Mobility Scooter Advice
At Scooter.com we realize the world of mobility can be confusing, and leave a lot of guesswork. That is why we created this portion of our website – to minimize the confusion and give you the confidence to make the best choice to suit your needs. We are not attempting to endorse any particular model or manufacturer. We are simply equipping you with the knowledge needed to make an informed mobility purchase.
What is a Mobility scooter?
A mobility scooter is a battery-powered vehicle with either 3 or 4 wheels. They are also known as electric, power, or medical scooters, and those terms will be used interchangeably throughout the remaining sections. Some 2-wheel scooters are used for urban transportation or entertainment, but the primary function of the mobility scooter is to aid those individuals with limited mobility due to an existing medical condition. The basic design consists of a seat, an electric motor, and a base/floorboard. Another characterizing feature is the tiller, which is a combination steering column/ignition/throttle device used to operate the vehicle. Most models do not require manual braking due to their automatic braking system that is activated whenever the throttle is released. Electric scooters provide freedom and maximum mobility for those who have trouble walking, but are able to sit upright with minimal support, and also have sufficient strength in the shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands to operate the tiller.
Here are some things to consider when selecting a Mobility Scooter
You may now click to read about a particular topic, or simply scroll down to read all sections in sequence.
- How frequently will the scooter be used?
- How much weight can the scooter support?
- Where will the scooter be used?
- What options and accessories are important to you?
- How far can the scooter travel without recharging?
- Can is be easily transported?
- How to make the best choice and get the best price
1.) How frequently will the scooter be used?
If the scooter will be used more than a few hours a day, consider a mid or full-size scooter which provides more legroom, longer battery range, and a more comfortable seat. Travel scooters are terrific, but in order to reduce the weight, many come standard with seats that lack in comfort and support. When purchasing a travel scooter, consider a model that allows for an upgraded seat. This will allow you to ride the scooter comfortably for longer periods of time. Or consider buying a separate cushion for the seat.
2.) How much weight will the scooter support?
The weight capacity assigned to a scooter by the manufacturer can be confusing; so make sure to select a scooter based not only on your weight, but also based on the scooter's intended use. Just because a scooter can carry 300 lbs, doesn't make it appropriate for everyone that weighs 300 lbs.
Purchasing a scooter that is too close to the user's weight capacity, is a common mistake that can be made when buying a scooter. For example, we would not recommend that a person over 225 lbs purchase a travel scooter. Travel scooters can be misleading, because most have weight capacities of at least 250 lbs, with some going up to 300 lbs. It is likely, however, that someone weighing over 225 lbs will be uncomfortable on a travel scooter, even for a short period of time.
Another consideration is that most travel scooters have a standard seat that's around 17" wide. Most users over 225 lbs will want at least a 20" wide seat for maximum comfort. The exception to this 20" rule would be a user over 6'2" tall; but anyone that tall would really not have sufficient legroom on a travel scooter. So, either way, we would recommend moving up to a mid-size or full-size scooter. The mid-size line offers more legroom, upgraded seat options, bigger batteries, and still offers easy transportability.
Also, please note that the weight capacities assume the scooter is used predominantly on level ground. If you are planning to use the scooter regularly on an incline of 6 degrees or more, and your weight is within 50 lbs. of the weight capacity of the scooter, consider moving to a scooter with a higher weight capacity. By doing so, you will greatly increase the performance and extend the life of the motor.
3.) Where will the scooter be used?
Keep in mind that electric scooters are very versatile. The appropriate choice varies considerably for each individual based on: physical limitations, size of residence, climate, weight, height, activity level, and other factors. Some types of scooter fit into more than one of the following categories, but are only discussed in one section to avoid confusion.
The Indoor category mainly consists of 3-wheel travel models. What makes these models appropriate for indoor use is their tight turning radius. Very few 4-wheel scooters will have the tight turning radius necessary to easily maneuver for indoor use. If purchasing a 4-wheel travel scooter for indoor use, make sure the turning radius will allow for moving down hallways, and in and out of rooms – particularly the bathroom. Indoor scooters also have a low ground clearance, which maximizes indoor stability.
