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This Space-Age Electric Scooter Has Steering-Assist And A Controversial Design

This Space-Age Electric Scooter Has Steering-Assist And A Controversial Design

By Dave McQuilling

Published on Slash Gear

A next-generation e-scooter has been announced — but not everyone is happy about it. After three years of development, micro-mobility startup bo has announced its M scooter that promises to "set new standards in safety, comfort and design." The model boasts innovative and exciting features across a number of areas ranging from lighting to safety to the cushioned grippy material the rider is expected to stand on. Bo has suggested its vehicle is suitable for everyday use and commuting, as opposed to the recreational or short-distance purposes e-scooters are often used for. 

The target audience appears to be commuters in large metropolitan areas like London. In a press release, bo CEO Oscar Morgan outlined the company's goals for the M, saying, "Our mission has been to develop game-changing features and safety enhancements such as Safesteer, whilst using our experience in automotive design to build a scooter people feel proud to own and ride." The experience Morgan talks about is far from minor. The startup was founded in 2019 by a team of "Formula One Advanced Engineering and Automotive designers," according to the company. As you may expect from a group of talented individuals who all forged careers in one of the world's most competitive environments — their ambitions were high. 

The team at bo is aiming to help the world transition away from the car and toward the highly efficient, practical electric vehicles they are designing and producing. The bo M is available for pre-order from bo.world with an MSRP of $2,399 USD. Financing is also available at a rate of $79 per month. Those who pre-order a bo M can expect their scooter to ship at some point next spring.

The M is a scooter for the future

Safety features of the M include a 360-degree Light Halo, a high-powered headlight, and a riding stabilization system called Safesteer. The light halo rings the scooter's chassis with bo's Daytime Running Light in an attempt to make the scooter and its rider stand out on the road. Just like a car's headlights, an increase in visibility can help other road users spot the M rider coming and should drastically reduce the chances of an accident. A high-power headlight increases the rider's visibility in low light situations too, helping them spot and avoid potential hazards whatever the conditions. The real star of the show is Safesteer, which increases the rider's control and confidence in the scooter by stabilizing the steering amid road blemishes for an overall smoother trip. While this is a major benefit for experienced riders, it should also allow new riders to hop on the scooter with far less anxiety.

All of these features are based around the monocurve chassis, which bo describes as a "foundational shift in vehicle design and engineering." It is the part of the scooter that has been heavily based around "automotive principles," according to the company, and binds together all of the innovative parts that make the M what it is. The scooter's aluminum construction promises durability and rigidity while keeping things lightweight. This all plays into the scooter's geometry, which bo claims has been optimized for stability and ergonomics. Design features include a 3-foot wheelbase, a wider handlebar, and an optimized 76-degree steering angle to increase control and handling.

Comfort and practicality are on offer

Scooters obviously aren't an ideal transport option when you need to take a lot of things with you. Yes, you can throw on a backpack and keep your balance, but there's only so much you can fit in a single bag. Bo has considered this and produced what may possibly be the most luggage-friendly e-scooter in the known universe (for now, at least). Because of how stable the chassis is, the M's designers have been able to add a pair of load hooks riders can hang an extra bag or two from. The "steel dual mount system," as the company calls it, also provides a secure point that riders can use to lock their bike when it's parked. A bike lock is far from the only security feature — there's also GPS tracking, motor locking, loud anti-tamper alarms, and a cell phone notification system in place to make sure the scooter stays in your possession.

You can ride an M scooter for up to around 31 miles on a single charge. The scooter's "tubeless pneumatic tyres" are said to help increase grip, boost ride comfort, and reduce the risk of punctures as you rack up those miles. There is also a comfort system based on high-end sneakers to help reduce stress on a rider's body during the daily commute. The so-called airdeck, meanwhile, is designed to increase comfort and reduce vibrations from the road, which has allowed bo to simplify the scooter's suspension system.

The scooter has the potential to cause controversy

Bo's e-scooter was never meant to be conventional. However, there is a danger that the ditching of a long-established mechanical element may cause some debate and controversy within the e-scooter community. The change involves the hinge most e-scooters have between the stem and the deck, which bo has removed entirely, meaning the M is un-foldable. It's too early to say if bo's choices will lead to a full-blown scooter civil war, but the company is standing by its decision, with CTO Harry Willis saying, "Aware that to some it is controversial, we made a conscious decision to eliminate the fold, launching bo M with an unbroken Monocurve chassis."

The startup argues that the benefits of ditching "the fold" outweigh any inconveniences. Those claimed benefits include increased ride quality, safety, and reliability. "It represented a point of weakness, so that directed us to this final design," Willis said. The downsides are essentially limited to the scooter taking up more space when not in use. This may not even be an issue at all, with bo claiming the majority of people never even bother to fold their scooters in the first place. They also claim this puts the M in an entirely new category, with it hovering somewhere between a classic e-scooter and a larger, more practical, e-bike. Sometimes change is good.

Continue reading at Slash Gear

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