When I first started skateboarding, a friend brought me out to Strawberry Canyon in the Berkeley Hills. Like the first time you try anything, it was pure magic—the afternoon sun, the breeze gently ruffling my hair as I coasted gently down a smooth paved trail on the perfect slope. It was like surfing, but in a city! It was like snowboarding, but I wasn’t cold!
Now I know skateboarding isn’t like that all the time. There are only just enough sublime moments to make up for all the time you spend sweating up hills, crossing your fingers at the bottoms of other ones, and eating pavement in front of jeering eighth-graders outside during a fire drill. For years, I’ve wanted a motorized, battery-powered Boosted Board to make up for all of skateboarding’s shortcomings, but the hefty price tag made it seem out of reach.
This year, Boosted released the Mini S. This entry-level electric skateboard is shorter, smaller, and more nimble than the original longboard. It also has new features, like a wide curved deck, custom-designed 80-mm wheels, and precision-machined aluminum trucks for greater comfort.
At $749, It’s still not cheap. But it’s a more accessible price point than the $1000 second-gen Boosted. It’s also a lot more fun.
Unlike Boosted’s previous models, the Mini S is only 29.5 inches long. According to the press materials, the short deck is modeled on 80s pool decks—think Tony Alva in Dogtown, or the board you stole from your neighbor’s older brother in high school–and it has a rubber bumper for when you decide to stomp on the tail and spin. It’s short enough that, at 5 feet 2 inches, I can easily carry it around by the front truck.
But it’s not a park board. At 15 pounds, it’s still really heavy, which means you won’t be doing ollies or kickflips anytime soon (although, whoa, what if you could put in a button that would ollie automatically, Boosted? Just a thought!). The deck is also 11 inches wide, which makes it a little too hard to turn for park riding.
It takes about an hour for the board to get a full charge while plugged in. You also have to charge the remote, which is the only device in my house that still uses a USB Mini-B type connector. I did a double-take every time I had to plug it in.
Boosted also has a companion Bluetooth app, which I found to be incredibly wonky. Nevertheless, if you can manage to connect it, it’s useful for finding out how much range is left on the battery. I found that I could get anywhere from five to seven miles on one battery charge, which perfectly suited my needs. I live within a mile of everywhere I need to go, and I could make one charge last for several hours while running errands, meeting a friend for lunch, and doing several wholly superfluous runs on smooth roads around the local high school.
But if your commute is longer than that, you’ll need to keep an eye on your odometer. You’ll definitely need to charge the board every night, or carry the charger in your bag. Unfortunately, the Mini’s deck and truck design means that Boosted can’t offer a replaceable battery, so you can’t swap it out for a fresh one mid-ride (the other new boards in their line, the Boosted Plus and the Stealth, have replaceable batteries).
You can also use the companion app to switch between modes. Each mode has been tailored to the Mini S. Beginner mode has limited acceleration, a top speed of 11 mph, and no automatic hill drive; expert mode has high acceleration, a top speed of 18 mph, and can go up hill grades of up to 20-percent. Eco mode is somewhere in-between.
When I took it out with some friends, we maxed it out at 17 mph in expert mode. But for tooling around my neighborhood, I found eco mode to be the most comfortable. In expert mode, accelerations and decelerations are really quick. Like, terrifyingly quick. Even though the remote has something called a Jerk Filter to make those transitions smoother, I still found myself getting thrown off occasionally.
In eco mode, the acceleration is gentler, with a top speed of 16 mph, and it was more than capable of handling hills with a five- to ten-percent grade. I didn’t really feel like I needed to go faster than that to feel like I was getting the hang of the thing.
The short length makes it a little less comfortable to ride on rough terrain. Longboards are, well, long because the extra length helps dampen the vibrations from road imperfections for a smoother ride. While the Mini S does have big wheels and sturdy trucks, it can be chattery on bumpy roads. I blithely assumed that it would be fine on any roads where I’ve previously taken a longboard, I found I had to stop at corners to shake out my benumbed legs and feet.
The remote is still the same intuitive gun-shaped controller Boosted has used before, with a trigger button and a wheel that you scroll forward and backward with your thumb. It takes some practice to get used to it, but you can also push the skateboard unassisted as well (which may be helpful if you find yourself in a situation where the battery has died). Rather than perching on the board and bracing myself for it to start, I found that it was easier for me to push the board and only gun the motor once I was under way.
Kick, Push, Coast…and Coast
There is one unintended side effect to riding a Boosted board. One evening, I let my husband borrow the board to ride to a local outdoor hangout, since our bike trailer is yoked to my bike. When we pulled up in front, he picked up the Mini S and stopped for a second before going in.
“Everyone here thinks I’m an a*shole,” he said.
Chuffing after him, towing two kids in an enormous bike trailer while he breezed along without even having to push, I confess that I entertained similar thoughts. Bikes and bike gear aren’t cheap, but they are a complete car substitute.
The Mini S is just not a convenient mode of transportation. I can’t take my kids to daycare on it. I can’t do a grocery run. It’s not waterproof, so you can’t ride it in the rain. It’s too heavy for me to strap it on my backpack and walk around, although its small size and safety-tested battery does meet the IATA standards for air travel.
And its usefulness might be limited for other people, as well. The short battery life means that a commute of any real distance is probably out of the question. For traveling any distance of longer than a mile, the Boosted longboard is still the faster, more reliable, and more comfortable option. The Mini S feels more like an expensive toy.
Oh, but what a toy it is. I’ve taken it out several times with friends, and we all agreed: It’s pure joy to ride. The wide deck feels stable and secure under your feet. The trucks roll smoothly back and forth as you take turns, and the wheels are big and soft.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been annoying everyone on the quiet residential streets around my house, zooming back and forth and making deep S-shaped turns for days. I can see why you might not want to pass me on your way to work. But come on, people. How much can you hate joy?
Everyone wants to get in on the electric skateboarding game. But even as companies like Kuickwheel and Ionboard try to lure customers away with promises of smaller, lighter boards at much more accessible price points, Boosted still remains the gold standard. It costs a lot of money to make an electric skateboard feel as good as this.
And honestly, if you are the kind of person who would spend $400 on a snowboard or $400 on a surfboard that you use for a dozen weekends a year, $749 doesn’t seem like that much for a toy that you can use almost every day. For the first time, my electric skateboard dreams are almost within reach.