3-wheel travel scooters are most often the best choice for indoor use. Travel models are considerably lighter and usually disassemble into 3 or 4 easy-to-manage pieces, which allows them to be readily transported in the trunks of small, mid-size, and large vehicles. In addition, they usually provide an even tighter turning radius than a non-travel 3-wheel model. A couple of trade-offs on the 3-wheel travel scooter are: a smaller battery size that only allows 8-10 miles per charge, and the need for increased caution when driven on uneven terrain. That being said however, considerable strides have been made recently in increasing the stability of the 3-wheel scooters by carefully optimizing the center of gravity. Additional setbacks include a maximum weight capacity of 250lbs and recommended maximum height of 5'10". On the plus side, the 3-wheel travel scooters are generally the most affordable scooter available, regardless of manufacturer. All these options must be carefully considered when making a scooter purchase and their importance varies based on the needs of the individual.
4-wheel travel scooters offer another viable solution for indoor use. They are still compact, and only slightly less maneuverable than their 3-wheeled cousin. And you may find that the turning radius of the 4-wheel model still allows you to perform all the necessary daily functions within your home. Just be sure, as with the 3-wheel, that you can maneuver it in each space necessary within your home, office, etc. One advantage of the 4-wheel travel model is the additional stability that it provides for limited outdoor use, such as in a grocery store parking lot. This type of scooter is still very affordable and easy to transport.
The most appropriate scooter for indoor/outdoor use is a 3-wheel medium-to-full-size scooter. They are extremely versatile and vary greatly in size, power, stability, durability, speed, comfort, and many other factors.
For outdoor use, 3-wheel scooters provide great functionality while retaining the turning radius necessary if you want to travel indoors, for example, in a grocery store. Full-size 3-wheel mobility scooters have larger tires and are heavy enough to provide good outdoor stability, yet are still maneuverable enough to navigate indoors. Most are equipped with batteries that provide approximately 20-25 miles per charge, and they generally have a higher top speed to allow you to travel longer distances in a shorter amount of time. Many also have a rear suspension to provide a smooth ride on uneven terrain. Although the components will be reasonably heavier than those of a travel model, most 3-wheel scooters can be easily disassembled for transport in a large sedan, van, or sport utility vehicle.
Outdoor scooters are the SUVs of the scooter world. They are big, spacious, tough, and powerful. While some of these scooters are meant for use only on level surfaces such as sidewalks and pavement, many scooters in the 4-Wheel and Heavy-Duty categories cater to nature lovers and adventurous types by providing off-road capabilities.
If you are confident that turning radius is not an issue, then a four-wheel scooter is a good choice. 4-wheel electric scooters are the most reliable models for consistent outdoor use. They usually have a longer wheelbase and wider track, not to mention the stability of 4 wheels. The added stability is critical when traveling down or across inclines, or when negotiating uneven terrain, such as a bumpy sidewalk, or unpaved surface, such as a gravel parking lot. Due to their increased stability and incredible power, most full-size 4-wheel scooters have a very high incline ability rating. They are also faster on average than the 3-wheel models due to the reduced risk of tipping in corners. Many are additionally upgraded with front and rear suspensions to provide the smoothest ride possible on uneven terrain. While some of these models may be slightly more difficult to transport, many of them can be taken off-road due to their oversized tires, high ground clearance, power, and durability.
Heavy-duty medical scooters are made for individuals who require the security of a mobility device with a weight capacity ranging from 350-500 lbs. They often have well built suspensions, reinforced frames, anti-tips, a wider array of custom seat widths, and high amp controllers for more power. They are good for outdoor use due to their ample power and sturdy construction. These scooters are frequently purchased by farmers, ranchers, hunters, and campers.
4.) What options are important to you?
There are a great variety of options offered on scooters, so you may decide to select a model because it offers a unique option that is important for your lifestyle.
