I’ve recently gotten to try out the E-TWOW S2 Booster, an electric kick scooter, and it’s a lot of fun. Here’s a closer look at what makes it great.
E-TWOW (pronounced “E-2” and short for “Electric Two-Wheel”) makes three types of electric kick scooters which have become popular in Asia and Europe. They’re also selling in the US now, so I got to borrow one of the newest models to try it out. The short story is: it’s a blast to ride. There are a few quirks and hiccups–it’s not perfect–but for the most part it’s a lot of fun.
At first glance, the S2 Booster looks like a bigger version of your kid’s Razor scooter: the height of the handlebars can be adjusted, the scooter folds in half for portability, and there’s a rear brake over the back wheel. The upright pole has a hook that latches onto the rear fender when folded, and the fender itself can be used like a manual brake similar to other kick scooters.
It weighs 24 pounds, so it can be carried, but the center of gravity is right about where the crossbrace is, so it can be a bit unwieldy. I’ve tried hauling it around or rolling it on one wheel while folded and neither is a great long-term solution. And, of course, like most kick scooters, it doesn’t stand up unsupported. I’m also not sure of a great way to lock it–perhaps through the rear wheel might work.
Looking closer, you’ll see the wire down near the front tire and the little digital display on the handlebars. There are four buttons: horn, light, settings, and power. The horn is a high-pitched beeping sound, and the lights are bright LEDs. I do wish there were a way to make the LEDs blink instead of just being solid on. The battery itself is inside the crossbrace–it’s smaller than I expected and you wouldn’t even know it was there if you weren’t looking for it. The motor is housed in the hub of the front wheel, so that’s also almost invisible. There are shock absorbers on both the front and rear wheels, and the wheels themselves are airless so you don’t have to worry about flats.
The scooter charges via a small port right near the battery, and according to the website can go to a full charge in under 2 hours. I haven’t tried totally emptying the battery so I can’t vouch for this myself, but it does charge pretty quickly. The site also states a 25 mile range on a full charge, though I haven’t tried going such a long distance on the scooter–I live in a city and I think the longest round trip I’ve taken was 6 miles so far.
It has a top speed of 16mph on level ground; it slows down noticeably going up a steep hill (or bridge) and I’ve gone over 20mph coming back down–though usually I slow down or coast when coming downhill instead of gunning the engine. The motor also has regenerative braking, so when you’re coasting or braking it recharges the battery. That’s good, because I’ve watched the battery level drop down while going up the hill, and then refill coming down the other side.
There’s a cruise control feature, though turning it on and off requires a weird sequence of holding down levers while starting up the scooter–that wasn’t described in the manual and I had to ask for help. I also had to ask for help switching between km/h and mph–that’s explained in this video. In fact, I found the manual itself not entirely helpful–it seemed like it may have lost some things in translation to English, perhaps. Fortunately, it’s mostly pretty straightforward.
Starting it up is easy: just turn it on, hop on, and push down on the throttle (on the right). When I first tried it, I wasn’t ready for how quickly it accelerates; it’s a little jumpy, but I got used to it. There’s a left thumb lever for the brakes, or you can also step down on the rear fender (which is both a manual brake and also activates the electric brakes). The downside to the left-thumb brakes is that I haven’t been able to signal with my left hand while slowing down–but I’m also not quite steady enough that I feel comfortable letting go of the handles for any great length of time.
The manual says it’s only for adult use, and although my kids have clamored to try it out, I do think it’s probably a bit much for them at the moment, particularly on streets. I did hit a wet patch (we’re entering the rainy season here in Portland) while steering a bit too sharply and almost lost control once, but the rest of the time I’ve felt pretty stable. Although it does have front and rear shocks, it can still get a bit bumpy over rougher streets. I’ve ridden it on dirt and (short) grass for short distances and it does all right, though of course it works best on smooth pavements.
It’s made a great vehicle for the rare occasion when I have a short trip to make without my kids in tow. As a stay-at-home dad, that’s actually fairly rare, but I’ve taken advantage of it a few times. It’s been particularly handy on a couple occasions where our carpooling schedules meant that we left a vehicle elsewhere and needed to retrieve it. In the past that’s usually meant loading up the whole family in one vehicle, driving out to pick up the other vehicle, and driving both home. With the Booster, I’ve been able to zip out, throw the scooter in the trunk, and drive home–much less hassle, and a fun little joyride to boot.
While my stay-at-home lifestyle may not be conducive to using the Booster regularly, I think it could make a very nice commuting vehicle, especially if you have a place to stash it in your office. (Not sure I’d trust this on a bike rack outside–it’s too tempting.) The main thing is that because there isn’t a basket or rack, you’re limited in what you can carry while riding it. It’s not something I could easily use for grocery shopping and, of course, it’s purely a solo vehicle.
The Booster retails for $999 and can be purchased online from E-TWOW. There are also a few retailers around the US–I would highly recommend a test drive if you live near one. if you’re outside of the US, there seem to be dealers in Europe and Asia, though you’ll probably need to use the “Contact Us” form on the European website to find out more.