Stop Pushing Your Push Cart
Push carts make playing golf easier on the body. Though some golfers negatively view push carts with a strange golf-must-be-as-hard-as-possible stigma, my body will attest to the joy that comes from moving the golf bag from my shoulders and onto the cart. For many golfers, myself included, less body strain leads to playing more golf, and usually lower scores.
Alphard Golf has recently launched a new Kickstarter campaign featuring a product that will make pushing your cart even easier. How much easier? How about not-having-to-push easier? Alphard Golf’s eWheels allows you to change your existing push cart into a remote controlled, electric “no-push” cart.
The eWheels unit installs in place of the rear wheels on your existing push cart. That means that in just a couple of minutes, with a couple of tools, your existing push cart can be transformed into a power cart.
Specs: Alphard Golf eWheels
- Weight: 23 pounds
- Unit Size: 11” (wheel) x 25”-33” (expanded)
- Motor: Brushless hub 130W (x2)
- Control Range: 50 Yards
- Top Speed: 5 mph
- Battery: 36V 4.4Ah Lithium Ion
- Battery Life: 27 holes
- Slope Stability: 30°
- Price: $449 on Kickstarter (will eventually retail for $599)
- Kickstarter Price with Clicgear Rovic RV1S cart: $499
Closer Look: eWheels Cart Conversion
Lots of products advertise that they are simple and quick to build. Such is not always the case though. I’m looking at you “quick and simple” IKEA dresser. Thankfully, assembling the eWheels is actually super simple. For the Clicgear 3.5+ that I converted, it was a wrench, a Phillips screwdriver, and about fifteen minutes, maybe less.
Each wheel mount on the Clicgear is attached by two bolts. You remove those bolts and mount the eWheels axle clamps in the same holes on the cart frame. With that, you are finished with the cart modifications.
Cart models with rear brakes will take a bit more manipulation to deal with the brake system, but it will still likely be a quick adjustment. Once the brackets are on, you are just two lever presses away from mounting and remote rolling.
If you don’t have the same cart as me, don’t panic just yet. There are a bunch of carts compatible with eWheels. You just need the right brackets. Check this list out and see if your cart is supported.
eWheels Performance Analysis
Transport and Parking Lot Performance
Getting the eWheels unit to the course is very easy. With the axles retracted, it’s only 25” long, and its attached handle makes moving its 23-pound mass around a snap. I can easily fit the eWheels unit, my Clicgear 3.5+, and my bag into my trunk. Remember, you removed the back wheels from your cart, making your push cart smaller, and lighter as well.
At the course, getting play ready is nothing more complicated than unfolding your push cart as usual, extending the axles on the eWheels, and then attaching the cart brackets to the axle. Of all of the design elements of the eWheels, this is the one that is most impressive. It is easy, easy, easy to get set up. This is so critical for continued use. Golf is frustrating enough without adding to that frustration before the round in the parking lot. The only other pre-round thing you need to do is to make sure that your unit is charged, and that you put AAA batteries in the remote before going to the course.
eWheels on The Turf
No matter how easy the unit is to assemble and transport, what is truly important is how the eWheels works on the course. I’ve taken my experiences with the unit and broken them down into the most relevant areas.
Cart Speed and Remote Controllability
The eWheels unit provoked many a question from onlookers, but the one I heard a lot was “How fast does it go?” I love this question, because I had it too initially, and because it’s a ridiculous question.
The eWheels unit has a range of speed settings, from slow to fast as you may expect. Changing speed requires a just simple click on the remote. My initial take on the 5 mph top speed was, “that’s kind of slow,” then I realized that the cart was steadily rolling away from me as I walked behind it. If it moves faster than I do, the top speed is likely sufficient. It’s for golf, not drag racing.
The spec sheet lists the remote range at 50 yards, but I would say that the range is longer. I bet Alphard scores this on the low side, just so they can be sure that the remote works every time. If you think about it, this is a huge thing to know for the cart. If the cart gets out of the remote’s range, and heads for the water hazard, you are likely looking at wet gear. During testing, I never once lost contact between the remote and the unit, nor did I experience any noticeable lag in response to commands. The eWheels unit stops immediately when told to do so.
Turning radius for the unit is a function of speed, and cart load. Speed-wise, the slower the cart is moving, the better it turns. It can rotate in place, but your top speed turns will be more slow sweepers. What I learned to do was to slow the unit down a click if I need more precise navigation.
