2018 is well behind us now, and esk8 just kept growing throughout the year! We saw a torrent of new trends. Some were expected, others came out of nowhere, but all of them suggest that the adventure we’re on is only just beginning. The industry is in its infancy. All of us riding, learning, and building together are paving the way for future generations to charge the roads with style and ease! Someday our grandchildren might ask us “did you really use your feet to move your board?!”
For now, we can look back at 2018 and see the incremental steps that are leading to a fully realized cultural, social, and technical movement. The year in review serves as a time capsule for our future-selves to reflect on all we accomplished.
Following the YIR of past years, we’ve intentionally refrained from naming specific products and vendors. That lets us focus on trends and industry movement, instead of specific brands. Did we miss something? Leave a comment!
Another way to DIY
Only a few years ago, we were using model car parts, Tupperware boxes, and video game controllers to forge a ridable esk8. If you wanted a motor mount you had to make a motor mount! Something significant changed in the DIY esk8 scene in 2018. This is the first year we’ve seen significant numbers of tinkerers combining components from various low-cost off-the-shelf eboards. They create Frankenstein’d builds to ride and test. Owners can now make builds using unique component combinations, all without having to print, mill, or fabricate new parts of their own. It’s a new way to experiment that is only possible now that the influx of low-cost electric skateboards from 2016-2017 are in customers’ hands.
New wheel sizes
90mm and 97mm urethane wheels ruled esk8 for a long time. In 2018 we’ve seen new options become available. We now have 100mm, 110mm, 120mm, and a range of pneumatics and “gummies” from 6” to 9” from various vendors. So far, there are still only two main wheel cores in use, but maybe we’ll see some new options in 2019?
The “Big Guys” Show Up
We all knew it would eventually happen – and it’s happening! Big-name vendors from longboarding and skate are entering the eks8 space. 2018 was the year we saw several large companies toss in designs, branding, and money to start their own foray into electric riding and design. Companies producing decks, bushings, trucks, and wheels are partnering with large and small esk8 designers. Finally!
For years DIY esk8 builders had two choices to get the power from a motor to their wheels – belts or chains. While the industry has nearly perfected this tried-and-true power exchange, in 2018 we saw a spike in alternatives. This year three new direct drive options were released, as new vendors enter the drivetrain space. There are also a handful of gear-driven systems, most fully enclosed, using a variety of reduction ratios and gear types. We also saw a few hub motor systems holding strong, and a few introduced. This variety is great for all of us.
Accessories and softgoods!
With esk8 gaining legitimacy as a sport, and maybe even a lifestyle, the inevitable flood of accessories is washing over us. This year we’ve seen esk8-specific lights, gloves, protective hoodies, armbands, and a whole bunch of tee-shirts come to market. You need every single one, or your’e a mall-grabbin’ poser.
While it’s been rumored for years, 2018 marked the first all-vendors-welcome esk8 event born from the DIY community. The event brought together riders, builders, vendors, and some of the “big” companies for racing, riding, and idea exchange. The success of the event has already sparked the community’s interest in future events – and new events are scheduled for 2019 and 2020. We learned about electric unicycles. We all want one now, except Mike Maner – he won’t ride a damned unicycle!
VESC 6 didn’t take over
When plans were shared about VESC6, it was unclear how much of the market it would consume. Would it become the new standard? It can push more power, and, well, it was NEW and we all love new. There’s no official esk8.news build repository (yet), but we can say with reasonable certainty that most DIY esk8 builds in 2018 used a VESC 4.12 variant. But here’s the thing: VESC got way better in 2018.
Updated firmware and new user software has made configuring a VESC-based ESC faster, easier, and more enjoyable. There’s a software tool for every platform, and the new software takes out a a lot of guesswork that used to plague us. There are also a handful of bluetooth-enabled tools that have made telemetry accessible and useful.
Regional meet ups are a regular thing now
While this started a few years ago, let’s call 2018 the year that regional group rides really took off! We’re seeing group rides all around the world happening on a regular basis. Go hunting on instagram and you’re bound to find a group in a major city near you. If you can’t find one, go ahead and start a group. There will be others nearby to ride with, and they probably think there’s nobody to ride with as well.
Trends we didn’t see
We were surprised to see that 2018 didn’t bring more battery pack builders to the vendor scene this year. There remain scarce few sources to have an esk8 battery pack made for a custom build. Thankfully, the options we have are good ones.
Peace out 2018!
2018 was a good year for esk8, and we’re just getting started. You read it here on esk8.news, right? The first-ever online magazine dedicated to all that matters in electric skateboarding. There’s enough happening for a legit publication! Keep safe and fill 2019 with rides, innovations, new builds, and steez of the highest caliber!