The disc golf course inside San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is a perfect way to kill a few weekend hours. It’s free to play, it involves a nice walk through the woods, and there’s a guy wandering around selling three Tecates for five bucks. But unless you have a car, a very forgiving expense account that won’t ask questions about Ubers, or a lot of time for public transportation switching, it’s pretty inaccessible. For me, coming across the bay from Oakland, it’s a walk to a train to a walk to a bus to a walk. It takes me longer to travel there than it does to play 18 holes.
Boosted’s goal is to make the board simple and rideable from the minute you hop on, and the new model is definitely a step in that direction.
This past Sunday was different. I was carrying the new Boosted Board under my right arm. Sometimes, I also had the electric longboard propped up on my shoulder or held by the wheels. The $1,000 Boosted Board is heavy (about 15 pounds), so carrying it for a while requires some shifting around.
The solution, of course, is to have it under your feet. After sitting with it between my legs on the subway train, then quickly growing tired of stopping every block once I transferred to a bus, I got out, fired up my electric longboard, and booked it the rest of the way at a cool 22 miles per hour.
I’ve spent a few days riding my loaner board everywhere its battery and motor will allow, and now I’m dreading giving it back. It doesn’t feel quite like the ditch-your-car-forever device its creators might hope it could be. But it does make my neighborhood feel smaller, and it lets me swap 30 minutes on a steamy, smelly bus for a breezy ride on the pavement. I’ll take that.
The New Cruise
If you live in a city, you’ve probably seen Boosted Boards around already. The new model, which begins shipping this week, looks just like the old one. The wheels are still orange, and the bouncy bamboo deck still has the black grip tape. The dead-man’s-trigger remote still fits like a futuristic weapon into your hand. The whole thing is simple and downplayed, the sort of longboard you buy when you’re now a second-year lawyer and you’re trying to look a little more grown up… but you don’t want to stop longboarding.
Most of what’s new in the second model has to do with reliability. Boosted added water-resistant housing to the electronics, so that nothing bad would happen when I “accidentally” rode through a puddle because the spray looks so cool. The company also extended the Bluetooth range for the remote, and I never had a single issue with getting or keeping it connected. The wheels are now a smidge wider, which makes the whole ride feel a little more stable. Boosted’s goal is to make the board simple and rideable from the minute you hop on, and the new model is definitely a step in that direction.
This thing is still a beast, though. My board came out of the box in the low-powered Beginner mode, which makes everything a little slower and less torque-y. I spent an hour puttering sadly up hills while getting passed by old ladies on Rascal scooters before I figured out what was going on. A couple of clicks on the remote’s single button later, I was in Expert mode, launching myself backwards off the board by spinning the remote’s wheel too fast. The most important advice I can give you about the Boosted Board is that when you first pick up the remote, press the trigger, and start to roll that throttle forward, do it like you’re diffusing a bomb. Oh so gently.
After a few minutes, I felt comfortable hopping onto the Boosted Board and zooming off. The flexible board keeps you steady even over rough-ish terrain, though riding on really rough roads left my legs jelly-like for a while. And the motor’s good enough to handle even pretty serious hills. As easy as it is to stay in control on the Boosted Board, though, it’s also easy to lose yourself. If you’re on a hill, the brake will slow you down but not stop you, which more than once ended with me bombing through an intersection hoping against hope there was nobody about to roll through a stop sign. It took some practice to figure out how to brake anywhere without tossing myself off the front of the board.
Your first 20 minutes or so with a Boosted Board should definitely be in a garage or driveway, where there’s no one else to injure and no one to possibly Instagram you injuring yourself. But after that, the world is your oyster. You know those places near you that you’d like to visit, but are just outside your unofficial walking radius? All those places are in play now. I could ride the Boosted Board down to that coffee shop, pick it up, walk in, and grab a bagel. There were a few times it would have been nice to be able to lock the thing up like when I was playing disc golf and wound up having to stash the board in my friend’s car. But those are outnumbered by the times it’s easier to just pick the thing up and carry it inside.
The only downside, other than the price, is still the range. Your new board will have modular batteries, so you can swap a new one in mid-ride. Because Boosted had to make some last-minute fixes after hearing reports of things coming apart when people rode over really rough terrain, the parts on my pre-final board were permanently connected. The standard battery’s range is still between six and seven miles, which sounds like a lot but goes pretty quickly. (It’s the getting back that gets ya.) I made it home from disc golf, but only after a long walking section in the middle, and by the end I was rolling more on momentum than motors. If you’re commuting with the Boosted, or just riding it to the deli three streets over, this is a charge-every-night kind of gadget. The bigger battery doubles the range, but it’s $100 more up front or $399 on its own.
Is the Boosted Board going to replace your car, or your bike? No. But it’s a near-perfect addition to my life—I get to work faster, and I don’t have to annoy the people on the commuter train with my bike. It turns 15-minute walks into three-minute rides, which makes so many new places easily accessible. Most of all, it’s just fun. Fast enough to keep your eyes wide and your hair blowing every which way, safe enough not to toss you on your ass every time you make a left turn, exciting enough that it might toss you on your ass next time.
$1,000 is a lot of money to spend on a plaything. But hey, it’s cheaper than restoring an old Porsche.