Defining Exway's place in the market is probably the first challenge. The two products they've released so far, the X1 and X1 Pro, have been oriented towards showcasing a technologically rich, feature packed, high quality and minimalist package. The question I feel like Exway's design team starts with must be something akin to, 'What's the most amount of features we can squeeze into the slimmest and most unassuming package possible?'
The original X1 answered this question with a product that took the community by storm. For a sub-$1000 USD price, what Exway were able to pack into that board was nothing short of staggering. Of course, the primary sacrifice was range. Slim-line boards and massive 18650 or 20700b battery packs are a paradoxical combination. It's the use of flat-pack/pouch LiPo cells that makes the slim-line design of the X1 and X1 Pro possible. Flat-pack/pouch LiPo cells are by no means the esk8 community's favorite cell type. Far from it! But Exway's use of them is an essential part of what makes these boards what they are: Last mile, slim-line and light-weight performance machines!
For me, there were two things that necessitated the release of the X1 Pro; range and comfort. Following this there are several "nice to have" features that exist on the X1 Pro that for me are kind of secondary.
In the range department, Exway considered how much more battery power they can pack into the board without compromising the weight and overall aesthetic too much. If you remember this was similar to Boosted's philosophy when they implemented their Extended Range (XR) battery. Neither Boosted (standard range (SR) or XR) or Exway (X1 or X1 Pro) should be considered "long range" boards. They're commuters and actually have more in common with each other than they do any other board. The range between a Boosted SR and an Exway X1 is comparable (I actually get more range out of an X1 than I do a Boosted SR). The range between a Boosted XR and an Exway X1 Pro is even more comparable; the two boards are virtually on par. Now look at the aesthetic differences between the two and compare the price between the two. Now perhaps you're seeing why the Exway X1 Pro has such mass appeal?
In the comfort department, bigger wheels as standard, more concave to cradle the feet and the inclusion of thick, shock absorbing griptape has done wonders for the boards ridability. For me it's taken a "sometimes" board and turned into a genuine daily use option. In fact, because the board is that much more comfortable, I've spent a lot more time on the X1 Pro than I did on my original X1. Thus I've gotten to know the X1 Pro on a much deeper level and have a bit more to say this time around, so let's get into it!
A TL;DR is available at the end of this review.
HARDWARE AND DRIVETRAIN
Like the original X1, the Exway X1 Pro is built around a 37-inch multi-layered, Canadian maple, bamboo, fiberglass and carbon fiber deck. However, the X1 Pro deck is about 1.5mm thicker than the original X1 to allow for the increased cell size. Other changes include a more aggressive concave and the inclusion of 3mm shock absorbing griptape as standard.
45° Seismic Aeon trucks and Seismic's proprietary 90A bushings were a stand-out feature on the X1 and remain a welcome part of the X1 Pro.
Exway have increased the standard wheel size of the X1 Pro to 85mm, up from the 80mm, which were standard on the X1. Despite coming in three colours, all Exway wheels have a durometer of 80A, which makes Exway's wheels pretty much the equivalent of an orange Caguama - an extremely popular wheel. The urethane quality seems to be up there too (early days) - plus they've added a new gel core to their wheels. Whatever that means, I can tell you the wheels seem lighter and make a "thunk" sound against abrasive surfaces and bumps. The NET gain here is probably getting the bigger wheels without the added weight and perhaps a little better rebound.
The battery is a 12s1p configuration of flat-pack/pouch LiPo cells, although the individual cells are marginally larger in the X1 Pro over the X1. This accounts for the slightly thicker deck and the increase in range over the previous model. At 193Wh the X1 Pro's battery pack is not air travel friendly.
Of course, it should be mentioned for those of you completely new to electric skateboarding and/or Exway as a brand that, yes, the battery pack is built into the deck. This is known as a "unibody," cut-away or slim-line design. The trade-off for this type of stealthy design is that the deck must be solid and stiff in order to protect the battery pack. There is absolutely no flex.
Exway and Hobbywing continue their collaboration that began with the X1, a collaboration that gave birth to one of the most advanced non-VESC ESC's in the industry. Smooth, refined and precision control that can only be defined as equal best with Boosted, but throw in a smaller remote with an OLED display and many features and customization options that leave the competition wanting.
