I love to go out with my dog and to take photographs but my current hip pain is making any kind of walking impossible. I do have a small mobility scooter, which dismantles to go in the boot of my car and which I’ve used extensively over the past few years, but it’s only designed for pavements or indoor surfaces. I live in a very rural area and am surrounded by farmland, dirt tracks and woods, which are wet, muddy, boulder strewn, pot-holed and rough and it’s made me really sad over the past few months to have to stick to the roads with Bertie on his lead and not be able to go to our favourite haunts where I can watch the wildlife and Bert can run free.
A few weeks ago I rang my local mobility centre and asked if they had any all-terrain mobility scooters for sale. I can’t afford new but they often sell second/third-hand and luckily for me they had in a Drive Sport Rider. It’s not technically an all-terrain scooter like, for example a TGA Sport or a Tramper, but it does have very large wheels, rear wheel drive, all round suspension and a very large motor so it theoretically should tackle some pretty rough ground.
Even second-hand, all terrain scooters are really expensive – new they cost anything upwards from £3,500 ($5,480) and going as far as £20,000 ($31,300) for a caterpillar – so it was a huge financial decision for me. For that reason I asked if I could hire the scooter for a week to try it out before committing to buy, and luckily for me the man said yes (although charged me £100 for the privilege ).
The Sport Rider is not your average doddery old foggies scooter. Oh no. The design was based on the Harley Davidson motorcycle and it definitely has the look of a mortorbike trike, being 3 wheeled and with a distinctive mortorcycle-style front chassis. It has adjustable wing mirrors, rear lights, head light, front and rear indicators and a basic trip computer which tells you battery life, speed, miles driven and the time. It also has a swivel seat, which can be pushed forward or back depending how long your legs are, adjustable armrests for height and width, and the backrest can also be angled. It has an indoor (3mph) setting and an outdoor (8mph) setting and can zip along at a decent pace on the road.
Apart from the indicators, all the other controls are on the right handlebar (the handlebar is also adjustable and I’ve had to tilt it down somewhat to be able to reach!). You drive by pushing a lever forwards and if you let go it automatically stops. The scooter does, however, have an additional manual emergency brake on the left handlebar.
When driving along smooth surfaces it’s a seriously comfy ride. I did, however, put it through its paces along some rough terrain. It was bumpy, and you do need some upper body strength to keep the steering and throttle going, but I’m only tiny and quite weak and coped without any problems. It took a bit of getting used to the fact that it’s a three, and not a four, wheeler and at times I did wonder how far I could tilt it without it falling over, but actually it’s incredibly sturdy (it weighs a ton) and due to the three wheels it turns on a dime.
I drove it over a bog, up a rain soaked field, a muddy rock strewn farm track and through water (not recommended as you shouldn’t get it wet!) and it took everything in its stride. Needless to say I’ve decided to keep it 🙂 .
The salesman from the mobility centre needs a good slap though. One of the most important considerations when buying a second hand scooter is how old the batteries are. They only last about 18 months in any event, and can be seriously expensive to replace. So I asked the salesman twice how old the batteries were and he replied “about 6 months”. Lying little slimeball. I took the seat off and removed the battery cover to check and the ticket inside said they were installed in September 2012 – over 2 years ago. Instead of doing the 30 miles on one charge they were supposed to I was lucky to get 6 miles! The scooter uses 2 batteries, and to replace they cost around £300 ($470)!! How can this man sleep at night knowing he’s ripping off elderly and disabled people? 😦 .
So at the end of the hire week I rang the salesman to discuss the scooter. I thought about it hard before hand and worded the conversation so that he was left in no doubt I knew that lying about a product breaches the Sale of Goods Act. This resulted in him knocking the £100 hire charge off the purchase price and him fitting brand new £300 batteries. Result!
I’m now looking at pannier bags for my bits and bobs (mainly my camera plus Bertie’s lead, treats and poop bags), an all weather cover (dogs still need to be walked in the rain sadly) and some kind of dog carrier so that Bertie can be safely strapped in that until we get where we’re going (you can get a proper pannier box which fits on the back but it’s not suitable for a mutt).
Class 3 scooters need to be declared to the DVLA though this is free of charge. Insurance isn’t compulsory, but it’s best to be covered for theft and personal liability in case of accident. I’m also going to need breakdown cover, because if this baby conks on me in the middle of a muddy field it’s not like I can push it home!
I can’t wait for next summer. The scooter will do up to 30 miles on a single charge, so Bertie and I could tramp all over for hours without walking a single step 🙂