Independent review by a long-term mobility user:
Firstly, I wish to state I have no affiliation to eFOLDi (beyond my final sentence) or any other mobility products. I’m simply very enthusiastic about the eFOLDi, primarily as a mobility scooter, because of what it offers for me personally, in meeting my day-to-day needs.
Reviewer’s Personal Perspective
My experience is with a variety of mobility scooters & powerchairs (mostly second-hand) during the last twelve years. One at a time, I frequently have to use two scooters & two powerchairs to meet my various needs.
Current, regular needs include; GENUINE battery capacity for regular ’round’ trips upto 13 miles including up (about 1/4 mile x3, requiring reasonable motor power) & down hills, carrying shopping, limited storage space when not in use (some monster four wheelers thereby eliminated), limited travelling time (therefore needing the UK public roads maximum of 8 miles per hour switchable to UK pedestrian areas maximum of 4 miles per hour), reasonable comfort (large wheels + some suspension decidedly preferable on most UK footpaths & roads) & ruggedness with decent ground-clearance (for the same reasons), good stability (therefore seat not too high above ground) yet narrow enough to get through average domestic doorways, good manoeuvrability (e.g. in shops & hospitals, probably necessitating three wheels instead of four), ease of getting the scooter or powerchair into a smaller car than I currently have. (I presently need a seven-seater VW Touran just because of the size of the scooter now usually in use.)
eFOLDi – Initial Thoughts:
First finding the eFOLDi via a web search for ‘folding scooter’, I was impressed. The pictures, videos & specifications looked too good to be true to meet my needs. Oh, & the price!!!
At a show, when first sighting the black eFOLDi prototype, I was even more impressed. It appeared more compact than the pictures & videos implied to me. The fully sprung seat somehow looks lower than a standard chair, yet it’s the same height, aiding easy transfer if required. As a scooter, it belies it’s folding capability & feels easily sturdy enough to safely propel my 98kg (15,1/2 stones), 6’2″ (188cm) mass over typical UK ‘footpaths’.
I much favour the instant response, motorcycle type, twist-grip ‘throttle’ of the eFOLDi (instead of the common, laggy, central pivoting, double-ended, forward/reverse lever) & the bicycle type front brake lever with the additional benefits of locking ‘on’ & operating the rear brake lights. Those (I think obviously) are on the very nicely balanced short handlebar which has necessary switches at the middle rear, ideal for the thumbs. Not ‘braking’ by the motor probably contributes to improved range as the eFOLDi requires nil power whilst freewheeling (remarkably well on the level).
Folding to the size of a suitcase negates most ‘not-in-use’ space concerns & then the rear wheels become like suitcase wheels, the whole unit being well balanced with hand-hold height options when lifting the unit up or down steps, on or off trains/buses, etc., if the user or anyone nearby is able to lift the 19kg single piece, but it should be relatively easily rolled up or down ramps. The thoughtful addition of two small castors at 90 degrees to the driven wheels, simplistically aids almost effortlessly slipping the compacted eFOLDi into a gap between furniture (or other ‘suitcases’) just by tilting it slightly to raise the driven wheels from the ground.
The two zipped side pockets (included) provide storage for the eFOLDi’s tiny charger (a fraction of the size of common lead cell chargers), mains power lead & a folding walking stick (or two) with space to spare. There’s also a large zipped pocket on the rear of the seat in which I can store my thin jacket &/or cape. I like to carry a puncture repair kit, spare inner tube & mini toolkit ‘just-in-case’!
All of the lights (including indicators) are LED’s which mean minimum power drain for maximum visibility to other road users (except to those drivers who appear to be blind), with an excellent ‘headlamp’. The horn is a rarity – people can actually hear this one as it’s facing forward unrestricted & is easily the loudest I’ve heard on any scooter or powerchair.
Because of the excellent ground clearance & manoeuvrability, the user cannot sit down & swivel on the seat in quite the usual way, although the eFOLDi allows the user to consider various options for getting on or off it. (1) You can have it completely unfolded & lift one leg between the tiller & seat (like a ladies’ bicycle – my usual preference due to my disabilities). (2) Have it completely unfolded & lift one leg over the seat rest (like a motorcycle). (3) You can leave the seat rest folded down, swing one leg around behind the rear wheels, then lift the seat rest (a strap or cord may be useful to save bending down or twisting your back) which I’m likely to have to do on occasions. (4) Leave the tiller/handlebar folded flat to the front edge of the seat, swing one leg around the front, sitting down, then lift the tiller into place. (5) Leave the tiller folded with the handlebar end to the front edge of the seat, swing one leg around the front, sit down, then lift the tiller into place. (6) Sit down from either side with the tiller/handlebar positioned as in either suggestions 4 or 5, sweep the nearest leg over the front & tiller, then lift the tiller/handlebar into place. Other people may find yet more ways.
There are currently no arm rests on the eFOLDi which, for me, is great as I tend to use my walking stick when getting on or off a scooter, instead of arm rests which get in my way the remainder of the time. (I’ve always removed redundant arm rests from previous scooters & powerchairs.) Some people may need to park next to a sturdy table, or such like, to use instead of an arm rest if required when getting on or off the eFOLDi.
Will the eFOLDi suit my needs? I believe it will suit my current needs far better than any alternative scooter or powerchair I know of. Compared to my current scooter (which, overall, has been the best & most used of all scooters & powerchairs I’ve owned), the eFOLDi is as good in terms of actual distance possible from one full charge, quicker (current is only 6mph), has better batteries (i.e. small Lithium-Ion with virtually no memory effect instead of pitiful Lead/Gel), has much better ground clearance (current is less than 2″), requires a fraction of the storage space &/or car boot space, somewhat better manoeuvrability & has comparable stability even though it’s wheelbase is narrower. Folded alternatively, I’ll even have my own private seat on a busy promenade! (See the video if you don’t understand that last comment.) Any compromises? Yes, it’s got slightly smaller rear wheels & I’ll have to work out alternative ‘loading’ for shopping (e.g. a rucksack on the back of the seat), but instead of having to have my Touran with electric hoist (mounted in the boot) required to lift the big scooter in & out, with an eFOLDi I can have an old (proper) VW Beetle & easily put the eFOLDi in place of the front passenger seat. (Other people can sit in the back.) If the Beetle option falls through, I’ll consider two seater micro-cars once I’ve got the eFOLDi. Good-bye fuel-guzzling, dodgy electronics, overly complicated, expensive spares, long parking space requiring Touran! Instead of a total of four units of powered mobility transport currently, I believe the eFOLDi will be the only one I shall need in future, freeing up a great deal of space at home & it will mean less mains electrcity consumption.
At the show I mentioned, I saw the prototype at the end of the day (seven hours stint), after it had been tried/ridden by many people (upto full speed & not just a few yards) & seldom switched off. The Lithium-Ion batteries were still performing as if they were fresh, yet they’d had no ‘topping up’ at all.
All I’ve told you means the eFOLDi is a hands-down, real winner, no-brainer – I’ve committed to buying one!
-By John Wilson