Features available standard most scooters include:
- Flip back or removable armrests
- Swivel seat for easy enter and exit
- Removable batteries
- Adjustable tiller for better position
- Adjustable seat height
- Electronic Speed Control
- Choice of colors
Unique options available include:
- Power or pneumatic elevating seat, raises the seat an additional 6 inches
- Custom seat widths, up to 24"
- Large Rear Baskets
- Walker, cane, oxygen tank, and crutch holders
- Choice of air-filled or solid tires
- Longer base for users 6'2" or taller
- Delta tiller, for gripping options
- Right or left hand only operation
- Suspension for a smoother ride
- Sliding seats that move forward and back for better positioning
- Headlights and turn signals
- Cup Holders
- Rear-view mirrors
5. How far can the scooter travel without recharging?
Batteries are heavy, so scooter manufacturers choose the battery size by considering how transportable vs. powerful the scooter should be. Travel scooters almost all use 12v/12ah batteries, which result in a battery pack that is easy to transport, but provides up to a 10 mile range. For most people, this is range adequate, and can also be extended by purchasing an additional battery pack that can easily be swapped out when more distance is needed.
Mid-to full sized scooters will usually use 12v/32ah batteries, which provide 20-25 miles per charge. These batteries are heavier, and don't usually come in a removable battery pack, so they generally need to be disconnected separately. As technology advances, however, many manufacturers are moving towards making removable battery packs standard on larger scooters as well.
The range will be affected greatly by several factors including:
- The weight of the user - most battery ranges are calculated assuming the user is 150 lbs or less. A heavier user will require more battery power to go the same distance.
- The travel surface - they assume you are using this on flat, paved ground. Inclines will decrease battery range.
- How the battery is maintained - the batteries should always be kept fully charged. Letting them run down and not recharging them fully and immediately will greatly decrease the battery life. Also make sure to charge at least once a week, even if you are not using your scooter.
When considering the batteries that will work best for you, remember that the range provided by the manufacturer is tested under optimal conditions, and you should not expect the same results.
6. Can it be easily transported?
Transportability can be a key issue when considering which scooter to buy. Travel scooters seem like a no-brainer, but there is a definite trade-off between transportability and features/comfort. And with the wide range of vehicle lifts and ramps available, you may be able to handle a larger scooter than you think.
Most scooters disassemble into 4 or 5 pieces regardless of whether or not they are labeled travel. The seat lifts, off, the batteries remove, and the front section and back sections disconnect. The only major difference with travel scooters is that the heaviest piece is fairly light, generally under 35 lbs, so they are easy to lift into a trunk or backseat. The larger scooters can have a heaviest piece of over 70 lbs. so even though they technically disassemble, they are still awkward to store. Plus, they are more challenging to put back together. Disassembling a large scooter might be okay for the occasional trip, but you wouldn't want to do it on a daily basis.
The good news is that there are many lift options for transporting your scooter either inside or outside of your vehicle. They range from under $400 to over $2000, depending on the features and benefits, but there is usually a solution for nearly every vehicle. Call customer service at 1-800-628-6347 to discuss available options for your vehicle.
7. How to make the best choice and get the best price
1) We recommend that you start your search by choosing a website for comparison-shopping. Many websites allow you to filter your search to include only scooters that match your criteria, and then select models for side-by-side comparison. Scooter.com has a comparison feature that allows you to select multiple scooters in different categories, or view all of the scooters from the same category. The information is then displayed in chart that is easy to understand. For example, you could compare a 3-wheel travel, heavy duty, and a full size 4-wheel scooter from different manufacturers. It will display the price, features, and other specifications in a chart format that is easy to read.
2) If you decide to purchase a scooter to assist you with your mobility needs we would be delighted to have your business. If you happen to find a better price during your search, simply let us know. If we are able to confirm a lower price for the same new product (accessories, shipping, and taxes included), we will give it to you at a reduced price with our 120% price match guarantee. If you have any questions, simply contact one of our highly trained customer service representatives at 1-800-628-6347, and they will assist you further in making the best choice to suit your needs.