As a complete newcomer to electric skateboards, I was really impressed when I received the Backfire G2 Black 2020. The price may be particularly cheap, but the board does not feel that way at all once it’s in your hands. It packs an impressive amount of power that lets any electric skateboard beginner set the bar higher and higher while progressing on the learning curve. Listen, if you’re a beginner looking for a first electric skateboard, let me get that out of the way; this board is worth every penny. Now let’s see what this bad boy packs inside.
There are many compromises that Backfire could have made to get this board under the $450 price mark, but they have somehow managed to strike the perfect balance, making it an excellent board for beginners without sacrificing on quality and durability.
|Top Speed||24 mph (38 km/h)|
|Range||11 miles (18 km)|
|Battery Size||180 Wh|
|Drive Train||Hub Motor|
|Motor Power||2 x 400 Watts|
|Weight||16.3 lbs (7.4 kg)|
|Max weight capacity||260 lbs (120 kg)|
|Hill climb||30 %|
|Recharge time||3.5 hours|
|Water resistance||yes – but no IP rating|
|Wheel / Tyre Size||96 mm|
|Link to Website||backfireboardsusa.com/g2-black (US-Stock)|
backfireboards.com/g2-black (Global Shipping)
An unexpected jump into electric skateboarding
An awful start: My story with the Backfire G2 Black starts on my 24th birthday. I was looking for a way to commute when September arrives in order to avoid the crowds in the Parisian metro. The idea of commuting by skateboard was very appealing to me. More than simply looking cooler than a scooter and providing a feeling of freedom, I thought it would be convenient to simply carry it with me without having to worry about it being stolen. I was getting increasingly curious about electric skateboard brands. And then, I stumbled upon Backfire’s website. The G2 black stood out from all the other boards I had found on the web. It looked cool and polished, at an exciting price. $400 or 350€ at the time, with the promise of extremely fast shipping from a local European or American warehouse. First, they had my curiosity; now they had my attention.
I wanted to know more about the shipping times, but I couldn’t find any easily accessible information about that, so I decided to start an order to get an ETA for the delivery. Little did I know that hitting the Apple Pay button to fill my address would get me only one Face ID away from my purchase. And voilà! I had an order confirmation for a board that I didn’t even know about just minutes ago. Instead of panicking, I felt relief. My brain was overwhelmed with all the board options out there, and suddenly I had to commit to the purchase I had just made. Reading customer reviews only reinforced the weird serenity that I’d first felt with that clumsy order confirmation.
Wait for it: Ironically, paying for the board wasn’t even enough to know the delivery time. I had to wait patiently after my order confirmation, but I had no news after an entire week. I joined Backfire’s Facebook group, only to realize that other customers were experiencing unusual delays since the pandemic’s onset. To be fair, every other electric skateboard brand faces the same issues, but I was disappointed that Backfire never mentioned that on their website, while keeping mentions of fast shipping from a local German warehouse. After running out of patience, I contacted the support and got an ETA. It turns out, a container loaded with the new 2020 G2 Black model had been sent a month prior to my purchase. Thanks to that, I received my board only 21 days after placing my order. If you want to know when the next containers are arriving in the US and EU warehouses, you should check the blog section on backfireboardsusa.com, because there’s no mention of container shipping on backfireboards.com.
A sleek design
The first thing you notice when you open the board is the design of the deck. It has an aggressive angular design, and retains that unmistakable Backfire signature style. The conservative design and color scheme doesn’t make this board underwhelming. If anything, I was satisfied by not rocking flashy colors nor cruising on a board that resembles a gamer’s chair.
The deck is rather long at 38 inches (96.5cm). It has a shallow concave that makes it comfortable to ride. It’s an 8 ply maple deck, with a medium flex that dampens some of the vibrations you may experience if you cruise on a less than ideal road.
Riding the learning curve
Jump on it : I was really excited to try out the board for the first time. Given that most other boards that I had heard of cost upwards of $1000 (up to several thousands) and that the G2 Black costs around $400, I wasn’t expecting much from it — despite the stellar reviews on Backfire’s website.
The board and the remote come half charged and ready to go so I was able to hop on it and figure it all out by myself. On the first day, I spent about an hour trying to find my stance and improve my balance. Then it was as simple as leaning forward and using the remote to go increasingly faster. I found it extremely easy to get used to the board and I believe that any beginner can easily figure it out, so don’t let any concerns about inexperience keep you from getting your first electric skateboard.
The stock bushings come extremely tight. It’s a good thing at first because it gives you more stability, but given my light weight, I felt the urge to loosen the front bushings. Suddenly, carving became a lot more enjoyable. By the end of the day, I was surfing the asphalt around my house.
