The ideal electric scooter for me has to meet a few criteria. Its price, as well as its size, needs to be on the smaller side. It has to be easy to carry up a few flights of stairs (for, say, a 24-year-old woman of little arm strength). And it must add some fun and fresh air to my short-distance trips in New York City.
The SmooSat SA3, a slim, black scooter at a reasonable price, ticks off these boxes. It’s $430, landing it alongside budget options like the Swagtron Swagger 5 Boost, which nabbed a spot on CNET’s list of the best scooters for 2023. (You can also get the SmooSat SA3 in gray for $360).
Getting acquainted with the SA3 took just minutes, and the included manual certainly helped. The handlebars and stem fold easily and lock into a buckle near the rear wheel, so you can quickly hop off, fold the scooter and scoop it up. My apartment is several flights up, but the scooter weighs approximately 33 pounds and my unimpressive arms didn’t fail me during the trek. Its size also makes it easy to store and to take on the subway.
An LED display built into the stem between the hand grips shows your current speed, ride mode, distance, headlight status and battery level using a battery icon with five notches. There’s a single multifunction button beneath the display.
Pressing and holding the button for three seconds turns the scooter on or off; one quick press changes the ride mode; two quick presses turns on the headlight; three quick presses switches between metric and imperial; and five quick presses turns on cruise control, which keeps you traveling at a constant speed — good for longer rides without much starting and stopping. (Strangely, four quick presses doesn’t do anything). According to its manual, the SmooSat supports a maximum weight of only up to 220 pounds, which is a downside. For comparison, the Swagtron Swagger 5 Boost can carry 320 pounds.
There’s a charger port on the side, with a plastic cover that stays attached to the scooter, so you don’t have to worry about losing it. With the included charger, it takes five or six hours to fully charge the built-in battery. The SmooSat SA3 could potentially travel 20 miles on a full charge under ideal conditions.
Riding on a mix of smooth, hilly and bumpy surfaces on a full battery, it took a little less than 4 miles before it dropped down one of its five battery notches, which means less than 81% of the battery remained. After another 2.5 miles, it was down to less than 61% of the battery. After another 2.5 miles, it was down to less than 41%, displaying only two notches. I’m about average height, weight and shoe size (I like to think), so getting to 20 miles is unlikely; it’s probably closer to 15 miles — enough for a last-mile commute.
The SA3 scooter isn’t the smoothest ride — zipping around on its two 8.5-inch airless rubber tires, I pretty much felt every bump, crack and groove I rode over. But that was less of an issue on flatter surfaces.
The SA3 is rated for a maximum speed of 15.6 miles per hour with its 350-watt motor. However, the scooter occasionally felt unwieldy when I went as fast as I could. There are three ride modes to choose from that adjust the scooter’s max speed. Most often, I selected the middle gear that caps it at 10 miles per hour, so I didn’t worry the scooter would exceed my speed comfort zone.
Again, the scooter doesn’t completely mask all the cracks and bumps beneath you. Instead, I relied on bending my knees on bumpier terrain and keeping my eyes peeled for sharp dips and other potential causes of a scooter catastrophe. But the hand brake worked as expected, and I was impressed every time the scooter lifted me over a hill or cleared an uneven path.
The New York City subway is my main mode of transportation, and the SmooSat SA3 is something I’d turn to more for leisurely rides than anything else. If you’re after high speeds, more cushion (on or off road), or a scooter for longer commutes, the SA3 may not cut it.
Overall, the small SmooSat SA3 electric scooter made me happy. It’s easy to fold, store and carry. It’s a straightforward adult electric scooter, but that’s in line with the price. Whether I was planning a ride through the park or wanted to get to a train stop, I’d be glad to have it as an option for a short-distance excursion.