Teamgee H5 Review — Slim-line on a budget

Teamgee’s popularity soared in mid-2018 with the successful crowd-funding of the H6 retro-style pintail cruiser. The H6 wasn’t just any old pintail cruiser though. Apart from it being a modern, electric take on a classic favorite, the H6 was also part of the new wave of slim-line designs that were starting to hit the marketplace.

​”Slim-line” is Teamgee’s modus operandi, and every model since has adhered to the same basic design principles.

The new H5 or “Blade” sits somewhere in-between the H6 and Teamgee’s top-of-the-line H9. So let’s take a closer look at what it’s got to offer.

A TL;DR is available at the end of this review.​


This article was originally published on samjadelaide.com. Click the link to see the original article with its accompanying images and active links.

The Teamgee H5 sells itself as the slim-line for everyone. Priced around the same as what you’d pay for a Meepo, Wowgo, Ownboard, Verreal or similar, you can get your foot in the door with a slim-line machine of approximately equal quality as the non-slim-line equivalents. As with all slim-lines though, it should be noted that what you gain in aesthetics you lose in range and in some cases other performance factors as well, as is particularly the case with the H5.

​The two things that appeal most about Teamgee’s lineup of boards is the compelling price tag relative to other slim-lines and the awesome, retro detailing.

Like all Teamgee’s the H5 is a stiff and rigid longboard comprising of absolutely zero flex in order to keep the built-in battery pack protected. The H5 comes double-boxed and includes all of the accessories you would expect.

You can check out the video of my unboxing here.

HARDWARE

The Teamgee H5 uses a 37-inch, 11-layer (10 layers of maple and 1 layer of fiberglass) deck as its foundation. It’s essentially a freeride-inspired, drop-through deck, which along with the retro racing stripes creates a nice, cruisy look.

Keeping the deck rolling are all the typical pieces of generic/clone hardware we’ve come to expect from this end of the market, including the all-too-familiar looking trucks, bushings wheels and bearings that we see on most budget boards nowadays.

The wheels are 90mm 83A Flywheel clones, which match the size of the 90mm 380W hub motors at the rear with replaceable urethane sleeves.

The board is powered by a 10s1p flat pack of LiPo pouch cells. The pack totals 3.5Ah/36V (or 126Wh). Slim-line definitely comes at the expense of what’s available in the battery department.

Air travel friendly status may depend on your country of origin. In countries that allow batteries up to 160Wh to be brought onto planes as cabin baggage, the battery is technically allowable, but the board and the battery can’t really be separated all that easily (not without removing the grip tape). This means you’ll need to negotiate bringing the entire board on the plane with you as cabin baggage. I imagine this is unlikely to be allowable in most places. The alternative is to check the board in, but this presents it’s own issues, as most countries have a limit of 99Wh worth of lithium being allowed in checked baggage.

The brains of the operation is a Binary-type ESC coupled with Teamgee’s own unique remote control. The ESC comes with the latest firmware, which “smooths out” the acceleration and braking curves when compared to previous models. The remote features an LCD screen similar to that which we see on the recent line-up of WINboards. The remote features a speedometer, trip meter and odometer as well as indicators for signal strength, direction and current speed mode.

Unlike a lot of other related ESC’s, the Teamgee ESC doesn’t consist of smart turn-on and only features two speed modes. On the up-side the control interface is a simple thumb wheel, which is extremely promising and the position of the LCD screen enables the rider to be able to be left or right handed and still make use of the screen.

PERFORMANCE: CLAIMED VS. REALITY

Claimed

  • Top Speed: 22 mph (35.5 kph)
  • Range: 11 miles (17.7 km)
  • Hills: 15–20%
  • Weight: 14.5 lbs (6.6 kg)

Reality

(for this section please note that I weigh about 203lbs (92kg) these days and I ride flat-out as often as possible)

  • Top Speed: 19.2 mph (31 kph)
  • Range: 8 miles (13 km)
  • Hills: 15–18% (likely)
  • Weight: 13.9 lbs (6.3 kg)

The claimed top speed on the H5 seems extremely overstated. The only way you’re going to extract top speed out of this board is if you’re a 140 lbs mini-human. This actually makes the H5 ideal for kids or perhaps the wife/girlfriend who might be in the market for an ideal beginner board. For the rest of us, the low top speed reduces the H5 to a leisurely cruiser board, nothing more.

