The Zervish - Modded Backfire Zealot

Hey all! I know this isn’t a full DIY build, but I’ve been really happy with it and figured I’d share.

So I own a Backfire Zealot. It has been a phenomenal board, but at around 2k miles, its deck cracked. Probably from me riding it off of one too many curbs. All its electronics (which are all original) were still totally fine, so I figured a deck swap was in order. I looked around and did my due diligence, and I ended up deciding on the Loaded Dervish Sama. Here’s how the build went:

To line up the holes, I just put the enclosures against the deck and ran the drill through its existing screw holes. I also used a countersink to widen out the top of the holes so I could make the wood inserts as flush as possible with the deck. I reused the wood inserts from the Zealot’s original deck, all I had to do was remove the griptape and unscrew them with a hex key, and then screw then into the new holes.

The Zealot has these sheets of rubber that go between the deck and the enclosure so the enclosures don’t rattle. I elected to reuse them. I used a heat gun to loosen up the adhesive and peeled them off. I was only able to reuse the one from the battery enclosure, because the rubber around the ESC enclosure had been torn for hundreds of miles and was in desperate need of replacement. So to remedy that, me and my mom used the ESC enclosure as a pattern, and cut out a new piece from a sheet of rubber we had laying around.

I also reused the original enclosure screws and washers from the Zealot. If I’m reusing the wood inserts that they screw into, I might as well use them as well.

One of my dad’s hobbies was building PCs, so he left behind lots of cable management sleeves and heat shrink. I used some braided PC cable management sleeving to protect the inter-enclosure wires, and I heat shrunk the ends of it to prevent them from fraying. It’s held up great and has definitely done its intended job.

I used my dad’s decades-old Craftsman router to cut channels to get the wires out from under the enclosures. This is one of the few tools that he hadn’t taught me how to use before he passed, so I tested it out on some scrap wood first so I could learn how to use it. Ended up being the perfect tool for the job!

Definitely not the cleanest channel ever, but it’s long and deep enough to get the wire out from under the enclosure without pinching it. I didn’t want to route a channel across the whole deck because I wanted to preserve its structural integrity as much as possible, so I opted to cut it up as little as I could get away with. My Zealot’s original deck had cracked at the wire channel, so I figured I’d just route the wire externally on this build.

The view from the top of the finished board! I actually really like the visible wood inserts, I think it gives it a cool, industrial kind of look.

I used cable clamps that are normally for routing wires along walls in houses. Usually used for speaker cables. I took some shorter nails and nailed em into the deck to hold the inter-enclosure cable in place. They’ve worked great, and they’re wide & tall enough that the cable isn’t pinched and can still move freely when the deck flexes.

I love this thing! It skates beautifully.

Other modifications I did:

  • Swapped the rear truck baseplate for a Paris v2 baseplate. The hole that the pivot cup goes in seems to have been milled too wide during manufacturing, so the pivot cup wobbled around quite a bit. That introduced a lot of slop & instability in the rear truck. I would’ve used a Caliber II baseplate, but I had a Paris laying around so I threw it on.

  • Orangatang Nipples bushings. I used two orange (soft) nipples in the front, and in the rear I put the zealot’s original, hard duro bushing boardside and a purple (medium) nipple roadside. Retains stability while still being carvy

  • Anti-sink plates. I had to top mount the trucks on the Dervish so the enclosures would have enough clearance, so I elected to put some anti-sink plates on the top to reinforce the drop-through holes.

  • Zealous steel bearings. The zealot’s original bearings had well over a thousand miles on them, so it was time to replace them. Zealous steel are dirt cheap and last forever.

  • Riptide 95A Caliber II pivot cup on the front truck. I have another one, but for the time being I can’t put the other one in the rear baseplate because of the aforementioned Paris v2 baseplate. I eventually want to pick up a Caliber II baseplate, but it’s damn near impossible to buy a single Caliber II baseplate. Trucks are usually sold in pairs, and even when sold individually it is real tough to find just the baseplate.

