Rise of e-Scooters

Many have likely heard about electric scooter services from Bird, Uber, Lyft, and Lime. They strew e-Scooters all around town and customers can use an app to locate and rent them by the minute. When done, they simply leave the transport and walk away. The service is very popular with young people, but has pitched residents, cities, and scooter companies against one another throughout the United States. Some find the service they provide as very convenient, and others find them dangerous and demand a ban. Indeed, according to my nurse and doctor friends, many visits to the emergency room appear to be the result of collisions with scooters, or their operators accidentally (or stupidly) injuring themselves. As with any new technology, there always is a battle between those who embrace innovation and those who do not like change. But, how do I feel about all this? I had never ridden one myself… until recently.

Disclaimer: Joyor, a relatively new brand in the U.S., approached me for an honest, unbiased opinion of their newest scooter model, the X5S, in exchange for test driving one for a month. How could I say “no” to that opportunity?

In this review, one should keep in mind that as a first-time rider of an electric scooter, I had nothing comparable to share experiences with. The closest transportation vehicles would be bicycles, manually-powered scooters, skateboards, and electric cars. However, where I can share my opinion is how it made me feel in terms of safety, convenience, emotions, and value.

Who is Joyor?

According to their website, the Yongkang, China-based company was founded in 2014 with a mission to make “lives simpler, more enjoyable,… productive, and… secure”. They claim to be one of the largest manufacturers of high-end electric scooters in China and would like to take the brand global. It already has captured a sizable mindset with some European markets.

In a Nutshell

The Joyor X5S is such a joy to ride! With fast acceleration and a wide base for stability, maneuvering it with the wind brushing against my helmet-protected face felt good and freeing! The brake, gear selection, and acceleration controls were second-nature, and the ability to fold the scooter for carrying around added space-saving convenience around the garage and car trunks. At just 33 lbs, it is fairly lightweight for its class, though not the lightest among e-Scooters that have smaller batteries or less powerful motors. It packs a nice punch of power (500W nominal, 580W max) going up hills, and is priced more competitively against well-established brands, such as Segway and Razor, for models with similar specifications.

I was able to ride the scooter on its first day for 15 miles with the battery run down to 40% remaining, and always felt that there was plenty capacity left to stroll around the neighborhood at up to 15 mph, a speed limit artificially set by California law. And that leads to the biggest gripe: the California law for motorized scooters that went into effect on January 1, 2005. Although I understand the intent behind the law to protect people from injury, it had put a tremendous damper on my ability to RESPONSIBLY enjoy riding it around town. Federal, State, and local City laws will also differ. With that said, it does not take away from the fact that driving an electric vehicle is quite fun.

The other issue I found was with the instructions that were so basic for a technical person like myself, I had to reach out to the manufacturer multiple times to get the details I sought to include in this review. The information gathered will hopefully be of use to you. Shifting between gears is done in sequence: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, … At the lowest, the speed is 9 km/h (5.6 mph), then 18 km/h (11.2 mph), and finally on the third gear, 25 km/h (15.5 mph) — so, roughly 5, 10, and 15 mph.

In the end, my neighbor, two friends, and I loved the scooter so much for its range, power, weight, and price, we all purchased one from Amazon when it went on sale a few months after the test vehicle was sent back to the manufacturer.

What’s Good? What’s Bad?

