If you are keen to get in on the electric scooter trend, the Kugoo S1 is fun, compact, fast, and has a good battery–just don't expect a smooth ride!
Electric scooters are gaining popularity, and there are options at the budget end of the market worth considering. Many are advertised as transport for the last mile, or urban commuting vehicles. All of them are way too much fun.
Today we are looking at the Kugoo S1, a low price electric scooter that promises 30km (18 miles) of range and speeds of up to 30km/h (18mph).
Join us as we take a look at these claims, and work out if budget electric scooters are the future of urban transport, or just an expensive toy!
The S1 is available for $339.99 from GeekBuying, which puts it at the budget end of the price range. Not much comes in the box. Alongside the scooter, you get the 42V 1.5A charging pack, and a comprehensive but straightforward manual.
The manual suffers a little from translation but covers everything needed to get started. The scooter charges via a connector next to the primary hinge and a red/green LED indicator on the charge pack shows when charging finishes. Charge time is around 4 hours from empty to full.
Whenever you receive anything you plan to ride on or in, the first thing to do is check it for safety. I found the S1 to be put together well. Nothing needs tightening, and the build feels solid. Before finding out just how terrifying 30km/h on a scooter is, let’s look at the specs.
Kugoo S1: In Numbers
- Range: 30km (18 miles)
- Max Speed: 30km/h (18mph)
- Brakes: Front regenerative magnetic brake, back stomp brake
- Charge Time: 4 hours
- Battery Power: 36v 8.8AH Li-Ion 18650
- Motor Power: 350W
- Max Weight: 120KG
- Max Torque: 13.3N.M
- Climbing Gradient: 15°
- Wheels: 8.5 inch non-pneumatic non-slip
- Weight: 11 Kg
- Display: 7 x 4cm (2.8 X 1.5 Inch) OLED color display
- Price: $339.99 at time of review ($329.99 if you use coupon code AFF150_KUGOOS1)
A couple of things jump out immediately from these specs.
Kugoo has priced the S1 a little cheaper than the Xiaomi M365, the most obvious competitor. The differences don’t stop there either.
The 350W motor is more powerful than the M365 and many others at this price. It weighs less, but can take more weight, and has a faster claimed top speed.
One notable difference is the inclusion of allegedly “Military Grade” non-pneumatic wheels made seemingly from some kind of hardened rubber. The S1 does, however, have shocks front and back to compensate for the lack of air in the tires.
Also missing here is a rear disc brake. The S1 uses a front mounted regenerative magnet brake and a rear stomp brake which is confusingly listed as an emergency brake in the manual.
On paper, the S1 looks good. Does the experience match up to the numbers?
Unfolding the S1 is intuitive. The back brake doubles as a catch to hold the folded scooter together. The main hinge clicks into place easily, and the adjustable height bars are held in place with a quick release clamp. The bars clip into the main display and feel surprisingly robust given their design.
The S1 turns on using one of 5 buttons mounted to the OLED display. The color display is easy to see even in bright conditions and displays your current speed, speed setting from one to three, battery level, and a choice between total distance traveled, current trip travel and elapsed time.
Two thumb paddles control acceleration and braking. Setting off was smooth, and acceleration is constant. The scooter defaults to speed 1 which presumably is the speed that the 30KM range is based on.
Before trying the S1, I assumed Kugoo would have added the lowest speed setting as a way of claiming massive range, and it would be too slow to actually be useful or fun. I was surprised to find that even the lowest speed settings were more than fast enough for moving around a smooth surfaced urban environment.
Practicality aside, I was expecting to have to crank up the speed to have fun, and I was wrong. The speedometer measured 17km/h (10mph) maximum for speed setting 1, and if I were trying to conserve battery life, I’d be perfectly happy traveling this fast.
That said, speed settings 2 and 3 topped out at 22 and 28km/h (14 and 17mph), and felt significantly faster. I weigh 80KG, so the claimed top speed of 30km/h is certainly possible.
Just to make sure that the onboard display was accurate I set up a rudimentary speed test to measure distance traveled per elapsed camera frame. I found the speedometer to be accurate.
Personal experiences will of course vary, but I found the top speed of this scooter to be in that sweet spot where fun meets certain injury if something goes wrong.
In other words—if you want speed at a low budget you will not be disappointed. Just don’t come to us if you break a collarbone or two.
My first experience with the left thumb-activated brake was… interesting. Having read up on the Kugoo S1 before starting, I was assuming to find the braking force underwhelming. I found the opposite to be true, and the regenerative magnetic brake took a large chunk off my speed instantly, causing me almost to jump over the front bars.
After adjusting to this, I found it to be relatively easy to judge when to start braking, and as my time with the S1 continued I found that the brake mellowed out somewhat.
