An Interview With Retrospec’s CEO Ely Khakshouri About His Electric Journey

By Patrick Moorhead - August 25, 2022

These days, it seems like every company is vying to release the latest and greatest electric vehicle. I don't blame them, especially with gas prices as high as they are in 2022. With the ever-changing wave of EVs being released, companies are trying to save consumers time and, more importantly, money. This rapidly evolving trend has manifested itself in several ways, perhaps most obviously in the form of electric scooters, which line seemingly every corner in my hometown of Austin, Texas. But entrepreneurs are also making other thrusts into the personal EV market with motorized skateboards and longboards. And as you'll read below, this new generation of power boards is light years ahead of their gas-powered predecessors from the 1960s and '70s.

That's why I'm going to talk about the Tidal Rev electric longboard today. The board comes in two models: The Tidal Rev and the Tidal Rev Plus. My review unit was the base model Tidal Rev, but I will dive into the differences between both models further in this review. These findings are based not only on research and user testing over the past few months but also on my interview with Retrospec's CEO, Ely Khakshouri. The conversation was illuminating on a number of levels, as we covered everything from his entrepreneurship journey to more technical topics around traditional bikes, paddle boards, skateboards, and, of course, the cutting-edge technology powering today's electric longboards.

"I started Retrospec to make commuting and everyday riding more accessible. My goal was to make minimalistic bikes, like fixies, stylish and attainable for young professionals and students on a budget," Khakshouri said. "Since 2009, we've expanded our mission to make an active, outdoor lifestyle accessible to everyone by diversifying our product offerings, improving our designs, and producing high-quality gear at an affordable price."

Let's dive deeper into my discussion with Ely Khakshouri about Retrospec's journey into the electroverse.

Retrospec Tidal Rev RETROSPEC


Retrospec has you covered. With the Tidal Rev Electric Longboard, you’ll be land-surfing on the streets in style. You don’t need to be a “skater” to pull it off, either. We’re all looking to get around in ways that are more convenient, more recession-proof, and — let’s be honest — far less dorky than riding a Segway.

The Tidal Rev board comes with the following:

  • E-skateboard
  • Charger board battery
  • Wireless remote control
  • USB remote cable charge
  • T-shape tool


  • Tidal Rev Speed Modes: Low: 9mph; Medium: 15mph; High: 22mph. ‘Sport’ adds an additional 40% acceleration/torque for a max 24mph.
  • Tidal Rev Plus Speed Modes: Low: 9mph; Medium: 15mph; High: 25mph. ‘Sport’ adds an additional 40% acceleration/torque for a max of 26mph.
Retrospec Tidal Rev RETROSPEC

When the remote control is powered on, you only need to short press the power button to switch between the four-speed levels. Low speed (5) is the bottom solid-red light to the right of the skateboarding icon; Medium speed (4), High speed (3), and Sport mode (2). The speed-changing method will exit after 3 seconds — all four lights will be lit to indicate this.

The longboard features a 168W/36V/4.0Ah battery, while the Rev Plus has 252W/36V/6.0Ah battery configuration hours, which is solid. Both feature two 1,000-Watt hour motors, which I find vital since most EV boards do not have that. You can glide over sidewalk cracks with the large, shock-absorbing 90mm PU-85A wheels. The slanted reverse kingpin trucks on both boards make turning easy, but you can always loosen up the trucks with the T-skate tool that Retrospec provides, as I did. Both e-boards use a 10s system. The base model Tidel Rev uses a 1052P, while the Rev Plus uses a 1053P. Both models have the same cell size, 18650.

The Tidal Rev deck base model’s aesthetics are made of vertically laminated 8-ply: 1 part Bamboo and seven parts Maple with the dimensions of 36.8 x 8.7. The Rev Plus is made with 8-ply Canadian Maple with the dimensions of 38.2 x 9.25 with a decent amount of flex, which is great for casual cruising and longer rides — especially if you like pumping, as I do. The size was handy when riding to the gym since the board can easily fit inside a storage locker. For e-boards, many of which are large and clunky, that’s a game-changer in terms of an e-board. This model can easily be stored and transported in a storage space at work or inside your car.

