Segway Ninebot ES4 / Battery upgrade Review
Sat at the top of the Ninebot scooter range is the ES4. Based on the fantastic ES models it features puncture-proof solid rubber tyres, suspension front and rear, a powerful hub-motor in the front wheel and a simple folding mechanism all wrapped up in a sleek body with a premium feel.
- 19 mph (30km/h) top speed,
- 28 mile (40km) range
- 300w front hub motor with an IP54 rating
- Huge 374Wh battery
- Advanced front and rear suspension
- Sleek, fashionable, accessible folding design weighing 14kg
The ES4 difference
Simply put, Ninebot’s ES4 is the ES2 scooter with an auxiliary battery fitted. The base unit is identical, retaining the relaxed riding position, comfortable suspension and clean looks of its ES siblings. Doubling the battery capacity naturally increases the range but also unlocks some extra performance from its front-mounted hub-motor, increasing both top speed and hill climbing ability.
Installing the battery expansion
If you order your ES4 from scooters direct it will likely come with this battery factory-fitted. The upgrade kit is a user-end addition to the ES1 and ES2 scooters, it arrives in a brown cardboard box containing the battery itself and a fixing kit with tools and instructions.
Installation is straightforward, remove the three black hex screws on the stem using the included allen wrench. Pop-off the plastic cover below the charger port and remove the two hex bolts holding the plastic mount to the stem to reveal the charge port. Install the support bracket, refitting the three screws, clip the battery pack onto it, secure the battery with two new hex bolts before finally popping the (sided) rubber bungs to cover the holes.
The scooter firmware will need updating before you ride, connect your smartphone via bluetooth using the Segway Ninebot app. As you can see the scooter views the two battery
Charging the ES4
With the charge port covered by the new battery, the scooter is charged via the new pass-through port found under a flap on-top of the expansion battery. Above this port is a new button that when pressed, will light up to four LEDs to indicate the remaining charge level in this particular battery.
Using the standard charger on this larger total capacity inevitably means longer charge times. When completely depleted the ES4 will take 7 hours for a full charge.
ES2 design excellence
As an upgrade the ES4 retains the design features, supple suspension and build quality of its ES2 sibling. This includes the most straight-forward folding design on the market, the scooter can be dropped and clipped in a matter of seconds.
Drop the plastic release catch at the front of the grip and step down on it to release the catch. Lower the handlebars down until the steerer tube latch hooks into the rear mudguard.
With the expansion battery, the natural hand hold (the charge port) removed and the weight balance altered, the ES4 is less comfortable to pick up, but now weighing 14kg it is unlikely that you would want to carry it any distance.
As mentioned, the underlying scooter is identical to the ES2 unit we recently reviewed in detail. The blue-gripped right-hand switch controls the throttle to the 300w front-hub-motor, but much like its competitors, a push is required before it will kick in. Across the bars, the grey-gripped switch by your left-hand activates the brakes. Pressing the brake with the throttle depressed will override any acceleration attempts and will engage the front-hub e-brake. The rear mudguard still operates as a friction brake for use in emergency situations.
Wave goodbye to range anxiety
With the auxiliary battery installed, the effective capacity is expanded from 187 Wh to 374 Wh. Double the capacity sadly doesn’t equal double the effective range. Whilst it is a huge improvement over the original scooter, we failed to hit the manufacturers suggested 28 mile (45km) maximum range, instead reaching the low 20’s in the eco mode.
In ES4 ‘trim’, the scooter does receive a performance boost raising the motors maximum power to 800w peak. This unlocks the top speed to a more useful ~19mph (30km/h) in the highest power mode and allows the scooter to tackle gradients up to an impressive 15 degrees (26%).
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 monitor the battery charge levels in both the standard and auxiliary battery, 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.
Riding the ES4
Ninebot’s ES2 frame was always comfortable to ride on all but the roughest of surfaces and the extra weight of the auxiliary battery doesn’t harm its performance. Sadly the extra weight sat on the upright, does somewhat unbalance the scooter under braking. With the regeneration set to maximum, hitting the brakes results in a particularly nose-heavy sensation.
The added boost of power is evident in all the ride modes and makes the scooter sprightly even on the standard firmware. In the most powerful sports mode it is possible to get the front wheel spinning on slippery surfaces, something to bear in mind when riding in the winter.
Compared to the competition
Overall the improvements enhance the Ninebot ES models to a competitive position in the market. Ninebot directly addressed one of the ES2’s biggest shortcomings with the ES4, its range, bolting on the extra battery to extend the range to a more useful 20+miles. Despite numerous new releases into the market, the ES2/4 is (subjectively) one of the more aesthetically pleasing scooters around, even with the additional battery ‘hump’.
As mentioned mounting the battery on the stem means it is no longer as easy to hold when carrying, the additional weight aside. The Ninebot software continues to offer a better experience than the competition, with an extra panel in the battery readout to view the status of each battery individually.
However considering its base as the ES2, the ES4 naturally suffers some of the same issues that marked the original down. The braking performance is still mediocre and stopping distances are effectively extended as a byproduct of slowing from the higher top speed. We maintain that 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 instead.
Should I buy one?
As per our original review, if image is important, the Ninebot scooters should be at the top of your list. They are by far the slickest scooters to date with a refined appearance that oozes quality. With the previous range issues addressed, only the poor braking performance holds them back from being our favourite model yet.