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As adults age and face mobility challenges, electric scooters are often the answer to their newfound limitations. If you or a loved one find yourself in the market for an electric mobility scooter, you’re probably aware that your options are almost endless. A quick search will provide you with lightweight options for travel, all-terrain scooters, 4 wheel options, 3 wheel options, and even options that allow you to seat 2 people.
So how do you choose a new scooter when presented with so many options? The best way to start your search is to determine when, where, and how the scooter will be used, and go from there.
We’ll break down the main differentiators in the electric scooter market and make it easy for you to select one that’s right for your needs.
There are 4 main types of electric mobility scooters on the market today. While they can be similar in range and performance, each has a specific use case where it excels.
As the name suggests, these lightweight models are designed to accommodate travel by folding and will fit in a trunk of a car. They are also designed to meet airline requirements so that you can bring them aboard your flights. Travel scooters are lighter weight by design allowing you to manually pick them up as needed.
We recommend these scooters for those who often drive or travel, but need mobility assistance once they get to their destination.
The main drawback of portable and travel mobility scooters is that they tend to have less performance and comfort than full-size models due to their lightweight design. This means a decreased top speed, less battery range, less ground clearance, and a less comfortable seat.
When considering a portable electric mobility scooter, do your research and review the battery range to ensure it will cover the ground you need it to. A mobility scooter is only worth purchasing if it allows you to complete your trips!
A full-size scooter will be much harder to pick up and move than a travel scooter but offers a longer battery range, comfortable captain’s chair seat, higher top speeds, and a more durable design. They also cost more but you are getting your money’s worth with a more substantial product.
Full-size mobility scooters will not be able to fit in a trunk but can be accommodated with certain lift-equipped vehicles. If it is your intention to travel with a full-sized scooter, ensure that the model you are considering will work with your modified vehicle.
Within the full-size range of mobility scooters, you will have several options for configuration.
A 3 wheeled mobility scooter offers a tighter turning radius than a 4-wheeled alternative. While you gain maneuverability, you are sacrificing stability on the go, along with top speeds.
Take a moment to consider the trade-off in speed, stability, and maneuverability. If the daily use of the scooter will be primarily indoors in tight spaces, a 3-wheel scooter is the way to go.
A 4 wheeled mobility scooter is designed for those who will be spending most of their time outdoors. They offer more stability over 3-wheel models, along with the ability to go over rougher terrain or uneven ground that a 3-wheel model may find challenging.
If your scooter will be used primarily outdoors and for off-road use, a 4-wheel scooter will prove to be a better option for you.
Most portable and travel mobility scooters will support around 250 pounds, with full-size scooters able to accommodate closer to 350 pounds. If you have a need for a higher weight capacity scooter, look into your options in the “Heavy Duty” or “High Weight-Capacity” categories. These scooters can accommodate around 500 pounds onboard while maintaining excellent performance and range.
Due to increased carrying capacity, these scooters will be heavier themselves than full-size or travel models. They often are sturdier, offer larger battery ranges, and more comfortable chairs for those who buy them.
Due to their increased weight and cost, we recommend a standard full-size scooter if they will support your weight requirements. For those who need the extra weight capacity, they are a well built and solid product that will not let you down.
Specialty scooters are a niche market but can be the perfect fit for the more adventurous among us. They come in 2 main categories.
Off-Road or All-Terrain Mobility Scooters
While a standard full-size 4-wheel mobility scooter is a solid vehicle that can tackle some offroad terrain, an off-road mobility scooter will be able to go much further off the beaten path.
These scooters offer larger tires, better suspension, and higher ground clearance to tackle grass, gravel, dirt, and small obstacles. They are great options for someone who likes to venture out into nature and have the ability to explore outside of designated sidewalks.
Recreational Mobility Scooters
Recreational mobility scooters are a newer category of scooters and are designed with higher top speeds and battery ranges. They are meant to provide the user with a fun experience and allow them to go where the wind takes them.
These scooters can have max speeds of close to 20 MPH and are designed to be stable and secure when moving at speed. You can think of them more as mini-cars than mobility scooters, although they are not usually allowed to be on actual roads.
Being disabled or handicapped does not mean you can’t still have fun on your daily drive!
Once you’ve determined what type of mobility scooter will fit your needs, there are a few other specifications you’ll want to pay attention to.
First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure your scooter of choice has the ability to carry the weight of the person it will be transporting. Review the weight limits of each scooter you are considering, and determine whether the scooter you’re looking at will be able to accommodate them as well as any additional items they may be transporting.
Modern scooters are robust and even portable or foldable mobility scooters will accommodate most users with their lower end weight limit of ~250 pounds. Heavy duty or high weight-capacity scooters will accommodate ~500 pounds for daily use.
If you think you will need to move the scooter by hand at any point, then paying attention to the overall weight of the scooter itself is important. Typically, only travel scooters will be lightweight enough to pick up and move. Full-size scooters often weigh around 250 - 400lbs, and it will be a team effort to pick them up and move them manually.
Electric mobility scooters are meant to provide a safe and reliable means of transportation for the disabled or handicapped and are therefore not rated for high speeds. Speeds typically range from 4-8 MPH with some outliers that will go as high as 18 MPH!
Unlike speed, the range of your scooter is a variable to pay close attention to. Mobility scooter ranges vary from around 10 miles per charge to close to 50 miles per charge with higher range models.
When selecting a scooter, consider when it will be used and for how long. A day out and about in the city may require a range that exceeds the capabilities of the scooter you are considering. The last thing you want is for the user to run out of battery as mobility scooters are quite heavy, and this will leave you or your loved one stranded.
We recommend choosing a scooter that will accommodate your longest trips in one full charge of the battery to avoid situations where you are waiting for your scooter to charge. Charging times on mobility scooters are often around 5-10 hours, and they cannot be used during this period of time. With ranges bumping up against the 50-mile mark, there is an electric mobility scooter for any type of trip you’re planning on taking!
Ground clearance is another factor to pay attention to. Consider the use-case of your scooter and choose one with enough ground clearance to navigate the user’s daily commute. A scooter with a lower ground clearance may have trouble traveling over uneven ground or areas that have not yet been made handicap-friendly.
The turning radius of your scooter will primarily be determined by how many wheels it has. 3-wheel scooters will offer tighter turning radii than their 4-wheel counterparts. It helps to consider whether the user will be indoors often where a tight turning radius can make all of the difference. If the user will be outdoors more often with only occasional indoor use, 4-wheel options are generally preferred.
While all handicap and disability ramps will be no problem for any of the scooters we sell, it is also worth considering how hilly the local area is. Sidewalks on steep hills may prove a challenge for wheelchairs that have lower degrees of maximum recommend incline.
If you live in an area with lots of hills, you want to ensure your scooter has the power to get you where you need to go safely!
We’re confident that we offer a scooter that can meet and exceed your needs. Consult our guide here and if you still have questions or need assistance in selecting the right model, we’re happy to help!
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