AARP Report - Pride Mobility Products

AARP Report - Pride Mobility Products
Product
R E P O R T
Last year it finally hit
“
me” says Diana Lord,
ELECTRIC
SCOOTERS
a 50-year old with a disabling condition.
“If I didn’t do something..., I
might never visit an art gallery
again.” That’s when she bought
an electric scooter.
© AARP
Introduction
Almost any day of the week
you can find Diana Lord
zipping along the paths and
sidewalks of suburban
Washington, DC, riding her
electric scooter. It gets her
around the house, but it also
gets her out of the house. She
goes to church, the grocery
store, the community center,
and the museums and art
galleries in Washington, DC,
via subway, on her scooter.
For users, like Diana, a
scooter isn’t just transportation, it’s independence.
Diana’s in her early 50s, and
has a disabling condition
called neuromyopathy. This
condition weakens both her
nervous and muscle systems
and prevents her from taking
even a few steps. “Last year
it finally hit me,” says Diana.
“If I didn’t do something, I
might never visit an art
gallery again.” That’s when
she started shopping for a
scooter. Diana began by
reading scooter advertisements and writing away for
more information. Next she
test-drove a scooter. “I was
like a teenage boy with his
first motorcycle,” Diana says.
She settled on an indoor/
outdoor scooter for $2,445
and has been a satisfied user
for more than a year. Diana
still drives a car, sporting a
scooter carrier. In reality,
however, it’s the scooter that
gives her the legs she
1
needs to go where she wants
to go.
Diana’s decision to buy a
scooter is like those of more
and more adults. Last year,
approximately 30-40,000
consumers purchased new
scooters. Many scooter
owners, according to an
AARP questionnaire sent to
500 member users, appear to
be older. The average age
was 69 years but there are
also 40 year-olds and 90
year- olds driving scooters.
Half the scooter owners
questioned in the AARP
tabulation purchased their
vehicles within the last two
years and paid an average of
$2,400. Over 60 percent
drive their scooter every day,
and 58 percent use it both
indoors and out. Almost all
users (93 percent) expressed
satisfaction with their vehicles.
Buyers can find plenty of
new and used vehicles to
choose from. There are at
least twenty different manufacturers of scooters, many
with different models. With
all these choices, how do you
make a decision?
Product Report - This booklet provides information to
help you decide if an electric
scooter might meet your
needs. Up to now, very little
comparative information was
widely available. This product report seeks to fill an
information gap with brand-
name information, user comments, and suggestions. We can’t
guarantee you’ll be problem free,
but we’ll help you make a more
informed choice. We wrote this
guide for the first-time buyer.
However, if this is your second
or third purchase, there will be
information you, too, can use.
What’s an
Electric
Scooter?
An electric scooter is a batterypowered, three or four-wheeled
vehicle designed for individuals
who have difficulty walking.
There are scooters for indoor use,
scooters for outdoor use, and
indoor-outdoor scooters for use
in both places.
While models vary, each
scooter normally comes
equipped with:
♦ A Metal (or in some in-
stances, plastic) Chassis with
Three or Four Inflatable tires
-The tires could be soft or hard,
filled with air or foam.
♦ An Adjustable Seat with
Armrests – The seat adjusts to
fit the rider and swivels to provide access to tables and desks
while seated on the scooter.
by Lee Norrgard
© Copyright 1995, AARP
AARP Product Report
♦ A Tiller with Controls (see figure 1) The tiller is a
combination steering wheel, gas
pedal, and control panel. It
adjusts up and down and tilts
forward for easy entry. It’s
bicycle-like handles steer left
and right and, frequently, what
appears to be hand brakes is
actually the throttle. Some
manufacturers call the throttle a
wigwag.
Mounted on top of the tiller is a
console with an ignition switch
(requiring a key), a speed
control (high, low, or medium),
a switch for forward and
reverse, and a battery gauge
displaying available power.
On most scooters you won’t
find driver-operated brakes
on the tiller or the chassis.
Instead, scooters use an
automatic system called
regenerative braking. The
brakes automatically take
hold when you release the
throttle. Combined with the
regenerative braking is a
mechanical system, a parking
brake, which holds the
vehicle in place after it stops.
♦ An Electric Motor
with Rechargeable
Batteries - Two
rechargeable, lead batteries
power the scooter’s electric
motor. Some scooters (depending upon make and model)
speed along at up to eight miles
an hour and some (depending
upon make and model) travel up
to 35 miles on a single battery
charge. Your scooter’s maximum speed and range will vary
not only upon make and model
but also upon travel conditions.
Hilly roads or bad weather, for
example, slow you down and
call for more battery power.
With proper maintenance and
care, a scooter can last
2
Winter 1995
for years (one AARP member
reports he’s still driving a
1978 scooter). The most
expensive repair will likely
be a new set of gel cell
batteries costing $180 every
12 to 24 months.
Most consumers (an estimated 75 percent) pay for
their scooters out of their
own pockets. However, if it’s
used indoors (at least in part),
is medically necessary, and
prescribed by a physician,
Medicare may reimburse you
for part of the cost. It will
take some paperwork, however. Some private health
insurance plans also cover
scooters.
Why a Scooter? A scooter’s not your only
choice in motorized mobility
aids, but it has some distinct
advantages. Chief among
these is cost. New scooters
range from $1,800 to $5,000.
