- A portable, adjustable height, folding electric kickscooter capable of 20 mph top speeds and 10 to 20 mile range
- Air-free rubber tires are durable but not as forgiving as traditional bicycle tires, front and rear suspension helps to dampen vibration over rough terrain and cracks in the sidewalk but is not adjustable for rider weight
- Scooter must be moving 2+ mph before trigger throttle will function, throttle can feel abrupt when first activating but smoothes out once moving, solid two year warranty with great customer service
The M5 is an electric kick scooter from EcoReco, a company that launched their first product on Kickstarter in late 2013. The original M3 Electric Scooter is still being sold for $999 and offers very similar weight, power and design characteristics as the M5 but does not have a rear suspension arm that helps to smooth out the ride. Over the past couple of years EcoReco has refined their charger to be lighter, smaller and quieter (this one doesn’t have a fan built in). The packaging and instruction manual still come printed on recycled paper products and now the company even offers to plant a tree and provide a discount to your friend (and referral credit to you) when you register the unit online. It really feels like the company cares about the environment and its customers. The founder Jay, has always been responsive to me when I had questions and I hear similar feedback from shops that carry the unit. This is one of the most convenient ways to solve the “last mile” challenge that many commuters face (how to get from home to the train or bus station). And while it felt a little squirley riding with one hand and trying to film… once I put the camera down, the M5 won me over. It’s smooth, relatively quiet and super durable with solid rubber tires that can’t get flats. The rear suspension feels stiff and only offers limited travel but it’s way better than nothing and would be worth the extra $250 over the M3 in my opinion. The unit weighs 35.5 pounds (almost exactly what they listed on their website) and folds quickly and easily but still feels solid during operation.
Driving the EcoReco M5 is a 250 watt direct drive hub motor built right into the rear wheel. That may not sound like a lot but the maximum output is 750 watts and given the 36 volt battery the motor feels quite capable. While is does struggle when starting from low speeds while ascending hills over 10 degrees, if you approach with a bit of speed the motor does much better. Maximum rider weight is listed at 250 pounds and depending on your weight, the unit may operate under the 20 mph listed top speed but I actually passed 20 mph during my tests (I weigh ~135 lbs). During my time riding the M5 I never felt like the motor needed to go faster… in fact, I found myself letting up on the throttle and operating at half-power quite frequently. I like the variable speed throttle design but wish it would kick in more gently, it feels like 0 to on is abrupt but once you’re past that moment things really smooth out. I was impressed with the street and sidewalk tests but really thrilled when I took it onto the grass and found that I could maintain ~10 miles per hour without the unit giving up.
The battery powering the EcoReco M5 Electric Scooter offers an impressive 36 volts of power and 8 amp hours of capacity for 288 watt hours of total energy storage capacity. This means it qualifies under the FAA guidelines as carry on luggage and you can bring it onto a plane. The guidelines state “less than 25 grams of equivalent lithium content per battery or about 100-300 watt hours per battery”. Alternatively, you could buy a hard case like this and check it to avoid the extra carry on hassle and weight (this particular case was recommended by someone who owns the M3 and has used it successfully). The cells on the M5 use Lithium Ferro (Iron) Phosphate (LiFePO4) chemistry which is known for being stable (not overheating), less sensitive (not developing a charge memory) and long lasting (up to 2,000 cycles before they significantly decrease in range). During my unboxing, I noticed a label near the charging port that said “Ready to Ride” because the EcoReco M5 comes pre-charged to 50%. The label also suggest that the first two uses should completely cycle the battery, riding the unit until it automatically shuts itself off, to break it in. After these first two cycles however, I’d recommend keeping the battery between 20% and 80% charge and topping it off ever few months if you haven’t used it. Also, storing the unit at neutral temperatures (avoiding extreme heat and cold) will help it to perform optimally.
