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Hoyt ST Review – Eskate Made in the USA

First off a brief introduction, my name is Scott Dred. Some of you may be familiar with my Instagram or Youtube channel, I got into the world of esk8 about two years ago and in that time have managed to build and buy a few boards along the way. With that out of the way let’s get down to it, but before we go any further in this review we need to have an honest conversation about cost and performance and then you can decide for yourself if you’re in the right place.

Image Credit Hoyt St

This is not a cheap board and if you are looking at something like an Exway or a Meepo you probably will have some difficulty parsing the value of the EL1, often I find people focusing on the price tag of something and overlooking what’s actually contributing to that price, as I said above this is the point where you need to decide if you’re going to be comfortable with seeing $2,000USD next to that add to cart button, there’s a reality that not everyone can afford to drop $2k on an electric skateboard and that’s totally fine, but for the rest of this review, I am going to be working off the premise that you know of and are comfortable with that price tag and are willing to be flexible in some areas of cost and performance, because if you’re reading this and you instantly think “what X board costs half that and has X features” then the conversations over and we can both part ways no harm done.

Image Credit Hoyt St

There’s more to the EL1 than just a price tag and I’d like to invite you all to join me as we dive into Hoyt, the board, and my thoughts on what makes a good electric skateboard and why brands need a soul and not just a product.

Let’s get into it.

Company Background

Hoyt Street Skate company was founded in Portland OR back in 2018  by a small group of Nike design expats who came together over a shared love of electric skateboards this line from their about page sums it up rather succinctly “The first ride on an electric skateboard is a rush like no other – an instant obsession.”  While it’s not explicitly stated we can imagine that at that time their foray into esk8 manufacturing started on a Boosted and quickly grew into an intense passion (correct me if I’m wrong here Jeff) From there they would assemble a team of craftsman, artisans and engineers to create what would later become the now synonymous Hoyt EL1. To date Hoyt remains a small but focused US-based company that primarily distributes in the US and Canada as of this article’s printing, Hoyt is also exploring options to expand to Europe and Asia but is otherwise not currently shipping directly to those regions.

Image Credit Hoyt St

Based out of the same small Portland workshop they started in Hoyt continues to lean into the small-batch craftsman image that many riders have associated the brand with, all of their boards are manufactured onsite at the shop which has over the years seen use as both an office, workshop, esk8 community center and occasionally an open bar for the natives and devotees. There’s no green mats and sadness to be found though and space mirrors the owners’ attitudes, its warm, welcoming and oozes with that small-batch craftsman vibe you might normally associate with unpronounceable Scandinavian headphone makers.

Image Credit Hoyt St

Specs

You know it you love it’s the specs sheet also available on Hoyts own site but listed here for convenience. Speaking of specs, the EL1 manages to have some pretty impressive numbers considering when it launched the only other competition would have been the boosted stealth which it absolutely destroys both on the road and on paper even now there are few commercially available boards that are able to produce this kind of power without spending $500-$1k more on average.

Passenger airlines compatibilityFAA compliant and with most US and international airlines.
Deck Dimensions38.6″ length. 9″ width at center.
Dual deck100% rough sawn and laminate bamboo with reinforced surface
Weight19.5 lbs
Wheelbase27″
TrucksCaliber II 10″
WheelsStone ground 97mm x 52mm. Performance rebound urethane.
Gear Ratio38:15
Belts300-5M-15
Motor mount6061 CNC AL alloy w/spring loaded belt tensioning
Water resistanceSplash resistant
Motor (each)180kv, 2200W, 80A
Voltage36V nominal
Watt hours270Wh total or 90Wh per battery pack
Battery chemistryLithium ion Samsung INR18650 25R cells
Remote control2.4Ghz proprietary channel hopper
Charger2A/4A, 100-240V, 50-60Ghz worldwide compatibility
Travel bagCordura fabric with shock resistant tail and medium density foam lining

The Secret sauce here is their 2200w ‘Pocket Rocket’ motors which pump out 4600w combined running at up to 80 amps which translate to a tremendous amount of torque and RPMs on-demand producing a wonderful tone as you pump those angry pixies through them if boosted whines the Hoyt yells when you start to push those higher RPMs, which some may not care for but I find pleasant, akin to something like the distinct tones on performance exhaust systems on supercars and sportbikes. 

