Which Mobility Scooter to Buy? A Useful Guide

Since the first model was invented over 40 years ago, mobility scooters have offered freedom and independence to millions of people all across the world. With so many models available on the market, however, choosing the right model can be a daunting task. Where on earth do you begin? 

If you find yourself struggling to decide on which mobility scooter to buy, take a read of our handy guide below where we review the most important factors to understand and some essential need-to-knows before making that important investment. After all, your mobility scooter will be your trusted companion for many years to come!

Types

There are three main categories of mobility scooter:

Some examples of a compact mobility scooter are:

Some examples of a pavement scooter include:

Some examples of a road mobility scooter are:

As you progress from compact to road you will see that the scooters increase in size, amount of features, and price. Let’s look deeper into this by considering all of the different aspects of scooter specs and care.

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Class

Defined in legal terms as ‘invalid carriages’, there are two different classes of mobility scooters: class 2 and class 3. Scooters are categorized into one of these classifications based on their maximum speed and where they can be driven.

Class 2 Mobility Scooters

Mobility scooters which fall under this class have a legal maximum speed of 4mph and can only be used on pavements and footpaths. Although you are not permitted to travel on roads, you can cross them on a class 2 scooter to reach a pavement on the other side. Be extra vigilant when doing so, especially in busy areas with lots of passing traffic.

Class 2 scooters:

  • Have smaller battery capacities and therefore lower ranges on a full charge – making them more suited to shorter trips and distances.
  • Utilise essential operating controls without more premium features such as full lighting packages
  • Are smaller, more lightweight, and more compact – some can be folded down or have a modular design that can be disassembled
  • Can be driven indoors – their smaller dimensions makes navigation indoors easier
  • Have smaller turning circles
  • Examples of a class 2 mobility scooter include compact scooters, folding scooters, and pavement scooters

Class 3 Mobility Scooters

Disability scooters which fit into this category can reach speeds of up to 6mph or 8mph and can be driven on both pavement and roads. Use of a class 3 scooter on pavements is strictly limited to a maximum speed of 4mph and shouldn’t be taken onto dual carriageways with speed limits of over 50mph. Also be aware that this type of invalid carriage cannot be driven on ‘cycle only’ lanes, bus lanes, or motorways.

Class 3 scooters:

  • Are restricted to users who are 14 years or over
  • Utilise more advanced features and controls for road use including full lighting packages, full suspension systems, and rear view mirrors.
  • Have bigger turning circles
  • Boast larger dimensions – making them more robust and often more comfortable
  • Can be driven outdoors
  • Have larger battery capacities and therefore further rangers on a full charge – making them more suited to longer trips and distances
  • Examples of a class 3 mobility scooter include road scooters, 6mph scooters, and 8mph scooters

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Size

One of your first considerations when considering which mobility scooter to buy is what size is best suited to your particular requirements. Folding scooters are convenient for transporting but don’t always cushion you as well on bumpy roads. Road scooters are bigger in size and therefore offer more comfort and space but are also heavier and bulkier, making them difficult to transport. Mid size mobility scooters, sat in the centre of the spectrum, usually find the balance between size and comfort but aren’t always as heavy duty as larger options.

Foldability

If you need to take your scooter away with you then you may want to consider a modular or folding mobility scooter. These scooters are designed to either fold down into a small size or dismantle into four or five easy to assemble pieces, thereby making them easy to lift and fit into a car boot. Keep in mind, however, that whilst these scooters are convenient, they may not be as comfortable or offer as much legroom as a larger pavement or road model.

Storage

As you may have already guessed, the smaller the model, the easier it is to find an adequate place to store the scooter when not in use. Folding mobility scooters have a distinct advantage in this area due to their ability to fold down to a compact size. If you have a large and fairly empty garage a road mobility scooter shouldn’t be too much of an issue, though you will still need to check the dimensions of both the scooter and available garage space when deciding which mobility scooter to buy. A popular option for people who live in a bungalow or house with limited space is a lockable shed but you will need to ensure that you have easy and convenient accessibility.

Leg Space

Thinking about how much leg space you need is another key factor when it comes to reviewing which mobility scooter to buy. Compact and folding scooters tend to sacrifice leg room for the convenience of portability whereas mid size and road scooters, who boast much larger dimensions, have the ability to be more generous with leg space.

