I love electric scooters. They offer the fun and freedom of two wheels, the stability and road presence of a motor vehicle, and the environmental impact of a super efficient electric vehicle. Electric scooters and mopeds have already taken over Asia and Europe, but the US doesn’t have quite as many options. That’s why I was so excited for the chance to try out a Bloom Scooter, which is sold by California-based Ampere Motors.
At $1,999, the scooter is ultra-affordable – at least compared to other electric scooters. I’ve spent the last few weeks commuting on a Bloom Scooter to see how well a budget electric scooter performs. The answer: pretty well, though with some important caveats. Read on to learn more.
[Update: The original version of this article included a section about how Bloom Scooters featured photos and videos of NIU scooters on their website in addition to photos and videos of the actual Bloom Scooter. I felt the use of NIU’s photos and videos was misleading. When I asked Bloom Scooters about it, they gave me multiple answers ranging from “the photos were used for aesthetic reasons” to “Ampere offers the NIU scooters in other counties now but in the US we have decided to offer the current Bloom style.”
After the article ran, Ampere Motors updated the Bloom Scooter site with new photos of their scooter instead of the previous photos of NIU scooters. They have asked us to update the article to reflect these changes. If you visit the Bloom Scooter website now, you will no longer see any misleading photos.]
The Bloom Scooter is sold by Ampere Motors, though it isn’t made in the US like some other electric scooters we’ve reviewed. It’s an imported scooter that works pretty well, and Ampere says that final assembly and QC is performed in the US. The scooter gets delivered to customers in a steel crate and is fairly easy to unbox (see my unboxing video at the end of the article below).
Bloom Scooter Video Review
Let’s get to the scooter
Alright, I had to get that out of the way first because it irks me when there isn’t truth in advertising. But we’re here to see how good the scooter that actually showed up is. So let’s get started with the specs.
- Top speed: 25 mph (40 km/h) as tested (Bloom says the new batch of scooters can reach 40 mph (64 km/h)
- Range: Ampere Motors says most of their customers achieve 40-55 miles (64-88 km) of range
- Battery capacity: 1.58 kWh
- Battery type: Sealed lead acid (6 x 12V 22Ah)
- Motor: 1,000 W claimed (likely more)
- Max riders: 2
- Max suggested load: 300 lb (136 kg)
- Brakes: Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes
- Storage: Below seat (large enough for a small half helmet, not 3/4 or full size helmet) and cup holder/bag clip in front of legs
To be fair, they told me that they can adjust the top speed based on local regulations, and because my state (Massachusetts) has a 30 mph limit for mopeds, they set mine at 25 mph. I’m not sure I follow the logic there (why not set it to 30 mph if it is truly adjustable?), and it feels to me like the scooter might just be a 25 mph scooter, but I’ll take them at their word on that one. If you get one for yourself, ask for a 40 mph setting and let me know what shows up.
In terms of range, I got the batteries down to about 74 V after 15 miles (25 km). That’s 12.3 V per battery, which is about 50% charge for SLA batteries. Ampere Motors says that most of their customers get more range, to the tune of 40-55 mi (65-88 km).
[Update: The company reached out to say that their current batch of scooters are 30-40 mph, and that they can provide a controller swap to make mine hit those speeds.]
What I like about the Bloom Scooter
Let’s start with the good stuff.
The scooter is surprisingly peppy off the line. When you twist the throttle, you really take off. That’s why I think this thing can’t have just a 1,000 W motor – it has to be more than that. It just feels too powerful on the low-end. That power tapers off pretty quickly though, so by the time you hit 15 mph or so, you don’t feel quite so powerful. But from rest, the scooter absolutely launches.
I also love the seat. It’s one of the most comfortable I’ve ridden. It’s super plush and feels great.
The ability to carry a passenger is also awesome. Not only that, but it has a little backrest for the passenger, which my wife definitely appreciates. And I don’t have to worry about her slipping off the back when the scooter launches, so that’s a plus for me too. In fact, my wife said that out of all of my electric scooters, mopeds and motorcycles, she likes the Bloom Scooter the best from the passenger’s perspective. So the scooter definitely scores a win there.
It’s also just a lot of fun to ride. The Bloom Scooter is highly nimble. It can weave around obstacles and between cars like it was built for it. Because, well, that’s exactly what it was built for.
The horn is also surprisingly loud. Horns on budget scooters are usually an afterthought, but this one actually works quite well. The combination of a side stand AND and center stand are also awesome. You usually get one or the other. Side stands are great for a quick dismount, while center stands are more stable – especially on loose ground like grass and dirt. So it’s awesome to have the option to choose one or the other depending on the conditions.
The suspension kind of baffles me. At first I wasn’t a fan, but it seems to have gotten better over time. I wasn’t aware that suspension was a part that needed to break in, but perhaps it is on this scooter. It has a fairly diminutive front suspension fork and dual springs on the rear. I’m not sure if there’s any true dampening in either the front or rear suspension though. Bumps in the road cause a series of bounces on the scooter, which makes me think it’s just spring suspension – no dampeners.
But I’ve also found that with two people on the scooter, the suspension seems to work better. Granted I’m only 150 lb and my wife barely breaks triple digits, but the extra weight seems to help the suspension smooth out even more. So heavier riders might find the suspension even more comfortable.
I like that there is also an alarm function built into the key fob, which works for added theft protection. That won’t stop a couple of guys from just picking up the scooter and tossing it into a van, but it will at least make a commotion while they do it. If you didn’t lock your scooter to something solid, then the heavy sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries will definitely make it harder to steal though.
I’m not sure how heavy the scooter is, but even rocking it up onto the center stand takes a decent amount of arm and leg strength – I’m not sure my wife could do it by herself. Those batteries are heavy. Speaking of which, it’s time for the downsides.
What I don’t like about the Bloom Scooter
As fun and convenient as the Bloom Scooter is, there are some problems here.
The sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries were quite a let down. I had assumed they would be lithium-ion. To be fair, nowhere on the site does it say they are lithium. But it doesn’t say they are lead acid either. The spec sheet simply says “maintenance free batteries” and I haven’t seen a scooter with lead acid batteries in years. In the US and Europe, nearly all electric scooters use Li-ion batteries, though most electric scooters in Asia still use lead acid batteries. But at this price, I guess Li-ion batteries must be hard to swing.
To be fair, the lead acid batteries don’t really make much of a difference while riding. You won’t notice them while you’re cruising around, having fun on the scooter. But they do affect other important factors including charging, range, and lifespan. I asked the company about the batteries, and they said that while they used to offer a lithium-ion battery version for an extra $800, they preferred to offer the SLA version to achieve a lower price point.
You can’t remove the batteries to charge (partly because you probably couldn’t lift them all at once). So you’ll need to find a ground level outlet to charge from. I’m living in an apartment building, which makes that a bit of a problem. Fortunately, I spied a Chevy Volt in our building’s parking garage and followed its charging cable back to the only external 110V outlet in the complex. From there I was able to run a super long extension cord to my scooter. If you live in a private home or have ground level outlets then you’ll be fine. But if you live on the 10th floor of an apartment building, that might be an issue.
Lead acid also doesn’t last as long as lithium-ion, by a factor of around 3 to 5x. People will tell you that’s not true. But they’re lying to you. The lifespan of lead acid drops off fairly quickly. After 200-300 cycles, your batteries are going to be providing a fraction of what they used to. You can increase the lifespan of lead acid batteries by not discharging them to below 50% charge – but then you’ll be cutting your effective range in half. All of this is to say that lead acid batteries aren’t necessarily bad – they just aren’t as good as lithium-ion. They are an older technology that still works, but not as well as today’s offerings.
The next issue is the speedometer. It is hilariously inaccurate. It’s not off by a little bit, it’s off by about 65%. It tells me I’m going 66 km/h when GPS tells me I’m going 40 km/h. I’m going to trust a network of military satellites over the cheap speedo on this one. Oh yea, and the display is in kilometers, not miles. But the company says future models will have miles instead of kilometers. The inaccuracy on mine though is a bit of a bummer. But to be fair, at 25 mph it’s not like I need to make sure I’m not speeding or anything. Hopefully this issue is just a software bug that they can update.
That 25 mph limit does get a bit annoying over time. If this thing went even just 5 mph faster, it’d be a pretty awesome city scooter. At 25 mph though, I am often holding up traffic on roads posted 25-30 mph, which are common in most cities. The top speed doesn’t matter when you hit traffic, which is what you’ll find most of the time in many urban areas, but when I get to open roads I find myself wishing for more speed while watching the car in my mirror jockeying for a chance to pass me.
Again, the company says they can set the scooter for anywhere from 20-40 mph, but if that was the case then I assume they would have set mine to 30 mph, since they said they knew that was my state’s moped speed limit.
Next is the suspension. I mentioned it earlier and said that it was decent. And it is. But it’s only decent. If you live in sunny Florida or southern California and never get freezing temperatures that pockmark your roads, then it’s probably fine. But hitting potholes at high-speed is not a fun experience. I did it for the sake of science and well, let’s just say now I avoid them as best I can.
Good suspension that can dampen out big hits from pot holes or obstacles is expensive. Budget scooters simply can’t afford high-end suspension. Fortunately, the super soft seat helps. And like I said, if you ride smart and watch for obstacles then you will likely find the suspension to be sufficient.
In the end, the main question is would I recommend the Bloom Scooter? The answer is yes. But with some caveats.
This scooter is going to be great for riders on a budget, who are ok with the slower speed (unless the speed can be increased), who have access to a ground level 110 V outlet, and who have decent roads or don’t mind a bit of a bumpy ride.
The SLA batteries were perhaps the biggest bummer since they are a bit of an issue for charging and won’t last as long. The good news is that they are super easy to replace when they die, and fairly cheap. Unlike proprietary lithium-ion batteries, if your SLA batteries ever die then you can just buy any 12V SLA bricks and swap them in.
In summary, the Bloom Scooter isn’t bad, it just isn’t amazing. I’ve ridden amazing electric scooters, like the GenZe 2.0. And this one ain’t it. But this one also costs less than half of what the GenZe 2.0 scooter does. So there’s a place for electric scooters like the Bloom. It sure is fun to ride. And my wife thinks it’s the best scooter I have, for some reason. So they’ve done a number of things right.
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See my unboxing video below!