Buying Guide: Mobility Scooters
Mobility scooters are a boon to the physically challenged and infirm people among others for their short travel needs, within their homes or outside. It could be to move around the property and garden or visit the neighbourhood shop or explore the meadows nearby. There are some important considerations before you decide to buy an electric scooter. However, let us look at some pertinent questions first:
Where all do you envisage using the scooter? If it is for indoors, then we need easy manoeuvrability, tight turning radius and compact. Portable scooters with low speed could be a good option. In case you intend to use it for outdoors, then obviously, the scooter needs to be sturdy with good stability. 4- wheel scoter with puncture-less tyres are recommended
Frequency and distance you wish to travel on average: For longer travel, the battery life has to be longer. It also must have higher power levels. A 8 mph scooter is preferred option.
Size and weight limits: The size of a mobility scooter is often dictated by the size of your main gate, storage area and even the front door, should you plan to use it inside the house. In case you are residing in flats, then carrying it up the staircase or ramp would dictate the weight. To make it highly portable in your car, also consider light weight options.
What are the storage arrangements? Now, this point is often glossed over, but do consider it. In case it is to be stored in the garage or an outhouse or a special storage area, do check out space available. For uses inside the house use, a separate space should be earmarked for storage and this would dictate size and speed parameters, in this case a 3 wheel 4 mph scooter may suffice.
Types of Mobility Scooters
Some of the descriptive categorizations classify mobility scooters in 5 types:
Mini folding mobility scooter: As the name suggests, they are light, easily foldable and can be put inside of a car boot. They are easily manoeuvrable and suitable for short trips. They came in 3 or 4 wheel version.
3 wheeled scooter: This type of scooter has good manoeuvrability even in tight areas, such as while shopping. They do provide for more leg room and suited for tall people.
4 wheeled scooter: These mobility scooters are more sturdy, durable and rugged and can negotiate rough terrain. It also provides more balance. Usually, they come with longer battery life and are comparatively heavier.
4 and 6 mph scooters: Such type of mobility scooters are differentiated based on the speed of the scooter. For home use and inside your gardens or even for traversing short distances on the pavements, a 4 mph scooter would suffice. However, if you consider crossing kerbs or gravelled terrain and plan to use it for longer durations, a 6 mph scooter is recommended.
8 mph scooters: Such scooters have to adhere to the highway code and fitted out with indicators, lights, etc. These are speedier and can be used on the roads. They have higher power with good traction to negotiate climbs and undulating ground.
Ergonomics of a mobility scooter is an important aspect to validate prior to purchase. The comfort of the seat while riding, leg room, etc should be checked. A swivel seat is preferable, since it allows the rider to easily get on or off the scooter, particularly in uneven ground.
The handle and controls should be easily accessible to you. Your sitting position should be comfortable, taking account of your height and weight. Also ensure that the head rest is comfortable and the cushioning allows you to reach the controls without difficulty, particularly when making tight turns.
Also look for better suspension and higher ground clearance, if you are intending to buy a heavy duty scooter, primarily for outdoor use.
Transportation of mobility scooters is a point to consider while selecting a suitable scooter. Transportable scooters are designed to fit into the boot of a car easily. These may be assembled or disassembled without tools even. The scooter is usually disassembled into major pieces, eg, chair, rear wheels, front section and battery, etc. These reduce space and make it easier to transport.
Normally, a scooter, even if folded, is not accepted in public transport, eg taxis, buses or trams. While wheelchairs may be acceptable, unless the scooter can be stowed in the luggage space, it is not recommended to travel with it in public transport.
Always consider the following points:
The storage area must have mains power point for recharging the batteries. Charging is necessary everyday
The tyres should be puncture-resistant, especially for 4 wheeled, 8 mph scooters, which are used in rough terrain.
Check the tire pressure at regular intervals and do not overload the scooter.
Keep the scooter clean and store in a clean and dry area. Do not expose it to the elements for prolonged periods.
Mobility scooters may begin form $ 600 onwards and go upto $5000, depending on the configuration and durability you seek. You may also find discounted scooters, at the lower range, so keep a watch on the prices. The heavier models would cost more than the portable ones. Many people settle for second hand scooters which are also good options and can be realised at under $ 1000.
Usually, the cost of the battery and charger are additional. Do add up the taxes and the delivery and service agreements. Also add up the battery replacement costs while considering the life of the battery.
A mobility scooter is a great investment for people to travel quickly and comfortable within your homes or neighbourhood. It provides for freedom to the elderly and homemakers to travel short distances without much hassle.
Choose a scooter which is comfortable, well suited to your requirements and attractively designed. These are ideal for the infirm and people with mobility disabilities. Always test ride the scooter you wish to buy, that would be the final arbiter.