Regenerative Braking in your Electric Longboard…Worth it?
One of the most common features and selling points of any electric longboard is the regenerative braking system. Let me first give a brief description on how it works; regenerative braking is an energy recovery system, that converts energy used from braking into an energy source that can be immediately used – in the case of electric longboards, it is stored in the battery and gives the board extra battery life, on the spot. How and where regenerative braking is best used, depends on a number of circumstances.
Will it be useful for me?
That honestly all depends on one major factor, do you ride downhills? Better yet, mountains? Regenerative braking does have its benefits, but only if you can use them in practical situations. To determine this you’ll need to look at your environment or your city and neighborhoods. Think about how many mountains or hills surround your location. Do you live atop a mountain, like I do? Do you live on mostly flatland with little to no hills or mountain regions? This is the main element that will make or break the use of regenerative braking in your board.
Where is regenerative braking useful?
Regenerative braking is not effective on flat land and although it does somewhat regenerate while braking, the only time you will notice any of its benefits while riding in flat environments is if you ride really slow and brake over long stretches as opposed to sudden or prompt braking. I can say from experience that doing this is not a very fun way to ride and not worth the trade-off. Although you may ride slow, when first beginning, you’ll make progress over time and want ride at a higher speed. On the other hand, living in areas where hills and mountain slopes are plentiful you will be able to fully take advantage of this added feature and it will suddenly go from being useless to being useful simply based on your environment and location. As previously mentioned, I live atop a mountain but don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sasquatch! I do live in a populated neighborhood and area in the Greater Vancouver region of Canada full of mountains and hills. This is an area where regenerative braking really comes into play. I would say that both the East and West coasts of Canada have areas where regenerative braking plays a roll in recharging your boards battery. This may be a different story if you live in the prairies and are surrounded by mostly flatland – sunsets last forever there, but your boards battery won’t.
Things to consider.
One major factor that I need to consider every time I take my board out for a ride is how full my batteries are – this is because I need to make sure I don’t overcharge my battery with the regenerative braking system. If your boards battery is 100% full, you shouldn’t immediately take it down a long hill – you should first drain some of the battery, by riding on flat ground or uphill. How big of an issue is this? To put it into perspective I can charge up to 25% of battery life by using regenerative braking down the mountain (if I ride slowly). There is a video of this on my personal YouTube channel that you can check out. In most cases (going at my regular speed), I regenerate roughly 10%. This means my battery can only be 90% charged before I leave my house. It did take me a week or so of riding my board to figure out how much I’m able to regenerate and I did overcharge a couple of times which almost caused a fall. Luckily, I am fairly confident on the board so I was able to ride out the cut-off switch when it happened. The automatic cut-off switch is a feature that electric longboards have when the battery overcharges and then the board automatically shuts off. In the case of Shaboardz products, the board will give you a warning, by beeping or the controller vibrating multiple times, to let you know the board is overcharged and about to shut-off. All e-boards from Shaboardz and most in the industry come equipped with regenerative braking – you can check out the Shaboardz line-up of electric boards with regen-braking here: https://www.shaboardz.ca/boards/
The big upside to this feature is that I get to ride for nearly 3 kilometres and still have a 100% fully charged board by the time I get to the bottom of the mountain. Nothing beats charging your board up as you ride downhill, unless that hill isn’t very long. Which is another thing to note – just because you have a hill to ride down or a small mountain, that provides less than a kilometre run you shouldn’t expect to regenerate much energy and gain a lot of battery range back. Riders will learn that e-boards generally drain a lot more battery when traveling uphill. If there’s long downhill on the other side of the peak, regenerative braking will help regain a lot of that battery range that was lost on the way up! This is something to take into consideration when planning your ride.
If you’re planning to buy an electric longboard and you are hyped up about regenerative braking as one of the top features that sell you on a board I highly suggest you consider your environment and the actuality of the regenerative braking making any difference in your riding experience. It is a feature that can quickly go from being super useful to not applicable, if you live in an area that doesn’t have many hills. I for one am happy that I get to take advantage of regenerative braking on my electric longboard, because of where I live!
I’d like to see some new progress on regenerative braking technology and maybe some more efficiency in the function and the process, so that riders that live in areas that aren’t filled with mountains and hills could also take advantage of this amazing feature! If that happens I believe it’ll change the game entirely, and hopefully, more riders can take advantage of regenerative braking on their electric longboards. What do you think? Do you make use of regenerative braking on your electric longboard? Do you find it pointless? Do you think it works well? Let me know!
Article by: Mahyar Saeedi