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Backfire Zealot Review – Budget Belt Drive Monster

When I first rode my buddies Boosted Board ‘Stealth’ a few years back, I thought…this board is amazing and rides like a dream. Then he told me how much that the board cost, and I said yea I’m out…Well, get ready for the Backfire Zealot at HALF the price, and ALL the performance. (If not more) I own a bunch of different boards right now, and this bad boy has a special place in my heart. It hits just the right spot of price and performance.

Specs

Top Speed28.5 mph (46 km/h)
Range17.5 miles (28 km)
Battery Size311 Wh
Motor Power2 x 750 Watts
Weight17.6 lbs (8 kg)
Max weight capacity260 lbs (120 kg)
Hill climb30 %
Recharge time6 hours
Water resistanceyes – but no IP rating
Wheel / Tyre Size96 mm
Warranty6 months
Link to Websitebackfireboards.com/zealot (Global)
backfireboardsusa.com/zealot (US-Stock)
Price$699 – Sea Shipping
$799 – Air Shipping

Overall Riding Experience 

This board is an absolute monster in my eyes. You turn it on, slam it down, and hit the pavement flying. I absolutely love the feel and carving ability of the single kingpin trucks. As a 190 pound rider, I tightened up the trucks and love carving this board at speeds of 15 miles per hour plus. Combine that with a flexy bamboo deck, and were talking about what childhood dreams are made of. Hitting that never-ending concrete wave, without ever having to kick or push.

Accelerating & Brakes

Acceleration is a category where this board shines. In Eco Mode, you can slam on the throttle and the board will ease up slowly to 10-12 mph. Switch it into sport mode, and you need to make sure your feet are planted and you are braced for a fast jolt all the way up to 20+ MPH. Slam it into Turbo mode and you better hold on. Acceleration is smooth in steady in all modes. I actually prefer the smoothness in this ESC vs some of the other premium boards that I have ridden. The brakes are incredible on this board. I never have a fear of not being able to stop in short times notice. As long as your feet are planted and you have the right stance, hitting them brakes will stop you timely. Just like accelerating, you need to make sure you are braced for a heavy stop, or you may find yourself getting thrown off balance.

Top Speed

Not going to lie, the top speed on this board is scary fast. I have personally hit 29 MPH on this board. On the street, with urethane wheels, this is PLENTY fast. It was definitely an amazing adrenaline rush going this fast, but being in the 30’s I find no need to hit that speed on the regular. I have only hit this speed once, and have found no need to hit it again. But, if speed is your thing and you have amazing smooth roads at your disposal and are padded up, this board should definitely be able to hit over 30 MPH depending on your weight.

Range

I have comfortably ridden 16 miles in SPORT mode, with plenty of battery to go. I am 190 lbs and the weather was very warm here in Florida when I did that ride. Backfire claims that this board could reach up to 22 miles on SPORT mode, and that is no exaggeration like I have seen on some other manufactures’ websites. I have read on some Facebook groups that lighter riders are getting near 30 miles on Eco mode!

Weight and Portability

This board is no heavier or less portable than any other board out there. It was much more portable than say an Evolve Bamboo GTR with street wheels, but these are two differently priced boards. I have no issue carrying it for a few blocks, tossing it in and out of my truck or carrying it around the grocery store if I need to. The board weighs about 19 pounds. I am not using this board as my primary means of transportation, just toting it around to have loads of fun on.

Build Quality

I am impressed with the quality of the Backfire Zealot. It hits the sweet spot of performance, price, and build quality. I have had the board for a few months and have had no issues with any element of the build quality of the board. The only issue I have had, which is commonly found online, is a loose grub screw that created a rattling noise. I was able to fix this in a few minutes. I took off the belt guards, and rear wheels. Once the motors gear was exposed I took out the grub screw that is inside a small hole in the motors gears. Once removed I applied a SMALL amount of blue loctite, and made sure that the screw was snug. Bam, no more noise. You can check out a youtube video here by Mr Phillips the Change Agent on how to do this:

Deck

The deck is built out of bamboo and fiberglass. The deck, in my opinion, one of the top reasons that this board is so playful and fun. It was the feel of a sector nine longboard that I used to cruise around my neighborhood on as a kid.

The deck is flexy, but not too flexy to the point where you will be scraping everything. Now, I have scraped the battery enclosure which seems to be common as well, some people will wrap their battery enclosure for an extra layer of protection.

