- A 25 pound electric kick scooter capable of 15 mph top speeds and FAA approved to check on flights given the sub-300 watt hour battery pack size
- Large 200 mm wheels with solid rubber tires cannot get flats and feel relatively good riding over cracks and bumps
- Short handle bar can feel wobble at high speed, brake will not work if battery runs out or the unit is powered off, motor cable extrudes from hub and may become vulnerable if unit is tipped onto right side
My first experience with the “Ion SmartScooter” was at Interbike 2014 in Las Vegas. Ambassadors from the company were attending the show to demo their product and promote their Kickstarter campaign which successfully closed a month later on October 19th. At some point, the company changed their name from Ion to Glion due to naming conflicts with another brand. This new name is a combination of “glide” and “on” and is pronounced with a long i which is why the logo has an extra long dot… Okay, so branding and demo units aside, I was given an opportunity to test their final production unit (the same unit Kickstarter backers will receive in March 2015) and that’s what you see in the video review above and photos below. This electric kick scooter is designed to be simple to operate, professional in appearance and durable for regular use by youth or adults. I’ve tested other electric kick scooters and what stood out with this one was the relative light weight, large comfortable wheels and clean interface. I love that it includes a USB charging outlet (which worked with my iPhone 6+) and features a physical disconnect for the battery. If you’re someone who flies a lot and plans to bring the Glion Model 100 with you, this disconnect will make checking easier. The battery complies with Lithium-ion capacity limitations and if you got a nice hard case like this the scooter could become very easy to bring along.
Driving the Glion Electric Scooter is either your leg and foot… or the 250 watt gearless direct drive hub motor located in the rear. In my tests I found that sometimes the scooter would start from standstill using the throttle and other times it required a bit of forward movement before activating. This may be a safety feature to help avoid false starts and activation while carrying and folding/unfolding. There is some cogging drag produced by the motor which is covered in the video, basically the magnets inside repel when the motor is not in use and this slows rotation slightly. Even when the unit is off, the motor produces a soft whine when you move forward. As you turn it on and really get going the noise becomes louder (especially at low speeds and when straining to gain momentum). The wheel hubs are about eight inches across and the tires consist of a rubber honeycomb interior for strength. They don’t require inflated tubes and are thorn proof as a result but still manage to offer comfort and good grip on pavement. I didn’t notice as much vibration or noise as I expected while testing this unit based on other tubeless kick scooters. The ride was comfortable even though this thing lacks suspension and the fenders would probably keep water off (though I did not test them in wet conditions). I found myself positioning my rear foot on the back fender because the main deck is rather short (my shoe size is 9.5″ for reference). One thing to keep in mind to prolong the life of the Glion Model 100 is that the kickstand should always be used. If you do have to tip it onto one side, try to tip towards the kickstand (the left side) because the motor cable extrudes from the right axle and could get bent and severed eventually due to contact with the ground which would wreck it.
Powering the Glion 100 is a rather powerful 36 volt 6.6 amp hour Lithium-ion battery pack that’s stowed in the main deck. Compared to a full sized electric bike this thing is a touch below average but the 36 volt power is a step up for the 250 watt motor and was able to power me up a short driveway and through grass with relative ease. I wanted to dig into the unit and see the battery but was told that it’s sealed with water proofing. When I asked if the pack was replaceable they said it was but that doing so may degrade the seal. Makes sense… The unit ships at 50% full and I’d suggest keeping it between 20% and 80% to extend life (and top it off every few months if you haven’t gone for a ride). It’s easy to forget about electronics like this if you leave them on an RV, boat or just in your closet and if the battery drains all the way to zero that can be hard on the chemistry. In addition to powering the scooter, this battery also offers portable electronics a source of power. There’s a USB port (with cover) located near the base of the stem (where the handle bars connect with the main deck). I could see this coming in handy for all sorts of situations including outdoor events, travel and emergencies but it’s not something you’d want to use while riding the unit because cords could get kicked around or snag as you maneuver. The bar and grips are just too squirrely at speed to be riding one handed (even though I reluctantly do so in my video).
