They are not as obnoxious as electric bicycles, or as annoying as regular bicycles. To a motorist, that is. They can also be handcarried when not in use. This may explain why more people are zipping around on electric scooters on pedestrian pathways and walkways around town.
A user simply stands still and depresses the accelerator to move forward, and twists the handle bars to turn. At a bus stop or train station, such a scooter can be folded and brought on board, to be unfolded for use on the next leg of the journey.
ZoomAir 2 is an entry-level machine that has a lot in common with my Oxelo Town 7 scooter. Think of a regular kick scooter as a skateboard with a handle bar. A user simply kicks with either leg to move forward. On pricier models, the handle stem folds back such that the handle bar touches the rear wheel.
Range/battery: 25km (24V 6.5Ah), 32km (8.5Ah) LI-PO battery
Motor: 250W 24V DC Brushless
Weight limit: 100kg
Brakes: Front electric regenerative brakes, rear mechanical + electric
Value for money 3/5
Battery life 3/5
On the ZoomAir 2, this fold is enabled by pressing on the lever at the base of the stem. This lever is a manual release, so it is easier to use your foot for this. The handle bars also fold in and must be extended for use. Finally, you can raise the bar post to a comfortable height, so that you are standing up with your arms comfortably extended, and you are not leaning forward.
An LCD display at the top of the post shows the speed and remaining battery life. If the scooter is at rest, an auto-off feature conserves power. For night rides, you can switch on a small headlight sited just below the display.
One of the two ZoomAir 2 models is marked 25km. This means that one charge should last that distance. But this also depends on how heavy you are and whether you are travelling uphill.
The fastest speed I managed on a flat tarmac track was 26.8kmh. Note that the battery indicator gives only a rough estimate, not a precise reading. It shows the capacity remaining based on your current speed. If I hovered around 20kmh, the battery showed 70 per cent. At maximum speed, it dropped to 50 per cent.
Acceleration is done with a thumb lever on the right handle bar. The brake lever is on the left. There is no speed setting. Depressing the lever makes the scooter speed up. This seems normal, until you start riding over humps, when the movements of your body on the scooter can affect your stability and cause you to push down on the lever harder.
The same goes for the brakes. Hit them too hard or too fast while on the move and you may jerk forward unintentionally. But after 5km of free riding across different terrains, I got the hang of it. The trick is to extend your thumbs while gripping the handle bars, so that you cannot depress the lever without repositioning your hands.
The engine is housed entirely within the front wheel. When the engine is off, the scooter still works manually.
Lugging it around is no cinch. This baby weighs 10kg. Alas, there is nothing on it to which one can attach a carrying strap. So unless you have a bag with a strap that it will fit in, this is an under-the-arm carry job.
There are scooters that look very much the same. So, watch out for cheaper versions.