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Existentialism-- Just a bloody good excuse to go riding...

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Despite everything going e.this and e.that these days, it's still difficult to bring myself to buy an, full throttle or pedal assist. However with changes to the landscape on this island, transportation adaptations; trying to give crowded public transport or the usage of a car a miss wherever possible, gravitated  towards the idea of an e.kick scooter.

It was down to working out what's best suited for the "last mile" commute. Sure we can take "no. 11 Bus" but what's the fun in walking when you can wheeze by and skip sweaty days to arrive faster ;)

MobilityBoard. That's my latest wheeled infatuation and acquisition. Reckon a number of people on my FB were also interested when they saw the pics but like all toys, it is kind of confusing to sort out the various stuff available in the market. To skip answering the analysis paralysis messages individually... here's the low down of my own "research" and why... the M-board is now in my quiver of wheels around the house.

There are quite a number of facebook pages for each of the brands and a couple of  local forums and blogs... but it would seem many of these are far from being objective.  Ok I won't get into too much  bitch-mode -ve commenting.

The key considerations are usually:
  • range
  • weight
  • portability/ ease of carrying
  • speed

Where the second and third is closely linked, range will be important for those intending to rely it more as a main form of commute, direct from say home to work and back.

Given the traffic these days, be it roads or pavements, I would think it's not a matter of trying to hit maddening speed of 50-60km/h or more. Sure that would be fun but like all things there are always trade offs. You want speed and range- you need a bigger battery/ bigger capacity motor. Things will be heavier. Moreover with small wheels, going too quick would really take quite a bit of focus and control.

On the other hand, if its just something that moves around for a short distance, its lighter in the battery/ motor department and often with lighter weight wheels/ parts to go along. Tradeoff? Harshness from lack of proper wheels and a lack of power in most of those I classify as "still fun but really just a toy-around-your-block" e-scooters.

Fire up a Google search and the options are mind boggling... but paring it off, boils down to a few electric kick-scooters available locally. Yes, most of them are made in China. You can  just see many a time the exact same thing some local shop is selling them with a diff decal slapped on.

While it's always cheaper to buy online but considering the potential hassles of shipping in (these are classified as "controlled items" due to the battery). Possible problem with a unit with all the returns/ warranty going back and forth.... my El Cheapo klaxon started honking a "NO" to cheap this time and decided to go local.

I've separated it loosely by weight/ wheelsize combo but its really overlapping as it depends on type of battery used and construction materials etc. 
  1. The really toy class.. like a Razor E90 running lead-acid batteries
  2. The starting to get serious 6" wheels, ~10-15 kg class like the ZoomAir, E-Thow or the Patgear
  3. 8-10" rollers, ~12.5-15kg category like the one I got here, the Mboard, the Goboard and  MyWay
  4. The big heavy behemoth, 800-1500W, high powered but its really getting away from being an e.kick scooter category for me (and its hardly seen in SG anyway. Some of these are loud racuous gas powered units and not even electric.
With the exception it seems for the MyWay, call it whatever, most of these are just OEM China products. MyWay is produced in China as well but doesn't seem like whoever producing it is mass selling online, well not yet at least ;)

Most are just slightly different variants in each class and stuck with a different decal. eg the ZoomAir and E-thow are basically the same thing with a difference in the wheels and a bit of other specs.

Likewise the M-board and GoBoard are pretty much the same.

But let's get on with why the rest are tossed.

(1) I have gone and test out just about all the above mentioned in the last 2 months with the exception of the Razor but tested another similar one in that category. Basically  these are underpowered and quite useless unless you have a 8-12 year old at home and make this a starter e-kick scooter for the kiddo. Moreover I don't want to have my friends laughing at my back..

(4) Never tried but with all the riser bars huge massive seats and all...not game even from just looking at pics.Those sure as hell pack a lot of power but would also attract a lot of unwanted attention too.

