ROLLING FREEDOM:

Travel Mobility Scooters 

Disability mobility scooters are a godsend if you have walking issues. The issue? Most are heavy and not easily portable without a lift. Enter the travel scooter: lightweight, nimble, and foldable. ActiveMSers tested and reviewed the best on the market. Is one right for you? Maybe, maybe not.

ActiveMSers Dave Bexfield on a travel scooter at a park

What if because of multiple sclerosis or other disability, you need a scooter at times, but you don’t need need a scooter? You know what I’m talking about. A small scooter for the zoo, or the mall, or on a trip, or perhaps a trek to Costco… when all the store’s electric carts are taken seemingly by people who have finished shopping and have parked said scooters (now unoccupied) next to their table in the food court to enjoy a leisurely lunch of entire pizzas after pre-lunches of free product samples all while other disabled patrons stack up like pilgrims during Hajj at Mecca.

Ah, but there’s an inherent problem with virtually every scooter on the market: they weigh a ton, more than a juvenile walrus. A too heavy scooter (often 250 lbs or more) necessitates a lift on your car, which means a full-on scooter commitment and a deep garage. Or a full-on wheelchair accessible van. But what if you only want to date your scooter right now, nothing serious or permanent? You know, right swipe, not iCupid. And that requirement narrows the dating pool drastically.

The needs in this relationship: a scooter small enough to store in the back of an SUV (a car trunk would be even better) and light enough for one person to actually lift it into the back of such a vehicle without having to completely dismantle the unit or throw out a back and contribute to your chiropractor’s boat payment. And this presents a problem—there are only a handful of scooters on the market that come remotely close to meeting these needs. Here’s what to look for before purchasing your ride. Important: these travel scooters are meant for people who can walk unassisted or with mild aids. If you regularly use a wheelchair or scooter, these lightweight scooters may NOT be appropriate for you.

The SmartScoot was purchased at a discount for testing purposes. Members of ActiveMSers can save on select mobility scooter with reserved coupon codes. To get your discount, join ActiveMSers today.  NOTE: ActiveMSers has negotiated these discounts and has no other affiliation with these companies. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. These funds help maintain this website. Details.

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PORTABILITY AND TRANSPORT

This is the chief consideration of any travel scooter. If you can’t easily transport it, it is going to stay in your garage to remind you of your unwise purchase, rodents will take residence, and then you’ll have to hire an exterminator, a hassle. Your first consideration should be weight. The lighter the scooter, the easier it is to take it on the move. Anything above 75 lbs is not a travel scooter in my book because you are not going to lift that puppy into an SUV on your own. An Uber driver? Likely fuggetaboutit. You’ll want to pay attention to parts as well. Can it be broken down, and if so what is the heaviest piece? Can you or your carepartner lift something that heavy? The next rule of portability is compactibility. Will it fit into a trunk of the back of an SUV easily? Again, does it fold or can you remove pieces to make it easier to tote? Some scooters even fold up so you can roll them like luggage, which is handy, especially if you are flying. Most battery-powered scooters are safe to take on an airline, but that comes with an asterisk. Airlines often beat the stuffing out of scooters, which get placed last in the cargo hold.


SCOOTER DESIGN

Scooters typically come in three- and four-wheel designs. Three wheels tend to be lighter, but you sacrifice stability. This is particularly important on slopes, curbs, and off-camber sidewalks and roads. Another key design element is entry and egress. Can you easily get your leg over the scooter to ride it? Pay close attention to the seat. Is there a back rest? This is highly recommended lest you tumble off backward. Is it comfortable? I’ve been on lots of scooters, from grocery store beaters to deluxe lounge chairs that move. Predictably, travel scooters are not in the same class, nor should they be. It’s the difference between a sofa and folding chair. Both serve a purpose—a place to put your rear end—but there’s only one you’d put in the trunk of your car. Portability is the rule here. A larger seat is more comfortable, but that adds weight. Speaking of weight, note the max recommended weight of the rider! These can vary considerably. And don’t overlook footrests. While pegs are lighter, we prefer a larger area to rest feet, especially uncoordinated feet. How easy is it to get on and off? Some members of ActiveMSers have struggled with center tubing being too wide or too high. Other considerations: are armrests available? And then there is construction. How well is it made? Unfortunately, this is hard to discern online, but reviews may shed light on durability (or may not, they are not terribly trustworthy). Width is another area to measure. Wider equals more stability, but too wide may keep you out of narrow doorways (say, cruise ship cabins) or have you bumping into chairs at restaurants.

