Esk8 Remotes: Garbage or Greatness!

Electric Skateboard Remotes, the Pink Elephant of the esk8 world. I keep looking for the greatest most perfect remote and the best of the best is just good enough.

I have literally, for 3 years, tried every remote I’ve come across. Out of the twenty-something individual models I’ve tried , spanning multiple form factors, sizes, and capabilities there are 3 remotes that I actually use on a daily basis. There are a couple that are quality but that I just don’t like due to my own personal preference, so I’ll let the products speak for themselves.

Frankly, there is a lot missing from the world of esk8 remotes. The majority are fairly low quality and don’t withstand rugged use. It seems like it shouldn’t be so freakishly difficult to make a remote that has good tactile response, a rugged/waterproof case, shockproof electronics, decent battery life, limited telemetry data and maybe a cool wrist strap. Beyond that, would it be so hard to make a remote that has both a thumb and finger trigger for throttle control? I mean, it’s a single piece of plastic that attaches to a single internal potentiometer. Cut off the one you don’t want or keep them both, I don’t care. It just shouldn’t take an act of Skatan to make that happen right?

Anyway, below you will find a list of remotes, both widely available commercial remotes and small batch remotes which are the product of either a very small shop or an individual maker. I have separated the list based on those 2 criteria as small batch remotes might be great, but you still likely can’t get one in a hurry. I want to include them so that you, the reader, know where to start looking if you decide to go that route. Most people will opt for a widely available commercial manufactured remote because they are easy to get and, lets face it, you want a remote that a few hundred people have tested for at least 5 minutes so you don’t hit the brakes and rocket forward at 35 mph into some mall scooter riding baby boomer who now owns all of your economic output for the next 20 years, because, you know, lawyers. 

Each remote will be scored from 1 (the lowest & worst rating) to 5 (the highest & best rating) in each writer’s opinion. This will make it easy to know which remotes we like and which remotes we don’t like.

Each remote in the list will be followed by my opinion and/or another of the esk8.news writers opinions. You may not agree, and that’s ok. I would ask that you refrain from flaming me over it as I am not above sending glitter bombs to your house labeled as ‘MONEY!’.

Remotes that are widely available

The following remotes are widely available and can be bought from online vendors in the usual ways. Most, if not all, of these remotes operate using some variation of FHSS on 2.4GHz bands which is a reliable way of delivering throttle and brake control signals with minimum interference.

Alien Power Systems  

4.25/5 $57.04  [link]

I’ve considered buying the APS remote multiple times.  On each occasion it always came down to ship time, they are in the UK (I think), or that it’s a front trigger instead of a thumb trigger (to which I am partial).  I wish I had gone ahead and “pulled the trigger” (you see what I did there J) as it is impressive.  I am still partial to thumb trigger remotes, but this one makes me question that commitment.

The remote itself is attractive and has a damned near perfect form factor.  You’ll see that the trigger assembly is mounted at an obtuse angle from center, this makes it easier to relax your grip while maintaining control of the throttle.  The remote has a soft, rubberized coating, making it easy to maintain grip and still keep clean. 

The return response on the trigger is not great, it’s not what I would characterize as bad but it could definitely be better.  As Bill Gordon is the guy who is typically the vendor contact, I asked him about setting up a call with APS to see if we could address this.  He sent them an email and within a day they emailed us back and said “We can add stronger spring on return side. Let us know if you think that will resolve the issue”. 

At the end of the day I am going to give this remote a 4.25 of 5, with the upgraded spring it will be a 4.75 and that’s about as high as I’m willing to go for a product that doesn’t buy me drinks and try to woo me :).

You can read a full review of the APS Remote in the upcoming article “APS EVT3…the good, the bad & there isn’t any ugly”.

-Mike Maner

Benchwheel

4/5 $45.00 [link]

I have used this remote for longer than any other remote on this list. It is no longer my favorite remote, but it is solid as a rock. I have owned 3 of them over the last 3 years, 2 of them died on me in the last few months so I am currently down to one. Understand that I have gotten them wet, dropped them, wrecked with them, cracked the cases and epoxied them back together…I’ve pretty much treated them like crap, and they have kept working for the most part.

The Benchwheel remote is a great form factor, although the simple blocky shape almost looks uncomfortable. Its not. The angles have slight filets to round them out. The straight lines of the case & the top finger slot make it easy to know where it is in your hand, making your trigger use predictable, a very important feature to me. Battery life is great. I’ve never had to charge one more than once a week, and that’s with daily use & forgetting to turn it off when I get home..

I use this remote on cruisers, AT, hybrids, speed boards…anything & everything. This is the remote I put on my kids board, that should help define how safe I think this remote is.

I give this remote a 4/5, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy & use more.

