The rise of Personal Electric Vehicles and the Esk8.
As natives of Toronto we’ve watched this city grow over a lifetime. Its clear that we are on a trajectory not unlike that of other international world class cities. Basic issues of transportation, overcrowding and restricted mobility have become serious. Based on the results, or rather lack thereof there’s little hope that local governments have any kind of timely answer.
The global trend coming out of the technology sector has been the rise of Personal Electric Vehicles. New ideas altogether or simply new ideas connecting to more traditional concepts are being focused on moving people individually and as efficiently as possible. We’re talking electric bicycles, self-balancing unicycles, electric scooters, etc. We're talking about personal vehicles that move individuals, save on space, and run on clean energy. We’ve seen these ideas in many other major cities and over the last while. We are seeing these ideas appear here in Toronto and more than likely other Canadian cities as well. Our interest of course lies in the intersection of the Personal Electric Vehicle and the skateboard.
For the skateboarder the Esk8 represents and interesting option. It's a matter of adding a more functional range and mobility to the thrill and excitement of skateboarding beginning with the longboard. With transportation as the focus the longboard really is the most logical platform on which to start. It is a bonus that speed and intensity also lay within this realm. As any member of our team knows (we are all riders) The Esk8 is very much an investment in transportation. Over the last 5 years some of us have ridden Esk8 to work pretty much every single day, only having to use public transit on rainy days. In fact it was only in the last few years that the winters in Toronto actually became unskateable. One of us has actually become as good at navigating rush hour core traffic as any bike courier!
2019 has become for some a pursuit of true refinement of the Esk8. Understanding that the early days of any new concept sometimes focus more on functionality than design, earlier boards resembled many DIY projects. You have to make the skateboard move on its own, you have to be able to control it, and power it. These factors took precedence over the look of the ride in those days but we’ve past those milestones.
Some anonymous DIY project found off google
Some designers have now taken to continuing on the road of functionality, creating faster more powerful boards, while others simply rest on their achievement of simply having created a functional board design, and then shifted their attention elsewhere! There is the third prong of development however and that is the balance of functionality and design. These are engineers looking to no longer sacrifice design for functionality but rather strive for both. The board must look like a skateboard with much more invisible tech, the more the ride looks like a standard skateboard, the better. Initially we saw designs that followed this concept but the result was weakness in power and short range. With developments this year, we’ve reached yet another milestone. We now have a design that looks and rides like a skateboard yet performs comparably to current market leading eboards. (we will leave it to you to decide which is actually better) In a way this design track always had the long game in mind and the result is an esk8 that looks like a skateboard but is more than meets the eye. We believe that design is important, an example of this is illustrated by an incident experienced by one of our riders.
"It was a sunny afternoon and I was going south east on Vaughn road in Toronto. This is a road that cuts diagonally through the city with single lane traffic moving in both directions as well as street parking on both sides of the road. I was rushing along the route and noticed that the speed limit was either 30 or 40km, but either way I was speeding. As I approached St. Clair, I came face to face with a traffic cop standing in the middle of the road with her cruiser pointed in the opposite direction (at me). She could see that I was speeding but I could tell that she was surprised by what she saw. She clearly didn't understand right away what she was seeing. And by the time she realized that it was a guy on an Esk8, I was already 3 blocks away and getting further. Looking behind me, I could see her scrambling either to get into her cruiser or what, I didn't know. I just knew I wasn't ready to have this uncomfortable conversation, so I disappeared into a neighbourhood, slipping through parks and foot paths to avoid being followed.”
As we thought about it, the most prudent thing for the officer to have done may have been to ask the rider to stop, but as mentioned in the story the officer did not, and may have been confused long enough for the happy outcome of no confrontation. It would be far more surprising to see a skateboard go zipping by, it might be less surprising to see a skateboard speeding by with a battery and controller underneath it, with motors attached to the rear and belts driving the wheels. Design is style, and in skateboarding style goes a long way. Any skateboarder will tell you.
disclaimer- Always ride according to local laws, you shouldn't need to be told. If you get ticketed for speeding you probably deserve it.