Riding an electric skateboard may seem daunting but it's actually very easy to learn. In this beginners guide, we show you how to ride and electric skateboard.
The first patent for a wireless electric skateboard was filed in 1999. Not long after, companies started releasing their versions of this fast, fun transporter. How different are electric skateboards from traditional skateboards? Are they hard to ride? Find out below.
At first glance, electric skateboards and regular skateboards look pretty much the same. The big difference is that the electric board has one or more battery-powered motors. You use a remote control to operate the board using various buttons and a throttle to accelerate and brake. Some come with an LED display that shows important information like riding mode, speed, battery levels and more.
Because electric skateboards use motors, they’re generally much faster than regular skateboards. Today, even many of the affordable options can travel beyond 20 MPH. It’s also easier to go uphill with a motor-powered board and travel longer distances. The last main difference is because the electrical components (particularly the battery and motors) weigh the board down, most tricks are more challenging. We’ll talk about what tricks work with electric skateboarding.
Now that you know what an electric skateboard is, how do you ride it? If you already have riding experience with a regular skateboard, you're at a big advantage. There isn’t much difference between riding a motorized skateboard and one you propel with your feet, but because of the speed and remote control, it can take a little practice. If you are brand new to skateboarding, learning will be more challenging. Here's what to do:
Before stepping on a skateboard - electric or regular - you need to put on the right gear. That includes a helmet that fits, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. Wrist injuries are very common in skateboarding because when you fall, you most likely put your hands out to catch yourself. Head injuries can be very severe, so always wear a helmet that’s snug, but not so tight that it hurts. It should rest level on your head (don’t tilt it back), so the front part is about one inch above your eyebrows.
If you usually use a regular skateboard and don’t wear much gear, we strongly recommend changing that. Because of how fast electric skateboards can go, they can be more dangerous than a regular board. The kind of shoes you wear matters, too. Closed-toed shoes that cover your feet (no sandals) are best. Cushioned shoes can even help dampen the impact of road vibrations felt in your legs as well.
Skateboard trucks are two metal parts that attach to the bottom of the deck. There’s one at the front and one at the back. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to make sure those trucks are nice and tight. This will help you keep your balance better and reduce speed wobbles. As you increase your skill level, you can loosen them gradually for increased flexibility and sharper turns.
You should also familiarize yourself with the remote before hopping on the skateboard. Boards have different modes available, such as “forward, “reverse,” and speed settings like slow, medium, and fast. Start with the slowest mode until you’re sure you feel comfortable. If your board has different braking modes (like the Skatebolt Tornado II), we recommend starting in the lowest, most forgiving setting as well. Make sure the remote control is actually connected to the skateboard, too.
If you’ve skateboarded before, you probably have a natural stance you’re comfortable with already. Your snowboard stance (if you snowboard) will also work. There are two main stances: regular and goofy. Regular is when you put your left foot forward toward the board’s nose. Goofy is when you lead with your right foot. Because most people are right-handed, leading with the left foot forward is common. That said, it doesn’t mean the regular stance always feels the most natural if you're right-handed. There’s no “right” stance, so just do what feels comfortable and stabilizes you the most.
Once you have a stance, think about how you feel on the skateboard. Are you stiff? You don’t want to flop around, but if your body is too stiff and rigid you’re more likely to fall. Put your arms out to balance, but don’t hold them like iron rods. Be prepared to bend your knees a little when you slowly start riding; this bending will help you stay balanced.
It’s time to ride! We recommend first starting your skateboard with a kick-push, which is how you would ride a normal skateboard. It isn’t necessary (you can just start the motors with your remote), but pushing off with one foot while keeping the other on the board strengthens your balance.
When you’re ready, start the motors gradually on the slowest setting. Remember to relax your body, bending your knees for better balance, and holding your arms out before the initial acceleration. If your stance feels weird now that you’re riding, switch it up.
How do you turn while riding a skateboard? It can take some practice if you’re not familiar. If you are, it’s the same as turning on a regular board. There are two types of turns: heelside or toeside. If you’re in a regular stance, heelside will turn you left and toeside will turn you right. It’s the opposite if you’re in a goofy stance.
For a heelside turn, bend your knees a little, put your weight into the heel of the front foot and push your butt out as you shift your weight. You’ll feel the board turn. For toeside, bend your knees and shift your body weight forward a little while placing some weight on the toes of your front foot. If you feel like you’re going to fall forward, don’t lean back; the board will shoot out from under you. Bend your knees more and lean forward into the turn.
Kick-turns are another kind of turn that’s good to learn. To kick-turn, stand on your board and shift your weight to the back wheels, lifting the front wheels, and swing the front of your board in the direction you want to go. This is a good way to strengthen your overall balance but it is a bit more advanced.
What about carving? This fluid movement “carves” lines into the riding surface. If you’re on a narrow path, your carves will be small and fast, like drawing an “S” into the ground. Carving can also be very wide and flowing if you have a wide area to move in.
To carve, you want to keep your knees bent (you want a low center of gravity), your arms out, and head up. Look where you want to go and remember, your whole body is involved. If you want to go right, point your right arm. This guides your upper body while making turns. Your hips follow, and then your board. While carving, keep your speed consistent. Carving is an excellent and fun exercise to continually improve your balance and feel for the board.
