E-scooters are an interesting form of “e-thing,” our term for the devices that are popping up in our Cambrian explosion of micromobility options and devices. As one reader noted recently, “Long live the eThings! This is a wonderful period of exploration.” The Bo e-scooter is a very different beast than the shared e-scooters from Lime and Bird that people complain are begriming sidewalks around the world. Almost all of the problems with e-scooters start with rental e-scooters, where people may not know how to ride them properly and park them anywhere. Nobody who owns a Bo e-scooter is going to abandon it in the middle of the sidewalk—it costs $2,400.
The problems with regular e-scooters are legion: The wheels are small and hard. When I was riding one in Lisbon on their marble sidewalks, I thought my teeth would shake out. Since the rider is standing, the center of gravity is high and this makes them unstable. They are great fun and useful transportation, but it certainly seemed to me that they could be a lot better, and probably a lot safer.
The Bo appears to address many of these problems. According to Bo CEO Oscar Morgan, “We spent 3 years developing the Bo M for everyone who can see the potential of the e-scooter, but who finds today’s scooters too unsafe, impractical for daily use, or simply not well designed.” It has what they call Safesteer, described as “a one-of-a-kind dynamic steering stabilization feature to increase rider safety and enjoyment.” Unusually for an e-scooter, it doesn’t fold.
“Aware that to some it is controversial, we made a conscious decision to eliminate the fold, launching Bo M with an unbroken Monocurve chassis,” said Bo CTO Harry Wills. “Bo M is designed for commuters traveling home to work who value exceptional ride, safety, and reliability above all else. Creating this new category, between a traditional e-scooter and an e-bike, our research discovered that the majority of people seldom or never use the fold. It represented a point of weakness, so that directed us to this final design.”
The Bo has 10-inch pneumatic tires and a special shock-absorbing deck so that it is not teeth-rattling. It has a 31-mile range, a 500-watt motor, regenerative braking, and a top speed of 24 miles per hour, depending on regulation. And of course, there are anti-theft systems and GPS tracking.
One of the big benefits of e-scooters is they are light and fold up, so you can take them wherever you go. The Bo does not fold and it weighs 40 pounds, which makes it a different kind of e-thing. So the company has also designed a different kind of storage. It’s a docking station with a monolithic, vertically integrated solar PV panel that charges an internal 2-kilowatt-hour battery in the day and charges the Bo M at night.
Morgan commented in a statement: “An essential feature of the Bo team is that we are scooter users, as well as designers and engineers. When we compared car ownership to life with the Bo M, security and ease of charging stood out as areas of opportunity to build a great rider experience. Bo M is highly efficient, with energy consumption as low as 15Wh per mile. This opened up the potential for a compact, stand-alone charge and security solution which could deliver meaningful range.”
My first reaction was that this is silly. If you have an e-thing that only consumes 15-watt-hours per mile and “can consume less energy in a week of commuting than a single hot shower,” then why bother? I really don’t think it makes much sense to park a scooter out in the rain on an expensive docking station when it is in front of a house with a big garage where you could plug it into a small charger.
However, the docking station doesn’t need an electric outlet so it can be put anywhere. One can imagine many places where this might be useful, including commuter train stations and office buildings that now have vast concrete parking garages. Cities and employers would be better off just giving people these instead of building those lots.
Perhaps the more important feature is the security technology, which is impressive. A secure place to park is one of the three pillars of the e-revolution. The security system is based on its own three pillars: mechanical, e-secure, and service-secure:
Mechanical-secure: Inaccessible, high-tensile steel pins deploy through the Bo M, fixing it securely to the base plate of the Bo E.
E-secure: Tamper sensors trigger high decibel audio alarm, camera filming, and live playback along with 4G notification to your smartphone. This is all synced with Bo M’s onboard alarm, GPS tracking, and audio alarms.
Service Secure: Bo is building the specification for an insurance product that reflects the increased safety of the vehicle when secured with Bo E.
E-scooters are an interesting niche. It is clear we have to separate the issues that come with shared scooters compared to privately owned units. A Swiss study found that shared e-scooters do not replace cars, but trips taken by foot, bike, or public transport. It also found that privately owned scooters last much longer and have a much lower carbon footprint. The Bo E is a very different e-thing.
We have noted before that e-bikes and e-scooters are climate action, and welcome the Bo to the party.
September 28, 2022