Electric skateboards can be incredibly fun to ride, but they tend to be less popular than scooters and bikes because most people lack the confidence to zip around at high speeds in an upright position without holding on to something. And when the road conditions are bad, riding an electric skateboard can quickly go from fun to dangerous.
Hunter Boards, based in Lisbon, Portugal, thinks it may have a solution to get more people interested in electric skateboards. The company claims to have built a unique suspension system that can increase stability, minimize vibrations, and reduce a rider’s risk of falling and hurting themselves.
“This is for everyone who loves electric skateboards and doesn’t want a road in poor condition to ruin its ride,” Hunter CEO Pedro Andrade told The Verge. “With a suspension system, not only is the rider’s risk of falling reduced (less vibration which leads to more stability), but for the first time, paths that used to be unrideable due to holes, debris, or obstacles, become an option.”
“This is for everyone who loves electric skateboards and doesn’t want a road in poor condition to ruin its ride”
Most skateboards get their bounce from their wood decks, often made of maple (though some are composites that include plexiglass, fiberglass, and other artificial materials). Hunter Board eschews flexible decks for an all-aluminum one that packs a battery underneath. The whole thing weighs 9kg (19lbs) and can travel at speeds of up to 55 km / h (34 mph), Hunter says — which is kind of crazy fast. By comparison, most electric skateboards crap out at around 24 mph. Any faster and, well, you’re taking your life into your own hands. The regenerative braking may help make those speeds more manageable, but we’d have to test it out to know for sure.
This is where the suspension system comes in handy. With a rigid deck, all the bounce and flexibility comes from the board’s spring-loaded trucks. It also helps enable tight turns — Hunter claims it’s possible to make 25-degree turns, or enough to do a full circle in a one-lane road — and with 53mm (2 inches) of wheel travel, you can be sure to get a lot of cushion. The suspension is preloaded and adjustable, and Hunter will adjust the suspension system to your weight before shipping it out. Gone are the days of swapping wheels on your electric skateboard to match the terrain, Andrade says.
“Flexible decks can absorb some impact form holes and debris, but they’re miles away from a suspension system built specifically for board vehicles,” Andrade said.
The 3,600W dual hub motors enable hill climbing power of up to 30 degrees. The swappable battery gets about 38km (24 miles) of range per charge — which is pretty standard for a modern electric skateboard. And the remote (which Hunter has yet to reveal) is supposedly “revolutionary” and will come with enough battery for 50 rides.
The aluminum design and industrial-looking suspension have Hunter comparing its boards to the Tesla Cybertruck. And even though that’s just a marketing gimmick, it’s kind of hard to disagree. Naturally, the Hunter Board will be cheaper than the Cybertruck, but at $1,949, you’re still paying a lot for all those amenities. (Hunter is partnering with financing company Splitit to allow customers to pay in monthly installments.)
it’s still a very precarious time to launch an electric skateboard company
That said, it’s still a very precarious time to launch an electric skateboard company. Supply chains are a mess, tariffs are making shipping products overseas expensive, manufacturing is perilous, and the pandemic is adding a layer of complexity on top of everything. Boosted, once the reining king of electric skateboards, went belly up earlier this year. Inboard also went out of business after trying to pivot to scooters. Other companies have emerged with their own killer-looking boards — but there’s a sense that electric skateboards are a difficult business to grow.
Andrade says his team has been working on and designing the Hunter Board for the last three years, and the plan was always to launch in late 2020. “What the pandemic has done is shed light on the health/financial-related advantages of owning a micro-mobility vehicle instead of renting one or using public transportation,” he said. “There’s no better time than the present to make it happen. The pandemic requires adaptability, agility, and persistence, but that’s precisely the nature of startups.”
Andrade says he’s studied Boosted and Inboard’s respective trajectories in order to avoid making the same mistakes. For a start, product development and production are all done in-house in the company’s factory in Portugal, where they make over 90 percent of the Hunter Board’s parts.
“By owning the factory where our products are made, we can also apply feedback much quicker and innovate faster,” he said. “Vertical integration is the key for us to continue building superior quality products that keep us ahead of the curve. Besides that, the fact that we’re based in Europe allows us to adopt a neutral position in the US-China trade war.”
Andrade isn’t an old-school skater like the three Australian brothers who founded electric skateboard company Dot Board last year. But he has always loved skateboards and wanted to build an electric one that was perfect for commuting.
Hunter Board will start gathering emails of customers interested in joining the waitlist on September 26th. On that date, the company will start by selling a limited edition of 50 units of the Hunter Board. When they sell out, they’ll start collecting $100 reservations for the 2021 production run — the release date for which is still TBD. “Tesla’s business model is one of our biggest inspirations,” Andrade says.