The real-world range I achieved was actually a little more than I expected for a 3.5Ah battery factoring in my weight and riding style, but we can put this down to a lower achievable top speed too. As always I’d like to remind you that my goal with range tests is to give you a minimumexpectation of what range you can expect if you really want to ride this board. You can always edge closer to the claimed range if you are a lighter weight person and/or ride less aggressively in the lower speed mode. So the range of the H5 sits somewhere in the spectrum of 7.5 to 11 miles (12 to 17.7 kilometers) depending on your weight and riding style.

You can check out a video of my range test as well as some general thoughts on the board here.

In the sag department the H5’s performance starts to decline at the 50% battery mark. Although this was disappointing it was not unexpected due to the battery type.

The biggest hills in my area range between 12 and 15.7%. The H5 tackled all of these inclines reasonably well; performance only taking a bit of a nose-dive on the 15+% inclines. However, I do feel that 15–18% might be a more reasonable performance bracket regarding the H5’s potential incline performance. Taking into account the battery type, sag factor and low range, if you have to ride the H5 in a hilly area you’re not going to get very far. A hill-crusher; the H5 is not.

​Interestingly when I weighed the H5 on my digital scales the result was less than the claimed weight of the board on Teamgee’s website. This was a pleasant surprise! The Teamgee H5 actually weighs exactly the same as the Exway X1; this is in spite of the fact that the H5 has larger wheels/motors and a slightly larger battery.

AESTHETICS AND RIDE FEEL

The H5 definitely takes the award for being the best-looking board that I’ve tested so far. I seriously cannot fault it. Yes, it does look just like a regular longboard, perhaps even more so than the Exway X1. Truly! The reason being is that the Exway X1 is designed to look “premium” and “futuristic,” whereas the Teamgee H5 is simply designed to “blend in” and thus looks completely unassuming.

​Unlike the Exway, however, the control panel of the H5 (integrated with the ESC heat sink) does not sit flush with the underside of the board. It protrudes a little, which seems like something Teamgee should work hard to rectify in future models.

The 90mm wheels (as supposed to the Exway’s 80mm) make the ride far more comfortable and cruisy than the Exway. The drop-through deck of the H5 is a nice way to counteract the bigger wheels by bringing the deck closer to the ground again. However, the H5 suffers from wheel-bite if you want to run loose, which if you want to get any sort of nimble feeling out of the board you kind of have to. A sharp turn or an aggressive carve on the H5 can indeed end in disaster (speaking from experience — nothing serious).

The remote interface is probably the best of the Binary-type ESC family. It trumps the standard remotes used by Meepo (up to V2) and others, as well as the WINboard remotes. A thumb wheel (without any sort of pointless thumb stick) will always be the preferable interface in my opinion, so Teamgee made a good call there. Sadly though that’s where the good points for the remote end. The remote is oddly shaped and feels like a TV remote in the hand, and although the built-in LED light is a nice gesture, it’s not bright enough to be of any real functional use.

The board accelerates gently and gradually enough, but the brakes are still a little jarring, even with the latest firmware. Being limited to only two speed modes and a top speed of only 19.2 mph (31 kph) can leave you feeling a little underwhelmed at times.

All-in-all the Teamgee H5 makes for a nice, casual cruiser, but its obvious flaws also need to be taken into consideration.

A Tale of Woe

I’ve cycled through probably a dozen or so budget boards in my collection at this point. I’ve never really had a significant problem with any of them. I’ve been very lucky. Sooner or later though the issue of quality (QA and QC) is going to strike with these boards; all boards actually, not just budget boards; but it has to be said that the risk of quality issues is certainly higher in the budget category.

​Some people get their share of quality issues at the beginning; poor folks who’s first ever board just seems to have problem after problem. That’s hard luck! For me it was the Teamgee H5. This is not to say that Teamgee as a manufacturer has some sort of systemic issue, or that all H5 boards will share in the same issues that I endured. It was simply my time. I had good run with budget boards, but my particular H5 ended my run of good fortune. Your experience may differ.

​There were three immediate issues with my particular H5. 1. The LCD screen on the remote was broken and not functional, 2. The included LED light for the board arrived with a flat battery, and 3. The battery/BMS completely died within a few short rides and could no longer be turned on.

