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Zappy3 – finally a stable electric scooter
This AutoMatters is about a personal mobility device. The Zappy3 is a three-wheeled, electric scooter. The electric motor is in the front wheel hub.
I don’t know if they all come this way but mine arrived in two boxes – one large, 70 pound box which contained a partially assembled Zappy3, and a much smaller one containing three accessories (a horn, a basket and a cable lock).
The Zappy3 comes complete with tools and even a convenient foam block to stand the base on as you’re putting the scooter together. That kept the Zappy3 from rolling away. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I did not need to add air to the tires.
Between what is covered in the instruction manual and what is pretty obvious, the Zappy3 is not difficult or particularly time consuming to assemble. Fortunately I have assembled lots of things before, but if you are not similarly experienced you might be better off asking a friend who is to do it for you.
Here is one tip that I learned the hard way, in case you get the handy accessory basket. It does not come with instructions. The top support bracket for the basket must be put in place before the handlebar and post assembly is attached. Otherwise, you will have to disassemble it. Also, it was initially not clear to me that the bolts for the two ends of the smaller support bracket go through a plate with a set of holes on either side of the front wheel hub.
The instructions say to charge the included three-battery pack before use, so allow yourself a few hours to do that in advance of your first ride.
As gratifying as the sense of accomplishment from putting it together may be, the real fun of the Zappy3 is riding it. To do that, you stand – there is no seat. Stand forward on the platform, to maximize downward pressure on the front, driving wheel. I found that standing towards the back of the scooter tends to unweight the front, driving wheel, which results in the Zappy3 doing burnouts. I left black rubber streaks on my garage floor and sidewalk learning this.
The Zappy3 successfully addresses an issue that I have with scooters and that is stability. Instead of two wheels, the Zappy3 actually has four – one big wheel at the front, two smaller wheels at the back corners (tricycle style) and an inline skate sort of wheel at the middle of the platform at the back. This back wheel seems to prevent the scooter from rearing up and dumping its rider if they stand too far towards the back or hit an obstruction that lifts the front tire. It works. The combination of all of those wheels makes it really stable. I’m sure that it is possible to fall off but I have not managed to do so yet.
The Zappy3 is best suited to be ridden on flat or nearly flat, relatively smooth, paved surfaces. The manual goes on to caution users to not use the Zappy3 in the rain or on wet surfaces. It should be an ideal vehicle for running errands around a large warehouse or going back and forth between a complex of buildings connected by paved, flat pathways. It is also handy for zipping around the neighborhood. For me though, I particularly enjoy the feel of the wind in my face as I scoot along, block after block, going nowhere in particular. Also, because it is so stable, I soon learned to appreciate its ability to make sharp, repeated, slalom-like turns. I have some small, orange traffic cones, so at some point I would like to set up a slalom course and time myself as I wind my way through it. The accessory basket limits how sharply it can turn.
The Technical Information page of the manual says that the top rated speed is “up to 12.5 MPH” and that the maximum capacity is “220 LBS.” I weigh about 180 pounds, which is within the rated capacity of the Zappy3. I found that acceleration is gradual, but it does build up to a fairly brisk speed.
The single handbrake works fine to stop the scooter on flat or slightly sloping stretches, but it noticeably loses effectiveness on steep downhill runs. Since the Zappy3 can really build up speed going downhill, one needs to cautiously learn what the brake is and is not capable of doing. I strongly recommend staying away from steep hills.
I now look forward to going to get the mail. Rather than walking a few houses down to the mailbox, I ride the Zappy3. I know, I need the exercise, but this is fun and my test Zappy3’s accessory basket is just the right size for anything that my mailbox holds.
On one of my mail runs I ended up enjoying the ride so much that I rode all the way to my daughter’s high school – about a mile away. I noticed people gawking at me in passing cars, which was kind of neat. I also slowed to chat with a few pedestrians along the way, one of whom wanted to know more about the Zappy3. The scooter handled the mild incline along the way just fine, but on the way back the battery pack started to run low. I learned that backing off a little on the throttle in such situations actually seems to make the scooter continue a little more quickly. Also, because it is a scooter, I was able to help it along with a few well placed pushes with one foot. See, I got my exercise after all. I plugged in the charger as soon as I returned home.
To find out more about the Zappy3, electric bicycles, ATVs and even electric cars from ZAP, visit their website at www.zapworld.com.
Copyright © 2006 Jan R. Wagner – #178 AutoMatters
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