Braking correctly on an electric skateboard is important. Thankfully, it’s fairly simple because you control the braking system with your remote. First, you’ll want to lean back a little since your weight will automatically shift forward when you brake. Leaning back compensates for that movement. Bend your knees a little, making sure your front foot is stable and slightly rigid. Gradually decrease your speed with your remote before braking.
What about foot braking? Shift your weight to your front/dominant foot, so you’re balancing on just that leg. Lightly touch your back foot on the ground, slowly adding pressure and as you start to slow down. The harder you brake, the more likely losing your balance is, so be careful.
Most electric skateboards use regenerative brakes, which means the battery gets energy sent to it when you’re going downhill. The board can sense when it doesn’t need the motor and sends that energy to the battery.
Falling is pretty inevitable on an electric skateboard. As you get better, it will happen less frequently, but learning how to fall properly reduces your chance of injuries. If you’re falling forward, bow your head and stick out your arms, rolling over your shoulder. This rolling helps protect your arms from injury. To fall backward, bow your head again and raise your legs, so you roll into your back and shoulders.
If you’re falling sideways, fall on one arm and roll towards your back, so the side of your head doesn’t take the impact. These rolling falls keep your body moving, which is important. Falls often cause injuries because your body is going from moving on your skateboard to abruptly stopping against the ground. With the right falling technique, you distribute the impact and avoid injury. To build your muscle memory, practice rolling in the grass.
Interested in more skateboarding tips? Check out our guide here.
As we mentioned earlier, the motors and battery make e-skateboards heavier than regular skateboards. Sometimes the weight distribution can be very uneven as well (some boards are very front-or-rear-heavy). That makes it harder to do tricks, especially ones that involve flipping the board into the air.
Most tricks on an electric skateboard keep the board on the ground; you’re the one shifting your foot positioning, dancing, carving, and so on. Practice footwork with the board standing still (start with grass so the board doesn't move away from you and then move to concrete) and wear all your safety gear. Here are three fun ones to try:
This is a good trick for beginners. You literally just walk up and down your deck while riding. You’ll need good balance, so start with small movements until you figure out how to shift your weight.
This is a good move for electric longboards. Shift your front foot to the middle of the board. Cross your back foot in front of your front foot, and then cross that foot under the foot in front to uncross your legs. At different points in this move, you’ll stand on your left foot only, and also your right foot only. The order depends on your stance.
Begin in your normal stance. To perform the trick, move one foot to the edge of your board, pointing it forward. This will turn the board a little, so be prepared. Bend your knees a little for balance and extend your other leg off the board and into the air. Bring your leg back down to the deck to complete the move.
You have an idea about how to ride an electric skateboard, but what options are out there? There’s a wide range of electric skateboards on the market these days, so whether you're after a portable penny board or a beefy off-road beast, there's a match out there for you.
If you like the idea of the tricks we talked about and other dancing tricks, an electric longboard is a great choice. These longer decks give you lots of room to move your feet around. If you live in a more rural area, an off-road electric skateboard with nice wide trucks and powerful motors will work well. Here are three big considerations to keep in mind when shopping:
How fast and how far will an electric skateboard take you? You’ll find lots of electric skateboards with a top speed of 10-30 mph. Because the skateboards with high speeds need a lot of juice, they cost more. The same goes for range, which can be as little as 5 miles per charge or as far as 31 miles (and even beyond for some of the freakiest models out there).
If you want to use your electric skateboard for transportation, look at the product’s Wh (watt-hours) specification, which is the measurement for the held charge.
Is the skateboard built to last? Electric skateboards are made from materials like aluminum, ABS plastic, and wood. Maple and bamboo are commonly used for decks. The wood is usually sandwiched together to add strength, but without losing flexibility. Look for features like waterproofing too if you live in a rainy area.
In terms of weight, most decks can hold between 150-250 pounds, so bear that in mind when shopping. The construction also impacts the weight of the board itself. Really light ones can be 9 pounds, but 14-20 pounds is more common. Generally, the weight of the board is linked to the motor power and battery capacity.
All electric skateboards have remotes, but the cheaper ones are pretty minimalistic. If you’re into cool technology, look for an e-board that come with apps that connect your board to your phone, as well as multiple riding modes. An LED display on the remote that specifies speed and battery levels is also highly useful but it's not always seen on the cheapest boards around.
If you’re new to skateboarding, an electric board with a beginner mode can make things easier for you. As you improve, you can move to the more advanced modes. Some boards also come with an eco mode.
Electric skateboarding takes the thrill of a classic sport and adds in motor power. You can ride much further and faster than on a regular skateboard, making it an option for short commutes as well as fun rides. If you’re moving from a classic skateboard to an electric one, the transition isn’t too difficult.
For beginners, we hope this guide demystified how to ride an electric skateboard! No matter what your experience level is, always wear safety gear and stay aware of your surroundings. You’ll enjoy your electric skateboard so much more.
Paul is an environmental engineer turned micromobility expert. With a mechanical background and hands-on experience with more than 150 personal electric vehicles, Strobel is one of the leading specialists in the PEV scene. He handles everything from technical guides on the inner workings of vehicles to industry development news.