The Backfire Mini is Backfire’s answer to a mini skateboard, one that can take you around town or city without hassle. Its classic design and lean construction make it a great companion for carrying and getting around any city or town.
Don’t be fooled by its understated appearance, the board is waterproof, has the power to take you up hills, a battery that lasts 10 miles, speeds of up to 26mph, flexibility to navigate city objects and its light enough to carry on a rucksack or under the arms, all this at a price that sits well below the competition, this makes this board a serious contender for anyone looking for a serious electric skateboard.
Accelerating, Brakes & Top Speed (Control and ESC / Smoothness)
There are three ride modes on the Backfire Mini,
- starting with ‘Eco’ – the top speed maxes out at 11mph and the acceleration is smooth, with weight slightly leant over the front, a rider can expect to get up to that speed in no time at all.
- The second mode is ‘Sport’, this mode can take the rider up to 22kmh/23mph, on a skateboard so small, this speed can feel quite daunting at times, the acceleration is more aggressive than Eco so the rider has to be more cautious, that being said, the learning curve for handling the acceleration is little.
- The third mode is ‘Turbo’ and as you can imagine, this mode doesn’t hang around. The acceleration can be sharp and slightly furious and if you launch from a standstill, you’re most likely to fall off. Turbo mode can reach a whopping 41kmh/26mph, but will only maintain that speed for 30 seconds before cooling down for 30 seconds, frankly, that speed for most commuting needs is not required, but it can be fun to test the limits.
The brakes on the board are clean and to the point, coming down from 17kmh/11mph to a standstill will require a few meters in which the rider is slowed down smoothly with little vibration and no loss of control.
Going downhill is a pleasant experience, by feathering the brakes you can easily control the descent and also collect a little bit of extra juice for your battery from the regenerative braking system.
There does, however, appear to be an issue if hard breaking in Turbo mode, the wheels will stutter back and forth before coming to a halt.
However, if you were to apply the brakes in this manner, you’d probably be launched off the board. It is a little disconcerting to see in action (VIDEO)
Backfire claim a range between 9 to 11 miles and tests stand up to that statement this can be less if the majority of your ride is uphill, but in general, the board does seem to handle 10 miles comfortably. It’s always worth topping the battery up to avoid draining it on a lengthy ride and thanks to its quick charge you won’t have to wait too long for the battery to be filled.
Backfire claim that this board is the lightest in its category and that might be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s particularly light to carry around, coming in at 6kg/13lbs. The truth is, carrying this board will take its toll on your arms over time, you’ll find yourself often switching arms to alleviate the pressure. Putting the board on a backpack is achievable and goes some way in making the board more portable.
The board just about fits on a standard skateboard bag and with the belts covering the grip tape the board will stay in position. Commuting with it is fine, even in cramped conditions the board can be tucked in between your legs or stashed in the luggage compartment above your head
The build quality of the board is high, no doubts about it, the carbon fibre deck looks sharp and classic, the hubs are reliable, strong and can take a battering, the trucks are responsive and the remote is solid, the only let-down is the cutout in the grip tape, it just looks, amateurish and it’s a shame, but then again, it’s the easiest fix.
Deck (Look, Concave, Flex)
The overall design of the Backfire Mini is understated, it’s not flamboyant, it doesn’t have any bold colours or accents, nor does it shout “check me out!”.
By hiding all the electronic components in the deck of the board, the only visual clue that the board is electronic is a little blue ring of light around the discrete looking power button. Backfire have done well to keep the board classic and functional and for those wanting to ride without drawing too much attention, this could well be a selling factor.
The deck is concaved which is a nice touch as you’ll find your feet nesting nicely in the middle with enough edging to lean into without feeling like your about to fall off.
However, the most useful feature of the deck has to be the kicktail, that little addition makes it a breeze to pick up your board, cross a road and jump back on, it’s easy to overlook but the kicktail simply keeps you moving!
Backfire have a good solid history with their computers and the Backfire Mini is no exception. The ride is reliable, constant, stable and responsive, it feels you with confidence even in the most tricky of riding conditions.
The ESC has a way of making the board feel like an extension of your body, responding to your actions rather than reacting, you get to ride the board, rather than being taken for a ride.
The remote is heavily influenced by the “boosted” range and it looks great. The OLED screen can be useful to see what gear you’re in or how much juice is left in the board or the remote.
However, it could be better, the screen is tiny and it can be tricky to view real time info when skating, also, if the sun is out, it can be even harder to see read, but overall the design of the remote is good, it fits snug into the hand and with the rubberised coating, it doesn’t move around.
The default battery pack is a set of ‘Samsung 21700 Cells – 175Wh’. Technically speaking this is too much to fly with, however, Backfire offers a less powerful and flight safe battery option ‘Sony 18650 VCT5 Cells – 99Wh’ if you wish to travel internationally, having the ability to swap batteries is another example of the board’s flexibility and portability.
Plugging the board into charge with the provided power brick is an easy affair, simply remove the rubber bung and plug it in, just make sure that the bung is sealed before skating, to stop any water getting in. The board will charge from empty in one and a half hours, this makes topping up the board even more convenient.
Checking the battery status could be better, as you have to turn on both the remote and the board to see the battery status of both units, it’s not that much of a problem, but something that could be improved on in the future.
The remote has an internal battery which you can charge with a USB C cable, charging is quick, around half an hour but so is the depletion time of the unit with it normally lasting a few hours before vibrating to let you know it’s low.
Water Sealings (Is it waterproof/ water resistant?)
Backfire claim the board to be waterproof, there is a video online that would suggest otherwise, however from my experience living in the UK and riding in the rain, taking the board through puddles, I would have to agree with Backfire, the board is waterproof, not that you would want to ride it through water, but if you do hit a puddle, you have nothing to worry about.
The wheels are the standard Backfire longboard wheels, they are grey with print around the edge, the look slick when they arrive, but going through puddles and mud changes the colour to an odd brown/orange shade.
The wheels themselves seem to be tough and hard-wearing, they have taken a lot of abuse over the last few months, from drain covers, cobbled roads, potholes and even nails, they continue to hold their shape and have not shown any signs of splitting.
It’s hard to quantify shipping on this product, originally this board was on Kickstarter with a package that included quick delivery, expectations were two weeks. However, customs had other ideas. To be fair to Backfire they kept the crowd informed as to the whereabouts of the boards but ultimately they didn’t arrive on time.
Now with shipping issues across the globe delays can be expected on most products.
Backfire have a rather personal approach to customer services, there seems to be one man responding to queries and following up on actions. It is clear that they do care about their customers and are willing to rectify mistakes, for example, recently a batch of dangerous batteries was discovered, Backfire simply sent everyone new batteries without anyone having to lift a finger. The E-skate industry is a competitive environment and Backfire know this, so it’s good to see their USP is not only quality boards but a personal touch in both pre and post purchasing.
The board comes in around 600USD/510GBP at the time of writing, this might look like a high price on paper, but considering the quality of the product and the competition, this is an affordable price for the board. Check the current price on their website.
A classic looking electric skateboard light enough to commute with, powerful enough to take you around town and back, built to last and all at an affordable price tag, sure there are a lot of boards on the market now and more appearing weekly but the Backfire Mini is one you should really give strong consideration to.