Slick Revolution burst their way into the esk8 scene after their successful Kickstarter campaign for a complete pre built esk8 back in late 2017. In more recent times, Slick Revolution has gained attention for a couple of their products, namely their “Foamies” wheels, which in the eyes of some, bridge the gap between pneumatics and urethane wheels. To make it even better, the Foamies are compatible with Boosted boards, targeted at those who want a smoother ride and a faster speed, which means Slick Revolution caters for both the DIY and prebuilt crowd.
With such an interesting portfolio, we reached out to the Slick Revolution team to ask some questions and get a better insight into the minds behind the growing brand.
1. What led to the creation of Slick Revolution?
Slick Revolution started back in 2015 when whilst travelling the east coast of Australia, Robert Simpson the Founder came across electric skateboards for the first time being rented on the beach. A little more research revealed there to be very little available back in the UK. There were some very high end eboards and a few cheap ebay type eboards but quality mid range were few and far between. The gap presented itself for a high performing eboard without the price tag of the higher end eboards currently available. The idea was originally to grow the business in to a complete PEV company. This was quickly focussed on to electric skateboards once Robert’s passion and interest for them far outgrew scooter and other PEV’s.
2. You’re one of the very few esk8 companies that launched and pulled off a successful Kickstarter campaign.To what do you attribute that success?
At the time of our first Kickstarter we had been trading for about 1 year and were re-branding and tweaking off the shelf products from our China based manufacturer. We had a good reputation and knew what was missing in the market. An electric skateboard designed for the rough and rugged tarmac of the UK with comfort and price in mind. Work began on the Rough Stuff Wheels and Flex-E battery case keeping a flexible deck and added comfort from larger wheels. The Kickstarter was necessary to develop our own designs, pay for our new moulds and bring the new project to life.
I put our success down to 3 main factors:
- Reputation in the industry – we weren’t brand and so new current customers knew about our excellent customer service and we had gained their trust prior to announcing the kickstarter.
- Unique design in the flex-e battery case and rough stuff wheels – the new product itself was awesome.
- Timing – We were one of the first e-board kickstarters on the market. A market which is now flooded with failed kickstarters, 2 year waiting times and ripped off customers yet to receive refunds or their eboards. I would say that any electric skateboard kickstarter now (2019) for a new company would be extremely difficult. Particularly in the eboarding world, customers have lost faith and many simply refuse to pre-order even if there is a discount or other incentive.
3. With Chinese brands looking to move up and challenge you in the upper mid-tier, how do you intend to keep them at bay? Innovation? Customer service? Better marketing?
Innovation will always be a large factor in staying ahead of the competition but reputation and locality are really keeping foreign competition at bay. This is the same reason that we don’t want to necessarily expand into the US without a physical site there. Customers want to know their eboards can be repaired, upgraded and maintained locally and that parts are readily available with cheap or free shipping. With no physical presence and difficulty shipping to the US we couldn’t offer the same quality of customer service as we do to European customers. The same goes for the Chinese brands, they offer very little support and are looking to make a quick buck.
4. With so many companies offering hub motor eboards as a starter drive unit, what has made you go with and stay with belt drive?
This is and will always remain a hot topic for debate in the esk8 world. For us the main factor is comfort and choice. With metal making up the majority of a hub motor wheel you simply cannot have the same levels of comfort as a full urethane, foam core or PU wheel. Torque – it’s basic physics that a greater amount of torque can be generated by using gearing from the same battery and motor. So we can use smaller motors, less batteries and still achieve good torque and speed.
Anyone who has ever ridden an eboard on the rough knows how much vibration goes through the wheels and in turn, the motors. Belt drive separates this direct contact with the ground and the number 1 reason… Wheel choice! Not only wheel choice for us, but we can offer our wheels to riders of many brands of eboards. With so many hub variants out there, we wouldn’t be able to do the same for non SR riders. Don’t get me wrong, hubs can be great and are great under the right circumstances, rough UK tarmac unfortunately isn’t it.