Pros

  • Strong acceleration with a powerful, brushless DC motor
    • Nominal (average) power: 500W. Rated (maximum) power: 580W
      • Higher than most scooters in its weight or range
      • Input power from the battery: 580W – 599W (720W theoretical)
    • German motor is, according to Joyor, capable of 23.6 mph, but is safety-limited to 15.5 mph by U.S. law
      • I did not look into how to bypass that limit as going faster would result in a ticket anyway and increase the risk of injury
      • When going downhill, it does go as fast as 20 mph due to gravity assist
    • Satisfying sound coming from the electric motor
  • Great range and good battery life
    • Manufacturer claims up to 31 miles (or 40.3 mi under “specific conditions”, whatever that entails)
    • In my testing, I reached 24 km (14.9 mi) with 40% remaining in about 1.5 hours. That would calculate to a 37.3 mi range (14.9 / 0.40)
      • Before I knew about California law restricting motorized scooters, I cautiously test rode with my 35 lb son on mostly flat sidewalks (with some gradual inclines/declines) for long stretches throughout the neighborhood and parks
    • Lithium Polymer battery is rated for 480 Wh (10,000 mAh / 1000 x 48V)
      • Because the motor does not run at a constant 500W, the battery can last for at least an hour (2-3 hours max) under average load
      • Made with top-tier Samsung 18650 battery cells
      • These types of batteries have an average lifespan of 500 cycles and can go as high as 600+
    • Joyor claims quick charging within 7 hours, but it took me about 6 hours
      • AC power supply is 54.6V at 2A = 110W

Made with top-tier Samsung 18650 battery cells

  • At 33 lbs, is less expensive than brand names for scooters of similar range and weight
  • Folds fairly flat via 3 points — more so than Segways
    • Can be carried single-handed by the neck, but because it does not lock in place, the base swivels around
    • Handlebars are collapsible. When extending, an audible click can be heard
    • Neck is height adjustable and folded by lever
    • Dimensions when folded: 42.5″ L x 15″ H. Unfolded stands at 42.5″ L x 46.5″ H x 21.25″ W
  • Smooth shifting between gears (1 is lowest, 3 is highest) by pressing the “M” button
    • Max speed for the three gears is 9 km/h (5.6 mph), 18 km/h (11.2 mph), and 25 km/h (15.5 mph) — so, roughly 5, 10, and 15 mph
  • Rear disc brake for faster, more reliable and controlled braking
    • Anti-lock braking system (ABS), though I did not dare to test hard braking to confirm
  • Readable display in bright sunlight
    • Covered USB port underneath display for charging mobile devices
  • Material feels strong and well-made. Joyor mentioned “aerospace-grade magnesium”
  • 10″ shock-absorbing, rubber-elastic, pneumatic air tires (10 x 2.25 tube)
    • Uses Schrader valve with recommended pressure of 36 psi
    • Larger tires generally offer better comfort and stability
Scooter Unfolding
  • Accommodates a rider up to a whopping 265 lbs
  • Head and Tail lights
    • Lights turned on with the Red button on the left handle bar
    • Head: Can be adjusted left, right, up, and down. They are not very bright, however
    • Tail: Like a car, it is dimly lit in red when lights are turned on, and brightens when braking. It also illuminates when the lights are off
  • Built-in, electronic horn that’s activated with the Green button on the left handle bar
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Water resistant to IPX4
    • Manual or manufacturer website does not mention water resistance rating, but was confirmed with Joyor support
    • IPX4 allows water splashes from any angle and so can be used in light rain
    • Manual asks to avoid water deeper than 1″
  • Cruise control
    • Activated by holding the acceleration at the same pressure for 3 seconds (can be enabled/disabled)
    • Not recommended for above 15.5 mph
  • Configurable safety feature that prevents motor from starting when tires are not moving
  • Battery can be swapped, but manufacturer does not have any available for purchase yet nor have instructions on how to change
  • Ability to add an optional seat towards the rear of the board (there are 4 screw holes available)
  • Arrived fully assembled
    • Exception: One friend had a missing screw that she re-inserted at the rear. The others had no issues
  • Available in black or white color
  • Multiple accessories unexpectedly included
    • Scooter carry bag
    • Accessory bag with external, mesh pocket
    • Cell phone holder
    • Hexagon wrench set
    • Mini pump with multiple valves
  • 1 year warranty with 6 months on battery

