Ok, that’s something I wrote up quite a while back. Not everything is 100% up to date as the last year a lot of new interesting stuff came out, but I think it’s still a nice read through for those of us who want to get into electric mountainboarding.
Tired of riding in the bike lane?
Rock the woods and blast over your local dirt park
Before we start, let’s agree that there is no guide in this world which can tell you:
Take deck A, with trucks B and motors C…. and you will have the perfect e-MTB.
Why? Because we all ride in different locations and we all have a different idea of what we want.
So, how can this guide help you?
This guide will give you some questions you should ask yourself before you start ordering your parts. It will include some suggestions and links to what is available on the market right now. These suggestions will not include everything, firstly because it is just not possible and secondly because the suggestions given are based on personal experience and/or proven reliability over many, many kilometers of hard riding.
That said, let’s get into it!
Yes you need a deck and yes you need bindings!
Take a minute to understand how much you want your deck to flex.
If you plan to jump a lot or you are on the heavier side, get a stiffer deck.
If you want to bounce over gravel and grass, don´t worry and enjoy the flex.
Some vendors give you a Flexometer on their website like TRAMPA:.
This will help you to find the right ply for your taste. In case of doubt, take the stiffer one.
You want some concave in your deck?
No problem, get a MBS or Haero deck.
You already own a TRAMPA deck but still looking for some concave?
No problem either, you can just attach some of those nice wings.
We also need bindings.
Bindings are easy to choose. I’ll give you just two options:
The MBS F5 bindings which hold your feet locked to the board even without heel straps and make you feel like riding on clouds.
The styler version from TRAMPA which gives you the option to choose one out of their many color options.
For the TRAMPA ratchet bindings, make sure you get a set of heel straps as well. For the MBS I would let it up to your budget to get some or not.
To ride with heel straps might be a bit difficult in the beginning, but once into it you don’t want to ride without them anymore.
MTB decks have usually a 30-35 degree angled nose and tail.
This brings us directly to the next point.
No you can’t use your 50 degree skate trucks. Ok, to be fair, you can with an angel riser or an adjustable base plate, but we don’t want to come back to the bike lane for now, so let’s stick with our option, the channel truck.
The two main truck designs don’t use bushings, they use springs with dampas (TRAMPA) or shock blocks (MBS). The right choice of the dampa / shock block is important for your steering.
The harder, the more stable but the less steering.
My beginner recommendation would be to get two sets of different durometer.
For MBS, orange shock blocks front (medium), red shock blocks for the back (stiff).
For TRAMPA trucks, front springs yellow dampas and for the back springs red dampas.
If you like a small turning radius than you could consider to swap the springs out to elastomer damper:
The stability of the elastomer damper can be compared with something between the yellow and red dampas, but the turning radius of your board is significantly smaller.
Don´t worry too much about all light/protruck versions.
This might be important for kite- and mountainboarder, but let´s be honest, 100-200g more or less on the trucks will not have a big influence on our e-MTB. We have other ways to save weight on our board, but later more about that when we speak about the battery.
If you get MBS Matrix2 trucks, make sure you get the ones with metal base plate.
It´s worth the extra $$$.
Also make sure which shaft your truck hanger has, either 9.525 or 12mm, you will need that later to find the right size bearing for your hubs!
Did I say hubs? Yes, we here at our next point
The Hubs and Wheels:
There are pluses and minuses in pretty every hub/rim design so I will stick to just some short notes you should know.
Regular 8“ hubs do fit 6-8“, but not 9-10“ tires.
If you want to ride 9“+ tires you can get something like the MBS fivestar hub:
They do as well fit 8“ tires which gives you more options to find the right setup for you.
Keep in mind, different producer use different bolt pattern on the hubs. This we need to know later when we are looking for pulleys, sprockets or gears.
Besides this, just get whatever hub you up to, or let´s say which ever hub is in your budget.
Full aluminum or full plastic, all works well.
As I mentioned before you will need the right diameter bearings for your trucks.
TRAMPA offer a spacer to fit a 12mm bearing to the 9.525mm truck shaft, but do yourself a favor and just get the 9.525mm bearings.
If you decide to go with 8” wheels you can get a cheap and long lasting version herer:
The tire profile may be a bit different than on the picture, but that will not have any big effect on your riding quality.
No need to buy the hubs there as well. Just get the tires and the inner tubes. If you want to get all 4 wheels shipped for free, just split your order in 2x2 and no shipping is for free.
Pro tip on top: get one, two spare tires/inner tubes. It will save you waiting time later.
At this point you have a ready to go MTB.
Now it´s time to get the electrification done!
But first we need
The Drive Train:
Best way to start here is to look for cheap chinese hub motors….
Ok, ok… I was joking, we want a killer board with massive torque so we need solid stuff.
You can chose here between 3 options
- Belt drive
- Chain drive
- Gear drive
They all have there place, so let me give a short overview which properties each of them can serve you.
The belt drive is light, silent and cheap, but as long as you don´t get the fully enclosed belt drive from TRAMPA there is the risk that things get stuck in your belt or snow will pop between belt and pulley and break the belt. If you ride hard you might want to get steel pulleys instead of aluminum ones.
