Emicro One review: Forget hoverboards, what you WANT is this electric scooter
Venture near any primary school at turning-out time and you’ll see hordes of kids riding some kind of tiny scooter, and the vast majority will be made by Micro from Switzerland. The dominant scooter brand has long made grown-up-sized models as well, which let you speed through town without having to take to the road on a bike. It’s a huge deal, then, when Micro decides the time is right to release it first electric scooter, the Emicro One.
The Emicro One is an utterly different beast to most electric scooters, and a world away from the recent fuss and hoo-hah over so-called hoverboards. While most such devices are very much “look at me” toys, the Emicro is subtle and understated. In fact, from a distance, it looks identical to similar models in Micro’s standard range.
The only visual giveaway, except for the altered logo and badging, are four battery indicator LEDs on the deck (that’s the bit you stand on). It looks like a normal scooter and, more importantly, it rides like a normal scooter too. If you can scoot, you can ride the Emicro, though it takes a while to get used to the subtle differences.
Emicro One review: Smooth ride
There’s no throttle, lever or buttons; instead, the electric motor, which is housed in the oversized rear wheel, provides a boost of power whenever you kick. This “assisted scooting” helps you zip up to top speed in no time, and then you can keep there with just the occasional light push, or by simply shifting your body weight forward in a kind of rocking motion. It can hit 25km/h (over 15mph), which feels very fast on two little wheels. The scooter knows if you’re going uphill, too, and adjusts the power output accordingly to compensate.
It’s an incredible feeling. The power flows naturally as you push and you can coast along at speeds that previously would have left you a desperate kicking mess. It put a huge grin on my face and I couldn’t wait to get back on and head home after work.
There are three modes, so you can get used to it before unleashing its full power:
- Eco mode – 250W – 15km/h
- Standard mode – 250W – 25km/h
- Sport mode – 500W – 25km/h
If you want to come to a stop you simply brake by pressing down on the pedal at the rear, as usual. As you brake, the motor switches off and transfers any remaining momentum back into the battery via a regenerative braking system. That’s in addition to the friction effect of the brake when fully applied, meaning the scooter comes to a stop very quickly.
If you’re used to riding a scooter, you’ll need to use the brake more often than usual. I usually hop off the scooter to stop at low speeds, but if the motor is assisting you at the time, this can result in an unexpected wheelie as you take your weight off the deck. You get used to it pretty quickly, though.
Unlike some of the latest models, there’s no suspension here. The dual-material wheels do help make for a smoother-than-normal ride (while apparently still being long-lasting, though I can’t comment on that). However, the higher average speed means rougher surfaces (such as the roads and pavements of Soho) are more uncomfortable than usual, with lots of vibration coming up through the handlebars. On the plus side, you can power through those lumps and bumps now, rather than being slowed to a crawl.
Emicro One review: Grey area
After the kerfuffle surrounding hoverboards, the legality of any electric-powered vehicle is under scrutiny, so let’s clear this up. Legally speaking, you’re not allowed to ride the Emicro One on the pavement with the electric assist motor engaged.
And while the Emicro One looks like an ordinary scooter, it does emit a high-pitched whine when the motor is on that will leave others in no doubt it’s a little different. At present, though, the rarity of such devices and its slender appearance, with no apparent controls or means of propulsion, should mean you’ll be able to scoot under the radar, so to speak.
For regular scooting you can triple-tap the brake pedal to deactivate the motor and carry on as normal, but that’s not really what you spent £750 on a scooter for. Having said that, the legal status of riding even a regular micro scooter (or skateboard or child’s bike) on the pavement is a grey area, so you’re not exactly on your own here. While you might get away with a bit of sneaky pavement scooting, however, riding it on the road is definitely forbidden.
If you happen to have a huge private campus with miles of smooth pavement, you’re in luck. I imagine tech millionaires and rich college students across the globe have put in their pre-orders already.
Emicro One review: Battery life
If you’re willing to run the legal gauntlet, you’ll find the Emicro One to be a practical little thing. It’s powered by a battery that’s mounted neatly out of sight below the deck. This charges in an hour using the supplied charger, which looks similar to the one you’d get with most laptops.
Like other Micro scooters, the Emicro folds up, so it’s easy to store and easy to carry on public transport. At 7.5kg, it’s around 2kg heavier than typical scooters its size, although that’s still impressive given all the extra kit that’s been packed in. I found it OK to carry for short distances, but others on the team balked at the extra weight. If you spend more time carrying your scooter than riding it, you have been warned.
The range of the scooter is hard to judge, as it depends on how fast you’re going, the surfaces, hills and even temperature (batteries don’t work well in cold weather). Micro says you should get around 10km to 15km out of a full charge, which should be enough for most people.
The battery is good for around 1,000 cycles before it will start to fade in terms of performance and capacity. Micro recommends you have the scooter serviced every couple of years; the battery has a one-year warranty (or 1,000 cycles), and the rest of the scooter has a two-year warranty.
Emicro One review: Verdict
So it’s expensive, a bit on the heavy side and legally dubious for day-to-day use, but despite all the caveats I still want one. The Emicro One is the most refined electric scooter yet and a real joy to ride.
If you’re looking for an incredibly cool commuting tool, forget hoverboards, bin your Brompton and get an Emicro One instead. It’s the future of scooters, and once the price drops a little I’ll be buying one.
See also: Watch the Lexus hoverboard in action