Mellow is a skateboard motor like none other

Even in the flats, you can cruise at 20 mph.
With the Mellow motor, any skateboard can be turned into an electric skateboard. Photo: Courtesy of Mellow

Add some fun to your commute. For short to medium jaunts, an electric engine paired to a skateboard deck of your choosing just may be the most fun you can have on four wheels without working up a sweat or getting a speeding ticket.

A new skateboard motor dubbed Mellow just launched on Kickstarter and it looks like it’s going to reinvent the electric-skateboard game. The Mellow launched a few weeks back with a goal of $111,589 (if that number seems random, it's because it's translated from euros). As of this writing, and with two weeks remaining, the project has blown past its benchmark, securing $179,246 in funding.

Electric skateboards aren't new. The Boosted Board was named as one of "The 10 Breakthrough Products of 2013" by Popular Mechanics.

But the Mellow is different in two significant ways. First off, the Mellow can be added to any skateboard deck you like, while the Boosted motor must be used with a Boosted board. And, "Boosted has [a] belt drive, and you feel that when you're pushing," said Johannes Schewe, the founder of Mellow, during a Skype interview.

15km range with the Mellow electric skateboard motor.
On a full charge, you can go 9-plus miles on Mellow electric power alone. Photo: Courtesy of Mellow

Schewe and his crew of 11 are based in Hamburg, Germany, but Johannes came up with the idea of an electric board in 2008 when he was in Bali. While on holiday, he decided to create a serious project that was cutting edge, environmentally sound and really fun to ride.

The former professional basketball player, who's skateboarded for most of his life for transportation, is also a passionate surfer and snowboarder. He thought it would be a blast to create an electric skateboard that mimicked the feeling of surfing the snow or water, even when going uphill. He gathered collaborators and they started to tell friends, acquaintances and just about anyone who would listen about the electric-skateboard project.

In broken English, Schewe described the response they received: "During first few years, they thought we were coming from the moon."

But Schewe persevered and, working closely with his friend Kilian — a former BMW engineer who is described in his Kickstarter bio as the "Mellow cofounder from Nerdistan" — kept hammering away.

The Mellow motor.
A close-up of the Mellow electric motor. Photo: Courtesy of Mellow

Currently, the staff is all volunteer, and it took about five years to create a product they liked. The Mellow is slated to be local: 100 percent of the parts are slated to be sourced from Germany. This, paired with German engineering, will result in an electric skateboard with a two-year warranty as well as brakes the rider controls with a remote control.

Sounds cool, right? But it ain't cheap. The early-bird pricing on the Mellow Drive (includes remote and charger) is about $949. The Mellow Drive with the board will cost about $1,115.

Schewe said that sourcing products from the Far East would have brought the price down, but the quality would suffer and that's not something the Mellow team was willing to do.

"We didn't want to give our homies a product that we know we could make better," said Schewe.

Because stopping saves lives. Photo: Mellow.
Dual brakes on the Mellow translate into easier and safer riding. Photo: Courtesy of Mellow

The Mellow has four riding modes: Rookie Ride, Eco Ride, Pro Ride and Endless Ride. Each offers different levels of acceleration and top speed. As you probably guessed, more aggressive riding and higher top speeds drains the battery the quickest. And if the battery dies, you can still ride it like a normal skateboard. Although the upcoming model is not designed for tricks, one of the testers has been ollieing it without problems.

The battery delivers a range of about 10 miles, a top speed of about 25 mph, is built at the same factory where Tesla sources their cells and can be charged in about two hours. The USB port on the battery can also be used to recharge other electric devices.

With the remote control, you can maintain your speed, a ride quality the company describes as feeling "like having strong wind in your back."

Even Schewe’s friends were skeptical until they rode the Mellow. But most were singing a different tune post-maiden voyage: Many just gave him a big hug as well as a bigger apology.

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