If you’re anything like me, then you make sure you do your research before handing over your hard earned cash on something expensive. Your goal is to be sure that you’re getting something that best suits your needs, works well and is good value for money. In addition to that, when you throw your own safety into the mix, then there’s all the more reason to put in your due diligence.
If you are reading this article, you may be considering buying the Raptor 2, or at the very least, you want to know how it stacks up against the competition. When it comes to the much hyped Raptor 2 though, there isn’t really a lot out there to go on. There are literally about a dozen production models out in the wild, worldwide, and it seems that those few lucky owners would much prefer to ride them than write about them!
There are also a few demo boards out there doing the rounds, but a quick demo is only but a taste. What are some of the deeper insights in the Raptor 2? Is it reliable? Would I change anything? How does it compare to its competitors? These are some of the things I will cover in my two-part review on the Raptor 2. As one of them lucky owners, and possibly the only one who has racked over 100kms on it already, I thought it was only fair that I share my insights into this exciting new piece of equipment.
Part 1 of my review will focus exclusively on my first 100kms or so on the Raptor 2; its pros and cons, its reliability and its pending improvements. I will refer to other boards briefly but will not go into detailed comparisons.
Part 2, (to be posted in the next week), will introduce some scientific back-to-back comparison tests between the Raptor 2 and a number of its leading competitors such as the Evolve GT, Boosted Board Dual Plus, Jed Board and Meepo. These comparisons include; hill climbing ability and speed, range comparison tests and free-roll comparisons.
It isn’t every day that you have all these boards together in one place. I dare say it’s probably the first time anywhere in the world that this combination of electric skateboards have ever been actually tested back-to-back. Hopefully after having read these articles, you’re at the very least more informed and able to make an educated decision in which board best suits your needs. The numbers don’t lie, and they’re quite interesting!
ON YOUR MARKS! From left to right, Meepo Board, Boosted Board Dual Plus, Jed Board, Loaded Dervish (unpowered) longboard, Raptor 2, Evolve Carbon GT, Evolve Bamboo GT AT.
DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any e-board company and I do not get paid for sharing my opinions. I bring with me 1000s of kilometres of electric skateboarding experience over the past 4 years, on over a dozen different e-boards. I don’t have loyalty to any one particular brand or company. I am completely unbiased - and more than happy to call it as I see it, because I know that honest and genuine feedback is valued both by the companies themselves and their prospective customers.
THE ENERTION RAPTOR 2
Shredlights (pictured) are not standard, but a worthwhile addition.
The first thing you notice when you get your hands on this beast is just how solid it is. Compared to some of its competitors it’s physically smaller, and definitely has a more solid feel to it, like a quality piece of machinery. To be honest, having handled a few big guns in my time, it actually reminds me a lot of a high powered firearm in the way that it feels. The combination of cool black alloy, high strength ABS plastics, wood and steel really does feel like you’re handling a fully loaded machine gun. The fact is, you are holding a high powered weapon, of a different kind! Take a look inside the watertight box and it’s more of the same. Quality components, put together with thought and care. This is where your money is going.
Okay, let’s not beat around the bush - this thing is HEAVY! I actually measured the weight at 11.8kgs or exactly 26lbs! No that is not a misprint. This weight has blown out a little since the original estimates of around 10kg.
There are, however, two reasons I personally can live with the weight.
Firstly, the greatest proportion of that weight is contained in those monstrous motors. The next biggest culprit is the giant battery, and these are two areas where bigger is usually better. I like a lot of power, and I like a lot of range. If it means the board weighs a little extra - it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
Have you ever heard a Mercedes Benz owner complain that the 375kW twin turbo V8 shoehorned into his AMG C63 makes his car a little heavier than his next door neighbour’s C200? Me neither. Yes, I know you don’t have to carry around your Mercedes Benz, but you get my point!
The second reason I can live with the weight is the in-built handles. They do make life a little easier with the R2. I do say only a little easier, because frankly, the handles are positioned in the wrong spot. They really need to be positioned much further back towards the rear, where those two heavy motors live. Instead, when carrying, the rear of the board drops down lower and your hand keeps sliding to the front of the handle, making it even more unbalanced. The decision to position the handles where they are was admittedly made for cosmetic reasons. In my opinion, it’s a case of form over function, which is a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, the alloy handles do have a nice premium feel to them and it’s better than having no handles at all. They are really handy for quickly picking the board up for a few seconds here and there, for example crossing a road or carrying into your house, but perhaps not for carting the board around for much longer than that.