The cockpit on the Glion SmartScooter is decidedly minimalist. There’s a rather cheap basic twist throttle on the right with three LED’s indicating charge level and another basic twist brake on the left. Once the battery is charged, you’ve connected the main power cable and pressed the green button near the LED readout the scooter is ready to go. I found that the green button took a couple of presses to stay activated and this may be due to some trauma during shipping or demo testing by other journalists and reviewers. It’s a cheaply made part but the good news is, I believe it’s easily replaceable. I’ve found that completely releasing these spring loaded twist throttles (so they spin back to place abruptly) can damage them so my advice would be to let go slowly. The twist throttle will get you up to ~15 miles per hour but there’s no way to tell exactly without using a GPS app because there’s no display panel. Part of what makes this kick scooter affordable and easy to operate are these more limited features and I’m okay with that.
On the left bar, the twist brake is similar to the twist throttle but doesn’t have the power button and LED display. First, the unit has to be on for this thing to work and second, if you run completely out of juice it will stop functioning. This isn’t as bad as it sound because the unit is designed to stop powering the motor as it reaches lower levels (saving energy for the brake). While it’s true that an adult could get injured by taking one of these down a large hill without turning it on (because again… no brake without power) that seems like a limited risk. You could always jump off (as I did at one point) if things get out of control.
In conclusion, the price felt right for me and I liked the balance between power, range and weight. The adjustable height stem felt sturdy but did vibrate a bit and the handle bar was convenient to fold and unfold but seemed short at times and contributed to a sense of instability and speed wobble that a longer bar might reduce. My favorite part was the wheel size and tire choice and my least favorite part was the funky brake. I found that it took several feet to stop me and would sometimes feel abrupt while other times feel delayed or weak. I don’t want be sensational about the brakes, they did fine and the lower speed contributes to a sense of stability but I’d definitely practice with this thing on a safe flat street before going out on the town. From concept on Kickstarter to creation and shipment the Glion team has been professional and responsive with me and seems to be satisfying their first batch of customers. For those who want a fun higher quality toy or need a solution for that “last mile” between the bus and work, train and home or boat and town this could be a great solution… The range is decent and the weight is about as much as I’d want to carry (I could imagine a bag of groceries in one hand and this in the other for balance while walking). Definitely wear that helmet and ride safe!
- Larger 200 mm (~8 inch) diameter wheels strike a balance between comfort and durability, the tires have honeycomb interiors and don’t require inflated tubes (so they won’t get flats) but still feel soft and grippy
- At 25 pounds I like the balance this unit strikes between power and range while not being overly large and unwieldily
- The cockpit is very clean and simple, there aren’t extra dials to attract attention or get broken and this probably keeps the price lower as well
- The kickstand works pretty well and the ground clearance is good enough to overcome rough cobblestone terrain as well as grass
- With two stem height positions, the Glion Model 100 should work well for short and tall riders alike, the extra quick release cuff lock adds strength and reduces wabbles
- The charger is small, relatively light weight and does not include any moving parts so it should be easy to take on day-trips for topping off the battery
- Decent climbing ability, I tested it up small hills as well as grass and it performed (I weigh ~135 lbs) but you can hear the motor straining more
- Extremely portable, at ~25 pounds it’s liftable and compact at 36″ x 8″ x 12″ 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 (be sure to disconnect the power cable for safety)
- Motor cable extrudes from the right axle instead of being tucked near the frame, could be bent and broken more easily if the scooter is tipped on its side instead of using the kickstand
- The brake will not work if the unit is powered off and will also not work if the battery runs completely out, this could present a safety issue as there are no auxiliary braking systems
- The display panel is very basic (no range or speed readouts) and I found the on/off green button didn’t always respond, the twist throttles both seemed cheaply made (try not to let them spring back abruptly as it can damage them over time)
- The handle bar is kind of short and can feel unstable at times, the deck is also short which required me to put one foot on the rear fender (my shoe size is size 9.5″)
- The gearless direct drive motor slows the unit down when not being activated due to cogging, this may limit your top “kicking” speed
- No way to really lock the scooter’s electronics, anyone could turn it on and tamper with it, locking the frame may also be difficult but they have examples using a U-lock through the front wheel/fender area on the website
- Official Site: https://www.glion-scooter.com/
- Official Manual: glion-model-100-manual.pdf
- Kickstarter Page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ionsmartscooter/ion-smartscooter-the-ultimate-commuter-electric-sc
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/jxCZd25qU9o4SMfE8