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Mobility Scooter Buying Guide

Mobility scooters allow people of all ages and all disabilities to maintain a certain level of independence when it comes to getting around and heading out and about. There are many things you need to consider when thinking about purchasing a new mobility scooter or electric wheelchair.

We’ve previously discussed the types of mobility scooters from small scooters which can fit in your average car boot to the larger class 3 scooters which can be used on UK roads. However, there are still a lot of different elements which should be considered from key accessories and maintenance packages which should be considered.

Pavement Scooters

The aspire2 scooter buying guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to be able to make an informed decision when you’re considering your next mobility scooter. If you sill have questions feel free to visit one of our local scooter showrooms or if you’d like to find out more about our finance options you can do so by reading our guide to Klarna finance.

Mobility Scooter Types

Within the UK you’re not required to have a UK driving license however we always advise our customers to take out scooter insurance to ensure if they in an accident they have adequate cover. Depending on your requirements and how far you’re looking to travel on your scooter will change the type of scooter to purchase.

Mobility Scooter Classes

  • Class 1
  • Class 2
  • Class 3

Class 1 Mobility Scooters

Class 1 scooters are manual based scooters or any wheelchair which does not contain any sort of electric motor. Typically, the design of these are more traditional wheelchair sizes and shapes rather than what you might think of when you think of a mobility scooter.

Class 2 Scooters

Class 2 scooters and wheelchairs are those which can be used on the pavement in the UK but have to be restricted to have a total maximum speed of 4mph. A class 2 scooter is permitted to use pedestrian and zebra crossings to get across the road but you are not permitted to travel along the road, except where there isn't a pavement.

Class 2 scooters are typically smaller which is a benefit over some of the class 3 scooters which require much more storage space and are not easily transportable. A class 2 scooter can usually be folded with ease to be transported by any vehicle.

Class 2, or portable scooters are ideal for those who need assistance on day trips or shopping trips but do not require assistance all the time.

Class 3 Mobility Scooters

Sterling S700 Mobility Scooter

Class 3 Scooters are fully road legal and can be ridden on the road as long as all highway codes are adhered too. However for a scooter to fall into the correct 3 classification it must have

  • Headlights, rear lights and indicators
  • Horn
  • Rear view mirror
  • Emergency hand brakes

All class 3 scooters can travel up to a maximum of up to 8mph however they are required by law to have a way in which the speed can be limited to 4mph when travelling on the pavement.

Normally this is done using a switch to reduce the maximum capacity to 4mph however will depend on the type of scooter and brand you purchase.

Class 3 scooters traditionally offer a larger distance range due to the batter capacity they have and have a bigger maximum weight capacity however as they are larger than class 2 scooters they are not as easy to transport.

Alongside this a Class 3 scooter are not legally required to have an annual MOT test however if you’re a regular scooter uses, we’d always recommend taking out a scooter service package and insurance to ensure your scooter is always roadworthy.

All being said there are some legal restrictions on scooters which have to be adhered to if you want to ensure you remain safe on the UK roads. You must not take your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair motorways, cycle lanes or in bus lanes.

Things to Consider

Now we’ve outlined the various types of mobility scooters you could consider we’ll outline some of the key things to consider when you’re in the market for a new scooter.

The first thing we always advice our customers to consider is where you’ll use your scooter and how far those journeys will cover. This will allow you to first work out which type of scooter you need to consider.

The below outline some of the most common scenarios are:

  • Independent trips to local shops
  • Local visits to see family & friends
  • Getting around on holiday and by the sea side
  • Attending local health care appointments

Do your need your scooter to be portable?

One of the key things to consider when looking into a new scooter is if you need your scooter to be portable. A lot of mobility scooters while can be fantastic in helping you get around are usually quire heavy and therefore do not make it easy to put them in your car boot.

Portable or lightweight scooters are designed to be smaller and because of this they usually have a smaller battery and therefore cannot go as far as you might be able to get on a class 3 scooter. Furthermore typically class 2 scooters are not built for comfort and as such you might want to consider a range of accessories to make it comfier when commuting to the local shops.

Your Specific Requirements

Another thing to consider here just like when buying a new car is to ensure your scooter matches the specific requirements such as having a longer battery life or coming with a shopping basket to make shopping even easier.

Furthermore, if you have a specific medical condition or suffer from a bad back then you might want to consider a mobility scooter which has a fully functioning suspension to take some of the impact when riding on the footpath or road.

The fundamental most important element when considering your next mobility scooter is to ensure you fall within the correct weight limit and therefore your scooter will work as recommended and you’re not potentially impacting your scooter warranty.

