Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES3.
Elizabeth Stillman/Business Insider
I’ve wanted an e-scooter for over a year, and during quarantine I finally splurged on one.The Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES3 has great battery life, is foldable, and can go pretty darn fast.I rode it all the way from Uptown Manhattan to Brooklyn to see my friends, and I had a relatively smooth journey — although my battery precipitously declined after the Brooklyn Bridge.While it’s no exact subway replacement, it’s still a great way to zip around the city.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As an extrovert in New York City, it’s generally pretty easy to see those I care about. I’ve been a public-transit and walking enthusiast for as long as I can remember. I’ll happily take an hour-long subway ride from my apartment in Uptown Manhattan to see friends in Bushwick, or walk a few miles to Central Park to read a book in the sun.But when the pandemic struck, it became clear that social distancing was here for the long haul. Public transit — which is often closer than close quarters in New York — seemed particularly hazardous. Even strolls down to the park were out of the picture; an hour-long walk in one direction is manageable, but I’d generally take the train back.I considered buying a bike, but I feared New York’s well-documented dangers for bikers. Also, it would be difficult to even find one. And, as someone who is 5-foot-3 and not renowned for upper-body strength, I didn’t think a bike would be of much use if I threw out my back bringing it home.Enter the e-scooter.
Some background: I first got hooked on e-scooters after my hometown ran a pilot program with a few dockless vendors — Bird, Lime, and Spin. I tried them all out, but consistently gravitated toward Lime. I found their scooters extra sturdy and speedy; they felt the least like the Razor scooters of my youth. I loved scootering so much that I did some research into how I could make my dreams of scootering through New York a reality. I learned that Lime works with Ninebot, a scooter company merged with Segway, and would longingly compare models and makes. But, as it turns out, buying an e-scooter is pretty expensive; like, at minimum $400 expensive. Still, I kept joking — sometimes threateningly — to my friends that someday I would buy an e-scooter, and would be unstoppable.Enter the stimulus check.There are many ways one could use the stimulus check. You could save it, or put in your 401(k) for retirement savings. I spent mine on a Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES3 from Costco.
The ES3 checked all of my boxes. It has a 28-mile range in ideal conditions (which New York City is not), meaning that its range on New York City streets is probably closer to half of that. But its dual batteries give it a huge advantage over similarly sized e-scooters, giving me a range that should last for the future 10-mile commute to my office.It was not super heavy, clocking in at about 30 pounds; it also has a built-in folding mechanism, making the stairs situation in my apartment a little bit easier. It can easily get up to its top speed of 15.5 mph. And, with the Costco discount, it came out to $685 total. After the scooter arrived, I took it for a few short test spins, mostly to try out the battery. It was fairly intuitive to use: First, I had to download the Segway-Ninebot app to pair it to my phone’s Bluetooth. This allows you to use the full range of scooter features — and to connect with the Segway community. I haven’t done that part quite yet, but the feed appears to mostly be people taking beauty shots of their scooters, which I do respect.
To get the scooter up and running, you have to physically kickstart it, and then the accelerator kicks in. There are two levels of acceleration: one keeps the scooter at a maximum speed of around 10 mph, and the other goes up to around 20 mph. I found that it made more sense to constantly keep the scooter on the higher acceleration mode, especially with any bumpy terrain or inclines. I tried the lower acceleration mode on one big hill and found myself going backwards; I needed that extra jolt to keep chugging along — and to not get caught in potholes.The brake is also very eager, and I quickly learned to ease into it. While it was comforting to know that I could jerk the scooter to a complete stop while speeding down a hill, it was also a little scary. After I took a roughly four-mile scoot up to the Bronx, I saw basically no drop in battery, and decided it was time to set out on my greatest adventure of quarantine: The Big Scoot from Uptown Manhattan to Brooklyn.
My scootering get-up, featuring a helmet for my safety and a face shield for good virus protocol.
Juliana Kaplan/Business Insider
The route I plotted had five stops, each at a different friend’s apartment. Altogether, it would be about 15 miles of scootering — one straight shot down Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge, and then city streets to my first stop in Clinton Hill.
I was most worried about the ride all the way down Manhattan, the longest leg of the trip. But I had pretty much nothing to worry about — the Hudson River Greenway bike path has an entrance very close to my apartment, and I was able to take it all the way down the borough. As it turns out, easily accessible bike paths are great and maybe we should have more of them! The path took me along the Hudson River the whole time, which resulted in some beautiful New York City views. By midtown, the bike path even had its own fancy line dividers and stop lights. I, of course, was the only one paying attention to the bike traffic signals, betraying both my Boston and New York heritage, where the rules are made up and the traffic lights don’t matter. Departing from the path to get to the Brooklyn Bridge was the scariest part of my journey. The streets of New York’s financial district are, for some reason, filled with Very Serious motorcycles on Sunday mornings during a global pandemic. I felt like I was riding a toy next to them. Also, the financial district is not a bike friendly space: The unclear signs and directions led to me accidentally taking a major road onto the Brooklyn Bridge. When I realized that’s how real cars — and not silly people on e-scooters — boarded the bridge, I abruptly jumped onto the meridian and transferred to the bike and pedestrian friendly walkway.
The Brooklyn Bridge was terrible for my battery, and not an experience I recommend to any fellow e-scooter pals. It’s slatted, which means if you happen to be on a lightweight device with not very high wheels, it’s a bumpy 1.1 miles of screaming and dodging friendly walkers who clearly have no idea why you’re there. That said, the views are very pretty. By the time I de-bridged, I was worried about my battery: It was down to its last bar. But I was very close to my first destination — my cousin’s apartment — and thankfully my cousin took the scooter into her apartment (without me) and let it charge while we socially distanced on her roof. That charge sustained me through my other visits, which were like the equivalent of an espresso shot of serotonin: I saw friends in person that I hadn’t seen in months. I got to see roving Business Insider tech reporter Aaron Holmes, and see the exterior of my friend Eleanor’s new apartment (and glimpsed her new very cute cat Charlotte from outdoors).Luckily, my gracious and kind friend Maddy offered to give me a ride back uptown (with windows down and mask on) at the end of my journey; I don’t think my battery would’ve gotten me all the way back home.
Overall, while my e-scooter is no exact replacement for the subway, she is a noble steed who allowed me to safely reconnect with friends and see the city in a sustainable way. After my adventure, I had a wicked sports-bra sunburn, so I’ve learned to more assiduously sunscreen.I wouldn’t recommend an e-scooter if you’re planning on making a trek like mine daily, but it’s great for the occasional jaunt around town — especially if you live in a huge urban area like me. More recently, I’ve used it to get bagels from my favorite bagel store in the city (shoutout Absolute Bagels) and to scooter around Central Park.
A nice perk of being able to scoot the Central Park bike path.
Juliana Kaplan/Business Insider
Even when it’s safer to use the subway again, I’ll probably continue to use my e-scooter frequently. It’s all of the fresh air and views of a walk, but with the speed of someone who’s actually good at running. And that’s the perfect combination for me.
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