Electronic Speed Controller (ESC)
The board is equipped with a Hobbywing 10S ESC. This is the electronic circuit that controls the power delivered to the motors, effectively managing acceleration and braking. Hobbywing ESCs are notoriously superior to the LingYi ESCs, which are another common ESC brand in this market segment. By going with Hobbywing, Backfire ensures a consistent and very predictable ESC. The board’s acceleration and braking are extremely smooth even when you crank up the remote to max speed. This avoids you getting thrown off the board. Lovely!
Even though the braking is not jerky, it catches up by gradually increasing in strength over a couple of seconds, so you shouldn’t be too afraid of being powerless when faced with an unforeseen obstacle. The braking distance is about 5 meters from 13 mph (20 km/h) to 0. This distance varies depending on your weight. However, even if you don’t manage to come to a full stop, you reach a pretty low speed after only a couple meters, so shocks are hopefully less hazardous by then.
In one extreme case, going at 13 mph, I only had 3 meters to avoid hitting a cyclist. I braked and had to jump off the board. The board stopped immediately after being rid of my weight and I managed to easily run without falling.
During my time with the board, I have never experienced any disconnect issues or unwanted acceleration. In general, the G2 Black’s ESC does a remarkable job and is very predictable from a rider’s perspective. You could take that for granted, but many entry-level boards are plagued by poor ESCs. Great move Backfire!
It should be noted that when traveling down an incline, controlling your speed is somewhat different than on flat land. To maintain speed, pulling back on the brake is necessary while releasing control will cause a steady acceleration due to gravity. If you push the control forward while heading downhill, you will accelerate very fast, and you should hesitate to do this until you have experience with the board at high speed.
What about the speed?
This board is specifically targeted at beginners. However, it packs a surprising amount of power that would allow you to go faster and faster when you grow more confident using it. The remote has two settings. The Eco mode is capped at 13 mph, which comes in handy if your country’s legislation is anything like France’s, which required me to stay under 15.5 mph. Acceleration and braking are not too strong in Eco mode, but that’s a welcome feature when you are not used to being on an eskate.
Once you’re ready, the board can deliver a thrilling acceleration in Sport mode, speeding up to 24 mph. I have not personally gone at max speed for now, but I have no doubt that this board can achieve what it advertises, given how it manages to pull me up steep hills without breaking a sweat and is able to slow me effectively when I am going downhill.
It all clicks together:
If you’re a beginner, the Backfire G2 Black 2020 has everything to make learning a breeze. With a reliable ESC, and progressive acceleration and braking curves, you will easily learn to anticipate the board’s reaction—and balance your body accordingly, effectively avoiding falls. It’s all the little details that come together to make your learning experience enjoyable, and lead you to push your boundaries to explore the limits of this board.
As great as this board is, falls will happen. You should invest in elbows, knees, and wrists pads. And as a neuroscientist, I can only recommend that you find a good helmet to protect your precious brain. Concussions are no fun!
Through the traffic and beyond – Commuting
Let’s get back to the initial reason for my purchase: commuting. After two weeks on this board—including a week cruising around Paris’ hectic streets—some patterns are starting to emerge highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of the Backfire G2 Black 2020 as a commuter’s primary mode of transportation.
Power on – Range
The range has been an excellent surprise. The battery is made of a 10s2p arrangement of lithium-ion cells. The cells are unbranded but they are advertised as being high-quality. I could only after long term use, but so far so good! The board rocks a 42V, 5Ah, 180Wh battery. Backfire claims an 11miles (18km) range for the average rider. It turns out, if you don’t ride at very high speeds, you can get an even better range than that. Going at 13mph (20kph), I routinely get about 16 miles (26km) on a single charge. I only need to charge my board twice a week. It takes about 3.5 hours to charge, and the small charger is fairly silent, so you can charge the board while you sleep in the same room.
When the board is below 25% battery, the remote starts vibrating to warn you that your battery is low. Given the range that this board is capable of, this is more than enough to reach your destination and plug in the charger. However, once the board battery level drops below 10%, the battery sag kicks in. The acceleration becomes noticeably weaker. If you can feel it, you probably have about 1mile (1.5km) left to reach your destination or stop by the closest metro station.
The Remote Control
For its 2020 edition, Backfire upgraded the remote with an LCD screen that shows the battery level. It is a welcome addition, although I would appreciate being able to read battery percentage, instead of the 5-bar system that lacks granularity. It is also very hard to decipher the content of the screen if you’re riding in sunny weather.
In theory, the remote’s battery should outlast that of the board. However, if you ride at low speeds and spread the board’s battery usage over several days, the remote’s battery might die first, rendering the board’s remaining energy unusable. Luckily, if you connect it through USB C to an external power bank, you can get 2 bars of remote battery in only 10 minutes. That’s more than enough to get you back home.