Cons

  • Speed capped at 15.5 mph (25 km/h) to comply with US regulation, although motor is capable of going as fast as 23.6 mph
    • Sometimes, I wish I could ride faster, but have to remind myself that the limit is for my safety
  • When folded, scooter can be carried by the neck, but because it cannot be locked, the base swivels
  • Headlight is not very bright despite manufacturer claiming an “ultra-bright 1.1W… with a range of up to 20 m” (65.6′)
  • Gear can only be shifted in sequence, not up and down
    • Shifting cycles through 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, etc
  • LCD came in metric units (km/h and km), but can be configured to show miles and mph. See TIPS section
    • Display unit is exposed on the handlebar. In a crash, the controller may become damaged
      • Some scooter manufacturers integrate their LCDs at the center of the handlebar instead for a more sleek look
  • Pumping the 10″ wheels with a full-sized bike pump is frustrating: there is not much space between the rim and the tire valve
    • Takes effort to connect/disconnect the pump
  • Only basic instructions included on how to operate the scooter
    • Does not cover the programmable modes of the LCD display. I was able to get that information from the manufacturer and provided it in the TIPS section
  • Wiring is exposed externally instead of going through the vertical neck post for a more sleek look
  • Manual nor manufacturer website mentioned whether scooter is water resistant (riding in rain) or waterproof (accidentally falling into water)
    • Joyor support confirmed IPX4 water resistance upon inquiry (ok to use in light rain)
  • Can add to weight gain when not exercising enough
  • Shipping box arrived partially punctured during transport, but scooter was fine
    • Box is 45″ x 18″ x 14″

Tips

Maintenance

  • Before first use, charge the battery fully
    • Covered charging port is on the front left of the board
    • AC charging brick LED: Red = Charging. Green = Full
    • Lithium Ion batteries are known to be volatile and could catch on fire
      • Do not charge overnight or unsupervised for prolonged periods of time. Stop charging once full
      • Do not leave the scooter in full sun or below freezing
    • Keep battery charged at 50% or more to prolong battery’s 500+ cycle lifespan. Try to never let it drain completely
  • Before riding, check the tire pressure (36 psi) and tighten any loose screws
    • Be sure to lock (audible click) the neck into place when unfolding

Operation

  • Do not brake hard. Doing so could make you painfully tumble, scooter skid, and/or wear out the tires
    • Be aware of unexpected obstacles. I tumbled once at roughly 5 mph when transitioning from grass to concrete. It was not fun
  • To turn on, long-press the Power button
    • Pedal the scooter forward a bit, then gently push on the accelerator lever to start moving
      • By default (and for safety), motor will not start when scooter is not in motion
    • To power off, long-press Power
  • Acceleration is based on the amount of pressure you (should gradually) apply on the accelerator lever
  • I found the most stability (especially when turning) by putting one foot pointing forward and the other at 45 degrees to the side
  • As battery neared empty, I noticed that maximum speed gradually lowered
    • When it was almost fully empty, speed dropped to 9 mph, and eventually error code “E-005” (Undervoltage protection) displayed on the LCD. You could still power off and back on to get a few more feet of driving in, but doing so will shorten the battery’s lifespan
  • When folding the scooter, watch out for your head. The handlebar came crashing onto mine the first time
  • Joyor states that the scooter is designed for only 1 rider. California law does prohibit having a passenger
Handlebar Folding and Unfolding

Display Options

When the scooter is powered on, the Odometer is displayed. Push the Power button to cycle through the following screens:

  • Odometer
  • Trip meter
  • Seconds elapsed since power on
  • Error code. (E-000 = Everything normal)
  • Amperage. (ie. A-000)
  • Voltage (ie. U-50.2)

Locking Against Theft

The small, 10″ wheels and lack of places on the frame to secure with a heavy-duty bicycle lock makes the scooter a bit inconvenient to secure against theft. I would protect it as follows:

  • Front wheel: Loop a heavy-duty cable through the frame holding the tire and in-between the spokes
  • Back wheel: Secure with a disc brake lock (or) a heavy-duty, thinner cable in-between the spokes

Fasten the cable(s) to an immovable object. Don’t lose the keys or combination!

Aircraft Transportation

Most, if not all, airlines prohibit electronic scooters that do not meet specific criteria. United Airlines, for example, allows collapsible ones whose battery is both removable and below 300 Wh. This scooter’s is 480 Wh. Lithium-ion batteries are known to be volatile, and the higher their capacity, the more risky they are. Check with the airlines for more details.