Image Credit Hoyt St

The motors were designed by well known US industrial design and manufacturing firm KDE which primarily designs industrial motors for various applications but most notably also provides research and design services for various branches of the US military, whinny boosted tweeters these cans most certainly are not. These motors are built to be punished and will likely last through the life of the board without the need for servicing or replacement outside of some of the more extreme riding conditions, like say regularly riding through death valley or any part of Michigan during the winter. However the keen eyed among you may have noticed quite quickly that things are not all smiles and roses with the above specs, so let’s dig into what’s probably the biggest shortcoming of this board.

The Range

Range, and I won’t sugar coat this as we have reached the only sour note in what is an otherwise bright a cheery symphony, during my testing the average max range I was able to achieve was 10 miles per charge and this honestly was not surprising, the range calculator on their own site projected that was about what I would get and it was pretty spot on, now for some people this will not be an issue, if you’re looking for a light quick commuter board and your travel less than 5-10 miles per trip to and from work/school this is more than sufficient, however the year is 2020 and now even most budget brands are able to reach 14-19 miles per charge and with a price point bordering similar high end options I think Hoyt would do well to offer an alternative option that replaces the flight safe stock option with something a little more robust like a 10s4p or 5p pack for those customers looking for a board that’s capable of going the distance on group rides or just solo touring, to that end Hoyt has stated that they do plan on releasing a new non travel safe battery option in the future to bring that up to 15 – 20 miles per charger, however there’s no set release date or timeline on when that will be available or how much it will cost,

Image Credit: Scott Dred

So here’s where my forward starts to make sense, however  if you’re looking for an off the shelf board there is always going to be a compromise in one or two areas regardless of price and unfortunately in this case just happens to be the area where the Hoyt is slightly less competitive when compared to more recent offerings from both the premium and budget manufacturers.

The Batteries

Following up range is the rather unique battery system that employs three modular 10s1p 90wh cells that are all connected in series via an internal umbilical allowing for easy and quick removal or replacement of cells, thanks in part to the switch to the standard XT60 type connectors which make the process of adding or removing them a snap. This is also what makes the system flight safe as the packs are all under 100wh individually can easily be stored separately in a carryon bag or suitcase when flying, I have seen similar systems that also have removable battery designs, most notably the Ride Unlimited and Mellow drive but arguably Hoyt has done a far better job of it here in terms of ease of access and design and interoperability and their clean and simple aesthetic just meshes so well with the rest of the board, each cell is also clearly marked with the certifications and capacity for less hassle when getting through security if you are traveling with the board.

Image Credit Hoyt St

One of the other interesting features of these packs is that they all come with a battery level indicator which displays the state of charge with a quick tap (pictured below) This will not be immediately useful as a majority of the time the batteries will obviously not be exposed, but for Hoyt, it makes diagnosing and replacing a bad or unbalanced cell a snap, which is just another example of the attention to detail that went into the design of the EL1.

Image Credit Scott Dred

To round out this section, topping off these little silver lightning boxes is the three-pin charging port pictured above which links to the included fast charger which we’ll go into a bit more detail below, but on a final note here even the charge port and power assembly feel plush here with soft-touch membrane power switch and slide in port cover that sits flush in the deck but has been cast in a lovely rubberized black gasket which contrasts nicely with most of the finishes available.

Image Credit Scott Dred

One last note while we’re on the subject of power is the integrated charge level indicator built into the nose of the deck that displays the current level when turning on the board and when accelerating giving you a quick at glance info on how much more fun you’re allowed to have before getting into Uber territory, as with everything else with the design aesthetic of the board this is a simple set of LEDs set into the deck and are clearly visible even in bright sunlight, this is again a welcome feature I wish more manufacturers would adopt as most either forgo one entirely or put it on the side of the board meaning you have to stop and flip the board up if you want to see how much juice you have left but not with the Hoyt, again here we see the thoughtfulness of the designers considering the rider first over just pure functionality. Apologies though for not getting a shot of it lit up.

Image Credit Scott Dred

Hardware

One of the more interesting aspects of the Hoyt is the use of stock longboard hardware namely the use of off the shelf Caliber II trucks, while most manufacturers will opt for either custom in house hardware or generic parts Hoyt has managed to just pluck a standard set of off the shelf trucks and pop some new bushings in and make them absolutely smash when pulling tight turns and hitting those higher speeds, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the Calibers status as a mainstay of downhill riders for decades prior, and they continue to hold up especially paired with Hoyts custom CNC’d self-tensioning motor mounts which feel solid and visually seem to have near MM level tolerances.