Via the Exway app you can fine-tune your acceleration and braking curves for each mode, toggle 'safe mode' on/off, set your 'stand-by' time, toggle 'change gears while moving' on/off, toggle 'free mode' on/off (the ability for continued pressure on the brake to put the board into reverse after coming to a complete stop aka Boosted-style), toggle 'cruise control' on/off, toggle 'turbo' on/off, set your wheels size (for accurate data and telemetry) and choose between the hub motor or 'RIOT' belt drive drivetrains (depending on what you have installed). The app also allows you to install firmware updates over the air and there is now a handy 'Dash' feature, which gives you a live read-out of your boards performance while riding. I'll do my best to cover each of the more important features later in the review, but suffice to say for now that Exway is without doubt leading the charge in user-friendly customization. No other board comes close!
The remote also remains a stand-out item. A Boosted-inspired remote made smaller and more elegant, and then perfected with a smooth, ergonomic finish, matte rubberized grip, single button functionality, haptic feedback and an OLED display. It's an absolute winner!
Rounding out the package is of course the motors. Exway have upped the ante here too. The X1 Pro now puts power to the ground via two 1200w hub motors, up from the two 1000w motors seen on the original X1.
The Exway X1 Pro also comes with IP55 dust and water resistance and is coated in scratch resistant material to make the board an industry leader in terms of durability.
If you're keen to see a quick unboxing you can check out my video here.
Probably the most popular feature of the new X1 Pro is the board's ability to use two completely different plug-n-play drivetrains. At the time of writing the board's ship with the hub motor drivetrain as standard. The new 'RIOT' belt drive drivetrain will be released in May 2019. Mine is on order and I will review that separately when I get it in my hot little hands.
PERFORMANCE: CLAIMED VS. REALITY
Reality (for this section please note that I weigh about 185 lbs (84 kg) at the moment)
The X1 Pro's top speed falls a little short of expectations, but not by much. The reality is it's plenty fast enough and is 7.4% faster than the top speed I achieved on the original X1. So there's definitely an improvement there with the more powerful motors, larger wheels and turbo mode. You can check out a video of my top speed run here.
There's been a lot of debate regarding the claimed range of the X1 Pro. Rightly or wrongly it's pretty normal for manufacturers to advertise something closer to the maximum level of range someone might be able achieve, as Brian from Exway USA explained in a Reddit post on the subject (unedited):
'The manufacturer is always going to advertise the best range that they can reasonably get. I get 20 miles / gallon in the car that I drive. I'm supposed to get 35. I drive like a complete moron... There I said it. If you have an Exway Pro and weigh 150 pounds and are on good flat pavement riding on level 2 with your accelerations curves at a reasonable rate and you push to start, you should get 15 miles of range. If you have the acceleration curves turned all the way up with Turbo Mode on and are blasting down the street and going up hills at 30 MPH you are going to have horrendous range. Call it 5 miles? Should we be advertising 15 miles or 5?'
I get it, but the problem is absolutely no one is buying an X1 Pro to dawdle around in the second speed mode. During testing I rode around in the second speed mode for a few seconds and frankly walking would have been more effective. Even beginners would grow out of this speed within an hour. At the same time, I don't think people should be as shocked as they are about the "low" range they're getting. Ummm... 12s1p flat-pack/pouch LiPo cells, guys... C'mon, how much range did you really think you were going to get? It's a slim-line board for goodness sake!
My point is there's a middle ground that should be discussed here. Take my Exway X1 review as a point of reference. I got an average of 6.2 miles (10km) range from the board's 120Wh battery pack. The X1 Pro's battery pack is 193Wh, which is 46.6% bigger than the Exway X1's battery pack. The difference between 6.2 miles (10 km) and 8.6 miles (14 km) is about 33%. Did I expect a little bit more? Sure, but not much. Let's be reasonable. I feel much of the problem is in the advertising. If you look at the Exway USA website, one of the major selling points of the X1 Pro is range, but it isn't really given much of a reference point to contextualize that selling point. That's the problem. If Exway had just marketed the X1 Pro as having 30% more range than the Exway X1, not only would that have been an accurate statement (the % they give is way too high), but everyone would have been happy, maybe even pleasantly surprised if they were able to get a bit more than that out of their board. Instead what Exway has is a lot of people scratching their heads at such an outrageous claimed range spec that no one is ever really going to achieve.