Electric wheel chairs, on the
other hand, are usually
custom fitted and start at
around $4,000, but can go as
high as $15,000 to $25,000.
Scooters are also more
versatile. They’re used both
indoors and out, depending
upon the model. While you
can use an electric wheelchair on sidewalks and
streets, they’re generally not
considered an outdoor vehicle.
ground clearance, and a more
powerful motor, out-door
scooters climb hills, go up
curbs, and travel over open
To select the right vehicle for ground. They’re faster, travel
you, you must decide which farther on a battery charge,
scooter meets your driving
and go in all kinds of weather.
needs. There are three types
If you want to travel longer
of scooters:
distances outdoors, this is
Indoor, Outdoor, and Indoor- your scooter. Outdoor scootOutdoor
ers also cost more ($2, 500 to
$5,000).
Indoor scooters are smaller, However, manufacturers
three-wheeled vehicles.
didn’t design them for indoor
Manufacturers designed them driving. Outdoor scooters
to work best indoors or on
can’t make sharp turns
paved, level ground. It’s a
through narrow doorways. As
smaller and lighter scooter
a result, you’ll bump into
(generally less than 130
walls driving indoors. Also,
pounds) and its tires won’t
an out-door scooter’s tires
mark your floors. This is a
may mark up your floors.
front-wheel drive vehicle
where the front-wheel pulls
the scooter forward. Because Indoor-outdoor vehicles are
it’s a smaller, lighter vehicle, a mixture of the best features
indoor scooters turn the tight of both indoor and outdoor
corners in your home (door- scooters. Most are threeways, for example) without
wheeled vehicles with rearrunning into walls. They also wheel drive and soft tires. A
travel shorter distances on an fully assembled indoor-outelectric charge at slower
door unit weighs between 80
speeds, and cost less. You
and 150 pounds. Unlike
will pay between $2,000 and outdoor vehicles, an indoor$3,500 for a new, indoor
outdoor scooter can be readily
scooter.
disassembled for transport in
your car’s trunk.
Outdoor scooters, by
You can drive an indoorcontrast, weigh as much as
outdoor scooter in your home.
100 pounds more than their
They’re harder to maneuver
indoor cousins. They are
indoors than their smaller
rear-wheel drive vehicles,
cousins, but much easier than
where the rear wheels push
outdoor scooters. You can
you forward. Almost allalso drive them outdoors,
outdoor scooters have four
wheels and sit higher off the although indoor-outdoor
scooters can’t climb curbs and
ground (higher ground
hills with the power
clearance). With their larger
size, higher
Types of
Scooters
3
AARP Product Report
and stability of the heavier
outdoor vehicles. In fact, it
may be wise to avoid uneven
ground or steep hills (see
safety measures on page 8).
Still, they meet most of the
needs for indoor-outdoor use.
The remainder of this guide
focuses exclusively on indoor-outdoor vehicles because
that’s what most consumers
buy. Table 1 describes 15
different indoor-outdoor
scooters, each manufactured
or distributed by a particular
company. This table lists
retail prices, maximum speed,
driving range, over-all
weight, and the weight of the
heaviest part of each scooter.
Table 2 (page 5) summarizes
the results of
a scooter evaluation conducted
for AARP by the Institute for
Technology Development (ITD).
ITD combined the results of
50 different trials, performance measures, and preferences under six headings.
Based on the results of these
measurements, ITD compared each scooter to all the
others and ranked it as
average, above, or below
average in each category
(Handling Ability, Safety
Measures, Performance
Trials, Features and Adjustments, Riding Comfort and
Assembly/Disassembly). If
the scooter scored in the
average range, you will see a
circle ( ). Above average
is pictured with an upward
facing pyramid ( ) and a
below average ranking
receives a downward facing
pyramid ( ).
If the scooter scored below
average on safety measures,
for example, does that mean
it’s unsafe? No, if driven
according to the
manufacturer’s instructions,
it should be safe. Some
scooters simply perform
better or are preferred by
some people.
There is no overall rating.
Users must decide for themselves which scooter best
meets their needs.
The remainder of this report
discusses each of these
categories in more detail.
Table 1
Manufacturer
Model
©
Amigo Mobility
Deluxe
Booster Electric
Bruno
Indoor-Outdoor Scooters
Mfg. Retail Weight in
Weight
Top
Range in
Price
pounds Heaviest Part Speed1
Miles2
$2995
158
85
4.5
25.5
Town & Country Sport
2995
151
46
4
15.5
Regal TenTM #75
2495
154
41
5
11.5
Electric MobilityTM RascalTM #230
2795
130
30
5.5
14.7
Fortress Scientific #2000
3255
132
55
5
24.3
Genus Medical
Flyer
2950
165
34
5.5
18.5
Tri Rolls
2860
153
47
5.5
19.8
Leisure Lift
Pace Saver III Premium
2350
143
40
5.2
17.2
Mobility Mfg.
Bobcat
2395
143
38
5.5
19.7
Ortho-Kinetics
#4635
3295
147
48
4.9
22.1
Pillar Technology Blazer 2
1795
134
60
5.2
13.4
Pride Health Care Sundancer
2495
140
38
4.5
23.4
Ranger
Safari
2295
124
43
5
15.5
Shoprider
SunrunnerTM
1995
82
26
5
19.8
Suntec
MIDI
2395
1
As reported by the manufacturer.
