Basics of Choosing a Mobility Scooter
Mobility scooters have become a common way for the people with mobility issues such as injury or shortness of breath to maintain their lifestyles with ease. Whether you want to go around the block, get your mail, go to the shopping mall, grocery store or a theme park, a mobility scooter can make your life easier. If you have trouble walking, whether because of injury or fatigue, you might want to explore getting a scooter to supplement some of your walking.
Customers often ask “which scooter is the best?” my cliché answer is “that depends”. Obviously, different scooter manufacturers and models have various quality and features but the best scooter is the one that works best for you. Understanding how you plan to use your scooter will help you determine which type of mobility scooter will work best for you. Below are some of the considerations that you need to consider to determine the best mobility scooter for you and your needs.
Note: you may not find an exact match on each category; you may need to compromise between the different important criteria. For example, you are not going to find a scooter with a weight capacity of 300 lbs, travels 10 mph, weighs 20 pounds and fits in your pocket.
Select a mobility scooter that will not only support your weight but the weight of anything that you will be carrying. For example, if you shop with your scooter, a gallon of milk, case of soda and other items can quickly add up to 20 pounds of additional weight. Also, if you are like the rest of us, your weight will fluctuate.
Note: To eliminate worry about how much weight you are carrying, give yourself at least a 10% buffer when comparing your weight to that of the weight capacity of the scooter. For example, if the weight capacity of a scooter is 300 pounds then you would not want to weigh more than 270 pounds. You could decide to forego this buffer but you would need to make sure that you did not carry items that caused you to exceed the weight capacity of the scooter.
The length and width of the scooter will be important if you use your scooter indoors where the hallways are narrow or cornering is important. Remember you have to turn the scooter into a doorway from the hallway. 3 wheel scooters have tighter turning but 4 wheel scooters have more stability. Measure your doorways and hallways and compare your measurements to those of the scooter.
Note: The width measurement of scooters does not typically include armrests, which are adjustable. Armrests typically add four to six inches to the seat width. For example, a scooter with a specification measurement of 21” and a seat width of 18” is only 21” wide without the arm rests. The width with armrests could be 22” to 30” depending on where you set the armrests.
Number of Wheels
Most scooters come in both 3 and 4 wheel models. Choosing which model is usually based on a combination of where you intend to use it and the weight of the heaviest part you can manage. Consider the following:
3 wheel scooters – Generally these scooters have better turning radius and are better for mostly indoor use with limited outdoor use. These are able to maneuver through tight spaces such as in your home or stores
4 wheel scooters – For more stability, a 4 wheel mobility scooter is the best option. For use on rougher terrain such as rural areas, farms or grassy areas then a 4 wheel mobility scooter is better.
Note: Any scooter can tip over, but it is easier with 3 wheels. However, if you use care when riding by slowing before making turn, especially when going downhill, then any model with 3 wheels is safe.
Transporting the mobility scooter
If you are only going to use the scooter in and around your home, then this section does not apply.
Do you want to be able to take your scooter with you in a car, on a plane, or a cruise? What are the dimensions of hallways and doorways of your destination? What is the physical ability of the person that will transport the scooter? These are some of the questions to consider before purchasing a scooter.
For simplicity, there are generally 3 classes of scooters. They are Portable, Mid-Sized and Full-Sized.
Portable scooter generally range in weight from 80 to 129 pounds but come apart without tools into 4 pieces with the heaviest parts weighing from 27 to 42 pounds. This group is easy for one person to disassemble and requires no tools. Generally these are transported without ramps or carriers but carriers can be used.
Mid-Sized scooters generally range in weight from 130 to 225 pounds but come apart into multiple pieces with the heaviest parts weighing from 42 to 65 pounds. This group of scooter is larger and will take more space to pack, even when broken down for travel. Typically, no tools are required for disassembly. Ramps and carriers are used by most customers for this category but not required.
Full-Sized scooters generally range in weight from 185 to 325 pounds but come apart into pieces with the heaviest parts weighing from 95 to 200 pounds. A ramp or carriers will be required for scooters in this category.
Note: Choosing a ramp or carrier has its own specific requirements which are too complex to cover in this article. You should call Scooter Direct to select the lift, carrier or ramp that will work best for you.
How you use your mobility scooter affects your seating requirements. If you only use your mobility scooter occasionally and sit in it rarely then a standard scooter seat will be just fine. However, if you plan to sit in your mobility scooter most of the day, then you should consider the comfortableness of the scooter seat. Some scooters have thicker layers of foam padding than others while some have gel inserts for additional comfort.
The adjustability of a seat can be a factor for some. Nearly all mobility scooters seats can be manually raised or lowered with a pin through one of several holes on a seat post. Some scooters have an optional electric seat to raise or lower the seat with the push of a button.
Note: Most scooters have very little in the way of seat customization. Some have an option for a wider seat or a high back seat. Specialized seating systems are mostly available on power wheelchairs.
Left or right handed
Some scooters only allow you to move forward using your right hand and reverse with your left hand. If you are unable to use one of your hands then you should select a scooter with a Delta Tiller. The delta tiller is a feature of some mobility scooters which allows you to drive with either hand; forward and reverse.
Each manufacturer and dealer offer their own types of warranties. Most of the scooters offered by Scooter Direct come with an In-Home Parts and Labor warranty. An In-Home warranty is the best option; it insures that you will not have to try and diagnose issues over the phone or have to figure out how to get the scooter to a service person.
Some of our scooters come only with a Parts warranty which means that any service required to replace parts are borne by the purchaser. This is an option for those looking to save as much on the front end of the purchase as possible or those that are able somewhat handy with tools.
Note: Golden Technologies scooters can be upgraded to a 3 year In-Home Parts and Labor warranty.
Choosing the right scooter is not overly complicated; it’s a simple matter of matching the best combination of features and function for your intended use. Scooter Direct personnel are qualified to assist you in selecting which model will fit your needs the Best for You!