The Smart Columbus Experience Center spotlights a number of new and exciting options for people to get around. One of the vehicles on display there was the Ojo Commuter Scooter, and a further investigation revealed that it is based in the very same town that I’m currently living in – Oxnard, California.
A few emails later and I was sitting in the air conditioned lobby of their headquarters signing a waiver. Before I knew it, they had me back out the door, zipping around town on an Ojo Commuter Scooter. Aside from being one of the most entertaining and satisfying product names to utter, the Ojo is a unique scooter positioned to further encroach on the divide between freeway capable scooters from the likes of BMW, Aprilia, Vespa and more…and electric scooters that find their way under the Christmas tree for the little ones.
The Ojo has defined its place in that lineup, with a top speed of 20 miles per hour | 32 kilometers per hour and a range of 25 miles | 40 kilometers. It was designed to fit into bike lanes and to be able to blend in with bike lane traffic without causing problems. In fact, the Ojo was designed to operate in the bike lane, which means that here in California and in many other regions around the world, you don’t need a license or insurance to ride an Ojo. I’d recommend that you check your local regulations before pulling the trigger on one, but the specs are very much in line with a typical ebike.
That’s a huge cost savings compared to even my old Aprilia Scarabeo 100 which was super cheap to operate but required registration, insurance, and the like. I actually think that the ability to ride in the bike lane is a huge plus as well. On my old Aprilia, I felt very exposed being mixed in with regular traffic and more than anything, I just didn’t feel safe. Having the protections of the bike lane, where they exist, is a nice improvement on that and just felt great.
The current build of the Ojo Commuter Scooter has a removable seat and was designed to be ridden standing up or sitting down. I must be a sit down kinda guy because it just felt more natural to me. Perhaps that’s due to my experience on the Aprilia, but either way, it’s neat to have the option to go both ways.
On the power side of the equation, the Ojo was supremely successful as its 500 watt motor tore out of the parking lot with minimal effort and had me screaming along on my merry way. I am not a small guy at just over 200 pounds | 90.7 kilograms and just over 6 foot 2 inches | 188 centimeters tall, and I felt like the scooter had plenty of power to move me around safely and comfortably. As to the noise, that was all me. I was the one screaming. Being an electric vehicle, the scooter itself was silent.
While we’re on the topic of noise, it is worth mentioning the disc brakes on the scooter. The demo unit I rode had brakes that sounded like they were being tortured each and every time I pulled the brakes. In talking with the folks over at Ojo about this, they shared that they are in the process of switching to a new, softer brake pad that doesn’t make nearly as much noise. For anyone with an Ojo that has the older pads, hit up Ojo and they’ll shoot you a set of the new pads. The great news about the brakes is that they work very well. The dual hand brakes were very sturdy and stopped the scooter, stat.
While stopped, I took the opportunity to sync up my phone to the scooter via Bluetooth. The scooter also has a built in USB charger that felt like a very insightful addition and something that would help almost any rider. I find myself charging my mobile phone in the car more than I’d like to admit and I like having the option to charge. The phone can be mounted to an optional phone holder that did a great job of hanging onto my phone over the bumpy roads I took it on.
With the Bluetooth connection established, I was able to stream music to the two integrated speakers, which made the ride more fun. Plugging in earbuds while riding just doesn’t feel safe, so the addition of speakers that give me the option to bump some tunes while cruising down the road was a nice addition.
The primary interface with the scooter is a black and white touchscreen LCD that has the state of charge of the battery and allows the rider to select from a few different riding modes that regulate the maximum speed of the scooter, among other things. It’s an intuitive display that has what you need on it without being overly outlandish. Ojo shared that it is working on an app to put more controls in the hands of the users, so keep your eyes peeled for that in the future.
The Ojo feels at home in the bike lane, zipping along at a very comfortable pace that wasn’t too fast and didn’t feel slow at all. The dual mirrors allow the rider to check behind them without having to bend around, which made the ride much safer than having to bend around and look backwards.
After arriving at a destination, the Ojo’s built-in charger cover can be popped open on the nose of the scooter and plugged right into a wall outlet. That’s pretty nice for folks with a garage or that don’t mind bringing the scooter inside, but can be a showstopper for someone living up a few flights of stairs, especially considering that the Ojo’s sturdy 65-pound frame is not really built to be carried, even if you were able to lift it. Rumor has it that Ojo is working on a new model that will have a locking, removable battery AND be lighter, making it better suited for more people in a wider variety of use cases.
The Classic Ojo starts out at $1,999 but is actually on sale right now for $1,499. The next step up is the officially licensed Ford Ojo that, for $2,199, comes with all sorts of perks including the ability to climb grades up to 18 degrees, side mirrors, phone holder, the integrated Bluetooth waterproof speakers, and a security system. At the top of the range is the Vintage Ojo that comes with the classic woody styling and the actual vehicle badging from Ford’s woody, in addition to all of the extras on the Ford Ojo.