Note that Backfire will soon offer a mobile app to manage your skateboard, but the G2 Black 2020 is the only model not getting the app support. Too bad!
Carrying a burden – portability
Once your board’s battery runs out, you will experience one of the biggest downsides of this longboard: it’s hefty. At 16.5 lbs (7.5 kg), the G2 Black 2020 is far from being the heaviest. But its large size and lack of a handle make it unstable if you hold it under one arm. I definitely need both arms to carry it upstairs every day, and it feels too heavy to carry after about a minute. Your best option is to drag it behind you if it runs out of battery, but it’s definitely going to slow you down. Dragging it is not even an option if you re going up stairs, something to consider if you frequent a building with no elevators.
Staying afloat – water resistance
This year, Backfire upped their game when it comes to the battery and ESC enclosures. The battery is protected with an ABS water and dust resistant plastic sealing, and a hard plastic enclosure with a thick rubber sealing. Backfire doesn’t provide an IP rating, but you should be fine occasionally going over puddles. This doesn’t mean that the board is fully waterproof, and Backfire doesn’t offer free battery replacement if the water damage sticker turns red upon exposure to moisture inside the enclosures. Plus, riding in the rain makes your board uncontrollable and can damage the deck.
The Backfire G2 Black trucks are a copy of the Caliber II trucks. They confer higher stability if you like going downhill at high speeds. The stock bushings that come with the board are mostly OK, but they do not provide a great return to center. They are not the best for carving and I cannot wait to swap them for Orangatang bushings; it is allegedly a life-changing modification to the board. They cost around $15 so if you are not satisfied with the stock bushings, it isn’t too costly to upgrade.
However, by adjusting the tightness of the bushings to your weight, you can still end up with good carving performance. It becomes relatively easy to take a sharp turn at a street corner, but it might be harder if there is only one lane. In that case, you may need to use all your weight to manage the tight turn.
If for some reason you do not manage to turn, the board doesn’t offer any lever effect given the absence of a kicktail. You will have to get off your board, pick it up, turn it, and get back on it. This is not a big deal, but it has the potential to become annoying over the long run.
Hitting the road (Jack?) – Wheels
When it comes to commuting on an electric skateboard, wheels are one of the most important components of your board. Your riding experience hinges on them, and they may render your board unusable if they do not live up to the expectations you place on them. The Backfire G2 Black comes with thick 96mm hub-motor polyurethane wheels; larger than most other boards at that price range. This allows them to absorb a lot of the vibrations caused by rolling on rough streets. The bigger wheel size also allows for a slightly higher clearance, making it possible to go through higher obstacles without being thrown off your board. That being said, these are still polyurethane wheels, and you will feel the difference between a smooth road and a rough one.
The polyurethane wheels are great at absorbing low amplitude and high-frequency vibrations. They dampen the effect of tiny pebbles and small cracks on the road. However, if these objects are too large, the vibrations they cause have too big an amplitude for the wheels to absorb, and you can definitely feel it in your knees. In this category, cobblestones deserve a special place in hell—right next to the fireplace—as they will force you to stop and carry your board if you don’t want to have a seizure.
On the other hand, the deck does a fantastic job of absorbing low-frequency disturbances. As it turns out, I became dangerously addicted to the feeling of the deck bowing in when I go fast up a speed bump, and rebounding when I go down—which defeats the purpose of speed bumps, but I won’t complain.
Quiet on the set! – Hub Motors
The board’s hub-motors have several advantages over belt drives: they are particularly silent, they are generally more reliable, and don’t require belt maintenance. However, as Backfire doesn’t offer any official support for different wheels, you will be stuck with the stock wheels forever, while you could have easily swapped them for a set of bigger wheels if it was using a belt drive system. I didn’t mind it at first but I now realize that is the most important upgrade I’d like to make to my board. Cloudwheels offer an option to mount their dampening core wheels on the G2’s hub motors, but it completely ruins the design of the board and doesn’t look solid enough to last more than a couple months.
Backfire, if you are reading this, please offer official support for wheel upgrades. I am ready to spend $200 if that is what it takes to smoothen my ride. You can also check out our Review of the Backfire Zealot, Backfire’s Belt-Drive Board.
A commuter’s faithful companion:
The board’s range is definitely above-average for this price category, and makes it an ideal companion for your commutes. Just upgrade the bushings and you’ll surf your way to work every day. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of verifying your local road conditions before making your purchase. Hills aren’t a problem given the power of the motors, but if the roads have too many cracks, pebbles, potholes, or worse, cobblestones, you should reconsider your purchase decision. Seasonal weather patterns are also a key factor, as it is not recommended to ride under the rain.