Advertising a range spectrum is probably a far more suitable idea.
In the end the X1 Pro has about 30% more range than the Exway X1, whatever that means to you, and that's a good thing.
Before we finish talking about range, here's another point of reference for you. I normally run a Boosted SR battery from full to flat in 4 miles (6.5 km). Remember I got 6.2 miles (10 km) out of the original Exway X1. That's 42.4% better range in favor of the Exway X1. I normally run a Boosted XR battery from full to flat in 7.1 miles (11.5 km). Conversely I get 8.6 miles (14 km) out of my X1 Pro. That's about 19% better range in favor if the X1 Pro. Same semi-aggressive riding style and both boards tested in the their respective fourth speed modes.
Remember, context is key.
You can check out a video of my range test here.
A note on sag: The battery percentage indicator does have a tendency to yo-yo. This is a combination of the cell type used and the use of voltage as a direct, live indicator of battery percentage (not a great idea). I found that battery sag started to diminish the board's performance with around 18-15% power remaining (after the latest firmware update), which is pretty good all things considered. Prospective buyers should also keep in mind that battery packs like the type used by Exway wont have as long of a shell life as more typical 18650 or 20700b packs. Performance will diminish faster and over a shorter life span. Just something to keep in mind.
The X1 Pro ate up all of my local moderate hills (12-15.7%) with ease. Based on the performance I experienced, I'd say 25% is around the X1 Pro's capability. Very few boards are capable of the claimed 30% grade.
In terms of weight, the X1 Pro is pretty much exactly as claimed. Literally not even a full kg heavier than the original X1. Well done, Exway!
AESTHETICS AND RIDE FEEL
The X1 Pro both looks and feels amazing. The change in griptape pattern to a slightly more 'edgy' one is welcome and looks great. I like the contrast between the all-black design and the bright orange 90A Seismic bushings. It's subtle, but effective.
The biggest discussion point is of course the fact that we're talking about an electric skateboard comparable in performance to any Boosted running an XR battery, but is over a kilo lighter and has no protruding parts; meaning no external motors and no enclosures. Aesthetically it's literally a deck and four wheels. You can't get much more minimalist than that! I mean, who doesn't want a light-weight, full-size board in their arsenal? It's a super convenient package suitable for an array of different purposes. The sheer fact that it's capable of such decent performance, yet it shows no signs to the naked eye of being electric makes it both a head turner on one hand (when you're bombing up hills at 20 mph) and a stealth "sleeper" on the other, which makes it particularly attractive to esk8ers who need a low-key "under the radar" ride in areas of the world where laws haven't quite caught up to the 21st century yet.
Bottom line, in the looks department there's little to complain about here. When you look at it you're kind of taken away with what a masterpiece of engineering the board actually is. It's quite incredible!
As for how she feels, no complaints there either. The control interface and ESC, acceleration and deceleration etc. are all dialed in perfectly. Refined and smooth as silk. No jerkiness - a truly sublime ride.
The 85mm wheels, shock absorbing griptape and increased concave have made the board infinitely more comfortable over the original X1. On a personal level I also find myself becoming more and more accustomed to stiff decks, so that might have something to do with it too. But that feeling of being "locked in" and having an extremely stable base to carve on, making full use of the 45° Seismic Aeon trucks, well, it's simply a joy to ride! It carves and slashes like a hot knife through butter.
Not to be undersold is the sheer convenience factor of this board. It's a true grab-and-go item. Its lack of bulk and light-weight usability combined with its awesome performance, I'm using this board for almost everything at the moment, be that my work commute, coffee runs, grocery runs, beach runs, casual cruising, carve sessions, you name it - the Exway X1 Pro fits the bill.
