Why and how to joyfully move our butts around town, without mucking the place up.

Review: The Go Motorboard 1500x

By: ; Date: Sat Jun 28 2014 22:47:59 GMT-0700 (PDT)

Tags: Electric Scooters

The following is a review I wrote in 2005-6 and is for a lightweight standup scooter that I think is no longer being made. It's here for historical reasons.

I have owned the Go Motorboard for about six months now, and have finally given it a good long ride. That it's taken this long is a sign of the GMB 1500x's greatest flaw. Now that I have enough experience, let's go into the details.

Manufacturer: gomotorboard.com/

Update: While the gomotorboard.com site appears to have gone defunct, the 1600x model is now appearing on a new website at: gosportinggoods.com/ and has the much desired "front suspension" improvement. In the review below I rake the 1500 model over the coals because while it is an excellent scooter, the lack of suspension makes for a very jarring experience. Update2: It is probably totally defunct

Relavent specs:

  • 22 lbs
  • Dual 750 watt motors
  • "Aircraft quality" aluminum used throughout
  • Simple folding mechanism for easy carrying
  • Plywood deck
  • Solid core wheels
  • 15 mph maximum speed

The first thing to note is that the Go Motorboard is very beautiful. It is sleek and simply furnished, smooth and graceful lines.

The light weight (22 lbs) makes it very easy to carry this scooter with you. Between the weight and diminuitive size, it is very easy to carry on a bus or train, to stuff in the trunk of a car, or bring with you anywhere. There are only two parts to carry, the scooter and the charger.

The hinging mechanism is very simple. You have an obvious lever near the joint between the steering column and the deck. Simply operate the lever and the steering column is now free to adjust. It has two locking positions, one with the steering column straight up and ready to be ridden, the other with the steering column folded down. With the steering column folded down it is ready to be carried.

Turning it on is simple, there's an on/off switch on the right hand side underneath the deck. Simply flip to "ON" and you're almost ready to go. To verify that it's on, the throttle unit has some lights which turn on.

To make the go motorboard, er, go, you stand one foot on the deck, then kick with the other foot. Once you're moving at 3 miles/hour speed or greater the throttle will operate. Kick..kick..kick..throttle..hang on! That's it.

The initial acceleration is a little slow but it ramps up quickly and soon you're traveling at a good clip. No doubt the speed controller smoothly ramps up the speed to ease handling at low speeds. I once was on a scooter that accelerated so fast "off the line" that the scooter flew out from under me and I landed on my ass. The next time I rode that scooter I leaned into the steering column to keep the front end on the ground, believe me. I'm glad to say the Go Motorboard is much simpler than that, with a gentle speed "ramp-up".

There's two things to notice about the throttle as you ride. First is that it's a variable throttle. It responds precisely in speed to the position of the throttle. So if you like to ride fast, just hold the throttle all the way down, but if you want to be more careful then hold the throttle halfway. It's really up to you. And during one ride you're definitly going to go through a range of throttle settings, for example to slow down for precision steering around obstacles, and to crank up the speed for long straight stretches.

The other thing to notice about the throttle is what happens when you slow down. While this scooter freewheels pretty well, if you simply slow the throttle down your speed slows down dramatically. I don't think this is the "regenerative braking", as instead that should be activated through the brake lever.

The greatest flaw - no suspension

Another thing to notice during your ride is something I alluded to in the first paragraph. The greatest flaw of the 1500x.

It uses solid tires and does not have a suspension of any kind. You feel the slightest of bumps in the road. Innocent little cracks in the road can throw you to the ground in a moments notice. Unsmooth pavement can be the most rattling experience you've ever had.

See, having solid tires and no suspension means that every one of the bumps in the road transmit directly to you. Road surfaces are rarely smooth, but most do not notice this because cars and bicycles and other vehicles insulate you from small bumps using air-filled rubber tires and suspensions.

Cracks pose an especially interesting danger. For example if some road work has been done, a hole dug, and a patch laid afterward to cover the hole, the road surface can take a dip that sometimes includes a "cliff" 1-3 inches high. Similarly sidewalks are sometimes uneaven with similarly sized cliffs. When walking, driving a car, riding a bicycle, etc, these little cliffs are unnoticable. On the Go Motorboard you instead hit them and it's like running into a brick wall. If you hit it the right way and if it's tall enough, you will be thrown to the ground.

In other words, the riding the Go Motorboard requires some presence of mind and staying in the moment. You're constantly scanning the ground in front of you looking for the smoothest pavement to travel over and judging whether you need to dismount to cross seemingly gaping chasms that all other vehicles jump with ease.

It is because of these features that I'd not used the Go Motorboard very much. I'd ridden it enough around the neighborhood and other places to know its characteristics.

Today I did take it on my typical commute path. I have two approximately 2 mile stretch's of riding, with an 8-9 mile train ride in the middle. One of the stretches is in a poorer and more industrialized neighborhood along a semi-quiet side street, while the other stretch is in a more well-off city on a very busy main road. On both stretches of road I had little problem, no major cracks to deal with and the roadway was smooth enough to offer a nice ride. I did get tired of riding on the sidewalk, with its crack..crack..crack every five feet and for the second stretch I rode on the street in the convenient bicycle lane.

The route is completely flat except for one place. This is an overpass which is effectively a small hill. Halfway up the overpass my speed had dropped to a crawl, so I hopped off and walked the rest of the way up. This is a very simple and easily performed maneuver. On the other hand it shows the 1500x has poor hill-climbing capability.

Batteries

The manufacturer doesn't list a claimed range. Of course range varies considerably based on speed making it hard to give a reliable range estimate.

Battery usage on the 1500x is similar to other electric vehicles. It's best, absolute best, to charge it immediately after every use. Lead-acid batteries degrade if left slightly discharged for a long period.

Other 1500x owners have reported considerable problem with their batteries. It seems that the rough ride damages the batteries rendering them useless more quickly than other electric vehicles.

Recommendation

Due to the lack of suspension I cannot recommend this scooter for general use. It can be a fine scooter given good quality and smooth riding surfaces. Ignoring the rattling experience it is certainly a fun scooter with decent speed and other characteristics.

There are rumors of a Go Motorboard 1600 due towards the end of 2004. This is said to have many improvements such as a suspension.

Update: see gosportinggoods.com/ for the 1600 model. Update2: It is probably totally defunct

Update: It is now August 29, 2005 and the 1600 has not begun shipping. However, they do list a 2000x product that has the spring suspension promised for the 1600. Update2: It is probably totally defunct

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