City Mantis Electric Scooter
Could there be anything better to do on a gorgeous summer day, than speeding along on a City Mantis with the wind in your face and the sun on your back? I don't think so! But what exactly is a City Mantis you ask? It is a fold-up electric scooter that will turn heads when you buzz by. Definitely Gadgeteer worthy!
After featuring the City Mantis as a Latest Gadget on our front page way back in December of last year, I contacted the distributor to see if I could review one. Not long after they agreed, I received a BIG box from FedEx Ground on my doorstep.
Opening the box revealed a folded scooter. I'm not exactly sure of the origin of the City Mantis name, but it sort of reminds me of a Praying Mantis insect and the way they fold their arms. Available in Silver, Black, Red, Neon, Blue colors, I was sent the metallic silver version. Very snazzy.
Although the scooter is fully assembled, it does require a few minutes of work before you can actually ride it. Luckily the tools (2 Allen wrenches and a tool to adjust the seat shock) required for this work are included in the box. A short manual is also included. And, this is where I ran into my first complaint about the Mantis. As this product is originally manufactured and sold in Asia, the manual has been translated into English. The problem is that the translation is pretty poor. The folks at City Mantis should really consider re-writing it. Several times I was confused as to what to do to get the scooter ready for use. My main confusion was how to position the handle bars as there weren't any good pictures or explanations. That said, 30mins later I had the scooter ready to go!
This is an electric scooter though, so I still had to charge it before I could actually take my first ride. The battery that it uses is a replaceable 2 x12V Liquid Gel Battery. The battery is housed in the main body of the scooter, with the power connector located on the outside. A quick charger 110V/220V AC with a 3 prong plug, is also included.
Charging time is typically between 5 and 6 hours. But the batteries are charged to 50% in as little as 45mins. Range per full charge is rated between 8 to 14 miles depending on the weight of the person riding it, and the terrain. The orange power module on the left handle bar, tells you when the unit is powered on and if it is fully charged. A green LED is lit while the unit is powered on, and the LED is red when the unit is fully charged and plugged into the charger.
When I was a kid, I had longed for a moped, but never had one. So, after allowing the Mantis to charge for a couple hours, I was more than ready to give it a try. When I first sat down on the seat, I was thinking about how silly I must look on such a small bike. That feeling didn't last long as I flipped the power switch on, and pulled the accelerator lever. Wheeeeeeeee..... off I went!
The City Mantis is pretty speedy for such a small bike. Its 250W/3800rpm motor can go as fast as 16mph. That might not sound very fast to you, but when you're riding something this small, it feels pretty speedy!
Not having ridden any type of bike in a long time, it took me awhile to get used to the Mantis. At first, I thought I wouldn't be able to ride it as I felt pretty wobbly and couldn't ride farther than 20 feet or so before I was using my feet Fred Flintstone style to stop myself. I think my main problem was getting used to the position of my feet while riding.
The Mantis has two fold-up foot rests on either side of the back tire. These metal pegs are very sturdy and can actually be used to stand on if you wish to ride the Mantis in that position. I actually tried riding that way a couple times, but it didn't feel at all natural to me, so I went back to using the seat.
Although the seat doesn't appear to be very comfortable, it really isn't too bad. I'll admit that after riding the scooter the first day, I did feel a bit sore, but that didn't last long. I've never found bicycle seats to be particularly comfortable either... The seat on the Mantis is padded and does have a shock absorber under it. This shock can be adjusted to give you a more bouncy or firmer ride.
On the second day that I went out to try riding the scooter again, I noticed that I had left the power switch turned on. Oops... But I was happy to see that the battery hadn't been drained. It must have an inactivity shut off. Riding this time, felt much easier. I was able to ride up and down my gravel road without fearing that I was going to kill myself. ;o) Again, I was pretty surprised at how fast the scooter could go. Upon close examination, I could see that the Mantis is belt driven. The rear wheel is also a free wheel. This means that it will turn even if you don't have the throttle engaged. This is great for coasting down slight inclines as you will not use any battery power while doing so.
The tires are pneumatic (10" and 8") and the brake is a rear drum brake. Speaking of the brake, you only have one hand brake, on the right side. The brake is also a kill switch to the battery, which means that you only use the battery when you are using the throttle. The brake worked well, but I'm not sure of the stopping distance. I didn't try stopping on a dime as I was riding in gravel. I'll also say that riding in gravel is not all that safe. This bike is designed more for asphalt or black top roads. The Mantis is probably not suited for overly hilly areas either. I have a few inclines on my lane, and could definitely tell that it taxed the motor as I tried to climb them. According to the City Mantis site, the max slope that the scooter can handle is 8 degrees. In addition, the maximum weight you should put on the bike is 198lbs or 90kg.
As far as safety and security features are concerned, there is a reflector on the back of the seat, and another near the front tire. For security, you really only have the ability to take the Mantis with you, as there isn't a locking feature.
The City Mantis is marketed as a portable transportation device. In theory, you can ride to your destination, fold up the Mantis and carry it into a building. Even the manual shows a person carrying the Mantis on their back with an optional backpack bag. I have to tell you, that I don't find this to be very practical at all. At least not for me. The Mantis weighs 48lbs, which is way too heavy for me to lug around. I also found the process of folding and unfolding the Mantis to be a big pain in the butt. Maybe I'm just a weakling though...
Besides the lousy manual and the not so practical way of folding up the scooter, I did find the City Mantis to be a heck of a lot of fun to ride around on. Although it isn't cheap, it does make a great little transportation device for city dwellers that don't care to use a standard bicycle. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go take a farewell ride on the Mantis before boxing it up to send back.
Fun to ride
Great battery life
Not very easy to fold and transport
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