-Mike Maner

Enertion Nano-X

2.5/5 $97.34 [link]

I am not a huge fan of this remote. I’ve bought 2 and used a couple more. Across the board I have had issues with the tactile response of the trigger, it just feels loose and a little sloppy (to me). The battery life is great and the form factor is good. The remote feels good in my hand, but it’s a little small for me as I’ve got big ugly lumberjack hands.

I know a few people that ride hard and really like this remote. They enjoy that the return on the trigger is very lite. I don’t get it, but to each his own. There are some people that have had issues with the remotes failing, but they were few and far between and mostly clustered in a short time frame so I assume it was a manufacturing issue that has been corrected. Furthermore, at least some of the people that had issues, the ones I know, got replacements from Enertion so all is good.

I give this remote a 2.5/5, I wouldn’t buy anymore and would be unlikely to use one for more than an emergency replacement.

-Mike Maner

UPDATE 02/18/19
I got some new info from Bara @ Entertion today. “Our remote has not changed in design at all but it has changed in durability. I found that the failure rate was high and I have added a few assembly procedures to make sure they last. ”

I also heard that Enertion is working on a new remote, we will review it as soon as its available for beta testing.

-Mike Maner

FlipSky Nano

4/5 $49.00 [link]

I am surprised at how much I like this remote. The tactile response of the trigger is excellent, the battery life is good and the form factor is good (if a bit unoriginal). The case itself is not what I would define as rugged and the switch actually feels cheap, I expect to have to replace it at some point, likely after the first time I wreck with it.

This remote has become my replacement remote for cruisers and testing. They are inexpensive and shipping is quick. I want to add that I have only used this remote for 3 rides, but I had zero issues and forgot that I was using a new remote. If that changes I will update this opinion, in fact I will update it regardless.

I am giving this remote 4/5. The case leaves me feeling like I need to be careful with it, not something I enjoy in an ESK8 remote. The throttle response, ergonomics and battery life are great.

-Mike Maner

Hoyt Puck Remote

4.5/5 $189.00 [link]

I’m not sure where to start on this remote. The form factor is simply amazing. It feels natural when holding it and fits perfectly in the palm of your hand giving you fine throttle control. This is enhanced by the quality used in constructing the remote. It feels like a really good potentiometer, but is in fact a digital pot.

The battery life is excellent. The case is laminated bamboo, just like a lot of longboard decks, and looks amazing. The buttons are rugged and it has a vibrating alert instead of a piezo speaker. The LED’s are bright, color changing and survive a wreck where the remote got used as an actual puck by a friend.

I am currently using this remote on my ‘Hazard’ build, which has become my daily driver. It’s comfortable if I’m tooling around downtown and it’s responsive when I spy a nice stretch of asphalt that is calling for my blood :).

I am giving this remote a 4.5/5. The only thing I don’t like about the Hoyt Puck is that the wrist strap comes out of the back instead of the bottom, it’s a little uncomfortable when you let it hang. Plus the cost…It’s very expensive compared to other remotes, but reliability and attractive design elements have a cost, it’s worth it.

-Mike Maner

You get what you pay for, it is a super unique piece of technology that has outperformed all of it’s competition so far. If you’re on a budget, there are more vital things to spend your money on. But, if you want the best of the best or you plan to be racing away, this is the next step in ensuring that a board is the most pristine and capable in the Saturday riding group. 4.5/5

-Ben Schwartz

The Hoyt puck is my go-to remote. It feels good in the hand, has amazing throttle response, and has a well implemented mode selection. While pricier than most remote offerings on the market, the Hoyt Puck earns its cost through beautiful design and quality components. 4.5/5

-Tim Diegmann

UPDATE 02/18/19
I had a conversation with Jeff at Hoyt and wanted to offer an update.

We specifically talked about the Puck’s channel hopping technology. He says “it has demonstrated connectivity robust enough to even withstand the mean streets of NYC without a drop, critical when blasting through traffic at 20+ mph!” I cant figure out a way to test that, but after hundreds of miles I have never had a drop from my Puck, and least not a signal drop. I have used it as a slide puck once, on accident, but it’s still kicking.

I also wanted to mention the ability to lock the throttle with a power button, a double click ensures you don’t unintentionally send your board spiraling into the unknown why you flirt with the barista.

Lastly, there are a couple of update in the works. Regarding the issue with the lanyard they added a channel for it to recess into so you don’t feel it as much on your palm while maintaining the ability to sit on that flat plane.

Regarding the price, the guys are currently working on an injection molded shell version which should retail for around $99 and hopefully
be available in May, or soon after.

-Mike Maner

Maytech Remote v1 (aka Steez)

4/5 $60.00 – No longer available as new

I have only had 1 of these remotes, I borrowed from a friend when I broke a remote for a couple of weeks. I really didn’t want to give it back. The silicon case is a great shock absorber & protection for the remote. The trigger response was good, battery life was good, no signal drops or install issues. Sadly, they are no longer in manufacture, but can still be had on the used/refurb market if you look around long enough.