Consider your circumstances  

The other big consideration to think of when looking into a new scooter is your own circumstances such as your current living environment. If you have a lot of kerbs to negotiate when out and about then you’ll need to get a mobility scooter which has a reasonable ride height.

If you live in an area which has a lot of hills this will also need to be factored in to ensure you have a battery which can facilitate riding up hillier roads and obstacles. Most scooter manufacturers will provide information on the maximum gradient which that scooter can cope with along with the maximum weight in which can be handled.

Going over these specifications will potentially hinder how long your scooter battery lasts for and also could impact how often you need to service your scooter to ensure it remains in tip top condition. We also will always advise you not only have a secure home location to keep your scooter locked up but also have somewhere dry to ensure your battery and other electrical elements do not become wet and thus might also then be damaged.

It is possible to leave portable scooters in the boot of the car and just take the battery pack inside for charging. If you do have some outside space but not a permanent fixture to protect your scooter from the elements then it is possible to use a full mobility scooter cover in most cases though our customers will revert to storing there scooter in the hallway of there home which allows them to have access to a charging point with ease.

Mobility Scooter Features

Splash Scooter Leg Cape

Now you’re ready to begin thinking about the range of features you can have on your mobility scooter. All of these are key things which our friendly teams can discuss when you visit one of the Aspire2 showrooms.

Scooter Wheels

While all scooters have the same type of wheels there are some key differences which should be considered such as the width of how far wheels are apart which can result in difference riding experiences.

Regardless though of the wheel spacing none of these key elements will impact the overall experience in terms of performance but they can have some impact on the overall manoeuvrability of your mobility scooter and how easy it is to get around in tight space.

Typically if you need a mobility scooter which can turn in a very tight space a 3 wheel mobility scooter is likely going to be a better choice as they have a better turning circle compared to a traditional mobility scooter or larger class 3 mobility scooter have a wider turning circle and might require you to reverse in right spaces to ensure you can keep on the move.

The final thing to consider here is that the overall number of wheels can affect the overall stability of your scooter especially particularly when your turning sharp corners or manouevering in a tight space as already discussed.

However, 3-wheel scooters are safe and stable under normal conditions and if driven with care and if you do have any questions or concerns you can always reach out to the team for any individual questions.

Mobility Scooter Controls

Almost all mobility or electric scooters on the market are controlled using a finger or thumb motion which cam be controlled on the handlebars of your scooter. This lever is commonly referred to as a “Wig-Wag”.

Wig-wags on class 3 / large mobility scooters with a greater range are designed to use a pull back motion that allows you to control your scooter when on the move and in some instances higher end scooter models combine both finger and thumb controls.

UK based scooter models typically have the forward control paddle situated on the right hand side and the reverse controls on the left, most scooter dealerships however can swap these controls around if needed which can be better for those who are left-handed or have restricted movement in there right hand.

Scooter Operation

Like most scooters, mobility scooters are started with a standard key ignition which once the key has been removed it will not be possible to move the scooter. This usually provides an added layer of security if you’re out and about although we’d always recommend considered other security measures to keep your scooter safe.

Although the ignition needs to be on for you to move your scooter it is possible to disengage the parking brake easily and therefore you should secure the scooter with a lock before leaving it unattended outside a shop.

All scooters come with two keys supplied as standard although if for some reason you do loose a key you can request a replacement at a local mobility scooter showroom.

Tillers

A ‘tiller’ is the front part of the scooter which includes handlebars and the controls to start and drive your mobility scooter. The tiller angle is sometimes adjustable on higher end models that can allow the scooter controls to be moved closer making the operating easier.

This adjustment may be a specific number of slots (ie 4 or 5 different angles) or a more flexible teeth mechanism which gives you a wide choice of angles and can in some instances be a much better feature when you’re considering your next scooter.

Class 3 or larger scooters can sometimes also come fitted with a gas struct which can help alter the overall positioning of your tiller to make a better ride on your scooter. It potentially can be very uncomfortable if the tiller is too far away from you and you have to reach forward whilst driving. 

Seats & Cushions

When looking at the range of mobility scooters on offer we believe that the seat is one of the most important aspects to consider especially if you’re going to be using your scooter for long journeys. Seats can vary heavily between models in terms of the shape, comfort and overall size with basic models having a simple padded base and a small back rest.

Larger scooters and more premium models of course come with a higher end seat which is commonly referred to as the ‘Captain’s Seat’. This type of seat is usually much bigger than the basic seat including being adjustable and having a head rest.

Most mobility scooter seats swivel through 90°, 180° or 360° to enable you to get on and off more easily. Alongside this most models will allow the arms to move which also makes it easier to get on and off your mobility scooter.