Image Credit Hoyt St

Pictured below is a set of the previously mentioned self-tensioning motor mounts, the mechanism which Hoyt uses is a fairly straight forward, a spring on each sing of the mount wrapped around a pre-tensioning screw means that you’ll always be able to get even and consistent pressure on the motor mount when means less fussing around with slides and screws to get the belt tension just right. While we have seen things like idlers and a few spring assist mounts, to date Hoyt is the only ones offering this feature on a production board, with most other bands opting for either a fixed position or slide and screw style mount.

Image Credit Hoyt St

The mounts and pulleys all appear to be machined from the same aircraft-grade aluminum and feature a pleasant brushed and tumbled finish that does a great job at standing up to grime and road debris.

The fit and finish here feels exceptionally premium the selection of deck hardware and fittings are hand placed and don’t feel cheap or light and there’s no loose screws or odd rattles and there were no small manufacturing flubs or stripped screws on the deck though I did notice that the front two truck screws had sunken into the deck slightly, though my board had been well used prior to being loaned for this review and already had over 1k miles on it prior but worth mentioning non the less. All of the threaded sockets for the etray were aligned and removing the battery cover was fairly seamless and straightforward, something that has been an issue on other boards where I have had to tighten screws in a certain sequence in order to get the enclosure to align properly, so to see that extra attention to detail here is a definite plus because ultimately it translates to less struggle when performing maintenance and less wear on the components from rough fittings.

That said in the unlikely event that something should break getting a replacement part direct from Hoyte is also less of a hassle at least for those of us who are based in north America as 95% of the components are manufactured either in-house or in the US, this is worth mentioning as anyone whos had to deal with overseas brands knows the struggle of having a basic component go off or have a battery die and have to wait weeks to months for a replacement.

The Wheels

Truth be told I don’t expect to spend much time on this section as its fairly straightforward, Hoyts 97mm ‘Zoobomb wheels come in 78a durometer and provide a grippy and smooth ride, though I would be lying if I didn’t say that they are also fairly comparable to the standard ABEC 97mm Superflys, though I do appreciate the effort that went into providing something more than just a stock experience and they also come in three different shades, Black, brown and what I want to call a teal-ish light blue. That being said what’s most notable here is that despite the market’s pivot towards pneumatics and larger diameter wheels the Zoombombs are still some of the more stable and comfortable Urethane wheels I have ridden on, so kudos to that. These can also be purchased separately from Hoyt if you are looking to try a set for yourself or just want an alternative to the currently scarce superflys.

Image Credit Hoyt St

The ESC

Aside from the external hardware, the Hoyt made the interesting choice of driving the board with their own version of the VESC 4.12 ESC (not pictured) which is now a somewhat dated hardware version of the now synonymous VESC hardware standard but is none the less an extremely capable and stable option as far as controllers go and technically makes this one of the first production boards to feature a true VESC based controllers at a time where most manufacturers were either using proprietary options or Hobbywing/Lingyi based ESCs with only the most high end boards using Focbox or VESC. This potentially opens up a wider array of after sales user customization as all you need is a cursory knowledge of VESC tool and a little time and patience to change the settings of the board for those more experienced riders who are maybe looking for a bit more power or a different ride profile, all this is possible though not immediately recommended as modification is not covered by the warranty, still though the use of VESC 4.12 based controllers does slightly make up for the lack of app support which is one of the more unfortunate features absent from the EL1 but I’m glad to see that some user customization in this area is possible.

The Remote

Yeah I’m a fan…
Ok so the first and perhaps most polarizing feature/accessory, the remote, now I totally understand if you’re turning to head to the nearest exit but bear with me because the Hoyt puck is actually a great piece of kit that has quite the reputation in the DIY community for both reliability and resilience.

The puck was designed in house by Hoyts engineering team and uses a proprietary 2.4ghz channel hopping transmitter to achieve near 100% continuous connectivity, that means no dips or dives on account of accidentally rolling into a signal dense area, an important feature if you happen to live somewhere where you have to deal with higher than average signal density areas, like a major city or metro area, honestly it’s less of an issue now than it was a few years ago and most brands have greatly improved the signal fidelity of their remotes but they are few on the market that pack this level of redundancy and just physical reliance. Not mention the amount of color options you get when it comes to finish, and even if you don’t see a color you like in these odds they can make a custom one off if you ask.