 
Brain Storming on Paper
dave on travel scooter at the zoo.jpg
 

PERFORMANCE AND STABILITY

Speed. What’s the purpose of a scooter if it doesn’t scoot? Most scooters are comfortable in a mall, grocery store, or museum. If you plan to use your scooter outdoors over longer distance, speed may become a factor. We recommend investigating top speeds—our minimum: 4 mph, or a brisk walk. Any slower than that and your companions will tire of having to constantly slow down for you. I mean, that’s why you are getting a scooter, right? Speeds above 6 mph—a jog—aren’t really necessary (or necessarily safe), but I’ll admit they are nice when you just want to zip through an amusement park to get a cherry place in line.

 

Brakes. With more speed, though, you’ll want more powerful braking. Some scooters have good brakes, some have acceptable, and some rely on your feet ala the Flintstones.

 

Reverse. Another area of consideration: does the scooter go in reverse? This is important, especially when you nose into an elevator and then need to back out (again with the Flintstones!).

 

Endurance. Most scooters in this category use lithium ion batteries because they weigh the least. Pay attention to the battery’s range. You’ll want at least 10 miles, because running out of juice when you are out exploring is a major bummer. Ideally you’d like rather quick recharging—many charge fully in about an hour—so you can give the battery a boost during lunch.

WORDS OF CAUTION: Who probably shouldn't buy a travel scooter? Pretty much anyone who relies primarily on a scooter or a wheelchair daily instead of a cane, forearm crutches or walker. Heavier duty scooters and lightweight wheelchairs are far more stable, a big deal when you need to get on and off your ride safely. Many larger scooters have seats that can swivel with padded armrests, and wheelchairs can snug up to a couch, permitting easier entry and egress. They are also far more comfortable for parking your rear on a seat for hours at a time. If you don't use your legs regularly, travel scooters will frustrate more than benefit. Alas I now fall into this category, so I can no longer provide detailed feedback on individual travel scooters.

dave scooting away on travel scooter.jpg


ACTIVEMSERS RECOMMENDATIONS

 

There is no perfect travel scooter, just like there is no perfect automobile. Depending on what features you want, you’ll need to make compromises in other areas. These are our top recommendations for the best lightweight and portable mobility scooters on the market today.

 

TOP PERFORMER: TravelScoot ($2,500+)

 

The TravelScoot has been an industry leader in travel scooters for years and for good reason. It’s the lightest scooter on the market and it has been refined over the years. Since our earliest reviews, they’ve added a reverse gear, increased the speed, improved the seating, and updated the front wheel and fork. It folds down extremely compactly and can mostly go into a tote bag (the seat is a bit large). Drawbacks? The pegs to place feet may be difficult for some. The one area members have had concerns with is also a benefit. The triangle tube design offers better stability and a steadier ride, but it is more challenging to get wonky legs to sling over. Even so, one MSer I met on a cruise takes his all over the world and never goes anywhere without it.

travel scoot.jpg

TOP PERFORMER: SmartScoot ($2,300+)

 

The SmartScoot has been a fave of ActiveMSers because (ahem) this is among the quickest scooters on the market, achieving speeds upwards of 7 mph. Braking is via disc brakes, which will stop you quickly, but in testing they can be finicky and rub (easily fixed with a bike tool). We appreciated the extras. It comes with an LED light (perfect for post-movie nighttime strolling), a luggage rack, spot for a cane, and a collapsible basket that hooks onto the front handlebars, “really nice for my purse, to carry a coffee, etc.,” says Mary. “I can actually go through an airport and get myself something to eat.” And it doesn’t hurt that the SmartScoot turns heads everywhere. You’ll hear people say “I want one!” even though, no, they don’t really want one. Drawbacks? Mary found the SmartScoot a bit more awkward to load than the TravelScoot (it is five pounds heavier) and Ed found it a bit more tippy. Members also have had concerns with fit and finish (one complained of having to regularly tighten screws).

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ALSO CONSIDER: Solax Transformer Automatic Folding Travel Scooter ($2,300+)

 

Respected MS health advocate and personal friend Jodi Johnson calls her yellow scooter Bumblebee and also says “she saved me” in her review. The Transformer by Solax is 57 lbs, too heavy for her to lift independently, but it automatically folds in one piece, which Jodi calls “life changing.” She’s flown with it everywhere and it is now her trusty go-everywhere companion.

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ALSO CONSIDER: ATTO Folding Scooter ($150+)

 

Weighing 65 lbs, the ATTO is a bit heavier than the two Scoots, but it has the added benefit of folding down into essentially a piece of luggage that can theoretically be stored in an airplane’s overhead bin. Plus, it looks pretty trick, as if an iPad were a travel scooter.

Atto travel scooter.jpg
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