Urban mobility is booming, and in addition to the ubiquitous scooters, there are other options that can be more fun – one of them being electric skateboards. And it’s one of these, suitable for urban use, that we have in our test today.
As the name suggests, the Backfire Mini is one of the more compact e-skateboards you can get – its length is practically the same as a regular skateboard, but it has a much larger wheelbase – in numbers, the dimensions are 79 cm x 22.5 cm, the wheelbase is exactly 50 cm. The weight of 6kg is also relatively low, thanks to the all-carbon body – it can be worn quite comfortably on your back with a suitable backpack. However, the carbon body has its disadvantages – one of them is access to the battery from the top, which makes it not very recommended to ride this model in the rain. The other is the stiffness of the whole construction.
The carbon body and its specifics
Most electric longboards with polyurethane wheels actually dampen unevenness on the road using the flexibility of the board itself – thanks to this, all the vibrations don’t go to your knees, but are absorbed by the board. With the Backfire Mini, the manufacturer solves this by a grip with a foam pad, which works well on smooth asphalt, but a bit worse on a rough road.. At lower speeds it’s still relatively bearable, but you won’t get a good comfort on cobblestones. Maybe this could be solved with CloudWheels, but unfortunately this solution will make the wheels bigger (from 85mm to 105mm) and reduce the board’s range.
But it has its advantages – when you already encounter nice asphalt, the stiffness adds to the longboard-like feeling of the board, with which you can tighten the carving turns nicely – you will really enjoy the downhill ride, the board is perfectly controllable and readable at the same time thanks to the deep concave. You can use the controller to apply the brakes and I have never encountered a speed wobble even with relatively loose trucks and downhill speeds close to 40 km/h. Another environment where the Backfire Mini excels is a bicycle path – its smaller size makes it pretty nimble, and you can cut tight turns there too.
The Backfire Mini is also one of the few with a skateboard-like kicktail. This makes it comfortable to ride down a curb and, with a little courage, even jump over smaller bumps – ollie might work too, if you’re not worried about damaging the carbon unibody. Some sort of rubber stop would be handy here, which probably wouldn’t be such a problem to add yourself. Anyway, if you have nice roads in the city, the Backfire Mini is an ideal companion there. If not, the road requires a bit more planning, or lower speeds.
Maximum speed and range
The most common question I get with the Backfire Mini is speed. The max speed is really high, and not just in the context of electric scooters. You can squeeze 42km/h out of the Backfire Mini, not only downhill but also on the flat in Turbo mode. That’s a respectable speed, but on flat ground, on such a small board, it’s quite intimidating. On nice tarmac, I mostly ride in the 30-35km/h range, which the Backfire Mini surprisingly manages to develop even up a pretty steep hill.
The claimed range of 15 – 18 km is quite realistic, although hilly terrain driven at full throttle in Turbo mode will also steal a few extra kilometres from the range. In eco mode, however, the board might be able to do even more, which I honestly haven’t tried – accelerating at full throttle is really addictive and a joy, so riding with consumption in mind doesn’t make much sense to me. The upside is that even after the battery is dead, you can ride with a bit of effort with pushing and even get something juice back into the battery while breaking downhill.
A great feature of the Backfire is their controllers – these allow great throttle control, display all the important information and are also great to use without looking at the controller. There were a few things I didn’t like about the other brands – the first is the smooth transition from brake to reverse (Boosted,…) with which I find difficult to fully stop the board. The second is the overly complicated mode switching (Exway,…). There are only three buttons on the controller – one to switch on, one to switch from Eco to Sport and one to activate Turbo mode.
Turbo mode is limited to only 30 seconds and cannot be deactivated by the same button, which is actually a good thing – at higher speeds, you really don’t have time to look at the controller, so you can press the turbo button when you need it – if turbo mode is available, it is activated. In fact, depending on the weather, the turbo seems to last longer than the half minute, but I haven’t verified this – watching it while riding is really dangerous. What could have been handled better is the direction switching – during my rides, I have never once needed to reverse, but what has happened to me a few times is switching direction by mistake.
When you hop on the board expecting it to go forward but it goes backwards, it’s very annoying and I’ve honestly thought several times about disabling the button in some way. The controller has a display where you can see the current mileage (trip), the total board mileage, selected mode and the current speed in big letters. The controller is made for the right-hand use, in the left hand you have it display-side down. But as I’ve mentioned a few times above, looking at the display while riding is not really recommended. Backfire has its own app as well, but it offers virtually no advantages over the controller, so I wouldn’t recommend it entirely. There are other apps for tracking your ride, though, which can also track top speed and other data.
The Backfire Mini is a great entry into the world of e-skateboarding. For the price of 600 USD you will hardly find a better board, plus Backfire is famous for its great customer care and sends the boards worldwide with customs and postage fees already paid, so the price is final. In 250km/155 miles I haven’t had the slightest problem with the board and I wouldn’t be afraid to recommend it to beginners and more advanced riders alike – I’ve lent it to several friends who have years of skateboarding and longboarding experience and not once have I heard the phrase “too bad it doesn’t go faster.” Even the initial acceleration put a smile on the face of everyone who tried it without exception. The only downside for me is the stiffness of the whole board, which while being rewarding on smooth roads, is quite limiting for everyday use on worse roads. This is also the reason why I would think about a second bigger board with more flex.