Though skateboarding has been a hobby and passion that has shaped my life for two decades, I’ve long resisted making mine electric. Skateboarders are sensitive creatures. And we fear change. The massive, hand-remote-controlledmostly piloted by tech-bros are just, well… different.
Rather than being an evolution of my passion, I considered electric skateboards simply a way to get around. That’s not a bad thing in itself — being outside, getting some exercise and reducing your carbon footprint is an idea I can get behind — but it felt like a betrayal to the piece of wood that I grew up on.
But what if that commuter machine looked more like the shape and size of the skateboard I’ve ridden my whole life? A few companies are now making that possible with “converter kits” that make almost any board electric. That’s the idea that finally changed my mind — and it pushed this old curmudgeon to put my convictions aside and give electric skateboarding a shot.
There are a few options available to add a motor to your board. I chose one that claims it can work with almost any old board.
Made by Unlimited, a Spanish company that partnered with the US longboard company Loaded, the $769 kit consists of a motor and a battery pack that you can add to just about any skateboard. I used the Solo kit, the entry-level package that has a range of seven miles, a top speed of 23 mph, and can handle an incline up to 9 degrees.
When I first opened the box I was disappointed to find four enormous, orange wheels that were meant to replace my 55mm OJ cruiser wheels. But I felt better when I realized that the motor is housed inside one of these big wheels, making them necessary.
The rest of the kit was fairly easy to assemble. The only hiccup I ran into was fastening the cable from the motorized wheel to the battery cable. In order for it not to stick awkwardly out with the potential to snag on something, I had to force it at a weird angle inside a plastic holster underneath the wheel. And even after I made it look exactly like the photos in the instruction manual, it continues to be a problem. More on that later.