I purchased and have been riding the Yuneec E-Go2 electric skateboard in Tokyo for about 6 months now. The board itself was quite cheap when compared to more mainstream boards such as the Boosted Board which comes in at around at the $1200 range.
Despite the weaker motor and lower top-speed, the board has been great for commuting around Tokyo despite a few issues with riding. The board itself is great, 20 km/h top speed, regenerative breaking, relatively waterproof and overall, a durable, solid board. Although it boasts a wide travel range, I’ve seen it top for myself around the 10 km range on a full charge in “turbo” mode.
Despite that, there are a few issues with riding electric skateboards in Japan.
First, the roads. The damn roads. Unlike the US, Japan has a lot of smaller roads, making it difficult even to ride bicycles on the side of the road safely, non-paved roads that are sub optimal for skateboard wheels and finally, the hills. Central Tokyo is has a lot of hills that make it pretty difficult to climb sometimes on a 600 Watt motor.
Secondly, the law.
In Japan, there are two parts to this that make electric skateboarding a grey, if not illegal mode of transportation. Technically in Japan, riding skateboards is illegal. To be more specific, rollerblading and other similar transportation is not allowed on busy roads. What do they define as busy? As a general rule of thumb, 30 cars. 3 bicycles and 20 pedestrians within 1 hour is busy, which rules out a lot of roads in central Tokyo, unless you’re in the outskirts or outside the city.
The next interpretation is that any mode of transportation that is motorized in any way does technically count as an automobile. The law does state that if you ride a moped, electric skateboard or electric kickboard is all the same under the law, requiring registration, driver’s license, a number plate, emergency brakes, brakes lights, etc.etc. Hence why the Segway never really picked up any traction here in Japan.
But in reality, I’ve only experienced being told not to ride on roads by police cars but never engaged by an officer even if I’m casually rolling by. In most cases, the law is a bit archaic to apply to such a new form of transport for Japan.
As advice, if it’s a crowded road, don’t ride, and always ride safely and prioritize other vehicles and people while you ride. Overall, despite the these issues, it’s great carving roads (safe roads) in Tokyo on an electric skateboard and definitely worth the investment if you need to move around a lot outside of peak hours in the city.
Now I’m itching for something faster and with more torque to climb those hills!
If you’re thinking of getting into electric skateboards or other forms of motorized personal mobility in Japan, check out the links below (Japanese only).