Electric skateboards were a dream product for many who grew up skateboarding. That dream became a reality in recent years thanks to advancements in battery technology and electric motors. So how do they work? It’s pretty simple, the throttle/brake are controlled by a remote in your hand and you turn by leaning just as you would on a normal board. It was around 2014-2015 when electric skateboards went mainstream thanks to a company called Boosted. Today there are many electric skateboard companies and most of them offer various models. The choices can be overwhelming, which is the main reason this website was created. For the past 4-5 years, a large number of people have been using electric skateboards not only as a personal electric vehicle (PEV), but also just for fun! However, skateboards have limitations. Could there be a PEV that doesn’t have those limitations and is still as portable and fun as an electric skateboard? I’m here to tell you there is and they are called electric unicycles (EUCs). Today I am going to compare electric skateboards to EUCs.
An electric unicycle (EUC) is a self-balancing single wheel that uses gyroscopes and accelerometers to keep you upright. Unlike an electric skateboard there is no remote. You control the speed by leaning forward and backward and turn by gently twisting in the direction you want to go. In essence, after learning to ride an EUC you become one with it. The first proper electric unicycle was developed by Shane Chen in 2010, and was later launched in 2011 under the name “Solowheel”. Since then there have been a lot of advancements and changes in EUCs. As of 2020 there are numerous manufacturers of EUCs with the big four being Begode (formerly Gotway), Kingsong, Veteran, and Inmotion. My goal today is to give you an objective comparison of how these electric unicycles compare to electric skateboards. I’ll also discuss why I believe these are the best PEV available and why they always will be. Let’s first start out with comparing specifications of Esk8 vs EUC.
EUC vs esk8
Let’s start by comparing specs. With so many EUCs and electric skateboards out it is impossible to compare everything. Instead let’s do a sample comparison between entry level and premium EUCs vs esk8.
What has better value?
If you define value as specs per dollar, then the winner in value between EUC and esk8 changes depending on which class you consider. When comparing entry level boards to EUCs, you certainly will get more bang for your buck with electric skateboards. The starting prices of entry level electric skateboards are lower. Additionally, they are able to offer higher speeds in the lower price ranges vs electric unicycles.
But once you get to the mid-level EUCs vs mid-level electric skateboards, this is where things change and EUCs start to have the advantage spec-wise. At the high-end level EUCs provide far better value than electric skateboards as they are able to offer much higher specifications vs electric skateboards. Prices of EUCs usually max out in the $2000 – $3000 range whereas electric skateboards such as the Lacroix Lonestar and Kaly XL50 can go above $4000 while still have lower range and speed than a high-end EUC.
Winner: EUC in most cases, ESK8 if you’re on a low budget
What is safer?
One limitation of electric skateboards is safety. I’ll discuss three main reasons why the electric skateboard is more dangerous than a EUC.
Firstly, most electric skateboards have skateboard wheels. Urethane wheels are fantastic on nicely paved roads. But when you encounter cobblestones, bumps, potholes, and other real world conditions they don’t work well and in fact can be very dangerous. Hitting big bumps at speed on a skateboard is an almost certain way to fall off. All terrain tires on electric skateboards are better than urethane in this regard, but they still have their limits due to their physical size. In contrast EUCs have pneumatic tires ranging from 10” all the way up to 24”. I usually don’t even feel bumps that would normally throw me off on a board.
Here I hit a pot hole that would have certainly led to a crash on electric skateboard:
A second issue with electric skateboards is that they rely on a remote to be connected. Often times remote disconnects can lead to serious injuries as the rider is left with no brakes. There have even been cases with certain boards where the brakes have even locked up after a remote disconnect. A third issue with electric skateboards is their lack of nimbleness and maneuverability vs an EUC. An EUC can turn sharply and very quickly, and this makes it easier to avoid dangerous obstacles. On an electric skateboard a sudden unexpected change in direction is much more difficult.
One big concern of people who don’t ride EUCs is that you are relying on the motor of the EUC to balance you. Electric skateboard riders may be hesitant to trust that balancing mechanism as they are accustomed to having four wheels under their feet. However, while possible, a cut out on an EUC is extremely unlikely unless one ignores all warnings to surpass its limits. EUCs have auditory beeps to alert you when approaching motor capacity. In addition, the pedals will tilt back when reaching the higher speeds to let the rider know. Lastly, the limits on a modern day 100 volt EUC are very high. Most can reach speeds that are likely much faster than you will be willing to go. For example, on my Veteran Sherman I don’t even hear the 70% motor capacity beeps until I’m above 40 mph, at which point I would slow down even though I’m still 30% away from the motor’s peak capacity.
Any PEV can be dangerous so a helmet, wrist protection, and pads are a must. One thing I admire about the EUC community is they all push each other to wear gear even though out of all PEVs EUC has had the best safety record due to all the factors I discussed above.
What has more off road capability?
