This is the Inboard M1. It’s a Kickstarter electric skateboard from a company called Inboard, founded in Santa Cruz, California.
After over a year of follow-up work to get it out to backers we can finally put a production version of this high-end board through its paces. At almost the same price as the popular Boost board comparisons are inevitable. And yes, the specs are close.
Inboard claims that the M1 can go 24 miles per hour, Boosted board can go 22 miles an hour. The Inboard has a range of around 7 miles and the standard Boosted board also has a range of about 7 miles, but really these boards couldn’t be more different.
The biggest difference between the two boards are the motors. The M1 uses something called hub motors, where the motors actually sit inside of the wheel itself. This gives the M1 a much cleaner look with only a single well hidden wire snaking up into the motor from beneath the truck. The Boosted board, on the other hand, uses a belt driven motor I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting there to be too much of a difference between these motor types, but there definitely is. The hub motors feel a lot more like gliding where bell motors feel like you’re directly in control of the power. At lower speed hub motors feel sluggish and kind of bad, where belt motors give you an immediate kick at takeoff, but at top speed riding on the M1’s hub motors feels a lot like a smooth luxury car ride, where the belt motors feel kind of like riding an angry wild animal. On a phone call with Ryan Evans, one of the Inboard founders, I was told that one of the biggest reasons why the company decided to go with hub motors is because they can be programmed.
“The hub motor allows us to upgrade performance and change the performance of the wheel over time in like pretty significant ways, because everything is electromechanical versus having like a belt system, where if we’re going to really change the way that the motor works we would have to introduce a new hard worker fogging up.“
One of the boards engineers claim to have complete control over the motor performance from torque to the acceleration curve.
The second biggest difference is the deck itself. The M1 uses a high-tech composite board that’s extremely stiff and this has a huge impact on how it feels to ride. The stiffness gives the M1 a stable feel that’s good for true beginners and experts who need control at top speed. This is a major departure from the Boosted board, which has an extremely flexible bamboo deck. In my opinion. The flexible deck of the Boosted board is a lot more fun at middling speeds, but if you’re going somewhere in a hurry you can’t beat the luxury feel of the M1 at top speed.
One area where the M1 really shines however is its battery. It’s truly ‘swappable’, meaning that you can drain the battery in the board completely and swap in a fully charged battery in less than a minute. That means that the M1’s range isn’t really limited to seven miles it’s limited to how many of the company’s $249 batteries you can afford and carry.
There are other nice touches on the M1 as well, like a touch sensitive underbelly for pairing with the app as well as the front and rear LEDs.
One thing that isn’t so great is the remote. There’s a lot of play in the throttle, which sometimes makes you wonder if you’re really in control of the board. In our version there are also several signaling mechanisms, the remote beeps, vibrates and flashes LEDs. When you’re on the board it’s sometimes impossible to figure out why it seems to be unhappy as it rumbles at you. I’ve been told that this is an over-voltage warning but, at times I’ve been confused of what the board is trying to tell me.
In our version there are also several signaling mechanisms, the remote beeps, vibrates and flashes LEDs. When you’re on the board it’s sometimes impossible to figure out why it seems to be unhappy as it rumbles at you. I’ve been told that this is an over-voltage warning but, at times I’ve been confused of what the board is trying to tell me.
So is the M1 fit to sit at the high end of the electric skateboard market? The company is still young, but the M1 seems to have hidden depths. Just when you think you’re at max speed there’s a little more and just when you think you couldn’t break in time — you can. The M1 is a luxury board, that’s very good today. It may even be great tomorrow!