- Sturdy electric kick scooter with enough power to move full sized adults and a clean professional look (all black)
- Excellent range, light weight aluminum body and Lithium batteries, relatively compact when folded for portability
- Solid rubber tires are durable (won't go flat) but end up feeling stiff, the front suspension helps a bit, higher price than low-quality scooters for kids, have to get the scooter going manually before the motor will kick in
The M3 is EcoReco’s first electric kick scooter which was intended to be launched through Kickstarter (and had surpassed its funding goal) but was suspended on December 28, 2013. I was sent a demo unit in early 2014 and performed an extensive review (posted above) along with a speed and hill test in this video. The M3 is reminiscent of non-powered kickscooters like the Razor from the early 2000’s. It looks sleek and minimalist with an all-black finish that might appeal to adults and professionals taking the train or subway to work. The EcoReco M3 Scooter aims to solve the “last mile” challenge that a lot of commuters face, trying to get from their home to public transportation and from their onto the office. If you don’t mind wearing a backpack or leaving your personal items at home and work then a scooter like this could really be fun and efficient. If you do have to carry a bunch of gear, it can feel less stable than a full sized electric bike. It’s relatively quiet, powerful enough to reach 20 mph (I weigh ~135 lbs) and well supported. Given the estimated 20 mile range and ~$1,000 price point I think it compares favorably to many electric bikes which offer similar motor and battery specs but aren’t as portable, light weight or maintenance-free. when you fold the M3 it fits almost anywhere on public transit and at ~34 lbs it’s liftable (but not fun to carry for long stretches).
Driving the M3 is a miniature, gearless hub motor located in the rear wheel. Offering 250 watts of nominal power output with 750 peak, it’s quite strong. Given the small ~4″ diameter of the wheels, this motor experiences a significant mechanical advantage compared with hub motors on full sized bicycles or other scooters with 18″ or 20″ wheels. The downside to this setup is that the gearless direct-drive motor configuration experiences some cogging when you release the throttle and this slows the scooter down. In short, it’s not the kind of kick scooter you can really enjoy on human-only power. That said, you’ll actually have to kick (or use a short hill) to get it started before the throttle can be activated. There’s a safety cutoff built in to make sure the unit is rolling which some other electric bikes and vehicles I’ve tested also rely on, like BionX systems. All in all, the motor impressed me but I would have liked a regeneration mode given the cogging, it would be nice to at least recapture some of the energy when braking or coasting down hills since it doesn’t freewheel. And while the smaller wheel size empowers the hub motor, it does have one major drawback and that is ride comfort. Smaller wheels tend to fall into cracks and potholes instead of spanning over them. Think about how skateboard wheels go “click, click” on each crack they encounter and some riders get hung up and fly off the board. The EcoReco M3 isn’t quite that bad and the rubberized tire really helps to smooth things out but it’s not going to be as comfortable as a full sized or even folding sized electric bicycle.
The battery on the M3 is made with Lithium Iron Phosphate cells which are renowned for being light weight and long lasting. EcoReco claims they will get ~2,000 complete charge cycles if cared for and offers a decent 6 month warranty that can be extended to 9 months if you register the unit. I’ve heard most shops that rent electric bikes say batteries like this usually get ~1,500 cycles before really dropping off in terms of charge capacity potential. The pack used here offers 36 volts of power and 8 amp hours of capacity which is enormous for such a small vehicle in my opinion. One neat benefit of the 288 watt hour size is that the battery can be removed and carried on to airplanes for vacations or travel while other batteries that are over 300 watts cannot (according to faa.gov). The only bummer is that the battery isn’t all that easy to remove. It also certainly adds to the price of this scooter and increases the weight. I personally would welcome a battery half the size in terms of watt hours that was easily removable. If the EcoReco got 10 miles, or even 7 miles, instead of the estimated 23 it would still be super useful and I’d favor the reduced weight and lower price. As an alternative to carryon luggage, the M3 could be checked in a hard case like this to avoid the weight and hassle (this particular case was recommended by someone who owns the M3 and has used it successfully).