Sufficed to say, that if you’re planning on carrying the R2 around for long periods, this may not be the board for you. However, if you bought this board to RIDE, not to carry, then that’s another story!
Notice the way the rear of the board drops down due to the weight of the motors. Try holding the board like this for more than a minute or two and it gets kind of annoying.
In a word - AMAZING! Basically this thing hauls ass! It is torquey and powerful, yet super smooth.
Let’s face it, THIS is why you’d buy an Raptor 2 in the first place.
You want scary acceleration? I’m happy to say you’ve got it!
This board will take you to 50+ kmh and get you there quickly, and the fact that Enertion has achieved this type of power and torque with HUB motors is a game changer in the industry.
BEWARE: in ‘R-Spec’ (fastest) mode, you really do have to be prepared for the power in full acceleration or you will find yourself on your behind! Don’t even think of having one foot back on the kicktail, because you will pop a wheelie and fall off the back. You need to have your back foot no further back than the rear wheels, lean forward with your weight on your front foot, get low and prepare for take-off! Flick the remote to ‘Slow’ mode and your power and torque is considerably less, more suitable for a Raptor virgin. I wouldn’t quite describe it as ‘Slow’ mode though, maybe ‘Not quite as insane fast’ mode! Rest assured, if these power settings are too much for you, they are fully customisable, which I will cover a little later.
Every person I’ve seen try full acceleration on the Raptor 2 for the first time has the same facial expression. It’s kind of a combination of fear, surprise and excitement, usually with some type of expletive thrown in!
Braking, much like the acceleration, is smooth as silk. It is not jerky or abrupt at all unlike some of the competition. It is clear that Enertion have done some nice fine-tuning and it inspires confidence. Not only that, they are powerful enough to really slow you down, even on a steep descent.
This is the face you will pull when you first unleash the power of the R2!
(check out ‘Electric Wave TV’ on youtube for the full video)
I really like the shape and feel of the deck in general. I’ve had no issues with wheelbite, thanks to the truck spacers, and the general shape feels like just the right length and width for day to day skating.
This is the first time I’ve had a kicktail on an electric skateboard. I did not grow up riding skateboards so I have zero experience using a kicktail. To be honest I haven’t used it much yet, but I do look forward to becoming more proficient at mastering it. The ability to pivot the board or pop up the nose at will would come in very handy at times, plus it’s an added challenge for me to learn.
The grip tape is actually really nice. I much prefer it to the traditional stuff. I’m not sure exactly what it’s called but it’s really course, looks good - kind of like a course bitumen road, and is not as harsh on your hands or clothes like standard grip tape is.
R2 Grip tape vs Boosted Board standard grip tape…
The kicktail is not very common on electric skateboards, but may prove to be a great feature.
HIGH SPEED STABILITY
At first, even with super tight trucks, I was finding high-speed stability a bit of a problem on the R2. I think the main reason for this was my own inexperience on this particular board. I’ve ridden mainly Evolve boards for almost 4 years now, so even with their dual-kingpin trucks, I have no issues with high-speed stability on my Evolve boards. It was quite an adjustment to the R2, which has considerably different geometry.
You see, when compared to the Evolve CGT for example, the R2 has a much shorter wheelbase, narrower trucks and a higher deck. They are three things that can hamper stability at high speeds. Enertion’s custom made precision trucks should go some way to counteracting the limitations of the Enertion’s wheelbase.
The CGT, when compared to the R2, has a much longer wheelbase, and a much wider track, creating a considerably larger platform for stabilty. This platform is also considerably lower to the ground, creating a lower centre of gravity and potentially better stability than the R2. The yellow shaded area on the R2 is only 60% as large as that on the the CGT.
Evolves wide drop through trucks combined with a deck shape to avoid wheelbite really help keep the deck low to the ground. 13-20mm lower than an R2.
Now, having travelled over 120kms on the Raptor 2, I am happy to report that I’m considerably more comfortable riding it at high speed than at first. My suggestion would be to ride this board as much as possible and try to relax, (it’s very easy to tense up when you’re nervous) and you will gradually adjust to the different feel. As a result, the more I ride the R2, the more I’m enjoying it!