I am giving this remote 4/5. I didn’t like the wrist strap, it was too short and the connector was pretty weak. Performance wise, I have no complaints.

-Mike Maner

This remote was a necessary step forward in ergonomics, but like many evolutionary stages it was filled with undesirable side effects. This particular remote was prone to channel hijacking, a situation where you inadvertently end up controlling you’re friend’s board instead of or along with your own board. The solution to that was to set it to one of its nine or ten channels that didn’t interfere with the other remotes in the area. The process for doing this was annoying and not intuitive. The initial pairing process was also irritatingly complex.

Another issue with this remote was that it was fragile and couldn’t take much of a beating before the buttons that powered it on and programmed it were damaged and needed to be repaired.

I give this remote a 2/5 for inconveniences and dangerous levels of unreliability and interference potential in group rides.

-Damon Wood

Maytech Remote v2

4/5 $50.00 [link]

This is one of my favorite remotes. I have 3, all of them still work but one and I got a free replacement when it failed, so no issues there. The trigger response is really good, battery life is good, no signal drops or install issues, and it has speed modes that actually fucking work. Imagine that.

I use this remote on cruisers and hybrid boards. It’s got a great trigger that is difficult to over push/pull when I hit bumps. This is the remote that LHB uses on his custom completes, so if it’s good enough for him…

I am giving this remote 4/5. The case leaves me feeling like I need to be careful with it, not something I enjoy in an ESK8 remote.

-Mike Maner

The Maytech v2 remote is currently the gold standard in my opinion. The latest revision of the v2 has a whip on the antenna to further mitigate signal issues, but the dropouts and interrupts were practically non-existent to begin with.

This remote is durable and can take a pretty serious beating. Drops, wrecks, slides across the street into trees and walls when falling don’t seem to affect it very much. The battery lasts for days, it fits in most pockets, pairing is a dead easy two step process, and there is zero interference with other remotes in group environments. The speed modes on it not only make sense, but are actually useful and seem to translate the restricted power range across the entire range of the throttle in a way that’s intuitive when in slow mode. It has all of the stuff you need, and nothing that you don’t. Also worth noting is that its not shaped like a gun, which is kind of important to me personally because I’m tired of reading about unarmed people, especially young people, getting shot by the cops. I give it a 5/5.

-Damon Wood

Mini-Remote

3.5/5 $30.00 [link]

I find it difficult to write about this remote. I have zero complaints about the performance, it has great throttle response, battery life is amazing, no cutouts and no connectivity issues. In fact it arguably has the longest history of safety and usability of any remote commonly used on electric skateboards.

After saying all that…I’m not a fan. I don’t like the feel of the remote, the form factor is just weird to me. For a commercially available remote I shouldn’t have to remove the wheel or modify it at all, but that wheel just gets in the way.

I have used quite a few of these, but they usually end up on the shelf when I get a remote that I like the feel of more. I am constantly on the lookout for a mod that turn this remote into a racing thumb trigger throttle badass rock star esk8 remote. I have tried a couple that for different reasons I wasn’t happy with. I even tried to model my own, using the Benchwheel as inspiration, but time you know. I have a mod case, that includes a lipo battery and charging board, in route to me as I type this. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

I am giving this remote 3.5/5. I just hate the form factor and the case feels cheap and vulnerable.

-Mike Maner

Winning Remote v1

1/5 $30.00 – No longer available as new

Do not buy this, unless it’s for your worst enemy or the girl that broke you heart in 9th grade. This remote will make you bleed while leaving you none of the satisfaction having bled for something cool. It has frequent dropouts, is too small, has connectivity issues, and in general is complete garbage.

I have 2 of these remotes, I stopped using them as soon as I could. For quite a while, back in the early days of esk8, the only 2 options available were the Steez and the Winning. The Steez was pretty good, no complaints. The Winning was a murderous little fuck-toid of a creation whose only purpose was to wait until you got comfortable on the lean at 30 mph and then stuff your trusting & gullible face right into the pavement.

I’m giving this remote a 1/5. If you have no other choice, I guess you just need to be careful.

-Mike Maner

This remote is the reason I coined the term “street your face.” It would drop out and lock up the wheels at random, fail to respond on occasion in areas of seemingly no interference for any other remote, and didn’t even feel that great in your hand. For an immeasurably short period of time a few years ago, Enertion bought into these remotes wholesale for use with thier first generation Raptors around the same time that I was doing their warranty repairs. Calibrating this remote properly was an exercise in self inflicted injury, and for a while I was adding the cost of bandaids to my repair invoices before passing them on. Do not use this remote. Do not accept it as a gift, and certainly don’t pay anyone for it. I give this remote a 0.1/5 only because doesn’t make sense to type all those zeroes to the right of the decimal.

