Folding Mobility Scooters – A Gateway to Maintaining Independence
Limited mobility can reduce independence and mobility scooters can make performing tasks independently much easier e.g. visiting friends, or shopping locally.
Using a mobility scooter will allow for exercising a greater level of independence in all situations and will enhance quality of life and inclusion.
A Folding Mobility Scooter is simply a mobility scooter which can fold up for easy storage and for travelling purposes.
In comparison to other mobility scooters, folding mobility scooters are lighter in weight, allowing for easy lifting and carrying.
The birth of the first mobility scooter took place around 2005. These would have had to be dis-assembled, making smaller separate parts which could then fit into the boot of a car.
Folding mobility scooters can easily be stored in the house, on a train, in a car boot and on aircraft and cruise liners.
Some Folding Mobility Scooters are so designed that, when folded, they can be pulled along like a suitcase on wheels.
Folding class 2 mobility scooters have a speed adjustment facility, should you wish to reduce the maximum speed of 4 miles per hour.
Manual or Automatic
There are two types of folding mobility scooter – manual and automatic.
Manual folding mobility scooters are simply folded into a smaller size, for easy storage and carrying.
Automatic folding mobility scooters fold with the flick of a button.
Automatic folding scooters have a manual option override, in case the battery dies, making automatic folding out of the question.
Manual folding mobility scooters are cheaper than automatic folding mobility scooters, as they have fewer electronic parts.
For those who lack the strength to fold a mobility scooter, the automatic model will prove the better choice.
Automatic folding mobility scooters usually have more features than the simpler manual model, hence the higher price.
Batteries for mobility scooters can be purchased for around thirty pounds, inclusive of VAT.
Batteries for mobility scooters give periods of low current, as opposed to car batteries, which give short bursts of high current.
As with wheelchairs, mobility scooters require two batteries.
It costs very little to fully charge a mobility scooter battery but check that the monthly cost is within your range before purchasing.
Depending on what model you choose, a mobility scooter can do between 15 and 25 miles on a fully-charged battery.
Scooters with bigger batteries allow for a longer travel range (i.e. how many miles on a full battery) than do smaller batteries, so the user needs to be aware of its purpose and needs before purchasing.
The lighter the weight of the scooter, the smaller the battery may be and so the travel range (miles on a fully battery) may be lower than wished.
A flat battery can take between eight and twelve hours to fully charge.
Never leave a battery on permanent charge, as this can damage its power. If charging overnight, always unplug first thing in the morning.
The only batteries which are questionable for airline travel are lithium batteries, as these must not exceed the maximum of 300 amp hours. All other sealed batteries are allowed on airlines but always make a point of checking before booking flights.
Batteries can last up to two years but can last up to three years, if they are well-maintained and correctly charged.
Choosing the Right Scooter for You
Always be mindful of the overall weight of a folding mobility scooter, as it has to fit in with the lifting capacity of the scooter user or their assistant.
A lightweight mobility scooter can weigh as little as 17.8 kg (39.16 lbs. / 2 stone 12 lbs.)
Some lightweight scooters can weigh as much as 31.82 kgs. (70 lbs. / 5 stone), the heavier weights relating to wider frames and heavier batteries.
When choosing the right scooter weight for the user, work on a difference of fifty pounds between the scooter weight (the higher of the two weights) and the user’s weight (the lower of the two weights), to avoid any risk of hurting the user or damaging the scooter.
Compare the scooter seat width to the width of the user’s comfortable chair at home, when choosing the best fit.
Some scooters don’t come with armrests, so decide the importance of these (e.g. the user’s body stability) before purchasing. Armrests will add a safety element when the scooter is in motion.
Be sure that the measurements of the scooter you buy will fit into the storage area you have planned for it and will also fit into the boot of the car.
Different scooter models offer different maximum speeds, so the user needs to be sure of their requirements before purchasing.
Using a Scooter
Lightweight mobility scooters are not for use on the road, unless for crossing, or if there is no pavement available at certain points. Their real purpose is for use indoors, on pavements and for general light shopping.
Carrying another person on a mobility scooter is not allowed.
Lightweight scooters are classed as class 2 and only class 3 can be used on roads.
You do not need insurance for a mobility scooter, though it is advisable to have something in place for personal injury, damage to the scooter, or injury to others.
Mobility scooters manage best on the flat but can cope with hills of up to ten degrees incline.
Mobility scooters should be regularly serviced, to be sure that you are getting the best out of them and to prevent untimely breakdowns.
Water on a mobility scooter can cause both electronic and mechanical damage to a scooter and can also cause corrosion and rust. If open to the elements, keeping the scooter covered or under a canopy is essential.
The most common breakdown problem with a mobility scooter is the battery.
The hard wearing tyres can last for hundreds of miles.
The ignition switch is a part which may occasionally need attention.
Class 2 Mobility Scooters
A class 2 scooter is sometimes referred to as a 4mph (4 miles per hour) scooter, which compares to normal walking speed. The mobility scooter is to be used indoors and on the pavement and not on the road, except for crossing, or if no pavement is available.
There is no legal requirement to tax a class 2 mobility scooter.
The battery can be easily removed and so charged wherever possible.
There are no class 3 lightweight scooters on the market, though technology may visit this need in the future.
Class 3 Mobility Scooters
A class 3 mobility scooter is sometimes referred to as a road scooter and has a top speed of 8 mph (8 miles per hour), twice the speed of walking.
Class 3 scooters are fitted with front and rear lights and also wing mirrors.
One does not need a driving licence to use a class 3 mobility scooter but knowledge of the Highway Code is advisable.
A class 3 mobility scooter doesn’t need tax but the user still has to register ownership with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).
The battery is not removable and so the owner needs a charging point for the vehicle e.g. outside the house or in the garage.
Class 3 scooters are not suitable for indoor use and cannot be used on a motorway, or in bus or bicycle lanes.
Class 2 and 3 mobility scooters can only be used by people with disabilities and from the age of fourteen and upwards.
Take all needs into consideration, before deciding which model, or whether a class 2 or class 3 mobility scooter, is the right one for your needs.
The maximum speed for a class two mobility scooter is 4 mph (four miles per hour) and is 8 mph (eight miles per hour) for class 3 models.
If the user manages alone and without assistance, attention must be paid to the weight of the mobility scooter for lifting purposes.
Whilst getting used to the controls on a class 3 mobility scooter, starting out on the pavement at 4 mph will give you a chance to understand the controls, before going for the higher speed of 8 mph on a road.
Owning and using a class 2 mobility scooter will greatly improve the user’s current level of independence, both indoors and out.
When looking at mobility scooters for sale, be fully aware of measurements for the preferred seat width and also the folded down measurements for storage, both inside the house and in the car boot.
Whilst mobility scooters for sale can be second hand, always be sure of its condition and working order, before purchasing.
It is recommended that there is a difference of fifty pounds in weight between the user (the lighter of the two weights) and the mobility scooter (the higher of the two weights), to ensure the safety of the user and the life of the mobility scooter.
Whilst tax is not needed for a mobility scooter, it is advisable to take out insurance, to cover any situations that might arise over time.
NB - For interest, class one is for wheelchairs, which can only be used indoors or on the pavement.