SO (1) and (4) are OUT. Into the DWMT bin (Don't Waste My Time)

(2) The 6" Wheelers
One big Archilles heel for me are those hard plastic wheels. Ok polyurethane, whatever you want to call them. Yea I know, I was rollerblading a lot then to know these material. Going any longer distance you are gonna feel all the knocks and vibes channeled back at you.Marketign hype will tout lightness

In the wet? Good Luck. Ride slow... .really slow ya. Ok the Patgear has wider rubber wheelup front but still the vibrations from the small wheel diameter ( I think it is 6", memory is a little vague after trying that many) does show its effect after awhile and if there is one thing I do not like about small wheels is the sharp turning and and accompanying sketchiness although the turning radius is smaller. Furthermore it is the heaviest of them all in this class. In bikes, its the same reason why I shun foldies.. and prefer normal sized mtb or 700c hoops.

Another thing is that the brushless hub motor on some is on the front wheel... hence when braking you need to exercise a little more care. Keep the weight back before braking to avoid the "throw". Not a big issue but still worth mentioning.

(3) 8-10" Wheels
The biggest and baddest of them all, Myway, is no doubt the Rolls Royce in terms of comfort but for its size and all that can still be considered an e.kick scooter by my definition. Lacking a bit in the power and battery department in my opinion though (based on  printed spec). It does claim to be able to climb steeper stuff.. not too sure how this pans out with a heavier unit with less power. Test ride was on smooth flat surface. Very impressed I must say.

To boost it any further will mean adding more weight to its hefty ~15kg, which is already quite an inconvenience to be lugging around should that be one of your concern. Boosting it may not necessarily be ramping up speed but more to increase the usable range. Apart from weight this is the biggest of them all, dimension wise. I love the "long tail" roomy feel, turning radius, great construction, finishing and overall performance for sure but carrying the thing around would be ugh...!!! Imagine hauling it into the supermarket on a grocery run....

So it boils down to the slightly smaller 8" GoBoard and MBoard. I tried the GoBoard as I didn't know of the MBoard at that time. Ok.. my mind was set even though really hoping the GOboard could really do just a little better in speed and range... was already looking at after market option of batt pack etc to boost but that would mean forking out additional sum which makes it not really worthwhile.

 Maybe I should elaborate what's on my mind in order to understand the eventual choice
 Ideal Board with my weight is something like this and all the order of priority:
Range: >32km/ charge, actual usage.

Speed: Hit 25km in actual ride with my weight (not claimed specs that are subjective ). Anything above is a bonus

Weight/ Dimension: 12 - 13kg. Folded length ~80-90 cm (for ease of carrying)

Tracing back, both these have its design roots in the original and much talked about (but failed) Roth Motorboard. It was lighter and runs those dreaded plastic wheels which was a large factor to its demise with many cracks at folding area due to repeated stress partially but no doubt due to the hard wheels. But these were the early days where trials and experimenting was taking place in the designs of these things.... 2007 seems  like a long time ago now.

I really dig the whole wooden board thingie... Black, polish silver and wood-- combo that can't go wrong eh!

The M and Goboards have evolved from there to be more rugged.
This class of board is the best option after juggling weight vs speed vs distance per charge. Not the biggest most cushy feel like the 10" MyWay but still very rugged. The bigger MyWay runs 250W but the Goboard and Mboard packs 350-360W.

Now the real gist....

Why the Mboard
After chancing upon and comparing, it was an easy decision but then I have to take the words that whatever was enhanced in the MBoard is really what it is said to be

Well the only way is to see the actual differences..
Ok I'm not gonna trash other products but basically here is the "aftermarket differences" if you choose to get the higher end model of the Mboard which apart from some better stock diff also have additional machining done locally to soup things up.

MBoard Hi end  $1480 vs GOBoard Pro @ $1300

What justifies the $180 difference then? (Some of the stock spec on the GoBoard might have changed by now and similar to the MBoard but those are the stock changes, info is taken from their listed specs.)

If you can't be bothered to read here's a quick and dirty on some of the stock specs that help me decide which was a better bang $$.

(1) Retrofitted foldable handle with bar end safety light.
I was at first skeptical of any folding bar as one tried on another model wasn't really up to par. Spoiled by all the CNC machining parts of my mountain bikes with tight tolerances.. any movable part that has significant play is not acceptable by my standards.. Don't you just hate the feeling when you are supposed to get a stiff feel but get those 2-3mm of wobbling coming in from bad design and machining.

Have to say this part was well thought out in the folding sections. The safety bar end blinkers stuff is not uber expensive but a nice touch to round things off. These are all additional machining upgrade over the stock on the MBoard.