Operating the M3 Electric Scooter is super easy… sort of. Once it’s charged up with the included smart charger (which has a fuse and smart function to avoid overcharging) you just press the on/off button near the display on the right handle bar and the unit is ready to go! There are no keys to mess with or different drive modes to choose from, it’s just on/off. The confusing part is that you have to manually get the scooter moving before the throttle will activate. It’s a safety feature, it’s fine but not all scooters and bikes have this feature and it might throw some people off or upset your balance while trying to carry supplies. Frankly, I’d like the throttle to just go even if it did mean the occasional accidental false start. Maybe they could add a weight sensor to the standing pad or a slight delay in the throttle rather than a movement detector? In addition to the on/off button, there’s also a Mode button that lets you navigate between trip distance, odometer and trip number on the LCD. I love that the display is backlit but didn’t find myself using it much. Riding a scooter takes more balance and concentration than a bicycle for me and I didn’t really care how fast I was going. Every once in a while I’d slow down and check my battery capacity and that was about it. The stem and handle bars on the M3 are pretty clean and they slide and fold conveniently for storage but feel solid when extended for riding. The wires that lead up to the grips are combined into a plastic woven mesh that matches the black frame and stays out of the way but still provides flex for when the kick scooter is folded. The rubberized grips feel good and the front suspension helps to minimize rattle and hand/wrist fatigue while riding but I could see it getting uncomfortable over longer distances. Frankly, I felt most comfortable at ~10 mph bot got a little spooked near 20 mph. There wasn’t any speed wobble, the handles felt fine and my stance was good, it just felt more squirrely than a full sized bike because the wheels were turning so much faster.
The EcoReco M3 electric kick scooter has elicited mixed reactions from the media. I’m not sure why their Kickstarter campaign was suspended but production went forward uninhibited and now they even have an M5 model with rear suspension. They sell a nice carry bag to go along with the unit and seem to be doing good business (especially in cities). Even though my rating for the M3 is a little bit low, I felt the unit performed very well and really addressed a need for me. It was easy to toss into the trunk of my car and port around town and I enjoyed cruising around the neighborhood with it to get mail and visit the park. I didn’t use it to commute and I never went more than 1.5 miles so I never felt worn out by the sometimes-jittery ride. Also, I used to skateboard a lot and this thing felt way smoother and more stable than my old board. It’s zippy and fun but professional and durable at the same time. I’m not sure whether $999 feels like a lot or a little to most people because this thing could be so convenient or just an expensive toy. To me it felt like a good deal, something that could be taken seriously at the office and really hold up over hundreds of rides. I’m glad there’s a higher level product like this available now for people who might otherwise dismiss Razors as being only for kids… and if you’re a kid and you’re getting this thing… boy I tell ya! In my day, we used to walk uphill to school and back every day! and it was always snowing, and you could buy a house for $1,000!
- Excellent 2 year warranty on the frame and suspension fork, solid 6 month warranty on the battery pack with the option to upgrade to 9 month for free simply by registering
- Sturdy folding design, doesn’t feel loose or jittery when riding or when folded and carrying by the long stem as a handle
- Impressive motor design, compact but powerful enough to reach higher speeds ~20 mph though it does struggle if starting from low speeds while ascending hills
- Extremely portable, at ~34 pounds it’s liftable (not fun to carry for long distances) and at 36.6″ x 11.8″ when folded it will fit on the bus, subway, train, taxi, ferry and even as carry on air luggage for flying on planes since the battery is under 300 watt hours (though it must be removed)
- Intuitive, variable speed trigger throttle is responsive and easy to operate for nearly anyone who can stay balanced on a scooter
- LCD display is backlit and provides multiple readouts from speed, battery level, trip distance and overall distance
- The brake lever cuts power to the motor (overriding the trigger throttle) for safety at a moment’s notice
- Adjustable telescoping stem makes the scooter easy to handle for short or tall individuals and feels pretty solid at both extremes
- Lithium Iron Phosphate battery chemistry is known for being environmentally friendly to produce, dealing with heat well and lasting for more charge cycles, EcoReco estimates ~2,000 if cared for (kept from draining completely and kept away from extreme heat and cold)
- While the tires on the EcoReco M3 resist flats due to their airless all-rubber design, they also feel stiff and don’t absorb as much shock, the smaller wheel diameter also intensifies the feeling of cracks and bumps
- More expensive than mass-produced kickscooters but much higher quality with professional fit and finish
- No way to really lock the scooter’s electronics, anyone could turn it on and tamper with the display (which is not removable) although they’d have to get it moving to activate the throttle so not a huge deal
- The hub motor doesn’t freewheel so as soon as you release the throttle, the scooter will begin to slow down on its own
- Even though this scooter is dubbed as being “portable” it feels pretty heavy at 34 pounds, I’d almost prefer half the battery size and sacrifice range while also lowering price as I’m sure that’s what adds the most weight and cost
- Official Site: https://ecorecoscooter.com/
- Kickstarter Page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1107065803/ecoreco-m3-state-of-the-art-last-mile-electric-veh
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/QQLNMzHnUZMEyhJdA