Why Buy a Power Scooter?
The top performers in our review are the EV Rider RiderXpress, the Gold Award winner; the Luggie, the Silver Award winner; and the BuzzAround XL, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a power scooter to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
Power scooters give people with limited mobility independence. Whether age, mental capacity or physical ailments keep you from walking, mobility scooters offer means of transportation. With a scooter, you can perform everyday tasks like shopping, running errands and even just moving around the house.
If your mobility is greatly limited, we have several reviews on electric wheelchairs. These machines also provide mobility for those with disabilities; however, they typically must be fitted by a trained professional. Electric wheelchairs are safer and more stable solutions than power scooters for those who have limited strength and mobility in both their arms and legs.
Power scooters are usually comprised of four to five main components, including the frame, drive train and battery. While all of the scooters are similar, they differ in key areas like battery life, maximum speed, weight capacity and operating range. Your individual needs determine which features your scooter must have. When purchasing medical scooters, the performance, maneuverability, assembly and warranty are key features to focus on.
All of the scooters we reviewed are available for purchase online. While there are several older models available that provide top-tier performance, we focused on the latest models in each of the series we looked at. We also created informative articles about power scooters, including information about these older top-performing models. The scooters we reviewed are intended for use on flat surfaces or indoors, as they feature low ground clearances and slow speeds. The power scooters in our review range in price from $600 to $2,000.
Power Scooters: What We Evaluated, What We Found
To evaluate performance, we considered each scooter’s weight capacity, maximum speed and operating range. These criteria affect usability the most, as they determine who can ride the scooter, how fast it can travel and how long it can go between charges. Similarly, we evaluated each scooter’s maneuverability, specifically focusing on its turning capabilities, ground clearance and ability to climb inclines, which consequently also includes evaluating the number and type of wheels each scooter has. In our evaluation, we found that the scooters varied significantly in these categories.
When gauging performance, we took into account the speed, battery life and recharging time, and weight capacity of each unit as reported by the manufacturers. These features have the greatest effect on usability and experience. We found that there was very little variation in speed and weight capacity between scooters, which is not surprising as they all share the same goal of providing mobility to users with disabilities.
The operating range and recharging time for each unit varied more widely. We found that most scooters’ operating ranges varied within 5 to 7 miles of one another. The scooters’ average charging times were usually at least eight hours or more. However, with outliers like the Shoprider Sunrunner that operates for a staggering 25 miles or the Luggie that recharges within two to six hours, several models clearly out-perform the others.
Performance: Weight Capacity
The weight capacities of the scooters we reviewed range between 220 and 300 pounds. These weight restrictions not only limit who can use each scooter but also how much extra baggage can be carried on it as well. Scooters with higher weight capacities are more versatile and have more resilient designs than their low-capacity counterparts.
The weight of the rider affects the speed, operating range, ground clearance and maneuverability of the scooter. When a rider meets the maximum weight capacity, the scooter sits closer to the ground, affecting which surfaces it can drive on, as well as its maneuverability. It also lowers the maximum speed and decreases the scooter’s operating range. The lighter the rider is in comparison to the maximum weight capacity, the better the scooter can maneuver up hills and around obstacles.
While all scooters limit how fast you can go for safety reasons, there is still variation in each scooter’s maximum speed. Most mobility scooters match the speed of pedestrian traffic so they are safe for both riders and people walking by. They range between 4 and 8 mph. We found that the fastest scooter we reviewed peaked at 6 mph, and the slower scooters go only 3.5 mph.
Maximum speed determines both how long it takes to get to your destination and how safe the machine is. The best option is a balance between those two factors. Our top-rated scooters go between 4 and 5 mph and not only get you to your destination relatively quickly but maintain your safety and protect the pedestrians around you.
Performance: Operating Range
Each scooter’s operating range varies widely. Some of the scooters maintain speed and battery for less than 10 miles. After that, you must recharge the scooter’s battery, which generally takes between six and 12 hours. This information is particularly important if you plan to use your scooter for extended periods of time such as for a day at the amusement park.
The operating ranges of the scooters we reviewed are between 7 and 25 miles, with most scooters averaging between 10 and 15 miles. If you plan on only using your scooter for short trips or inside, you can choose one with a smaller operating range. Otherwise, you should look for a scooter that operates for at least 10 miles.
Maneuverability: Ground Clearance, Turning Radius & Inclines
The scooter’s advertised maneuverability is generally based on a rider of average weight and height. It is important to note that most of the specifications, specifically the maximum speed, operating range, ground clearance, turning radius, maximum incline and battery charge, differ depending on the weight of the rider. When used by heavier riders, the power scooters do not perform as well as the listed specifications advertised.
Lightweight riders can expect better performance with increased maneuverability, power and speed. Based on the specifications provided by the manufacturers, we found that the scooters are all designed with low ground clearances and intended for flat surface use. However, each one’s turning radius and recommended maximum incline varies.
