Last year, we released the first iteration of our flagship board, the Nyx Z1, a board that is designed very differently from most traditional electric longboards. With a boxy battery centered on top of the deck, an ESC at the back, a flexible deck, wide channel trucks, off-road tires, and very powerful motors, this is what we call an Electric Mountainboard. In this article, we will explain the e-MTB concept, the reasoning behind it, and why it makes the Nyx Z1 so incredibly capable.
What is an Electric Mountainboard
First off, an electric mountainboard, often referred to as an eMountainboard, or e-MTB, is an off-road capable board that combines elements of a traditional mountainboard, with electric motors, a battery, and remote control system. These traditional MTB elements being a wide and flexible deck, trucks referred to as channel or PKP trucks, large off-road air tires for maximum clearance and shock absorption, and foot bindings. The Esk8 community started electrifying them some years ago, as they offered the best off-road platform to build upon, keeping in mind all these traditional MTB characteristics when adding the electric parts, making them the most capable and nimble Esk8 on any terrain.
Electronics On Top
This is the most striking aspect of e-MTBs, and what usually surprises unfamiliar riders, to the point of some finding it unattractive. The battery is in a large box at the top of the deck, between your feet, and the ESC in a small enclosure at the very back, while most ESK8s have all of that in a thin enclosure, under the deck. But we are of the opinion that in product design, beauty is in functionality. Indeed, the battery is placed like this for many valid reasons.
And the first one would be the clearance. A battery under the deck usually means a substantial loss of space between the road and the board. Having it on top means at least 30% clearance gains, allowing the rider to go over more terrain without bottoming the board. When jumping or simply falling from an elevation, this also means that the battery is affected by no structural stress, and the deck is able to fully flex down without trouble.
This also means keeping the battery and ESC protected from potential impacts from rocks, roots, curbs, unexpected potholes, Digletts, that could otherwise damage it, which can be very dangerous. When riding off-road, especially in Fall, you oftentimes don’t see these things under the leaves. They are also much better shielded from water ingress, as bottom-mounted batteries which can act as a tray, collecting the water or humidity over time.
Then, there are advantages in cooling. Indeed, the ESC and Batteries generate heat during operation, and positioning them on top of the deck allows for better heat dissipation. This can help prevent overheating and improve the performance of the board, while prolonging the lifespan of the electronics.
Finally, in most e-MTBs, this results in Easy Access to the electronics. Having the battery on top of the deck simplifies access for maintenance and battery or ESC repair/replacement. Riders can easily remove and replace these parts without needing to disassemble the entire board. This is even more true for boards that use Lipo battery packs, for quick swapping.
Some might also say that keeping the battery in the center of the board enhances the handling and responsiveness of the e-MTB. It allows for better control over turns, twists, and maneuvers, even jumps.
Finally, you can fit bigger batteries without trouble or loss in clearance. For example, we fitted batteries in a 14s5p configuration for up to 1295wh in the Nyx, but you can also go for smaller, lighter batteries for a lighter, more trick focused board.
Channel trucks are a type of suspension-like truck system with dual springs or shock bushings on each truck, but left and right of the kingpin, instead of a single kingpin, centered design, which provides less suspension-like behavior and is better suited for smoother surfaces like roads and sidewalks. They provide more stability and responsiveness for off-road riding, absorbing shocks from rough terrain while allowing some independent wheel movement.
Here are the key characteristics.
- Dual Shock System: Channel trucks are characterized by their dual-spring or shock bushing design. They consist of a set of springs or shock-absorbing bushings on each truck, positioned on either side of the truck hanger. These springs provide suspension-like movement, allowing the trucks to absorb shocks and vibrations from rough terrain.
- Adjustable Tension: Channel trucks allow riders to adjust the tension of the bushings or springs, through a set of adjuster screws. This adjustment can customize the board's handling and responsiveness to match the rider's preferences and the terrain they are riding on .
- Wide Axles: Channel trucks prioritize stability and control on unpredictable terrain. The long axles, resulting in a wide wheelbase, provide a much more stable ride, while also allowing any tire size without the risk of wheel bite (the wheels making contact with the deck) .
In short, channel trucks are specialized for off-road and mountainboarding purposes, providing a suspension-like movement, while still being extremely stable, making them just as great on the road as on trails.