ESC + Enclosure

I love the look, feel, and shape of the ESC on this board. Its low profile has me confident that I will never scrape it on anything. Hobbywing is a highly used ESC in the Eskate game, so that had my vote of confidence when purchasing, and after riding it for a few months I have had no issues with it. 

Battery + Enclosure

As I stated in above segment about overall build quality, the battery is a bit large for my liking. The built-in LED’s are a cool touch, but they are not functional when riding other than increasing visibility. The two tabs that enclose the USB and charging port seem to be cheap rubber that are hard to keep closed. The profile of the battery is a bit large, making it easy to scrape if the board were to flex and you go over a big speed bump or something. Granted, this is going to happen and the board will get scratched over time. I think it would be cool to see a Backfire LOGO on the enclosure as well, VS BACKFIRE in plain text too. The build quality is good, but I think they can work on the aesthetics of the battery enclosure. 

Water Sealings

This board is water RESISTANT, not waterproof. I have ridden on slightly wet roads, and through small puddles with no issues. This is an electric skateboard, and I personally would not ride any of my boards in the rain. But it is good to know that if you are spending $600-800 on an electric skateboard, that it won’t get totally fried if you hit a small puddle. Again, this is going to happen to you sooner or later!

Trucks and Wheels

I tightened my trucks upon arrival of the board just because I like the tighter feel, so I can carve heavier at higher speeds. The front trucks are CALIBER trucks and back trucks are designed by Backfire. Rear and front trucks are pitched to 50 degrees. The trucks have performed amazing thus far.

The 96mm street wheels that come on this board are nice. I was impressed by the size in person when I first saw them. They grip the street amazingly and can handle your average bumps pretty well. I love that this board has the ability to change wheels with ease. With the release of the Backfire Cloud wheels, you have the ability to turn this board into a (slightly) All-terrain board! Haha.

Shipping Time

I chose the sea shipping option for this board. I was in no real rush, and it saved me $150 USD. The board took about 5 weeks to arrive. This is also delayed a bit due to COVID-19 and the new release and high demand of the board. I have seen people getting the board in 1 week time when choosing the air shipping option. 

Customer Service

Luckily, I have had no reason to contact customer service yet. I have read good things about the customer service, and although the boards are made in China, I like that fact that they have options to contact support liaisons in California and Virginia (being that I, of course, am in the US)

Price

Right now, this board is in an insane deal. If you choose sea shipping, you can snag it for $699 USD. That is an amazing price for what you get. You are absolutely getting your money’s worth with this board. Another board in this price range, with similar specs, would be the Exway Flex. For $780, you can grab the Exway Flex, and have it air shipped. Exway states the Flex has a top speed of 25 mph and a range of 20 miles. To be honest, I purchased a Backfire board because I have a few friends with them, and they have had nothing but good things to say about the products and service. If I had the ability to own both boards right now, you know I totally would!

ModelPrice
Backfire Zealot Sea Shipping$699
Backfire Zealot Air Shipping$799

Backfrie Zealot vs Backfire G3 Plus

These two boards will have some similarities and some differences. The Zealot and the G3 Plus have a similar range and top speeds (20-25 mile range and 28-30mph top speed). The G3 plus is coming in at $1000 USD where the Zealot is coming in at $900 US dollars (without current discounts). The other two main differences of these boards is that the G3 plus is hub driven where the Zealot is belt-driven. For these two boards to have similar top speeds and range with different drivetrains is very impressive. The belt-driven boards will generally have better torque and acceleration, especially if any climbing is involved. To get a better understanding of the differences between Belt and Hub Motors check out our electric skateboard Belt vs Hub motor comparison guide here. As if there aren’t enough choices out there to make when it comes to boards?! The Zealots deck is bamboo and fiberglass whereas the G3 plus deck is a semi-flexible carbon fiber. It is not fully stiff like other carbon fiber boards but it is still stiffer than a bamboo deck. Tough call when considering these two boards, it all comes down to personal preference. You can also check out our Backfire G3 Plus Review here.

Conclusion

This board hits that sweet spot. A ton a stoke, for what you pay. Yes, there are things that can be improved, but that is life in general. Hopefully, they listen to consumers and continue to improve their products. For what you are paying for this board, you are getting MUCH more in performance. I love the raw power and acceleration, the ability to change wheels, and the long-range. Because of the price of the board, I am not hesitant whatsoever to let friends and family try their first electric skateboard. In eco mode, this board is awesome for beginners. It also has enough power in turbo mode, to make anyone pucker up. Haha 🙂  

Buy at Backfire’s Global Website here and for US-Stock here

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