- An electric scooter with integrated solar panels on the optional rear storage box (~14 Watts) and multi-color LED accent lights
- One of the quickest e-scooters I've tested, the motor is relatively quiet but delivers better torque and speed than other similar products I've reviewed even though they have the same power ratings
- Compatible with an Android/iOS smartphone app for adjusting top speed, power output climbing ability and more
- Successfully crowd funded through Indiegogo, available in three colors, comes with a remote for locking, setting an alarm or starting the bike, mixed warranty of 1 year frame and motor and 6 months battery and components
Daymak is a Canadian electric vehicle company based in Toronoto… They’re one of the larger brands with sales dating back to 2002 when they also sold gas powered scooters. In 2009 they switched entirely to electric and in October 2015 they successfully crowd funded the Chameleon electric scooter. while it’s very similar in appearance to some of their other scooters (most of which are imported stock from Asia) the Chameleon delivers several unique custom features. Namely, integrated solar panels for trickle charging the battery and several LED light strips that enhance its visual footprint improving safety and style. My first impression of the bike was that it looked almost identical to the Voltbike Metro+ which retails for quite a bit less. However, upon closer inspection and test riding my mind was completely changed. The Chameleon uses different wheels, offers more voltage and is one of zippiest, most satisfying scooters I’ve tried to date. In general, it’s still a value build with plastic frame parts that rattle over bumps and a base Sealed Lead Acid battery pack… but several upgrade paths exist for those who want to further increase range and lifespan.
Driving the bike is a 500 watt direct drive hub motor built into the rear wheel. It seems very well protected and operates with a quiet whirr under full power. This thing is zippy and felt even stronger than the Beast (which I also tested when visiting Daymak). Part of the performance boost may be the smaller diameter wheels (which improve mechanical leverage for the motor) and the semi-slick tires being used on concrete. Both wheels are made from solid aluminum so you don’t need to worry about bending spokes and the tires were thick and durable. This bike weighs over 150 lbs and offers a maximum additional load of 300 lbs so it would work well as a daily commuter for people who want to bring along some gear. I could see this thing being perfect for people who live in the city and have insurance and a motorcycle license because it’s capable of hitting ~40 mph when unlocked with the smart phone app. By default, it only delivers a 20 mph top speeds that, along with its very basic pedals, help to classify it as a “low speed electric bicycle” legal to ride without a license or insurance in the US and Canada in bike lanes. As mentioned in the video review, this thing would not be fun to pedal around, the crank arms are very short and I had to spread my legs fairly wide to even reach the pedals without completely rubbing my inner thighs raw on the extra-long and wide saddle. Saddle height cannot be adjusted and this scooter (as with most others) only comes in one standard size. I’m about 5 foot 9 inches and it felt comfortable but my knees came fairly close to the handlebar so taller riders would need to scoot further back or consider alternative bikes.
Powering the Chameleon is one of two battery options including the stock SLA battery or a Lithium-ion upgrade for ~$1,000 more. With a voltage of ~84 and 12 amp hours the standard Lead Acid pack really boosts the motor but still has enough capacity to reach 30+ miles if ridden with the slow-start option in the app. This helps to conserve energy when starting from rest… and it is not what we were testing in the video. That’s one of the big features here, you can adjust how the bike performs enabling it to climb steep 39 degree hills and dash off the line or ride more gently to conserve power. If you spend the extra money to get Lithium-ion cells the bike will weigh a bit less, the battery will take you further because it offers 24 amp hours of capacity instead of just 12 and it should deliver more cycles effectively doubling lifespan. Lead acid packs are more affordable to replace and given the integrated solar charging box option I think they would hold up very well over time here. I really like the optional rear cargo box with lights and the solar panels (offering 12 watts for the top and ~2 watts for each side). These panels aren’t going to refill your battery pack unless you set the bike out in perfect sun for nearly a week and a half… but they do offer a way to keep the battery healthy and maybe add a mile or two while you’re working during the day. The included wall charger is far superior in terms of speed but gimmicky as it may be, the solar option still delights me and it does work. I’ve included the spec sheet below so you can decide for yourself how it might perform with your exposure to the sun.