Say what you will but there’s a reason nearly every high end board manufacturer has started either shipping with the puck or offers it as an upgrade option. 

Image Credit: Scott Dred

I understand the ergonomics appear challenging but after a few days of riding with the puck you’ll soon get used to its unique profile, there is, of course, the odd exception those with larger or smaller than average-sized hands may have some difficulty with this style of remote, but it’s also worth mentioning that there are a few DIY projects out there aimed at making a 3d printed case to convert the puck to a more traditional pistol grip style remote. Speaking of customization, another great feature of the puck is the ability to swap out the thumb wheel spring to customize the tension, Hoyt offers this kit separately for about $4, I actually reached out to Hoyt during this review because I was having a bit of a goldilocks situation with the spring tension in the board i received as the owner had installed the lightest option, so I swapped out the stock remote for my own spare midnight puck but then found the stock spring to be just a bit too stiff, they recommended I try the .45 tension spring, which after a day or two of riding I found to be much more responsive and inline to what most would consider the regular tension for most other remotes. I would highly recommend asking them to include the .45 spring if you do end up ordering an EL1 or picking up the 3 piece kit with your order to dial it into your preference. 

Image Credit Hoyt St

Ride Feel/Speed

Moving on to the ride feel, now I don’t know if this is even a legit term but ride feel is a huge part of what makes a board successful, despite being made of bamboo laminate there’s basically no flex to the deck giving the it a feeling that initially I would describe as stiff but after a few hours riding was dialed back to ‘firm’ The subtle concave is pleasant and allowed my rather prodigious size 9.5 feet to wander the footwells and push into corners and carve with ease, something I have found difficult with other longboards with flat decks or that had a concave that  just made my toes poke over the sides while the sides and dug into the souls of my feet when maneuvering or making hard turns, not so with the Hoyt though and I found that this in conjunction with the harder bushings to be an overall pleasant experience during normal riding as well as carving, as a side note here the stock bushing I also found to be quite hard at first but still strangely responsive in turning, the board banks more than it turns because of this but is still able to pull off the normal sort of turning radius you would expect on a longboard while also contributing to stability at higher speeds. Overall 8/10 for ride comfort and stability if I had to put a number to it, I like that they were thinking of speed but I think long term I might swap the front bushing out for something a little softer to make those tighter turns in the city, but it’s great for the burbs where you can just take an entire lane to pull a turn and not worry about getting mowed down by ten uber drivers.

Image Credit: Scott Dred

So let’s talk speed, they have a posted top speed of 28mph but in testing I was not able to push past 26, which is not overly surprising but as always top speeds are generally dictated by ride style and weight and while I am not a thicc boy I am also not a feather weight at 160-165lbs, so I’ll say 24-26mph is a more reasonable top speed for the average rider which I don’t mind, the biggest difference here between the EL1 and something like the Stealth is that the Hoyt can easily hold 25mph with ease and comfortably so, as I often like to say there’s a difference between the speed your able to reach and the ability to ride at that speed consistently so in this respect while it might not be blasting through 30mph, it’s one of the most stable boards I have tested that’s still using stock trucks and 97mm wheels, its likely possible that you could swap out the stock 15T drive gear for 18T and get a bit more speed, but I won’t officially recommend that, but what it lacks in top speed the EL1 more than makes up for in torque, with those little pocket rockets just tearing up hills and climbs and making the board fairly quick off the line in mode three, but with all that power its still remarkably smooth deceptively so that you want realise your already at top speed.

Image Credit: Scott Dred

Though for all that I do still wish it was a bit quicker once you get used to cruising at 25+ you kind of want to have a little more headroom for passing through traffic or passing cyclists but for those coming over from boosted or budget brands I think will be quite satisfied with the take-off and acceleration, it’s certainly more punchy and fun than Boosted or Evolve and most riders that I have let try the board out are generally surprised with how responsive it is compared to the
latter.