PROS AND CONS
The firmware installed on the board's when they were released had some problems. Different customers experienced different issues with their boards. Others experienced no issues whatsoever. I was one of the unlucky ones (as you might have guessed if you watched my range test video). It was a strange situation. The original X1 was released without issue, yet the X1 Pro, whilst not being overly different to its predecessor, seemed not quite ready somehow or under-tested before release. Reports of abnormal acceleration and braking behavior to straight-up wheel lock-ups (like I experienced) started circulating on the electric skateboarding subreddit. To Exway's praise they pulled out all the stops to try and understand and rectify the issue straight away. It took a bit of back-and-forth, but after a few updates Exway settled on firmware version SE-01.01.07. I'm happy to say that I haven't had any issues since running this firmware. Any Exway running this firmware version or later should (in theory) be 100% fine. I hope Exway chalks this up to a learning experience. Whatever process steps were changed between the release of the X1 and X1 Pro need to be looked at, or perhaps additional steps need to be implemented to ensure that their programming is 100% tested in such a way as to cover all foreseeable circumstances before shipping boards out to customers.
Honestly, with all the bugs now being ironed out, there's not a lot of negative points to cover about the X1 Pro. It's a fantastic product and quickly becoming the board I turn to most in my collection.
Okay, maybe the board could have an accessories port for charging your remote and mobile devices on the go, and maybe they could have upgraded the remote to USB-C, but that's about all that springs to mind.
As for the positives, well that's a long list! I feel like I've covered most of them, but let's recap: We're talking about an incredibly high-level of design, craftsmanship and quality here. It's arguably the most well-refined electric skateboard on the market right now. It's comfortable, stable and performs incredibly well for its category (slim-line) and price tag. It's a technologically rich and feature packed masterpiece. The Exway X1 Pro actually feels less like an electric skateboard and more like an actual vehicle. It feels like holistic, intentional, purpose-built, personal electric vehicle.
The board, remote and app work seamlessly together. The mag-safe charging port is awesome and the customization options in the app are fantastic and really round-out the positives. I want to take the time now to cover the pros and cons of these options in more detail.
Despite all of the reasons I've previously mentioned for liking new the griptape, it has some downsides too. First, it isn't positioned entirely correctly. It's about a millimeter or two further back than it should be, i.e. it's not perfectly aligned with the deck. This tiny bit of overhang cops a bit of abuse if you're a fan of kicking your board up, like I am. This leads to the second problem of the grip separating from the board. It's probably a fine line between getting the grip to stick adequately whilst still leaving room for the 'RIOT' kit to be easily changed over in the future, but nevertheless, long term adhesion is probably going to be a problem.
A sort of adjacent positive worth mentioning is the 4A fast charger (usually sold separately). This is an essential item for a short-range board. It really changes the game. If you're able to whack of lot of juice in your board (and fast) during short breaks on longer rides, it sort of the negates the need to have a heavier board with a massive battery pack and lots of range. You don't always need a 12s5p battery pack in order to go riding all day. There are other, lighter ways.
VERDICT / TL;DR
The Exway X1 Pro is 7.4% faster and has 33% better range than its predecessor in real world testing. This is an amazing result considering the board isn't even one kilo heavier than the original X1.
The board is more comfortable due to its bigger wheels, shock absorbing griptape and increased concave.
The Exway ESC, remote and app ecosystem offers an array of customization options that help you finely tune your ride to your liking and the impending release of the interchangeable 'RIOT' belt drive kit will be an industry first.
A masterfully executed product, the Exway X1 Pro is a high quality board suitable for just about everyone. Packed to the brim with features it's a tough board to resist. It rides smooth and stable with one of the best ESC and remote combinations in the game and the Seismic truck/bushing set-up combined with a stiff deck results in an extremely responsive board, and a very exciting and agile street carver. It's truly an awesome ride!
Are there downsides to the type of battery cells used here? Yes, but I believe the pros far outweigh the cons in this case.
Whether you're looking for a daily commuter or a board for some weekend fun, the X1 Pro has everything you need (and more) at an extremely palatable price.
Right now it's the best board in its class, which is really a class of its own.
To find your nearest Exway stockist just Google 'Exway' + your location. There are more retailers being added worldwide all the time.
Firmware SE-01.01.08 update
I ride and write about electric skateboards for one reason and one reason only - the love of it!