Next Level Parts
We have now gone over the basics of what defines an Electric Mountainboard, and now will look at the parts that truly elevate E-MTBs, to the next level.
Foot bindings, similar to those found on wake or kite boards, are straps or systems that secure the rider's feet to the deck of the board. They radically change the riding characteristics, improving control, turning, overall maneuverability, and off-road performance. Here are the main benefits:
- Enhanced Control: Foot bindings provide a strong and direct connection between the rider's feet and the board. This connection improves control over the board's movements, making it easier to turn, at much sharper angles.
- Stability: They help keep the rider's feet firmly planted on the board, which is particularly beneficial when riding on uneven or bumpy surfaces. This stability contributes to better balance and control, especially during fast descents or technical maneuvers, where without bindings, control would have been impossible or extremely challenging.
- Jumping and Tricks: Foot bindings can aid in performing jumps and tricks. Riders can use the bindings to control the board while in the air, allowing for more controlled landings and the execution of various aerial maneuvers, and slides.
- Safety: This one is controversial, are some riders are afraid that bindings will keep them from falling correctly in case of an accident, and that is somewhat true. But foot bindings will most often time prevent falls off-road, and keep the rider's feet from accidentally slipping off the board due to bumps and unexpected jumps, reducing the likelihood of falls caused by foot positioning or hitting obstacles, or the foot from making contact with the wheels on either side of the board.
Despite these advantages, it's important to note that foot bindings also have some drawbacks and considerations. They can limit the rider's ability to quickly bail or jump off the board in certain situations. Riders considering foot bindings should prioritize safety, and practice, and gradually adapt to using them in a
controlled environment before tackling more demanding terrains.
While we don’t offer bindings with the Nyx Z1, it comes pre-drilled to fit any bindings of your choice from third-party companies. You can also absolutely ride the Nyx without bindings on softer bushings, and it will still be very nimble.
When it comes to off-roading, the main benefit of gear drive systems are the durability they provide. Thanks to the gearbox, the drive is fully enclosed and protected from the elements, in a CNC 6061 aluminum casing. That means zero risk of debris and pebbles getting in there, which makes it by far the best choice for off-road use, and that is why we have them on our Nyx Z1. They are a perfect fit for e-MTB.
We have also made them almost entirely quiet, which we believe is important when riding in a Nature setting like a forest or an open trail.
Another item that we love on our Nyx Z1 is the front bashguard, made from carbon fiber tubes mounted on 6061 arms. It seamlessly mounts on the front trucks, and has various benefits.
The first one is obvious, it protects the front of the board, meaning the trucks and the nose of the deck, from frontal impact, just like a bumper or shield guards on a truck. But they also make for a great handle, to roll the board around behind you like you would with a suitcase. Finally, they are also a great mounting base for lights, action cameras, and so on.
Why Do We Love e-MTBs
When you look at the life of an Esk8 rider’s garage, it usually starts with a cheap entry-level board, and oftentimes ends with an Electric Mountainboard. Why? It’s simply because they are the most versatile, capable, easy-to-repair eboard out there. They might not look very tempting at first due to the top-mounted boxy battery, and overall odd design, but the functional benefits quickly make themselves very attractive to riders who want the ultimate eboard. The versatility when it comes to customization, binding options, various trucks and bushings, and easy repair/replacement of parts, is second to none.
We kept going on about their off-road capabilities in this article, and for valid reasons. While we believe they are indeed the best solution for rough terrain, e-MTBs are just as great in an urban setting. The maneuverability is great and even better with footstraps, and cities oftentimes provide worse terrain and
riding conditions than a beautiful trail, and that’s where the clearance is helpful through curbs, steps, potholes, and so on. For that reason, we even came up with the Nyx Z1 Street Edition, meant for city/asphalt riders, but still very capable off-road.
We also specifically love the Nyx Z1, in comparison to other e-MTBs, due to how efficient and quiet our gear drives are. In addition, we believe that the CNC machining of all alloy parts, which includes the wheel hubs, the enclosures, the trucks, and gear drives, combined with a beautiful and high-end design language, truly makes it standout, and succeeds in making the Battery Box attractive, which is not an easy feat.
All-in-all, Electric Mountainboards are absolutely brilliant, and we invite you to be open-minded to the odd battery structure, and overall look, as they truly offer an incredible riding experience in all types of terrain and conditions, unlike any other boards.