Maneuverability: Ground Clearance
The scooters we evaluated sit low to the ground, with ground clearances between 1 and 3 inches. Since they sit low to the ground, they are more stable than their taller counterparts; however, low-clearance scooters incur more damage when used on uneven terrain, so they are best used indoors and on flat, paved surfaces.
Maneuverability: Turning Radius
No matter where you use your scooter, you need one with a small enough turning radius to get you around tight corners. The scooters we reviewed have turning radiuses between 30 and 55 inches. Not surprisingly, scooters with only three wheels are generally more maneuverable and turn tighter. Many of the scooters we reviewed are capable of making 35 degree turns.
Maneuverability: Maximum Incline
The maximum incline your scooter is capable of climbing is important. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires commercial ramps to have a 1:12 ratio slope or 5-degree incline, and residential ramps require a 2:12 slope or 9.5-degree incline. All of the scooters in our review can climb an incline of 6 degrees, and many of the scooters can climb inclines anywhere from 8 to 12 degrees. If you plan on using a ramp to put your scooter in your car, you need one that can handle a steeper incline, and you should make sure that the scooter is compatible with the ramp.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else is Important When Selecting a Power Scooter?
While performance and maneuverability are the most important factors to consider when purchasing a scooter, the assembly process, weight and number of components affect how easy the scooter is to build and maintain.
Most of the scooters weigh at least 100 pounds after they are put together, with single components that can weigh almost half of the total weight. This is important for elderly users or those assembling the scooter on their own to consider. Look for a product that has a weight consistent with your physical abilities.
Each scooter has a heavy-duty battery that is installed in the unit. Most of the batteries weigh at least 20 pounds. Since you may have to replace the battery multiple times over the life of the scooter, this figure is important. Lightweight batteries that weigh less than 20 pounds are easy to remove and replace.
Number of Components
We also listed the number of individual pieces the scooter arrives in. Scooters with few parts to connect together are easy to assemble. Most of the scooters are broken down in four or five main pieces that you must assemble using the user guide.
Some of the manufacturers offer replacement parts on their websites. Purchasing directly from the manufacturer is the most convenient option, especially when buying components that have a limited life such as brakes and batteries. It ensures the parts you purchase are compatible with your scooter.
Scooters have different handle and seat types, which can significantly affect the riding experience. The scooters we reviewed have either standard or delta tiller handles. The delta tiller handles wrap around the steering column, giving you a place to rest your wrists. These handles are the best option for those with limited hand strength and dexterity. The standard handle has straight handlebars with thumb levers that control speed. This type of handle requires upper body strength and control.
The power scooters we reviewed have either standard stadium seats, deep-cushion stadium seats or captain chairs. The standard stadium seats provide very little cushion and support and are not ideal for long excursions; instead, they are best for quick errands or riding around the house. The deep-cushion stadium seats provide proper support and comfort for extended rides. Captain seats are the best option for extended excursions. They have soft cushions, contoured bases, adjustable arm rests and sometimes head rests.
Power Scooters: Our Verdict and Recommendations
After evaluating each of the scooters, we found that the RiderXpress offers top performance and maneuverability, making it the best power scooter currently available. The scooter has a high weight capacity of 300 pounds, so it is suitable for most people. This mobility scooter has an operating range of 12.5 miles, allowing you to travel a significant distance on one charge. When you do have to charge the battery, it only takes between six and eight hours to reach full charge. Additionally, this scooter has a higher ground clearance than most of the others we reviewed, sitting 2.8 inches off the ground. It can also climb inclines of 12 degrees. With its long operating range, high ground clearance and steep incline climbing, this scooter is also suitable for outdoor use.
The Luggie is the easiest scooter to transport of those we reviewed. Weighing only 50 pounds, this portable scooter folds up and can be placed in a bag for easy transport. The scooter has superior performance and maneuverability. It can run for up to 12 miles and only takes between two and six hours to recharge its battery. Additionally, this three-wheel scooter makes sharp turns. Its low maximum weight capacity and inferior seat and handle options limit who can use the scooter, but its design and performance make it one of the best power scooters currently available.
The BuzzAround XL is a four-wheel scooter that performs well, is easy to assemble and comes with great customer service. The scooter performs similarly to other models with an operating range of 8 miles and maximum speed of 4 mph. It only weighs 109 pounds when assembled. Even with its many convenience parts, including a cup holder, adjustable arm rests, delta tiller handle and a deep cushioned stadium seat, this scooter comes in five easy-to-assemble components. In addition, you can order replacement parts directly from the manufacturer, making it easy to keep the maintenance up-to-date on this machine. This scooter has a lifetime warranty on its frame and lengthy warranties for all of its other parts.
While power scooters are viable transportation options for most people with disabilities, the cost of these scooters can be a deterrent. For temporary users, we suggest more affordable scooter options, such as the Go-Go Ultra X or Zip’r 3 Xtra. These two scooters share comparable performance capabilities as our top-rated models with maximum speeds peaking at 4 mph and operating ranges between 8 and 10 miles. While these scooters have limited weight capacity and long charge times, their lower price tags and basic features make them good options for temporary users.