We Ride (and Review) the URB-E Electric Scooter


TL;DW (Too Long; Didn't Watch)

Let's get this out of the way right up front. The URB-E looks weird. Goofy, even. It's so small and compact that my first impression was that it resembled a little kid's tricycle, and I imagined I'd look like a clown riding it around. Well, maybe so, but it's a pretty kickass electric scooter anyway.

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The URB-E is designed for commuters, especially folks who take a bus or train but still need to go an additional mile or so on their own after arriving at the nearest transit stop. Thanks in part to its carbon fiber and aluminum construction, the URB-E weighs just 35 pounds. It folds up sort of like an accordion, so you can carry it on the bus, or throw it in the trunk of your car.

The scooter folds up easily—just lift it, and it compresses in one quick motion. It would be nice if the URB-E had a handle you could use to tote it around, but I had no trouble grabbing it by the handlebar and by one of the big holes in its frame.

Opening the URB-E is just as easy. To ride it, just climb on, turn the key, and twist the throttle. You can rest your feet in front or behind, whichever is more comfortable.

And it's a lot of fun to ride. It took me only a few minutes to get comfortable. When seated on it, you're really low to the ground, so you can always just put your feet down to steady it. It's super agile, too, and turns very easily.

There's no URB-E app for monitoring things like the battery level or your speed from your phone. Three colored lights indicate battery level, giving you a general idea of how much charge you have left. I wish the lights were a little easier to read in bright sunlight, but they work. That said, you risk getting caught dead in the water if you ride the scooter with the battery level in the bottom light zone. Remember, this thing isn't a bike and it has no pedals, so you'll have to carry it home if the battery dies. That's why a more precise battery gauge would be a major design improvement.

If you add the optional mount, you can attach your phone or tablet to it. It's handy for using Google Maps or to read Quora while you're riding. Just kidding: Please don't read Quora while riding. I fired up Runkeeper in Cycling mode, and found that my URB-E had a top speed of about 14mph, which is pretty much in line with the specs (they call for a top speed of 15 mph).

The rechargeable battery lives in a rectangular box in the front part of the scooter's frame. You can charge it in place or remove it with the key and carry it into your office to charge on your desk. Either way, recharging takes about 4 hours, and when full the battery gives the URB-E a range of about 20 miles.

The URB-E is really cool, but it has a major-league price to match. The basic model starts costs $1500, and a higher-power model runs $1700 on its website.

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