Electric surfboards aren’t anything new. I’ve enjoyed covering modern electric surfboards for at least half a decade on Electrek and they’ve been around in more primitive forms since the early 2000s. But one common thread that has run through nearly all e-boards so far is the astronomically high price they carry. Well, at least until today’s find: a cheap Chinese electric surfboard that has earned it the dubious honor of becoming this week’s Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “If there are any two things that mix well, it’s got to be batteries and water.”
And yeah, it sounds a bit odd. But electric surfboards are actually super fun and work incredibly well at slicing across the surface of the water, even without a wave in sight. They combined waterproof batteries, sealed electronics, and high power marine jet thrusters to create the ultimate in personal electric watercraft.
In fact, high end models like some of my favorites from Awake can be seen reaching crazy speeds and flipping through the air.
Hitting speeds of around 60 km/h (37 mph) and with battery run times approaching 1-2 hours on specialty hydrofoil boards, electric surfboards have really begun coming into their own. Or at least they have for anyone who can afford the five figure price tags. Starting costs of around $12,000-$13,000 are quite common, and fancier boards increase in price from there.
So a low-cost alternative from China certainly sounds intriguing to me. And while you might not think of a $4,399 product as being “low-cost,” these Chinese e-surfboards are positively budget-friendly compared to most Western options in the market.
These Chinese electric surfboards certainly seem like they could make a splash, at least according to their spec sheets.
A 6 kW motor with 12 kW of peak power sure sounds like it has the thrust necessary to get it up to that 60 km/h (37 mph) top speed listed in the brochure. Of course all of these words on paper hold just about as much water as a sinking surfboard, so you’ll have to excuse me if I’d rather see one of these boards in action before plunking down over four G’s in cash with a previously unheard of company.
Assuming we take the vendor at its word, though, the 72V and 50Ah battery and its 3.6 kWh capacity sure sounds like a big pack for a 22 kg (50 lb) vessel. Though the battery itself is also 22 kg (50 lb), so you’ll end up doubling the weight when you buckle down that (hopefully) waterproof battery.
The waterproof hand controller seems to be tethered to the board, which is a good idea for a vehicle that is likely to send you involuntarily cartwheeling across the surface of the water at some point during your first session. If you’ve seen any of my electric surfboard first ride videos, you’ll know that rag-dolling is part of the process at certain points.
Should you buy a Chinese electric surfboard?
Nothing against Alibaba (I’ve bought plenty of weird things from the site already), but I do not recommend anyone jump into such risky waters as a big Alibaba purchase.
Not only do you have no guarantee that what you’ll receive is even remotely close to the specs on the website, but you don’t even have a guarantee that it will arrive at all.
Sure, Alibaba has an escrow system to make buyers feel safer, but many vendors will only accept bank transfer payments that circumvent Alibaba’s protections since it gets them the payment more quickly. It’s not advisable, but some vendors will only take payment by bank transfer. I’ve done it before to get some really cool stuff, but I don’t recommend it. Then you’ve got all sorts of hoops to jump through when it comes to importing pricey products, dealing with customs, ocean freight, and other tricky steps.
All in all, let’s just enjoy how much fun this thing looks and hope that it pressures some of the major e-surfboard companies to continue lowering prices in order to remain competitive.