The State of ESK8
Onsra is the latest business venture of skateboarder and YouTuber Fabian Doerig or Fabi. His previous attempt at entering the eskate market was with FAboard, which was a bit of a flop. FAboard consisted of one short board product that could be purchased with either a belt or hub drive system and had an air travel friendly, hot-swappable battery. Trouble was, most people knew exactly what this board was. It was basically the same sort of cheap kit you could buy from diyeboard.com at the time.
Side note: Please don’t use or purchase anything from FAboard’s old URL. It’s apparently been hijacked and now runs as a scam site.
So what’s different about Onsra and the Black Carve range? Well, this time we’re talking about longboards, and less people this time around seem to be aware that these boards are also off-the-shelf products from another Chinese OEM. Onewow Boards this time around.
There’s not exactly anything wrong with this practice. Loads of people do it both inside and outside the electric skateboard industry. It’s literally one of the most common business practices on earth. However, I think this kind of information is worth knowing and I don’t think it’s being covered particularly well by other commentators. People may be under the false illusion that they’re buying a unique product from Onsra, and that’s what they’re paying the extra dollars for. This is not the case. The same board with a different logo from someone else could easily pop up tomorrow or the next day, and maybe even be offered at a lower retail price. This is the business, unfortunately.
As with any OEM deal, opportunities for customisation were almost certainly there for Fabi’s board, but from what I can tell he didn’t really do much. The Onsra logo, neoprene griptape, inclusion of the 115mm rubber wheel option and perhaps the most controversial move of all, moving to a Samsung 35E 12s3p battery pack, all seems to be about the limit of the changes.
The 97mm street wheel claimed range on the belt drive version is 26 miles or 42 kilometers. This is probably a fair claim based on dkwan’s range calculator; the range drop on the 466.2Wh battery, in-line with a rider’s weight looks like the following:
So if you’re between 154-175lbs or 70-80kg you might expect to give the Black Carve full marks in terms of range. Not so much if you’re a bit heavier.
The major caveat here is the Samsung 35E cell choice in a 3p arrangement. The Samsung 35E is a high capacity, low discharge cell. Putting them in 12s will give you a relatively good dose of speed, but if the sacrifice is combining that with a 3p arrangement, that’s not going to do you any favours in terms of range or battery sag with this particular cell. With that in mind I predict even the range estimates above from dkwan’s calculator are generous, and you’re probably going to be hit with sag much earlier than a lot of other boards.
The closest comparison here (in more ways than one) is the Evolve GTR series of boards, which also run Samsung 35E’s. The difference here is Evolve runs a 10s4p configuration resulting in a 504Wh pack. Evolve running this in 4p means they’re spending more of the 35E’s capacity on range, the way the 35E is supposed to be used (remember high capacity, low discharge). The sacrifice Evolve makes is the opposite of the Onsra Black Carve. Evolve sacrifice speed (10s instead of 12s) for range (4p instead of 3p) and use the 35E as a suitable cell in a suitable way to achieve this outcome. The result is that an Onsra Black Carve will be faster with less range and more sag, vs. an Evolve GTR which will be slower, but with more range and less sag.
So now throw the 115mm rubber wheels on there. There’s no doubting how comfortable and grippy they are from all reports, but you’re basically now looking at the below in terms of range:
Again, with Samsung 35E’s running at 3p, the numbers above are probably generous, and don’t forget that healthy dose of early sag.
On the up side there is little doubt the Black Carve is an absolute jet for the first 20% or so of the ride. 97mm wheels, 115mm rubber wheels or 120mm Cloudwheels will all put the Black Carve in excess of 31mph/50kph, the Cloudwheels significantly more so because they’re both bigger and harder than the rubber wheels.
But would you rather go fast for a short while, or perhaps just fast enough for a longer while? That’s probably the main defining difference between the Onsra Black Carve and an Evolve GTR. Everything else is pretty damn similar. Both have double kingpin forged trucks. Both have practically the same motors. Hell, Onsra are even said to be releasing an all-terrain (pneumatic) conversion kit for the Black Carve soon. The choice of a Hobbywing ESC also can’t really be faulted. I actually prefer Hobbywing ESC’s to Evolve’s.
The only other main complaint I see about the Black Carve is the deck. A lot of people report it as being a tad on the short side and its quality and durability is probably questionable based on what we’ve seen so far in some Facebook groups.
The elephant in the room most people fail to address is always customer and after sales service. With Onsra going after Evolve’s market share, even going as far as knocking on Evolve’s price point (actually exceeding it in some markets, e.g. Australia), then the question has to be asked about the quality of service you’d be expecting to receive from both players over the life of your board. This is hands down where Evolve emerges as the clear winner for all of the obvious reasons. They’re an established player with service centres and/or agents virtually everywhere. They’ve had a long time to perfect their after sales and service procedures (and they have indeed come a long, long way). In comparison, Onsra is in start-up territory. It’s not even a fair comparison. Evolve’s dedication to helping riders over the entire lifecycle of their board is kind of built into the price.
How then do we explain the Black Carve’s RRP? Well, it’s probably explained in that Fabi is purchasing these in small batches at a time and isn’t getting a good price-break with the OEM. That’s pretty much the difference between the price tag of Onsra vs. Evolve. Both similarly priced, but your money is kind of being spent by the businesses in different ways. One benefits you over the life of your board. The other does not.
I don’t mean to sound harsh on Fabi. Good on him for giving this ruthless market a crack. Twice! It’s more than most of us would do. But like I said, this market is ruthless. You need to learn how to produce a lot more for a lot less, and fast, or you won’t survive.
In summary the Black Carve represents one minor advantage over the Evolve GTR; it’s a tad faster for the first 20% or so of the battery. The Evolve trumps the Black Carve in literally every other way. For the price the Onsra Black Carve is pitched at, that’s just not enough.
At the moment the only reason I can see justifying an Onsra Black Carve purchase would be if you were to opt for the direct drive version over the belt version, only because there are less competitors in this space. But even now more and more competitive direct drive options are popping up every day.
Fabi’s attention now seems to be turning to a more dedicated all-terrain board. There seems to be a section of the Onsra site dedicated to this with the slogan ‘Reinventing Electric Skateboards from the grounds up!’ (sic) The image associated with the slogan appears strikingly similar to a Boundmotor or a Seeker Board...