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Types of Mobility Scooters Explained: Boot Scooters

Types of Mobility Scooters Explained: Boot Scooters

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Types of Mobility Scooters Explained: Boot Scooters
Last updated: March 3, 2019

With Spring fast approaching, you may be thinking about purchasing a boot scooter to help you get around. For those that have owned or used a mobility scooter previously, this may be a fairly straight forward decision. However, what should you do if you have never owned or used a mobility scooter before?

For those unfamiliar with boot scooters, this is the first in a short series of blog articles that will attempt to demystify the jargon and get you up to speed on the different types of mobility scooters and some of the key considerations when choosing a mobility scooter that meets your needs.    

Different Types of Mobility Scooters

Mobility scooters are available in a few different shapes and sizes depending on the users' needs. The type of mobility scooter can be loosely categorised as one of the following; 

  1. Boot Scooter
  2. Pavement Scooter
  3. Road Legal Scooter

This blog article will focus on boot scooters and will explore portability, battery range, performance and comforts afforded by this type of mobility scooter. 

Additional commentary is also offered on servicing, user requirements and expectations that accompany owning and operating a boot scooter.  

Boot Scooters

Boot Scooter Portability

Boot scooters, as they are commonly referred to are the smallest, lightest type of mobility scooter available. A 'boot scooter' is labelled as such as they are portable and easy to transport in the boot of a car. 

Not all boot scooters disassemble but most do. This usually allows for the scooter to be separated quickly and easily into smaller, lighter parts.  Typically, the handlebars (otherwise known as the 'Tiller' or 'Tiller Control') may be lowered and the seat can be removed and folded down. To reduce weight further and to make a boot scooter even more portable, the rear of the mobility scooter that houses the transaxle, rear wheels, gearbox and motor usually separate as one whole component.  In most cases, the rear component is usually the heaviest and a grab bar is available to make lifting and carrying easier. For convenience, the components are usually assembled with a 'push & click' type mechanism and in most cases won't require the use of any special tools to assemble and disassemble this type of mobility scooter. 

Boot Scooter Battery Range

A Boot scooter is designed for making short journeys. Typical use cases for using a boot scooter would be to help you get around a supermarket, to help you around a holiday complex or to help you fetch a few groceries from a local shop. As such, boot scooters are powered by the smallest (12V /12Ah) and lightest (4Kg) batteries found in any type of mobility scooter. A boot scooter is usually powered by two of these 12Ah batteries in series, giving a total capacity of 12 Amps per hour at a voltage of 24V.  This strikes a balance between portability & performance.  Whilst a boot scooter may be lightweight and easily transported, they will only offer a limited range in comparison to a pavement scooter or a road legal mobility scooter due to the smaller size batteries.  

If you are looking for additional mileage from your boot scooter, some are designed to handle larger capacity batteries. This will usually be limited to the next physical size up, 17Ah - 22Ah. 

If you do choose to purchase a boot scooter with the intention of fitting larger capacity batteries for increased mileage, just be mindful that bigger batteries are heavier. In turn, this means more weight to carry, which will impact on achievable range. 

Boot Scooter Lights

It's also worth noting that boot scooters are not particularly well suited for the low light conditions that often accompany a dark Winters afternoon. If you plan to use your boot scooter of a mid-to-late afternoon over the Winter period, you will be well advised to ensure you choose a boot scooter with lights.  Not every boot scooter will have lights attached by the manufacturer,  however, in many cases, a rear tail light can be retrofitted to the seat post and a front light attached to the handlebars. Universal mobility scooter light sets are readily available in various styles. 

Boot Scooter Tyres

Boot scooters are typically fitted with small, hard wearing puncture-proof tyres. These type of puncture-proof tyres are sometimes referred to as 'solid' tyres.  Although considered a heavy-duty tyre,  they will eventually need replacing just like a regular 'tubed' tyre.  

Boot Scooter Performance

A boot scooter is designed with a maximum speed of 4mph and is driven by a low power, lightweight yet capable electric motor. 

There are two types of motor often found in boot scooters. The first is a 'brushed' type. The second is 'brushless'.  It is unlikely you will ever need to replace a boot scooter motor but in some cases, if the motor is of the brushed type, the motor brushes may eventually need replacing.  This can be arranged during your mobility scooter service. Different models of a motor will require different size brushes so plan ahead when arranging your boot scooter service and advise your service engineer at the earliest opportunity if your service is to include replacing your mobility scooter motor brushes.  This will help to ensure your mobility scooter motor brushes are in stock and available when you arrive at your service appointment.  

