Foldable 3-wheeled scooter shows a new direction in personal electric vehicles
With a purported 25-mile range and speeds of up to 22 mph from its 500W hub motor, plus a double wishbone suspension and the riding stability of a 3-wheeled stance, the Transboard is a new flavor of e-mobility.
One of the key pieces for a future of clean electric mobility is that of the personal vehicle, for covering those last miles between transit and work or home, and that will easily go with you onto the bus, the train, or in a car trunk, and can be easily secured on either end. Connecting multiple modes of transportation and shortening travel time, these personal electric vehicles, which are mostly scooters and skateboards at the moment, could make it easier to not own or drive a car very much, especially when storage space is at a premium.
One new entry to the personal electric vehicle sector is from Mercane Wheels, a Korea-based manufacturer of "personal mobility products," and is a three-wheeled e-scooter called Transboard, which looks to fill the need for a more stable method of transport than a two-wheeled scooter or a handle-less skateboard. Two-wheeled electric scooters are great for some things, but not everyone feels comfortable on a scooter that requires a fair sense of balance and security on a small moving platform, and riding a skateboard comfortably takes a good amount of practice, so the Transboard might help bridge the gap between scooters and bikes (which also require the mastery of basic cycling skills as well).
Transboard is driven by a 500W hub motor, and powered by a 48V 8.6Ah li-ion battery, with an estimated riding range per full charge of 25 miles. Its top speed is around 22 mph, it can carry up to 220 pounds, and the platform features LED head- and tail-lights and horn, as well as a display unit on its handlebars for accessing information about the Transboard's speed, distance, and power usage. A full charge to the battery takes about 6 hours, which can be done with the battery in the unit, or detached and charged elsewhere.
The front end of the scooter is one of the elements that seems to make this design stand out, because instead of the incredibly basic way that most two-wheeled scooters connect their wheels to their deck, the Transboard employs a double wishbone suspension, which has more in common with car engineering than with scooters. The other standout feature is its foldability, which allows the unit to fold in half with "one-touch" and then fold its handle as well, so that it can be parked upright or pulled behind like rolling carry-on bag. While many two-wheeled scooters fold up, they don't usually do so in a format that is easy to pull behind you, which requires them to be carried by hand. The Transboard, weighing in at 53 pounds, isn't something you'd want to carry around, so having a pull-behind feature is essential.
The Transboard also features air-filled 10" tires up front, and an 8" foam rear tire, so it should ride quite a bit smoother than scooters with their smaller airless tires, which can be rather rough on surfaces that aren't completely smooth. One of the elements that I didn't care for about a previous electric scooter I tried was the almost complete lack of suspension, coupled with hard rubber tires, because if there is rough asphalt or dirt or gravel on the road, or any potholes, the ride can get kind of sketchy, especially at higher speeds. With larger tires and a good suspension, the Transboard might be a decent option for cities with less than stellar roads.
Here's the video pitch:
Mercane Wheels is currently running a crowdfunding campaign for the Transboard on Indiegogo, which looks to have already surpassed its initial goal with three weeks left to run. Backers of the Transboard at the $499 level will be some of the first to own one of these three-wheeled e-scooters, and at a cost that is 60% off the future retail price (plus shipping, of course). The company estimates that it can deliver the promised units to backers in May of 2017. As always, it's buyer beware with crowdfunding campaigns, so do your due diligence on any projects and understand the risks before deciding to back one.
The company also has a decidedly different type of electric mobility device in the works, which looks to be halfway between an electric garden cart and a standup electric truck and which offers remote control driving, called the eWagon, but there's no indication of when that might launch.