I have a new favourite urban EV – and it costs less than £1,000

I have a new favourite urban EV – and it costs less than £1,000

The Exway X1 Max

Where I live, in the depths of hipster East London, on-street electric car chargers are pleasingly abundant. But while there are plenty in my vicinity, none of them are exactly on my doorstep. My nearest is a 1km (roughly ten minute) stroll away and, while I don’t mind that most of the time, it can be irritating on days when I’m especially busy, or it’s exceptionally cold out. Or both.

So when I was sent a new electric skateboard to test and review – the new X1 Max by Chinese e-skate brand, Exway, I was hopeful it might serve as the perfect solution to my lazy, first world problem: a lightweight, portable electric vehicle, perfect for shortening my journeys to the charger, and portable enough to be thrown in the boot or backseat of my car upon arrival. And as it turns out, I was right – it serves that purpose beautifully. What I did not anticipate is that it would also virtually replace my bicycle as my preferred method of commuting across London, and that I would fall completely in love with it.

The love affair began the moment I opened the box. Lifting the lid, I was greeted with a menacing black and grey deck packed snugly into styrofoam. Two things struck me as I first picked the board up: firstly, the immediate sense of quality. The X1 feels extremely well built and has a pleasing heft to it, while still being entirely portable at 7.6kg. Secondly, the stealthy elegance of the board’s design. Unlike many electric skateboards, where the battery is visibly mounted onto the underside of the deck, Exway drops the battery into the top of the deck, and then covers the lid with a cushioned griptape. The result is a board which, from a distance, simply looks like an especially cool, entirely un-electric longboard – rather handy in a city like mine, where micro-mobility is ridden in public at the owner’s risk.

The X1 Max can be had with two different powertrains. In-hub motors further add to the board’s stealth factor, as they’re virtually invisible and utterly silent, but I selected the belt-drive system. In my experience, belt-driven boards pack more low-end punch (useful for a heavier rider such as myself) and I actually rather enjoy the high-pitched whine of the belt drive system – I also happen to think a little noise makes for a safer ride.

The premium feel continues when you first step foot on the X1 and apply throttle through the handheld remote. Only the first two of four speed settings are available for the first 10km of riding – a thoughtful safety feature. But as a fairly experienced rider I promptly turned this off through the mobile app. In all modes, power delivery is smooth and highly responsive to even slight inputs on the handheld remote, but without ever feeling oversensitive or jerky. Crucially, the same can be said for the braking, which increases in intensity as you raise your speed mode. Brakes are often a standout weakness on electric skateboards but the X1 Max has no such issues, more than capable of bringing all 95kg of me to a swift standstill smoothly and without hesitation.

Put the board into its fastest setting and the performance is exhilarating. Exway quotes a top speed of 28mph, which is a frightening notion on a motorised piece of wood. Suffice to say however fast you like to go, this board will more than likely meet your requirements. And if the standard speed settings aren’t to your taste, they can be fully customised to your preference through the app. This is something I’ve not experienced on an electric skateboard before. A free mode (in which a backward flick of the thumbwheel won’t just brake the board but actually allow you to ride in reverse, if for some reason you want to do so) and cruise control setting are both eskate features I’m accustomed to, and both are present and correct here. But being able to minutely tune the power curve and braking strength in each of the four speed settings is not something I’ve seen on other boards and this customisability makes the X1 a board just as well suited to absolute beginner riders as to advanced speed demons. New riders won’t get anywhere near using the X1’s full capability in their first months of riding (I certainly haven’t and I consider myself comfortably intermediate!) But it’s exciting to know that there is still plenty more performance to be extracted from the board as my confidence riding it grows.

And confidence grows rapidly on the X1 thanks to a reassuringly stable ride. Where some boards offer a flexible deck (such as Exway’s aptly named ‘Flex’ board) the X1’s deck is entirely rigid. It’s certainly worth trying both kinds of board – stiff and flexi – before making a purchase decision. Flexi decks serve almost as suspension and are better suited to languid, carvey riding whereas the rigid deck of the X1 makes for superior high speed stability – but soft knees are required when faced with speed bumps and the like, as the ride is inevitably less forgiving. I did find the combination of the stiff deck and relatively small 85mm wheels a punishing combination on London’s hopelessly poorly surfaced, crack-riddled roads but this is easily rectified by a larger set of wheels, which increase ride comfort at the cost of a slight dip in acceleration. Happily, the X1 is compatible with a multitude of aftermarket wheels.

A few other quick fire observations of note: I love the board’s inbuilt hard plastic bump guards on the front and rear, protecting the area that always deteriorates first on any longboard. I also really appreciate the simple but effective control system, with a single spring-loaded thumbwheel for controlling both acceleration and braking. Other e-skate brands have attempted to improve on this design by splitting acceleration and braking out into two buttons, but to me this has always felt far less intuitive. I would however have appreciated the remote coming in some sort of silicone protective case, given how scary things can get if it becomes damaged and malfunctioned – I’d also love the option of a left-handed remote. As a lefty rider, the small digital display showing my battery readout, speed and other key info is buried in my palm and impossible to see while riding.

My overarching sense with the Exway X1 is that it represents a lovely sweet spot among electric skateboards. There are smaller, dinkier boards with less power and superior portability, but for the most part, these are little more than kids’ toys. There is also a growing array of huge, heavy, high-power boards with allwheel drive and off-roading capabilities. I’m sure these. Are huge amounts of fun to ride, but are hamstrung by their weight and conspicuous appearance. To me, the X1 Max feels just right. Sufficiently rapid without being intimidating. Light and portable without feeling cheap or unstable to ride. Premium without being unfathomably expensive. It’s going to take something very, very special to dethrone it as my go-to commuter vehicle.

About the author

Jack is a London-based presenter, writer, and expert in all things automotive. A lifelong car fanatic and recovering petrolhead, Jack is a fully converted EV evangelist these days and, prior to joining Fully Charged, spent two years launching and fronting a new EV media brand called Electroheads.