The Backfire Ranger X2
The pandemic has given me the opportunity to re-connect with longboarding and land paddling – a great cross training activity that is a fun complement to paddling- especially paddle surfing – even when we are not in some sort of lock-down.
Every now and then, though, the idea of effortlessly gliding over the asphalt and concrete or on trails is attractive, if not obsessive.
It’s All About The Glide
Like many of us, I was attracted to the One Wheel when it came out. And when I saw amazing whitewater paddler Mike Tavares’ shredding one on YouTube. I love the idea of the electric power and the versatility. Let’s face it, when I can’t downwind, anything that might give us a similar feeling of euphoria is gonna get my attention! When I had the opportunity to try one, though, I just couldn’t get it. The fore-aft orientation and the likelihood of my “pearling” into the ground and going for a nose dive face plant was too great.
I took a pass.
Fast Forward a Couple of Years
As the electric technology improves (e-bikes are now the fastest growing segment of bike sales for instance) and prices start to come down a bit, the One Wheel has some serious competition from e-skate companies producing all-terrain decks that offer the same versatility as the OneWheel but with a riding orientation more akin to a traditional longboard. Evolve and Boosted boards quickly rose to popularity in this category but cost was again a bit prohibitive. Quite prohibitive in fact.
Then I discovered BackFire Boards.
Great customer reviews and satisfaction with a more affordable price tag. I decided to pull the trigger on the Ranger 2X and I absolutely love it.
The Ranger 2 features a 43 inch long by 13 inch wide drop deck, which is super stable but also flexible.
The 6.5 inch tires are airless and provide great traction as well as shock absorption and are replaceable.
It’s range is between 15 and 19 miles – depending on speed, terrain and the weight of the rider. The board does have regenerative braking, which means that when you brake or are going downhill, the battery will recover some of its charge. Should you exceed the range, the board can be kicked home if need be.
Max load is about 260 pounds.
The board has a IP55 waterproof rating.
You can read all the technical bit on Backfire’s website.
One of the biggest differences between riding a setup like the Ranger versus the OneWheel is the remote. There are no pressure plates to manipulate for starting or stopping the board. And there’s no app required. Instead you control speed, power and brake with the hand held. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about this and my ability to “multi-task” while riding. I was also concerned that it would be too easy to hit the gas and that stopping would send me airborne. I also wondered if having to hold the device would take away from the feeling of freedom I get when I ride. I am quite happy to report that none of these concerns are an issue. The remote it easy to use, easy to learn and does not detract at all from the overall experience. In fact, I hardly even think about it now – kind of like the way I hardly think about changing gears when I mountain bike. Braking is smooth and efficient. The only issue I have with the remote is just making sure I do not lose it! Easy fix: I use its lanyard to keep it attached to one of the board’s axels after each session.
When I first got the Ranger, I had several practice sessions in my cul de sac, to get the feel for it. The board itself was super easy to get to know – it handles like my traditional non-electric boards. So then it was just a matter of getting comfortable with the remote. Taking it slow and easy. It wasn’t long after that I was taking longer rides on the greenway.
Then I kicked it up a notch and took it to our urban park where I found a variety of asphalt trails and big grassy hills. Once on the hills, in the grass, that’s where I fell in love. It was amazing to carve and I was stoked at how easily it rolled over just about everything. If you area snowboarder, you will be impressed.
Despite the board’s size and weight, it is surprisingly nimble and has a fantastic turning radius. And getting uphill is a breeze – so far I have not needed to hit the remote’s turbo button for added power and there are some formidable hills in my neighborhood.
I have not be able to get outside the neighborhood since then because of the pandemic, but I take it out almost every evening for a cruise through the neighborhood since I have equipped it with lights. The Ranger comes with one headlight but I added a Shredlight red rear light for extra visibility.
So, if you are looking for a great all-terrain alternative to the OneWheel, you cannot go wrong with the Backfire Ranger X2.