Electric longboards have been taking off lately and gaining publicity through Kickstarter campaigns and tech sites like TechCrunch, Engadget, and Tested. The most popular commercial products come from Boosted, evolve, and Marbel. However the price for a consumer board is upwards of $1000!
Because of this price, there has also been a huge movement in DIY electric longboards and the most common designs take a regular longboard and RC Car electronics to create a custom electric longboard with swappable components. This was the route that I was interested in going since I already had a regular longboard and couldn’t justify spending over $1000 on a longboard that I could build myself for less than $600.
The first step in building your own electric longboard is of course research. I found a lot of great material on forums, instructables, custom sites and blogs, but the best resource was a forum dedicated to electric vehicles which had a specific section for electric skateboards and scooters known as Endless-Sphere. From here I was able to gain insight and chat with a bunch of similarly minded DIYers who had built or were building their own electric longboards. The most common designs were a single motor setup, dual rear setup, and dual diagonal setup.
What are the differences?
The cheapest option to build, it’s main use is for traveling on flat ground and it is lighter due to the one motor setup. It doesn’t have as great hill riding capabilities and could burn out with too many or too long of an incline ride.
This costs more than the single motor setup, and creates a size restraint on the motors since you can’t use two 63mm motors with a traditional truck. However, it allows you to ride faster, tackle more hills with less stress on the motors, and have a back-up motor in case one fails.
Some people prefer this build over the Dual Rear because it spreads out the motorized wheels in order to give better coverage over uneven ground. The cost and performance should be relatively the same as a dual rear, but you are able to use two bigger motors for this build since you don’t have the size constraint of mounting two motors on one truck.
What do you need to build your own electric longboard?
- $20 and up – Longboard deck (there are plenty of options here, whatever floats your boat)
- $60 – Longboard wheels (preferrably with some sort of hub that you can interface a motor pulley with, common choices are ABEC 11 Flywheels and Orangatang Kegels)
- $50 -Longboard trucks (your choice, but I prefer the Caliber trucks since they come with decent bushings and are great stable)
- $50 to 100 – Motor mount (Can be bought for a couple types of trucks, or made yourself and welded onto your mount or clamped)
- $10 – Motor pulley (Can be bought for 9mm or 15mm wide belt with varying teeth. Recommended teeth are 12T, 14T, and 15T)
- $10 – Wheel pulley (This will depend on your wheel. You can make one yourself using a CNC machine and aluminum, or you can buy one for certain types of wheels. Recommended 36T)
- $10 – HTD5 belt (after you figure out the spacing and mounting, you’ll want to measure and buy this to fit perfectly)
- $70 – Motors (The general rule of thumb is to use a Brushless DC Outrunner motor with over 1000W and below 300 KV)
- $110 – ESC (Electronic speed controller which determines how fast the motor should spin. Check out the VESC that is being developed specifically for electric longboards)
- $60 – Batteries (LiPo batteries are the most common, and these are commonly used)
- $35 – Controller (Some people used a generic RC car controller, but I went the Wiiceiver route and a Wireless Wii Nunchuck)
Total: $565 with quality parts!