Posts, Reviews

ZBoard: A weight-sensing electric skateboard

I’m so excited I have my first guest post.  My son wanted a (what I would call) very 90210 present.  In talking to the founders of ZBoard I promised them he would review the product and post it on my Blog.  So it’s over to you, mate.

–April 2019 it seems the ZBoard is no longer around as the website isn’t up and running. What a shame!

I first came across the ZBoard about a year ago, a friend showed it to me. I ridiculed it endlessly for its seemingly useless concept; obviously I was somewhere else back then because I revisited the ZBoard at the end of this year and I wanted it desperately.

I ended up getting the ZBoard San Francisco (SF) Special and its intuitive footpads, while a little tricky to master at first, they are definitely the right direction when it comes to making an electric skateboard move.

I was a bit skeptical and wondered why they didn’t choose a hand controller–it might let you control more precise throttle movement, but a hand controller is just that: a HAND controller. Another problem with a hand controller is that you have to be in the right stance and if you open the throttle too much, the board can come right out from under you. The ZBoard’s footpads eliminate the need to get worked up about how you stand because to move forward, you are already leaning forward so you don’t fall back.

The ZBoard handles well up hill and the brakes well downhill

The ZBoard handles well up hill and the brakes well downhill

The deck has a great, simple shape reflecting the ZBoard’s humble beginnings; on kick-starter where they only thought they would make 20. There are now a variety of custom decks available on the ZBoard website. As well as these custom decks that were made by fans and customers, there is a Back To The Future Part II style hover board deck, which is the one I’m using.

This deck is stained pink and has the famous hover board design on the grip tape. Getting this deck caused some issues while trying to send ZBoard the document they give you to sign to register your ZBoard. They asked for the serial number, which was supposed to be under the tail of the ZBoard. On my model, it seemed as though they had put the serial number on before they stained it and now it is not visible. There was a serial number printed on the box it came in, but it was supposed to have four numbers and a letter but mine was missing a letter. I emailed them the release anyway and included a message saying the problem but I have not gotten a reply yet so I assume that they were able to register it anyway.


Under the ZBoard

The ride is great, the huge wheels glide over anything, and the board itself is relaxing to stand on. If you are going to ride anywhere with hills, the board itself has enough power to deal with the hills but when you slow down too much, the drive wheel will lose grip, and you will probably have to carry your ZBoard up the hill, which I assure you is not fun–the ZBoard weighs about 30lbs!

I bought the urethane wheels with my ZBoard, and while the setup reduces torque, I found that they had more grip. Another thing about the urethane wheels is that they make the Zboard a heck of a lot faster! The ZBoard SF special’s normal top speed of 18 miles an hour is definitely not slow, but when you get to 20, you’ll definitely consider backing off the throttle. The Zboard is great going down hills, the regenerative braking is fantastically powerful and it’s good to know I’m not wasting power by braking: I’m saving power.

The ZBoard ownership website is fantastic because it includes step-by-step instructions to do everyday maintenance on your ZBoard like changing the wheels, swapping drive belts, and cleaning it. It is definitely important to maintain your ZBoard, because if your drive belt snaps while you’re going downhill, there will be no way of stopping you. (Ouch-Ed).

I thought I had bought the best Zboard you could possibly get, I had it all upgraded, and it was fantastic, but about a week and a half after I got it, ZBoard made a surprise announcement that they had created the ZBoard 2.

I have to admit that the ZBoard 2 looks amazing. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t announce it sooner though, because I would have never bought a ZBoard that was twice as heavy, with tiny footpads, and that is not waterproof if they had at least hyped the product.

This sudden release has distracted me from the brilliance of the ZBoard I already had. I emailed them to tell them that I was disappointed that they would burn me like this, and I got a reply directly from one of the co-founders of ZBoard, Ben Foreman.

He told me that once the ZBoard 2 reaches the backers of their indiegogo page, then it would go on their website and I would be able to buy it there, I asked whether they’d introduce an upgrade/trade in like they do with their current ZBoards and he said that they weren’t planning to, but he did give me an extra discount, which is the best he could have done, I guess. I was happy with the customer service, but really, I didn’t get anywhere. I can’t imagine them reading my order, for the premium model ZBoard, with all the upgrades, and a hover board deck, without cringing because I could have spent less money buying the ZBoard 2, which is better in almost every single way.

My Mum went all out to buy this, something I truly wanted, she emailed back and forth with Ben trying to make sure this was the best gift ever. She is completely baffled that a company would do this to their customers, and I am too. I have barely used my ZBoard, the answer I was looking for is, “Sure we’ll take your ZBoard back and we’ll put $800 towards a ZBoard 2 of your choice, then you can just pay the difference.”

I’m sure that’s unrealistic, but I thought it was unrealistic that they would release the ZBoard 2 on such a short notice, but they did it anyway.  I guess that’s the downside of a start-up a lack of marketing finesse.

In conclusion, the ZBoard is fantastic; I love the way it glides over everything, and goes around my hilly neighbourhood with ease. Unfortunately, my particular ZBoard model is now pretty much obsolete because you can now buy a better ZBoard for the same price on its indiegogo page. If you’ve already bought one in the past three weeks, then all Zboard will tell you to do is suck it up and buy more.

So proud.  Love his review and his frankness about the product.  He truly loves it.  A bit of a marketing lesson though ZBoard.  We’re very supportive of you here but look after your customers: even the most revered products make a wrong move and they’ll revolt against you.  We’d hate that to happen to you: an innovative start-up.  (In case you’re interested here’s a story on Thermomix in Australia who made the same mistake–just one of thousands of Blogs and news stories).

xx It Started in LA xx

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  • Reply Lisa January 18, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    My son birthday is in March, that all he talks about is a Z board. now i know what he is talking about. thank you

    • Reply ItStartedInLA January 18, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      My pleasure. It’s pretty much all I hear about in my house too :-).

  • Reply Amy January 19, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Haha my daughter loves the IDEA of skateboarding but it’s all too much work. Better not let her see this!

    • Reply ItStartedInLA January 19, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Haha! My daughter loves her Penny but is desperate to have a proper turn on the ZBoard. Oh the love for gimmicks!

  • Reply Daniela S. January 19, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Kudos to L. Already following in his mother’s footsteps!

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