Rise of the Seated Machines

Rise of the Seated Machines

kobra seated electric scooter

There is a trend in the electric scooter market that is clear as day: The emergence of electric scooters with seats. We are not talking about seats-on-a-stick bolted on as an afterthought, but scooters designed with a seated posture from the get-go. This kind of escooters have become a major category in many markets like Singapore.

Most seated electric scooters are mounted with 12-inch wheels. This is larger than the largest common 10-inch size found on stand-up electric scooters. The large size confers stability, traction and excellent shock absorption qualities. The rider’s seated posture also lowers the centre of mass, making the seated scooter a safer, more stable machine to ride. The commonalities end here though. The many different models available now offer a bewildering choice of performance for different rider preferences.

Let’s have an overview of four of the most prominent seated electric scooters on offer (in Singapore) and the kind of riders whom we think will appreciate them. We are going to compare the DYU, the Tempo/Am, the Fiido and Kobra electric scooters. To put things in context, they are introduced in order of appearance in the market.

Specs at a Glance

MODEL  Voltage Batt. Capacity Motor Watt. Weight Max. Load Length Range
DYU 36V 10.4/17 Ah 250W 14.5-16 Kg 120 Kg 1.08m 40-60 Km
Tempo/AM 48V 10/12 Ah 350W 20 Kg 100 Kg 1.10m 35-45 Km
Fiido 36V 10.4/14 Ah 350W 19.6 Kg 150 Kg 1.14m 40-50 Km
KOBRA 48V 7/10/12 Ah 250W 20 Kg 100 kg 1.30m 35-45 Km

DYU: First out of the gate

Dyu electric scooter with seat

Commonly recognised as the model which popularised the seated format, the DYU was launched in early 2017 by Falcon PEV, and was the earliest model to gain widespread popularity. This Chinese maker produced a lightweight, minimalist, almost cute machine which quickly become a hit. The DYU sports a sturdy yet lightweight frame with an integrated battery in the fuselage. It was able to achieve the compact form factor by giving up on a number of options that other markers are shy to forgo, like adjustable seat heights and shock absorbers.

The DYU is available in a few variants. The most popular supreme model is capable of up to 60km range on a single charge, and sports dual disc-brakes. The scooter is configured with mid-range specs including like a 250W motor. Aftermarket options for more a powerful motor and longer range batteries are available.

The clean and approachable design quickly won over riders. It was like the Nintendo Wii of the electric scooter market. The model was particularly popular with female and elderly riders for its ease of handling and friendly outlook. Many riders who already ride much more powerful stand-up scooters also bought the DYU as a second ride. By the time of writing, a slew of other more powerful seated models have become available, largely inspired by the success of the compact seat-down format popularised by the DYU. The DYU remains a favourite for its ease of use, economical price tag and overall high reliability.

Recommended rider profile:

If you want a no-fuss, easy to handle and an economical electric scooter for short to mid range rides, the DYU will be a great match.

Stand-out feature(s):

Compact, lightweight and surprisingly easily to ride. Very reliable because of the simplicity in design. Can be carried onto the subway or bus.

Most common pain point(s):

Limited options for accessorizing, modest performance.

AM / Tempo: Steroids with a seat

Above: the Tempo [Image: minimotors.sg]

Electric scooter suppliers were quick to notice the popularity of the DYU scooter. In no time more powerful models based on the same form factor became available.

Among these, the most recognisable model was the AM. The AM is essentially a souped up OEM machine inspired by the DYU. It offers higher performance in every department when compared to the DYU. These include motor power (350W vs 250W on the DYU), system voltage (48V vs 36V), maximum rider loan (130kg vs 100kg) and shock absorbers on both the front and rear. The added bulk raised the weight to a hefty 20kg, right at the edge of LTA’s regulated maximum weight.

Minimotors launched the Tempo model, with the same design and similar specs as the AM, and became a popular model because of the more well-known nameplate.

The AM and Tempo played the role of the ‘sports version’ of the DYU, with similar riding characteristics but a much larger performance envelope in terms of acceleration, climbing power and range. Riders who found the DYU too mild took to the AM and Tempo. The popularity of these models was also boosted by the growing number of professional food delivery riders who rode electric scooters instead of bicycles.

