Fold up Mobility Scooters – Should you buy one?
When you think of fold up mobility scooters you automatically think of those space-saving, travel scooters while you imagine smiling people towing them around airports, on their way to no doubt exotic destinations. Of course, once they arrive their scooter will get them around without any issues and make an idyllic lifestyle even more perfect as their scooter takes them around all the sites on perfectly smooth roads and pavements with unlimited range.
It is a very seductive image until you start to examine the implied lifestyle and start to think about the realities of why you would want one of these fold up mobility scooters in the first place.
So, fold up mobility scooters are superbly portable and offer hassle free travel transport in one small, easily managed package, right?
One of the first things you will notice about many of these types of scooters is that they fold in to quite bulky and heavy packages. Many find that these are just too unwieldy and heavy for them to be lifting, especially in to, or out of, higher lipped boots such as those found in hatchbacks and SUVs. This means that they are reliant on others to lift the scooter in to their car so any freedom and independence a good scooter can bring to their lives is once again removed due to you being reliant on others.
The next questionable thing with these is the idea of the user towing the scooter around. The very fact that the scooter owner needs assistance to get around means that they most likely have difficulty just walking, let alone pulling a heavy scooter around behind them so once again you will be reliant on someone else to get you around.
But the ease of folding makes these scooters the perfect travel companion surely?
Well if saving a few seconds at the beginning and end of a journey were the most important thing on your agenda then this would be true. However, by far the most significant part of your scooter use takes part when you are actually riding on it, in fact it is probably the only part of your scooter use that is crucial that it is right.
So, let’s look closer at how fold up mobility scooters work and the implications and limitations of the design.
In order to fold, the scooter will have to make serious compromises in its ability to be adjusted to suit the operator and will therefore sacrifice comfort by forcing bad posture on the user.
Comfort is further compromised by lower seat quality and reduced padding.
Ride quality and the ability to climb all but the very smallest of kerbs is affected by the use of small wheels which are invariably fitted with solid tyres.
The small wheels will often jam against the kerb or even more worryingly the scooter can “wheelie” putting the driver at serious risk of losing control or could cause the scooter to tip especially if the kerb being climbed is angled.
Weight carrying capacity is limited due to low powered motors, small wheels and the folding mechanism. This folding mechanism will also invariably involve a joint somewhere in the chassis members. Almost every model we have encountered will flex at this joint.
Range will be reduced by the fact the batteries will need to be small and light and will also be limited by the fact that they will have an absolute limit on power output in order to be allowed to be transported on a plane.
So, what do we suggest instead?