The near silent motors, combined with the smooth acceleration makes the R2 deceptively fast. There is a whirring from the motor, but it tends to be drowned out by the sound of the wheels contacting the pavement. Even at full acceleration the motors are no louder, which is generally not the case with belt driven motors. The more load you give a belt driven motor, such as going up a hill, the more stress you’re putting on the motor/cogs/belt system and the louder it is. For example, you notice a huge difference in the noise of an Evolve GT coasting (almost silent) than the GT accelerating up hill, where you really hear that drivetrain whine. Some people prefer a board to make noise, not me. Personally I like to remain stealthy.
The R2, always has the same volume to its motor noise, whether free-rolling, braking or accelerating up a hill. It’s like a deep, low level, futuristic electric whirring and I find it super cool! The reason it is so quiet is a combination of the hub motor and the type of ‘commutation’ the motor uses. Without getting too technical, Field Orientated Control (FOC) commutation is basically a quieter and smoother way to feed power to the motors.
To me, the quiet, stealthy, futuristic sound of these motors is absolutely one of the best features of the R2!
RIDE COMFORT AND VIBRATION
I was pleasantly surprised by the ride comfort of the R2. A rigid board and hub motors are generally not ingredients for a comfy ride, but Enertion have done well here. Wheels on the R2 are 90mm back and front, and I believe that hardness is currently 75A on the front and 80A on the rear, (I assume for max comfort from the front wheels and more durability from the drive wheels). Extensive use of wood in the deck have also helped with ride comfort, no doubt.
If I was to compare it to an Evolve, I would say the R2’s ride is more or less n par with a Bamboo GT with standard 83mm wheels, if not slightly better.
Keep in mind that Enertion are soon to be making a range of wheel options available to the R2, including the recently announced 97mm street wheels and 100mm ‘Crossover’ wheels. Yes please!
Ground clearance on the R2 is very good at 33mm, and better all other competitors at the top end of the market, (other than the Evolve with its 7" pneumatic AT wheels of course). This is another big advantage of the hub motor as opposed to a belt or gear drive which attaches to the wheel. Having extra clearance and gives you a lot more confidence negotiating driveways, curbs and cracks, knowing that you’re not going to scrape and damage your motor mount, belt or truck as it bottoms out, and/or get flung off the board in the process.
Ground clearance on the R2, a very handy 33mm
Measuring ground clearance on each board, the R2 at 33mm…
Carbon GT with 83mm wheels has a pretty average ground clearance at 15mm, with 97mm wheels ground clearance increases to 22mm.
Boosted Board Dual Plus V1 - Only 13mm of clearance…
The Jed Board - only 11mm of clearance, this will increase to 21mm if you fit their upcoming 100mm wheel.
I’ve got to be honest here. The ‘Nano X’ remote is not my favourite to hold and use. On the plus side, it has at least been reliable so far.
The Enertion Nano-X remote feels a little too small in my hand, so ergonomics are a bit of an issue for me. The thumb drive is okay, and the preferred option for me for speed control (as opposed to a trigger), but the quality of the mechanism is pretty poor and it is set too far back on the remote when holding it to make it intuitive and comfortable to use. In addition to that, the quality, fit and finish of the casing in more what you’d expect from a low range board, not a $2,000 one. Compared to Boosted Board’s excellent remote which is super solid and top quality, the Enertion’s Nano-X remote feels like a Fisher Price toy and betrays the quality they’ve put into the rest the board itself. I actually contacted Enertion in regards to my thoughts on the remote. Their philosophy is that it is much more important to have a remote that is cheap but that WORKS solidly, rather than an expensive remote with bells and whistles which is not as reliable. I can absolutely understand and appreciate that philosophy, but surely it wouldn’t cost much money to make a slightly better quality and more ergonomic casing.
Enertion are looking into modifications to the remote to address the issues above. Hopefully in future they can come up with something a little nicer to hold and use. If not, thanks to the Raptor’s open source nature, I always have the option of finding a different shaped hand controller with similar internals and pairing it to the Raptor. In any case, it’s not a deal breaker.
I have average size hands, but ergonomics don’t quite work for me. I really have to bend my thumb back to get to the throttle control. Plus the shape of the bottom part of the remote doesn’t fit into my palm well at all.
Feels cheap and nasty. At least the connection is solid so far.
Every manufacturer seems to have their own take which what they believe works best in regards to hand remotes. It’s clearly very subjective. From left to right: The Boosted Board, Evolve, Meepo and Enertion remotes. The Boosted remote is my personal favourite, both in terms of build quality and ergonomics.