Recommended rider profile:

If you like the compactness of the DYU, and want the performance of a mid to high range scooter, the Tempo and AM will offer the best of both worlds. However, if you are a rider in Singapore, you will have to be willing to walk the LTA compliant weight tightrope as additional accessories will tip these scooters onto the wrong side of the law.

Stand-out feature(s):

Very high performance in a very compact body.

Most common pain point(s):

Can be unstable at high speeds, uncomfortable posture for long rides. Poor quality suspension resulting in squeakiness on rough roads.

FIIDO: Versatile workhorse

Above: The Fiido. [Image: www.Fiido.sg]

The Fiido was the answer to riders’ demands for more configurability and utility on seated electric scooters. Appearing in early 2018, it was a relatively late entrant in the scene.

The Fiido sports an industrial-looking design. It has a low-riding body with a distinctive rectangular cage-like body. This design offered many options for customizing the machine with add-ons like additional battery packs, child seats or simply on-board storage. The high rising handlebars are reminiscent of those on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

This bulky, wide-bodied design allows the Fiido to take on the heaviest load amongst the seated scooters in the market: up to 150kg. Fiidos also tend to be the most heavily personalized scooters. The most important performance benefit this design allows is range: the ample onboard space allows huge batteries to be installed. Batteries offering up to 75km range are available.

Another interesting feature on the Fiido is that it is one of a few scooters to sport a geared motor. Geared motors are considered an older technology in the context of electric scooters, but they offer higher torque and more rideability at lower speeds. This seems like a good match for the heavy-duty Fiido. However geared motors require more care and are more prone to wear and tear than newer gearless motors.

Recommended Rider Profile:

The Fiido appeals to riders who want to spend long hours on their electric scooters. A brand-new Fiido is like a blank canvas, offering exciting opportunities for riders to customize their ride. If you like to spend time on shopping for accessories and making your ride unique, the Fiido will satisfy your whims.

Stand-out feature(s):

Simplistic design, highly configurable, offering lots of utility.

Most common pain point(s):

Heavy and bulky when fully decked up. Low-riding body transmits more road shocks than we like with the original seats and will be uncomfortable for some riders. Cannot take onto subway or bus because it is not foldable.

KOBRA: Style and comfort

kobra seated electric scooter

When a product becomes mainstream, high end or luxury options will begin to emerge. This is the story with the KOBRA. It completes the picture in the range of models available to the market.

The latest entrant, the KOBRA was launched in late 2018. It is the largest of the seated electric scooters, with a full length body and integrated seat. The KOBRA is also the only electric scooter with a seat in this article that cannot be folded down in any way. It gives up foldability for a rigid body structure.

Unlike the machines discussed earlier which were designed with either size, performance or utility in mind, the KOBRA was designed with rider comfort in mind. The industrial design company behind the KOBRA did this by designing a machine around the rider, from scratch.

The KOBRA allows a fully upright seated posture, and is the only model which does not require the rider to straddle the machine. The legs and feet are placed like on a moped, making it easy for riders in work wear, ladies wearing dresses or elderly riders to mount and dismount. The seat height is also configured in such a way that when the scooter is stationary, the rider’s leg can be set on the ground in a comfortable straight posture.

A 48V system is paired with a practical 250W motor, giving the Kobra respectable torque and range. It has a longer wheelbase than most models in the market, giving it excellent stability at cruising speed. The rear spring suspension with configurable stiffness offers good comfort from road shocks. An automobile style key-ignition makes it very convenient to park the escooter momentarily by removing the key while the rider pops into a store or runs an errand.

The KOBRA is arguably the most comfortable and good looking scooter available at the time of writing.

Recommended Rider Profile:

For the daily rider who values comfort and stability above performance for a mid to long range commute.

Stand-out feature(s):

Extremely comfortable to ride for long distances. Riding posture allows for formal work clothes and dresses to be worn while riding, easy for all riders to mount and dismount.

Most common pain point(s):

Full-length body size makes the scooter harder to carry or store. Cannot take onto subway or bus because it is not foldable.

Which one is for you?

Sit-down electric scooters of all shapes are sizes are now easily available. The four models covered here are the breakout models favoured by riders. If you are shopping for one, it is likely you will find a favourite from amongst them. The most practical way to choose is always to think carefully about your specific intended use and choose the one that most closely matches your intention, most of the time.

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