  • 1/8 inch rubber riser pads for adequate clearance

  • Cheap generic deck guards off amazon

I’m super happy with how this build turned out! Zealot electronics are rock solid. I eventually want to replace the stock Backfire wheels, but I haven’t decided what wheels I want to use. The remote shows your current speed, mileage, etc., but it only gives you a couple options for the wheel diameter. So if I get wheels of a diameter not in the remote options, my telemetry won’t be accurate, which would annoy me to no end. Also considering modding the remote by replacing its stock battery with a larger one so I won’t need to charge it as often. Overall though, I love this thing! Skates like an absolute dream.


Get yourself some MAD wheels! Sweet setup man.


This is a great thread, I’m a huge fan of reusing parts and modding existing boards.

I love that moms is in on this. One of my favorite things is riding and building with my kids.


Nicely done, that is a great choice for a board.


It is there to just ensure you’ve got a good seal between the enclosures and the deck. If you email them you can get new pads for either super cheap or for just the cost of shipping. My battery is from them and didn’t come with the pad, but they sent the pad for just the cost of shipping. I still have not bothered to install it though :rofl:

There shouldn’t be any rattling if the enclosure is fully tightened down onto the deck

Also I can confirm that Backfire sells good quality batteries. I’ve had mine for almost 10 months now and it is showing no signs of dying. Compare that to the battery that came with my pre-built that died in 9 months of use.


Thank you so much!

Funnily enough I’m actually 23, but despite that, I still like including my mom in projects like this. When I was a kid, after my dad retired he would buy beat up houses, fix them up, and sell them. I helped him with all kinds of stuff at those houses. He was handyman through and through, he was always working on a project. After he passed, me and my mom missed having things to work on together, so I figured we’d deck swap the zealot together!

As of writing this comment, the Zervish has now had over 900 miles put on it since the deck swap, and it’s still holding up great! In total, it has around 2,900 miles on it. It’s on track to reach 3k! The only problem is one of the motors stutters when starting from a standstill. I suspect that a failing sensor is the culprit. But because it only happens when at a standstill, I’m not too concerned about it. The only fix for it would be replacing the faulty motor, and that would run me around $100 to get one from backfire. Unplugging the sensor isn’t an option either, as backfire uses some kind of proprietary motor connectors where the phase wires and sensor wires are all in the same connector.


We had a sheet of rubber laying around that was the same thickness as the rubber pads from backfire, so we figured we’d just make do with what we had lol.

And yeah, their batteries are legit. My zealot’s electronics have done over 2.9k miles now, and the battery hasn’t lost any range over time. The reason the zealot battery in particular is so bulletproof is because backfire caps the capacity at around 90%. The BMS only uses around 90% of the cells’ actual capacity, which prolongs their life because they’re not being discharged as low as usual. It’s a pretty good idea for prebuilts. Confusingly though, this feature is only seen on the OG Zealot. AFAIK, the Zealot S battery uses the full capacity of the cells, which gives it a bit more range at the expense of longevity.

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I had the opposite experience with my Zealot. Awesome solid board, especially for a new rider, but my battery was toast after 300-400 miles (can’t remember how many miles are on mine). I would only get 8-10 miles on it with a full charge and then eventually it wouldn’t turn on unless plugged into the charger. Testing confirmed some of the cells croaked. Going to have a new 12s2p built and drop it in though for my son to try.


I don’t know what board the battery I have was made for to be honest. They’ve long since deleted the exact item page from the site and since it was purchased for me I don’t have any sort of receipt in my email.

I’ve not removed the potting on the battery yet to check how they’re wired. Any idea if they go through the BMS for discharge or is it bypassed?

That is exactly what happened with the battery that originally came with my board. (not backfire) It was well built but the cells were just lower quality and just didn’t’ have a long life span cycle wise. Took 3 months to be sent a poorly made replacement that died in 3-4 months :weary: As far as I can tell the cells from that pack are all still good or at least were good before going into storage.

Yeah I am not going to buy a factory replacement. I’d rather have a builder here make one for it