This board provides consistent and achievable value. For one, the top speed reaches what Retrospec claims — something that not all of its competitors can say. Good job, Retrospec! The torque and acceleration are not lacking, either, especially regarding the range of rideability. Depending on how aggressively you ride, you can cover between 9.5-12.5 miles with the base model and 12.5-15.5 miles for the Rev Plus. That may not seem like much, but it’s more than enough to get you from point A to B within cities and communities. Remember to fully charge your board after, which takes around 3 hours.

Retrospec Tidal Rev Remote RETROSPEC

Both e-boards feature the newest LingYi ESC, which allows for a couple of things. For one, you can turn the board on by simply turning on the remote and choosing between four different speed modes on both the base and the Plus models. The board will also turn on intuitively if you push the board a bit. To turn the board off, tap the button. No need to long press the button — a detail that, while small, can make a difference when booting up a device day in and day out.

By and large, the two versions essentially perform the same. One notable difference, though: The 'Sport' mode on the base model Tidal Rev does create quite a bit of torque, which I found not to be as smooth and gentle as I would have liked. Then again, when you're taking off from a standstill to full speed within seconds, that's not all that surprising. The Tidal Rev Plus, however, is a bit more fluid in its acceleration. The board gradually changed rates until I reached the top speed, although I'm guessing the take-off might feel a bit more sluggish if you are a heavier person. It is important to note that the maximum weight for both boards is 250 lbs.

But speeding up is only half of the equation. Fortunately, the Tidal Rev Plus brakes were powerful and got me out of a handful of potential accidents. (Word to the wise: Don't trust any drivers — simple. I can be a bit reckless with my speed, but I'm always aware of my surroundings.) The brake control felt perfect, in all honesty. It wasn't too sensitive — to the point that it could make you fly off the board at a dead stop from the 'low' to 'med' speed — but it also wasn't sharp enough to send you sliding across the asphalt in 'high' or 'Sport' mode. Additionally, I am sure it may depend on the height of the curb you are on, but I did not have issues with the board sliding on its own when I held the brake down, which is more important than you may realize when navigating a chaotic intersection.

I found the' reverse' option to be nice after some time of getting used to it, too. If you aren't one for reading instructions, as I am, then figuring out how to access this function might take you longer than expected. I had trouble figuring out which side was in reverse, but, pro tip, you can use the speed wheel to find that out before turning 'reverse' mode on or off. Once you've got this part down, you can back up or begin your journey no matter what side of the board you're standing on.

  • Flashing Green is Forward – When powering the remote on, Forward/
  • Flashing Green is the default setting.
  • Flashing Red is Reverse.
  • Long press (3 seconds) to switch between the forward and reverse directions.
Retrospec Tidal Rev RETROSPEC

Portability & Travel

The utility of electric longboards like this can't be overstated. They use a tiny electric engine to power their wheels and carry the rider without foot power. User convenience and accessibility are central to all of this, Ely Khakshouri told me. "We feel the most important specs are range and speed, which is why we invested in the powertrains of our Rev electric line," he said. I honestly wasn't prepared for the boards' speeds, but once I got the hang of it, oh boy — it felt like an adventure no matter where I went! As with everything, this experience was heightened for me, thanks to the board's customizability. A customizable experience is the best experience. I kept it on the second setting, around 15 mph, which was more than enough for me. Trust me: It may sound cool, but you don't need a board beyond 30 mph.

Let's go back to the wheels. The size of the wheels makes your ride safer by eating up those pesky cracks and bumps in the road. One thing to note: While these durable wheels diminish the vibrations created during riding, I still experienced foot fatigue and some foot fatigue after a while. This most likely was because I wasn't wearing the most appropriate shoes, but that was intentional. I wanted to experience what it would be like for the average joe, who doesn't own skate shoes, to feel what it would be like to ride this for 20 or more minutes at a time.

The wheels absorb road imperfections and have excellent ground-gripping ability right away. If I were riding this board every day, I'd probably change them out at some point — not because they wear down, but because their shock absorption could be better long-term. I didn't notice any difference in ride comfort between small and smooth tiles and larger sidewalk tiles. But once I got onto rougher or uneven terrain, I started to see the Tidal Rev's suspensions were absorbing some of those bigger bumps. After riding for 15 to 20 minutes intervals, I needed to take a quick break from all the terrain fatigue. (Note: I have had hip issues since high school, so others may not be as sensitive to rougher rides.) The more uneven the terrain, the more of a difference there is.