Electric skateboards with urethane wheels are limited to paved surfaces. All-terrain and off-road boards such as the ecomobl m24 or Bajaboard can handle mild off-road. However, these “all-terrain” boards are not even close when it comes to the off-road capabilities of EUCs. Why? On an EUC you’re riding on a tire with essentially limitless torque. You can lean to go over hills that you would be scared to walk up even. EUCs can crush technical single track mountain bike trails with rocks, roots, steep climbs, and drops without issues.
What is more practical for commuting and what has better portability?
In general, EUCs weigh more than electric skateboards due to much larger batteries and motors. If you are going up and down stairs a lot and have to carry your PEV, then the lighter boards will be better in most cases. However, there are certain smaller EUCs that you can actually fit in a backpack! Below is my mten3 in a backpack.
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The Gotway mten3 is not a new wheel, but recently many people including myself have been jumping on the mten3 train. A lot of fun in a tiny package. If you have any questions about this wheel, drop a comment. If you want to purchase this, DM me and I’ll set you up with free shipping + free wrist guards. #electricunicycle #mten3 #gotwaymten3 #ewheels #euc #electricvehicles #micromobility #portableelectricvehicle #fun #michigan #kingsong #inmotion
When there are no stairs it’s a different story. EUCs are a breeze to transport because you never have to lift them. Almost all EUCs come with a trolley handle. Pull this out and you can utilize the self-balancing mechanism and with a gentle touch the EUC will roll effortlessly. My 8-year-old niece can move my 77-pound Veteran Sherman effortlessly. It’s really easier than moving luggage with rollers since the motors are doing the work for you.
The transition from trolleying to riding takes seconds. This trolley handle also makes the EUC a lot more practical to say bring into an office. You just roll it around and often times people will just think it’s some sort of high tech luggage. With an electric skateboard you have to carry the weight. In the video below around the 45 second mark, you can see how effortless it is for me to pull out the trolley handle to roll my MCM5 around.
Does EUC or esk8 have better post purchase support?
Electric unicycle manufacturers work through 3rd party dealers. Most of these dealers provide excellent post purchase support. My personal favorite dealer in the US is eWheels as they have inventory on hand and have very fast responses if you ever need support. EUCO and Revrides are two other well-known dealers. Check out ewheels to see the newest EUCs and their prices.
With electric skateboards many companies provide excellent support as well, some examples being Metroboard and Lacroix. While others are not very responsive or don’t provide post purchase support at all. So my advice here would be to always pick a company that has a reputation for excellent customer service post purchase. Note the post purchase part, because that’s when you need great service most. Pre-purchase support is good with most companies, it’s the post purchase you should consider.
What has less maintenance work involved?
Electric skateboards do require maintenance such as belt tension, changing belts, replacing bearings, truck adjustments etc. Hub motors require less maintenance vs belt drives however you have a less comfortable ride since there is a motor in the wheel. Direct drive with a full wheel mounted may be better, but since the motor sticks out the clearance is usually very low. Gear drives may be the future, but some maintenance and lubrication will still be required.
EUCs on the other hand are maintenance free. Just turn on and ride. The only maintenance most will ever have to do on a EUC is changing the tire after 1000+ miles of riding. This is one aspect that’s underrated, being able to just ride. With my electric skateboards I was always adjusting things and fiddling around. With the EUC you just get on a ride.
Which has the better community?
Both EUC and e-skate have large communities online and in most cities. I’ve been in many e-skate and EUC groups online and locally. Both communities are welcoming and friendly. The one differentiator I see is that EUC community is usually more focused on safety gear in comparison to many e-skate riders who wear minimum gear. This may just be my personal observation however.
No matter what you ride, you can find like-minded people with boards or EUCs. I highly recommend finding your local group and joining a group ride. Riding with groups is not only safer but more fun as well.
What has the better ride feel and what is more fun?
This is subjective and even though the EUC wins objectively in almost every other way, this may be the one reason some people will still want to stick to electric skateboards. Hardcore skateboarders will want the sideways stance only and will not be willing to learn anything else. The feeling of carving on fresh pavement is something they would never want to give up. In the end regardless of how good the EUC is specifications wise, you may just want an electric skateboard because it takes you back to your skating days. There’s something therapeutic about nostalgia, and that is why some may stick to a board form factor no matter what.
Personally, as someone who has ridden almost all of the premium electric skateboards and now rides EUCs I can easily say that the EUC is far more fun for me. You feel as if you are flying and the EUC just becomes a part of you rather than something you are manipulating with a remote. You can carve and maneuver around things effortlessly. The adventures the EUC can take you on are limitless. In my experience every lifelong boarder who has put at least 200 miles on a modern day high end EUC has given up their electric skateboards. I certainly sold all mine after I properly learned EUC. I challenge you to borrow one and learn it, ride a 100-200 miles. I have yet to find someone who preferred their electric skateboards after they did that.
