I didn’t think I’d ever be writing about an electric scooter when I started writing for Ausdroid over ten years ago, yet here I am. The Segway-Ninebot F40A is the top of the recently released range of scooters. Given there is an increasing presence of these in South Australia, including rentals in the CBD it seemed a good opportunity to take a closer look at one.
What is it?
The F40A is an electric scooter that is capable of 25kph which is pretty quick, achievable thanks to the 350W motor onboard. The batteries hold a charge capable of carrying you around 40 kilometres (there’s a heap of variables in this) and links to your phone via an app and Bluetooth: Allowing you to lock the device and keep it safe.
The scooter has a very cool energy recovery system that results in far more than the 40km range being a reality. That is, of course, providing that you’re not riding on the flat all the time with no braking or downhill stretches.
Switching between the three riding modes: Eco, Standard and Sports is really easy with a quick double-tap of the control button on the dash. In basic terms, the modes limit the power output to maximise your battery life. This means that you can extend your range if you’re riding on the flat, or really ramp up the power to get up hills of up to a 20% gradient. You do need to be aware that you’ll feel the difference between the modes, particularly if you’re riding even a slight incline.
How does it go in daily life?
For me, I work a bit too far from home for this to be viable transport. But since the pandemic hit last year, I’ve been working from home more than the office. So when I have the chance to head to the shops, a nearby meeting or just have the need to get out for some fresh air – I’ve been on the scooter (weather permitting – I have a car, I’m not going to freeze just to use the thing…) while we’ve had this on review.
As mentioned, it’s a device that is foldable but that doesn’t necessarily make it convenient. The scooter weighs nearly 16kg (15.9kg to be exact) so while it’s doable, it’s not something I’d want to be carrying on public transport for instance. That frame feels really solid though, which gave me the confidence to ride the F40A on a range of surfaces, day or night and in some varied weather conditions.
A couple of features I particularly like is the fact it’s got 10” tyres which make riding on bitumen, footpaths (be cautious here) or other gravel-covered areas really comfortable. The second is the lights, making you visible to other road users — the brake light flashes when you’re braking — and lights the way for you with a headlight that doesn’t do a bad job providing you’re not completely reliant on it.
The acceleration in sports mode, or standard while going downhill, is reasonably brisk and will get you up to speed within a few seconds. The smaller you are, the faster this will happen but this scooter is designed for riders up to 120kg.
I did a bit of riding during the review, most days in fact and found the app made it really easy to understand how far I could ride before I ran out of battery. It also gave me the means to take the scooter to a few locations, lock it and not be too concerned about whether it would be there a few minutes later when I returned by locking it in the app. When locked, the scooter beeps if someone tries to move it and (assuming your phone is in range) you’ll also get a notification telling you the locked scooter is being moved.
To make sure it’s ready to go again, you’ll need to make sure you charge it on a relatively regular basis. This is really easy because the charge time is pretty reasonable, going from 20% battery to full in about 3 hours. More than enough time for it to be charged overnight at home, or at your workplace during the day.
Would I buy one?
The short answer is hell yes I would! The amount of fun I’ve had riding this has been immeasurable, it really is an absolute hoot. But more importantly, it’s not just a toy – it actually has some great functionality. You could easily fold it up into your boot and park away from your office, potentially saving time in traffic and money on parking. Or, taking it to another level this has the potential for some users to become a primary mode of transport.
It’s also very useful if you, like me, have a child with far too much energy. I cheat and go for a scoot with her on the weekends to burn a bit of her energy without killing myself trying to keep up.
That said though, it’s not a cheap option as a secondary transport. At $1,199.00 you need a bit of cash in your pocket to invest in one, but honestly – it is worth it. The ride is comfy, it’s functional and it’s an absolute hoot to ride.
NB. Depending on your location, you may need to speak with local authorities to confirm where you can and cannot use electric scooters. Regardless, please take care riding a device like this as you’ve got the potential to cause yourself, and others some pretty serious injuries if you’re not careful.