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Mellow Drive review: how to build your own e-skateboard

AndroidPIT mellow e skateboard action2
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Everything is becoming electric, not only scooters but also skateboards. We show you how easy it is to build your own e-skateboard or longboard.

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What's Mellow Drive?

The Mellow Drive is an e-skateboard kit that you can use to equip your own skateboard with a motor and remote control. It's a do-it-yourself e-skateboard or e-longboard. The Hamburg-based company also offers complete boards for sale. The system also includes an app for Android and iOS that allows you to pair your smartphone with the board.

The whole thing is anything but cheap, but it is fun. The Mellow Drive S, which is limited in speed to 25 km/h, costs 699 euros and does not include a front axle. The Mellow Drive with faster top speed costs 999 euros. The complete kit including matching front axle costs 1,089 euros. The provider offers ready-made e-skateboards at prices starting at 899 euros. You can also but Mellow Drive products in the U.S. at selected retailers.

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It's all in the Mellow Drive Kit / © NextPit

How do I build the e-skateboard?

It's actually extremely simple. All you need are the eight bolts and nuts that come with the Mellow Drive Kit. You screw the normal axle at the front to the board, the one with motor at the rear, and it's finished. It's really child's play, especially as Mellow even provides you with the right tools. The rollers have a rather large diameter, so I would recommend buying both axles with rollers from Mellow, otherwise it might feel a bit strange to ride.

In principle, you can screw the axles to any board. The four holes in the board are the same everywhere. You can also buy a board from Mellow, but I didn't like the design that much. There is a large selection of different manufacturers to choose from. Or you could take a different approach all together...

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The wheels on Mellow Drive are pretty big / © NextPit

Building the board yourself

If you want it to be completely individual, you can also build the board yourself from scratch. I tried my hand at it and built two decks, the second one worked much better than the first one. I followed a rather simple manual I found online, which worked well overall and was easy to implement. However, I noticed a few things that I would do differently. If you want to build such a longboard, I would do the following things differently:

  • Do not apply the epoxy resin with a roller - simply pour, and if necessary spread with a stick or similar. The roll absorbs a lot and does not make it more even.
  • Don't be too thrifty with the epoxy, you can double the quantities mentioned in some instructions. This may also run down smoothly from the side, making the surface smoother. Epoxy grinding is no fun.
  • Three layers of 4 mm thick wood are quite thick. If you are slender yourself, two should be enough, otherwise two 3 mm and one 4 mm would work. That also makes the board lighter.
  • The glass fiber mats do not have to be as thick as you think, a maximum of 300 grams per square meter is sufficient, 150 grams is also OK.
  • Wear gloves. Really, trust me.

If you make the board yourself, it might be a bit cheaper than a purchased skateboard, but not much cheaper, and of course a lot more work. However, it is also much more individual and you can be sure that this board is truly unique. And on top of that, woodwork is a lot of fun.

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You can also build your own board / © NextPit

How does Mellow Drive feel to ride?

You can't just stand on the board, operate the remote and drive off. Similar to most e-scooters, you have to give it a little push off with your foot. Roll the board forwards, and you can use the remote to kick in the motor and off you go. In rookie mode, the e-skateboard with the Mellow Drive can travel at up to a maximum of 10 km/h, which is good for practicing. The second stage, Eco, already goes up to 25 km/h, and that's pretty fast. You should really leave the Pro mode to professionals, because then the Mellow Drive can reach a full 40 km/h - that can quickly become really dangerous. In Endless mode, the motor simply supports the speed you push off at with your feet.

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In the fastest setting the Mellow Drive is too fast for me / © NextPit

I'm not the best skater. The Eco mode is too fast for me at full throttle, especially when the ground gets a little uneven. The skateboard with Mello Drive can manage a more level cobblestone pavement, but despite the large wheels, it is usually the case that the board stops on an uneven track. Then you're probably on your nose. However, on fresh asphalt or generally smooth surfaces, the e-skateboard is a lot of fun.

However, you will always have to carry the board if the road is uneven or if you are on public roads where riding an e-skateboard is forbidden in some regions. If you have to carry the skateboard, be aware that the motor and battery are quite heavy. During my Mellow Drive test drive, I sweated only while carrying it or because I was afraid of a fall or the law enforcers.

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Carrying the board is a painful task / © NextPit

The acceleration of the engine is sufficiently smooth, you get used to it quite quickly. When braking, however, a little instinct is required, otherwise it will literally pull the floor away from under your feet.

The Mellow Drive battery is replaceable. According to the manufacturer, it can cover 12 to 15 kilometers on one charge. You'll get even more range if you're not going too fast. With the standard charger, the battery is full again in 3.5 hours, the quick charger can even do it in 45 minutes.

The remote control is generally easy to operate, the sliding mechanism works perfectly. You can change the mode while driving by pressing the single button. The connection between your skateboard and remote control is ready in a few seconds after switching it on, so you are ready to go. I used the app exclusively for the first pairing process. After that, it is superfluous in my eyes.

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The Mellow app is not necessary in everyday life / © NextPit

Where can I ride an e-skateboard?

This depends on the laws and restrictions in the area you live. For a lot of places, however, the answer is clear: on private land only. It is forbidden in Europe to ride these in a bicycle lane, for example, and can get you into serious trouble if you cause an accident. There are also issues with insurance depending on where you live. So don't take this product lightly, and don't use such an e-skateboard if you don't have the possibility to ride it legally.

The bottom line

As long as it's not legal to ride on the road with such an e-skateboard or long-board in most places, I can't recommend buying the Mellow Drive. It's fun to cruise around on, even if it becomes dangerous at high speeds, at least with my skateboarding skills. But if you can only drive on private terrain, that makes little sense. Then there's the price, which is much too high in view of the severely limited utility value. If the legal regulation changes, or you live somewhere where this thing is legal on the roads, passionate skaters can crack open the piggy bank, because then the whole thing looks different. You'll still have to pay a hell of a lot of care, but with the Mellow Drive, you'll get a well-functioning and fast driving engine for your skateboard.

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