Ninebot Segway ES2 Electric Folding Scooter Review
The ES2 is a folding electric scooter from personal transport experts Segway-Ninebot (yes, that Segway). Used by ride sharing companies Lime and Bird in cities across the US, the scooter has proved itself through thousands of hard rental hours. Combining its stylish, premium appearance with an intuitive user-friendly control system, the ES2 has become the scooter-of-choice for fashion-conscious commuters looking for a final-mile solutions world-wide.
- 15mph (25km/h) top speed,
- 15 mile (25km) range
- 300w front hub motor with an IP54 rating
- Compact 5200mAh battery with fast 3.5hr charge time
- Front and rear suspension
- Sleek, fashionable, folding design weighing just 12.5kg
Ninebot's ES2 has been discontinued, consider these scooters
Unboxing and charging the scooter
Shipping in upmarket white retail packaging with an image of the scooter proudly adorned, Ninebot set the tone for the ES2 experience. Included in the package is the scooter, handlebar, five hex screws with a T-shaped driver, documentation and the charger with power adaptor.
Some assembly is required, unfold the scooter until it clicks and deploy the kickstand. Remove the plug on the tube, connect the multiplug and slip the handlebars into place. Use the wrench to insert the four screws (one spare is provided) and tighten. The ES2 requires activation before you ride, connect via bluetooth to your smartphone using the ninebot app, following the instructions to set it up.
The scooter arrives partially charged but from flat will take just 3.5 hours to charge. During charging a more accurate battery percentage level is usefully shown on the handlebar display above the standard segmented meter.
The cockpit of the ES2 is as sleek and uncluttered as the rest of the scooter. The blue-gripped accelerator lever is mounted to the right, the grey-gripped brake lever to the left with the circular display with inset multi-function button mounted between them.
That button is pressed to power the scooter up but can be tapped to change drive mode, or held to toggle powering the headlight, much like the Xiaomi M365 models. The LED display features the current speed, units, bluetooth status, drive mode and remaining battery capacity, the later shown in 5 segments.
Ninebot have fitted the ES2 with a below-average sized battery. Whilst quick to charge, the 5200mAh unit situated in the steering tube limits just how far you can ride the scooter. Its three drive modes are ECO, Standard and Sport (the later identified by an ‘S’ in a red circle) are shown on the display and are cycled through by double tapping the power button.
Feeding a front mounted 300w (700w peak) hub motor, the scooter accelerates briskly to its top speed of 15.5mph (25km/h) in sport mode. Riding around in the highest power mode (as many of us do) is discouraged as it will severely impact the range, in some cases almost halving it.
Reaching the stated 15 mile (25km) range will require all but the lightest of passengers to approach the throttle with caution, even in the eco drive mode. A compact unit, the charger is designed to work worldwide and can easily be carried along with you in a small bag. Should you deplete the battery the scooter can still be used as a manual kick scooter.
Lights, lights and more lights
A bright white headlight LED sits on the front of the scooter just below the handlebars, it turns on with a long press of the power button. Much like other models it is angled down to light the way close ahead of the scooter, but the reflector spreads the light out for a wider beam. Alongside the rear wheel on the frame are two brake lights. Questionable positioning aside (as they are not visible from directly behind) three LED’s per side light up as you slow down, doubling up as running lights when the headlight is lit.
Further to this, Ninebot have fitted 16 questionable ‘underglow’ LED lights under the footplate.The colour and animation effect (eg. dynamic breathing) of these are configurable through the smartphone app and they do make the scooter a lot more visible at night, yet we feel most will just turn them off.
Companion smartphone app
Available on both Android and iOS the companion app is one of the better designed out there, once you have got past the frustrating signup process. Required for initial activation (if you scooter is beeping at you and feels slow, turn to the app to check) the application allows you to modify energy recovery level, enable cruise control, add speed restrictions, alter the lighting setup and much more.
The app home doubles as a dashboard, displaying current orientation, speed, remaining range and allowing you to lock the scooter, much like the M365. It also has an ‘augmented’ mode that will activate your rear mounted device camera and replace the solid background with the view behind the phone, presumably to minimise the time distracted, not paying attention to where you are going. Beyond the stat readouts Ninebot include a tutorial resource section full of useful tips for getting the most out of your scooter.
A comfortable, reliable ride
Where the ES2 really shines is its ride comfort. A small damper is fitted on top of the front forks, suspending both the handlebars and footplate from shocks through the front wheel. The damper itself has limited travel but saves your wrists from the worst of the vibrations.
At the rear of the scooter Ninebot have hidden a compact, complex swingarm system under the deck. Resisted by a large spring it is suitable for riders of all weights, damping the platform under your feet and is arguably the smartest solution we have seen yet.
