Best Power Scooters
The Best Power Scooters of 2019
After considering the best power scooters priced between $600 and $2,500, the EV RiderXpress emerged as the best overall because it combines function with comfort. This power scooter can support 300 pounds, has a 5 mph maximum speed and a 12.5-mile operating range. You don't have to worry about flat tires or steep ramps, as it features solid tires and can run up ramps with a 12-degree incline.
Our pick for the best value is the EV MiniRider 4-Wheel power scooter. This mobility scooter has a 5 mph max speed and a 15-mile operating range, which are among the best specifications available. Even so, it's one of the most affordable power scooters on the market.
The power scooter with the best maneuverability is the Luggie. It only weighs 50 pounds, making it the lightest model on the market. This makes it easy to transport in trucks and vans. It has a tight 36-inch turning radius, which means you can turn around in tight places. In addition, the tires are solid, so there's no chance of getting stranded with a flat.
Power Scooters: What We Evaluated, What We Found
As we researched power scooters, we considered user reviews, specifications and available features to evaluate performance and maneuverability.
When we talk about performance, we're specifically discussing the electric motor and how well it functions within the design of the scooter. As such, we considered the specifications for speed, operating range and charge time. Most importantly, however, we looked at the maximum weight capacity because weight factors into how well the scooter can perform.
The weight capacities of the scooters we reviewed range between 220 and 300 pounds. These weight restrictions include any baggage you take with you, such as groceries or backpacks. So, even if your weight is far below the maximum limit for the scooter, you need to consider what you're taking with you. Exceeding the weight limit can cause the scooter to become unbalanced while turning and can dramatically reduce the range and speed.
The fastest scooter we reviewed maxes out at 5.25 miles per hour. This isn't much faster than the average person's walking speed, which is around 3 miles per hour. However, this is good because if the scooters went any faster, they'd risk throwing you off or tipping over while turning. While most scooters max out between 4 and 5 miles per hour, the slowest scooters max out at about 3 miles per hour.
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 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 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 model that operates for at least 10 miles.
The scooter’s advertised maneuverability is generally based on a rider of average weight and height. It is important to note that maneuverability is also affected by weight. When used by heavier riders, the power scooters do not perform as well and can’t maneuver as well as the specifications suggest.
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 driven on uneven terrain, so they are best used indoors and on flat, paved surfaces.
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. That said, three wheel scooters have a higher risk of tipping over.
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 the scooters we reviewed can climb an incline of 6 degrees, and many of the scooters can climb inclines anywhere from 8 to 12 degrees.
What Else Is Important in Choosing 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, and single components can weigh almost half of the total weight. The assembled weight is important for elderly users or those assembling the scooter on their own. 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, and most 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. Batteries that weigh less than 20 pounds are easy to remove and replace.
Number of Components
Most mobility scooters come in four or five main pieces that you must assemble using the user guide. We preferred scooters with fewer components to assemble, as they require less technical aptitude to put together.
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.
Will Insurance Pay for My Power Scooter?
Ranging between $600 and $2,500, power scooters are not cheap. However, it’s possible your insurance will pay for part or all of the scooter. For example, Medicare Part B plans cover power-operated scooters, walkers and wheelchairs under the Durable Medical Equipment clause. However, you have to get a doctor’s written order stating you have a medical need. To qualify for limited mobility order by a doctor, you need a health or physical condition that:
- Makes it difficult to move around your home.
- Makes you unable to perform daily activities like bathing, dressing, getting out of bed or chairs, using the restroom, even with the use a of a cane.
- Doesn’t affect your ability to get on and off the power scooter, or operate the powered scooter safely. And if you need assistance, your doctor needs to ensure someone is available to assist at all times, like a caretaker or family member.
In addition, your doctor and the scooter supplier need to be enrolled with Medicare, and the scooter needs to be approved for use in your home. If you meet these criteria, your Medicare Part B plan pays for 80 percent of the cost, but only after you’ve met your deductible for the year. That said, this is applied to the approved amount. So if your Medicare plan only approves you for a scooter at a $1,000 price point, it’ll pay for $800, but it won’t pay for $2,000 of a $2,500 power scooter.
If you’re not on Medicare, the coverage of power scooters varies by the insurance plan and provider, but the principles are likely to be the same – you have to prove you have a medical need for it, and you’ll have to meet your deductible before the provider pays anything. Before you purchase a power scooter, it’s worth checking with your insurance provider to see whether your plan covers any of the cost.