The ZBoard began as a Senior engineering project at the University of Southern California back in January 2009. We got an "A" in the class but at the time we had no idea what was next. Five years and dozens of iterations later we're lucky to have the best jobs we could ask for - building and shipping ZBoards to customers all over the world.
Whether you've been supporting us for five minutes or five years we sincerely appreciate it, because without you there would be no ZBoard.
The intial ZBoard had three wheels - two skateboard wheels in the front and a go-kart wheel in the rear. Turning was poor and the chain constantly slipped off the motor. Each of the large footpads contained three sensors and the onboard speed controller would calculate force and attempt to triangulate location of the force. In later versions we determined that this triangulation process was unnecessary.
The initial name for the ZBoard was the "SmartBoard" which is why you see the stylized "S" in the middle of the deck.
The Good: It worked! (sorta)
The Bad: No brakes, chain constantly slipped off the motor, poor turning
A year later we'd switched to a more conventional four wheel design. We tinkered with embedding force sensors underneath the grip tap but ran into issues where the sensors would get "stuck down" which obviously was not acceptable.
We settled on the name "ZBoard" after extensive brainstorming weeded out some terrible names including ZoomBoard, i-Fly, Phoenix, ElectroBolt, and g-Drive.
The Good: This was the first board that we built with a functioning brake - though it barely worked,
The Bad: Footpads getting stuck was no fun and dangerous
In 2011 we began embedding the ZBoard's force sensors within holes in the deck, protecting them with rubber strips. At the time we were working with a plastic box which was not large enough to fit the battery we needed to achieve our 10 mile target range.
The Good: We added our first kicktail and the board's footpads were working better than ever
The Bad: It was difficult to find the sweet spot of each footpad and range was not acceptable
Later in 2011 we shifted to flat circular footpads. Finding the sweet spot was easy but we found that our feet hurt after pressing these footpads for long periods of time. We settled on our "Z" logo and selected a black / red color scheme.
The Good: We were excited about the "Z" logo
The Bad: Footpads were tiresome to press and battery box was still not large enough. Red / Black color scheme didn't quite work.
2012 - 2013
During our Kickstarter Project we received dozens of good suggestions from customers that shaped the ZBoard of today. Improvements in 2012 included the maple/black design, the handle and cover, our custom made aluminum battery box, and tilted footpads that allowed the rider to adjust their speed with less effort.
In 2013 we shifted to durable plastic footpad covers (replacing the vinyl covers that would rip after heavy use), standard smooth wheels, a re-designed battery box, and more. We also added the more powerful
SF Special to our line up and began shipping it during the Summer of 2013.
We announced optional LED kits and upgraded, faster Urethane Wheels.
Today the ZBoard is still built and tested in Modesto, California.
Thanks for checking out our history. Its been a great five years and we look forward to the next five!
Ben and Geoff