Should I build my own board or just buy one? I get asked that every single day. I thought I'd take a moment to write out all of my thoughts into one easy to understand article that hopefully helps you make a decision. AND so I can start replying to people with a link to all of the information.
I want to be 100% honest here. So I'm going to put it all out on the table. Before I ever had any intentions of creating a company or building boards for people, I was a DIY electric skateboard rider first. I made the leap of faith and bought all of these random parts and built my very own electric skateboard. And it was awesome.
Here's a photo of my first build:
Building a board for myself was a really fun experience and super gratifying to hold the finished product in my hands. So I'm going to come out and say it early: I am 110% on team DIY. And here's why:
For many of us it only really comes down to price. How much is it going to cost. Many people want to get into it for smallest amount of money possible. And to those people I think it is very obvious which choice you should be picking. DIY all the way. You can out spec every other available board out there for less money if you build it yourself. You don't have to spend $1500 to get 10+ mile ranges and 25+mph top speeds. The cheap Chinese boards are tempting. You can find random electric skateboards at very cheap prices. But what happens when something goes wrong with it? Reach out to the manufacturer right? Nope. The super cheap electric skateboards provide next to zero post purchase customer support. The bottom line is that is much cheaper to build your own electric skateboard than to buy one. I almost purchased one myself and at the last moment I decided to build one. Best decision I ever made.
Don't Just Take My Word For It
Before I go on and on about why I think building an electric skateboard is awesome listen to what our friend Neil Maglaya has to say. Neil runs a popular YouTube channel "Big Kids" where he talks passionatley about Electric skateboards, the build process, vendors, and so much more. If you guys have been digging around the internet long enough for electric skateboard content then you've probably watched a few videos of his.
"I built my first electric skateboard at the end of 2016 and I'm so glad I did. It's like I inherited 2 hobbies instead of one: building and esk8! I really enjoy the connections you make with other folks that are also building their esk8. In addition to creating some of my own parts and meeting some real talented creators that I've purchased parts from, I'd have to say, the biggest advantage to DIY esk8 is you are only limited by your own imagination." - Neil Maglaya
If/When Something Goes Wrong
It's not if something goes wrong, it's when. It's no different than owning a car. They break down, have problems, and need maintenance every so often. No big deal. Many of the big named brand electric skateboards will help you out if something happens to your board, but it can be a very lengthy, expensive process. It is not cheap to ship a 36" inch, 20 pound package anywhere. And then you'll most likely have to pay to get it shipped back. Then you still have to wait for the repair to be completed and then wait for it to be returned to you.. It's just a whole process. And that's not even including all of the customer service you'll have to go through to even get the process started. All this is happening while not being able to ride.
This is exactly why I am on the DIY side. If something goes wrong I am able to diagnose the problem, fix/purchase a replacement part, and then install it myself in only a few days at the longest. I know exactly how my electric skateboard works because I built it. I know how to take it apart and put it back together. If someone came to me with a problem with a mainstream board, I might be able to figure it out but no promises. The compatibility between DIY parts is amazing. Everything seems to work with everything or at least adapted to work. Makes repairs super painless and leaves a ton of room for upgrades. Which leads me into my next point.
Upgrade As You Go
The beauty of DIY is that you can consistently make changes and improvements as your riding habits and abilities change. You can start out with cheaper parts, get into the ESK8 game for very little money. But as your riding abilities improve you may want to get a better battery or improve the ESC. If you owned a mainstream board, you'd already be looking at purchasing a new board. But in the DIY case, you can simply buy the relatively inexpensive part and make the upgrade yourself. And you can keep doing this over and over again until your dream board is under your feet.
One of the best parts of DIY boards is that you can make the board look any way you want. You don't have to get the same board everyone else already has. Yours can look different. There is more to it than just the way your board looks though. It's what's under the hood as well. Maybe you value range more than speed, or speed more than range. Maybe the brakes are too powerful for your liking. You can easily pull your ESC out and change how powerful the brakes actually are. More customization than any board manufacturer would ever allow.
Many electric skateboard manufacturers limit the top speed of their boards for legal or liability reasons. Doing it yourself allows you to side step all of the lawyers and make it as fast as you want.
The Right Decision?
That, my friend, is totally up to you. If you have made it this far then congrats on reading an entire article. You may feel like this article was pretty biased. And it was. I really enjoy the DIY aspect of riding electric skateboards. That's half of the electric skateboard experience. But when it comes down to it, it is your choice. Just know I wouldn't recommend something that I didn't 100% believe in.
If you still have any questions about the build process check out our other articles. There is much more information out there that might make you feel a bit more confident when building for the first time.