- A sturdy, comfortable electric kick scooter with a larger battery and more powerful motor than most others
- Wide solid deck accommodates larger feet, the handle bar is long and feels steady to steer with, integrated plastic fenders keep you dry
- Rear brake light activates whenever the brake is pulled, mechanical disc brake offers smooth and easy stopping power but will skid if you lock it up
- This is one of the heavier, more expensive electric kick scooters due to the 500 watt motor and 48 volt battery pack (in the USA), the European version is rated at 250 watts and is just the S1 vs. S1+
I’m told that the I-MAX S1 comes in two configurations… the standard S1 with a 250 watt motor and 15.5 mph top speed (to comply with European law) and the S1+ reviewed here which delivers a 500 watt motor and can reach 20 mph for the USA. The added power output of the motor combined with an impressive 48 volt 10 amp hour battery makes for an electric kick scooter that’s on par with a lot of full sized electric bicycles! For the video review I got some help from Sam Townsend of the Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton, CA and had him ride it around on video. Sam is a ~260 lb (118 kg) guy and while we didn’t have a hill to shoot on the scooter had no trouble zipping him up to speed. It’s powerful but near silent because the motor is a gearless direct drive design. You don’t get the same light weight, compact free-wheeling performance as a geared hub but gearless designs tend to be tougher because it’s just magnets repelling electromagnets inside. One downside is a bit of cogging (drag when coasting unpowered) so I would definitely avoid running out of juice with this thing because you’ll be fighting the motor and pushing ~40 lbs with each kick. It’s one of the heaviest electric kick scooters I’ve tested to date.
The higher price point reflects the quality of the S1 and it did ride nicely. It’s one of the quietest electric scooters I’ve ridden on, even across very bumpy street terrain with potholes. The scooter feels solid with a variable-height stem using a quick release clamp like a lot of bicycles have on their seat tubes. Just make sure to tighten this thing down so the bars don’t drop unexpectedly when braking. The actual handle bars fold out nicely and use metal parts that feel solid. They are fairly long and don’t rattle a lot but I wish the sliding cuffs that lock them into place were spring loaded and moved more freely. I guess that’s the trade off for not rattling… I had a bit of trouble with the left cuff during my pre-review folding/unfolding tests. Because the IMAX S1 uses pneumatic air-filled tires with plush a 10″ x 2″ size, it rides comfortably even without suspension and this also contributes to the quiet operation. I’m a fan of this design because there are fewer moving parts and the air cushion is more comfortable than most of the short-travel springs on competing products with solid tires. Of course, the trade off is potential for flats… I recommend buying a tube or two extra just in case you get a flat because the size is unique and I haven’t seen them being sold at Walmart, Target or even most specialty bike shops. Sounds like each tube is $15 so that’s reasonable and you could consider adding some Slime to slow leaks if you have a long commute and carry a mini-pump along.
Other things I liked about the S1 were the steady disc brake with enlarged 140 mm rotor and the brake-activated LED back light. I’d love to see a headlight as well but love the integrated USB port on the back of the display because you could charge your portable electronics or charge a bar mounted headlight. By mounting the light higher up you’ll be more visible anyway and can get something like this that’s much brighter than most integrated lights I’ve seen but still easy to mount or take off. Consider a backpack light or helmet light as well… Sorry to put so much emphasis on safety, the higher speed, lower body position and limited visual footprint of electric kick scooters always gets me going. So I like the ergonomic grips and the extra large deck (I could put both feet side by side facing forward without an issue on this thing). One downside of the deck and fenders is that I struggled to put both feet inline on the deck and found myself resting my rear foot on the back fender which isn’t very solid. It would bend and rub on the rear wheel a bit creating a buzzing noise whereas some other designs are more solid and act as a foot rest. All things considered. The S1+ delivers power, speed and range (though I didn’t test it to capacity). You can get the best range by accelerating slowly and using one of the lower power levels (there are five total). This is a kick-scooter that requires you to push off and get going ~2 mph before the throttle will even activate so that alone reduces the drain on the pack but isn’t as satisfying or easy to do if you’re loaded up with a back pack or facing a hill. In my opinion, even though it is “powerful” relative to competing products, it’s still not going to haul you up a steep hill, especially if you weigh a lot. Don’t let the 500 to 750 watt rating convince you that it’s unstoppable because that’s just not true. It’s still best to get some speed going into hills and avoid the really steep stuff. In those cases, at least you can fold it up quick and drag it along using the front wheel like a handle much like the Glion Dolly but not quite as fancy.
- I like that when it’s all folded up the unit is stable (won’t tip side to side as easily) and the bars get really compact
- There’s a bright tail light that activates when you brake or if you press the power button while the scooter is on, the light is red, runs off the main battery and uses two bright LED units
- The mechanical disc brake is easy to use and stops well with a large 140 mm rotor (braking feels smooth and progressive vs. on/off), I love that the brake lever itself has a rubberized edge for comfort and an integrated bell to signal with
- On the back side of the display panel there’s a standard sized USB port so you can charge portable electronic devices or a headlight
- This scooter is available all over the world and comes in two variations to adhere to local power and speed limits (15.5 mph European and 20 mph USA)
- The standard plastic deck comes in two stock colors (blue or green) and is upgradeable, for an extra $39 you can ditch the plastic and upgrade to natural wood
- The back end of the scooter looks professional with the plastic from the fender extending to surround the axle mounting point, it helps to protect the power cable going to the hub motor if the scooter tips
- Given the inflatable 10″ x 2″ tires on this thing, little cracks and rough streets don’t feel as jarring, I like the ergonomic grips and feel that it is quiet and smooth compared to some other offerings
- The charger is compact and light weight so you can easily toss it into a backpack and bring it along to top off at work, the plug end is metal so it won’t get cracked or broke as easily as plastic
- The handle bar is long and stable, it feels more comfortable and solid than some of the more compact electric kick scooters and that’s important for higher speeds and more power
- One of the heavier electric kick scooters I’ve reviewed weighing in at just under 40 pounds (18 kg)
- Folding the bars took a bit more effort as the metal slider cuffs that lock them in are not spring loaded so you have to push (and the left one was a bit sticky for me), careful not to pinch your fingers
- While the main folding mechanism at the base of the stem works well, I feel like it could be easier to get confused with and possibly break… you have to push the bars and stem forward before pushing down on the latch (if you try to force it the latch may bend or break)
- Given the gearless direct drive nature of the hub motor used for the rear wheel there is some cogging drag (rare Earth magnets inside repelling the electromagnetic stater when not in use) which could make unpowered scooting less efficient
- While the inflatable tires are smooth and quiet, they are more prone to getting flats… I-Max offers replacement tubes for $15 each but putting them on probably isn’t much fun, consider using some Slime and carrying a mini pump if you commute long distances and don’t want to end up walking
- The rear fender is somewhat flexible so I wasn’t able to put my foot on it while riding without compressing it into the tire and creating drag and buzzing noises
- Make sure the stem clamp is tight because there aren’t any locking pins and the handle bars can slide down if they are loose