I’ve often thought, whilst trudging back up the hill I’ve just boarded down, board in hand or dragging it behind me, how nice it would be to just stand still and have the mountain board take me up the hill rather than me take IT! It’s also crossed my mind that it would be a real boost if I could go along on the flat without having to ‘scoot’ it along myself.
Well, this has been a possibility since around the early noughties when the first gas mountain boards were commercially available, in fact probably well before that if you take into account those intrepid souls doing their own thing and sticking lawnmower motors and the like on their boards!
In this article we’ll be looking at the basics of design and how the board is made, various gas boards available on the market, accessories available for those boards and finally a look at where you can go for advice with a view to fitting a motor to your own board if you think that’s your thing.
The Basics – Design
There’s something of a crossover in the powered board world between Skateboards and Mountain Boards with some boards being described as both depending on who’s selling them, obviously some retailers are (understandably) trying to cover all angles.
The engines used are generally around 50cc (this can be ‘enhanced’ for the real dare devils among us!) and run on unleaded gas (or petrol if you’re in the UK!) and will achieve speeds up to 25 mph without any modifications so safety gear head to toe is of paramount importance. Even more so if you’re brave enough to go down the ‘enhancement’ route, that could see you hurtling along at an incredible 40 mph – certainly NOT for the faint-hearted!
Keep yourself in one piece!
The boards are generally equipped with an automatic centrifugal clutch, no messing about with gears is needed, just pull the trigger on the throttle and off you go – it would be an absolutely splendid idea to check the brakes before you do so tho!
The throttle and brake are housed in the same handle, usually using a trigger for acceleration with the brake being similar to that used on a bicycle.
There are surprisingly few options available here, possibly due to there being quite a few electric boards on the market.
Amazon has a 49cc SkaterX gas skate board available at around $470, the board itself is constructed from bamboo (stronger and more durable than fiberglass) and features a drum brake which brings the board to a nice gradual stop.
It doesn’t arrive assembled so you have to do that bit yourself, something to bear in mind if you find that sort of thing challenging and/or if it’s a gift for someone.
The SkaterX will propel you along at around 25-30 mph which in my opinion is plenty fast enough, and as discussed above, with the addition of some bespoke parts you could go as fast as 40 mph! A tank full of petrol will get you around 15-20 miles worth of travel, depending on the terrain.
If you fancy one just click on the picture and you’ll be there in no time!
Another factor to keep in mind is your own size and weight, obviously this will have quite an effect on the speed and fuel economy you can expect from any motorized board. Of course, you need to be aware of the relative weight capacity of the board if you’re on the larger side body wise, there’s more about this in the ‘Your mountainboard and how it’s made’ section –
Can I make my own?
You can indeed! Assuming you have some basic DIY/engineering skills (and time obviously!) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to attach a motor and the required accessories to your own board.
There are bespoke motors available on Amazon and other, more specialized websites, but chainsaw, lawnmower and string trimmer motors, among others, are popular substitutes if you see a spare engine knocking around and fancy making use of it.
The rest of the equipment needed to become fully mobile as far as gas powered skateboard/mountain boarding goes are also readily available on various websites.
Other options for ‘powered pleasure’ (!) include electric and nitrous oxide powered boards, we’ll be reviewing these at a later date.
Is it for me?
If you’re a competent boarder there’s no reason why not, if you’re less experienced it’d probably be wise to wait awhile and put some practice hours in before upgrading, these are serious bits of kit and are capable of speeds that could be very dangerous in the wrong hands.
You also should take into account where you’re likely to be doing your boarding, is a motor really necessary?
Are they better than an electric board? I think it’s very much a case of ‘horses for courses’ – you’ll get more grunt from a gas powered mountain board, you’ll be able to go faster and it won’t matter as much if you’re on the heavier side.
However, the electric powered mountain boards are lighter and kinder to the environment, cheaper to run too!
Have fun and please stay safe.