-Damon Wood

Nano-Remote v2

4/5 $60.00 [link]

I am giving this remote 4/5. The case leaves me feeling like I need to be careful with it, not something I enjoy in an ESK8 remote. The throttle response, ergonomics and battery life are great.

-Mike Maner

Remotes available in small batches or otherwise in limited availability

The following remote options are only available in limited quantity by small companies or individuals, were developed by community members as part of a group project, or are otherwise somewhat difficult to come by.

Firefly Remote

2/5 No static pricing, there are a few variants that go for $100 and up [link]

I hate to say it, because I had a lot of hope for this remote, but i am not a fan. The 3D printed case that I got was not good. I printed a higher quality case, trigger assembly, insternal seperator, etc and resolved some of the issues.

The main issue is the Hall sensor throttle, the quality is just not there yet. I had frequent yet unpredictable delays in throttle response. Sometimes the ‘dead man switch’ would fail, which oddly enough made me worry about becoming a dead man. The battery life is pretty poor, I ran the battery out while on a single ride.

I still have hope as there are new variants in the works. Some are smaller, some using bearing supported hall sensor triggers, some use larger batteries and screens. I likely will not try any of the variants until the hall sensor throttle is replaced with another option unless I hear really good things about newer versions.

I am giving this remote 2/5. Its awesome in theory, but too unpredictable to be considered safe and usable by new builders.

There is a new version of the Firefly remote called the Firefly Nano.  Its a smaller version of the original Firefly, but it uses a bigger battery and contains a custom PCB.  It appears to much more reliable but unfortunately uses the same Hall Sensor trigger, which was my personal issue in the original.

-Mike Maner

Photon Remote

2.5/5 $159.00 [link]

I have owned 2 of these remotes, the first version and a much later version. I currently only own one, traded one to another skater. While I like the idea of the telemetry display and the form factor is pretty cool, I do not like the multi/uni direction thumb switch. Its unpredictable and there’s nothing about the case that makes it easy to feel where the trigger is in relation to the remote.

I had some drop out issues, but those were solved by moving the receiver closer to the center of the board so it was closer to the remote while in use. I spent hours trying to update firmware and eventually was able to successfully upgrade the remote on 2 different occasions. The last time I tried, no joy, it’s currently on a shelf. I will eventually get it down and try again when I start a board that could benefit from this type of remote.

I am giving this remote 2.5/5. The feature set is awesome in theory, but in practice the trigger and connection is too unpredictable to be trustworthy. It’s possible that I just got a bad one, twice, but I doubt I’ll try a new one until there are significant design changes.

-Mike Maner

I have two of these in a box not being used because when I tried them out, I immediately got laggy throttle response, signal drops, and never could get the telemetry working correctly. Also, the antenna was a massive wifi antenna and not a small whip or PCB antenna. I don’t have room for any of that in my life. I give it a 1/5 only because the idea was interesting and I thought the inventor was a really nice guy.

-Damon Wood

GT2B Mods

The GT2B is arguably one of the most reliable remotes manufactured today, but it’s a massive R/C remote that is bulky and difficult to use with ESK8. You can pick one up here and here.

There are tons of GT2B mods available, the GT2B has been moded more than any other R/C remote in history. These mods serve to modify the stock GT2B into a small usable form factor specifically for ESK8. There are many options, none are what I would call ‘simple’, each will take some work and problem solving to complete.

Here’s a list, reviews will come…

Baby Buffalo
Badwolf
Badwolf V2
Mad Munkey
Mad Scientist
MasterCho
Maxid Mod
Sparkle

For tutorials on the MasterCho mod look here & here.

Remotes of the Future

Maytech has a new Waterproof R2 style remote which is currently in development that could open up the Telemetry Enabled Remote market, Maytech has a habit of offering better than average products that offer dependability and useability even if they aren’t incredibly rugged.

There is no public info available as of yet, but I will link it here when it becomes available.

Maytech Waterproof R2 Style Split Trigger Remote with display and optional wireless charging

There is another remote, currently in development (as on Jan 2019), which has the ability to change the game much the way Hoyt has with the Puck remote.  Its called the OSRR – A High Performance Open Source Racing Remote.  It features a military spec trigger and telemetry display among other features, including WiFi accessibility and data logging at the remote.  I doubt its going to be cheap, but you get what you pay for right?

Renderings of the OSRR Remote types in development

Mike Maner

Mike is a systems/communications engineer and a dad to 4 kids as well as being a member and forum leader of the electric skateboard building community.Mike is NOT a traitor, screw a damn unicycle!*shakes head in confusion at Damon thinking "why man, just why?"