BATTERY POWER METER, POWER SWITCH AND CHARGING
No issues with charging. A full charge takes 2 to 3 hours - pretty reasonable considering the battery capacity. The charger included with the R2 works well and seems good quality. It is quiet and reliable, in fact it’s identical to Evolve’s latest fast charger, just rebranded. That’s not a bad thing.
Spot the difference! A generic charger rebranded, but good quality nonetheless.
There is a strip of silicone used to cover up the charging port, power switch and battery meter screen. Generally it does its job well enough. It keeps the water out well and the charging port cover stays closed nicely (something Boosted took a few years to master). The switch under the power ‘button’ is actually a rocker switch, not a button because It was considered was much more reliable in testing. No big deal there.
In the interests of full disclosure, during my 100kms of testing, there were actually two times, whilst riding over rough terrain, that the power switch was actually knocked by the rough terrain beneath, switching the board off. It was no big deal and completely unremarkable, I just switched it back on and away I went. I don’t consider it to be a problem, and even less so when bigger wheels (with even more ground clearance) are fitted.
The battery power meter screen is quite a handy feature for when you’re charging the board, you can switch it on at any point and it will show your battery level. On the other hand, when you’re out riding in the daylight, the waterproof silicone film, does makes it very difficult to read the screen which is a minor inconvenience. Keep in mind though, that the screen was not really designed to be used out riding, that is why it is positioned underneath the board, not on top. For people using the Android app it’s a non-issue anyway.
The silicone cover underneath the board does a good job of keeping water out, and screen is handy when charging…
Out in the field though - not so easy to read. Use the Android app.
THE ‘VESC MONITOR’ ANDROID APP - BY ACKMANIAC
As an ‘Apple’ tragic, it goes against my religion to purchase an ‘Android’ device, but last week I found myself a cheap Android phone to use for one reason and one reason only - the VESC MONITOR app. (The mobile app is not yet available on iOS, at least for now).
Let me just say, I’m so glad I did! The VESC MONITOR app takes the Raptor 2 to a whole other level!
It connects via Bluetooth on the Android device to a Bluetooth receiver in the Raptor 2. Once connected, you have access to a whole world of monitoring, diagnostics and adjustments. It really is very impressive and sets the R2 well ahead of the competition in this are. It shows just how advanced Benjamin Vedder’s VESC (or FOCBOX) speed controller components on board the Raptor 2 are, as well as the brilliance of the App developer ‘Ackmaniac’. My hat is officially tipped to you both.
The ability to customise your ride is virtually limitless.
- set up and infinite number of custom ‘Drive Modes’ and switch between them on the fly,
- monitor real time data such as Speed, Distance covered, Remaining Range, Power being used and ESC temperature,
- adjust throttle curves, adjust braking, add reverse, cruise control and other customisations,
- video record your ride with all your monitoring screens displayed in real time,
- record trip meter, total distance travelled, total ride times and average speeds,
- and as a recent addition, even record acceleration times, for example 0-20kmh or 0-40kmh, and you can set warning noises to chime for whatever you want, for example when your battery is down to 20%.
You could certainly have a lot of fun with this app. I highly recommend it, even if you have to buy a bloody Android phone!
**RELIABILITY AND MAINTENANCE **
Being an early adopter of new technology, such as the Raptor 2, has its pros and cons. It’s a bit of a thrill to be on the cutting edge of an exciting new development in tech, but the down side is that you’re also generally the owners who have the most problems with their shiny new toys. Us early adopters and the ones who help the engineers and designers refine their product so that future buyers of the product get to enjoy something even better.
My time with the Raptor 2 so far has been a lot of fun, but as expected, I have come across a few issues here and there. I’m happy to say they are nothing major, and certainly nothing to make me regret my purchase for one second. The reason for my confidence is that Enertion are all over these issues and have fixes and improvements already on the way.
So what were the issues I experienced?
The problems were focused around the rear wheels. Both the hub motors and the urethane.
The hub motors motors were not running particularly smoothly and they got worse as time went on. They exhibited some clicking noises, particularly at low speed. I contacted Enertion about this and they informed me that they were having some issues with the quality of the motor bearings in some of their earliest motors and have changed their supplier. They immediately sent me out two new motors which arrived 5 days later. I have just installed them and they seem perfect. PROBLEM SOLVED!