Boot Scooter Seat

The seat is another part of the scooter that is often distinguished by the type of scooter it is fitted to. In the essence of portability, the seat on a boot scooter will be lightweight and easily removable. This will often mean less padding (remembering a boot scooter is for short journeys) so prolonged use is probably best avoided. On some boot scooters, armrests are available.  

Similar to how the seat on a push bike works, most boot scooter seats are adjustable up and down to accommodate users of different heights and allow ample leg room. 

How Comfortable is a Boot Scooter to Operate? 

A Boot Scooter is operated using controls on the handlebars. The handlebars are usually a 'T' design that is held with both hands, similar to a push bike. A throttle lever is usually present that can be pressed with a thumb whilst holding the handlebars. Pushing the lever forwards or backwards will allow the scooter to be operated in forward or reverse directions. 

Some luxury or deluxe models of boot scooters come equipped with 'Delta' style handlebars more often found on 'pavement' or 'road legal' mobility scooters. Delta handlebars curve back on themselves at the end of the handlebar, affording the user to be able to hold the handlebars in a different position to the regular 'T' design. Arguably, the greatest benefit of a Delta style handlebar and the different hand position is that it affords the user the ability to operate the throttle control by clasping the hand around it, rather than pushing with the thumb. This helps avoid 'thumb fatigue', a phenomenon where the user's thumb may become cold, stiff or uncomfortable over longer journeys.  

With the minimally-padded lightweight seat, 'T' handlebar design and small capacity batteries, it becomes easier to understand the situations and applications a boot scooter is designed for. 

As far as additional comforts and perks are concerned, an electronic horn is usually present to help alert others of your presence (similar to a car or bike) and is operated by push button. 

Newer models of boot scooter may also come equipped with suspension in the form of small spring coils or hydraulic dampeners that may afford a bit of extra comfort over uneven terrain. 

Legal & Requirements of You as a User

A boot scooter is only permitted to be operated on a pavement or footpath and not on the road unless reasonably unavoidable, such as a broken footpath or an obstacle such as repair works or a parked car. Take extra care and watch for passing traffic if using the road is unavoidable. 

4mph is the maximum speed permitted on a pavement or footpath; this does not necessarily mean it is the safest or most appropriate speed to travel at.  This is for the driver to determine, in consideration of both the environment they are in and their own competence to operate the mobility scooter at speed and consideration must be shown to others at all times. 

Operating your boot scooter without due care and attention in a public place so as to endanger your own safety or the safety of others is likely to be breaking the Law.

You are not required to tax or insure a  boot scooter, although insurance may offer you peace of mind in the event of a fire, theft or an accident. 

If you do choose to insure your boot scooter, check first to see if you are not already covered by an existing policy, such as your home insurance.  Overlapping insurance policies of any description rarely both payout fully, so satisfy yourself with what you are and aren't covered for under any existing policies you may own.

As with any mode of transport, when operated in public space it is especially important to drive sensibly and remain considerate to other members of the public. Unlike a car, as of writing, there is no mandatory test to determine a individuals suitability or fitness to operate a boot scooter or any mobility scooter (although this could change in the future). 

Common sense, safety and courtesy to others is paramount.  

If you suffer from a medical condition or episodes that may impact upon your capability to operate a mobility scooter, you are best advised to factor in these considerations when determining your suitability to operate a mobility scooter competently and within the Law.  Such examples may include but are not limited to impaired eyesight, dependency and side effects of drugs or medication and conditions such as dementia.   

Servicing

Depending on usage, an annual service is usually sufficient for most users. However, if you are a frequent user have your boot scooter serviced at shorter intervals. 

Similarly, if you notice any unusual noises or changes in your boot scooter's performance or stability, have your boot scooter serviced at the earliest opportunity.  Like with many electrical or mechanical apparatus, regular servicing and maintenance will go a long way to avoiding unnecessary and costly repairs at a later date. 

 

This was the first in a three-part series of blog articles exploring the different types of mobility scooters. 

Thank for reading. Next time, we will explore Pavement mobility scooters and their differences. 

 

This is an opinion based article and is intended for informational purposes only. Errors, omissions, and amendments are to be expected.  

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