Programming Scooter

The LCD displays the current speed and odometer in kilometers and km/h. Immediately, I wanted to know how to switch it to imperial units and reached out to Joyor support. It took a few days of back and forth translations (with a Chinese-speaking friend) to summarize each code presented for your reference here. It should be noted that the manufacturer discourages changing any settings because improper use could cause unintended consequences and injury and may void the warranty.

To enter programming mode: Hold the Power and M buttons together for a few seconds. Cycle through the options by pushing Power. Push M to edit the option, and move up or down with M or Power, respectively. Hold Power and M together to accept the setting.

Program Options

Here are the various options that can be programmed. Some are reserved for engineering and should not be modified as they could cause “systematic failure”.

PROGRAM AT YOUR OWN RISK!

  • P02: Unit display. 0 = kilometers (km/h), 1 = miles (mph). Default: 0
  • P04: Idle time to enter sleep mode. 1-60 minutes. 0 = Do not sleep. Default: 3
  • P06: Do not modify. Wheel diameter (in inches). Accuracy: 0.1″. Default: 10
  • P07: Do not modify. Number of magnetic steel for velocity measurement (1-100). Default: 31
  • P08: Do not modify. Hidden setting to set the maximum speed the scooter can go
    • Joyor would not share how to configure this out of their concern for your safety. It also is illegal to go over 15 mph in California
  • P09: Motor startup. 0 = Can start without movement, 1 = Can only start when scooter is moving. Default: 1
  • P12: Do not modify. Starting torque. 0-5 strength (5 is strongest). Default: 5
  • P15: Do not modify. Maximum percentage of speed limit (set by P08) the motor can output. 100 = Full speed. Default: 100%
    • For example, if the scooter’s maximum speed is 15 mph, and P15 is set to 50%, then it can only go up to 7.5 mph (15 x 50%)
  • P16: Cruise control. 0 = Disabled, 1 = Enabled. Default: 0
  • P17: LCD backlight. 1 = Disabled, 0 = Enabled. Default: 0
  • P99: Factory reset. Hold M button for 5-6 seconds to reset all settings
  • d0: Odometer reset. Hold M button for 5-6 seconds to reset Odometer reading

Error Codes

If an error occurs, a code will be shown on the display.

  • E-000: No error. Normal operation
  • E-001: Motor failure
  • E-002: Turn handle failure (May refer to Throttle/Accelerator, but could not confirm with Joyor)
  • E-003: Controller failure
  • E-004: Handle fails activating brake, such as from loose or damaged brake cable
  • E-005: Undervoltage protection, such as from low, empty, or water-damaged battery
  • E-006: Communication failure. Meter (Display?) not receiving controller output
  • E-007: Communication failure. Controller not receiving meter (Display?) output

Motorized Scooter Laws

When I was made aware by a friend that there are laws governing the use of motorized scooters, I was sad to see how restrictive they were. I considered myself to be a cautious, responsible, and respectful rider when taking my son out on a slow, controlled ride on the sidewalk with both of us having helmets on, slowing down considerably (to 1-3 mph) and moving to the side when approaching a pedestrian. Like a bike rider, I yielded to people as a matter of respect and courtesy, and constantly checked on and reminded my son to stand solid and to hang on tight. Any potential obstacles were avoided, turns were made with caution, and as with bike riding, I wanted to stay on the sidewalk whenever possible to keep the little one safe and away from speeding cars. The point is, courtesy, caution, and riding alert go a long way in being safe, in my opinion.

With that said, I read that there were a number of accidents involving scooters hitting pedestrians or riders hurting themselves. I get it. Laws are there to protect people from each other and themselves, especially from irresponsible individuals. Luckily, when a police officer drove past on the third day of test riding, he did not stop and ticket for scooting on the sidewalk with my son.

Sample Regulation: California

California Vehicle Code (CVC) in January 2005 enacted Article 5, Sections 21220-23330, to govern the operation of a motorized scooter. It was subsequently amended with additional rules and clarifications. Keep in mind that Federal, State, and local city ordinances may differ.

