September 06, 2019
A primer on the electric scooter scene in metro Detroit
It has been just over one year since the Bird introduced the electric scooter to Detroit, Royal Oak, and Ann Arbor. Mystique surrounded these little vehicles as people struggled to figure out how to start them, how to ride them, and how to end their cross-town rides.
Fast-forward to September 2019 and there are not only Limes and Spins (two additional scooters) but now there are even electric bikes that are slowly making millennials and Generation Z rethink the idea of riding a tricycle with a rear basket. The entire electric “last-mile” economy has become so popular that many do not understand how to ride Detroit’s electric scooters.
First, let’s look at the different scooters and their best qualities:
Advantages: Classy, built with the best materials (or at least it seems that way)
Disadvantage: Some have been used so many times that the break, bell, or accelerator don’t work
My personal favorite, the Bird is usually a dependable scooter with an easy-to-use app and the first to offer random discounts – they waived the $1 start-up fee over Labor Day weekend. Also, as the first scooter to take off in Detroit, Bird was the only scooter I rode for the first few months despite people flocking to them as the craze started.
Advantages: Largest frame and has a fun jingle when you start your ride
Disadvantage: Cheapest materials
Rumors have swirled that all scooters can drive a maximum of 15 miles per hour, and Limes have a speedometer to show you as much. Sometimes you can even squeeze the most juice out of them and top out at 15.3 miles per hour. Limes look massive with their huge steering column, but the material feels cheap when you drive over that small pothole and feel the plastic crack underneath you. And don’t underestimate the jingle! It’s sure to turn your sour mood into a goofy smile.
Advantages: Smoothest ride, generally no defects since they are the newest
Disadvantages: Most expensive
The newest player in the scooter game, Spins offer an easy, quality ride. I have admittedly taken a Spin fewer times than its competitors, but they have substantial tires and they all have that new-scooter smell. With a dizzying array of mobility options, Spin may be the cleanest option despite charging a few more cents per minute.
Regardless of the scooter you choose, you should heed these tips before taking your first ride on an electric scooter in Detroit, or else you may end up in a world of hurt.
Detroit’s electric scooter scene is new within the past year, but it is easy to become a pro. Just download an app, hop on one that you see nearby, and you’ll be on your way.