It Has Been A Long Road
Say what you want about Segway, regardless of the rocky road they have traveled, Segway is now on the path to success.
It has been a history of ups and downs and significant missteps for the company that has been in the transport business for 20 years.
Founded in July of 1999 by Dean Kamden, the company has been through numerous owners and a good amount of product variations.
While Kamden felt that you didn’t need a 4000-pound vehicle to move a 150-pound person, the idea that his invention “will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy” never materialized.
Some speculate Segway’s biggest downfall was what some call the “dork” factor.
People just could not embrace the clunky, unwieldy transport that had no “wow” factor.
The only “wow” that the original Segway elicited was at the $5000 price tag.
While Segway had prototypes for electric bikes, four-wheelers, and skateboards, it never had the money to bring them to market.
Another factor in the early Segway model’s lack of success is that 20 years ago, cities were not ready for electric vehicles.
The infrastructure was not there and local governments had no idea how to regulate them.
Add to that the fact that if you purchased a Segway, you had to travel to a regional training center to learn how to ride it. Riding was not the hop on and go that is the case today.
Perhaps the biggest misstep of all was that the leadership kept the Segway’s a complete secret.
Afraid that another company might beat them to market, they kept the Segway under wraps.
That meant that the company dit the product testing inside an office building and not on a city street.
It also meant that the engineers who developed the Segway kept the input for themselves.
The people who would actually use them had no voice in what they might want or need.
The economic crash of 2008 added to the company’s woes, and the owners sold the company in 2009 to a group led by British millionaire Jimi Heselden.
Sadly, Mr. Heselden died so the Segway project plunged off a cliff into a ravine less than a year after his group purchased the company.
In the ensuing years, Ninebot began eyeing the company. It saw a company that shared its vision of improving urban transport.
Both companies had the vision, but Segway held patents in the United States that China-based Ninebot did not have.
In April of 2015, Ninebot closed a deal with the company, and Segway Ninebot was formed.
Fifteen years after Dean Kamen unveiled his electric vehicle, the world had caught up and was ready for them.
Most Segways in use today are for security and tourism with electric scooters claiming the crown for personal mobility.
In June of 2020, Ninebot announced that it would no longer make the namesake, two-wheeled, self-balancing Segway.
While the company has gone through its ups and downs, anyone standing on a platform powered by electricity and a computer can be said to be a Segway descendent.
And that, as they say, is history.
Ninebot Max Escooter by Segway Overview
Today, Segway Ninebot Max is one of the most popular brands in personal mobility.
Electric scooters endured a tough beginning and the history of electric scooters has been a rough ride. Even so, there is no doubt that they are here to stay.
Introduced in the fall of 2019, the Ninebot Max has three riding modes; Eco, Standard, and Sports modes.
This e-scooter has noticeable improvements that will be appreciated by long-range riders. It can comfortably ride up to 18 mph and has an easy range of 25 to 28 miles.
Depending on terrain, you can get even more on a single charge.
Knowing the limitations of your scooter is important for those times when you are in a different city, or unfamiliar place, you will know what your scooter is capable of and not run into difficulties.
Segway Ninebot Max Main Features
Let’s look in-depth at the features of the Segway Ninebot Max:
Size (unfolded): 45.9 x 18.6 x 47.4 in
Size (folded): 45.9 x 18.6 x 21.0 in
Weight: 41.2 pounds
Wheel size/type: 10-inch, inflatable
Range: 40 miles
Battery: 42V, 2.9 A
Max speed: 18.6 mph
Max rider weight: 220 pounds
Motor: One 350W
Charging time: 6 hours
In independent tests, the Segway Ninebot Max was able to reach 15 mph in 5.4 seconds. This is close to, or just a bit faster, than the scooters that sharing companies use.
It is propelled by a 350-watt nominal, 700-watt peak electric motor. Nonlinear acceleration is at the top of its range. With the last 5% push, you will get noticeably more speed.
The difference with the Max is that it does not have a zero start mode. You will need to kick start it to about 2mph.
Once you are on a roll, ease on the throttle, or the motor will not engage. This is a safety feature, which we understand, but it can be a slight annoyance.
Once the motor activates, you are good to go.
The Smart Battery Management System on the Segway Ninebot Max will monitor the battery status.
The protections on the system include short-circuiting, two-way charging and discharging, overcurrent protection, and temperature protection.