Disclaimer: I AM NOT A LAWYER. Please consult your local city, police department, and/or legal professional for advice.

A “motor scooter” is defined as “any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, has a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by an electric [or any other power source] motor. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion.” This excludes motorcycles and motorized bikes. Interestingly, how would this law apply to three-wheeled scooters?

The following is my interpretation of how I understand the law.

  • Must ride with a Driver’s License or Instruction Permit
    • Riders are expected to know and follow all basic traffic rules since they are sharing the road with cars
    • Scooter does not need vehicle insurance, license plate, or be registered with the DMV
  • Must wear a bike (not roller blade or skateboard) helmet if under 16 years of age
  • Don’t ride on a sidewalk unless necessary to enter or leave an adjacent property
  • Don’t ride with another passenger
  • Don’t carry something that prevents keeping at least 1 hand on the handlebars
  • Don’t ride with the handlebars up so high, the hands are above the shoulders
  • Maximum scooter speed: 15 mph, regardless of any higher-posted speed limits
  • Can’t ride on a street with a speed limit higher than 25 mph, unless there is a bike lane to be in
    • HELP: Anybody know what your options are when there is no bike lane available on those fast streets?
      • Is the only option to WALK the scooter on the sidewalk? Can you manually PEDAL it (with motor off)?
      • Are scooters even allowed to be WALKED on the sidewalk?
    • If riding slower than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction, move as close to the right-hand side of the road as possible
  • Take the bike lane, if one exists, unless local regulations don’t allow it
    • May ride on a bike path/trail/lane unless local law prohibits it
  • Can’t ride in a park unless there is a bike lane available and local law allows it
  • When making a left turn, go as close to the right-hand side as possible, stop, get off scooter, and walk across the road like pedestrians
  • Driving at night requires:
    • Headlight visible from 300′
    • Red tail reflector visible from 500′
    • White or yellow side reflectors visible from 200′
  • Don’t ride under the influence
  • Don’t leave scooter on its side on any sidewalk (or in any other position) that blocks pedestrians
  • Can’t attach scooter or rider to another car
  • Must have a brake
  • Manufacturer “shall” disclose to buyers that buyers’ existing insurance may not provide coverage for accidents involving the use of the scooter

I read on some lawyers’ websites that if you get into a scooter accident on a sidewalk, you are basically guilty.

Test Drive in 1st Gear

Final Thoughts

Riding the scooter and exploring has been so much fun! The thrill and freedom felt while zipping around on the board with speeds up to 15 mph reminded me of snowboarding up and down the mountains. However, despite what I felt was respectful, responsible, alert, and cautious riding with my passenger son on sidewalks, he and I were both saddened to learn that doing so was illegal. Perhaps we have poor, irresponsible riders to thank for the restrictive regulations governing motor scooters, but it is what it is.

The Joyor X5S, with its comparatively light weight, powerful motor, and long range, makes for a great scooter that costs slightly less than most competitors with similar models. It folds compact for one-handed carry, though without a locking mechanism, the base board swivels around that requires firming up your grip. Its construction appears and feels solid, and with the right stance and balance, I felt in control the entire time.

Two of my friends (one of whom owned a Segway Ninebot scooter) and a neighbor liked the Joyor in their own ways and ended up purchasing the X5S, too. Hopefully, the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control soon so we could ride together, but in the meantime, we are going to enjoy switching between biking and scooting when out and about.

Joyor X5S Electric Scooter

$699.99
4.1

Features

4.0/5

Design

3.5/5

Performance

4.5/5

Ease of Use

4.0/5

Value

4.5/5

Pros

  • Long range and battery life
  • Powerful motor
  • Comparatively light weight
  • Priced lower than most brands
  • Folds fairly compact

Cons

  • Basic manual with missing details
  • Relatively new brand in the U.S.
  • Not waterproof
  • Tires difficult to inflate with standard bike pump
  • Shipping box needs reinforcing