The Spectra X from Walnutt is not your standard electric skateboard. It uses bodyweight shifting instead of a hand remote to control acceleration and braking.
Does it work? Definitely. Is it odd feeling? Also definitely.
If you’ve been following my Electrek reviews for the last few years, you’ll know that I have a bit of a reputation for trying any electric vehicle, no matter how “out there” it may be.
I’ve reviewed odd electric bikes, electric unicycles, electric motorcycles, electric cars, electric surfboards, offroad electric skateboards, electric dirt bikes for children, and even wacky self-balancing electric pogo-sticks. You name it, I’ll give it the ol’ college try.
And while that list has included a dozen or so different brands of electric skateboards over the years, I can positively say that I have never ridden anything like the Spectra X electric skateboard before.
While it may look like a typical skateboard, it has the most innovative (and weirdest) throttle and braking control I’ve tried yet.
Check out my review video below, then read on for all the details.
Spectra X electric skateboard review video
Spectra X electric skateboard tech specs
- Motors: Dual rear 250W hub motors (500W total)
- Battery: Removable 63Wh battery
- Range: 6 miles (10 km) per battery, can swap in more batteries for more range
- Top speed: 18.6 mph (30 km/h)
- Max hill climb gradient: Up to 25%
- Max load: 220 lb (100 kg)
- Weight: 16.5 lb (7.5kg)
Bodyweight control is… new
Most electric skateboards use a handheld remote for throttle and braking, leaving the steering up to your body movements. Lean left to go left and lean right to go right.
But the Spectra X doesn’t need a remote – it uses pressure sensors in the deck to detect your forward and backward leaning as well.
When you lean forward, it accelerates. When you lean backward, it brakes.
And therein lies the conundrum. It goes against my instincts from riding my personal electric skateboards and all the other boards I review. I feel naked without the controller in my hand, though I’ll admit that I feel kind of free at the same time.
The problem is that it took me quite a while to stop fighting the board and learn to ride with it, not against it. It’s a super weird feeling to lean forward on the board at rest, largely because the acceleration isn’t instantaneous. Maybe I’m not leaning far enough or fast enough, but I always feel like a weirdo, leaning far out on the front of the board like Leo in Titanic, waiting for it to start rolling.
The slight lag definitely weirds me out, though I’ve found that with time, I’ve gotten better at it.
The same feeling is true when braking. I lean backward but I feel like there’s a bit of a lag, and I have to plan to brake further back than I normally would.
Again, this is all so counterintuitive to me. Normally I lean forward or backward as a reaction to my board, not as a control mechanism.
No matter how much time I spend on the board, it hasn’t become second nature yet. There’s still this mental disconnect that I don’t have with my other boards – it hasn’t melded into my feet like I had hoped.
But the good news is that there is also a hand remote, for those that don’t want to struggle with training their brain to control the board with just their body movement. Once I busted out the remote, it was like night and day. Suddenly I was riding faster and more confidently, since I knew I could always accelerate and brake reliably with a roll of my thumb.
There was still a little bit of lag compared to other boards, but it was much less. I can definitely say that I prefer riding with the remote than without.
So while the big gimmick on the board is the body control, I’d probably recommend the Spectra X for other reasons. I’d say get it for its small size (it’s a very short board at just 27.5 inches). Get it for the convenient little kicktail, which is surprisingly rare on electric skateboards. Get it for its maintenance-free hub motors. Get it for its awesome removable battery, which despite being low capacity (just 63Wh), is super convenient for swapping out with a fresh battery to enable long rides.
Where I wouldn’t recommend it is for ultra-long-range commuters (unless you plan to get extra batteries) and those that have spent years riding with a remote and might not like the shift to hands-free riding. Though like anything, that’s a personal choice and you may like the hands-free aspect of the board more than I do.
At $599, it’s not an el-cheapo board by any means, but it’s also not an $1,800 Evolve board. Other boards like the WowGo 3 definitely have advantages in terms of ride comfort and control, but they don’t have the small size or swappable batteries of the Spectra X. And if you’re into it, you can’t control those other boards with your mind (or at least with your body).
So while the Spectra X is definitely the weirdest board I’ve tried, I can see it working for riders who want something different. And if you’ve never ridden an electric skateboard before, you won’t have to unlearn all your habits like I did.
What do you guys think of the Spectra X electric skateboard? Let me know in the comments below!
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