I’m cruising around New York city on a hot summer day, making better progress than all the cars stuck in traffic, and I haven’t set foot in a hot, stanky subway. Temperatures are near triple digits, but I’m not even close to breaking a sweat. Plus, I’m having a blast. My modus commutus: an electric scooter.
I’m astride a new Jetson Breeze, a robust, powerful ride from Jetson Electric Bikes that’s perhaps the first to be truly designed for an adult: its wide deck lets you shift your feet around easily. There’s a 325-pound capacity, 10-inch pneumatic tires that absorb the craggy bits of urban streets, a big disk brake in the back and a V-brake up front. Operation is simple: You just push off with your feet and then hit the thumb-throttle to engage a 250-watt electric motor.
After several days and dozens of miles, I wonder whether the solution for all the world’s problems is sitting right under our feet. The Breeze and other electric scooters are commute-busters and a traffic-beaters. They can reduce congestion, save money, and eliminate stress. They can end the misery of subways for urban dwellers and the hassle of car ownership. On average, electric scooters cost about $1,000 (the Breeze’s pricing is still to be determined), but they pay themselves off in just a few months when you factor in current transit costs.
The Upsides of E-Scooters:
1) They’re portable — you can easily fold and carry a 25-pound scooter up staircases or check them on trains and airplanes.
2) They’re compact — just roll them around with you inside stores or even stash them in a gym locker.
3) They’re affordable — you can save yourself the expense of public transport, parking and fuel.
4) They’re efficient — a single charge usually nets 20 miles at up to 20 mph; you can go about 500 miles on $1 of electricity.
5) They’re fun — brisk acceleration, and a breeze to maneuver around.
6) They’re high tech — LED headlights and digital readouts; some offer regenerative braking to add juice back into your battery.
7) They’re low maintenance — no chains, grease, gasoline, or other nuisances to wreck your mojo.
The Breeze is by far the most robust electric scooter out there — it’s the only one that can handle light off-roading on grass, gravel or dirt. The Breeze has a bit more bulk than others, but it’s still plenty compact. On the road, it’s smooth and stable, with strong brakes and good balance. I put it through rigorous tests in Manhattan: on flat terrain at average speeds it easily reached the stated 18-mile range. On really hilly terrain or at constant high speeds you’ll see a range penalty. Once you learn the nuances of the battery indicator, managing range is easy. For instance, if you run it fast and up hills, the indicator will quickly shave down your range. Back off and your range will increase even if the indicator doesn’t reflect the gain. In short, it doesn’t put range “back in” once you settle down.
Are e-scooters dorky? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the plus sides outweigh any of that. I’ll be trying several more of the little machines in the coming months, but I have already concluded that I vastly prefer this way of getting around over any other.
This 23.8-pound scooter can hit 18 mph, and its powerful 500-watt brushless motor can handle inclines of up to 25 degrees. It has dual brakes (regenerative up front and a foot-powered friction brake in the rear), and cruise control as well.
EcoReco M3 Electric Scooter
The EcoReco’s 250-watt brushless motor cruises at 18 mph, though it can be limited to lower speeds. It’s got a mechanical handbrake that’ll boost your stopping ability, up to 20 miles of range, and a universal gadget mount to keep your smartphone at the ready — or a GoPro to capture your breezy ride for posterity.
Jetson V6 Hoverboard
Breeze manufacturer Jetson also has a new hoverboard, offered exclusively through Target. Hoverboards in general got hugely bad raps last year thanks to their propensity to burst into flames. Jetson’s version won’t. It meets or exceeds all government safety standards and is properly engineered. The V6 uses “active balance technology,” which is designed to ease the learning process. Its Samsung-powered motors give up to 15 miles of 10 mph cruising on each charge, and the Ride Ready App lets you play music through built-in speakers, customize the lighting, and fine-tune the performance.
The board features a handheld remote to control speed and braking, and its powerful motors get up to 14 miles of range with the extended battery pack. (The torque-magnifying belt-drive system will tackle steep hills, too.) The batteries are swappable, and its flexible bamboo deck provides a comfortable feel. Even if you don’t have any boarding experience, you’ll be carving up pavement in no time.