4
10.3
Invacare
©
144
37
2
As measured by ITD.
4
Winter 1995
Handling
Ability
Can I drive a scooter in crowded
places?
Can I get into my bath room on a
scooter?
Can I back the vehicle down
narrow hallways?
Can I park at a restaurant table and
be comfortable eating dinner,
seated on a scooter?
All of these are questions about
handling or how easily can you
maneuver a scooter in tight spaces.
To try to gauge each scooter’s
handling ability, ITD conducted six
separate trials with testers. These
were:
• Negotiating an obstacle
course.
• Turning around in a small
room
• Turning (90o) through a
typical doorway
• Stopping at a precise point
•
•
Driving forward and backing
down a narrow path, at
various speeds
Pulling up to a table.
Researchers clocked completion
times, recorded any errors (bumping into a wall for example), and
asked testers to rate each scooter’s
ease of carrying out the task. ITD
combined the various measurements to provide the rating under
Handling for each scooter.
In reading through the findings or
the ratings, don’t consider that
assessment to necessarily be the
final word. First, although ITD
conducted the trials with the rigor
of scientific experiments, they base
their findings on a small sample of
users and scooters. Second, there
are personal trade-offs to consider
with each rating. Readers must
always keep their own needs and
wishes in mind; otherwise, you
won’t find the scooter that’s right
for you.
We don’t have enough space to
discuss each measurement.
Therefore, we’ll limit ourselves to
the most important items.
Obstacle Course – In some
ways, driving a scooter is more
difficult than driving a car. For
example, there aren’t any marked
scooter lanes in a shopping mall.
Even if there were, mall walkers
can appear out of nowhere, forcing
you to go around them or brake.
In its obstacle course, ITD sought
to gauge each scooter’s ability to
go around roadblocks. Researchers
placed plastic pylons (the kind of
cones used with road construction)
on a seven foot by 38 foot path.
Testers drove from one end to the
other, scooting around each pylon.
Without stopping, they turned
around and retraced their steps.
Researchers noted any errors and
recorded completion times.
Table 2
Assembly/
Handling
Saftey Performance Features and Riding
Trials
Adjustments Comfort Disassembly
Ability
Measures
Amigo Mobility
Booster Electric
Bruno
Electric Mobility
Fortress Scientific
Genus Medical
Invacare
Leisure Lift
Mobility Manufacturing
Ortho-Kinetics
Pillar Technology
Pride Health Care
Ranger
Shoprider
Suntec
5
Key:
Below Average
Average
Above Average
AARP Product Report
The most important finding
from this trial is that no matter
which scooter you buy, you
must exercise great care in
crowded places. In two out of
three trials, testers either struck
a pylon or went out of bounds
at least once per try. Testers
driving the Pillar Blazer,
Electric Mobility Rascal, Pride
Sundancer, and Booster Town
and Country Sport did better,
making fewer than one error
per try. Drivers with the
Amigo Deluxe, Leisure Lift
Pace Saver III, Suntec MIDI,
and Ortho Kinetics’ 4635
scooters averaged one and one
half or more errors per try.
Turning - Next, let’s look at
turning ability. ITD conducted
two trials to measure this
ability. In the first trial, (see
figure 2, page 7), testers drove
each scooter into a five foot by
five foot room (about the size
of a small bathroom or an
elevator). The driver then
backed-up, turned the vehicle
around, and drove out, trying
not to hit anything (researchers
recorded bumping into walls
or door ways as an error). In
the second test, drivers passed
through a narrow hallway and
made a right-hand (90') turn
through a 36 inch doorway (a
standard width for many
Scooter Evaluation
AARP contracted with the ProMatura Group of the Institute
for Technology Development (ITD) to evaluate 15 indooroutdoor scooters and review user feedback. ITD completed
the following tasks:
♦ user trials with 25 older, first-time user, female testers
driving each scooter through an obstacle course, turnarounds,
turns, straightaways, ramps, a grassy area, and other test
runs.
♦ Eight separate performance measures including climbing
ramps, curbs, measuring stopping distances, and hill climbs.
♦ A review of federal scooter injury files.
♦ An analysis of 500 user letters and the tabulation of a user
questionnaire.
ITD researchers measures, timed, and evaluated the results
of the user and performance trials. They queried testers about
their experiences and preferences and recorded and analyzed
all this information.
AARP was the sole sponsor of this study. Every manufacturer/distributor was invited to participate by donating a
sample indoor-outdoor product for evaluation.
doors1). Again, testers tried to
complete the task as quickly as
possible without hitting anything.
According to testers, the Electric Mobility, Pride, and Pillar
scooters are easier to turn
around and make 90' turns.
They also completed the turns
in the best time and made fewer
errors with these vehicles.
On the other side, testers rated
the Invacare Tri Rolls as the
most difficult scooter to turn
around. Drivers also made more
errors with it and took longer to
complete the exercise.
Similarly, testers rated the
Bruno Regal Ten as the most
difficult scooter with which to
make the right hand turns.
They also too longer and made
more errors with the Bruno.
The turning trials contributed
to the above-average ratings
for the Electric Mobility, and
Pillar scooters and the average
or below-average ratings for
the Invacare and Bruno scooters under Handling Ability.
