2018 was definitely the year of the budget board; meaning it was the year that firmly established the arrival of budget boards that we're halfway decent enough to be taken semi-seriously.
Meepo, Wowgo, Ownboard and Verreal cemented their position as the go-to brands, with Teamgee hovering out on the fringe to pick up customers looking for something more slimline. Other brands such as Exway and Backfire have led the charge into a break-away mid-tier. Some of the established go-to budget brands now look set to join them there with new models due to be released later in 2019.
With all of that in mind, Yeeplay strikes me as a brand that's trying to keep it simple, at least for the time being. They sell boards cut from the same cloth as Meepo, Wowgo, Ownboard and Verreal. Of the two ESC families used by all of these brands (Hobbywing vs. Binary 'LingYi'), Yeeplay uses the Binary 'LingYi' ESC, which positions it as a direct competitor to the likes of Meepo's V2 and Verreal's V1S.
As more and more established players seek to bust into the mid-tier (e.g. Meepo with their NLS and Ownboard with their W2) is there still room for a humble board made from the same basic elements we've seen many times before? Perhaps, if the price is right.
Well, the Yeeplay M2S will set you back $388 USD (including delivery fee). That's pretty damn cheap! That alone might make it worth a closer look.
A TL;DR is available at the end of this review.
HARDWARE AND DRIVETRAIN
The Yeeplay M2S is working with a 38-inch freeride style longboard deck. It's got decent width, mild camber and a generous W concave. Strictly speaking the deck is supposed to be 8-layers of Canadian maple according to Yeeplay's website, but I've looked closely at my unit and my M2S definitely hangs off of the newer H2B deck. Why this is, I don't know. But what I do know is that I got a layer of bamboo out of it (the bottom layer of the H2B deck is bamboo). This has added a minuscule amount of extra flex and rebound, which is nice (although this still isn't a lot).
The useful grab handle still has a presence on the M2S, where conversely we're starting to see it disappear on newer models from other budget brands. The griptape is super fine, yet super sharp and abrasive. This makes the grab handle extra-welcome on this board. The griptape design is unique and has a distinctive oriental flavor to it. There are two options, white or gold. My model has the white design and I have to say I don't mind it at all.
Trucks are solid Paris 2 clones and feature some super, super soft bushings. I mean these things are gooey! If that's your thing or if you're super light, then that's great. For me, this is the first time in a long time that I've had to tighten the trucks significantly out of the box. This is actually a point of difference worth talking about. The super soft bushings allow for a pretty nimble ride, agile carver and tight-turner out of the box, much more so than most budget boards I've tried. For routine commuting and high speed running though, these bad boys need to be tightened down. Ultimately though it's always better to change the bushings over to something that suits you and your riding style.
The wheels are common 90mm (78A) Flywheel clones and the bearings are generic. Interestingly it's listed on Yeeplay's website that Zealous bearings are meant to be included on this model. Well, these were definitely missing on my unit.
The standard battery is the typical 10s2p 4.0Ah 20R pack we've come to expect from this kind of entry level board, with further options to upgrade to either a 5.8Ah LG, 6.4Ah Panasonic or 8.5Ah Sanyo pack if you so desire. Yes, that's a grand total of four different battery options.
The ESC is akin to a V1.1 Binary 'LingYi' ESC accompanied by the now standard, four speed (RC6) remote we've seen paired with this particular ESC since around the launch of the Meepo V2.
Rounding out the tech is a dual hub motor powertruck equipped with two of the now fairly common 250W (500W max) hub motors. These are the newest iteration of these motors with the more easily replaceable urethane sleeves also used by Wowgo, Ownboard, WINboard, Teamgee and many others.
Finally, the M2S's enclosures are a cut above it's Binary 'LingYi' ESC contemporaries like the Meepo V2 and Verreal V1S. The M2S uses the same metal enclosures usually found on the likes of Wowgo and Ownboard instead.
The board comes with a 1.5A charger, skate tool, rear LED light, micro USB cable and Yeeplay business cards.
You can check out a video of my first impressions here.
PERFORMANCE: CLAIMED VS. REALITY
Reality (for this section please note that I weigh about 87 kg (192 lbs) and flat-out as often as possible. For the M2S range test I rode about 80% of the time in EXPERT mode and about 20% of the time in PRO mode for reasons I'll explain shortly):
The Yeeplay M2S consists of four speed modes, BEGINNER, ECO, EXPERT and PRO. Both EXPERT and PRO are essentially the same mode in that they are both said to achieve the same top speed. It is only torque and acceleration that is increased in PRO mode.
To cover all bases I made sure I conducted my top speed tests in PRO mode (just to be sure). On my GPS Speed app the M2S clocked 23.6 mph (38 kph), but on Map My Ride it recorded 25.1 mph (40.5 kph). We'll give the M2S a pass here and say it achieves its 24.85 mph (40 kph) claimed top speed spec (there or there-abouts).
Somewhat out of character for me was that I swapped between EXPERT and PRO mode quite a bit during my range test. I usually just ride in whatever the highest speed mode is all the time, but ever since the ESC manufacturer applied a new firmware to these ESC's designed to "smooth out" reported jerkiness, EXPERT mode feels like it's not enough to tackle even mild inclines, whereas PRO mode sometimes still feels like it's overkill on the flats, particularly in stop-start scenarios where the torque of PRO mode off-the-line can be a slightly hazardous proposition. So I resolved to swap between the two modes. EXPERT mode on the flats and PRO mode for when things got mildly hilly. The result was slightly more than what I generally get out of 4.0Ah packs. I managed to milk 9.3 miles (15 km) out of the M2S, pretty much exactly Yeeplay's claimed minimum.
