NOTE: Entire post is more or less the testimonial of a total newb. The actual product reviewed is the KS-18XL, and the actual review of the product is down below the dotted break.
A month or so back, a buddy and I made one of our frequent trips from Houston to the beautiful West Texas Hill Country on a brief camping/mountain bike excursion. Per our usual routine, we pit stopped in Austin (San Antonio when we visit southern Hill Country). While the rental e-scooter craze hit the Austin landscape last spring, I hadn’t made the discovery until this trip, as part of our pit stop took us near both Congress and 6th Street.
I took one for a quick spin and immediately saw the benefit potential of owning my own e-scooter as a last-mile commuter option in Houston’s non-pedestrian inner loop landscape. In my Google research to get my scooter, I made note of a handful of EUCs that popped up here and there, but didn’t give them much notice other than a simple, “Oh, those things are still around?” …remembering seeing Segway’s original product years ago – it’s limited ability and huge price tag – I more or less brushed them off in my quest to get my scooter.
While the utility/dependability/short learning curve of the e-scooter is undeniable, it only took a couple of weeks for the novelty to wear off, and the burden of the ‘awkward’ ~30 lbs boarding/unboarding my commuter bus from W Houston suburbia started to ‘weigh’ on me. I stress the word awkward, as 30 lbs in and of itself wouldn’t normally be an issue considering the scooter’s 20mph benefits. The problems are its size, shape, and its lack of pack-ability or proper hand-grips. There is no getting around the fact that it’s going to take up a seat on the bus, and I refuse to shove it in the luggage compartment underneath. It is well suited for a trunk-packed weekend trip to New Orleans, less so dressed in business attire on public transportation. Yet, still I suffer these drawbacks until I land the perfect solution.
I returned to online research to find possible solutions to remedy at least some of these drawbacks, this time letting my curiosity get the better of me when the EUCs began to pop up again. Being in the U.S., I didn’t get far into my trip down the rabbit hole before coming across the eWheels website. Like many of us here, I poured over their WAY useful buyer’s guide, various reviews, individual EUC details (among countless YouTube videos, etc., etc.). I’m totally stoked at the notion of getting one of these amazing contraptions at this point. I eventually decided that for my initial investment, my hunt would be for my idea of the ‘ultimate’ wheel available (power, speed, range, looks, comfort, smooth ride, etc.), and after experiencing the EUC world more with an actual top-shelf product, make a more educated purchase decision for what I will eventually carry on the bus.
My initial correspondence was with Tom.
About me: Mountain biker, coordinated, 6’2″, 175 lbs, prone to buyer’s remorse
Must haves: Plenty of mileage capability for vacationing, wheel-to-road comfort and ergonomics, solid build, top safety characteristics… an EUC that does it all, but that I can grow into. Eyeballing the Z10, the V10F and the 18XL (18S for the ability to sit?).
Tom replied with KS18XL, Tesla, & MSX as his top recommendations, laid out the pros and cons of those and my original suggestions, and ultimately recommended the 18XL as a solid top choice for my needs.
Further communication was with Jason. Both of these guys have been exceedingly helpful. Shipping was estimated at about 3 business days from Tucson to Houston, FedEx Ground. That’s the last bit of info I needed to pull the trigger. After a bit of a shipping snafu (all FedEx, no fault of eWheels), my brand new EUC arrived safe and sound about a week later.
ACTUAL REVIEW OF MY KS-18XL (black matte)
Quite adequately packed for shipping… everything intact, no issues there.
Even knowing the weight specification beforehand, pulling it out of the box was a bit alarming. I’ve suffered the typical reservations associated with buying a non-U.S. product that provides insufficient English support (both manual and phone app). All of these reservations have passed after several days with the wheel. While the KS app is far from perfect, I was able to accomplish everything necessary to get the wheel up and running.
Jason has indicated eWheels is currently involved with the “3rd-party app developers who created Darknessbot & WheelLog to add the full complement of functionality”. Awesome to learn of their community and application involvement, and it’s nice to know that level of polish is coming. Though rest assured the wheel works well enough with the apps as-is.
The wheel itself is a thing of beauty… larger than expected, gorgeous finish, attention to detail, solid trolley handle attachment with multiple heights to which it can lock out depending on your height and/or needs to lift. The rapid charger may require some dial adjustment prior to charging in order to ensure the recommended 80% charging guidelines. I didn’t catch this beforehand and so my first charge was to a full 100%, but charging still completed before I knew it… well worth the additional purchase.
The learning process is of course subjective, but I was personally able to manage stable rides, assistance-free, within about an hour… even getting it up to the initial limit of 12.5mph. Wobbly at first, of course. Holding onto a loosely installed chain link fence was a mixed bag. Once I realized I needed to be at-speed to maintain stability, I just went for it… and WHAT A BLAST! I spent a solid 2 hours ascending/descending my 7-story parking garage to the amazement of many an onlooker. #smitten
The real initial challenges for me were turns and what to do with my hands (I’ve come to believe the arms-out Titanic pose doesn’t look as good as it feels). Not much I can recommend to occupy your hands, but I will advise that you resist any urge to try and turn with your torso… it will put you off balance. This led to my one and only accident in which I lost focus, turned at the waist, and found myself rapidly approaching a curb, which brings me to my next eye opener: If you are in such a situation on an EUC, it is okay to bail… this thing is built solid and will likely end up with no more than surface scratches. Gut reaction may be to try and save the wheel. If you can do so safely, by all means give it a try, but there is no sense in sacrificing yourself in an attempt to save your investment. In case you’re wondering, my wheel still functions like a dream after the spill! Notice the scratches in the photo, as well as the foam stand I am using out of the packing materials… not a long-term solution, as you still need to lean it against the wall, but it’s working great until my EUC Army stand arrives.
Back to turns. I’m learning to place my feet maybe a 1/2″ to 1″ away from the wheel (so I have more wheel-lean play room) and simply shift my weight to the side I want to turn, leaning the wheel in that direction, (and this is very important) ensuring to keep applying pressure to the front of the pedal with the turn-side foot. Sounds easy enough in theory, harder in practice, but it’s becoming more of an intuitive, thought-free process the more I ride.
I wanted to mention the above as I was unable to find a decent description of the process to get me started. The act of accelerating/decelerating are both simple enough that anyone can figure them out.
In any event, I’m just getting ‘rolling’ with this amazing new product, so lots to learn yet. SO much utility there for everyday adult use, yet it feels very much like a grown-up toy. Case in point: In the thick of the holiday shopping season, I needed to grab some gift-wrapping materials yesterday at my local Target location, knowing the parking lot would be absolutely packed. While everyone else motored slowly from lane to lane looking for a parking spot in front of the store, I proceeded to park quickly in a far corner spot and rode my Kingsong right up to the front door, extended the trolley handle and in I went. Lots of folks didn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, aside from the occasional gaping jaw, and I was in and out with my purchase and only a handful of pauses to talk about what this unidentified rolling light show was all about. *sigh* I suppose I can accept a few sacrifices for the benefits I’ve gained!
Thanks so much, Tom and Jason, for your guidance in my purchase! I know I said I would give it six weeks or so before reviewing, but I’m simply floored at my experience already!