Clockwise from top left: Snapped in place & tightened. Pulled out showing inside spring mechanism latch
Locking screw that goes through the 3 layers of tubing to put things firmly in place.

Front suspension & Mud guard.
Don't start expecting hi lo compression and rebound damping. It's meant to take the hit off some unexpected bumps while cruising. And don't be stupid like me trying to compress it as like a mtb suspension fork.

Step on the front and the thing will sag and give a slight springy feel. It does make a slight difference to take the edge off as compared to a dead stiff feel.
Haven't bumped into anything hard so can't comment more. While simple and just a straight forward spring inside with bushing to hold the stanchions in place, it would also mean if need be to DIY, getting the bushings should not be too difficult. All of this is local re-machining by the seller as well.

The mud guard is another extra add-on that comes with the MBoard. Designed and 3D printed stuff. Actually this is my first ever 3D printed thingie.. looks pretty solid and nice, thoughtful as this is one area that will throw up lots of grit over time.. Would be a biatch to start poking fingers around trying to clean it often.

Front axle and bearing
Bearing should be stock and similar across both boards. Looks simple enough to change.
Need to ascertain which class of bearing later. Kinda dark to make out the markings on the seal.
I suspect it should be hi-speed compatible bearing and that means its a minus in terms of load bearing capacity... which then makes sense to have the suspension help take off some of the stress on the bearing (just armchair-theorizing here though).

Power and Battery
I have not opened up to see the internal batt-pack yet. But a quick check on the net says 36v 10 Ah LiPo are common enough for these kind of applications. So I have no reason to doubt what's listed.

On the display meter here at first full charge it says 41.5 volts..Just doingthe standard thing with any Li batteries to leave it on 6-8 hours. But not something to be repeatedly done for every charge as that kills batteries fast.

As with all LiPo/ Li Ion batt- -there will be a cut off after a certain voltage drop (~31-32v in this case). A fully charged 36v Li Ion would go up to 41-42v. Not quite sure if same applies to LiPo but looks ok here.

Supplied charger unit.

Some battery info and reading for those interested in all the relationships between Voltage/ Current and stuff in a similar capacity battery.  I'm pretty retarded in this area beyond the simplest of things electrical...

Can't remember if there is a 3rd e.regenerative braking wired on the Goboard but the Mboard actually has 3 brakes including this on top of the 2 mech disc. Nothing much to shout about but gets the job done. In fact I'm already looking at how I might be able reconfig my spare XT hydro to bling this up a bit-- not that the kind of braking power is really needed here ;)

E.regenerative braking behind mech disc on the left side

Mech disc on rear. Looks to be std 51mm IS mounting but need to check again.
My old XT 4 pot spare might finally see the light of day again if it all fits :)

Speed,  Range and Weight
The MBoard seems better based on listed spec alone. If specs are correct on both count, it's faster, travels further per charge and lighter (I will need to verify the claimed 12.6kg weight).* One key thing I was looking for was the range... really wanted something that goes at least ~35km. The MBoard by far is the only one now to fulfill that requirement. Of course the 38km/h  turbo mode was a bonus. I would have been happy with something that can hit ~30km/h occasionally.

* -the MBoard specs for all the models have been updated by the seller. Pro would be 13.5kg, not 12.6 as the other 2 models. Click to enlarge below

Maybe the GOboard spec was just being a little conservative. I can understand putting out a high number for top speed might not be a good thing in attracting "unwanted" attention. However the range was the thing that did it for me..

Stock diff  seems to be a rear tire pneumatic tubeless vs tubeless, rear disc vs drum  brake and the original wooden board vs the black alu. Matter of preference in the last.

The rest boils down to the aftermarket mod of a front suspension, front mud guard and folding handle.. whether that is worth the $$ diff is for anyone to decide for themselves

Ok fully charged. Time to go scoooooooooooooooooot. More FR on actual speed and range later.

Quick Update after some zipping around last nite.
Econ Mode: max speed reached at my weight of 73kg @ 20.5km/h (spec = 22km/h)
Turbo Mode: hit up to 27 km/h before I throttle off due lack of space..
Will hit faster but would take longer distance to run up to speed.. To be continued  

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