Don’t think of them as fun, or maybe, do.
Jazzy. Go-Go. Buzzaround. Spitfire. Raptor. Carpet Scorcher 3000. OK, that last one was made up, but the fact is, manufacturers of mobility scooters are hustling to get the attention (and ultimately the dollars) of seniors and others who need their products.
It’s an enormous business. According to an article published in the Journal of Transport and Health, a projected $400 million was spent in 2017 on mobility scooters worldwide. That figure is expected to rise each year due in part to the aging of the general population.
Also on the rise but on a much smaller scale is the number of people who survive traumatic accidents or diseases that affect mobility. However, the percentage of people unable to walk a quarter-mile without assistance (the established standard measurement) has remained steady over the years.
Mobility Scooters are Popular
The rise in mobility scooter sales outpaces all of those factors. The reasons for this may be difficult to pin down, but one reason that stands out is the fact that mobility scooters are popular. They’re fun. They look nice. They look comfortable. They have cute little baskets, cup holders, lights, horns and whatever other bells and whistles you want. To people who have some degree of difficulty walking, they look like something they’d like to own.
Clearly, many purchasers are driven by want rather than need, so the prudent approach to getting a mobility scooter should include a review of the potential buyer’s needs, home environment and resources.
Before You Buy a Mobility Scooter
According to The Senior List, potential buyers should ask these 10 questions before making a purchase. This list is by no means comprehensive. Seek as much information as possible. However, this list should help to quickly point you in the right direction and help you to purchase the best mobility scooter for you.
10 Factors to Consider Before Buying Your Scooter
1. Will the mobility scooter be used primarily indoors or outdoors?
This is an important consideration for those who can manage well enough inside the house, but need assistance covering longer distances. Mobility scooters are equipped with a variety of drive systems, tire size and tread, gear ratio and power. Some are even street legal and can sustain forward speeds up to eight miles per hour.
A second part to this question could also be, three wheels or four? There are benefits and drawbacks to each.
For ease of transport and negotiating tight spaces, the three-wheeled scooter is best. They are lighter and simpler, and set up much quicker. Despite their smaller size, the three-wheeled scooter is better for tall persons, because the open construction allows more leg room.
Four-wheeled scooters offer better traction and stability over uneven terrain. Many users simply feel more in control when operating a four-wheeled scooter. They are heavier and in most cases, costlier than their three-wheeled counterpart.
2. Who’s paying for the mobility scooter? You or Medicare?
Some brands brag that they can deliver your scooter at no cost to you (billing Medicare instead), but the stipulations are fairly rigid, and many would not qualify. For more information regarding Medicare coverage for mobility scooters, visit medicare.gov. Medicare regulations change frequently, and that old brochure in your coffee table drawer might be grossly outdated.
3. Should you buy new, used or reconditioned scooter?
Be wise when choosing the condition of your mobility scooter. A factor to be considered is how long has it been since the scooter was last used? Or, when were the batteries last charged? Some batteries do not recharge fully if they had been left dormant for long periods of time.
Also, many scooters experience wear and tear just like a car. They may need the tires replaced, the motor might be failing, or the general integrity of the scooter may be compromised.
4. Can you or another transport the scooter outside of the home?
Some units transport easier than others. Some fold up small enough to fit into a large car trunk. Check your trunk space, the weight of the scooter, and how small the scooter is when folded.
5. What is your budget?
Prices can range from $750 to over $4000, so don’t be taken in by fancy bells and whistles if you can’t afford them. Also, consider how much you’re being reimbursed before looking at the pricier models.
6. What are the unbiased reviews of your intended scooter?
Owner reviews tend to be the most honest and they don’t pull punches. Be ware of online reviews where it does not say “verified purchase” or where a mobility scooter gets a perfect score. It it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
7. Is the mobility scooter comfortable?
You can’t know this without a physical visit to a distributor to try one out, but referring to online comments from other owners may be of some help. Also, if you see someone riding one around, tell them you’re interested in getting one and ask them if you could sit on theirs. Maybe even pick their brain for purchase advice.
8. What is the load limit of the scooter?
If you’re overweight, and many people in need of mobility equipment are, this is of key importance. Look for a load limit that is equal to or above your weight.