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Power

When it comes to mobility scooter power, most people generally consider two things: speed and distance. The type of mobility scooter and the size of its battery will determine just how fast and how far it will travel. To maintain portability and minimize scooter weight, compact mobility scooters have smaller batteries with a lower power capacity. Road mobility scooters, on the other hand, benefit from larger batteries which provide greater endurance and higher maximum speeds.

You should always to take into consideration the environment in which you are driving; terrain such as uneven roads and hills will make your scooter work harder and therefore take up more battery power, thereby reducing the overall distance it will reach on a full charge.

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Comfort

Comfort is an absolute must when you are spending hours at a time on your mobility scooter. Depending on how and where you plan to use your scooter will determine how luxurious the comfort specifications will be. Some models will be more ergonomic to your body, cushioning and supporting you more effectively over uneven terrain and during longer journeys. Others will offer a more basic level of comfort with the assumption that you will be travelling on pavements and over shorter distances.

As mentioned above, always check whether there is sufficient leg space on the model that you are considering. No matter whether you are planning on travelling a short or a long distance, being cramped into the space is not only uncomfortable but can cause problems with your joints.

Key questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Do I need a rotating seat for easy mounting and dismount?
  • Can I adjust my setup so that I’m positioned at the right height, depth, and recline to drive safely and comfortably?
  • Do I have enough legroom?
  • Do I need more padding or a captain style seat to better support my body?

Most mobility scooters have adjustable features including adjustable armrests and seats so that you can set up your scooter to your most comfortable riding position.

Comfort also extends to the type of tyres used on the scooter. Models are available with three, four, or five wheels and come with two main tyre options:

  • Solid wheels – these are more resilient to punctures but don’t cushion the scooter as effectively when there are bumps in the road
  • Pneumatic wheels – these offer a smoother ride by absorbing shocks and bumps more efficiently but do require regular pressure checks

 

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Controls

Ensuring that you can safely and comfortably reach all of the controls on your scooter is very important. Different ergonomic options including delta handlebars and adjustable tillers are available to suit a range of dexterities and grips.

Key questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Am I straining myself trying to reach or use the control panel?
  • Am I able to comfortably hold onto the handlebars?
  • Am I confident in turning and steering the scooter?
  • Do I need to adjust the height or angle the tiller to make the control panel easier to reach?

Controls on Different Class Scooters

Class 2 scooters have a more basic control panel which includes a horn, speed control, and power switch. More premium class 2 models may have further features such as lights and indicators.

Class 3 scooters have a more complex control panel due to the legal requirements for driving on roads. Full criteria can be found on the official Gov.UK website and include rear view mirrors, a horn, a full lighting package, and indicators. Scooters which fall under this class type may have additional controls such as a hand brake or LCD display.

Safety

Always check the maximum gradient of a scooter to ensure that it can handle the slopes in your local area, especially around your home. Some scooters come with an anti-tip feature on the rear wheels to offer extra support when driving up hills and slopes.

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Cost

Budget is a tricky one; the price of a scooter often has a massive influence on its desirability but it can also be misleading. Whilst you should never stretch yourself past what you can afford, we strongly recommend that you look at lots of different models, go through all of the specifications thoroughly, and consider your personal circumstances and needs carefully before settling on which mobility scooter to buy. Just because a model is very economical or very expensive, it doesn’t necessarily make it right for you.

As a disability scooter begins to offer more advanced features and specifications, it will start to increase in price, which is why road mobility scooters are often the more premium models available on the market. If the scooter in which you are interested is out of your price range but is the model that is best suited to your needs, consider if it is feasible to save up for a little longer. Remember – you’re investing in a long term mobility solution so it needs to be right for your needs.

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Public Transportation

Are you planning on taking your mobility scooter on public transport? You’ll need to contact your local bus, train, or travel authority for more information on accessibility for your scooter and if there are any additional restrictions to using their services.