Turning performance is also definitely affected by how you load your bag and cart with stuff. At one point, the unit was turning very slowly; then I realized that I had a 40oz water bottle in the bottom of my bag, thus adding weight to the front wheel and making it more difficult to slide laterally. In a fixed wheel cart, like my Clicgear 3.5+, the front wheel just slides side to side, with the rear wheels (and motors) controlling the turn. Moving the bottle to the console net immediately improved the turning of the unit, by decreasing the load on the front wheel. But be careful there too, as adding too much weight to the top can make the cart more prone to tipping back on slopes and while reversing. Balance is key, grasshopper.
Once the unit is turned on, the motors and brakes engage, and it will no longer freewheel. That means you can’t just push it. In the parking lot, I solved this problem by keeping the unit off, and freewheeling, until I got it to the first tee. The added weight makes it a bit more work to push like this, but less so than I expected.
On the course though, turning it off each time to make tight navigations would be annoying, and thankfully I figured out a fix. If you need to maneuver the cart in tight spaces, just turn it on at low speed and push it as you would normally. Now the wheels will respond nicely to your steering motions on the handle. I’d love the version 2.0 remote to have a dedicated freewheel button, but my powered-assist workaround works well too.
Alphard lists the Lithium ion battery life at 27 holes. I have not tried to grab that extra nine holes yet, but it has no problem with finishing 18. The five light battery indicator counts down the charge for you, with the lights flickering, then extinguishing as the charge depletes. I have always had at least one light on when finishing a round, so I know that there are more holes in there, but I’m not sure if it's enough for 9 more.
Like any other powered thing, how you use it will affect battery life. Hill climbing will use more juice than flat travels and watch those slopes. If it’s too steep, it can cause the cart to topple backward. On steep climbs, the motor gives enough power to climb, but my hands are on it to make sure it remains upright.
One huge thing to remember is that you will need to charge the unit before you go to play. I can see this becoming part of my pre-golf ritual, but I can also see myself forgetting to plug it in the night before. Maybe Alphard can sell a motorless axle and wheels combo as an accessory for the times when we forget to charge it. It would be nice to easily just clip the cart onto a non-powered axle in this situation, or if you are playing 36 holes that day and don’t have time for a recharge in between.
Other Notes and Observations
Much like transitioning from carrying your bag to pushing it changes how you play the game, adding a motor to your cart changes playing perspective as well. For the first few holes, I walked behind the eWheels cart, following its path as per usual push cart protocols. Later, it dawned on me that this connected following was not required. It was 105°F here in NorCal that day, and I wanted to hide in the shade as much as possible. I use an umbrella to hide from the sun as I push and quickly realized that was not really going to work as the umbrella attached to the cart rolled away. So much for the portable shade...
In a flash of brilliance, I realized that I could now separate from the cart and walk in the shade of the course’s trees, sending the cart by its lonesome down the sunny fairway. We were no longer connected by touch, and needn’t be connected by position on the course either. I could easily send my clubs to the ball from the comfort of the trees, without the added effort of actually pushing them, or the sun exposure. Like I said before, using a remote cart, like the eWheels, changes the golf experience.
Don’t completely lose focus as you wander in the trees though. You must remain mindful of steering the cart, but you are now free to walk the course unencumbered. Want to feel like a tour pro walking down the middle of the 18th while someone else carries your gear? Either get a caddy or a remote control cart.
Deals to be had, but the Kickstarter Campaign is Ending Soon
The eventual retail pricing on the Alphard Golf eWheels unit will be $599. If you compare the unit to some of the other remote carts out there, it makes for very competitive pricing when you start comparing cart features. If you act now, you can get it for less on Kickstarter presale. They have already reached the funding goal, so this one is going to deliver the products. There are a few units left at $429, and more at $449.
Yes, you do also need to factor in the cost of a push cart if you don’t have on already, but for $499, you can get the package that includes a Clicgear Rovic RV1S cart, giving you everything you need to get rolling remotely on the course.
If you want to be one of the first to have the eWheels, you’ll need to head to Kickstarter soon though as their campaign is ending in a few days.
Let Us Know
Would you interested in adding electric wheels to your push cart, or are you content with what you have?