first skateboards back in the 1960s.
That is not me in the picture. But one of the ways I would have ridden it back when. (Also the way I would have been dressed too.)
I was the only kid in the neighborhood with one. It was a surprise Christmas gift I don’t recall asking for or even wanting.
For some context: Back then, roller skates had metal wheels. And leather straps. And you put those monstrosities over your shoes or sneakers. Moving around on wheels was hell. That experience might have even birthed the expression, “Hell on wheels” (but I doubt it.)
The skateboard I had was itself a monstrosity.
Searching the Internet for a photo, I’m positive it was this exact one:
There are other photos of skateboards from that time, but they all have markings on them. Mine was totally unmarked, just the like one above.
Look at those wheels. They weren’t plastic. They weren’t polyurethane. They were like goddammed cement.
Only today, researching for this post, did I learn they were probably made of clay.
That would explain everything.
On a great day, I could roll maybe thirty feet on it.
On most days, maybe five.
Because those shitty wheels had zero give. No bounce. They were unforgiving. Again: They were like cement.
So every little pebble, every little bit of sharp grit, any tiny piece of gravel would hit the wheel and the wheel would immediately stop.
And I’d go flying forward off the damn board.
And behind me would be the board and a skid mark would be created on the street from the damned obstacle.
Do you know how many pebbles, grit, and other hard tiny things are on New York City streets?
More than you can ever imagine!
And it’s really not any better today.
(Why not use the sidewalk, you ask? Because they were even worse. No smooth concrete. Cement with pebbles embedded in them. I don’t know why. Grip? Decoration? Anyway, they were worse. And that’s aside from all the cracks and unevenness!)
The streets are just as bad today, especially on this damned Island I’m trapped on, where there’s hardly ever a street sweeper and where no one bothers to even sweep their front walks (they barely even shovel them in winter!).
That skateboard was more frustrating to use than it ever was fun. After a few days with it, it went in the closet and was never used again.
Fast forward to about 1980. A neighbor has a skateboard. This one has plastic wheels. I ask to try it.
I got about ten feet and BAM! another obstacle that pitches me forward off the board. But unlike in my childhood, I was taller and clumsier. And I landed in a way that banged up an elbow.
I never got on a skateboard again.
Fast forward decades to now and YouTube keeps feeding me more and more videos about electric skateboards instead of electric scooters.
I’m not surprised. I’ve found that electric scooter makers absolutely suck at marketing their products. They produce some of the worst videos I’ve ever seen.
Plus, there are just a hell of a lot more electric skateboard owners posting about their boards than there are of electric scooter owners posting about them.
The main detriment of electric scooters is that most of them are large and heavy. And, I’m beginning to have to admit, people look sort of dorky riding them.
They’re lighter than most electric scooters. Easier to carry.
And the topper: They’re powerful!
Those little motors can put out a hell out of a lot of torque. Many of them can get up the Death Hills around here.
And speed? Unlike electric scooters sold in America which are speed-limited, there are electric skateboards that can reach 35 mph!
There’s also more innovation in electric skateboards. There’s the Mellow Board with its Endless Ride mode and modular battery. There are bushings and bearings that can be swapped out to improve the ride. Not to mention wheels.
There’s an entire industrial world for electric skateboards.
For electric scooters? You’re at the mercy of the manufacturer. Period.
And it just gets worse from there if you’ve bought your electric scooter from a Chinese company. Here is your reminder of how they operate:
You don’t exist after the transaction.
(Hell, you don’t exist unless you want to transact with them!)
Although I’ve been idly toying with the idea of an electric skateboard, a possible turning point happened today when I watched this video:
I looked at that guy and thought, Hmmmm, he’s not the typical young guy I usually see in these videos.
I didn’t want to be rude and ask his age.
As it turns out, I didn’t have to. He’s not shy about it!
Sixty-one years old and he’s riding electric skateboards!
And he’s done the electric scooter thing too, as a dealer:
But his personal ride is an electric skateboard!
What makes me think an electric skateboard is not the same death trap as past kick-skateboards are all of the YouTube videos I’ve watched. I can’t believe the different surfaces people are able to move on and through. Although the following video is a DIY lighting one, it has a great selection of surfaces in it. The board — a Meepo — handles them all without any problem. Pay attention to the riding surfaces.
Sidewalks with pebbles, sidewalks with cracks, streets, and even grass! Zero problems.
I don’t think there’s a single carbon fiber electric scooter that can do that. And the upcoming dual-motor one Kurt V. likes is well over the weight of most electric skateboards. And the Meepo board. The Meepo is 15.21 pounds. That carbon fiber eScooter will be a whopping 25.3 pounds! And have a 4.5-hour recharge time (versus less than 3, I think, for the Meepo; the Meepo can also swap batteries although it’s not particularly made to do that).
The main thing against an electric skateboard is me.
My balance ain’t what it used to be.
But … if I tighten the trucks to make it hard to curve and sway… it makes me wonder.
I’ve already thought of a place where I could practice like hell on it. There’s a long stretch of hardly-trafficked mainly-smooth street I can get to. On a weekend — especially on Sundays — it’d be perfect to ride over and over until I run down the battery. There is no damn way I’d get an electric skateboard and hop immediately into traffic! I’d have some problems doing that immediately with an eScooter too.
I’m thinking that a lot of practicing might help improve my balance too (which isn’t, by the way, an inner ear problem).
So that’s my current thinking.
My current thinking is also leaning towards that Meepo board. It’d be a low-risk investment that I could probably sell for very little loss if things didn’t work out (people are always waiting for Meepo to deliver their boards from China).
And if things were to work out swell with an electric skateboard, then I’d be lusting after the Mellow Board.