A bang for your bucks!
Backfire’s biggest strength when compared to other brands is its remarkable customer service. Customer satisfaction is high across Backfire rider groups on social media, and for a good reason. Backfire offers a 6-month guarantee, and they have been notoriously generous with their repair and replacement policy. They had reportedly covered the replacement of decks that broke during accidents, and they are willing to send you replacement parts if you face any issue. The warranty doesn’t cover water damage, in case you needed an extra reason to avoid water at all costs. Backfire favors sending you replacement parts and giving you instructions on how to repair the board by yourself. This has the advantage of avoiding the delay associated with sending over your board and having it shipped back to you.
The support is quick to answer any question and help you with your order, so don’t hesitate to contact them.
You should note however that they are more reluctant to offer any help once the warranty period is over, and sometimes for what seems to be manufacturing defects. Knowing Backfire, I would expect them to be more understanding once you take the time to explain your issue, and I am hopeful that they won’t let me down if I ever face a manufacturing defect outside of the warranty period.
Worth every penny – the price
The Backfire G2 Black 2020 is a fantastic board with a few drawbacks. But once you add the price into the equation, you realize that it’s a fantastic deal. Backfire recently increased the price to $429 in the US, and $419 on the EU website, but the board remains a great deal. This is the price of a 5-month subway pass in Paris, so it might end up saving me money after a while. Contrary to some other brands, the price includes shipping fees and any import duties that may be incurred. Backfire is offering you an incredible piece of technology at a price rivaling even DIY boards, with a 6-month warranty on top of that.
|Backfire G2 Black 2020 Fast USA Shipping (as long as in US stock)||$429|
|Backfire G2 Black 2020 Fast EU Shipping (as long as in EU stock)||$419|
However, if you are a total newcomer to electric skateboards, you should be aware of the extra hidden costs. First, you’ll need a protection set and a helmet. That could cost you from $60 to $150+. The board doesn’t have built-in lights, so add at least $99 for some Shredlights (or if you’re unlucky like me, $180 with the shipping fees and import duties to Europe). If your country imposes legislation on the use of electric skateboards, you may have to pay an insurance policy to comply with it. If you ask me, $100 a year is a fair price for getting a proper legal status on the roads and not being bothered by the cops. Finally, a proper carrying bag costs upwards of $130, although it’s not an absolute necessity. Make sure to check out our comprehensive guide on electric skateboard safety gear.
|Helmet||$40 – 200|
|Lights||$100 – 200|
|Gloves / Wrist Guards||$20 – 70|
|Knee and Elbow Pads||$20 – 100|
|Backpack/ Bag||$60 – 160|
During my time with the board, I have realized that most drivers are very careful and patient around me even if my presence slows them down. I have also noticed a surprising tendency for dogs to rush me when I’m going fast, and for expensive cars to cut me off and put me in danger. I couldn’t find any scientific explanation for these phenomena, but I am sure we all have our theories.
The best part has been meeting other skateboarders on the road, and I’ll never get tired of the genuine compliments I get from kids.
Setting the bar higher: With such an incredible offer, backfire is casting a shadow over most other electric skateboard brands, and consumers are in to reap the benefits of this move. Whatever your budget, this board might end up saving you money. Plus you get to turn the burden of commuting into something you look forward to at the end of your day, and that is priceless. Listen, this board is for everyone, regardless of your income. The only real criterion is the local road conditions. If they’re good in your area, stop hesitating and come join the ride!
Riding the wave – my final verdict
Backfire delivered on its promise!
Backfire offers a board that is particularly well suited for today’s needs, and may be the perfect way to lure in hesitant customers with specific transportation requirements. They have tweaked the formula to offer you an affordable, reliable, and high-quality board that will ease your transition to electric skateboarding, and let you discover the thrill of the speed. Cruising on smooth roads and bike lanes is exquisite; it feels like freedom. You cannot deny the sense of euphoria that this board provides when you start accelerating on smooth tarmac. I personally couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the first time I experienced this feeling. You come for the convenience and you stay for the fun.
With all the current conjuncture and changing trends in transportation modes and the new market it has created, this board has a bright future in front of it.
In Paris, the legislation has changed to accommodate electric skateboards on the roads, which signals a meaningful positive shift in public policy that could reassure potential customers who are not reckless enough to play cops and robbers. Since the onset of the pandemic, new bike paths are popping up every week, and entire road lanes are now converted into bike lanes. If Backfire manages to surf the wave correctly, it could emerge from this health and logistics crisis stronger than ever before.
I know it is hard to believe, but I had initially ordered that board by mistake. And it might well end up being the happiest mistake I have ever made.