Tiny Bikes & Scooters Can Transform The First & Last Mile

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One of the reasons rental scooters and e-bikes are so popular is that they’re there when you need them, and you don’t have to take them along for the whole ride. For example, if you want to take the train, you can ride one from home to the station, leave it behind without worry, and then ride another one at the destination station. This fills in the first and last mile nicely.

But, the sad truth is that rental scooters just aren’t everywhere. You never know when people might ride them all home, leaving you with nothing to ride. So, you’ll have to hoof it, take a taxi, or leave your own bike/scooter at the station and hope it doesn’t get stolen.

I did find some good news, though. There are starting to be some shockingly small e-bikes and electric scooters that you can take along for the whole trip with minimum hassles. Here’s one that folds up smaller than anything I’ve ever seen: (article continues after video)

The Arma folds up around the size of three water bottles, but still manages to pack in some serious features. It’s only ten pounds, can go 14 MPH, and isn’t hard to stand on. It manages this feat by folding not only where the handlebar meets the deck, but by folding the handlebar and the deck, too. This makes it a serious option for the first and last mile in dense cities without any of the problems above and below.

Here’s another one that appears to be a little easier to ride:

The Dynamic Model B takes a bit of a different approach to folding up that leaves more of the deck intact to put your feet on. The deck still folds in half, but you can put feet on both halves. The handlebar is tubular like most, but instead of folding, it telescopes. Weight is 10 pounds, it has a 36 volt drive system, and the battery is mounted to the handlebar instead of being in the deck.

The battery is even small enough in capacity to be legal to carry on a plane, so you can use it for trips to other cities. Rider and cargo capacity is 220 lbs. It’s not the fastest scooter ever, with only a 250-watt motor, but it can go up to 15 MPH. Even over capacity and going top speed constantly, the little battery covered almost 7 miles, leaving some room for going more than just the first and last mile if needed.

In the case of the reviewer, he was able to use it to get to the subway station when he otherwise would have had to waste a bunch of time taking buses. So, it really can serve in the role of serious transport. He can even take it into work, because it fits in a duffle bag and nobody knows he carries a scooter into the office. Overall, it saves him almost an hour a day.

There are also some great folding bike options that have gotten seriously compact.

The Xiaomi H1 folds up almost as small as the scooters in the above videos, but it has the advantage of giving you a seat to sit on. But, it’s not really a bike in some ways because you can’t pedal it. Despite the tiny wheels and small size, it does appear to be pretty decent at stability. The battery is small, but removeable so that you can take it out to charge it as needed. Another cool feature is that it has regenerative braking, but no mechanical brakes. So, you’re stuck with needing to put your feet down toward the end. The little bike has no modes for speed.

On the road, the reviewer was able to get to decent speeds for its small size, and he was able to get up small hills at almost top speed (11 MPH). It’s obviously not a good solution for long-distance commuting, but for short first and last mile riding, it can work fairly well.

With the way it folds, you’d probably want to put it in a small bag or something to keep it from popping out while carrying it around, and there’s no carry handle.

Here’s another goofy little folding bike, but this one really earns the title. It’s got bigger wheels and weighs a lot more than anything above, but it fits into a small bag that can be used to carry it around folded up. The bag has wheels, too.

Range is 13 miles, top speed is 15 MPH, and it weighs 19 pounds. It can carry up to 220 lbs. It seems a little unstable at first to him, mostly because he’s used to motorcycles, but he says you can get used to it after a bit.

If you want something with actual pedals, this is another great option. It doesn’t fold up the way that all of the tiny, tiny vehicles above do, but it’s got much bigger wheels for stability and comfort, and it has the ability to move without electricity.

The way it folds, you can carry it, or you can roll it around by pushing on the unfolded seat, like dolly or golf bag. It’s also a lot more comfortable for longer rides than any of the tiny ones around. Advertised range is “up to 100 km” (62 miles) on a low assist setting. It is very unlikely to actually go that far, especially if you use more assist like most commuters do. The Euro version has a tiny 250-watt motor, but the U.S. version gets more power at 350 watts. Neither are speed demons (about 15 MPH max).

Unlike some of the smaller ones, it has mechanical brakes instead of just regen, so it can stop better at low speeds. It also has a rear suspension!

Personally, I’d probably go with this one out of all of them, but I almost never ride transit, so it wouldn’t really be a problem for me. For people who need to be able to put something in a bag, one of the smaller bikes would probably work out better.

Featured Image by Arma EV.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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