Winner: Tie (depends on the person)
What’s easier to learn to ride?
If you can skateboard, then you can get on an electric skateboard and get the hang of it without too much effort. Check out our Article on “How to ride an Electric Skateboard – Beginner’s Guide” for more info. The easy learning curve is not the case with an electric unicycle. The learning curve is one of the biggest deterrents for most. Yes, the EUC has a long learning curve. For most people it will take a few days of practice daily to get the hang of it. In fact, it took me almost a week of practicing an hour daily for me to be able to get on the EUC and ride. For the record I learned an electric skateboard the same day.
That being said I want to add that ANYONE can learn an EUC, there are even riders in their 70s who have learned. One key thing to note is once learned the EUC is EASIER to ride than an electric skateboard. People often comment that they feel more confident and more stable on an EUC vs electric skateboards. A casual observer would think the opposite when looking at an EUC, but one must learn to truly understand why the EUC is easier to ride after that click moment.
All that being said, the learning curve will keep some away from an EUC as they will be more likely to stick to esk8 because skating is something familiar.
Winner: Electric Skateboard
What’s the future of electric skateboards?
Many e-skate companies are struggling due to competition from other companies and people moving over to other forms of PEVs. Boosted boards was the impetus for the growth of the electric skateboard industry. In March 2020 Boosted Boards announced that they would be shutting down. They weren’t the only company to go bankrupt, others such as Enertion and inboard suffered the same fate. While some companies didn’t deliver products and just ignored customers who had paid (Carvon, Jedboards, Marbel Boards, etc). For the past few years electric skateboards releases have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary. We’re at a point where the form factor limits the range due to battery capacity. The lacroix lonestar has the biggest battery available at 2152 watt hours, and that’s really the limit of what an electric skateboard can have if it wants to stay a “skateboard”. So what needs to happen in the future for electric skateboards to prosper? They need to continue to innovate. We’ve hit the limit speed and range wise until battery technology improves. So in order for a company to be successful they need to improve durability, remote feel, make them maintenance free, reliable, light weight, and do all that while providing excellent customer service. Will this be enough for electric skateboards to stay relevant? Only time will tell.
What’s the future of electric unicycles?
Meanwhile EUCs have been innovating and growing rapidly. The main manufacturers are all releasing several new EUCs and all the manufacturers are pushing the boundaries. In 2020 inmotion introduced the world’s first EUC with suspension. Not long after Kingsong and Begode (Gotway) also did the same. Lights in EUCs are now automotive grade. Hollowcore motors were also introduced in 2020 which allow for thicker cables to pass through to support the increasing power output of these motors. These truly have become vehicles and car replacements for many.
Since EUCs have already reached speeds and range that most would consider to be enough, the main thing to improve is durability and QA. Durability has been the achilles heel of EUC, specially with Begode (gateway) as the plastic being used for the shells is weak. QA has been inconsistent as well, especially with certain models.
If you have been following the PEV trends, you likely have started seeing or hearing about EUCs lately. Almost all EUC riders are past electric skateboard or past onewheel riders. It appears that there’s a shift to EUC in the major cities in the US as more people learn about them. Just in the last two years EUCs went from being a small niche market to becoming main stream. Sales of EUCs have seen rapid growth and interest continues to grow. So will everyone switch to EUC? My personal opinion is anyone who is willing to learn it will and because of this EUC will certainly take a huge chunk of the electric skateboard market.
Why you should trust me
I’ve been a PEV enthusiast since 2015 and have been following this industry very closely. I started my PEV journey in 2015 with a boosted board. Since then I have owned 10+ electric skateboards including boards from backfire, meepo, evolve, yuneec, metroboard, lacroix, inboard, enertion, and even custom DIY builds. I’ve also owned the one wheel plus and two onewheel XRs. I learned to ride EUC in 2018.
In early 2019 I sold all boards and onewheels I had and became an EUC rider only. In 2019 I also was employed at the biggest distributor of EUCs wheels, but due to other opportunities, I am now an affiliate at wheels rather than a full-time employee. I’m actively involved in the local EUC and esk8 groups in Michigan and have been setting up group rides in both communities. If you ever plan on coming to Michigan or if you live in Michigan, be sure to join EUC Detroit and motor city e-skate on facebook and come ride with us.
For more on EUCs follow me on Instagram @euc_malik
Personal electric vehicles have revolutionized mobility for many. For others they have created a fun way to get outdoors and enjoy riding. We as consumers are fortunate to have so many options. My goal with this article was to discuss and compare two PEVs, the EUC vs Esk8 in an objective manner with a splash of my personal experience. If you are an electric skateboard rider and curious about EUC I encourage you to learn to ride a modern day 100 volt EUC. Once you have 200 or more miles on an EUC, you can then make an informed decision about what you prefer more. Although I think I already know what that will be.