Sunday, 1 March 2015

What's this blog all about?

Read our online blog on mobility scooters

Our blog has been launched online to provide you with useful details and information relevant to mobility scooters. We will feature information on some of the latest models of mobility scooter that you can buy, accessories that you can buy to get the most from your scooter, security devices, and lots more.

We will also be providing details related to where you can hire a mobility scooter in the UK

Do you need the temporary use of a mobility scooter whilst you are on holiday? perhaps for a family holiday in a popular seaside resort such as Blackpool, Cleethorpes, Mablethorpe, Ryhll, or Skegness? or maybe you need an electric scooter to help you get around the resorts that are in Great Yarmouth, or the lovely southern UK coastal resorts that can be found in Cornwall and Devon?

If you do - we aim to help you, providing helpful information on the best places where you can hire a mobility scooter from for your holiday.

(Read how the UK Government wants our seaside resorts to open-up for mobility scooter users - you can read the article on this here)

What is a mobility scooter?

A mobility scooter is classed as a type of mobility aid, equivalent almost to a powered wheelchair, but in a configuration that is similar to a motor scooter or a small to medium sized quad bike. 

Occasionally this type of vehicle is referred to as a battery scooter as well as an electric scooter, this is because all mobility scooters operate off a rechargeable battery pack, as can be found under the bonnet of cars and leisure vehicles such as electric golf carts and golf buggies.

How many wheels are they on a mobility scooter?

Most mobility scooters have 4 wheels, but there are also several brands and models that you can buy that have 3 or 5 wheels. For stability 4 or 5 wheels is best, giving the rider a good level of comfort as well as safety when travelling over bumpy surfaces, uneven ground, and when climbing or descending down ramps and pathways. A three wheeled mobility scooter can be stable in most conditions such as when being used on tarmac and concrete pavements - but overall they are not as stable as a four or five wheeled scooter.

Do mobility scooters have a steering wheel?

No, all mobility scooters that can be purchased or hired in the UK are supplied with fitted handlebars - just along the lines of what you will see on a traditional motor scooter or push bike. This is the best option for this type of mobility aid allowing easy steering whilst also giving the operator full control of the main controls for braking and adjusting the speed of the scooter. 

How is the speed adjusted and regulated?

This varies from one brand of mobility scooter to another - but usually the speed is controlled by way of a lever or button control that is similar to a brake lever on a push bike. Some models have a speed control knob on a handlebar mounted console, a few have a twist grip type of speed control. The industry standard controls though are the twist type speed control and the lever / button controls. 

Depending on the exact make and model of mobility scooter that you are going to buy or hire - the way that you vary and adjust the speed can vary, but all are easy to operate and use. With a twist grip type scooter you twist the handlebar control to set off and speed up, and turn it the opposite way to slow down, brake, and stop. With a lever type control this can work in several ways but usually you pull on the lever to set off and accelerate, releasing pressure on the lever when you want to slow down and stop. 

Some models of electric mobility scooters use a lever on the left side of the handlebars as well, this could be a control to reverse the scooter or it could be a stand-alone brake control. Models that have a thumb push control work similar to the details just mentioned - but their operation can vary from one make of scooter to another. 

Buying Tip.... If you have arthritis or have limited use of your hands and fingers - take this into account when shopping to buy your new mobility scooter. The same applies if you are going to rent a scooter for a short period of time. Take a little time in choosing the right brand and model ensuring its the right scooter to meet your individual needs.

How do you brake and stop on a electric mobility scooter?

The exact type of braking system on a battery powered mobility scooter can vary from one make and model to another. Most though use a braking system that is combined with the electric motor and speed controller. This is commonly an electrical, electronic, or a combined electro-mechanical form of braking where the electric motor is utilised to quickly slow down or bring the scooter to a rest. It is an efficient and safe system that also prevents a scooter from rolling back or forward when it is parked. 

Regenerative braking - some of the top specification and high quality scooters now utilise regenerative braking. This tops-up the scooters rechargeable battery as the brakes are applied - giving the scooter a greater travelling range between recharges. 

Manual brakes - some models also have traditional type manual brakes, these are in addition to the types mentioned above. The exact configuration and specification of any manual brakes fitted can differ from one model of scooter to another, some may have just a manual parking brake, others may have additional brakes in the form of one or more disc brakes, these are usually cable operated to keep maintenance schedules to a minimum.

Parking Brake - some models are supplied from your mobility aid shop or dealer with a fitted dedicated parking brake as standard. Most of these brakes work by way of a metal lever that pushes down onto one of the rear wheels.

Buying Tip.... If you live on a hill or need to regularly leave your electric mobility scooter on a steep path or driveway, think about buying a model that has a parking brake. Some makes and models of scooters will have this supplied as standard, whilst it may be a dealer fitter option on others.

What powers a mobility scooter?

All mobility scooter models are driven by an electric motor, this is powered by a rechargeable battery pack that will be mounted somewhere on the scooter itself, usually on the chassis under the seat or floor area.

The battery power is measured in the unit of voltage with most scooters having a total voltage power of either 12v or 24 volt. This is usually by way of the fitment of a single 12v battery or two 12v battery packs that are linked together. The running time of the battery pack will be rated in amp hours (Ah) - this is the capacity size of the battery and dictates along with other things the "running" time of the scooter. In simple terms the greater the Ah size of the battery - the longer running time it will have compared to a smaller battery size.

The rechargeable battery pack that in turn powers a scooters electric drive motor will need charging-up on a regular basis, otherwise the onboard battery pack will run flat rendering the scooter unrideable. When you buy or hire a mobility scooter you will be supplied with a suitable battery charger unit, this must be used inline with the manufacturers instruction guide book to give you the best running time and service life from the fitted battery.

Can you buy replacement batteries and battery chargers? 

Yes, if the battery pack or battery charger has worn out or broken - you can easily buy a new one. Depending on the physical size of the battery fitted to your electric mobility scooter you may also be able to uprate the  battery for a larger - longer running capacity one. The same applies for the battery recharger, new replacement ones can be purchased to suit any brand and model of scooter. Modern "fast charge" ones are available too that can speed up the recharge time of your battery pack.

Is there a best buy or recommended mobility scooter you should buy?

Whilst there are many mobility scooter and mobility aid shops in the UK that advertise a best buy or top recommended scooter - it really is down to buying a model that suits your individual needs as well as possibly your budget. 

We would like to think that the cost of buying a mobility scooter should be determined solely by you buying the right model for your needs with regards to getting you mobile, but more often than not the price you pay needs to be considered too. Sometimes the cheapest mobility scooter is the right one, sometimes it is not, what is really important is that you choose a model that will do what you need it to, this could be a scooter for popping down to the local supermarket, for a ride to see neighbours and friends, or it could be to cover a wide range of travelling including trips to the city, town, or village centre, to the local park, the social or sports club, and much more.