9. What are the safety features of the scooter?
Anything that moves poses a safety risk. Consider your own potential shortcomings, the hazards within the environment the scooter will be used in and the possibility of unauthorized usage – like a grandchild trying to take the scooter for a spin. (Hey, it happens.)
10. Does the mobility scooter have a good warranty?
Don’t wave this off. Service technicians are rightfully well-paid because of the demand and the expertise expected of them, and any warranty that leaves the owner responsible for a huge chunk of the repair bill isn’t worth having.
Mobility Scooter Models Worth Your Attention
As far as recommendations go, Amazon is as good a place as any to start, because of their selection and readily-accessible reviews. Information for the following was gathered from Amazon product descriptions and customer reviews, as well as manufacturer websites and independent review publications.
So let’s turn the key and go!
7 Best Mobility Scooters
This perky little three-wheeler sits atop a bunch of “best-of” lists. It might just be the most portable scooter on the list, with the ability to disassemble into five lightweight pieces for easy transport or storage. The biggest piece weighs 28 pounds. Heck, the whole thing all put together weighs only 115 pounds.
While it won’t win any sprint races at a top speed of four miles per hours, it might hold off the competition on a distance race with a range – how far it will go on a full charge – of nearly seven miles.
Despite its light weight and portability, the Go-Go Ultra X supports an operator weight of 260 pounds. But, as one customer noted in his review, don’t forget to include the weight of anything you might be carrying in the basket that mounts on the front.
Most owners found the seat on the Go-Go Ultra X comfortable and felt secure sitting in it.
This is a very good choice for a large percentage of users.
Drive Medical has several top mobility scooters on the list, starting with this powerful four-wheeler. It’s definitely a charge-and-go beast, with up to 15 miles of travel on a single charge. This is made possible by its two 20AH batteries (included), discharging 1 amp per hour over a 20-hour period. (Essentially, that means the battery drain is very slow).
As a four-wheeler, it is tip-resistant on inclines and on uneven terrain, making it an excellent choice for someone who will be using their mobility scooter outdoors a lot. The non-marking tires are gentle enough to use indoors, and they are flat-free.
The steering pedestal – also referred to as the tiller – is remarkably easy to use, making it a good choice for users with dexterity problems or who lack strength in their arms.
The Scout is not as nimble as smaller, three-wheeled scooters, so potential buyers should take a look at their house and watch for tight spaces. Short turns and narrow door frames, as found in many older homes, might rule this model out, which would be a pity.
It weighs just 123 pounds, yet supports riding weights of up to 300 pounds. Tall operators may feel a bit scrunched on this, however. This is an issue with virtually all four-wheeled units. The good news here is, Drive Medical has a similarly outfitted three-wheeled scooter (The Scout 3) on this best-of-the-best list.
The Spitfire is so named because of its enhanced battery life. But shoppers who don’t need that extra capacity may opt for the Drive Scout 4, which is essentially the same scooter, but with 12AH batteries, and the appropriate circuitry to go with them, instead of the 20AH batteries included on the Scout Spitfire.
Pride Mobility scores again with another highly portable three-wheeler, the Travel Pro Premium mobility scooter. This is built with the traveling grandpa in mind. Like its cousin, the Go-Go Ultra X, this mobility scooter disassembles one-handedly (the manufacturer claims) into five lightweight pieces for easy transport.
Tight turns are no problem, and with a 6.3-mile range on a full charge, it offers peace of mind when the scooter is in one place and the charger in another. It has a top speed of 4 miles per hour, which may not be a lot of fun, but it’s appropriate for the tight turns this unit is capable of.
No flat tires ever with this scooter, and it has a 275-pound weight capacity. The faux-leather seat is rated as very comfortable by its owners, and it is height-adjustable for long-limbed operators.
Keep in mind, it is a three-wheeled unit, and there is some risk of tip-over. One of the few complaints noted on the consumer reviews was that it seemed a bit susceptible to tipping over. The manufacturer highly recommends taking turns at low speed. The sharper the turn, the slower the recommended speed.
Tired of riding a red scooter? Make it blue for a day. Or a week. Whatever.
The Scout 3 has interchangeable panels in red and blue to suit the owner’s preference, or to simply prolong the protection these panels provide by giving one side a rest for awhile.