You can check out a video of my range test here.
Sag management was also pretty good. I can't say I experienced any note worthy sag until about 15% power remaining.
You need to be in PRO mode to tackle hills on this board, no two ways about it. I tried to tackle moderate 12% inclines on EXPERT mode and no dice! On PRO mode, however, the M2S is competent enough to tackle 15%+, maybe even 20% with lighter riders. But I think it would be very unlikely that the board would be capable of achieving the claimed 30% gradient.
At 17.4 lbs (7.9 kg) the Yeeplay M2S weighs close to its advertised spec.
AESTHETICS AND RIDE FEEL
Let's get down to brass tacks. The Yeeplay M2S is essentially identical to the relatively short lived Meepo V2 Plus when they were first released. We're talking about the same battery, same motors and the same ESC and remote (there's actually one iteration difference between the ESC's). This is before Meepo started playing with different "Beast" motors and "Shredder" trucks.
Meepo have since merged the V2 Plus with their standard V2 product line, but before all that the original Meepo V2 Plus models ran the same Paris clone trucks found on the M2S. Further, the M2S has shunned the plastic enclosures used by it's direct Meepo V2 and Verreal V1S competitors in favor of the steel enclosures commonly used by Wowgo and Ownboard. In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Yeeplay M2S is another Hobbywing cousin to Wowgo and Ownboard at first glance, until you see the remote, which gives the board away as a Binary 'LingYi' board and more of a cousin to the Meepo V2 and Verreal V1S.
Aesthetically the board looks as good as any other budget board I've tried. There's nothing wrong with it all. There's nothing particularly unique about it either. However, it must be said that the griptape design is original and looks pretty dope.
Despite my particular deck having a layer of bamboo, there's still not a massive amount of flex. I mean, there's enough to get by, but nothing to write home about.
The board has a comfortable concave, has a solid and stable ride feel, turns well and rides well. I have no complaints. It's only the Binary 'LingYi' ESC that still hasn't quite found it's sweet spot on all boards that have chosen to use it.
BEGINNER, ECO and EXPERT mode are all certainly smooth and forgiving enough (now), but EXPERT mode doesn't have the "punch" I seem to remember from boards with the same/similar ESC with older firmware. Conversely the torque and acceleration delivered in PRO mode is almost too far in the other direction. There needs to be a mode in-between EXPERT and PRO. There's a lot of "dead space" in the throttle curve in EXPERT mode and there isn't quite enough in PRO, it's just all go all of the time. Everything is just turned up a notch in PRO mode, even the brakes, which can be a little sketchy.
What I'm describing here is the common "jerkiness" factor people tend to describe when riding boards with this particular ESC. It appears to be all but gone in BEGINNER, ECO and EXPERT mode, but at the expense of any notable performance. However, it remains in abundance in PRO mode. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, that's for each person to decide.
PROS AND CONS
The price is right! At $388 USD delivered the Yeeplay M2S is a decent rival for the Meepo V2 and Verreal V1S. A grab handle and smart turn on (push-to-start) are always welcome additions. The deck is comfortable and the ride is sturdy. The bushings are super gooey and have the most turn of any bushings on any budget board I've tried so far.
The typical RC6 remote feels nice in the hand, but it could do without the little knob/joystick, which is more of a hindrance than a help when trying to finesse your control input. As mentioned with previous reviews, the roller also needs more room to travel forwards and backwards (acceleration and brake), which would also help with finessing control input.
As for the Binary 'LingYi' ESC, well, I feel like they should have ironed out their issues by now. It's ridable, but the power across the four speed modes isn't equally divided. BEGINNER, ECO and EXPERT all feel a little ho-hum since their "smoothing out," and PRO feels like it hasn't been "smoothed out" at all, which feels even further exacerbated by the aforementioned "smoothing out" of the first three modes. Motor micro-seizures are still a thing too.
I hate 1.5A chargers. They're just too damn slow!
The Yeeplay M2S has a whopping four different battery options to choose from. That's one more than most (in some cases two).
Out of the array of budget trucks out there that different budget board companies use, the Paris clones are by far the best and are a high point of the M2S, likewise is the use of stronger, steel enclosures over plastic.
VERDICT / TL;DR
At $388 USD delivered, the Yeeplay M2S is pretty much the cheapest board of its kind. The only way you're getting one of the competitors at a cheaper price is when they're on sale and/or by use of coupon codes. Yeeplay's prices are rock bottom all year round (correct at the time of writing). What you need to decide is whether or not you're willing to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of this particular ESC? It's not for everyone. More torque than most (in PRO mode), but there are known downsides to this ESC too.
Decent trucks and enclosures are high points of note on the M2S, as is its performance. Except for hill-climbing, in real world testing it virtually matches its spec sheet pound-for-pound.
Minimal battery sag and four great battery options are also worth mentioning.
All-in-all the Yeeplay M2S represents another sound offering for those looking for an entry level board. If you're shopping based on price and price alone, this is where Yeeplay will be particularly tough to beat.
Yeeplay's official website: yeeplayboard.com (non-affiliate link). Use the code SAMY to get a further $25 off of your board purchase. Offer valid until 30/4/2019.