Retrospec Tidal Rev wheels RETROSPEC

Overall, I wasn't as worried or scared to ride the Tidal Rev on uneven surfaces. You must focus on your surroundings and keep your eyes on the road or sidewalk. That said, this is not an off-roading board. You can ride over grassy areas, dirt hills and trails, and similar surfaces, but only for a brief time. Rockier terrain like gravel isn't recommended, especially when hurting yourself on a board like this is easy. The ability to adjust and customize parts does not seem possible at this time on their website, but you can always customize it yourself, which I recommend if you plan on doing a little more off-roading. There's nothing to worry about when it comes to taking on big hills — a common issue on many people's commutes. You might be a bit slower, but you'll climb them without needing to hop off and walk. To test things, I regularly went up a 35-degree hill without any significant issues. Just know that taking on hills causes your battery to be used up faster.

The overall comfort, foot space, and stability of the Tidal Rev come with an excellent trade-off. The turn radius is large, which I found to be pleasant. Getting around corners at intersections is not a problem. I only foresee that being an issue when maneuvering around pedestrians or passing through tighter spaces. I usually pick up the board and walk in those circumstances. That being said, I didn't find myself having to adjust and make a 3-point turn on my rides. The design of this board feels like it was made to stand perpendicular to the ground, like snowboards. If you usually stand with your feet toward the front of the board, you may need to change up your style of riding. On this board, I turned my front foot a little more sideways than usual. Additionally, the deck has a handle carved into it, which makes for easy transport and allows you to grab the board when riding, if necessary.

Retrospec's CEO Ely Khakshouri knows what he is doing to create a superior product without breaking the bank. When discussing the board and how it stands out from the company's competitors, Ely said, "Our products are simple and strategically designed with high-quality materials. We aim to provide our customers with a 'no fuss' experience, meaning our products include everything you need and nothing you don't." He knows outdoor gear can be expensive, especially with the current supply chain problems many American industries face. With that in mind, Retrospec is working hard to ensure their prices are as accessible as possible without compromising quality.

There are many reasons to travel around on an electric skateboard. Whether saving time and money from a car payment and gas if you live inside the city, getting fresh air during your daily commutes, or feeling the rush of riding, a reliable, dynamic e-board can serve many purposes. Overall, 95% of my rides were primarily cruising on public streets and sidewalks, while off-roading only happened to get around other pedestrians.

One thing I'd be remiss not to mention: For all you speed demons, you may experience some speed wobbles when going into 'Sport' mode on asphalt. The only time I felt unsafe or had trouble controlling it was at the highest speeds — nearly 30 mph. Anytime you ride at a velocity above five mph, exercise caution and be mindful of user error. I wouldn't use the highest speeds unless necessary — say, if a stray dog was chasing me.

Last but not least, navigating different weather conditions. This board is splash-proof, but it's not waterproof. It's essential to understand the difference when it comes to electric vehicles. This means when you are charging, ensure your board is dry, or you will fry the board or, worse, yourself. Also, do not wrap up the skateboard, place it in a carry bag, or put it in its packaging right after charging. The battery and charger may get warmer during the charging process, creating a considerable fire risk if not handled appropriately.


I don't have any significant issues with the board itself — just some minor improvements I would like to see in future boards. Let's start with a problem that I feel most riders can relate to: This board isn't necessarily heavy, weighing 19.10 lbs., but after carrying it around, it does wear on your arm. That being said, the laziness or forgetfulness of charging your e-board one evening and then traveling with what you thought was a full charge was regretfully cut in half thanks to its longer-lasting battery. Having the ability to use it as a regular skateboard seemed non-existent or at least too difficult. Perhaps this is a common thing with e-boards, but the ability to have a manual override would have been nice. The mile-and-a-half walk I undertook after failing to charge it fully on one occasion was more exhausting than I thought it would be. I never made that mistake again, though. But, other than that, the Tidal Rev's weight hasn't affected its portability for me. You can still kick it, but the battery is so heavy on the board that using it as a regular longboard doesn't seem possible. Compared to other boards, having the ability to grip and walk is a game changer and overall comfortable, especially being an avid skateboarder myself with the natural handle of using the trucks as a handle. Every skater wants a handle of some sort. Thank you, Retrospec, for implementing that into your e-board designs when other companies have failed to do so. 

