On June 19, 2003, Rupert Cebular, the proprietor of NYCEwheels, graciously invited me to come down to his shop in New York City and test drive some of the higher end electric scooters he has available. For a country boy from northwestern CT, this was QUITE an experience! My apparent shyness with regards to taking that fist test drive wasn't shyness at all, but rather, unadulterated FEAR of the fast-paced streets of NYC! I'm happy to report that it only took me a block or two to get over this. Further, I must admit that I really "got into" the driving style one must adopt in such a setting. (hint hint... looking forward to doing this again Bert!!!!) Driving in NYC showed me that these electric scooters must be used however the setting dictates. As a result, successful driving techniques can and will vary quite drastically. In areas where there is plenty of room to coexist to the side of the road with automobile traffic, longer range can easily be attained by minimizing cruising speeds and acceleration from a stop. In areas like NYC, no such luxuries are afforded to the electric scooter driver! This means that a 30 mile scooter in the country (Evercel Lepton for example) will likely be a 15 mile scooter in NYC. This isn't as bad as a disadvantage as it sounds in that in the city, a 15 mile ride is likely to be what a city dweller would consider a marathon distance! With all of this said, I've decided to categorize my impressions of these machines based on how they would apply best to the average NYC dweller. I've broken the categories into speed, torque, range, rider comfort, portability, accessories, style, and cost. While I didn't test the Evercel Lepton in NYC, I'm going to add it to the list of electric scooters in this write-up as I have considerable experience with this machine and already know where it would place in the field. In all cases, electric scooters with "go far" and "go fast" modes were driven in the "go fast" modes as NYC traffic demands all of the power that a given electric scooter can muster.
Speed: The top speed honors would likely go to the Viento. I can say this only from 'feel' as the GPS unit wasn't installed on the Viento, so I couldn't actually measure the speed. It felt FAST! Not far behind would be the EVT 4000E (30 mph) and the Evercel Lepton (28 mph). Bringing up the rear of the pack would be the EGO II (23 mph), and the VEGO SX600 (17 mph). It's important to keep in mind here that people successfully travel on bicycles every day in NYC, some at top speeds less than even the VEGO SX600 can attain, so speed shouldn't be an issue with any of these electric scooters. The heavy traffic and stop lights simply don't allow full speed to be reached with some of these vehicles in many cases.
Torque: The top honors again go to the Viento. No "likely" here whatsoever! In fact, if one isn't careful with the Viento, all 200 lbs of her will go right out from under the rider!! The throttle of the Viento is to be respected. I also wouldn't recommend that any rider attempt to push the Viento while walking alongside with the power "on" as it would be VERY easy to have this machine get out of control with an inadvertent slip on said throttle! (Yup! It almost happened to me...) Low end torque is a fairly important feature in NYC. The faster one can get moving up to speed, the better! The Evercel Lepton would come in a distant second to the Viento. The rest of the pack in order would likely be the EGO II, the EVT 4000E, and the VEGO SX600. Actually, a race between the EVT 4000E and the VEGO SX600, up to the maximum speed that the VEGO SX600 can achieve, would be fairly close. The very efficient hub motor of the EVT 4000E offers advantages that would be better realized while driving in the more open country setting.
Range: With only some short test drives to draw from, I'm going to borrow from my knowledge of batteries, relative motor power, vehicle size, and "instinct" here. My range "figures" should be assumed to have a +/- factor of a few miles either way. I am inclined to say that the EVT 4000E would likely be the winner in the range department. I say this given the relatively high battery capacity, inability to over-accelerate, and incredibly smooth free-wheeling ability. The EVT 4000E free-wheels as well as my mountain bike! Really! Second place would likely be a three-way tie between the Viento, Evercel Lepton, and EGO II. The Vego SX600 would come in last, but this isn't a "bad" thing as the Vego SX600 is the only one in the group that is in the portable class of electric scooters. It also has the smallest batteries at 22 AH. I think the EVT 4000E could reliably go 20 miles in NYC traffic. The Viento, Evercel Lepton, and EGO II would be in the 15 mile area, and the Vego SX600 could likely be relied upon to go 12 miles or so per charge.
Rider Comfort: This is a tough one to call. The Viento, Evercel Lepton, and EVT 4000E all give similar rides at the higher speeds they can achieve. The Vego SX600 made a strong showing in comfort at its respective maximum speed. The EGO II would likely bring up the rear in this category.