While the stopping power of the brake is okay for usage in a controlled environment, the claimed stopping distance of 4 meters seems to only apply to the lowest speed setting.
The rear foot brake also triggers the front brake, and according to the manual is only for emergencies. Anyone coming from a non-electric scooter will find this a strange adjustment.
I’m not entirely convinced that the back brake did trigger the front either. I noticed a marked difference when using the thumb trigger in conjunction with the stomp brake, despite the manual warning me not to, and the combination of both brought the stopping distance down significantly.
I don’t quite understand the omission of a disc brake on the back wheel of the S1. Perhaps it was a price saving measure, or they just thought it wasn’t needed, but I feel it could have added an extra level of stopping power.
Nevertheless, at no point did I feel out of control with the Kugoo S1, though I can imagine those less experienced with scooters falling foul of the odd brake setup. Also, be wary of the potential savage first few hours of brake use!
Riding the Kugoo S1 is as smooth as the surface you choose to ride on. As predicted, the lack of air in the tires does make a difference. While it is an advantage on smooth ground and contributes to the feeling of speed, as soon as you move off the smooth ground you are going to feel it!
The front and rear shocks likely contribute to a slightly more comfortable ride, but I found my wrists and feet to be aching after my first day riding. I spent a lot more time on the S1 than most people would on their commute, so this might not be a big deal for some people. If comfort is an issue, you may want to look for something with pneumatic tires.
When folded, the S1 measures 95 x 34 x 18.5 cm (37 x 13 x 7 Inches) and will fit in any car boot. This is mostly due to the way the bars fold down. The design of these bars is one of the coolest features of the Kugoo S1. Folding them out locks them into place, and two thumb buttons release them.
When unfolded, the handlebars can operate at three heights. I measure 180cm and found the second and third settings to be equally comfortable, though I can imagine taller folks being glad of the highest setting.
Folding the S1 requires a combination of pressing down on the release catch and jerking forward the handlebars. This movement is easier to learn with the front wheel up against a wall, but without following a video on how to fold it I wouldn’t have worked it out.
The catch is so stiff that you will feel like you are doing something wrong, and I was close to breaking out the hammer when I finally worked it out. This makes sense, as you don’t want this thing folding by accident on you at 30 km/h!
At 24 pounds, The Kugoo S1 is a little lighter than the Xiaomi M365, but this isn’t enough of a difference to matter. The technology that powers electric scooters is heavy, and there is no easy way to get around it. Premium scooters employ carbon fiber bodies to save weight, but ultimately big battery packs are heavy components.
Depending on the user, the S1 can be carried in one hand, but the weight combined with the center of balance makes it unwieldy at best. If you plan to keep this scooter in the garage and just move it into your car boot, it’s not a problem, but if you need to carry it up a set of stairs every day be prepared for a workout.
The stated battery range of 30km will be a big draw for many people. Once again, this figure is highly dependent on the weight of the user, along with the environmental temperature, with colder temperatures resulting in less range. The weather was generally good throughout my testing. The battery drained thoroughly twice during testing. Once at 22km, and once at 15km.
Bear in mind this was using multiple speed settings interchangeably and over many different surfaces. Given its performance over my usage, I have no reason to believe that the 30km isn’t attainable on the lowest speed setting. This battery life should be more than adequate for commuting between a car or train and workplace, or for having fun on a day out.
The S1 has 26 front mounted LEDs as a headlight, and a small red LED backlight. Both work fine for visibility, and the front mounted LEDs are bright enough for some evening use. I wouldn’t want to be going full speed in the dark relying solely on them, but they’re fine otherwise.
The kickstand works, and the scooter can be left standing upright. You really don’t want to forget to put it up before you set off though or you may catapult yourself.
Unfortunately, it is attached to the bottom of the scooter in such a way that the scooter can never lie flat on the floor. Not only this, but the metal kickstand edge when folded will scratch your floor. This was clearly an afterthought to an otherwise well-designed scooter.
The Kugoo S1 has no smartphone app, though its large display up front makes one somewhat unnecessary, and the need for a dedicated app for your scooter is dubious at best anyway.
Should You Buy One?
The Kugoo S1 is a tremendous amount of fun, at times the kind of fun that may land you in an ambulance, though that would be no fault of the scooter! Its only main downfall is the lack of air in the tires and the lack of a rear disc brake, but neither of these things are problematic enough to cause any problems.
Before you purchase, you should check local laws. Riding an electric scooter or Segway on a public road or path is illegal in the UK, which makes this decidedly less useful there.
There are other scooters close to this price that may give a more comfortable ride, but the S1 delivers on the three main things it promises. It has a great range, it’s fast, and it folds down to a small size.
For $339.99 can you really ask for more?