I love the retro look, too, even though I do not find it to be a particularly attractive board. That's to be expected since companies must skip out on particular aesthetics and perks to put functionality and consumer value first. That's especially in times like these, given the supply chain. This deck isn't concaved or flared out on the edges — a personal preference of mine — but that's okay. In other words, it may not be the sickest looking board, but nothing about it scares me away from the perspective of performance and safety, which, trust me, is everything. I feel very safe on the Tidal Rev.

Another point: The remote needs to be changed. This was my biggest concern. Many other models, such as the GTR, Aurora, or Zeus, have a displayed remote. After falling multiple times, I did worry that I would smash the plastic remote, and I did fall on my arm at one point, causing me to be out of commission for over a month. At a minimum, I would have liked a type of protective material around the remote.

Additionally, if you are in a rush and this may be your only means of transportation, the remote needs to show another LED light or some indicator on which side the board will take off. For now, since that's not an option, you'll need to be particularly aware when taking off — otherwise, brace yourself to be quickly bucked off. Additionally, I would have liked a display for battery, reverse, speed, distance traveled, and other indicators for both the board and the remote and better use for left and right-handed users. Or, at least give me the option to check a variety of that information on my phone via a Retrospec app, especially since it's clear that the board and remote are Bluetooth compatible.

Improvements-wise, many of the higher-end boards are now being made with carbon fiber, which I would love to see on this board — at least as an add-on. I'd also like to see larger wheels for off-roading available for purchase, along with the option to buy a Retrospec type of Movpak. I would purchase that in a heartbeat.

I brought these ideas up with Khakshouri. He was quick to answer, "I dig the ideas you mentioned. We are developing a ton of new products that will serve," he said, "Given the supply chain issues, I feel improving U.S. boards can be a bit difficult, as many companies like Retrospec are paying five times our historical average for ocean freight, which is a huge line item for us… In addition, the trade war with China caused an increase in tariffs on our products and materials. We hope our current administration will address the costly supply chain issues and tariffs in their fight against inflation."

The board feels most suitable for those who are green-friendly. It makes appropriate sacrifices to ensure the consumer doesn't have to perform upkeep too often or change the belts like many other boards. The portability and size are superb for riding in a metropolitan city like Austin, where frequent crowds and businesses ask their employees to return to the office post-COVID. The board may not be best for everyone, but its reliability and variety of offerings make it an excellent option for getting around in safety and style.

Retrospec Tidal Rev RETROSPEC

Wrapping up

Overall, I am impressed with this board. It's an excellent option for experienced riders and children 14 years old and up, but like all e-boards, you still exercise caution when aboard. Additionally, customer service goes a long way. I did have a minor issue with a board's battery. Retrospec responded promptly and had a new e-board to me within a few days. That meant so much to me, to know that my needs were taken care of. Customer service, in many ways, is an underrated consideration that we all should consider when making our purchases. It's a deal-breaker if a company doesn't honor a warranty. This alone would make up the price difference of spending money on a board cheaper or even more expensive. Luckily, I had no issues with Retrospec.

I have the Tidal Rev base model, not the Plus. I do like the retro, yet modern, look of the board. The Retrospec stickers aren't too large and are placed well, like the power button on the side. Many e-boards have a front-facing power button, which seems like a big no-no in terms of crashing the board. It's a well-designed and well-made board but can always use some improvements in furthering its technology.

"Tidal Rev was designed with commuters, such as college students and professionals, in mind, Khakshouri told me. "As fuel and parking costs continue to rise, we're increasing our investment in e-mobility options. Electric longboards are a great option to take to class, a meeting, or on the subway where an e-bike might be more difficult to transport."

Given this, it should be no surprise that Retrospec is actively growing. As I mentioned before, communication with Retrospec has been effortless and professional. I always felt like I spoke to someone who knew the product inside and out. That goes a long, long way.

I can't say for sure if this board is for you. That depends on your priorities. But I can tell you this: Ely Khakshouri seems to have the right ideas and is engaged with his consumers with the proper focus to continue bringing fantastic products to market — whether that's in the form of e-boards, e-bikes, or something else.

"Our current focus within e-mobility is transportation and commuting, where we believe we can make the most impact," he said.

The Tidal Rev Electric Longboard sells for $549.99, while the Tidal Rev Plus is $599.99, with financing available for both boards. I will continue to watch Retrospec with great interest. You can check out the Tidal Rev and their other products - here.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.