The History and Evolution of the Electric Skateboard
by Lola on Mar 30, 2022
Electric skateboards have now entered the mainstream —and they are here to stay. They are a convenient and relatively fast way to get around town, and many people use them to get to work, to go to school, or to meet with friends.
However, this was not always the case. There was a time when we couldn’t even imagine such a thing as an electric skateboard. But thanks to innovation and constant technological development, we can now enjoy this electric “sideway surfboard” that makes our lives easier.
Let’s take a look at the history and evolution of the electric skateboard, as well as the current market situation and its potential in the future.
Where it all began: the origin of the electric skateboard
The conventional skateboard was invented back in the ‘40s or ‘50s, but no one really knows who came up with the idea. One thing is certain: skateboards were invented in California, where the surfing hype led people to develop a device that would allow them to surf the pavement as they did the ocean waves.
The early skateboard design was pretty simple: it basically involved a plank of wood with metal roller skates attached to it. From that came the electric skateboard we all know and love today.
The first iteration of a motorized skateboard came to be in the summer of 1975 when the MotoBoard was released. It was a mass-produced, gasoline-powered skateboard with polyurethane skate wheels and lightweight industrial engines.
The MotoBoard was designed and built by Jim Rugroden —a student in Berkeley, California— in his brother’s garage in the South San Francisco Bay Area. He later teamed up with Bill Posey, a young entrepreneur, to drive the sales, marketing, and overall business operation of his skateboard.
MotoBoards were produced and sold around the world until Posey and Rugroden parted ways in 1983. On top of that, they were banned in California in 1997 because they caused a lot of noise and pollution, so things didn’t turn out great for the first motorized skateboard.
Electric Louie: the man who started it all
Louie Finkle —also known as “Electric Louie”— is considered by most skateboarding enthusiasts as the originator of the modern electric skateboard. He came up with the idea for the first wireless electric skateboard in 1997 and filed for a patent in 1999.
Finkle’s original idea involved an electric skateboard with a remote controller. This was truly revolutionary back then: he combined wireless technology with speed and stability in a reliable skateboard at a time when none of these features were prevalent in the market.
The first electric skateboard was a longboard that could hit speeds of up to 20 miles per hour in around 4 seconds —which was really impressive at that time.
But although a total of 1500 of Finckle’s boards were manufactured and sold, the batteries available back then posed a serious challenge: they did not provide sufficient torque to power skateboards effectively and smoothly.
Its price was also a major issue: electric skateboards started at $1200 and only went up, so they were not accessible to the average skateboarder.
Kickstarting the path towards the modern electric skateboard
As technology progressed, more powerful electric motors and batteries with sufficient torque became available in the market. This led to a steep rise in the amount of skateboard design and development projects, and Kickstarter was key in their success.
In 2012, Sanjay Dastoor, John Ulmen, and Matthew Tran launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 to develop their electric skateboard design. The campaign exceeded that target by far, so they founded Boosted Boards and began manufacturing and selling their 12-pound electric skateboard that can reach up to 20 miles an hour. This became the benchmark for the modern electric skateboard.
The appeal of modern electric skateboards
Modern electric skateboards are nothing like their first iterations. Now, they include several features that make them more appealing to both avid skateboarders and the public at large:
- Wheels: modern electric skateboards have polyurethane wheels, which last longer and provide more stability. They feature either soft wheels —for better grip on the surface— or hard wheels —for greater speed.
- Deck: unlike its predecessors, current skateboard decks are usually made of many, many layers of wood —the more, the better. This means they are durable, yet flexible enough to absorb shocks.
- Battery: back in the day, batteries used to be a major issue. They were not durable or strong enough to provide skaters with a smooth and enjoyable ride. But now, electric skateboards use rechargeable, lithium batteries, which have a greater life span and last much longer. Also, they are friendlier with the environment.
- Speed: nowadays, some skateboards can hit speeds of up to 24 miles per hour. This has transformed electric skateboards into the preferred means of transportation for many people who need to get around town or the city.
- Safety: technological advancement has led to much safer and more reliable electric skateboards. However, using personal protective equipment is still advised.
- Price: today there is a wide array of options available when it comes to purchasing an electric skateboard. You can find very affordable e-skates that will take you where you want to go.
On top of all these benefits, electric skateboards are fun, convenient, and stylish, so it’s no wonder people are increasingly adopting this means of transportation as their preferred option to get around town —as well as for recreation purposes.
And the future looks bright: as technology continues to develop, this vehicle will most likely get better and better. In fact, the global market for electric skateboards is expected to reach $1317.39 billion by 2027.
So, why not commute to work or school on an electric skateboard? At Ridefaboard, we are happy to answer any questions you may have and help you find an e-skate that meets your every need. We make the whole process easy and enjoyable. Get in touch!