All About Mobility Scooters

What is a mobility scooter?

Mobility scooters (also known as mobile scooters, travel scooters, or scooters) are designed for people who lack the strength or ability to walk or operate a manual wheelchair. This includes people with mobility issues and seniors living in retirement homes, assisted living, or at home.

Most mobility scooters can be used indoors or outdoors, are battery-powered, and have three or four wheels. Most mobility scooters can be disassembled easily into a few parts, while others are compact or foldable.

What are the main types of mobility scooters?

There are three main types of mobility scooters: travel/portable scooters, three-wheel scooters and four-wheel scooters.

Travel scooters, also known as portable scooters, should generally fit into the trunk of a car or as airplane cargo. They are compact, foldable, or can disassemble into around three or four parts, and come with three or four wheels. These scooters tend to be lighter than full-sized three- or four-wheel scooters. The seats of foldable scooters are smaller and have less padding than full-sized scooters.

Three-wheel mobility scooters are full-sized scooters with a tight turning radius, making them easier to maneuver and use indoors compared to four-wheel scooters. They are however, less stable than four-wheel scooters and may be unsafe to use on uneven surfaces including sidewalks. They are well suited for use at home or at shopping malls. Caution should be used during transfers, and a slow speed should be used while turning to avoid tipping.

Four-wheel mobility scooters are full-size scooters that are more stable than three-wheel scooters, especially for travelling up hills or ramps. The risk of tipping is relatively low. They are more suitable for outdoor use because they maneuver well over rough terrain/hills and have a larger turning radius. Suspension systems (which come standard for most full-sized mobility scooters) and large, pneumatic wheels make the ride over rough terrain even smoother.

Heavy-duty scooters are an alternative to full-size mobility scooters for users with higher weight capacities, typically accommodating up to approximately 500-550 lb. Heavy duty scooters typically have a more powerful motor, wider/sturdier base, higher ground clearance, and larger tires than full-size scooters. Like full-size scooters, heavy duty scooters may be three- or four-wheeled. Heavy-duty scooters are better suited for rougher, bumpier terrain. All-terrain scooters, also known as off-road scooters, are a type of heavy-duty scooter designed specifically for outdoor activities with rugged surfaces that may include trails, grass, mud, and sand.

How do mobility scooters work?

Mobility scooters are steered using tillers. Tillers are T-shaped columns that turn the front wheels left, right, or straight. Other controls such as forward/reverse, speed, and turning signals may be located on the tiller as well. Delta tillers have wraparound handles (instead of T-shaped handles), which allow more flexible hand and wrist positions. Delta tillers are ideal for people with limited hand dexterity or strength.

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Mobility scooter folded up for travel use
Travel scooters such as the Pride Go-Go Folding Scooter are the best option for travelling.
Mobility scooters demo in store
Three-wheel scooters are the best option for indoor use.
Lady driving a 4 wheel scooter
Four-wheel scooters are the best option for outdoor use.

What features do mobility scooters have?

Seats
Most scooter seats can swivel to help the user get on and off with ease. The user should be able to raise and lower the seat so their knees can rest at a comfortable 90-degree angle. Captain’s seats offer the most comfort and support. They usually have more padding, contoured backrests and seats, and sometimes come with headrests. Travel scooters have seats that are smaller and less padded than full-sized mobility scooters.

Suspension
Scooters with suspension systems offer a smoother ride, especially when going over bumps, uneven surfaces, or rough terrain. Suspension comes standard with most full-sized three and four wheel scooters. Suspension is available for some travel/portable scooters.

Wheels
There are three main types of wheels: solid, pneumatic, and foam filled. Most travel/portable scooters come with solid wheels. Solid and foam-filled wheels will never go flat, but the ride tends to be rougher than with pneumatic wheels. Foam-filled wheels absorb more shock than solid tires, making the ride slightly smoother. Most full-sized and all-terrain scooters have pneumatic wheels. Pneumatic wheels are air-filled (like cars) and can go flat, but they offer the smoothest ride.

Storage space
Mobility scooters usually come with a basket but may also offer a pocket or other storage space. Some scooters that do not come with a basket may be able to accommodate one as an add-on accessory.

best mobility scooters
Most mobility scooters come with a basket.
Different kinds of a baskets for scooters
There are three main types of wheels for mobility scooters: solid, pneumatic and foam filled.