All of these features help to ensure battery safety and serve to extend the life of the battery.
The 551 Wh lithium battery will take a fast charge in about 6.5 hours.
Front drum brakes and rear electronic brakes make for a reliable braking system. If one system fails, the other will still work for you.
Having a dual braking system gives you ideal stopping power, and is especially appreciated by those who are a bit more adventurous.
This Segway electric scooter collects energy from regenerative braking and distributes that energy when you need a boost and extends the scooter range.
The brakes are also water-resistant for those days when your ride is not completely dry.
Traveling at 15 mph, you should expect to be able to stop in about 17 feet. This is a respectable number.
A scooter should be able to stop within 15 to 20 feet when applying the brakes at 15 mph.
A plus with the front drum brake is that there is no maintenance. The mechanism is encased within the wheel, offering protection from both the environment and inadvertent damage.
Standard “Mickey Mouse ears” power connector and a DC converter are built in the scooter.
A traditional DC port can be used with the charger that is included. This is a small but great option because you don’t need to take a power brick with you.
A standard power cable for charging is all that you will need.
You have the ability to enhance your riding experience with the Segway e-scooter app through Bluetooth. You can check your remaining battery and speed.
Upgrade to be able to customize and monitor your riding data. Just download the app and register your scooter with your email address.
You can then use the app as a dashboard. While this is a nice feature, you might not find yourself using it much. The scooter itself has a readout, which is more than sufficient.
The Max tends to be one of the beefiest scooters out there. It has the large, 10-inch tires, a thick downtube, and a rubber-clad deck covering a hefty battery.
A bright LED display shows the basic information that you would expect: speed, mode, and battery.
Bright enough to see in the daylight, it is a welcome feature that the display dims at night. This will happen when the front lights are on.
This prevents the display from being a blinding distraction. A single button will control the lights, the mode, and power.
The handlebar is textured and sturdy in your grip. The bell, twist style on the left handlebar, will alert pedestrians, but it is not loud enough for cars.
The thumb throttle has a grippy rubber pad, and the brake lever has a reliable performance with no friction.
The power assist function for pushing the Ninebot Max electric scooter when not riding is also on the dashboard.
Travel up to 25 or more miles on a charge when the scooter carries its maximum weight of 220 pounds, which is person and gear combined.
Depending on the terrain and other circumstances such as weight, you could get up to 40 miles on a single charge.
The 350W brushless motor gives you the momentum to climb slopes of 20% (15 degrees), for an easy ride uphill.
You will be able to maintain about 6 to 7 mph at that degree. On a test hill of 200 feet, at a 10% grade and a 160-pound rider, the scooter was able to climb it in 17 seconds at 8mph.
Remember that you need to get up to 2 mph for the motor to engage, so if you start up an incline at a dead stop, this safety feature might cause you to make several attempts.
The high-mounted front-facing 2.5 W LED light, and small rear red LED lights are good for providing some visibility, but if you do most of your riding at night, you will want to add additional lights for safety.
A generous 20 inches by 7 inches, the deck is spacious enough to accommodate various riding positions.
The average person will be able to stand with their feet in line. From the deck to the handlebar is 41 inches, and there are three inches of ground clearance.
The ten-inch tires provide a smooth ride, which is a good thing because the Max does not have shock absorbers.
Even so, the Max gives a better ride than some with a full suspension. With the sturdier frame and slower motor, the Max will not feel as nimble as others.
You might not be able to carve around on this model, but it is a great daily commuter model with enough comfort for longer distances.
If you visit the Segway store, the Ninebot Max will cost you just shy of $850.
If you purchase from Amazon, the Ninebot is $150 less, at almost $700
This e-scooter by Segway, according to the manufacturer, has a range of 40 miles.
Depending on the rider’s terrain and weight, you will probably get 25 to 28 miles consistently.That is still a decent range.
The 40-mile range is possibly achieved during ideal test conditions on a flat surface and with the wind at your back.
The top speed on the Max is 18 mph in sports mode. When the battery is less than 50%, the top speed is about 16 mph.
Getting around a city, this speed is all that you will need. There is some speculation that the top speed of 18 will also maximize the range of the scooter.
Upgraded on the Max, the 10-inch pneumatic tires are self-healing. That means that the tires will come prefilled with tire slime. This will help make the tires more resistant to flats.