Customer Service

One of the qualities that I hold oh so dear in anything that I buy/use is the service, weather thats with a brand new product right out of the shrink wrap or a snap wrench that’s been in my family for three generations,not even joking.  The power of being able to pick up a phone or more likely send a text and a real human who’s genuinely committed to the sole task of providing help and support in itself is worth more than gold in our increasingly automated society. When I initially reached out to Hoyt over a few small issues I was having with the board I was expecting your average run of the mill call and response support request, but that was not the case, I soon found myself engaged in genuine conversation with (I suspect Jeff) over Instagram messenger who was all too happy to take the time to actually work with me and make recommendations on how to improve the ride and what spring tension would work best (if you are wondering .45 is the best spring tension for me) That real passion and human connection doesn’t just extend to wannabe Youtubers like myself the Hoyt team is small and dedicated to their products and it shows. 10/10

For the particulars every board comes with six months of full coverage which basically covers any manufacturing defects or failures and then there’s another six months of gratis tune up service where you can send the board in for service (shipping not included) and then becomes a paid service after the first year so you can still send your board in for repair but there will be a service fee.

Accessories

Possibly one of my favorite things about the Hoyt is that it comes with its own travel bag which is designed to hold both the board and battery cells separately for air travel and also integrates backpack straps for just carrying it around if your out and about running errands, getting groceries, eating exotic cheeses and drinking wine with your friends on top of a boulder scenically overlooking Portland ect. It’s a simple but effective design and also doubles as the packaging material that the board ships with inside the box, another useful and functional choice by the designers to cut down on wasted materials (how very Portland of them) Unfortunately my board did not come with one as it’s actually on loan from a friend but I have seen it in use with another friends board (yes literally a friend of a friend) and its quite nice and sturdy, not like those cheap longboard bags you see on Amazon and Ali-express, good thing stitching and ripstop nylon make it a great travel accessory and when you consider the fact that its built into the cost of the board it kinda helps soften the blow of that $2k price tag.

Image Credit Hoyt St

Also Included is the rather beefy looking 3-pin 4amp fast charger which aside from looking like something out of the apollo program is also capable of charging the board from 10% (you’ll never actually run it to zero because the BMS will kick in) to full takes about two and a half hours which is great for getting you back on the road if your charging in between classes or at the office, most of the time I find myself running it down to 20-30% and in that case I’m usually topped off in an hour to an hour and a half. One really fascinating detail I found out from Hoyt directly is that this is actually a stepped power supply that can go from 2a to 4a depending on the load, this in practice is to allow for the board to continue to charge if one or more of the battery cells are removed, it’s unlikely that you would actually charge the board in this state but it’s good to know that they built that redundancy in. Also if you’re wondering, yes the fan noise is audible when under load which might limit you to charging in certain spaces to avoid getting stabbed by your teacher/coworkers. One last small thing that’s still worth mentioning, yes, you also get a T-tool and no it’s not a cheapy plastic one that comes with literally every other board, it’s a nice low profile all metal t-wrench, which is a great addition to the already lux travel bag.

Image Credit Hoyt St

Pro / Cons

Welcome to the TLDR section if you just want a brief summary about the board and scope a few pretty pictures on your way out this is where it’s at.

Pros:

  • Looks amazing/not generic
  • Great customer service
  • High-quality construction/parts
  • Great torque
  • Travel safe with most US airlines
  • 6-month warranty + 6 months tune-up service
  • Remote is super reliable
  • Customization options for nearly every part of the board

Cons:

  • Meh range max 8-10 miles a charge
  • Wood body picks up dings and nicks after awhile
  • Price is closer to more capable premium long range boards
  • Only comes with the hoyt puck no other options
  • Not as fast as some lower priced boards  
  • No app support/adjustable profiles
  • Not available outside the US and Canada currently
  • Stiff deck not appealing to some

Closing thoughts

So I ask myself, would I buy this board? I don’t think that’s the answer you’re looking for though, So what are my real final thoughts? To sum it up when I ride the EL1  I don’t think about it when I want to go out, I don’t think about slipping gears, overheating motors or cracked decks, I don’t think about the remote disconnecting or running out of battery, and the reason I don’t think about those things is because Hoyt already has and they have forged that care and thoughtfulness into something real, it’s because I don’t have to think about those things that I can focus on what really matters whether that’s a short ride to Peets or a nice carving session to nowhere in particular, that’s what peace of mind means, not having to worry about the little things so you can focus on the big picture, my own little piece of nirvana before the world of meetings and deadlines closes back in around me like a dense haze, the Hoyt cuts through the uncertainty  like a searchlight guiding a path through the monotony of daily life and makes a short trip to the store feel that much more special, so yeah I don’t have to think about it, I just grab it and ride and that is why I would recommend the Hoyt EL1 to all who are tired of uncertainty, though do keep an eye on that battery meter.

Image Credit: Scott Dred

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