Backfire G3 Review: Best electric skateboard under $1,000?

by Chris | Last Updated: December 15, 2020

This is a very long overdue review. The guys at Backfire were kind enough to send me the Backfire G3 in late 2019, but between a global pandemic and shitty weather in the UK, I wasn’t able to use this board enough to write the post I wanted.

Backfire G3 review

So finally here we are, and actually it’s never been a better time to look into the G3.

Spoiler alert: this board is probably the best e-longboard under $1,000 (forget that, under $700 or less now!) you’ll find (with the current sale price you might even get it for less than $600 which is nuts).

Let’s get started.

Key features

What makes this board shine for me are 3 things: the speed – with a crazy 29 mph (46 km/h), the super flexi deck and the range.

These also dictate who this board is suited for, which is NOT beginners. Even though the flexi deck is great for a comfortable ride and for carving, when coupled with the insane speed, you need to have had previous experience with eboards. The flexi deck as comfortable as it is, doesn’t provide the same stability of a stiff deck so some skill is required.

That said, if you want this to be your first board, just keep the learning curve in mind and start slow. Luckily you’ll get all the amazing features of a premium board. Here they are:

  • Range: 24-30km / 15-18.5miles (80kg rider S mode 30km/h speed flat road)
  • Speed: 46KM/h / 28.5MPH (Acceleration as fast as belt driven system)
  • Battery: 50.4V 260Wh (Equivalent to 42V 7.2Ah-7.5Ah)
  • Motors: 450W X2 Ultra-High Power Ultra-High Torque Hub Motors
  • Deck: Flexible Bamboo with Glass Fiber
  • Wheels: 96mm Replaceable
  • Trucks: Front & Back CaliberII
  • Lights: LED Ambient Light
  • System: 12S High Voltage and High Efficiency Electronic System with 21700 Battery Cells Output Current=60A

Deep dive: Backfire G3 review

Ok, let’s dive deeper into what makes the Backfire G3 an amazing e-longboard – even after more than one year since it came out.

Portability – 7/10

This is a longboard so don’t expect to walk around like you would with a penny board. However, compared with other eskates on the market, it’s still quite portable. The weight is around 18.5 lb or 8.5 kg which is just a bit more than a Boosted Mini.

The thin flexi deck contributes to making this board somewhat lightweight, even with the big 96mm wheels. If you’re less than 6ft tall, you could probably just drag it around. The nice thing about this as any hub motor eskate, is that there’s almost no friction on the wheels so you can use it as a normal (heavier) longboard if you wanted.

When you carry it horizontally by grabbing in the middle, the slight concave of the deck and the balanced extremities allow you to get a solid grip and pretty much get to your destination without too much of a hassle.

Speed – 10/10

Ok, the kicker. This e-skate is for the thrill seekers who don’t want to sacrifice ride comfort..

As other Backfire boards, the G3 offers 3 speed modes that you can set using the bluetooth remote: Eco, Sport and Turbo. If you’re a beginner definitely start with Eco mode, get familiarity with the board and controls before you get faster.

Sport mode might come after Beginner but it’s a big jump so get ready. Acceleration and deceleration curves are way steeper and top speed already reaches 25/26 mph. This is what I use most of the times to get good mileage and punchy performance.

Turbo mode is for the pros (and definitely not very usable here in the UK). If you live somewhere with open roads and lots of room to shred, Turbo mode will take you to 29 mph easy. One of the biggest differences from the G3 and its predecessors is that now Turbo is not limited to 30 seconds (older boards like the G2 also needed 30 seconds to “cool down”, before using it again). Now you can use Turbo without any time limit and the difference with Sport is very noticeable.

Even if you don’t live in a race track kind of place, turbo might come in handy when going uphill.

One thing to note here is that thanks to the Hobbywing ESC (Electric Speed Controller), the board feels super manoeuvrable and accelerating/decelerating both are smooth and effective.

This takes us to the next point. When you’re going this fast, this smooth, you need good brakes.

Brakes – 7.5/10

When it comes to braking, the G3 doesn’t particularly shine in my opinion, especially in combination with its high performance and specs.

It happened more than one time that I was approaching a crossroads from a downhill slope and even with full brakes on, the board couldn’t stop its momentum. This of course depends on your weight and on the incline, but I was expecting the braking power to be a bit stronger. Sometimes it’s scary decelerating from 25+ mph and realizing the board is not stopping as soon as you’d expect it to.

This is another reason why, as mentioned above, I don’t think the G3 would be the best board for a beginner. Your muscle memory and your reflexes will need some getting used to this.

By contrast a board like the Slick Revolution Flex 2.0 Carbon has really good brakes for about the same speed (but also a higher price tag).

I’m still giving it a 7, because after some practice and with the right preventive measures in mind, braking correctly and safely, gets pretty straightforward.

Range – 9.5/10

When it comes to range I was excited to see if the board could really get the 15-18 miles (24-30 km) advertised. When you’re used to riding a Boosted Mini everyday with its 7 miles, having all the extra range looks like a dream.

Well I have to say it really holds to the expectations.

I’ve used it for one year on hilly roads here in the UK and every time I could get an average of 15 miles or 24 km which is fair considering I’m 6’3 and 183 lb (83kg). More than that, there’s basically no voltage sag, meaning even at low battery, you still get the same high performance which is awesome.

