In the past 3 weeks since our last update we have completed the following:
- Gathered data from Beta 2.1 Riders
- Continued internal testing
- Developed solutions to issues that Beta Riders have discovered
Part 1 of this update will go over all of the rider feedback.
Part 2 of this update next week will detail the final round of adjustments and shipping schedule moving forward.
Beta 2.1 Rider Feedback
Earlier this week we sent out a questionnaire to all of our Beta 2.1 Riders to learn their feedback. Here are some of the most interesting results:
Question #1: On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being best, how do you rate your ZBoard Beta 2.1 unit in its current form?
Average: 8.3 / 10
For a product that is still in Beta we are very excited about these results! People are loving their boards. We've read many of the survey responses out loud in our office and we're more motivated than ever. We believe once we make the final changes, these results will be even higher.
The results haven't been perfect though and we are in discussions with all testers who rated the unit below a five out of ten. Nearly all of these riders had a technical issue or the software issue described in Question #5 below. When asked, if they would increase their rating if the issues described in #5 were solved, all mentioned they would.
Some quotes from riders:
"Like driving a Porsche" -Rick
"Trucks are incredible and perform well on windy roads at full speed." -Kris
"It gets me to and from the DC metro to my work, and from DC to Arlington VA once a week for college. Saves me $$$ and is fun to ride." - Brad
"People everywhere turn their heads and are like WOW!! that thing is so cool!" -Benjamin
Question #2: How many miles have you ridden your ZBoard Beta 2.1 Board?
Its great to see that people have really been logging significant miles on these boards - way more than we could ever do internally. All in, our beta testers have put nearly 2000 miles onto their ZBoard Beta 2.1 units. Our testers have been generally been very satisfied by the range:
Some quotes from riders:
"The range is awesome" - Leonard
"I can ride it around campus all week and don't have to charge it until the next week or for the weekend" - Jon
Question #3: What Speed Mode do you most commonly ride in?
It’s great to see that testers of different experience levels are using all the different modes. Two of the major focuses and features of Beta 2.1 were the addition of a 4th speed mode, and an update to more reliably save the speed mode so it would always power on in the correct mode, and never unintentionally change modes during use. This Beta 2.0 issue has been mostly resolved, and we are in contact with the few individuals who are still experiencing any mode save or mode switch issues.
Some quotes from riders:
"Beginner is perfect for starting out, normal is great for the day to day rides, and expert is perfect for smooth stretches." -Cole
"Ludicrous mode is awesome! Perfect amount of braking, torque and acceleration." -Jake
Question #4: Does your ZBoard's belt skip?
Another focus of the Beta 2.1 batch of boards was to counter the belt slipping and additional noise that our riders commonly noticed in the Beta 2.0 bards. Our new motor arm mounting approach has virtually solved both slippage and squeaking noises - both have been reduced dramatically. We are still exploring additional ways to completely eliminate both from occurring.
Battery Meter Issues
During the Beta 2.0 testing, many riders stated that their battery would run out when their battery meter was still incorrectly showing full. This was due to a bug in the board's “save states” which prevented it from properly remembering the battery level after cycling the power, and was the same bug that affected mode saving. While we fixed that bug, some customers have noticed another one.
Question #5: Has your battery ever cut out or your board ever become unresponsive when the battery still has charge?
The majority of Beta 2.1 customers have not experienced an issue with their board shutting off or becoming unresponsive*, but a number of them have.
This is an unacceptably high number for us. We have tested this extensively internally and have determined the following to be the cause:
Currently, if you are at a standstill and the brushless outrunner motor happens to be between poles, its possible that if you give a very slight footpad press on either pad, it can cause a momentary dramatic current spike and a voltage drop. When the Battery Management System (BMS) sees this voltage drop - even though it is very brief - it occasionally shuts off the battery in order protect it from perceived danger. When this occurs, the speed controller believes the battery is empty when it is not.
*When the board becomes unresponsive, plugging it into the charger resets the BMS, and it begins acting normally again.
We have been working on a fix for this. We'll have more information for you in Part 2 of this update next week.
If you are a Beta 2.1 rider and you've experienced this type of shutoff, we recommend:
1) Give the board a kick push to start. Even a very small one will completely avoid the above issue, as it only occurs while starting from a complete standstill with the motor not moving.
2) Give firm inputs, not slight inputs to the footpads, at least when starting from a stop, to minimize the chance of it occurring.
3) For now, avoid accelerating forward again from rolling backwards. Give the board a kick push forward start instead.
These should be a short term solution for the shutoffs for now. For the medium and long term (for production) we are working on a more comprehensive solution that we'll be discussing in Part 2 of this update next week.
Schedule Moving Forward
After testing the solution discussed above over the first half of this coming week, we’ll have an update to the shipping schedule in Part 2 of this update later next week.
From the Founders
Its been great hearing the stories of riders ZBoarding around all over the country. Hearing their experiences with a product that we've working so hard to turn into a reality makes everything worth it. We look forward to hearing similar stories and experiences from all of you soon. We greatly appreciate your patience and support and we can't wait to get your riding.
Ben, Geoff, and the ZBoard Team
Fred with his two favorite rides in Georgia
Cole on a scenic test cruise in Ranch Santa Margarita
Drew riding at dusk in Nebraska
Riding at night with William in San Diego