The first two problems were apparent out-of-the-box. I let Teamgee know straight away and a new remote was en route to me the next day. The third problem didn’t manifest until a couple of days later. I was still able to use the broken remote, it just didn’t have a display. It was during some testing with the broken remote that the board shut down and was unable to be turned back on. It took quite some time for a replacement battery/BMS to arrive. When it did eventually arrive I finally had a fully functional remote and board to be able to complete this review.

If you watched my range test video you would have already seen that the curse continued. The new BMS still shuts down under load/stress, but unlike the old pack, which died completely, the new one can be turned back on after turning the board and remote on and off again. This allowed the testing to continue and enabled me to complete this review.

If I was a paying customer I would request another battery/BMS and I know for a fact Teamgee would oblige. But because my H5 is just a review unit, it’s not worth asking them to invest further dollars in it, so I haven’t bothered them any further with the issue.

Note that this can happen to anyone on any board at any time. This isn’t exclusively a Teamgee problem. There are cases of this type of problem with nearly every brand you can think of, even premium ones. The good news is that if/when it happens to you the manufacturer should look after you until the problem is rectified, so long as you’re buying from reputable manufacturers that actually have some level of after sales service, like Teamgee, Meepo, Wowgo, Ownboard, Verreal and many others. Avoid generic brands/boards on Alibaba and Amazon. Tip: If a board manufacturer doesn’t sell from their own website complete with contact information, don’t buy from them on ​Alibaba or Amazon.

HIGHLIGHTS

Best looking board by a country mile — This is subjective, but I think the H5 looks fantastic! It’s a simple yet stylish and retro design that looks how a longboard should. The design aesthetic complements the slim-line build to create something really, really nice to look at.

Decent range, all things considered — It’s a slow board, which in-and-of itself is a lowlight, but the other side to that coin is that you actually get pretty decent range out of the Teamgee H5. For a tiny 3.5Ah battery to take you 7.5 to 11 miles (12 to 17.7 kilometers), well that’s nothing to sneeze at, at all.

Really nice cruiser — All-in-all the H5 is a really nice, soft and cruisy ride for an all-stiff deck, more so than the Exway.

LOWLIGHTS

Performance — If you want a performance slim-line you should check out the Exway X1. The Teamgee H5 does not have the acceleration, torque, top speed, hill climbing capabilities or finessed controls a more discerning rider might be looking for. The H5 is a casual cruiser and not much more.

Wheel-bite — This seems like a tremendous design oversight. Sure, you can tighten up the trucks, but the H5 becomes pretty challenging to maneuver in such a case.

No smart turn-on — Considering the choice of ESC it seems including smart turn-on would have been a no-brainer. A missed opportunity for sure.

CONCLUSION/TL;DR

First, you need to decide whether or not you really want a slim-line electric skateboard? Then you have to decide whether you’re playing at premium or budget end of the spectrum? At the premium end your choice at the moment is easy (the Exway X1). At the budget end Teamgee has two other boards (the H6 and the H9) as well as the H5 to choose from (five boards in total if you include the Sail and the H3 kit). There may be more merit in Teamgee’s other offerings over the H5, I don’t know — I haven’t tested them. In the case of the H5 you have a board comprised of predominantly fairly generic parts, average performance and dangerous wheel-bite. But it is slim-line and it does look fantastic. But the other Teamgee’s are slim-line and look fantastic too, perhaps also without wheel-bite and with better performance (looking at you Teamgee H9).

​A great-looking slim-line cruiser the Teamgee H5 is, but it is not without its flaws.

This board is suitable for kid or a beginner who doesn’t have to go too far and isn’t looking to go too fast. As beginners generally ride with stiffer trucks anyway, wheel-bite probably won’t be as much of a problem for them as it was for me. For everyone else looking for a slim-line but can’t quite justify the cost of an Exway, save a bit more for the H9, which is probably the better “happy medium” option for an adult rider.

​Teamgee’s official website: teamgee.com (non-affiliate link).


This article was originally published on samjadelaide.com. Click the link to see the original article with its accompanying images and active links. If you enjoyed the article please consider giving it some applause — it helps more people find it! You can also connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.