Bus

To use your scooter on a bus it needs to:

  • Be a class 2 scooter (max speed of 4mph, restricted to pavements and footpaths)
  • Be no larger than 100cm long and 60cm wide
  • Have a maximum turning radius of 120cm

A national scheme called the Confederation for Passenger Transport (CPT) gives you a special permit which you can then show to a bus driver to confirm that your scooter is eligible to take onto the bus. Many bus and coach companies across the UK are members of this scheme and you can apply for a permit by speaking with your local operator. The good news is that you only need to apply for one permit which can then be used with all of the operators involved in the scheme, a full list of which can be found on the Rica website.

London has its own unique scheme call the Mobility Aid Recognition Scheme. Set up by Transport for London, it is a recommended permit for those travelling in London as it also covers walkers and electric wheelchairs. Full details of the scheme can be found on the TfL website.

Train

It is always best to contact your local train authority for full details on any limitations, restrictions, or requirements to using your mobility scooter on a train.

Plane

Aviation companies need prior notification if you are planning on bringing a mobility scooter onto the plane with you. There are strict rules when it comes to the safe carriage of mobility aids on a plane, therefore always consult with the airline in question for advice on the dimensions of the aircraft, available space for your scooter, and any requirements with regards to safely transporting the battery, e.g. removal, insulated terminals, etc.

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Insurance

Mobility scooter owners are not legally required to take out any insurance for their scooter and many choose not to do so in an effort to save money. We recommend that you do take out cover in the event of an incident or accident but the decision is ultimately in your hands. Some of the different things that mobility scooter insurance policies cover include:

  • Serious personal injury
  • Hire of a replacement whilst yours in under repair
  • Holiday/overseas use
  • Accidental damage to the scooter from vandalism, fire, etc.
  • Theft of the scooter

If you are considering taking out insurance try and shop around as much as possible. Look carefully at what each provider will cover as well as excess amounts and the terms and conditions of the policy. Some of the more popular and well-known mobility scooter insurance providers include:

 

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Licensing and Restrictions

You do not need a license in order to be able to drive a mobility scooter but you are required to register a class 3 invalid carriage. This can be done by completing the relevant DVLA form based on whether the scooter is brand new or second hand.

You are not legally obligated to take an eye test in order to drive a mobility scooter. For your own safety and the safety of those around you, however, it is strongly recommended that you do take one. Similar to the requirements for driving a car, you should be able to clearly read a vehicle’s registration number from a distance of 40ft.

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Test Driving

No matter how well you think you know a scooter from its online information and pictures, it is always recommended that you take your chosen model for a test drive before committing to the purchase. Not only does this give you reassurance that you’ve chosen the right scooter for your needs, you will also benefit from the knowledge of mobility experts.

Pro Rider Mobility is proud to have a ‘try before you buy’ policy where customers can visit one of our showrooms and try out a different models with the assistance of our friendly team. They will talk through the models in stock, help with any unanswered questions that you may have, and make sure that you’re happy with everything before you walk away.

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VAT Relief

If you are chronically sick or disabled then you may be eligible for VAT relief on certain goods and services for personal or domestic use. This means that you may be able to purchase your mobility scooter at a zero rate of VAT. To see if you qualify for VAT relief you will need to complete a form so that your mobility scooter provider can assess your eligibility. At Pro Rider Mobility, this form can be found and completed on our website during the checkout process.

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Lessons

Mobility scooter lessons, like insurance, are not a legal requirement but are strongly recommended for new and seasoned drivers alike. Even if you have ridden a mobility scooter for years, you may not necessarily understand how to handle your new model, especially if you are upgrading from a class 2 to a more powerful class 3 scooter. Once you have decided which mobility scooter to buy, look into local training sessions in your area where you can get used to operating and riding your scooter in a safe and controlled environment. Available mobility scooter training courses and assessment centres include:

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Making the Final Decision

We hope that this guide has been helpful to you and has given you some insight into what’s available out there in the world of mobility transportation. Understandably you may still be in need of support to help choose the right scooter for your needs. For over a decade Pro Rider Mobility has been offering life-changing mobility solutions to customers across the UK and beyond. Visit the Pro Rider Mobility website to browse our extensive range of mobility scooters and brands including Kymco, TGA, Drive Medical, and more. Our friendly team will be happy to offer guidance to help you finally decide which mobility scooter to buy.

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