Welcome the the ElectricBoarder review of the Backfire X1 Ranger!
2018 may be the year of the all-wheel drive electric skateboards, but it also a year in which the Chinese manufacturers are making significant inroads into the esk8 market. Meepo, Wowgo, and Winboard have rolled out products that are helping to grow the esk8 market. These manufacturers have combined to sell over 20,000 boards in the past 12 months. Of all the Chinese manufacturers, Backfire may have the longest operating history. They are a 5 year old company, having endured the ups and downs of the esk8 industry. Last year, they successfully raised $348K on Indiegogo for their Backfire G2, and now they recently raised $331K USD for their new board, the Backfire Ranger X1.
What is special about the Ranger X1? It is the first Chinese-made off-the-shelf board which sells for under $1000 USD. If you were fortunate to be one of the 300 early adopters, the board was selling for $699 USD on Indiegogo. Before the Ranger X1 board was introduced, the all-terrain market within the esk8 industry was monopolized mainly by Evolve and custom-built DIY boards (many of them using the Trampa boards). Many assume that since it is made in China, it is a low-quality board with no customer service. Well, that assumption may not hold true for a few of the top Chinese manufacturers as the latest products along are beginning to prove the doubters wrong.
Comparing the specifications with the well-known Evolve Bamboo GT All Terrain board (the cheapest of the 3 models within the Evolve All Terrain line), the numbers are close. As shown below, the major differences are the price, the motor type, and the battery size. The Backfire Ranger X1 has more than twice the battery capacity than the Evolve Bamboo GT. If you translate that difference into dollars, the X1 is close to half the cost of the Bamboo GT.
Backfire Ranger X1
Evolve Bamboo GTAll Terrain
35 km (21 mi)
20 km (12.5 mi)
36 kmh (22 mph)
36-42 kmh (22 - 26 mph)
12.7kg (28 lbs)
9.5kg (21 lbs)
(504 Wh Lithium Ion
(Fast charger option: 80 min)
(234 Wh Lithium Ion)
2 x 900 W (Hub)
2 x 1500 W (Belt)
106 cm x 33 cm
(41.7" x 13")
96 cm x 30.6 cm
(38" x 12")
8-ply Canadian maple
7-ply Canadian maple, 2-ply bamboo
165 mm (6.5") - All rubber wheels
178 mm (7") - Pneumatic wheels
Maximum User Weight:
118 kg (260 lbs)
100 kg (220 lbs)
What's in the Box?
At press time, Backfire ships to over 45 countries and shipping may or may not be included depending on the country. As shown in the picture, the box is packed fairly securely to protect the board and its parts (Meepo's packing is a bit more protective). In addition to the board and the instruction manual, Backire includes a power adaptor, backfire decals, and a fast charger.
Hub Motors, All rubber wheels?
We have not seen in the custom all-terrain boards use hub motors. This could possibly be a first within the esk8 industry. Furthermore. most of the well known boards (Trampa, Evolve) use pneumatic rubber tires. This is an interesting combination, and the early riders who have tested the boards do give it a thumbs up.
Backfire's approach for using hub motors is less maintenance along with increased product life, and we agree with them. Belt systems require much more maintenance due to more moving parts in addition to the fact that some components of the motor along with the belt is exposed to the outside environment. The X1's motor, hub, and wheel is one unit rotating around the truck. Thus there is no exposure to the loose dirt and rocks hitting and swirling around the board at high velocities.
Furthermore, the Ranger X1 uses airless rubber wheels. The wheels utilize a custom designed honeycomb architecture, and each wheel can be independently replaced. Backfire advertises that the custom wheels provide improved friction while also increasing shock absorption on rough terrain.
Double Kingpin Trucks
Similar to the Evolve boards, the Ranger X1 is equipped with double kingpin trucks. Double kingpin trucks enable a tighter carving radius along with providing a more stable ride especially in rough terrain. The X1 provides a minimum turning radius of only 2 meters, which is very useful (and needed) when traveling at high speeds and a quick reaction is needed to avoid a fast approaching obstacle!
The remote control functionality is similar to Backfire's previous product, Backfire G2. There are two riding modes (Eco, Sport), and the thumbwheel controls the acceleration and braking.
Custom Designed Deck
With the new features incorporated in the powertrain, the wheels, and the trucks, Backfire provides a specially designed curved deck. The deck provides a good snug fit for the feet which is very necessary with all-terrain boards. Even many Trampa boards uses straps to keep the feet attached to the board
Below is a nice short clip of the Ranger X1 in action (marketing video for their Indiegogo campaign):
Since the Ranger X1 is newly introduced (first main production lot is scheduled to be shipped October 26th), the main question most discerning buyers want answers for relates to the quality, durability, and reliability of the board. To Backfire's credit and they should be applauded for the great marketing strategy, they have asked two electric skateboarders to document a 1200 km ride spanning 15 days using their boards. The two guys they picked are veteran boarders and one has produced many videos on other boards. The link to the site is in the header above, and they will be populating the backfire site with episodes to document their journey. Below is the route and the first episode.
Backfire Ranger X1 Specifications Summary
2 x 900 W - Hub
36 km/h (22 mph)
504 Wh Lithium Ion Battery
Charging Time: 5.5 - 6 hours
35 km (21 miles)
12.7 kgs (28 lbs)
106 cm x 33 cm
(41.7" x 13")
165mm All Rubber Wheels
The Backfire Ranger X1 is possibly a game changer board in the all-terrain segment of the esk8 industry. At under $1000 USD, the board is an exceptional value given its range and large battery. We expect this to be somewhat of a "sunrise" event as others will follow suit with all terrain boards at this price point to continue to grow the all-terrain market. Backfire is a veteran company and although its factory is in China, it should be noted that the owner along with its corporate headquarters resides in Richmond, VA. Backfire also has satellite offices in Los Angeles, CA, USA and Hamburg, Germany. It is assuring that the company will serve the customer and backup the warranty in case of any unforeseen problems or issues.
*Price stated are at time of writing (9/18/18)