The second issue I have is that this urethane skin of the rear wheels is simply too flexible. The urethane is fixed to the hub motor by 10 little hex bolts on the outside edge, but on the inside edge there is nothing fixing the urethane skin it to the motor at all. What this means that when all that centrifugal force turning the motors, the inside edge of the urethane can warp, flare and twist a little on the inside edge. This in turn and creates a gap between the motor and the urethane skin on the inside edge of the wheel and allows dirt and debris to get in between the hub motor and the urethane, resulting in a less than perfect roll.
A picture of the hub motor from the outside with the urethane removed. 10 hex bolts hold the urethane skin in place on the outside edge…
Clearly the urethane of the rear wheels is too flexible and warps pretty noticeably under load. This is clearly a design fault, the inside edge should definitely be rigid.
Note the gunk build-up around the hub motor. This is only after a few days use and happens because of the flexible rear urethane.
GOOD NEWS! This issue is being rectified by Enertion as we speak! They are currently developing and soon to manufacture a new urethane skin for the hub motors. This will be a slightly harder formula but most importantly it will have a rigid inner ring, preventing it from warping. As soon as these are available they will be shipped out to all R2 owners for free. Problem solved!
The rigid hub locks it better to the hub motor and prevents warping and flaring. This design fitted to the upcoming 97mm wheel might just prove to be a match made in heaven!
I am yet to encounter any other issues with the R2.
Apart from the above issues I’ve had, maintenance has been a breeze. The R2’s water-resistance combined with the convenience of the hub-motors means that prospective owners should be able to enjoy a virtually maintenance free board. Not having to adjust or replace drive belts a big plus, as is the ability to clean the grip tape with a high pressure hose. You can literally clean and dry this board in 2 minutes flat!
Wheels should last 1000s of kilometres, but when it comes time to replace them, rest assured it’s a 5-10 minute job. The fronts wheels are changed over in the normal manner, and the rear urethane just comes off by taking out the 10 little hex bolts. If and when you feel the urge to swap back and forth between different types of wheels, it’s great to know that it’s not going to be an awkward, frustrating or time consuming experience. Anyone who regularly changes an Evolve board back and forth from Street to AT set-up, for example, knows what I’m talking about.
This is a big one, (that’s what she said)
The fact is, no electric skateboard is perfect. In a new and rapidly growing industry, where companies are pushing the boundaries, custom manufacturing parts and breaching unchartered territory, it’s inevitable that they come across some unexpected problems and failures with their products along the way. There is a big difference however, between mechanical failures due to the company pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and mechanical failures due to skimping on the quality of components. I’m much more inclined to forgive the former than the latter.
It is fine balance between continually delaying a product for months or years until it is absolutely perfect (which never really happens) and releasing it too early and risk treating your customers like beta-testers or worse, crash-test dummies. I think Enertion have struck a pretty good compromise here with their release of the R2. The minor issues mentioned earlier not a safety risk, and are already being remedied, so I’m not too concerned.
What also sets the good companies apart from the others is how well they handle the setbacks and issues they encounter. Are they transparent in communication or do they try to cover up their mistakes? Do they take responsibility when something goes wrong or do they look to blame others? How do they handle their customer’s complaints? Are they quick to communicate and solve problems or do you have to keep chasing a resolution? It all goes a long way to inspire confidence and loyalty to a company, or not.
It is true, the company’s founder, Jason Potter, may not always come across as polished and professional as some others, but you can’t question his honesty, his passion and what he has brought to the e-skating community. He has my respect and admiration for that. He also has my respect for what he has created here - the mighty Raptor 2.
I think I’ll be keeping this one for a while!
(To be continued in Part 2…‘Raptor 2 - The Comprehensive Comparison’)
About the author…
Michael Gatti is an unashamed technophile who has a keen interest in electric vehicles.
After discovering electric skateboards on-line in 2014, he went on to his first e-board,
an Evolve Generation 1 Snubnose, and was instantly addicted. Since then he has
expanded both his knowledge and collection, amassing thousands of kilometres of
board-time, both for personal transport and recreation use. As one of the more experienced
members and knowledgable e-skaters, he has become a well known and respected member
of the electric skateboarding community.
Michael lives in the leafy outer-eastern suburbs of Melbourne with his beautiful wife,
Melinda and loving family.