If you don´t know which length of belt you need, you can calculate that here:
We are looking here mainly for HTD5M belts with min 15mm width.
If you go on a trip with belt drive, always have a spare belt and tools for changing with you!
The chain drive is a good competitor to the belt drive.
The chain drive is more „direct“ and you will not have a slipping chain. So if you brake you brake!
It´s hard (but not impossible) to destroy a chain due to any dirt/snow coming between the chain and the sprocket. With chains you still not aware of getting wood/stones stuck in your drive train and they are as well a bit louder than belt drive, but the smooth rattle of a chain can also sound great….
… for the one or the other!
For sprockets and chains you can have a look here:
ISO 06B is the size you want to go for!
The gear drive is probably the most expensive option, but also the top end.
The gears are usually enclosed into a case and with it sealed from any debris.
You get two options here, straight cut gears and helical gears (yes there is herringbone, but there not that much options for us available)
The helical gears are the silent version of the gear drive, but might add some spendings on top.
Metal as well as POM wheel gears have proven to last over thousands of miles without any big maintenance once set up right.
The down site might be that you more restricted to choose your gearing ratio.
On most drives the wheel gear is fixed to a teeth count and you can only swap the motor gear to a different size.
Keep in mind that some gear drives also just work with a machined hanger, which means you need to buy the hanger from the vendor or sent your hanger to get it machined.
So don´t forget to read the fine print on the website!
If you look for a solid gear drive for MBS or TRAMPA trucks you can have a look over here::
A gearing around 1:4.4 - 1:5 is a good ratio.
Rule of thumb:
The bigger the tire or higher the motor kV, the taller the gearing.
To get things rollin we need to find a motor as well.
First thing here, make sure which diameter of motor shaft your choice will have.
Depending on it you need to choose the bore size of your pulley, sprocket or motor gear as well.
But which motor is the right for you?
Hard to say!
For MTB we look for sensored motors in the size of 6355 till 63100. You might one day step up to 80xx motors, but for now the 63xx motor size is what we need!
Basic rule, the lower the kV the better the torque, the higher the kV the higher the speed.
For our needs everything between 130-190kV is a good choice.
I´m sure you already know that the gearing ratio and the kV are the main factors influencing your speed and torque (assuming the wheel diameter and voltage is set constant).
Gearing up your board to 50-55km/h top speed is a sweet spot, so choose your motor kV according to the gearing available or the other way around.
If you not sure how to calculate all that, no worries, sure there is a calculator for you as well:
We want to control our board, so we need
Everything started with car and boat escs and some of them are still a good choice, but with a VESC based esc you just have more options to fine tune your settings.
Enough reason to go for it, but again, there are so many different VESC based controller out there.
Which is the one we should buy?
Hard to say as well…
But we want POWER! Power means heat on the esc, so what we need is an esc which runs cool even if we draw a big current.
To achieve this we can add an external cooling or an additional heat sink to add up the thermal mass.
At present time I would also recommend to stick with hardware 6.xx or 7.xx based escs. They do run cooler than hardware 4.xx based escs.
There are different options of vesc based escs available.
Single, dual, with heat sink, without, including anti spark switch and what ever. There are pluses and minuses in all of them. To go into detail at this point would blow up the frame of that guide, so here just some links which might help:
We need a solid and reliable signal for our remote.
If you into thumb remotes, the Hoyt Puck is what you want to get.
The Flysky GT2B is the right one if you into trigger remotes.
If you think that one is too big don´t worry with some small DIY efford you can make your own mod of that one. Just get one of the 3D printed cases and follow the guide in the youtube video.
One last part missing on our board
Yes you want to top mount your battery!
No we don´t need the stealthy look of an underboard tray!
We want to be able to bottom out our deck, so there is no way around, if you like it or not.
LiPo or LiIon?
Weeeell…. Both will work!
If you want a light pack, LiPos is the way to go.
Get a good brand lipos like Hobbyking Graphens or Gens ace Tattus. If you chose Lipos with 5-6Ah stay with the 40-75C. If you plan to get 8-22Ah packs, 12-25C does a good job as well.
Don´t over discharge your LiPos and keep them at storage voltage (3.8V per cell) whenever you don´t need them and they will last.
If you want range get a LiIon pack.
Don´t chose a pack with less than 5 parallel cells if you go 18650 or 3 parallel cells for 21700
Use high discharge cells like the Samsung 30Q, Sony VTC6 or Molicel P42a from a trusted source
If you don´t know how to build a pack, better let somebody with knowledge do that for you.
To store your battery save and dry you can print your own enclosure if you have access to a 3D printer, or get a waterproof pelican case or anything similar:
Alright, we are good to go!
But wait, what…. We missed something!
It´s not board related, but worth to mention.
Get some protection gear!
If you want to have some serious fun with your e-MTB than you will fall sooner or later.
Be prepared, always wear your helmet and protectors.
You want to drive for a long time, so don´t cheap out on this part.
Here some recommendations:
Now we are finally done and ready to go!
Have a blast and ride safe with your new e-MTB!