An electric skateboard may initially seem like a novel and somewhat unnecessary concept (we were born with legs, after all), but in a world where parking space is as scarce as trustworthy politicians and the need for economical and efficient travel is becoming more and more important, a battery-powered board begins sounding like an extremely attractive prospect. Not to mention it gets the 10-year-olds inside of us more excited than the day we found out about dinosaurs. So, we got our hands on Houdt’s new Freeboard to find out if the hype behind the wheels is worth getting on-board with.
So, what exactly is the Freeboard?
Well, it’s a belt-driven, battery-powered skateboard with a deck constructed of bamboo and fibreglass. It feels sturdy and robust enough to more than handle the weight of its components, but still flexible enough for you to persuade it to your (or your feet’s) will.
Due to the 8800Ah battery on the underside of the deck, the entire board itself weighs in at around the 7kg mark, making it solid, but portable enough to carry around. Thankfully, there’s a convinent slit in the deck which acts as a handle to make commuting with the Freeboard on our now seemingly-archaic-legs a relatively easy endeavour.
But what’s it like in practice?
It’s good. After a 4-hour charge, it’s ready to hit the streets. On the hand remote, you have a nub to control your speed and braking with your thumb, and an on/off switch – it’s that simple. Once on, riders can also press the power button again to inverse the controls in order to reverse. It’s an easy control scheme that you’ll wrap your head around in seconds, and while the plastic remote itself does feel a little less-durable than we would’ve liked, it’s just a supplementary yet necessary piece to the real star of the show: the board itself.
The Freeboard is touted to hit speeds of up to 30km/h, and we definitely got around there. It’s fast enough to give you a bit of a fright, but reasonable enough to keep you safe. This is the ideal speed when looking to cover short to medium distances efficiently without being burdened by traffic. It’s also a great option to circumvent even attempting to tackle Cape Town’s complex one-way-riddled road system, which seems inspired by a bowl of spaghetti.
Regarding its longevity, the Freeboard will do about 30km in total on a single 4-hour charge. Of course, this is relatively diminished if you’re straining the battery tackling considerable uphills and leaving it on for extended periods of time; but for the most part, it should get you to work and back if you live within a 8-10km radius (just to be safe).
How much does it cost?
The Freeboard is priced at R13,999 and available online. But breathe… while it does sound like a lot, take into consideration this is the first of its kind in South Africa and doesn’t require petrol or maintenance to keep running.
The initial purchase price is definitely something to consider, but if you’re looking to make the investment and see the Freeboard as a viable form of transport and enjoyment, it’s value is somewhat justified. It fulfils its promise of what it can do and riding it immediately ignited a nostalgic, child-like desire to skate everywhere we went (which is only a positive thing). Besides, seeing the faces of people in their stationary cars as you cruise along the sidewalk is alone worth the price of admission.
The Freeboard is priced at R13,999 and available from the Houdt online store.