Operating the EcoReco M5 is about as easy as it gets. Once the battery has been charged up, you press the on/off button on the display pad for two seconds and the LCD lights up showing your speed, battery level, trip distance, odometer, numerical speedometer and charge cycle counter (rotating through the last four as you press the mode button). My test unit came with the brake lever angled up and the throttle and display angled down. This seems to be the best layout for folding the bars but is not optimal for operation. Since the throttle is physically mounted to the display pad and LCD screen, the view angle is impacted as you tilt it forward or back. I found myself having to crane my head forward to read the display and considered swiveling it back towards me but then worried about glare and cramped hand position using the throttle. In the future, maybe EcoReco can angle the display or make it adjustable instead of being fixed on the throttle mount… Still, this wasn’t a deal killer and battery level is easy to read once you stop the unit completely to make sure you’ve got enough juice to get home. The brake lever is fairly standard and does include a motor inhibitor which means it will cut power to the motor when activated for safety. There is only one brake which is a mechanical band or drum style located in the rear wheel. It works fine in my experience but wasn’t skidding the tire or anything. Note that both tires are replaceable and you can even choose from red or black plates and springs to fully customize the ride.
I really enjoyed testing the M3 and M5 and love the notion that they’ll fit just about anywhere, transport riders quickly and offer 10+ miles of range. The rear suspension arm isn’t perfect but it feels durable and doesn’t add a lot of extra weight. The EcoReco online store is very nice, their customer service is great and the two year warranty is fantastic. I love that you can get a carry bag and even a cargo trailer to pull around with this thing just like a full sized bicycle might offer. While it’s not the best climber and you do have to build some speed before the throttle will activate, it’s definitely the highest quality most professional looking kick scooter I’ve ever tried. Being able to carry it onto planes is fantastic and once it’s on the ground being able to adjust the handlebar height, stabilize the unit with the kickstand and easily charge on the go with the new lightweight 1.3 lb charger is great. With a few adjustments to the throttle power activation and further reduced weight the unit would be nearly perfect in my mind.
- Capable of climbing 10-12 degree inclines (~15% slope) with riders at or under the 150 pound mark, the unit may require some human input for larger individuals, for best results approach hills with some speed, maximum rider weight is set at 250 lbs and speed may decrease for large riders
- Improved charger design no longer has a fan built in so it operates more quietly and will probably be more durable with use (replacements are $79), it also features an LED light for charging status
- Neat accessories including a wheeled carry bag for transporting the EcoReco scooter itself for $139 and a cargo trailer that you can pull with the EcoReco (like a bicycle trailer but for the kick scooter) for $395
- Solid rubber tire is durable, cannot get flats and offers a grippy tread pattern but can feel more jarring than a traditional air-filled bicycle tire
- Modular replacement parts are very affordable, you can replace just the front for $39 or just the back wheel for $49 or both for $79 and replace wheel covers (in black or red) along with the front suspension springs for $29
- Front and rear suspension elements help to smooth out the ride, the original EcoReco M3 only had the front suspension and felt much more jarring
- 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, if you register the unit EcoReco will plant a tree, provide a discount code to share with your friends and award you a referral credit for buying accessories or another unit through their website
- Sturdy folding design, doesn’t feel loose or jittery when riding or when folded and carrying by the long stem as a handle
- 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 may have to be removed)
- LCD display is backlit and provides multiple readouts from speed, battery level, trip distance and overall distance
- 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)
- Safety start requires that you kick off and get the unit moving under human power before the electric motor will begin working, for me this feels less stable than if it simply worked by pulling the throttle once balanced (maybe using a deck weight sensor instead of wheel movement sensor)
- The LCD display panel is connected to the variable speed trigger throttle which is angled forward making it difficult to read without leaning forward while riding, it would be nice if the display was angled towards the rider or more adjustable and independent from the throttle
- Firm rubber tires and stiff spring suspension (that is not adjustable) feels more abrasive than some other kick scooters with bicycle-style tires
- Much more expensive than lower quality kid-marketed kick scooters though the M5 offers much greater range, better warranty and more power
- 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, you can physically lock the scooter to bike racks by going through the front wheel space (below the fender or just behind and on top of it)
- 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 35.5 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