Common Seat Adjustments

  • Seat Height
    • The seat height can usually be adjusted on all mobility scooters and can easily be adjusted.
  • Seat Position
    • Forward slider is usually only available on mid-size and upward type scooters and can increase the amount of leg room available.
  • Seat Back Angle
    • This feature is usually only available on Captain's seats but allows for a much more comfortable riding position on your scooter.
  • Headrest Height & Angle
    • This feature is usually only available on Captain's seats.

Mobility Scooter Batteries

All mobility scooters are powered using two 12-volt rechargeable batteries. The size of the batteries is directly proportional to the range and weight limit of the scooter and you can replace or upgrade these batteries depending on your overall requirements.

Generally, the larger and heavier the batteries, the greater the output capacity, lightweight portable scooters will typically have two 12Ah batteries whilst Class 3 scooters may have batteries as large as 74Ah.

We have a range of mobility scooter batteries which can replace your old battery should you so need and can even support in fitting these in our showroom.

Which batteries are best for mobility scooters?

There are various types of scooter batteries available on the market today but the most common type of batteries is Lead Acid & Gel Cell Batteries. However newer technology coming on the market means AGM batteries are growing in popularity,

What is the average life of a mobility scooter battery?

The average lifetime of a mobility scooter battery will depend on how often you are using your scooter and the type of terrain you’re riding your scooter on. However most mobility scooter batteries will last between 18-24 months.

Can I upgrade my mobility scooter batteries for greater range?

Yes some mobility scooters such as the bigger off-road scooters can be upgraded to use a more durable battery which could improve the overall range of your journey.

Brakes

The brakes on your mobility scooter are electro-magnetic and are permanently on until you push the wig-wag to drive the scooter. This added safety feature means that as soon as you let go of the wig-wag the brake is applied and the scooter slows and stops.

All mobility scooter have a free-wheel lever which disengages the motor and hence the brake. This allows you to push the scooter manually where you need to such as to your vehicle on the drive.

However, you must ensure that the motor drive is reconnected before getting on the scooter as without brakes the scooter can very easily roll away with you.

Some class 3 scooters feature an emergency brake which is similar to a brake on a bicycle with a handlebar mounted lever. This acts on the rear wheels to slow the scooter and is intended to be used should the electro-magnetic brakes fail. However, failure of the brake is very rare and the majority of scooters are fitted with fail safe systems which cut power to the scooter and apply the brake in the event of any problems.

Mobility Scooter Accessories

There are a range of accessories which can be added to your mobility scooter depending on where and how often you’ll be using your scooter.

Walking Stick/Crutch Holder

A fantastic addition to your mobility scooter and usually mounted to the rear of your scooter these simple upright tubes allow you to store your walking stick or crutch. On some smaller models’ clips can be mounted underneath the arm pads to carry the stick horizontally underneath the arms.

Storage Covers

Storage covers allow your scooter to be kept outside while keeping the dust and rain off your scooter to prevent any sort of water damage which might occur. Basic mobility scooter covers will be elasticated around the bottom allowing them to have a universal fit.

However higher end covers tend to suit to specific models and have tightening belts so that the cover is a tighter fit and thus giving it greater protection from the elements.

You can also get a hybrid scooter cover / scooter store where the cover has a rigid frame and will stand up to being left out in more difficult weather conditions. These shelters also have security features so that you can keep your scooter safe.

Shopping Baskets

One of the most common accessories is the shopping basket which can be mounted at the front of your mobility scooter. There are also a range of scooter bags which can also be attached to the rear of your scooter depending on the style and type of scooter you currently have or are considering buying.

Splash Scooter Pannier Bag

However, you should be wary of placing too much weight at the back of the scooter as the risk of the front wheels lifting off the ground increases causing difficulties steering.

Mobility Scooter Insurance

Riding a mobility scooter does not legally require you to have insurance to cover you driving your scooter however we always highly recommend taking out a comprehensive cover package which will cover you against any potential issues you might have.

The type of risks that the insurance will cover includes:

  • Third party liability (e.g. Accidentally bumping someone car in a car park)
  • Theft of your mobility scooter
  • Accidental damage to your scooter
  • Out of all these risks, being covered for third party liability is by far the most important. Even a small accident could result in a potential cost running to many thousands of pounds.

When you are visiting our showroom, we can help give guidance on the right type of insurance for your mobility scooter and talk through the fine print in more detail.

Mobility Scooter Servicing

Most scooter manufacturers recommend that you have your scooter serviced annually and it is often a requirement for insurance cover.

A typically mobility scooter service cost will usually depend on the size and complexity of the scooter.  Typically we advise all our customers to come into a showroom for a service as we can take a more detailed look at your scooter.