Kick scooters seemed like a good idea several years ago. They were cheap, portable, and provided a fast means of personal transportation. However, it quickly became clear that using kick scooters efficiently relied on a pretty high skill level.
The development of electric scooters brought about a resurgence in the popularity of scooters for personal transportation. With a motor powered by a high-capacity battery, electric scooters were easier to use, hassle-free, and far more reliable than their kick scooter counterparts. Gotrax is one of the most popular manufacturers of electric scooters, and their basic Glider model is one of their best-selling products. What makes the Gotrax Glider so popular? Is it a worthwhile investment?
Design and build quality
At first glance, the Gotrax Glider does not even look like an electric scooter. It has a fairly minimalist, streamlined design that looks like a traditional kick scooter. A closer look reveals a few key differences, such as a thicker handlebar and thicker wheels. Its three color choices (pink, red, and black) give it some visual flair, but we like how the Gotrax Glider has one of the cleanest builds we’ve seen out of the modern electric scooters available today.
The motor of the Gotrax Glider is hidden in its handlebar, so there’s no big battery tank nor are there any conspicuous wires. The handlebar folds inward with just a press of a lever, making the Glider compact for easier transportation and storage. Folded down, the Glider is small enough to fit into larger rucksacks or to stick between your legs when traveling inside crowded buses or trains.
Enhancing the portability of the Gotrax Glider is the fact that it weighs only 17 lbs. – a bit lighter compared to other electric scooters.
The Glider is equipped with a 5.5-inch front tire and a 5-inch rear tire. The tires are lined with solid rubber with a high-quality tread that provides good grip. The rear tire is covered by a mudguard to protect you from spatters when riding on wet or muddy surfaces.
Riding at night is hardly a problem with the Glider’s super-bright LED headlights. These lights can be easily turned off which a switch conveniently located on top of the handlebar. To keep you firmly planted on the scooter, the footplate of the Glider is wide enough for most adults and is lined with a high-quality non-slip surface. If you need to park your Glider, it can be safely positioned upright with a durable kickstand.
Hidden behind the simple design of the Gotrax Glider is its 250W motor, located inside its handlebar. The powerful motor gives the Glider a 256-lb. capacity, enough even for larger adults. The Glider can also move at an incredibly fast maximum speed of 17 mph. At this speed, your commutes are guaranteed to be faster, easier, and much more fun. The Glider can also climb up sloped surfaces with inclines of up to 15 degrees, although it can feel like it’ struggling.
In addition to controlling the LED headlights, the buttons in the handlebar can also be used to switch between two different speed modes. A single LED indicator means that the scooter is in Slow Mode, restricting its speed to around 9 to 10 mph. A press of the control button switches to Top speed, maximizing the power of the motors to hit the 16 to 17 mph speed limit. This is a great feature for parents who want their kids to only cruise around at relatively safer speeds. The slow speed setting works great when you have to ride along crowded areas and can end up saving you if you need to conserve battery power.
The Glider has two brake mechanisms: an electric brake that can be triggered with a button on the handlebar, and a mechanical brake that can be activated by foot near the rear wheel. The brakes are very responsive and allow you to smoothly come to a stop. A throttle button conveniently located right below your thumb when you hold the handlebar can be used to gradually build up speed. The controls of the Gotrax Glider are exceptionally smooth. Although the scooter is marketed towards kids and adults 13 years or older, its controls are intuitive enough for much younger kids to learn (with adult supervision).
Much like other electric scooters, the Glider works with a kick-to-start system that helps avid accidental take-offs and starts the scooter at a speed that the rider is comfortable with. This mechanism also puts less initial pressure on motors, allowing them to conserve energy and start up smoothly.
The biggest limitation of the Glider is due to its small and firm wheels. The use of non-pneumatic wheels helps keep the Glider maintenance-free, so we understand the reasoning behind this design decision. However, the rigidity of the wheels and lack of a suspension system also means that you will feel every bump on the road that the Glider moves over.
The wheels of the Glider are also too small to travel over even mildly uneven surfaces such as grass or a dirt path. This limitation means that you can only get the most out of the Glider on smooth surfaces and paved roads. Riding on remotely off-road conditions can get uncomfortable and will prove to be taxing on the scooter’s battery.
Speaking of the battery, we also found that the Gotrax Glider tends to get slower as its battery continues to get depleted. At half of the battery’s capacity, the Glider feels like its stuck in Slow Mode. Near depletion, the Glider feels like it’s moving at a crawl – around 5 to 6 mph. This might have been deliberately designed to extend the battery life, but it also means you need to keep the Glider fully-charged at all times if you intend to use it as a regular means of personal transportation.
The Gotrax Glider is outfitted with a Li-ion battery that gives it a range of up to 9 miles. Take note that this is the range declared by the manufacturer for riding in optimal conditions. In real life where you would probably need to ride up inclines and over rough terrain, a range of 6 to 7 miles can be reasonably expected. This should be enough for a one-way commute, but you will probably need to plug in your Glider when you get to the school or office. Charging the battery of the Glider takes 2 to 3 hours.
The Glider does not have regenerative battery technology, which could have helped it extends its range. As mentioned, it does come with a feature that limits the speed as the battery depletes, which helps it increase mileage in a single charge. In any case, there is no reason that you cannot use the Glider as a kick scooter should the battery die out completely.
The Gotrax Glider is available for around $320 to $350. This is around an average price for an electric scooter designed for adults.
There are certainly more expensive models such as the Gotrax GXL, which is equipped with larger and more impact-proof wheels. If you’re only looking for an electric scooter for kids, you can also find cheaper models which only cost around $200.
Is it worth it?
In our opinion, the best thing about the Gotrax Glider is its clean, self-contained design that focuses on functionality. It looks fun enough for kids but is not too gaudy to look out of place when used by adults. We like how the Glider can pass for a standard kick scooter, belying how excellently it performs as an electric scooter.
The Glider is outfitted with just the bare minimum features to keep it safe and user-friendly. The bright LED headlights provide visibility at night, and variable speed modes make it appropriate for crowded areas or when used by kids. By focusing on a compact, no-frills design, Gotrax has kept the Glider at a lean weight of only 17 lbs. Combined with a foldable design, the Glider is a perfect electric scooter for commuters.
Despite a simple build, the Gotrax Glider has excellent stability and responsive controls. Riding the Glider is so intuitive that young kids can pick it up in just a few minutes. Although you can find cheaper electric scooters for kids, you would be hard-pressed to find a model that offers the same mileage and speed as the Glider.
Moreover, Gotrax is one of the few US-based manufacturers of electric scooters and other personal transportation devices. Aside from the promise of good quality, they also provide excellent after-sales support.
The Gotrax Glider is an excellent all-around electric scooter that will suit both kids and adults. It gives the best value for money when used as an aid to regular commutes. The Gotrax a little limited in terms of the types of terrain it can travel over, so it might not be for you if you need a scooter with off-road capabilities. It might also be too expensive if you just want to get your kid a new scooter as a toy.