Electric Mobility Scooters - What to look for...
Electric mobility scooters are available as three or four wheeled machines. Three wheelers have a smaller turning circle but four wheelers may offer more stability.
Some mobility scooters now have four wheels but the front wheels are closer together then a true four wheeled scooter, these scooters sometimes offer more stability then a three wheeler and more manoeuvrability then a true four wheeled scooter.
Remember that a smaller mobility scooter that folds very small may not have as much leg room. Check the weight limit for the scooter, does it have the capacity to carry you?
Your mobility scooter will need regular charging so you must have access to electricity. If you are charging your machine outside a plug-in circuit breaker will provide extra safety.
You will need to keep your machine somewhere safe and dry . Inside a garage or house is ideal, although many people quite successfully keep them outside under a waterproof rainproof cover.
Charging most electric mobility scooters indoors is extremely simple, plug it in, just as you would a kettle.
With some mobility scooters you can also charge the batteries on their own (off of the scooter, this is often found on travel scooters). This is ideal if you are keeping a mobility scooter in a car for use on days out.
Consider what you want the scooter to do for you. Do you want it to take you up very high kerbs and over rough ground, or just normal pavements and smooth grass? If you wish to go over rough ground you should look at the larger type of machines with larger wheels. These can be more difficult to store because of their size and will cost more than smaller machines.
How does an electric mobility scooter operate?
You make an electric scooter 'go' by pushing a small lever called a wig-wag.
It is shaped like a teaspoon with two handles. Push the right lever with your thumb, and you ease forward, push the left lever and you very gently move backward. When you push the lever in just a little you move very slowly. Push in more and you go faster. Some of the electric scooters featured on this site will have this reversed offering finger control this may be preferred and is just as smooth, look for a electric scooter with master speed control, a dial that restricts how fast the scooter will go no matter how far you push the wig-wag.
You steer a mobility scooter just like a bicycle - by turning the handlebars in the direction you want to go. On a electric scooter, the handlebars and instruments are incorporated into a unit called the tiller. For ease of use, the tiller is adjustable so it can best fit your height and arm length.
You make a mobility scooter stop by doing nothing. As soon as you stop pressing the wigwag, the brakes automatically activate and bring the scooter to a gentle stop. This is called passive braking, and it works even if all the power to the electric scooter is cut off. It is the safest braking system possible and will stop the scooter even on a steep hill. Some scooters will also come with an emergency brake (most class three scooters have this)
You can learn to operate an electric scooter in five minutes, and design features that make it easier to use will let you enjoy riding it for years to come.
Electric mobility scooters come with a freewheel lever to permit easy rolling of the scooter when there is no power; long range batteries, so you can travel longer and further without running out of power; non-marking tyres, so you don't mark floors; larger wheels for greater outdoor traction and ground clearance, a tiller mounted recharge plug so you don't have to bend down to plug in the power cable; and colour indicator lights to tell you the status of the battery.
Riding electric scooters can improve your safety. When you ride a mobility scooter you don't have to worry about tripping or losing your balance or getting tired and having to sit down.
Most models have an anti-tip device behind the back wheels for increased safety on steep gradients. They have a powerful electric motor to give you the power you need for going uphill. Make sure the motor drives the rear wheels for maximum traction.
Some other safety features to look for and consider:
- Master key operations so no-one can ride your scooter accept you.
- A locking seat and tiller for better stability when riding.
- Reflectors so you'll be seen in low light conditions.
- Front bumpers to absorb minor impacts without damage.
Electric scooters must remain comfortable not just for a few minutes, but over several hours of operation. Some seats are made from orthopaedic foam for maximum comfort and support. Most seats can be adjusted both up and down and back and forth. They may also rotate into four positions for easy entry and exit, then lock in the straight ahead position for safety while riding. Armrests are often adjustable for width.
Once you think you know what type of scooter you require, Shop around at your local showrooms or shopmobility scheme to select a scooter which suits your needs. You can always ask friends or neighbours about their machines, even strangers can be keen to give you information about their scooters or maybe even encourage you to have a try.