Randy at Backfire asked me to point out that this improvement is thanks to the new battery system (30T 21700 12S2P 259Wh capacity with a 60A maximum sustainable current). This new battery pack guarantees a higher range, no overheating and no voltage sag, because the maximum current required is usually 30A – 50% or less of its capacity.

Here’s a more in depth explanation if you’re interested.

This battery system simply works with more margin and you can push it faster and longer.

Versatility – 9/10

Let’s face it, this is not gonna be as versatile as a shortboard, but for a longboard, the flexi deck, the somehow lightweight, and the 96 mm wheels, make it a pretty well balanced e-skate. I’ve been using it on really rough surfaces here in the UK and it’s incredible how the board absorbs almost any bump.

Other than the really flexible deck, the nice surprise for all hub motors users is how thick the back wheels (the ones which contain the motors) are compared to other hub e-skates like Meepo or Exway. This helps with the smooth ride.

The 3 different speed modes and the unlimited turbo also contribute in making this a good choice from anyone to the mid to expert user.

The remote is comfortable and easy to use. You kind of have to get used to the sensibility of the wheel when accelerating or braking as it’s quite “light” to the pressure of your finger. Oh and I forgot to mention, this board comes with a led light placed directly on the batter pack which makes it look a bit like a “Bat e-skate”. The light comes in handy and allows you to ride during the night (even though I recommend either adding a front and a tail light or using a running light to see where you’re going).

I’ve also tested the board on really wet roads, sometimes down and uphill too (not recommended). It’s not water proof, but if it’s not pouring and you’re taken by a surprise shower, the board won’t get damaged. The battery is protected by an extra layer that ensures water doesn’t go through for short periods of exposure.

How does it stack up?

Backfire g3 vs Exway flex

The Exway Flex left his mark because of the incredible build quality and level of customization.

You can buy both a hub motor and a belt driven motor kit and switch it, the mobile app allows you to change anything from acceleration curve, brake curve, enable or disable freemode (the backward movement of the motors) and more.

It’s also got a great board with the right flex and deep concave for a nice grip. However you’re gonna have to deal with 85 mm wheels which compared to the 96 mm of the Backfire G3 are a bit smaller and might not feel as smooth and comfortable when riding. Top speed for the Flex is also lower at 25 mph vs Backfire’s 29 mph.

I would pick Exway Flex if you’re a big tinkerer and like to experiment. Go with Backfire G3 if you want an amazing board right out the gate.

Backfire g3 vs Meepo NLS pro

The strengths of the Meepo NLS pro are probably the large comfortable and foam padded board (even if it’s a bit personal), the 4 different brake modes you can set and the huge wheels at 100 mm.

It also comes with the best packaging I’ve seen for an esakte with accessory bag and guitar stand to show your board off at home.

Compared to the Backfire G3, the ESC is not as smooth and performant (Lingyi). The stated speed is 29 mph which is the same as the G3.

I would pick the G3 for the no voltage sag, battery system even though the Meepo states longer range (at 20 miles). Another good reason to pick Backfire might be support as they are located all over the world basically.

Backfire g3 vs Wowgo 3

Wowgo 3 might be the 3rd option I’d consider between these boards. Aesthetically it’s the least distinctive board, looking almost exactly like a Boosted board, stated speed is the lowest at 24 mph.

It uses 90 mm wheels which is in between Backfire and Exway and the board is not as flexi as those.

A good reason to pick Wowogo 3 over the others might be price, as often they have $150 discounts, but that depends on the special offer. This might also be the best between these boards as far as water proof insulation.

I would pick Backfire G3 if you want to spend a bit more for quality and support.

Backfire g3 vs Backfire Zealot

Finally I thought it would be good to get some perspective by comparing the G3 to one of the latest creations by Backfire, the Zealot.

The Backfire Zealot is basically the G3 with belt driven motors. It’s also the first belt driven motor by the company. It comes at a higher price point, but promises great performance and even higher range than the G3 (at 22 miles).

If you want to spend a bit more than all of the previous hub motor boards and are a fan of the stable performance and great sound of a belt driven eskate, go with the Zealot. However, keep in mind that as any belt driven board, it comes with some potential extra maintenance.

Summing up

The Backfire G3 literally shattered all of my expectations in terms of how a hub motor e-longboard could perform. I thought those didn’t have much torque – BS. I thought the ride wouldn’t have been as comfortable as with a belt driven board – BS.

And let’s not forget to mention quality. For a budget e-skate, the G3 looks pretty fucking premium to me.

The only downside I can mention is the lack of customization that other boards allow for. Backfire’s app just came out but it’s still nowhere near what Exway’s or Meepo’s apps can do.

UK version of electric longboard swag

 

Backfire G3

8.6

Portability

7.0/10

Speed

10.0/10

Brakes

7.5/10

Range

9.5/10

Versatility

9.0/10

Pros

  • Great range
  • Insane top speed especially with unlimited Turbo
  • Comfortable ride thanks to the big 96 mm wheels and flexi deck
  • Smooth controls and acceleration/deceleration curves
  • Integrated led lights

Cons

  • Brakes are not the best for the speed you can get
  • Lack of customization in performance/ride