John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Use a simple Black & Decker to scoot along for miles—or install drywall, your choice.
For years, Tony Ward has pursued an unusual dream. It involves a skateboard, a cordless drill, and a revolutionary form of transportation.
Revolutionary, but also totally ridiculous. Ward is the inventor of the KRANX Powerstik, a conversion kit that propels a skateboard on the power of a Black & Decker (or swap in your favorite brand). This isn’t just a funny little side project for him, either. Ward’s been scooting around his Vancouver-area ‘hood so much on this thing a newspaper actually reported “you’ve likely seen a curious [sight] in the last couple years—a man bombing around local roads on a skateboard using a cordless drill as a motor.”
Ward’s a longtime skater who just happened to come up with the weird idea in 2013—and not, as you might think, while installing drywall. “I am the type of guy who’s always thinking about product or design-type ideas, good or bad,” he emails. He decided he wanted an electric skateboard while jogging (not sure if there’s a connection there), but not one that actually required him to buy a new board.
“I chuckled to myself midway in my jog having visualized already just powering one wheel with a drive shaft-type transmission,” he says. “I even thought of how to do it: powering the right front wheel.”
The current model, which Ward made with the help of machinist Jon Kroeker, requires special wheels but has a drill assembly that’s easily detachable for skaters who want to look normal. Depending on the power tool’s capability, it can speed along at up to 14 mph on three miles of flat ground, making the rider look like he or she is beating a hasty get-away from a Home Depot robbery. The Powerstik right now costs $225, though if you had ordered early on Kickstarter, it would’ve been cheaper and shipped with “awesome” stickers, to boot.
Note the past tense. Ward’s baby fell about $11,000 short of reaching a $15,000 funding goal. He promises the kit will be available for purchase in a few weeks, nevertheless. And don’t worry: If you ever get bored with the board (as if!), take comfort in the fact you’ll still have a functional drill to occupy your time.
“Believe it or not, I have actually used my drill for something other than ‘Powerstikin,’ namely as a drill,” Ward says. “I’ve built my outdoor shelter with it, a picnic shelter, and fence just to name a few. Not bad for my ‘skateboard motor!’”