The movie starts with me looking longingly at the upcoming Torqueboards Direct Drive motors for the 87th time and then kicking some dirt in a vacant lot. The camera then goes P.O.V. and looks into the vast, yawning emptiness of my wallet. We hear a sad slide whistle. Then it’s back to me as I look resignedly at the eLofty direct drives for the 87th time, shrug palms up, and make my fateful decision.
Then the dumb movie theme device ends and the review starts.
It all started with an eBay listing that showed a feature image of the motors, a set of ABEC adapters, an RKP hanger, and two “bacon strip” all-terrain wheels (described as not included). There were other photos in the listing that showed Kegel adapters and a TKP hanger, but I assumed those were options. Since I had set of ABEC 107s just itching to be used, I took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.
Lost in Translation.
(Yes, I lied. I’m still doing the movie thing. Shut up. It’s my review.)
Later in the day, I decided that I better make sure I was getting the ABEC and RKP setup, so I messaged the seller. With a language barrier in place on both sides, we then engaged in an epic back-and-forth struggle in which I became even more confused with what I was getting or perhaps more importantly, what I wasn’t getting. There was no winner.
I shared some of it on the builder’s forum, so others could enjoy my pain and torment me for my apparent foolishness.
But the seller was amazing with their willingness to help, the lightning responses I received (we share a time zone), and the impressive patience they displayed with my thoroughly puzzled self. That was my first realisation that the seller was not just selling one-off stuff to make a quick buck, but was in it for a long haul.
So on the messaging went (62 replies in all), and over the course of the next few days, it turned out that what I was getting was Kegel adapters, a TKP motor hanger, and a TKP front truck. Time to scramble for wheels and baseplates. Thanks to a friend I scored a set of Popocas locally and I found some really subpar TKP trucks and repurposed the kingpin and plates. I also bought a pair of esc-side easy connectors from the same seller. You’ll want them.
To say that my experience with eLofty got off to a rocky beginning would be a supreme understatement. But the weather was about to change for the better.
Shipping was really quick (another good sign), and before I knew it, they were in hand. As luck would have it, I had managed to kill 3 of my 4 vescs in the previous week (I’m really smart, experienced, and talented), so I hooked them up to, of all things, a belt-version Diyeboard 1.1 ESC. Yes, the one with the decent acceleration curve and the worst brakes in esk8 history. (Cue the Sleeping Lion comments.)
With a feeling of resignation and low expectations, I headed out for my first ride with the eLofty Direct Drives.
Five minutes later, I was actually laughing internally at what I was experiencing. The power came on strong and smooth, the torque was plentiful and controllable, and the brakes were linear and strong. All this using an absolute porta-potty of an ESC.
The next day, I took them on both directions of my usual 22-km route. There’s a great mix of bumpy sidewalk, tricky inclines, long stretches of smooth tarmac, poorly-placed construction plates, a short section of what appears to be WWII-era London, and and one awful little steep hill with virtually no run-up and a nasty turn at mid-point.
I hadn’t really done much turning and carving with the first run, and these are the widest trucks I’ve ever ridden. But much to my surprise, I loved the extra width and found confident turning, good tracking and and impressive comfort. Sure, the Popocas deserve some of the credit, but this was good stuff.
The acceleration also continued to impress me. When needed, I found a great level of punch to get going (though I kickstart religiously to save battery since I’m 220 with nothing but my tutu and tiara), and no matter how I worked the remote, it was all very controllable and addictive. With some of my other boards, I’m always wishing for more of one thing and less of another. But with the eLofty, I was able to dial in and out exactly to my wishes and it responded to my every whim. (I am often whimsical.)
It tackled the inclines with no issue whatsoever (only my dual belts can do them albeit slowly), and before I knew it, I was faced with my great nemesis: the shitty little steep hill. On my other boards, I can get up this but only crawling forward with great drama, whinging, and reluctance.
The eLofty drives tackled it like it was going through wet tissue paper, and we emerged victorious at the top, hugging each other in glory, and shaking our fists in derision at our vanquished foe.
These things literally turned my frown upside-down, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have them in hand. I could be happy with them and the poopy ESC as a daily driver, so I can’t imagine what they will be like with proper VESCs. They have quickly become my #1 option, and my other planned builds have faded into the distance. (I’ll still do them as I have no life, but it sounded more dramatic the other way.)
Now, to be fair, there are some things that need improving.
1) The front axle is bit too short so it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the nut (but enough), and it has an odd notch (keyway size) after the threading. which makes getting the bearing past it harder than it should be.
2)The rear axle is a bit too long, and I think the milling could be a little more precise. One of my bearings got stuck and I needed to pull it out with twisted twine.
3) The paint on one of the cans was good, but the other was a bit spotty. (Personally, i don’t care about this, but there are folks with a far greater interest in proper aesthetics.)
4) The motor wires are a bit thin. They are uncomfortably close to the size of the sensor wires.
Kindly note: I will be updating this piece later on when I can properly feed these motors from my pair of Focboxes because I want to see what they can do with decent gear, and they deserve better than an ebay ESC. So please check back.
At roughly $330, the eLofty Direct Drives are not only worth the money, they’re worth your money. The initial lows I experienced have given way to impressive highs, and as time goes on, these motors go from strength-to-strength.
I also became a fan of the seller/manufacturer, who could have taken the easy road and instead of answering my numerous questions, thrown me a wordless refund. Instead, they not only delivered in every way I expect a company to do, but in ways I didn’t really expect.
At some point, I want to try the Torqueboards Direct Drives to see how they compare, and I won’t be surprised if they are not only as good, but a good bit better. But the real question for me is this: will they be twice as good for roughly twice the price? I can’t see how, but I’m fine with being proved wrong.
Until I have the answer to that question, I’ll be riding off into the sunset with my eLofty Direct Drives wearing a big shit-eating grin on my face, and I strongly suggest you do the same.