Portability: Top honors here easily go to the Vego SX600. This portable electric scooter folds up nicely AND the batteries are not only easily removed, but even have handles! The EGO II would take second place honors here. The batteries can also be removed from the EGO II, but the EGO II doesn't fold down at all, making for a bulky load to maneuver into the average apartment. I think the EGO II and the Vego SX600 could be managed in a standard elevator. The Viento, Evercel Lepton, and EVT 4000E are not portable whatsoever. The perspective city Dweller would need to have easy first floor apartment access or a freight elevator in order to really keep these vehicles safe from the unscrupulous amongst us...
Accessories: The Viento, Evercel Lepton, and EVT 4000E all have fully DOT compliant headlights, brake lights, and turn signals. All three of these vehicles have a horn. The Evercel Lepton and the EVT 4000E offer very nice analog style speedometers. Curiously, the Viento comes with a silly GPS unit for determining speed and distance traveled. I say "silly" here as GPS units require acquisition of 3 satellites in order to be effective. While likely fine in the country, this can be difficult in NYC given the interference from the very tall skyscrapers. Personally, I'd install an electronic bicycle speedometer on the Viento for city driving. A reset-able trip odometer would likely be gained as well with the better quality bicycle speedometers currently on the market. The EGO II would be in fourth place here as no turn signals are provided. The bicycle style bell on the EGO II should be replaced with a decent electronic horn like that found on the CHARLY, in my humble opinion. The Vego SX600 has none of these accessories, and would need to have them added by the rider in order to safely drive at night. All of the aforementioned vehicles have remaining charge indicators of one kind or another. More in-depth testing would have to be done in order to determine the accuracy of each implementation. I know from experience that the autonomy mode of the Evercel Lepton (newer models) is quite accurate.
Style: This is a tough one! Style depends on personal tastes. In the case of the modern "Vespa" styles of the EVT 4000E and the Evercel Lepton, one either likes this style or they don't. I like this style, but I'm inclined to say that I don't know who the winner would be between the EVT 4000E and the Evercel Lepton. They both have an equal share of desirable attributes. The EGO II and the Viento are very unique looking vehicles. To repeat what everyone else has probably said at one time or another, the EGO II looks MUCH better in "the flesh" than in the pictures we've all seen on the web. The Viento looks stylish from the handle bars down. The styling around the headlight assembly above the handle bars could use some work. The Vego SX600 is style in motion for a vehicle in its class! I will even go as far as to say that the Vego SX600 has raised the "style bar" for electric scooters in this class! If the seat assembly of the Xport SLX was installed on the Vego SX600, there would be no rivals!
Cost: Here's where all of the fun slows down a tad as reality begins to set in. Unlike the common "Boreem" Chinese scooter junk that we've all seen advertised with claims that they can never achieve, REAL electric scooters that perform as advertised cost money! Is this really different from anything else in life? I don't think so. With that said, the Viento comes in at the highest cost with a price tag of around $3000 or so. Sounds expensive you say? Not really when one considers the extremely low operating costs and minimal maintenance required to keep it on the road when compared to a gas scooter in the same class of performance. Next comes the Evercel Lepton at around $2995. With this vehicle, one must consider that the Evercel Ni-Zn batteries will last over 500 charge/discharge cycles if treated fairly. This is almost a 2:1 advantage over the average sealed lead acid batteries used in the other electric scooters mentioned. The Lepton can also be had with sealed lead acid batteries for around $1995. The range would likely drop to around 12 miles in NYC with this option, however. The EVT 4000E sells for around $2600. and is a bargain at that price. The EGO II would come in fourth here with a price tag of around $1395. The EGO II is the best performance "bang for the buck" by far! The Vego SX600 sells in the $899 area. The quality of this vehicle makes the price easy to understand.
Summary: If given the funds and a good place to safely store my electric scooter in NYC, my hands-down choice would be the Viento. I loved being able to beat taxi cabs off of the line with this machine! I felt like I had more than enough power to get out of my own (or another's) way with this machine too. The Viento is unbeatable for fast paced, modest distance inner city travel. The Evercel Lepton, EVT 4000E, and the EGO II are all quite "doable" in the city, but given that they have the same storage problems as the Viento, (not as bad for the EGO II..) I'd spend the extra money and get the Viento for the reasons mentioned. If funds were more limited, I'd make the best choice within my budget between the aforementioned vehicles. If stairs were many and elevators were few, I'd go with the Vego SX600 given it's lower cost, lighter weight, and portability advantages. Remember that any one of these scooters can keep pace with the average successful NYC bicyclist! If my range requirements were low while my portability requirements were high, I'd consider some of the other very nice portable electric scooters in the Vego SX600 class such as the Xport SLX, Xport 711,... Bert! I think you have a customer here that needs some assistance....