Do the down arrows here
indicate inferior products? Not
necessarily. We’re back to the
question of trade-offs.
Note: From the time we began the research, there have been a number of product and industry
changes. Electric Mobility introduced a new Rascal 230 in 1995. The new model includes a
number of product changes from the vehicle tested in this study. Fortress Scientific was purchased by Optiway Technology Inc. and has made a number of changes in the Fortress 2000.
Genus Medical was purchased by Invacare, manufacturer of the Tri- Rolls, and Mobility Manufacturing went out of business.
We chose to list these products even though they may no longer be manufactured, because
dealers and distributors may still stock the scooters.
1
Note: Many residential interior doors are only 30 inches wide
Winter 1995
6
Take a look at the ratings
under Safety Measures.
Here, both the Bruno
Invacare rate a . Both
scooters are larger, heavier,
and generally have a wider
turning radius (less able to
make sharp turns). That
makes them difficult to
maneuver in tight places,
but it also makes them
more stable and less likely
to tip. The personal trade
off is: If you need maneuverability, look at the
Handling Ability rating
Figure 2: Turnaround
and, if you need to climb hills
and travel over open ground,
look at the ratings under
Safety Measures.
Types of
Scooters
Can I cross a steep hill with a
scooter?
Can I stop when I need to with
this vehicle?
Can I climb a curb?
These are questions about
scooter safety and stability. To
investigate these issues, ITD
conducted six performance
tests. Researchers:
♦ Calibrated the angle at which
a scooter begins to tip sideways
♦ Evaluated sideways tip
ability with the seat at various
levels
♦ Traveled full speed across a
13o grassy hill
♦ Drove across potholes,
♦ Measured stopping distances
♦ Climbed 2.5, 3, and 3.5 inch
curbs (most curbs are from three
to six inches high)
In addition, ITD reviewed the
scooter accident reports filed
with the federal Food and Drug
Administration.
Sideways Tipability According to the FDA’s files,
one in six reported accidents
involves a scooter tipping
over on its side. To be sure,
the overall number of reported accidents is small2.
Nonetheless, based on both
the FDA reports and ITD’s
findings, sideways
2
7
Only 230 reports were filed between
1988 and 1993.
AARP Product Report
tipping should be a concern for
indoor-outdoor scooter buyers.
To compare the risks of
tipping, ITD began by measuring the angles at which
each vehicle begins to tip
sideways (when one of the
rear wheels lifts off the
ground). To determine this
angle, researchers slowly
jacked up one side of the
scooter as it sat on a plywood
platform. When one of the
rear tires raised up, researchers measured the angle of the
incline. On average, scooters
begin to tip when one side of
the vehicle is about seven
inches higher than the other.
This is approximately 16o.
The tip ability angles ranged
from 14o (one side is approximately six inches higher than
the other) for the Ranger
Safari to 19o (one side is
approximately eight inches
higher than the other) for the
Booster Electric.
Next, ITD conducted three
performance tests. First,
researchers drove each
scooter up and then across
the same 13o hill. Second,
they drove across a series of
five potholes that ranged
from 1.5 to 3.5 inches deep.
Third, researchers drove the
scooters at full speed, in tight
circles, on level ground, to
learn how seat adjustments
influence tip ability. For the
circle test, they adjusted the
seat to the lowest and farthest
forward position and then the
highest and farthest back
position. In all three trials,
researchers noted if
Figure 3: Scooter on hill.
the scooter tipped.
Comfort, for more informaOf the 15 scooters, only three tion). If jostled too far to one
successfully completed each side, the d-river’s weight alone
performance test with the rear might topple the vehicle.
wheels planted firmly on the Indoor-outdoor scooters only
weigh about 150 pounds.
ground. The three scooters
were Leisure Lift, Bruno, and ITD’s 160 pound driver, for
Pillar. Interestingly, ITD found example, weighed more than
that these three scooters only all but one of the 15 scooters he
had average or slightly better test drove over the potholes.
tipability angles (16o or 17o). What do the tipping trials mean
for the scooter buyer? First and
Further, the scooter with the
foremost, if you plan to drive
19o tipability angle tipped.
regularly on open ground,
Why’s that? Stability or keepacross hills, and potholes, you
ing the wheels on the ground,
need an outdoor scooter.
is certainly related to the angle
Outdoor scooters are larger,
at which a scooter begins to tip.heavier, and more powerful. To
However, no single factor
be sure, there are significant
appears to determine stability. differences among the 15
Crossing a small pothole
scooters tested by ITD. Genershouldn’t cause most scooters ally speaking, however, driving
to tip. However, crossing that indoor-outdoor scooters on
pothole at full speed may be a rough ground puts you at risk.
jarring experience (see Riding If you must cross a hill on an
8
Winter 1995
indoor-outdoor scooter, try to
avoid steep grades. If you
can’t avoid a steep hill, drive
slowly, crossing it in small
steps. Some scooters come
equipped with anti-tipping
devices on each side. These
should prevent side tipovers
in many instances, but they’re
not a permanent fix.
Stopping on a Dime –
According to a number of
retirement center managers,
scooter accidents are accelerating in these facilities. In
part, this is because more
people are driving scooters,
but are there other reasons? A
medical journal suggests that
scooter accidents relate to
inadequate driver training and
drivers with slowed reaction
times. However, the authors
reached these conclusions
without looking at the scooters. ITD’s evaluation tried to
take a snap shot-look at both
the older driver and scooter
performance in braking.
