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. What should you try instead? I've found that when you need to get from A to B in a hurry, a folding electric scooter can kick some serious ass.
I've been testing out folding electric scooters for over a year, and the E-Twow / Uscooter S2 Booster is the very best I've found. It's the only one I'm tempted to buy for myself.
At $999 (roughly £800 or AU$1,300), the Booster S2 isn't cheap, nor particularly lightweight at 23.8 pounds. It's not the very fastest, or the most durable. But it is the strongest, most reliable ride, rain or shine, of any I've tried so far. (You can buy it direct from Uscooters here.)
Why might you buy or avoid the Uscooter / E-Twow? Let's go in-depth.
Why do I keep calling it by two different names? Uscooters is the primary distributor for E-Twow in the US.
- The longest range. I got between 10 and 13 miles on a charge, the best result I've seen from a scooter so far. That might not seem like a lot, but I'm a pretty heavy guy, and I ride up shallow hills roughly a quarter of the time.
- The best brakes. The only scooter I trust in the rain. A front electric brake is backed by a rear friction brake for emergencies -- and if you stomp on the rear, it intelligently activates the front brake at the same time. It can stop quickly, without swerving.
- The best at climbing hills. OK, by "hills," I mean mild inclines -- just check out this picture to see the steepest hill I was able to climb -- but it still climbs faster and steeper than any other I've tried.
- Fast to unfold. Just push down on the rear fender, fling the tube forward, and flip the spring-loaded handlebars up, where they'll snap themselves into place. You only need to open the quick-release lever to raise the handlebars, too -- no need to push a button like on many scooters.
- Great suspension. A front strut and rear coil spring give each wheel independent suspension, and it felt just right -- soft enough to cushion me from rough San Francisco streets, stiff enough that the scooter doesn't sag.
- Good grips and smart controls. No need to reach for the brake or throttle -- handy thumb paddles and cushy palm-rest-style grips make me feel like I'm always in control.
- Cruise control. I find it super-useful for longer trips; no need to hold down the throttle to keep moving. You have to activate it first (watch this video).
- Headlights, taillights and horn help cars spot you. They're not very bright or loud, but it's nice to have them built-in. Most scooters don't.
- LCD screen shows speed and mileage. One of the only folding electric scooters I've tried with speedometer and odometer.
- Integrated kickstand. Just fold the scooter partway, and it'll stand on its own.
- It weighs 24 pounds. While lighter than many competing scooters, it's still pretty heavy. Worse, the weight isn't balanced. It's all near the front wheel, which makes it tough to carry around. If you need a lighter electric scooter, check out this Emicro.
- Design flaw means you've gotta push the handlebars forward when going over bumps. If you yank back on the handlebars hard enough when going up a slope, the Uscooter's hinge lock can fail catastrophically. (We caught it on video, see below.) It's not a dealbreaker as long as you don't do that. Push forward instead.
- Slick rear wheel can slide out or get caught. It's smaller, smoother and carries less weight than the front wheel, which can be scary in certain situations. If you go over a bump (like a driveway hole) at too shallow an angle, the wheel might slide along the curb instead of jumping over it.
- Not as easy to fold. You'll have to press three buttons (and a quick-release lever) to fold the handlebars down completely, plus kick a tricky foot-release (while simultaneously pushing the handlebars forward) to fold the rest. It takes practice to keep the scooter steady while smacking that tiny pedal.
- Handlebars don't lock into place when folded. They'll sometimes just snap into the open position again; really annoying when I'm lifting the scooter to an overhead luggage rack.
- The battery life indicator is wildly inaccurate. Like most folding electric scooters, you shouldn't rely on it at all. I've gone out with "40 percent charge" and had it die before reaching my destination.
- LED lights are weak and stay on during the day. You can turn them off with a button, but they're supposed to turn themselves off automatically. Not bright enough to see road hazards in a pitch-black alley.
- Suspension can get squeaky. After a few months, the rear coil spring and hinge needed to be re-oiled. It got very noisy.
- Handlebar pins can stick out. I regularly need to push them fully into place so they don't dig into my hands. If you pull them out all the way, the grips come off the handlebars.
- So-so fenders. There's not enough coverage to fully prevemt water from flying up (my pants and hair got wet), and they seem like cheap, flexible plastic.
- Not quite the fastest. While faster than the Glion Dolly and Fuzion V-1000, it's a bit slower than an EcoReco on flat ground. Still, it's the fastest uphill, fast enough to keep up with most cyclists.
- Annoying beep every time you turn it on. People gave me looks. Unfortunately, we did not capture those looks on video.
- Very short handlebars make it easy to weave around pedestrians and cars, but they have no room for mounting accessories. Some scooters have wider ones.
- Instant acceleration gets you up to speed quickly but can feel jerky. It could even leap out of your hand if you tap the throttle accidentally.
- High deck height, paired with good suspension, means the scooter doesn't bottom out when going over bumps, but also means it takes a lot of effort to kick if and when the scooter runs out of juice.
There's plenty of room to improve the Uscooter / E-Twow S2 Booster, but the pros far outweigh the cons. It's still heavy and expensive at $1,000, but I doubt you'll find a better folding electric scooter anywhere right now.
Among the competition, few have suspensions suitable for both the sidewalk and the road, brakes suitable for both rain and shine, or enough range for more than a very short commute. None of them seem nearly as practical for commuters, with features like headlights and cruise control.
The Uscooters / E-Twow S2 Booster pretty much does it all, and that's why it's my primary recommendation when anyone asks. Even though the E-Twow is the only scooter that's broken on me so far, it's also the first one I turn to now when riding home from work.
But I'm still looking for a worthy competitor.