I own 3 electric skateboards (1 belt driven and 2 with hub motors). Two of them are broken and the last one has so many flaws I don't like using it. I've been using my non-electric longboard for months now and I couldn't be happier ! Here is why...
Cons of electric longboards
1. They broke all the time
I already wrote an article about problems I had with my first electric skateboard, but in short : an internal wire was broken when I received it, belts kept shattering, the motor plate broke in half twice, the charger was not functioning properly, etc. Then I decided to try out an hub-motors-driven one, it took 1 month 1/2 to arrive and it broke after 3 minutes of use.
This is just my personal experience, but I've heard a lot of peoples having connexions issues with many boards, smoking batteries or many other issues.
2. They are way overpriced
Most of them cost more than 1000$ and if you want a good quality one, you should expect paying 2000$ !! That's non-sense, the companies selling theses makes huge margins.
Shipping is complicated and costly for many reasons (lithium batteries are dangerous, the overall weight of the board is heavy, you have to pay importation fees, etc).
Spare parts are also costly because some are not standards so you have to by parts from the original company otherwise you can't use your board.
3. You must carry tools and spare parts
When the board is belt-driven, you have to carry spare belts and other stuff.
Mine had screws loosening all the time and they where not the same format as the T-tool so I had to carry a screwdriver with different bits, some allen keys, a small wrench, spare screws and a rag because the board is so dirty when doing maintenance.
4. They are not waterproof
No electric skateboards is waterproof. Some claim they can be used on "wet roads", but they also advise against doing it.
So every day you have to check the weather before choosing to go out with your board or not. And even if it's sunny in the morning, maybe it'll rain later so you can't use it for your commute.
Also, all warranties I've seen does not cover water damage.
5. They contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle
Even if standing up on a moving board is better than being sat on a sofa. It's still pretty bad for your health (specially your cardio and your legs) compared to walking or traditional longboard.
6. They are heavy
Most of them weights about 15 pounds.
7. They are less smooth
Hub motors are the worst in terms of smoothness. The rubber covering motorized wheels are so thin you can feel all the small cracks that usually go unnoticed with a traditional longboard.
The overall weight of it also accentuate the hardness of hits on the road.
8. They are more attractive to thiefs
If I go to a bar or any social place with an electric skateboard, I tend to keep an eye on it all the time or keep it close because it could be stolen easily. And that would be very annoying because they are hard to get (shipping from overseas, costs a lot in importation taxes and shipping fees, etc).
Pros of normal longboards
1. They don't break so often
I never had any broken parts on my longboard and no essential parts have shown problematic signs of wear and tear.
2. The price is reasonable and parts are standard
An average longboard only costs about 100$ and all the parts are interchangeable because they are standard. You can therefore customize it anyway you want : big wheels, small wheels, wheels with DEL lights in it, wheels that glows in the dark, multicoloured trucks, everything is possible !
3. Only one T-tool to carry
Normally a simple T-shaped tool is sufficient to tighten every screws of the longboard, and it often comes with the board.
4. Rainy days are no problem (with ceramic bearings)
With ceramic bearings, I can ride in heavy rain for kilometers and roll in puddles of water as much as I want. My bearings will still be rolling smoothly the next morning because ceramic bearings don't rust !
I never have to check the weather too, I just grab my board and go.
5. They contribute to an healthy lifestyle
Once your legs gets used to pushing, distances are no problem !
My whole commute is 16 KM long and I sometimes do it completely on my longboard. It's easier than you think ! If you start to get tired, just let it roll longer between pushes and it'll be okay. It's also a very rewarding accomplishment.
6. They are lighter
Therefore significantly easier to carry around. It's also easier to brake with your foot because there is less momentum to cancel.
7. They are way smoother
(specially compared to hub-motors-driven electric skateboards) The whole thickness of the wheel is absorbing shocks and because the board weights less, the shocks are significantly less intense.
It feels so much better, you don't constantly have the feeling that this crack you just rolled on just broke something in your board.
8. They are less attractive to thiefs
You can go to any bar, toss your board in a corner and don't worry about it so much. It's no big deal if it gets stolen (specially if you are using a "penny board style" board as those only cost about 40$).
I learned how to use a longboard on an electric one and at first, I thought electric skateboards was magical. It revolutionized my lifestyle and had even become part of my identity.
Now that I've been constraint to "return to basics", I realized that the thing I really fell in love with in the first place was : longboarding itself.
It's the feeling of going fast on a piece of wood with wheels on it. The feeling of going anywhere in the city and carrying your vehicle in your hands when entering a building.
It's untying yourself from public transports. It's saying "no-thanks" to subways filled with stoic faces of bored peoples. It's being outside in the sun on bike paths with like-minded peoples applying healthy choices to their lifestyle.
It's being free.
You don't need an electric skateboard to do that. Electric skateboards adds a bunch of bonus compared to traditional longboards, yes. But it also adds an equivalent quantity of problems.
So what will YOU choose ?