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Lemon cakes. Dark chocolate cookies. Dulce de leche brownies. I’m not trying to make you drool. These are just a few items my partner baked, and I delivered, to some friends and family around Brooklyn this past month. But it’s been a hot summer in New York. To avoid arriving as a sweaty mess, I’ve been dropping these goodies off on an electric scooter—the EcoReco L5 .
New Yorkers have accepted electric scooters much faster than I expected. Every time I venture past my neighborhood, bike lanes are packed with folks on electric bikes, normal bikes, and e-scooters (and the occasional Onewheel). The recent legalization of all ebikes and e-scooters in the city is most likely the answer, but these vehicles have quickly become the response to the general wariness of taking public transportation during the pandemic.
The L5 is bulky but well-built. It has let me leisurely visit people I haven’t seen for months. (I wear a face mask and stand 6 feet from them, of course!) Unlike riding my bike, I never break a sweat, and I can bring it indoors, so I don’t need to carry a lock to secure it outside—and worry if someone’s stealing it. It’s even become my grocery cart at the store. I’ve put about 50 miles on this scooter in the past two months, and it’s hard to imagine getting around without it in our new quarantined American life.
That kind of convenience comes at a cost. The L5 is EcoReco’s top-tier scooter and costs a hefty $999, and that’s technically a discounted price.
Brawny and Tough
The L5 has been such a joy to ride that I’m considering skipping the unlimited subway pass whenever it is we’ll be able to go to offices again, and just electrically scoot my way everywhere (when I don’t want to bike, that is). A part of what makes that possible is the front and rear suspension. They make riding on rougher roads much more bearable than some scooters. You’ll still feel those bumps, but not so much that your teeth chatter.
I started becoming less wary of little potholes on my trips. The thick, polyurethane-filled tires went over them with no trouble. (That also means you never have to inflate or maintain them!) I did encounter a milled road that was so bumpy I hopped off and walked for a while, but on smoother roads, it sails.
The wide foot deck is also useful. I can firmly place my two feet side by side or one in front of the other with plenty of room to spare. I have size 13 shoes, so I thought I’d have to twist my back foot sideways to fit, but I didn’t need to—it made for a comfier ride. I’m also 6’4″, yet the L5 ‘s handlebars were able to extend high enough that I didn’t need to hunch over.
The aluminum and stainless steel frame is sturdy—except for the kickstand and the LED dashboard, which feel a little flimsier. The handlebar is grippy and comfy to hold, but the stem can feel wobbly when riding over rough streets—though it didn’t cause any major problems.
The stem folds back all the way, and the handlebars twist down for storage. EcoReco advertises easy storage under furniture like couches, but the wheels are tall, and the deck is so much higher off the ground than other e-scooters that it needs nearly 13 inches of clearance. It’s heavy too. The L5 weighs 38 pounds. That’s as heavy as an electric folding bicycle I’m testing. It’s not as bad as the 46-pound Boosted Rev, but it’s tough to lug around.
It’s Speedy, Too
The L5 might be heavy and bulky, but it’s also fast. It’s powered by a rear-wheel-drive hub motor, and I frequently cruised between 20 and 25 miles per hour. I passed cars that were mired in sluggish traffic, and I easily swooshed past most cyclists. Going up a few steep hills in Brooklyn wasn’t a problem either, though my speed did drop quite a bit. If it’s too fast, you can regulate the scooter’s speed and limit it to 7 or 12 miles per hour.
Be careful when you brake. It has a single rear drum brake, and it doesn’t stop you as quickly as you might expect. It’s a good idea to take your fingers off the throttle and start slowing down well before you need to stop. The scooter skids a bit during these hard stops, but I’ve found that the best way to mitigate that is to lean into your back foot.
The LED dashboard lights up and is pretty clear to see on sunny days, showing details like battery life, speed, odometer, and trip distance. And there’s no app, which I honestly count as a blessing. I just want to hop on and go; I don’t want to fuss about with an app and a Bluetooth connection.
As on all electric vehicles, your range will depend on factors like your weight, the elevation, road conditions, and more. EcoReco claims the 48-volt lithium-ion battery can hit 14 to 28 miles per charge, and I usually managed the lower end of that, often getting 16 to 20 miles per charge before I had to juice it back up. That allowed me to use it for about three to four days for several short trips.
On one particular ride, I forgot to charge it with two bars left (out of five), yet I managed to complete a 7-mile trip. It was stressful. The LED dashboard said I was out of juice when I was about a mile from home, and I worried I’d have to push it back. Pushing with a leg is awkward because the deck is about 7 inches off the ground. Thankfully, it had around 15 percent juice left after the bars are depleted, so you should always have enough to go the extra mile, though it will struggle on steep hills when you’re close to depleting the battery.
The scooter should be fine if you get caught in a storm (be careful about skidding), but make sure to wipe it down quickly and prevent any moisture in the electronics. There’s also no built-in front light, which should be included considering the price (you have to pay extra for it). At least there’s a small taillight.
A Worthy Ride
The L5 has a few other smart features, like Safe Start, which prevents the e-scooter from jerking forward if you accidentally press the throttle. It won’t accelerate unless the wheels have rolled a little bit. There’s also a quarter-inch thread mount where you can attach various accessories, like a phone mount, DSLR camera, GoPro—anything that supports that size.
If you’re concerned about longevity, EcoReco does have spare parts you can buy (the wheels are especially easy to swap out), and there are all sorts of self-repair tutorials on its YouTube channel. Unfortunately, the warranties on its e-scooters are too short, covering you only for six months (nine months if you register it). There are also several complaints about receiving little to no response from customer service on the company’s Facebook page, which is worrying. I asked the company about it, and the following is a condensed response I received:
“We always apologize, own up, and correct our mistakes if any issue of the scooter causes inconvenience for the customers, or if we didn’t reply to any service request in time. We stand behind the quality of our product 100 percent and we always repair or replace the unit if it had manufacturer defects. With that being said, we run the company by our ethics and principles as well … We do not blankly give in a customer’s demands for free products/services just because they threaten to blackmail us on social media.”
The company says it replied to all its Facebook reviews “except for a few cases that are obvious trolls or about disputes of company policies.” You can find those policies here.
In any case, riding the L5 has been nothing but fun these past two months. You can find cheaper electric scooters (EcoReco itself has more affordable models like the S5, which starts at $600, but if you plan to ride on rough terrain and you want the longest range possible, it might be worth the extra cash to spring for the top-tier model and enjoy a comfier ride.