In the first trial, researchers
asked testers to try to stop
each scooter at a certain point
on a track. ITD asked testers
to stop while going forward
and in reverse, at medium and
then at high speeds.
The averages for all scooters
with these trials
were as listed in Table 3. The
differences among individual
scooters in these trials
weren’t significant and aren’t
included here. In the second
test, ITD tried to determine
the distance needed to stop a
scooter traveling fool-speed
on an incline. Here, a researcher drove each scooter
full-speed, up and down a 5o,
30 foot long ramp (a 5o
incline is equal to the slant on
ramps making buildings
wheelchair accessible).3
Midway up the ramp, researchers set-up an electric
eye to sound an alarm when
the scooter crossed its beam.
Just as the alarm sounded, the
driver released the throttle, or
the scooter equivalent of
slamming on the brakes (as
mentioned earlier, scooters
rely on regenerative brakes).
After each vehicle came to a
halt, researchers measured
the distance from where the
alarm sounded to the front of
the scooter. Going up the
ramp, the regenerative brakes
brought the scooters to an
immediate standstill. They
stopped within inches of the
electric eye, (each scooter
actually rolled backwards a
little). Going down the ramp,
however, was a different
story. Not one scooter
Table 1
Trial
Percentage Stopped Percentage Stopped
Within Ten Inches
On Line
Driving forward, medium speed
54
47
Driving forward, high speed
36
53
Driving reverse, medium speed
28
49
Driving reverse, high speed
18
42
came close to stopping on the
proverbial dime. The best
performers, the Bruno,
Shoprider, Ranger, and Pride
scooters, stopped four feet
from the alarm and the Fortress 2000 took more than nine
feet to come to a halt. Scooter
manufacturers indicate the
long stopping distance is a
design compromise. Stopping
too quickly might throw the
driver forward so the rate of
deceleration is slowed for a
gradual stop.4 None the less,
long stopping distances can be
dangerous if you’re not prepared. You should never drive
full-speed down a hill, particularly in a congested area.
However, for comparison
purposes alone, let’s put the
scooter on a 5o sidewalk in San
Francisco, instead of an indoor
ramp. If the driver delayed
slamming on the brakes until
reaching the street corner, he
or she would be in the road
before the scooter came to a
standstill. What do these trials
mean to the scooter buyer?
First, in the main, the ITD
testers were close, but couldn’t
stop on a line. You probably
won’t either. Driving experience will surely improve your
abilities, but you must always
give yourself an extra margin
in stopping every scooter.
Second, remember that regenerative brakes appear to work
fine going uphill. However, in
driving down hill at whatever
speed, learn the scooter’s
limits.
3
9
The user trials are included under the Handling Ability column in Table 1. The performance evaluation is included under the
Safety Measure column.
4
It’s interesting to note that both the Pride and Fortress scooters had the highest percentage of smooth stops on level ground.
Nonetheless, on the 30 foot ramp, the Pride stopped about four feet from the electric eye and the Fortress over nine feet.
AARP Product Report
Time and Distance With a
Charge - Before you set off
Manufacturers, Amigo, for
on an all-day trip through
example, with some models, Disney World, you’ll want to
do produce scooters with
know if your scooter will
manual brakes and it could
make it. To measure time and
have been interesting to
distance, ITD’s researchers
compare regenerative and
began by charging each
manually controlled brakes
scooter’s batteries for the
with users. ITD reports that
recommended 12 hours. They
the testers kept looking for
then loaded the vehicle with
the brakes as they stopped.
the equivalent of a 160pound driver and placed it on
a treadmill-like device.
Researchers set the scooter’s
Performance speed control and throttle for
the fastest rate and ran each
Trials
vehicle in place until it
drained its batteries. ITD
How many miles can I travel on a
recorded the distance traveled
scooter?
and clocked the running time.
Can I climb a ramp with a
The average distance traveled
scooter?
by all scooters was 18 miles.
They ranged however, from
How sharply can I turn the
ten to 26 miles. The average
scooter?
driving time was a little over
four hours, but individual
These are all questions about
vehicles ranged from two to
scooter performance or the limits
six hours. Be aware that, in
of effective vehicle operations. To some instances, ITD’s findtry to gauge scooter performance,
ings are higher or lower than
ITD conducted six separate
manufacturers’ claims. The
measurements. These were:
differences might be attributed to nothing more than
♦ Measuring distance traveled on
different measurement
a fully charged battery
techniques5. The driver’s
♦ Clocking maximum driving
weight, weather conditions,
time on a charge
driving speed, and the terrain
♦ Climbing two steep ramps
o
o
can all influence the power
(nine and 18 ).
drain on a battery. Some
♦ Measuring turning radius
o
scooters also use more power
♦ Climbing a 35 yard-long, 8
because they’re designed to
hill
Researchers clocked comple- carry heavier passengers. As
a result, they don’t travel as
tion times, measured distances, and turning radiuses, far or as long. We report
and observed ramp climbs.
ITD’s findings for each
scooter in
Test drive a scooter, braking as you
go downhill.
Table 1. Match your needs
with the range and power
demands of these scooters.
