Saturday, October 23, 2021

Review: InMotion S1 Electric Scooter (AUD$1299)

The InMotion S1 electric scooter. At the front is my wife's scooter, the VSETT 8.

Electric kickscooters are really popular right now. Their sweet spot in terms of usefulness is probably for people living in urban and inner city areas, or in areas which have good bicycle paths. I live in an inner city suburb of Perth, Western Australia, and work near the Swan river - my reason for buying one was to have some fun while commuting to work. My commute on the scooter is about 14km (9 miles) and takes me 40 minutes.

Four weeks ago I bought the InMotion S1 scooter for AUD$1299 (~ USD$970). In my review here I compare the manufacturers promotional material and claimed specifications to my real life experience of the scooter.

Scooter model history
The S1 is InMotion's latest model scooter, launching in Australia in September 2021. It has been adapted from the InMotion L9 model, which was crowdfunded on IndieGogo successfully back in May 2020. The S1 seems to be targeted at markets outside of the US, such as Canada, Australia and Singapore. The L9 and S1 look very similar, they share the same controls and share the same smartphone application.

Smartphone app
First thing to do is to pair the smartphone app with the scooter. This was easy and I didn't run up against any problems. I used the iPhone app, and there's an Android app available too. There was only one tricky thing I found with the app - changing the distance units from the default (miles) to kilometres. To do this, you need to first change it under the vehicle settings - this will ensure the speedo on the scooter reads out in km/hr instead of miles/hr. But in the app itself, it still displays the battery's remaining range in miles. To get this into km too you need to press on the "ME" link at the bottom, then settings, then "metric/imperial" units.

Speed limiter
The speed of the S1 is by default limited to 25 km/h (15 miles/h), but its easy to go into the app and turn this limit off (under vehicle settings). Doing this lets your scooter achieve the max speed of 30 km/h (18 miles/h). Unlike other scooters, this is purely a software setting and doesn't require any wires to be disconnected or anything to remove the speed limiter.

The S1 has an automatic electric brake on the back wheel, which kicks in automatically if you are going downhill and picking up speed rapidly, or have exceeded 30 km/h. The maximum speed I've achieved on the scooter is around 30.9 km/h while going downhill. The automatic brake is kind of jerky and not really smooth - it feels weird the first time you experience it. There's a toggle setting in the app related to the automatic brake, so I tried turning it both on and off but couldn't feel any difference. There is only one manual brake lever - for your left hand - this is hooked up to the front wheel drum brake. Drum brakes are actually preferable to disk brakes on a scooter because it means no parts are exposed, and so there are less mechanical parts to maintain.

Control panel & display
One of the best things about this scooter is the easy to use control panel and the large display in the middle of the handlebars. There's only one button, and it can perform the functions of power on/off, headlights on/off and to toggle through the three riding modes (Eco, Drive, Sport). Long press is power on/off. Single click is headlights on/off and double click is to toggle the riding mode. Compared to other scooters (like the VSETT range), these controls are intuitive and easy to remember. The throttle is thumb based - you push downward with the thumb of your right hand. Compared to the VSETT scooter throttle which uses your forefinger in a trigger action, I find it to be more natural and better suited to long commutes.

Bling LED lighting and auto turn signals
The scooter has a strip of roadfacing LED lights down each side of the deck, these stay blue while riding and automatically flash red when you are turning to the left or right. This is a great idea, because when riding a scooter its not recommended to take one hand off the handlebars to indicate your turn manually (as per a bicycle) due to instability. The only downside to the auto turn lights is that they don't activate until you either tilt the scooter or turn the handlebars in the direction you are going, so in other words anyone behind you only sees the indication when you are actually turning. Other lights on the scooter are the dual headlights and rear light / brake light. The headlights are positioned at handlebar height, making them extremely visible at night to oncoming traffic. With the LED lights, the scooter really turns heads at nighttime.

Riding modes - Eco, Drive, Sport
The Eco mode is a beginner mode - you won't go faster than 12 km/h (7.5 miles/h) and the acceleration is really soft. The Drive mode is supposed to be a standard commute mode, which limits your top speed to about 20 km/h (12.5 miles/h) and also limits the acceleration responsiveness to about 80% of maximum. Sport mode means no limits, on a full charge you'll get up to the top speed of 30km/h (18 miles/h) with the fastest possible acceleration. I keep it on Sport mode all the time - once you get used to the speed and the handling of the scooter I think most riders will do the same. These modes of course will impact on the range you'll get out of your battery charge, Eco will use the least amount of battery and Sport will use the most.

In the promotional material the claimed range on a full charge is 95 km (59 miles). But in the manual it lets you know that this was achieved on level ground, in Eco riding mode, with a 65 kg weight rider and zero wind. So in other words, nowhere near real world conditions. In real world riding - in Sport mode the entire time, hills, wind, myself being 80kg, I found that the range ended up being 55-60 km (34-37 miles). But this is still a really good range - it easily handles my 28km round trip daily commute, and leaves some spare for other short journeys nearby to work or home.

Score card

Good points
+ Large display, intuitive controls, comfortable throttle
+ The app tells you the estimated distance left on the battery charge
+ Cool underdeck LED lights, auto-turn signals, dual headlights
+ Large non-slip silicon deck
+ Big real world range
+ Front and back suspension

Bad points
- Its too big to take onto public transport like a bus or train
- Height of the handlebars is not adjustable and is high compared to other scooters
- A couple of poor quality fixtures like the bell and the charging port dust covers
- Jerky automatic electric brake kicks in when going downhill

A great long range commuter scooter with decent performance, cool LED lighting, a solid feel, easy to use controls and a large display. If you don't need to take it on public transport, then this scooter will be perfect for your medium to long distance commute, given its large 55km (34 miles) real world range.

Where to buy?
As of writing, this model scooter is sold out around most of Australia. Due to high demand and shipping delays I recommend contacting the shop where you intend to buy first to confirm when stock will arrive before paying anything upfront for a scooter.

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