Operating the Daymak Chameleon is very simple, just charge up the battery and make sure it’s secured and locked into the floor area then insert the key and turn to on. Alternatively, you can use the included wireless remote to start the bike and this allows you to keep your keys secured in a pack so they won’t jingle around or get in the way of your legs. The display is fairly nice for a mid-level scooter showing speed, odometer, battery level, turn signals and light readouts on a monochrome backlit LCD. It is backlit for use in low light or at night and has a blueish hue likely produced by a blue LED set. Speaking of colored LED’s, that’s the other big differentiator about the Chameleon and likely where it got its name. In addition to the standard (and very nice) headlights, tail lights and turn signals, this bike has long strips of color changing LED lights. You can choose from a long list of stock colors blended from red/green/blue RGB to match your outfit, the bike frame color or any other accent you choose. I could see this being a huge safety improvement over traditional scooters, it reminds me of the under-carriage lights put on street racers but much more visible. Because they are all built into the cargo box or mounted along the edge of the seat they aren’t distracting to the rider, you really don’t even see them unless you look back and down. I think most bicycle related accidents are head-on or front-facing but it feels nice to have your back-end very visible so you won’t get rear ended and again… they’re just fun ;)
I came away very impressed with the Cameleon, I hadn’t test ridden many of Daymak’s other product before this trip to Toronto and I wasn’t sure what to expect. They also offer a solar option on the Beast and a prototype conversion wheel kit but the Chameleon is my favorite. The panels are placed in such a way that your body won’t block them or get them dirty while riding (not the case with the Beast). I like that it can be tuned to ride as a low speed ebike or a full power scooter and it just felt comfortable and capable. That’s also the feeling I got from the company making it… As mentioned earlier, Daymak has been around since 2002, they have a decent warranty and they have access to a “boneyard” of parts on-site to mail out to customers who are having issues or possibly crashed and need repair work done. Daymak has a vast network of stores in Canada and a few in the US but also sells online and if you go that route you’ll sped at least $300 extra on shipping (possibly more if you’re in the sates) so this definitely isn’t the cheapest e-scooter around. Still, for ~$2k you get a lot of utility here and the fenders, front and rear suspension, hydraulic disc brakes and bar-mounted lights and mirrors put it in a different class than others.
- One of the most powerful, responsive electric scooters I’ve tested… even though the motor size and battery are similar to others, this one takes off with more zip and can be unlocked to top 20 mph for use as a vehicle (if you have a license and insurance)
- Unique integrated solar charging solution, a large panel is mounted on top of the cargo box and two smaller panels line the side… it would take over a week to charge the base SLA battery from empty but even small amounts of trickle charging will help to keep it topped off which prevents damage to cells
- Cool LED light strips are wrapped around the cargo box and down the sides of the seat which make this scooter very visible (even in low light during the day), you can select from over a dozen colors and the plastic frame on the scooter itself is available in three colors as well
- The battery is removable and weighs 60+ pounds which means you could significantly reduce the weight of this vehicle (nearly in half) for transport or maintenance just by taking the battery off temporarily
- Great safety features including full length fenders, turn signals, bar mirrors, bright LED powered lights and a “bright” mode and a horn, I like that the top set of headlights turn as you steer
- The solid aluminum rims are very sturdy (won’t come out of true or require work) and the 16″ tires seem tough and should avoid flats, the disc brakes and coil-over suspension also seem tough
- You can start the bike with the wireless remote vs. putting the key into the ignition, I like this option because it means my keys can stay in my pocket and not jingle around on the bike, also it has a built in alarm for locking the bike and deterring theft
- The motor is fairly quiet (being gearless) and probably very durable because the only moving parts are the bearings and the casing is aluminum, built right into the wheel itself
- The bike looks pretty cool, I like the color choices and the light design on the front and back, the fact that you can change the color by adjusting the LED light strips on the back is cool, I set it to match the blue frame color of the bike I was testing
- The variable speed twist throttle is smooth and intuitive, it’s easy to use for almost anyone and the display isn’t overly complex or distracting, I like that the grips have aluminum lockers and caps that will hold up better if the bike tips
- The tires are wider than many traditional bicycles but are still able to fit into most bike racks, this means you can lock the Chameleon more easily and in more places
- Some of the shortest, most useless pedals I’ve ever tried one one of these electric scooters… they are really only there to help it qualify as a “low speed electric bike” so you can ride without insurance or a license but they hardly work in practice, there’s also only one gear here to pedal with but at least the pedals fold so you can keep them out of the way
- The rubber floor matt protects the battery pack from dust, water and scratches when you put your feet down while riding but it isn’t secured and could easily blow off or just fall off
- One of the heavier electric scooters I’ve reviewed at 150+ lbs, this is due to the Sealed Lead Acid batteries vs. Lithium-ion (which can be ordered as an option but cost a lot at ~$1,000
- There are lots of shops that carry Daymak products in Canada, only a handful in the US, if you need to buy this online it will add $300+ to the price
- The scooter is a “small/medium” in size (which is fine for petite riders, I’m 5’9″ and it worked well), my knees came pretty close to the handle bars when seated but I could have scooted back on the saddle for more room
- At this price point I think the warranty should be one year for everything… not just the motor and frame, many other ebike and scooter companies offer at least a year
- Official Site: http://www.daymak.com/
- Indiegogo Page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/chameleon-turbo-40-mph-ebike-take-the-streets#/
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/65sucJQSjRN3d85f9