Like the Go-Go Ultra X and other compact scooters offered by Drive Medical, the Scout 3 (for three-wheeler) is easily disassembled into five pieces, with no single piece being too heavy to manage. Wide open, it goes four miles per hour, which may not sound very fast, until you consider that the average walking speed for humans is 3.1 miles per hour.
The battery range for this scooter is listed at nine miles, but one reviewer reported an average of five to six miles. A number of factors could go into the disparity, but even on the low end, the range is sufficient for someone whose primary use would be at home. Recharge is fast, and the connection is easy for aged hands.
Padded armrests and easy-to-manage steering are additional pluses to this scooter.
When you see the EV Rider TranSport in its folded-up state, you might be tempted to say, “Well, well. It looks like someone didn’t read the assembly instructions.” But no, that’s how it’s supposed to look.
There is a super-simple, three-step procedure for folding this scooter up for storage or transport in the trunk of a car or behind the back seat of a van or SUV. The weight of this travel-friendly mobility scooter is roughly 70 pounds with a standard battery, and only 60 pounds with the optional lithium battery. (It should be noted that the lithium battery may not meet airline requirements. The standard SLA-sealed lead acid – battery does, however.)
The top forward speed is a standard four miles per hour. The manufacturer claims a battery range of 6.8 miles, but factors such as user weight, incline and terrain can affect the actual range. One customer reviewer claimed she got a range only four miles, but said the terrain she used it on was bumpy.
The seat has been described as comfortable, but it is not adjustable, due to the arrangement of components for fold-up. Unlike most three-wheeled scooters, the EV TranSport is not particularly suitable for tall riders. The scooter has a max weight capacity of 250 pounds.
Mobility products are all about delivering a measure of independence to someone who has lost a bit of it. And in that regard, the Echo scooter certainly delivers.
The whole scooter, battery, wheels and all, weighs 70 pounds. That’s it. Boom! It disassembles into three pieces, with the heaviest weighing 35 pounds, and reassembles as easily as it comes apart. A user could easily be a one-man band with this scooter, not needing any assistance from anyone.
Users should expect six to eight miles on a charge, and it runs faster than a Walmart shopping scooter (or so says one person who left a review). Its maximum weight capacity is 250 pounds. It has solid tires, easy steering and a comfortable, adjustable seat. Taller individuals should be reasonably comfortable operating this scooter.
This unit is ideal for the moderately disabled user, who can walk short distances and has normal strength and dexterity. But if that person has a progressing disease that will render them less able to do those things in the future, then the Echo might only be a stop-gap measure and not a permanent solution.
The reason is, because of its narrow profile and light weight, it can be prone to tipping over. Caution should always be taken when turning any three-wheeled scooter to do so at a slow speed. Turning on an incline, especially if that incline is at a right angle to the turn, increases the risk of turn-over.
eWheels should get the Energizer Bunny to help advertise this four-wheeled scooter, because it just keeps going and going – 10 miles on a full charge over level terrain. Now, perhaps you don’t get that kind of range if you put the pedal to the metal and run at the top speed of 4.5 miles per hour, but that’s still pretty impressive.
For a four-wheeler, it’s pretty light – 92 pounds – which might help explain its extraordinary range. Its max weight load is 300 pounds. It disassembles into five pieces, with the heaviest one weighing 28 pounds. The pieces easily fit into the trunk of a car, the back of a van or in the storage compartment of an RV (not included).
The three-position seat is rated as very comfortable by users who left reviews, and tall persons who might not fit on other four-wheelers at least have a chance on this one. It’s more a matter of leg length than overall height.
There is a lifetime warranty on the frame, and a two-year warranty on the drive train and electronics.
Let’s Get Moving!
The loss of mobility, to be able to go where you want, when you want and in the manner you want, can be devastating. The loss of mobility equals a loss of freedom, and for those stricken with a debilitating disease or who lose abilities due to age, this can create feelings of great despondency.
Medical aids can play a vital role in re-establishing a sense of freedom, and mobility scooters are a big part of that.
But buying the wrong scooter, one that constantly bangs into door frames, struggles to climb hills, loses battery power at the worst possible time, tips over, or is difficult to transport, can actually make the despondency worse.
This list is not the be-all and end-all in the world of mobility scooters. There are many quality mobility scooters in the marketplace, and it would be a wise move to thoroughly investigate all possibilities before making an investment. Hope your decision will now be a little bit wiser. Happy scooting!