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ZBoard rolls out the San Francisco Special for the hilly city by the bay (video)

ZBoard rolls out the San Francisco Special for the hilly city by the bay (video)
Brian Heater
Brian Heater|March 16, 2013 12:00 PM

The guys at ZBoard made quite the splash at SXSW Interactive earlier this week -- riding an electric skateboard around the streets and conference halls of Austin will get you all sorts of attention, after all. Still, for all the love they got at the event, the startup opted to hold its latest announce until the kickoff of Expand -- for an important reason: this electric skateboard is a tribute to the hills and winding streets of the city by the bay. ZBoard's San Francisco Special ups the game for the Kickstarted company, extending the board's range to 20 highway or 14 city miles. The wheels also got an upgrade to high-traction 110mm models, while the braking system got a nice bump, as well.

Of course, with along all those improvements comes a bit more weight -- the already hefty board now clocks in at 32 pounds. Those who were hoping for a lighter-weight solution akin to the Boosted Board will have to keep holding their breath -- according to the ZBoard's creators, its community said it wouldn't mind adding a few pounds to increase range, and as such, there's a four-pound jump from the ZBoard Pro. But, you know, if all goes according to plan, you shouldn't carry this thing around too much. For when you do, however, there's that padded handle.

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That, as well as most of the aesthetics hasn't changed here, though the company moved to the San Franciscan orange and black color scheme, with the addition of some more traditional-looking grip tape, into which a skyline of the city is cut. Having spent time on both, we have to say the San Francisco Special really does feel nicer, a fact no doubt helped along by the upgrade in wheels.

We took it over all sorts of rugged terrain that would have proved a nightmare -- if not a total impossibility -- on a traditional skateboard, including jagged asphalt and cable car tracks. The thing even handles hills like a champ, though you'll want to avoid wet surfaces in that case, or else you might well send the wheels spinning and stall out a bit. Acceleration is snappy, too, and the braking system seems to be improved. As with its predecessors, the skateboard will sit still on a flat surface until you step on the acceleration pads, making it a bit easier for those stepping on a skateboard for the first time.

ZBoard rolls out the San Francisco Special for the hilly city by the bay video0

If you weren't already eyeing a ZBoard, odds are there's nothing on here that'll convince you to hop on board. Still it's great to see the startup pushing the limits here with an improved device -- one that handles better and drives longer. If you're so inclined (and have $1,199 to spare), you can pre-order the SF Special now and start riding it June 1st.

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ZBoard San Francisco Special

Specifications (See specs compared to other ZBoard models on last page of this document)

Range: 20 miles (highway), 14 miles (city)
Top Speed: 18 mph
Weight: 32lb
Smooth high-traction 110mm wheels
Pro-tuned regenerative braking
Price: $1199

Delivery Status: Pre-Order now, to be delivered on July 1st.

Why did we make SF Special?
Since our launch last year, ZBoards have been ridden over 50,000 miles through 24 countries and the majority of the customer feedback we've heard has been: "WE WANT MORE... of everything... " With this in mind, we've developed the ZBoard San Francisco Special to give just that.

More Range:
With a range of 20 miles per charge (double that of the ZBoard Pro), you will tire out before your board does. This range is made possible by the SF Special's new, high discharge 20Ah LiFePO4 battery pack, which features the largest capacity rating of any electric skateboard battery available. It also includes a new quick-charger, so even with twice the battery it will still charge just as fast.

Climb Higher:
The SF Special's battery, electronics, and tuning allow greater hill climbing by providing the motor with more power and dissipating more heat.

Stop Faster – Even Downhill:
The SF Special has increased braking force and stronger reverse power to slow down and stop with more assertion while descending hills.

Go Faster:
The SF Special features the highest top speed and quickest acceleration of any ZBoard.

Ride Smoother:
Smooth, high traction 110mm wheels give the SF Special a smoother, more comfortable, less noisy ride. You can ride the SF Special all day and not get sore.

Rugged Style:
The SF Special includes an orange deck and die-cut grip tape outlining the city's world famous skyline. This surface is designed to not wear down even after the hardest of rides.

Frequently Asked Questions:

If I purchase now, when will I receive my SF Special?
We are opening the SF Special up for pre-orders and shipping will begin on July 1 st.* Quantities are limited and those who do not pre-order are not guaranteed to receive their board within this timeline.

*If you purchase an upgrade kit, we will coordinate with you to have your board shipped back to our shop so it arrives on or near July 1st.

What if I already have a ZBoard Pro or Classic?
You can upgrade your current ZBoard to a SF Special with kits available for both Pro and Classic ZBoard models. The kit, which we will install for you, includes the SF deck with die-cut grip tape, smooth high-traction wheels, and ultra-capacity LiFePO4 battery pack with higher discharge rating. You will send your ZBoard in for installation of the upgrades and to have it custom tuned. Price for full upgrade from a Pro is $499, and from a Classic is $799, domestic shipping included both ways.

What if I just want the battery?
For those who want the added range and performance of the SF Special, but prefer to leave the appearance of their ZBoard intact, we will be offering a Performance Upgrade Package. The kit, which we will install, includes the same battery and tuning upgrades as the SF Special. For current owners wishing to maximize their performance, the upgrade from a Pro is $299, and from a Classic is $599, domestic shipping included both ways.

What if I already have smooth wheels?
If you are upgrading your current ZBoard to an SF Special, but have already purchased smooth wheels, you will be credited for the full price of the wheels on your upgrade kit order.

What if I just want the deck?
The ZBoard SF Special will only be available for limited production run, and availability and pricing of cosmetic-only upgrades is TBD.

Why are there two range ratings?
All ZBoard models are range tested under a variety of real world conditions to determine proper ratings. "Highway" range is determined under constant speed on smooth, flat pavement. "City" range is determined under normal riding conditions on flat ground, including regular stop and go on a variety of pavement conditions. Charge status, terrain, rider size, topography, and riding style all influence battery life.

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ZBoard rolls out the San Francisco Special for the hilly city by the bay (video)