It depends on the type of riding that you’re doing. The advantage of the lift kit is that you improve clearance, making it less likely that you scrape your nose or your tail. For most of us, scraping the nose ends badly for obvious reasons, but scraping the tail going downhill can be equally as dangerous. You’d think that dragging the tail would help slow you down when you’re trying to brake downhill, but actually it prevents you from braking, because the friction of the bumper dragging is nothing compared to the braking power of the motor, and the motor only brakes when you tilt the tail further down. So if you can’t physically tilt the tail down, you have no brakes.
So the lift kit helps a lot to avoid dangerous scraping, and can be a real help if you ride anything with steep hills or sudden grade changes. In particular, the lift kit is a beast at the skatepark and the pump track. It also helps a lot for tall nudges, it will allow you to nudge curbs or ledges that were previously impossible to get up on, and you’ll even find that on parking blocks and smaller curbs that you used to have to nudge, “you can just ride right up it’s crazy”
However, when you raise your rails, you raise your footpads and your center of gravity, and you make the board easier to tilt over toe or heel. Which brings us to the next question,
Why lower your board?
When you lower your center of gravity, you improve stability. This is the idea behind W rails, which is a creative solution to improve stability without reducing clearance. Improved stability means that you can ride over rougher terrain at higher speeds without rocks, roots and potholes tipping your board over. Often a bump or a dip will hit just one side of your tire and jolt the board toeside or heel side. The lower the board and your center of gravity, the more stable it is, and the easier it is to ride out those wobbles.
One thing that surprised me about the drop kit is how well it handles drops off of ledges. On a stock board, sometimes I’ll do a drop and land with a some wobble, not between my toes and heels but between the nose and tail, because the motor is just so overwhelmed in that moment, and you know I don’t do BIG drops, but I find that with the drop kit I can take one or two foot drops much more confidently and land without any wobble.
How much does half an inch feel like?
When you step on the half inch lift or lower kit, you will immediately feel the difference, but after a couple of miles you may start to forget it’s there. The carving and turning definitely feel different, and I’ll give you the same advice I give for trying out a new tire, which is to just be cautious for the first week or two.
Because eventually you’ll get to a curb or something you do all the time, and your muscle memory will take over and you’ll do it exactly the same way you’ve always done it, but since you have a new tire or a drop kit, it won’t work the same and you might fall and hurt yourself.
I personally would not want any more than a half inch in either direction, although there are plenty of folks out there who love the inch and an eighth lift kit, they love the clearance that they get and don’t mind sacrificing the stability. By the way, the half and half’s are not an adapter or an addition to your board, they just replace the existing axle blocks, so you could actually use them in conjunction with the inch an an eighth adapters. The inch and an eighth drop kit, I think, is super fun, but not practical in traffic because you basically have no brakes.
Do you lose braking ability on the drop kit?
When you ride lowered you have less braking ability, but I find that with a half inch drop I can ride on the streets exactly as I normally would— I don’t have to ride slower or more carefully. Keep in mind, I’m pretty lightweight, I never push through pushback on the streets, and I don’t ride in a very hilly city. When I commute on a normal board, I never really scrape tail unless I want to, becase sometimes I just like the noise that it makes. Usually I brake but getting my body weight back more than angling my board. If you need a full recap on how to brake without scraping your tail, please watch episode 12 of Learning with Leary. In short, you always have a choice to angle your body relatively more or less than the angle you are tilting the board. You should really only be worried about the tail scraping when you are descending steep hills. So if you live in San Francisco, and already scrape your tail heavily on stock rails, you may want to think twice about the drop kit.
Can you flip them upside down to turn a lift to a drop?
On this version, the lift and drops are two separate kits and not reversible. The battery side (right side) axle block is identical and flippable, however the motor side is not. In short, to make the motor side reversible we would have either had to make the part weaker, or bigger and heavier than the other side, and we didn’t want to do that. We thought that most of you would have a strong preference for one or the other, and wouldn’t be swapping back and forth, and if you did, you’d probably have two boards, like a lift for your trail board and a drop for your street board. Would definitely like your feedback on that, please drop a comment below.
Big thanks to Elijah for helping design the packaging, and to Brendan Bull for coming up with the name Half & Half’s.
Anyways, I’m super stoked on the way these came out. The lift and drop both make significant changes to the board. If you want to avoid scraping your nose or tail on the ground, get a lift kit. If you want to keep the board more stable between toe and heel, get a drop kit. And if you get some footage, tag me on Instagram, and tag The Float Life. Thanks for watching everybody.