Last week I got a new tiny mobility scooter. It is 35 lbs and easily disassembles and folds. Here I am out on my birthday at Pier 39 after a ferry ride with friends!
It is a TravelScoot Junior Deluxe, ie, the version for short people or children, and with a lithium ion battery. About a third of the cost of the scooter is in this battery. The “Junior” size is pretty good for me. I’m 5 foot 3 which is at the top of the recommended height. I went with the smaller size figuring it would be easier to handle while I was folding it, and also because the Junior size has 2 inches less width than the regular model. So, in theory I can fit through doors 24″ wide, same as with my manual wheelchair.
Assembly of the scooter was easy. It took under 10 minutes. The assembly instructions were slightly different from the manual shipped with the TravelScoot Junior. There was a little supplement that showed how to position the battery upright in the back for the “Junior” version.
The battery fastens on with velcro and is easy to plug in and unplug if you have good dexterity. I am mostly doing this while sitting on the ground — or I can do it leaning over from the scooter seat. My only quibble with battery setup is that I can’t charge the battery without taking it out of its tray, because the charging port is blocked by the side of the tray.
I put a Crampbuster on the throttle so that I can control the scooter’s speed without constant gripping, which would be hard on my arthritic hands.
Comments on driving the TravelScoot Junior:
It coasts down hills. The brakes work fine. Easy to drive. Reverse works well, and is nice and fast. Acceleration is slow whether you are reversing or going forwards, but not too slow. This takes getting used to. My phone’s speedometer hovered around 4-5mph as I zoomed around. It is a little bit tricky to match paces with a walking person. To go slower than the max speed, I have to squeeze the throttle exactly right. If I let up the pressure the scooter slows down.
There is no parking brake so if I pause to mess with my phone, I need to park carefully. This is quite annoying on the bus, but I can still handle it. It means that in order to ride the bus with any ease I will need to rig up some kind of parking brake!
There is a slight tendency to “drift” or stutter sideways a little bit when going fast on a bumpy street or sidewalk. The undercarriage clearance is fantastic. I could probably hop a low curb in this. (Slowly)
I would like to customize or get a new back support as it is a little too high up and far back to support my low back, which needs it! It may be possible to just swap out the entire seat. It is a standard pole with clamp assembly, like for a bike seat.
So far I’ve put this in the back of cabs a few times. I like that I don’t have to ask a random taxi driver to help me lift a 95 lb machine into his trunk. Instead it is something I can easily lift myself.
It would be good if I made a special padded battery carrying case, like a battery messenger bag, for when I need to put this into a car. TravelScoot owner manual suggests a padded lunch bag, but the battery I have is too long/wide for a lunch cooler bag. Here is a good craft project for my hackerspace. If I make a battery carrying case I’ll post its design on my blog!
I have also successfully grocery shopped with two backpacks and a large bag. One backpack hung off the seat back, another from the handlebars (which is awkward and I don’t really recommend it) and the large heavy bag in the red canvas shopping tray below the seat. That thing is just fabric, and attached with velcro, but I can tell you it carried about 30 lbs of cat litter and cat food with no trouble at all.
This scooter makes people stare, and ask questions, much more than my usual mobility scooters or manual wheelchair. I need to carry small flyers with an FAQ.
For the FAQ:
* “Does Medicare pay for that” (People on the street want these for their older relatives.) My answer: Probably not. And I don’t really know. I have never yet been on Medicare.
* How much did that cost? (An awkward question. I answer by saying “You can get a mobility scooter from about $700-2500” That way avoiding standing around at a bus stop admitting I just dropped 2K on this beast. I did not mind so much saying that I bought my old Zipr for $700. Class guilt . . . )
* Is that electric? What the hell do you think, I make it go with the power of my mind????? Oh, people.
* How far/fast/long does it go? Several miles, all day at least, 4.5 miles an hour, charge the battery by plugging it in overnight.
* Can you put that in a car? Yes you can and it easily folds up.
* How heavy is it? 35 pounds.
* Where do you get them? (Let Me Fucking Google That For You) Oh ok. *sigh* Travelscoot.com. Someday I hope these things are just in every big drugstore, Target, Walmart, etc. Or just in bike shops and you can test drive them there!!
* Yes, it has reverse. No, it does not beep. No, I really don’t want it to beep. Do you beep when you take a step backwards? Well then.
* What if it breaks? Yes. What if. That’s the million dollar question. You better learn some things about electronics or cultivate a relationship with your local electric bike/scooter repair shop. The thing has a warranty, which I will probably be exploring at some point . . .
* Not asked but should be on the FAQ: You need to have good balance, ability to squeeze the hand brakes, and be able to transfer independently to use this. 3 wheels is not usually a good option for an elderly person as you can easily tip over.
There is room for competition for scooters like this that have a few more features but are still stripped-down, lightweight, and easy to understand for maintenance and repair!
There is a fantastic blog with Travelscoot reviews by Elizabeth Fisher that has reviews and photos by many people using their TravelScoots.
I put up some unboxing and assembly photos. Feel free to take a look at all my photos on Flickr with the travelscoot tag .
In short: this is a GREAT scooter if you have 2K lying around and you are a very nimble person who for one reason or another can’t walk very well. To drive it, you need good balance and good hand control (brake squeezing especially). It could be possible to modify a travelscoot with a custom seat to meet your particular seating needs!