In a world designed for cars, getting around any other way can be a challenge. Biking can leave you a dripping pile of sweat, public transit is hit-or-miss in many cities and often nonexistent in the suburbs, and walking long distances can be an drag. So how do you get from A to B without resorting to a car?
One new option: Boosted’s $1,599 Rev electric scooter, designed to function as your personal steed for neighborhood escapades. A step above on-demand e-scooters from companies like Bird and Lime, the Rev is nimble, sturdy, and has enough juice to get you where you’re going. The Rev might just change how you think about personal transportation — assuming you can stomach the cost, which, assuming the average Bird or Lime rental costs $3, is equivalent to just over 533 on-demand e-scooter rides. Other e-scooters, like the Xiaomi Mi Electric Scooter and Ninebot KickScooter, cost $399 and $769 by comparison.
The Rev looks nondescript from a distance, but get up close and you’ll notice how substantial it is. With its black and silver color scheme, the Rev looks tough, with wide wheels for a more stable ride. Its three modes let everyone from beginners to experts enjoy a slower, more energy-efficient ride or experience the thrill of instant acceleration. On my first ride, a neighbor stopped me to talk about the Rev after seeing me carve a corner like some Thanksgiving ham.
“This might be the one,” I said, out of breath. He nodded, then asked “How much?” His eyebrows understandably shot up when I told him the sticker price.
At its fastest, the Rev can hit 24 miles per hour, quick enough to get past all but the fastest bikers or keep up with slower traffic. And boy, does 24 miles per hour feel like more than enough speed on a scooter. The 22-mile-range battery showed no signs of strain while I went full throttle, nor did it complain when I drove the Rev uphill (it can handle hills with up to a 25% grade). A three-hour charge should refill the Rev’s battery for yet another joyride. Regenerative braking adds some life back to the battery while you ride, too.
A screen integrated into the Rev’s stem and handlebar displays an odometer, battery life, and ride mode, along with a single button handling everything from power to Bluetooth pairing to toggling through ride modes. You can connect the Rev to the Boosted app to modify your ride settings, check your total distance, and battery life. On the right is the throttle wheel, which doubles as a brake. When stowing the Rev, its stem doubles as a handle with a latch that clicks into the rear fender brake. While some pre-production units had issues with the latch disengaging, the two Rev scooters I rode had no such issue, and Boosted says the problem has since been fixed. The Rev’s kickstand and metal wrap tube that surrounds the body lets you secure it to your nearest bike rack, saving you the trouble of carrying the hefty scooter inside. Unfortunately, since that wrap tube is so close to the ground, you’ll be kneeling more often than not, which gets annoying. Furthermore, there’s no security setting in the Rev app for added peace of mind.
While riding the Rev is plenty of fun, lugging it around is significantly less so. It’s heavy, weighing about 47 pounds, plenty more than the typical commuter bike. If you live on the ground floor or you stash it in your garage, that’s no problem. But when you have to take it up a flight of stairs or two or three, every pound feels like a not-so-friendly reminder that you should really hit the gym. Nor is the Rev particularly portable — while it has a smaller footprint than a bike, you still wind up having to treat it like one, locking it up outside and risking it being stolen. After all, most restaurants, bars and other establishments aren’t exactly fond of letting someone in straining to carry a nearly 50-pound scooter from the front door to the backyard.
Although the Rev might look like a great city ride, my experience suggests otherwise. Here in New York, the wooden planks lining the Brooklyn Bridge left my teeth rattling, the cobblestone streets scattered throughout TriBeCa looked (and felt) like an accident waiting to happen, and my construction-project-ridden Bed-Stuy neighborhood forced me onto the equally uneven sidewalks more often than not. The dual motors and responsive throttle were great for getting out of sticky situations, like getting caught between a parked car and a speeding moving truck. But the Rev’s construction, lacking any significant shock absorption, makes me wonder if it’ll provide the same stability six months in. The Rev would likely thrive in a suburban environment or college town. Smoother streets, wide sidewalks, fewer high-rise buildings, and more spaces amenable to bikes or scooters would make it the king of the road, helping you ditch whatever abysmal public transit you’d be dealing with otherwise.
So the Rev isn’t quite the perfect electric scooter — not yet, anyway. A handle for toting or rolling it — a feature found on smaller, less capable scooters — would be ideal. Furthermore, the Rev’s footprint would be reduced dramatically if you could store it vertically, saving apartment dwellers precious square footage and reducing the amount of time it’ll spend out in the open. And that price tag is a doozy, of course.
Should you get a Boosted Rev? If you can afford one, and you think it’ll be a good match for your typical commute and environment, go for it. As long as you’re not expecting to use it for grocery shopping or road trips, the Rev is a great option for people looking to get around their city a bit more often with less effort. You’d be hard-pressed to find an electric scooter with comparable battery life, construction quality and speed. But for anyone with misgivings — or those who live upstairs without an elevator — maybe wait until Boosted makes a version more considerate of your upper body strength. Then again, there is one alternative: just ride it to the gym.