Climbing Ramps Office buildings, schools,
churches, and many other
public facilities now have
ramps for wheelchair and
scooter accessibility. By
federal law, none of these
ramps should exceed 5o. The
question is, can every scooter
climb them? Every manufacturer claims their products
will, at a minimum, climb a
5o ramp and ITD’s tests
confirmed this. Most manufacturers maintain their
products do better than 5o,
climbing 12o or 15o ramps
and hills. To test these claims
a 160 pound ITD researcher
tried to climb both a 9o and
an 18o ramp with each
scooter. ITD found every
scooter, including the Amigo,
which only claims to be able
to climb 5o, made it up a15
foot ramp set at 9o. With the
18o ramp, which is more than
three times as steep as most
access ramps, every scooter
except the Amigo and Genus
made it up. Is it safe to climb
an 18o ramp or hill with these
scooters? No. First, there’s a
major safety consideration.
Climbing the18o ramp, eleven
scooters tipped backwards,
lifting the front wheels off
the ground. Of those scooters
climbing the 18o ramp, only
the Leisure Lift and Booster
vehicles kept their front
wheels on the ground. Most
scooters
5
For example, the Department of veterans Affairs (VA) certified the Leisure Lift scooter’s range at 22 miles or five more miles
more
than the ITD test noted. At least in part, the difference is connected to the fact that the scooter’s throttle was set at a
slower speed
in the VA test.
10
Winter 1995
come equipped with antitipping devices on the back
and this second set of wheels
prevented tipping over. Even
so, when the front wheel’s
suspended in the air, the
scooter’s balance is precarious. A shift in the driver’s
weight could cause a sideways tip. It’s important to
remember that no manufacturer recommended climbing
18o ramps. Second, in climbing inclines this steep, you
may trip the scooter’s circuit
breaker. To prevent damage,
each scooter has a fuse-like
device that cuts power when
the motor reaches a certain
temperature climbing steep
grades heats up the motor.
Resetting the circuit breaker
restores the power, providing
the engine cools down.
Again, based on your driving
conditions, you must decide
which scooter is best for you.
Be sure, however, to buy a
scooter with anti-tipping
wheels.
Features and
Adjustments
locks. Adjustments include:
tiller, seat, and armrests. To
review each scooter’s features
and adjustments, ITD asked:
♦ Testers to express their
preferences for features in
one-on-one scooter comparisons
♦ Testers and research
assistants to rate the ease of
entering and exiting, adjusting
the seat and armrests adjusting the tiller, and setting the
speed control.
(preferred 64 percent). Each
of these throttles was large
and coated with soft rubber
or plastic.
Tiller – Many scooters’
tillers adjust up and down,
forward and backward to fit
the driver. However, with a
very large person, the tiller
may not adjust to fit their
torso. Be sure to test this
before buying a scooter. Once
adjusted, most users don’t
alter their tillers. Along with
adjustability, tillers swing
Throttles - Once you’ve
forward and out of the way of
turned the ignition on, your
entering and exiting drivers.
scooter starts rolling when
Most of our testers, however,
you squeeze the manual
didn’t bother to swing the
throttle (see figure 1). The
tillers forward after the first
harder you squeeze, the faster few test drives. In their
opinion, this was an unnecesthe scooter goes, with in the
sary bother. Testers preferred
limits set at the console
(speed control). Even though the Pride tiller (86 percent) in
the throttle may feel comfort- paired comparisons. Electric
Mobility was a close second
able to operate, remember
you must squeeze it as long as (83 percent). Testers found
you’re driving. Therefore the the latter tiller easier to
throttle’s size, shape, texture, adjust; however, both tillers
and ease of use are all impor- are lightweight, and easy to
raise and lower.
tant to driver comfort.
Testers preferred accessible,
large-handled throttles with a
rubber or plastic covering. In
Can I readily get in and out one-on-one comparisons, they
of a scooter?
preferred the Fortress ScienHow easy is it to operate
tific throttle (67 percent). Its
the controls?
curved, L-shaped, design
H ow easy is it to adjust the made this throttle easier to
scooter to fit me?
reach and the handles were
These are questions about
rubber-coated with a springy
scooter features and adjustcomfortable material.
ments. Features include:
Following close by were the
ignitions, tillers, speed
Pride (preferred 66 percent),
controls, throttles, seat locks, Bruno (preferred 64 percent),
battery gauges, and brake
and Electric Mobility
Ignitions - Overall, testers
prefer ignitions that are large
and easy to use. The top
choices were the ignitions on
the Pride (preferred 74
percent of the time) and the
Shoprider (preferred 70
percent). The Pride key is a
two-inch long, plug-in device, similar to the audio
visual plugs (banana plug)
found on electronic equipment. It is large, easy to
insert and remove, and
audibly clicks upon insertion.
11
AARP Product Report
The Shoprider key was
similar to the size of a car
key. Testers rated it highly
because the key provided a
good grip and was easy to
handle. Testers gave the
lowest rating to the Mobility
Manufacturing key (preferred only 24 percent of the
time). This key was about
the size of a thick, stubby
pencil. It’s a half inch cylindrical magnet encased in a
rubber cover. The key isn’t
difficult to use. Rather,
testers didn’t know what to
do with it once they turned
on the ignition (the key
doesn’t remain in the ignition). The lower rating was
for an inconvenience factor.