5. With only a few good options in esk8 backpacks currently available, we’re glad to see you’re introducing one soon. What’s the story behind the ESK8 Rucksack?
One of Slick Revolutions Brand ethoses’s is ’If it doesn’t exist, create it. If it exists, do it better’
We did have a great supplier, OBED who made great bags but unfortunately the owner had to focus on other things in his life. So we began researching what was currently out there and what worked best and what was worst. We combined the best elements from all of the bags available on the market. Plus we added lots of our own features to create a high quality, highly functional bag that doesn’t break the bank coming in cheaper than the Boosted Backpack but with many more features and of course we made it suitable for lots of eboards on the market. We understand that a lot of customers are brand loyal and so even the SR branding on the new backpack is removable. We are extremely excited to get this to market which should be around Christmas time.
6. What was the driving force behind the creation of Foamies?
The Rough Stuff with their larger diameter were great but they did have a small contact patch and so weren’t as grippy as we would have liked on smooth ground. We began experimenting with urethane ‘donuts’ essentially a super soft 60A(ish) donut wrapped around the hub with 78A outer It was simply too difficult and we began experimenting alongside our manufacture with the RS wheels and the first sample was 110mm RS wheels with a foam core. We moved to 120mm after testing as we found the wheels compress under riding weight to about 100mm. So we added a little, (plus we wanted to keep the title of the largest PU wheel available). Despite the increased size of the new Foamies are only 15g per wheel heavier than the RS wheels which is another factor when going bigger with PU.
7. With the release of Foamies, are you doubling down on not creating a pneumatic wheel board? Do you feel like Foamies offers that kind of experience and capability but with a SR twist?
It’s unlikely we will move to Pneumatic wheels as once you’ve made bigger trucks, changed your deck shape, made new belts and pulleys you end up with what’s essentially an electric mountain board. Big, bulky and less than discreet. Sure, they have their uses and are good to ride but it doesn’t align with our market. Once the Foamies are out there, being ridden and reviewed, the pneumatic board sales will take a big hit. Our primary market is in commuters and weekenders and with the comfort and carving that the Foamies offer, we don’t see a need to go to pneumatic.
8. Will there be any changes to the Rough Stuff wheel now that Foamies are on the scene?
The Rough Stuff wheels will always have their place as an awesome wheel for coping with exactly that, the rough stuff but we foresee that Foamies will become the standard offering for our eboards with customers choosing them for their awesome qualities in comfort and carving. Although a little pricier than the Rough Stuff wheels, they still come in cheaper than pneumatic wheels but with 80% of their renowned comfort.
9. What would you like to see more of in esk8?
Events! Events are the best way of connecting all those people who usually only see the esk8 world behind a screen or of course under their own 2 feet. The esk8 world isn’t big enough for every city or town to have their own clubs (yet) in the same way that cycling or skating do. Let’s get the people behind the forums and groups meeting and riding!
Technology has filtered down from other industries and vastly improved electric skateboarding, batteries for example have improved enormously. Esk8 companies aren’t big enough to be investing in high end battery research, but the car industry certainly are and so elements such as this will continue to improve. Where we will be in 20 years is anyone’s guess but it’s all moving the right way. Seeing leaps in battery technology is what I am really looking forward to.
Brand collaborations. But I can’t possibly say any more than that.
10. What would you like to see less of in esk8?
Unsafe and irresponsible riding particularly from some of the biggest brands and biggest influencers. Some, like us have a policy never to show or encourage any riding without a helmet at the very least. Some continue to post content riding on roads pavements and in dangerous situations. It may be good for selling eboards but it attracts a lot of negative attention and encourages that type of riding. Not good for the industry as a whole and we are all in this together. Electric scooters certainly lead the way in popularity of PEV’s and they too have some responsibility for the PEV world as a whole. As we have seen most recently in London.