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October 31, 2018

OWNBOARD W1S (US VERSION) REVIEW

Many view the Ownboard W1S as another not-terribly-interesting Chinese budget board, but we’ve always viewed it as the king of the not-terribly-interesting Chinese budget segment. It took some time for Ownboard to provide us with a unit for assessment, but we finally received ours, and we’re happy to report that it is probably the best sub $500 product we’ve ever tested.

Before we explore the Ownboard’s distinctions, we need to provide some context. If you’re well acquainted with the Chinese budget esk8 market, you can skip the rest of this preamble. The 10,000 foot view is that most of the recognized esk8 “manufacturers” are really little more than assemblers. They create a logo (or steal someone else’s), put together a simple online storefront, and then bulk order generic skateboard hardware from actual parts manufacturers. The implication is that the market’s diversity is extremely superficial. All the products use one of two available electronic speed controllers (ESCs), which govern their performance and control characteristics, some iteration of the same basic hub motor design, and (typically) one of a few styles of knock-off trucks and decks. Of course, not all of these parts are created equal, thus the challenge is finding the board with the optimal combination of components.

So to more precisely restate this article’s thesis: the Ownboard W1S is (at the time of this article’s release) the optimal combination of today’s budget esk8 hardware. Let’s see why…

The Powertrain

We’ll begin our analysis with the Ownboard’s electronic speed controller (ESC). Because the ESC is responsible for driving the board’s motors, its design influences both raw performance and control quality. Much has been written on the subject of budget speed controllers (most of which is inaccurate), and we could dedicate an entire article to contrasting the two popular options… but we’ll keep things brief by stating simply that the W1S’s ESC is the one you want.

That’s because this ESC offers phenomenal control precision and predictability, inspiring confidence when riding in traffic and around pedestrians. And to be clear, we don’t mean that relative to other budget offerings — this ESC is as smooth and precise as any Boosted product’s.

At about 24 MPH, the W1S’s top speed is also nothing spectacular, but for most riders it’s totally sufficient.

We suspect that, particularly to first-time esk8 buyers, this may not sound like a glowing powertrain endorsement. After all, electric skateboards tend to entice adrenaline junkies, and what’s more thrilling than power and speed? Trust us when we say, however, that if you’re after a competent general-purpose esk8, you’ll be far more satisfied with a board that does what you want when you tell it to than a board with marginally more power and a lacking control interface (eg. The Meepo V2P). If you’re unwilling to spend more than $500, this is the powertrain to go with.

The Battery

Unlike nearly every other Chinese budget electric skateboard, the US version of the Ownboard W1S is sold with just one battery model: a Samsung 30Q 6 Ah pack. Though we wish Ownboard offered the standard 4 Ah pack in its W1S for more frugal buyers, we’re definitely of the opinion that this is the best battery choice available for this board.

We say this both because the 30Q cells used in the W1S are of a higher quality than those found in most similarly priced rivals (meaning less voltage sag and higher capacity under heavy draw), and because this pack’s cost and performance make it well suited to a board of this price.

In our range test, we were able to traverse just under 10 miles of hilly terrain before the board began to really slow down, and about eight and a half of those miles were without any significant voltage sag. To put these numbers in perspective, consider that our Verreal F1 with a 4 Ah battery covered just seven miles in total and began sagging noticeably before the end of mile five.

So yes, the 30Q pack does boost the Ownboard’s price a tad, but the extra range and peace of mind it affords the rider definitely justify the small extra cost.

The Hardware

The remainder of the W1S’s hardware is mostly the usual assortment of budget components, but there are a couple nice surprises here. The first is the board’s Paris clone front truck, which is a welcome departure from the more common (and conspicuously low-quality) design found on the WowGo 2S, Verreal F1, and many others.

The second is the bamboo composite deck, which features two plies of bamboo along with maple to improve flexibility and save weight. Bamboo decks are hard to come by in the budget segment, particularly after WowGo swapped the 2S’ beloved composite deck for a stiffer variant made purely from cost-saving maple, so we’re glad Ownboard has stayed the course. Unfortunately, the W1S’ deck can’t quite match WowGo’s fantastic original design, but it does offer more flex than those of competing models, like the Meepo V2P, Backfire G2S, and (we imagine) current WowGo 2S.

Finally, it should be noted that the W1S is built with robust metal enclosures and is shipped with replacement PU sleeves. These features are fairly common, but not yet ubiquitous, so they still earn the W1S points.

The Verdict

In our eyes, the W1S is, at this moment, the premier budget electric skateboard. No, Ownboard hasn’t given us anything new or revolutionary, but by combining all of our favorite budget parts into a single product, they have managed to pull ahead of their competitors. Consider also that Ownboard has established a warehouse in the United States, meaning that orders will be fulfilled much faster than we’ve come to expect, and it seems hard to justify buying any other budget board.


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