Cars get stuck in traffic. Buses and trains don't get you all the way to your destination. Walking is slow, and bikes take up too much room. If you need to get from A to B in a hurry, a folding electric scooter can kick some serious ass.
The Emicro One is the folding electric scooter that won't break your back. While many portable electric vehicles can tip the scales at well over 30 pounds, this itty-bitty scooter weighs half that. It's so small, and looks so much like a regular kick scooter, people stop me on the street to ask about it.
And yet, this tiny scooter can carry a 220-pound person and/or travel up to 15 miles per hour. Those numbers are all pretty competitive for a folding electric scooter in 2016. You can buy it direct from Micro for $1,000, £750 or AU$1,500 in the US, UK or Australia.
What's the catch? There's no throttle on this scooter: you have to kick.
- Light weight: It's not as light as a kiddy Razor scooter, but at 16.5 pounds (7.5 kg) it makes most electric scooters feel unbearably heavy. With most scooters, I feel I need to unfold them ASAP so the wheels can carry their weight. I can carry the Emicro without issue.
- Low deck height and free-spinning wheels mean you can keep kicking like a regular scooter long after the Emicro runs out of juice.
- Curved handlebars make it easy to steer, without being so wide that you bump into pedestrians on the street.
- A powerful 500W motor means this tiny scooter can actually carry you up shallow hills -- so long as you kick harder too.
- Its simple folding mechanism shrinks down fairly fast. Pick it up and press the buttons on either side to fold. You'll still need to disengage a quick-release lever to shrink the handle, though.
- Fast charging: Just one hour to fully charge.
- A handy built-in kickstand is strong enough to take a beating if you forget to retract it. I speak from experience.
- Some parts aren't durable: With months of normal use, we managed to break off the quick release lever on the folding mechanism, dislodge one of the handlebar height pins, and twist the rear brake off-axis. One of the rubber grips is also starting to tear. The scooter still works fine, though.
- It only goes fast if you work at it: Instead of using power buttons and throttle levers, the motor activates when you kick. You'll go about three times faster -- or further -- than you would without the motor, but that's a lot of kicking to stay at top speed.
- Sidewalk or smooth streets only. There's no real suspension on this scooter to absorb the bumps, merely a set of air-core tires. My feet and gums practically feel numb after a teeth-chattering ride on San Francisco's terrible downtown streets. On the sidewalk, it's not so bad.
- Short range. Emicro quotes 7-10 miles on a charge. I got more like 5-7 miles, but I'm a heavy guy -- a lighter co-worker got 9-10. Still, that's less than most scooters.
- Easy to slip and slide. Like a Razor scooter, the smooth rear tire means it's easy to slide out -- particularly when the streets are wet. I've also fallen when trying to turn too tightly, since the front wheel spins 360 degrees.
- The four-dot battery life indicator is fairly inaccurate. It's not nearly as bad as on some other scooters, but I still don't know how far I'll get on one to two dots-worth of charge.
- Low handlebars. They're adjustable, but don't lift high enough for tall people.
- Kick-sensitive motor means you have to keep kicking to get up to speed instead of simply pressing a button -- but you get exercise you wouldn't get with other electric scooters.
- You can fool the kick sensor by jerking back on the handlebars every so often to maintain speed, but sometimes it confuses the scooter and slows down instead. Plus, it sometimes activates accidentally over bumps. Nearly crashed a couple times due to unwanted speed boosts.
- Rear foot brake doubles as an electric brake, slowing you down faster than friction alone, but it isn't as efficient as the front electric brakes I've tried on other scooters.
- You'll only fit one foot on the scooter's small deck. Good for kicking, but no place for your other foot to relax.
- Fixed handlebars feel solid, but don't fold down smaller like many other scooters.
The Emicro One isn't really suited for roads, which (obviously) limits its mobility. Plus, I'm a little worried about its durability, long-term. But if you commute by sidewalk, it's an impressive little machine that'll pull harder and go far faster than you'd think. It's fun to ride, and it definitely makes heads turn.
If the Emicro One isn't for you, though, don't go away. I'll be bringing you more folding electric scooter reviews to CNET in the weeks ahead. Perhaps you'd like the, for instance?