To make it move, the rider just leans for­ward

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

ZBOARD has re­leased two im­proved ver­sions of its pi­o­neer­ing weight-sens­ing elec­tric skate­boards.

Slated to sell for over R11 000 be­fore im­port taxes, th­ese boards cost a lot, but then the young en­gi­neers at the Cal­i­for­nia company do claim th­ese are the world’s most ad­vanced skate­boards.

The young skaters say on their web­site they started their company while brain­storm­ing for their se­nior project at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

“Tired of bikes get­ting stolen and hav­ing to push skate­boards up hills and over Los An­ge­les’ no­to­ri­ously un­even streets, our goal was clear: de­sign a de­vice that is faster and eas­ier to ride than a skate­board, and more fun and por­ta­ble than a bike.”

The team is made up of me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neers who spend almost as much time on boards as they do de­sign­ing things on CAD, CNC ma­chin­ing the parts, pro­gram­ming the hard­ware and en­gi­neer­ing the electrics.

The ZBoard’s deck in­cludes front and rear foot pads. Each foot pad eval­u­ates how much force the rider is ap­ply­ing and sends this in­for­ma­tion to the on­board mi­cro-con­troller, which dic­tates the speed of the elec­tric mo­tor. Lean­ing for­ward moves the board in the same di­rec­tion. Lean­ing back also starts re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing to help recharge the lithium bat­ter­ies.

The boards come with grab han­dles — which is handy as the en­try-level board weighs 7,3 kg. It has a 26 km range and recharges in 1,5 hours. The ZBoard 2 Pearl, weighs about a kilo­gram more thanks to big­ger bat­ter­ies that give it a 40 km range and takes 2,5 hours to charge.

The ZBoard’s power but­ton is sur­rounded by a multi-colour LED ring. The colour of this LED ring will change as the bat­tery di­min­ishes.

A 500 W brush­less mo­tor pow­ers the board to a claimed top speed of 32 km/h. ZBoard say that the brush­less mo­tor pro­vides a more nat­u­ral coast­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. LEDs up front lights the way for­ward while red LEDs at the back help to make the rider more vis­i­ble. As with most LEDs, the rid­ers can set the diodes to be on, off or flash. All the com­po­nents are wa­ter­proof.

As­pir­ing buy­ers can place an or­der for a new board on crowd­fund­ing, pledg­ing from $949 (about R11 000) to re­ceive a ZBoard 2 Blue and from $1 149 (about R13 400) to re­ceive a ZBoard 2 Pearl.


The Zboard has grab-han­dles.

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