Riding
Comfort
How comfortable is the ride
on rough ground?
Does the scooter start and
stop smoothly and evenly?
How comfortable are the
throttle and tiller to use
How loud is the motor?
These are questions about
scooter comfort or the sense of
ease or enjoyment with the ride
and key features. To try to
measure this factor, ITD asked:
♦ Testers to rate comfort riding
on rough ground
♦ Testers to gauge the ease of
using scooter throttles and tillers
♦ Research assistants to rate
smoothness of scooter starts and
6
♦ Research assistants to
measure noise level in decibels
buying, and,
2.Make sure the seat is
comfortable for you.
Driving on Rough Ground Smooth Starts and Stops Jerky starts and stops also
- If you’ve ever driven a car
on washboard gravel roads,
you know the value of shock
absorbers and springs. Most
indoor-outdoor scooters,
however, don’t come with a
suspension system to level out
the bumps in the road. It’s the
springs and padding in the
seat that cushion the driver.
To rate scooter comfort on a
bumpy course, testers drove
each scooter for 90 seconds
on a flat, mowed, grassy, but
uneven surface. There weren’t
any potholes but the crusty
surface visibly jostled testers.
Bouncing about on the grass
didn’t alarm testers 78;
percent said the ride was
stable, but only 47 percent
rated it as comfortable.
The Pride and Pillar scooters
were the most comfortable on
the grassy surface, according
to testers, and the Fortress the
least. The comfort extremes
seemed to be focused on the
seat. The rigid back on the
Fortress5 seat pinched testers
as they bounced back and
forth, and the padding was
thin. The Pride and Pillar
seats were well padded, and
seemed to wrap around and
almost encase the driver. The
seat in effect, became a
suspension system. The
message to buyers is:
1.Test drive the scooter on
different surfaces before
jostle drivers. To evaluate any
patterns of shaky starts and
stops with scooters, ITD’s
researchers watched testers as
they accelerated and braked.
With each motion, they tried
to answer two questions: Was
it smooth and even? Were
there any jerky body movements?
Overall, while driving the
scooters forward, 89 percent
of starts and 65 percent of the
stops were rated as smooth
and even. Going backwards,
91 percent of the starts and 76
percent of the stops were rated
smooth and even. Setting the
speed control at medium, the
starts and stops were
smoother than with the fast
setting. The vehicles with the
smoothest stops and starts,
according to the researchers,
were the Pride, Shoprider, and
Leisure Lift scooters. On the
other side, researchers noted
that the Suntec scooter had
many uneven starts and stops.
Testers complained of being
jostled back and forth both
starting and stopping with this
vehicle.
Make sure you ask the same
two questions with any
scooter you’re interested in.
Are the starts and stops
smooth and even? And, am I
jerked back and forth with this
scooter?
The new manufacturer of the Fortress says the seat has since been improved.
12
Winter 1995
Assembly
Dissassembly
Is it easy to take a scooter
apart for transport?
Can I lift each of the disassembled pieces?
How difficult is it to put it
back together?
If the battery dies, can I
push the scooter?
All these questions relate to
transporting the scooter. To
investigate the ease of assembly, disassembly, and transport, ITD conducted six
trials. Without using any
tools, testers:
♦ Removed and replaced the
scooter seat
♦ Adjusted the tiller (for
transport)
♦ Disconnected and attached battery connectors
♦ Lifted the heaviest piece
of the disassembled vehicle
♦ Released the brake lock
♦ Pushed the scooter.
Testers and researchers rated
each trial for ease of completion. We combined their
ratings here. Researchers
recorded the number of
testers successfully lifting the
heaviest disassembled pieces.
Finally, researchers recorded
the number of testers who
released the brake lock and
pushed the scooters.
Taking it Apart and
Putting it Together - each
of the indoor-out-door scooters disassembles
into three to six pieces. These
pieces could include the seat,
tiller, batteries and connections, chassis, and body
shroud (a cover over the
motor and chassis). The
ability to break down the
scooter into smaller pieces
permits users to transport it in
their car without buying
special carriers.
ITD asked testers to assemble
and disassemble the scooters
and to lift the heaviest disassembled piece. Researchers
demonstrated each step, and
asked testers to copy the
procedure. In general, the
testers completed most of
these tasks. They didn’t find
them to be difficult, but it
wasn’t easy either.
First they removed the
scooters’ seats, one of the
bulkier components. On
average, half the testers
dismounted the seats. Testers
found the Suntec and Amigo
seats easiest to remove (17 of
the 25 dismounted the Suntec
seat and 16, the Amigo). The
most difficult to disassemble
was the Shoprider (only one
of 25 testers dismounted this
seat).
By comparison, readjusting
the tiller for transport7 was
effortless. Testers successfully flattened the tillers
against the chassis in 98
percent of their attempts.
Almost three fourths of the
testers rated the task as easy.
To successfully transport the
disassembled pieces in your
car, you must also be able to
lift them into the
trunk (about three feet off the
ground) and the scooter
pieces must fit in the trunk.
The weight of the heaviest
scooter pieces ranged from 24
pounds for the Shoprider to
85 pounds for the Amigo (See
Table 1 for details). However,
weight alone isn’t the only
criteria for easy lifting.
