Next April the state of Florida will start overseeing repair work to the single bridge in and out of Key West. The traffic jams are expected to be monumental, and the work may be finished only by November with luck and may last well into the winter next year when visitors swell the numbers of cars. Behold my solution to the problem, a Jetson Bolt electric scooter for $300 from Costco delivered to our house.
car, park the car as close to Key West as I can get and then take a two wheeled ride past the traffic jam at the Cow Key Bridge and so on to work. I had thought about buying full on electric bicycle until my wife discovered this little thing. For the price it seemed like a no brainer but there are a few other reasons to consider the Jetson Bolt, aside from its delightful name!
The 250 watt hub motor spins the rear wheel with no chain or belt drive, ad the rear disc brake is operated mechanically and the cable runs through the frame. Indeed the scooter has a lifting handle built into the extremely sturdy frame so it's easy enough to lift its 35 pound weight. Easy to lift and clean to lift and simple to ride. No suspension no front brake no loose cables or wires.
You press a button to turn it on, you twist the right grip like a motorcycle and gently and silently you take off. I am at the outer limit of its 250 pound payload and by my phone GPS it will do a steady 10 mph on level ground. Beware steep hills where it will suffer and you can't pedal to help it along. Lack of pedals may also give you range anxiety as once it's done there is nothing more to do except push it.
The factory says it has a top speed of 15 mph and a range of 17 miles. Reviews suggest the range is closer to 12 miles at about that speed so you get an hour's run time on the 36 volt Lithium Ion battery contained in the black box in the frame. A full recharge takes five hours they say and after one hour and about four miles I was still showing two of four bars on the charge indicator.
My plan is to take the charger in to work with me and it is so small and unobtrusive I will be able to put it in the elevator and get it to an inside plug while I work overnight. Well before morning I'll have a full charge to get me back to my car. The way I figure it I should be able to get back and forth between car parked outside the city and work inside the city even without any need for charging. But because I am anal I will be glad to keep it fully charged.
So is it a good thing this little electric scooter? Well, it depends. It seems well built and sturdy. It is fully equipped with a bell, lights front and back, a "fuel gauge" which shows four blue bars barely visible in bright sunlight. The brake works, the accelerator is smooth and it also comes with a cruise control button which locks the throttle and it usually works with a push or two. I anticipate many years of service from this ride.
On the other hand the seat is hard even with a gel pad and an hour's ride will test your butt, that I promise. There is no provision for luggage so anything you carry will be on your back and ten miles per hour is not an inspiring speed. On the long straight streets of New Town ten miles per hour (according to my phone GPS) started to get pretty tedious but that's just me and my need for performance. You can't pedal to speed it up either.
Despite it's modest drawbacks this scooter at three hundred dollars is quite the deal. For urban use it will be excellent. It is going to be easy to carry on a bus as the handlebar folds down if you need it to. You could keep it in your office during the day and it will get you home effort-free from a train station or a bus stop. It is essentially a skate board for adults and as much as I feel like a circus bear while riding it in a town setting it offers excellent personal transportation with none of the muss and fuss and grease of a chain driven bicycle.
I wonder how it will cope with winter traffic in Key West when drivers exhibit impatience and street crossings become more perilous than usual. It has no discernible acceleration so when you open the gas it simply glides away from a stop with no sense of urgency. I felt vulnerable on it. I am assuming that regular use will give a daily rider confidence.
And when I got back to the car I simply lifted it by the frame handle cut out on the battery and lowered it into the trunk of my car, no folding or chains or cables to worry about. Very simple, very swift: