The Raine One electric scooter burst onto the scene a few weeks ago with some incredible specs and an unbelievable price. And of course, that combination led to some questions about whether or not this new electric scooter company was on the up and up. So I did some digging and spoke with the company’s founder (and the scooter’s designer) to get to the bottom of it.
I first heard about the Raine One electric scooter a few months ago.
Representatives from the company reached out to inquire about an interview. But we get these requests for coverage from unheard of Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns nearly daily, and so I initially brushed it off. Here at Electrek, there are usually only two ways to get your crowdfunding campaign covered: You have to be a known entity with a reputation for being legit, or you have to let us test your product first to verify it’s the real deal.
But the more I looked at the Raine One electric scooter as I watched over 400 backers pledge over $350,000 in pre-orders, the more I wanted to know if it was going to live up to its promises. Because if its specs are to be believed, it’s going to be a major advancement in the electric scooter industry.
So I agreed to an interview. The Raine team knew I was a journalist for Electrek. What they might not have known when they reached out to me (yet is easy enough to find with a Google search) is that I’m also a mechanical engineer, an MBA, a light electric vehicle designer with a few startups under my belt and I’ve not only written the book on light electric vehicles – I’ve actually written several. All of which is to say, I’d know if they were trying to blow smoke up my non-existent tailpipe.
Raine One electric scooter tech specs
In case you haven’t seen the scooter yet, here are the key takeaways in terms of specs:
- Price: $979 pre-order deal ($1,500 MSRP)
- Power: 750 W, but can be user-limited depending on country of import)
- Weight: 12 kg (26 lb)
- Top speed: 50 km/h (31 mph) but can also be user-limited
- Range: 40 km (25 mi)
- Battery: 500-600 Wh
- Suspension: Front and rear
- Frame: Carbon fiber and aluminum
- Extras: Heated grips, integrated lock, built-in GPS for directions, global warranty, ABS braking, user-adjustable lighting
So what checks out?
I spoke with James Murphy, the CTO and co-founder of Raine, to learn more about the Raine One electric scooter. All of Raine’s founders are veteran entrepreneurs or respected influencers, and James is no exception. His background is in engineering and he was a co-founder of BajaBoard, an award-winning all-terrain electric skateboard brand.
As James explained to me, the goal of the Raine team wasn’t just to make another rebranded imported electric scooter:
“We wanted to take a brand new look at a scooter and what it is. There are a lot of companies out there that just sort of buy random parts from other suppliers and just mush the scooter together, so to speak. And that way you don’t really get something that’s been thoughtfully designed. So our goal was to design our scooter from the ground up, thinking about every element and how it interacts with every other element.”
And so far, so good. If you check out the Raine One, you can see that it’s a scooter that looks like no other. The carbon fiber double-crown fork/stem and the silicone deck liner integrate beautifully with the aluminum frame. And that’s realistic – Unagi also offers an electric scooter with exotic materials for around the same price as the Raine One. So things are checking out so far.
Is the Raine electric scooter’s top speed legit?
The Raine One electric scooter is advertised with a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph) on its Kickstarter page. But here is where some have started to question the Raine One. And that’s because very few electric scooters can reach these speeds. The ones that can are heavier, bulkier scooters. James didn’t want to speak on the record about the top speed but did say the scooter’s top speed could depend on legal issues before going off-record.
And that’s fair, considering many countries like Germany have fairly harsh electric scooter laws that put a damper on e-scooter imports.
But what doesn’t seem quite as fair is to be marketing a scooter on Kickstarter that claims a 50 km/h (31 mph) top speed if you can’t yet guarantee it. The Kickstarter page was updated approximately one week into the campaign to indicate that the scooters could be programmed by the rider to either be unlocked to full speed or have a speed limit imposed and that this user-adjustable setting would be pre-programmed to the local country’s regulations upon shipping. But from what I gather, the actual top speed of the scooter isn’t quite finalized and I have yet to see a demonstration of the scooter actually achieving a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph).
What about those GPS directions?
For under $1,000, any scooter that comes with built-in GPS directions is going to stand out. As James explained:
“There is going to be built-in GPS and it will be on the screen, so it could be like a turn left or right here, or go straight. But also there’s like an ‘as the crow flies’ so there’s a dial that sort of points you in the right direction, and you find your way there by choosing a path, making your own way through the streets rather than having to totally rely on a left or right indicator.”
This one could be legit, and wouldn’t be too hard to implement. The ‘as the crow flies’ indicator is basically a simple compass, though there isn’t yet any indicator like this on the press photos of the Raine One’s screen (unless the rocket icon for the Rocket Mode also does double duty as a GPS or compass-based directional indicator). So it could be that this feature is still in development. Until we see the feature demonstrated, it’s hard to rule on it either way. But it’s possible, despite the company seemingly not showing it off yet.
Is the battery capacity for real?
The Raine One is advertised with a 500-600 Wh battery made with Japanese cells. The fact that the Raine team gives a window instead of an exact figure seems to indicate that the company hasn’t finalized the battery yet – which is exactly what James confirmed to me. As he explained it, they haven’t decided on their final battery cell choice. And that can change battery capacity significantly. Which is certainly true.
For example, the same exact design of a simple 48V 13s4p battery could be 650 Wh with a Japanese Panasonic GA cell, or the same battery design could be 550 Wh if you swap in Panasonic PF cells. I don’t have any knowledge on the exact battery design or type of cells Raine is using (and it sounds like they aren’t yet sure of the final battery choice either), but what they are claiming is possible and would provide the intended 40 km (25 mi) of range at the slower speeds at which these range figures are calculated, so this part adds up just fine.
Does it really have ABS?
Sadly, the Raine One’s ABS is not the typical anti-lock braking system that you’re probably thinking of, like that which is found in cars and motorcycles.
The front wheel of the Raine One has a standard disc brake without ABS, and the “ABS” in the rear wheel’s regen braking is a bit different than conventional, physical ABS. If the regenerative braking is strong enough to lock the rear wheel, James explained that the regen brake will release. And thus, it is anti-lock. However, anyone who has used an electric scooter with regen braking before knows that it is rarely ever strong enough to actually lock up a wheel. So the verdict here is that the front wheel has no ABS and the rear wheel kind of has a version of ABS, though not what most people consider ABS.
That’s not a bad thing mind you. And the scooter probably brakes just fine. However, don’t expect fancy motorcycle-style ABS on your electric scooter. In this respect, the term “ABS” as used by Raine is more of a buzz word.
Speaking of buzz words…
Speaking of buzz words, the Raine One’s marketing is peppered with them.
“Poly-shock suspension”? That’s not a thing. And just to make sure I wasn’t out of touch with the times, I Googled it to be sure. The only results that come up are links to Raine. So it’s an invented phrase. I don’t know why they needed it. They obviously mean dual suspension, which the Raine One certainly has and it looks fine. But don’t be fooled into thinking Poly-suspension is something new or fancy.
And what about the “brushless flux drive”? Again, that’s not a thing. It’s a made-up term. Google it. You’ll get Raine links.
Brushless motors are a thing. And even though it’s been a few years since I took “Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism”, I still remember enough to know that flux is a pretty important part of the exchange of electrical and kinetic energy in a motor. But combining the two doesn’t create a new type of motor, it just invents a new buzz word.
So Raine, you’re guilty as charged on that one.
That doesn’t mean Raine hasn’t innovated here though. James would only speak off the record on specific motor innovations they’ve made – perhaps to protect such innovations in what is a very cutthroat industry.
But if you’re expecting to see a new “brushless flux drive”, you’ll be waiting for quite some time.
What about that weight?
At just 12 kg (26 lb), the Raine One is a pretty lightweight scooter, especially for its specs. And that weight very well could be achievable. For example, the CityRider electric scooter from Fluidfreeride is just 10 kg or 22 lb. But it also has around half the speed, power, and range of the Raine One, which is how it can be so light.
Could the Raine One’s carbon fiber help bring the weight down this much while retaining higher spec (and heavier) components? This one is a hard maybe.
It’s certainly within the realm of reason. The carbon fiber is definitely going to help, but when you consider a 750 W motor, large battery and extra creature comforts such as heated grips, it starts to look like a stretch. If the scooter arrives and actually weighs in at 26 lb while hitting 31 mph and traveling 25 miles, that will certainly be some great engineering work by the Raine team and the scooter will be worth every penny.
So is it a scam?
The Raine team is adamant that they’re building the real deal here. Raine’s three co-founders all have impressive backgrounds with high-profile entrepreneurial successes – these aren’t random, faceless nobodies. And James explains that getting in front of the camera is an important part of their goal of demonstrating to their community that the team (and thus, the scooter) is legit:
“I think you have to show that you’re real people. A lot of the times that Kickstarters have failed or been scams, they never show themselves on the page and you never see them talking. So it’s important to us that we show that we’re real people and that we have real experience in making these companies.”
And that, they do. The team looks fully capable and has the right combination of experience. And the specs on the scooter are all amazing. In fact, they brush right up against the border of being too amazing, but they don’t quite cross it.
Can it hit 31 mph? Probably, but we’ll have to see if legal limitations allow them to deliver on that. Can it travel 25 miles on a 500 Wh battery? Certainly, that’s well within reasonable efficiency standards. But can it achieve both of those previous specs while keeping the weight under 26 lb? That’s going to be tougher, but not impossible.
Can they make a profit on it at $1,000 per scooter? Of course, I asked and of course, James wouldn’t say, to his credit. But you can bet that any profit they are hoping to make at this stage is razor-thin though and that the company hopes to establish itself in the market before implementing its full $1,500 MSRP.
At the end of the day, these crowdfunding campaigns are always a bit of risk. Despite Indiegogo and Kickstarter being common platforms for the launch of pre-orders for light electric vehicles, both platforms are clear that they are not stores. You aren’t buying a product, you’re backing a project. And if you ask my professional opinion, I think Raine is likely to deliver. The ultimate question will be whether the Raine One will be quite as good as the spec sheet says.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. And you can check out Raine’s scooter on Kickstarter here, though you’ve only got a couple of days left if you want to put your chips in.
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