Only eight testers lifted the 24
pound piece of the disassembled Shoprider. Yet, 12
testers lifted the heaviest
piece, 38 pounds, on the
Pride. What’s the difference?
The size of the heaviest piece.
The Shop rider’s seat was the
heaviest item on this scooter
and its bulky size made it
difficult for the testers to get
their hands around to lift. By
contrast, the heaviest piece on
the Pride was the rear wheel
assemblage. It was compact
and provided a handle for
easier lifting. (Note: There are
commercial lifts to help you
place the scooter in the
trunk.)
What do these trials mean for
buyers? At least one scooter
advertiser claims the disassembled pieces are so lightweight “no lifter (someone or
something to hoist the pieces)
is needed.” Yet, the ITD
testers failed to lift the heaviest scooter pieces in three out
of four attempts. A second
advertising claim is that the
scooter “disassembles or
reassembles in seconds.” ITD
didn’t time the disassembly
trials, but testers succeeded in
dismounting scooter seats in
only half their attempts.
7
The Electric Mobility tiller didn’t readjust for transport. Instead, the tiller separated from the chasis. Testers found this procedure
difficult
13
AARP Product Report
Clearly there’s a contradiction between what the advertisers’ claim and what the
testers accomplished.
Was there something unique
about ITD’s testers? They
were older, average age 74,
but ranged from 59 to 84.
However, over half said their
health was good to excellent,
and by all the physical
measurements, they fit well
within the normal range for
this age group.
Scooter buyers need to go
beyond the advertising hype
and check to see for them
selves if they can assemble or
disassemble the vehicle they
want to buy. They should also
see how long it takes and,
after disassembling it, try to
lift the pieces into the trunk
of their car. Even if you can’t
lift the heaviest pieces, a
particular scooter may be the
right one for you. However,
know what you’re buying,
not what the advertising is
trumpeting.
Final Thoughts
are available in many different colors. Baskets and
special carriers for canes and
walkers are sold. Different
seats are available in cloth
and vinyl. It’s your choice in
adding on to the scooter.
Shopping for a Scooter Scooters are sold through the
mail, in the home, and
through dealers. We suggest
you begin by calling one of
the manufacturers listed here.
Above all, shop around and
test drive any scooter on
different terrain’s before you
buy. You should also find out
if the salesperson services
what he/she sells? Ask if
they’re factory trained? Find
out what happens in an
emergency and what kind of
reputation does the seller
have? And, finally, what
happens when you travel
with a scooter?
Conclusion
The choice is yours. Scooters
provide the legs that many
Accessories - For this test,
we asked each manufacturer older persons need to go
to provide us with a sample where they want to go. There
of their baseline product. As are also differences among
the various products and you
a result, every scooter was
may need to make some
gray in color and the least
trade-offs. We suggest you
expensive seat was attached. Every manufacturer look through the test results
mentioned in this booklet.
also sells a whole range of
Give yourself plenty of time
accessories to increase
to make a decision. Rememcomfort or distance. There
ber too, the scooters we’ve
are devices to convert a
three-wheeled scooter into a listed in this guide are only a
small sample of what’s
four-wheeled vehicle.
available.
Scooters
Scooter Manufactures
Listed in this booklet
Amigo Mobility International
6693 Dixie Hgwy
Bridgeport, MI 48722
(800) 821-2710
Booster Electric Vehicles
202 Woodward Hill RD
Edwardsville, PA 18074
(800) 845-9642
Bruno Independent Living Aids
PO Box 84
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
(800) 882-8183
Electric Mobility Corporation
1 Mobility Plaza
Sewell, NJ 08080
(800) 662-4548
Fortress
Optiway Technology INC
500 Norfinch Dr
Ontario, Canada McNlY4
(800) 514-7061
Genus Medical Inc.
441 -A Applewood Crescent
Concord, Ontario
Canada L4K 4B4
(800)567-9153
lnvacare Corporation
PO Box 4028
Elyria, OH 44036
(800) 333-6900
Leisure Lift Inc.
1800 Merriam Lane
Kansas City, KS 66106
(800) 255-0285
Ortho-Kinetics
PO Box 1647
Waukesha, WI 53187
(800) 558-7786
Pillar Technology Inc.
417 Main ST
Neodesha, KS 65020
(316) 325-2629
Pride Health Care Inc.
71 South Main Street
Pittston, PA 18640
(800) 457-5348
Ranger All Season
Corporation
PO Box 132
George, IA 51237
(800) 225-3811
Shoprider
13880 Mayfield Place
Richmond, British Columbia
Canada V6V 2E4
(604) 273-5173
Suntec Systems
5001 Joerns Drive
Stevens Point, WI 54481
(800) 643-4515
14
Winter 1995
American Association of Retired Persons
601 E Street, NW l Washington, DC 20049
Other Product reports in this series are:
Canes D14916
Life Insurance for Older Adults D14139
Manufactured Housing D15599
Personal Emergency Response Systems D12905
Pre-Paying Your Funeral D13188
Walkers D14390
Wheelchairs D14049
They can be ordered by writing on a postcard to AARP Fulfillment,
601 E Street, NW Washington, DC 20049
Be sure to include the stock number.
Allow six to eight week for delivery.
Product Report: Electric Scooters was produced by the American Association of Retired Persons
as an educational service to members and other older persons.
D15979 l (1195)
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