The resulting ride is very impressive, the dampers coping admirably with larger surface imperfections damping everything but the biggest hits from potholes. We hope to see a manufacturer employ an advanced system like this in conjunction with pneumatic tyres for the ultimate in ride quality.
Those solid rubber tyres will be particularly attractive to those who ride in puncture prone environments, such as those littered with nails and broken glass. The hard tyres appear to wear slowly (thankfully, replacing the tyres is a time consuming labour-intensive task) and perform well in the dry but they lack grip on cold or wet surfaces.. Despite the small wheel size, the scooter feels stable right up to its 15.5mph (limited) top speed.
Our model tested the suspension to its limits, bottoming out the suspension with his uniquely aggressive riding style and the ES2 coped admirably. Should you plan to treat the scooter in a similar fashion we recommend periodically checking tightness of the four hex bolts that secure the deck to the headset.
Simple to fold, comfortable to carry
Of all the scooters we have tested, the ES2 has by-far the simplest folding down procedure. Flip down the plastic tab at the front of the footplate (just below the orange sticker), then with both hands holding the handlebars, use your heel to firmly strike down on the exposed plastic tab to release the catch. Once you have mastered it the scooter can be collapsed and picked up in seconds.
Much like the M365, the upright clips into the rear guard to retain it. To release, push down on the fender and lift the handlebars up until the upright clicks into place. When not in use, the retaining catch on the tube can be used as a carry hook for small items.
Due to the position of the hinge, the folded scooter cannot be dollied around like some of its competitors, as the front wheel no longer touches the ground. Indeed this design results in a longer package when folded, meaning it may not fit in the boot of some smaller cars.
That aside, the ES2 is by far the most comfortable scooter to carry any distance. With the battery situated in the upright, the majority of the weight is firmly in your hand (which falls naturally to the balance point, the charging port cover) giving you a confident, controlled balance when carrying it.
Dual braking system
Hitting the grey rotating switch on the handlebars initiates the electronic brake. This regenerative system recharges the battery whilst gradually slowing the scooter down. The rear fender doubles up as a friction footbrake, much like a child’s kick scooter, push it down with your heel to manually slow the scooter down. In practice you are only likely to use it in an emergency, and even then we found it very easy to lock the rear wheel up and end up sliding the scooter.
We feel what is gained from this simple, maintenance-free system, is sadly lost in performance. Even utilising both braking methods at once, the ES2 pulls up 10-15% further than the Xiaomi M365 scooters with their mechanical systems and the e-brake-only approach lagged considerably further behind; Ride with caution, this is not a scooter that stops quickly.
The Ninebot ES2 in use
Ergonomic grips and rubber tabbed controls allow you to keep control of the scooter. Its wide footplate is comfortable to stand on, the rubber grip offering great purchase whilst being easy to clean. That stem-mounted display is simple to read and bright enough to be legible on a sunny day.
With the battery weight in the steerer tube, the scooter certainly feels ‘taller’ with its raised centre of gravity. This design decision does gift that rear damper an easier life, restricted to resisting just the passengers weight.
Even with its comparatively small wheels (8 inch) the scooter feels stable at full speed. However those solid tyres do make it one of the louder scooters to ride, with rough surface vibrations rattling their way through the body and trim.
Compared to the competition
With its suspension, the ES2 leads the way in ride comfort, shortly followed by the M365 variants and their large pneumatic tyres. A compact design, it folds down smaller than the M365 but loses out to the InMotion’s L8F, with its collapsing handlebars. Despite weighing a similar amount as its direct competitors it is much more comfortable to carry due to that tube-mounted battery. The torquey front motor puts the performance in-between the M365 and M365 Pro, especially when it comes to inclines on the factory firmware.
As mentioned its braking performance is only average. If you intend to ride in hazardous environments where safety is a concern consider the M365 or larger M365 Pro with their mechanical disc brakes. The scooter features no horn or bell as standard to warn others around you. The Ninebot software is better designed than the competition, featured packed with settings alterations and tutorials on how best to use the ES2. Whilst an awkward metric to gauge, we feel this scooter has turned more heads than anything to date with people everywhere stopping to ask us where we got it.
Should I buy the Segway Ninebot ES2?
If image is important, the Ninebot ES2 should be at the top of your list. It is by far the slickest scooter to date. Unlike other models, all of its bolts and hinges are hidden away with streamlined cladding and rubber trims, its refined appearance oozes quality.
Whilst the brakes are lacklustre, only its range really lets it down, around 8-9 miles in the real world should you, like us, ride in the higher-power modes. In Ninebot’s defence (and to put it in context with the rest of the market) this no more inflated than the competition’s range promises. If range is important, consider purchasing the ES4 variant with its extended range battery.
The Segway Ninebot ES2 folding electric scooter is available from Scooters Direct today with free next-working-day delivery.