They can withstand multiple punctures of less than 6mm in diameter without your tire deflating.
The tires come with reflective stickers, which can add to your safety when riding at night.
When purchased through Segway or Amazon, you will receive a one-year or 180-day warranty on various parts.
Weight and Portability
Some might consider it a downside, as the Max weighs in at a bit over 40 pounds. That can make it seem less portable when you are climbing steps or carrying it on a bus or subway.
When folded, the Ninebot Max is 46 inches by 19 inches b 21 inches. It is on the bigger size, but you should not hesitate to make it your last-mile vehicle.
The folding stem has a latch with a safety collar that rotates and locks the folding lever in place.
As this scooter is on the heavier side, it would have been nice to have a handle to make tooting the scooter easier.
The bottom line is that the Segway Ninebot Max is a quality scooter.
Segway has said that this scooter was built with the sharing market in mind. That being the case, this model would be exceptionally durable for personal use.
It does not have its roots in any of the scooters that have been previously marketed as Segway Ninebot. (e.g., ES!, ES2 ES4)
With an overall excellent build quality, the Ninebot Max is more substantial than most other e-scooters.
Both the ride you get and the scooter itself feel like a more serious commuting machine.
Front Wheel Brake?
There has been some concern about the Max locating the drum brake on the front wheel. Would the braking system cause you to topple over the front wheel?
When tested, this wasn’t noticed at all, even when applying the maximum braking ability.
You can avoid this entirely by crouching and shifting your weight toward the rear tire when braking as it will give you more stability.
High Water Resistance Rating
We like the fact that Ninebot Max has an IPX5 water resistance rating. So the scooter can get splashed, but should not be submerged.
We strongly advise that you don’t ride in the rain, but if you do get caught, avoid puddles and seek dryer areas and your scooter should be fine.
The range of up to 40 miles before needing a charge and the speed of 18mph makes the Segway more than capable in any commuting scenario.
What others are saying
The New York Times/Wirecutter says, “Segway Ninebot KickScooter Max – the best electric scooter.” June 29, 2020
Tom’s Guide in April of 2020 said, “It’s one of the best electric scooters for those who want a long and comfortable ride.””
Wall Street Journal in an article about the Best of CES (consumer electronics show) in January of 2020, said: “This Model Max has a longer-lasting, faster-charging battery and a design that can actually weather the weather. Its new tires are meant to make the ride itself a little smoother and safer.”
Closest in price and overall features to the Segway Ninebot Max is the Joyor X5S electric scooter.
A slightly lower speed at 15.5 mph and a top range of about 31 miles, this scooter can carry up to 265 pounds.
Where the Joyor differs from the Segway Ninebot is that it has front wheel shock absorbers.
The Ninebot relies on the pneumatic tires for a smooth ride.
The Joyor has an mechanical anti-lock braking system that differs from the Ninebot’s two independent systems of braking.
Weighing less than the Ninebot by almost ten pounds, the Joyor would be easier for the times when you need to carry it on a bus, subway or up the stairs.
The scooter is carried by the neck when folded, but does not have a locking mechanism, so the base does swivel.
You can use the Joyor in a light rain as it is water resistant, but as with any electric scooter, it is best to avoid wet roads if you can.
Under normal conditions, the battery in the Joyor will last about two to three hours with a quick charge of six hours to full capacity.
Reviewers on Amazon who had purchased a Joyor gave the scooter an overall rating of 4 stars out of five.
New From Segway
Just launched from Segway, the Ninebot KickScooter Air T15 weighs only 23 pounds. The light weight of the vehicle comes from a 90% magnesium alloy.
This model does not have a throttle but uses a kick-to-go system that functions a bit like cruise control.
The rider will push off, and the scooter will maintain the rider’s current speed. If you want to go faster, you give another kick.
The mudflap brake will slow you down. Essentially, the rider’s feet control both acceleration and deceleration.
The top speed is 12 mph and has a range of just 7.5 miles. This scooter would probably be good for short hops here and there.
In January of 2020, Segway unveiled a self-balancing vehicle that can go up to 24 mph. Called the S-pod, it is designed for sitting, and navigation closed campuses.
Futuristic looking, there are not many details on how to use the vehicle. It will be interesting to see how this mode of transport plays out.
We have concluded the same thing as other testers and reviewers. The Segway Ninbot Max is a substantial e-scooter that will go the distance.
The price range is comparable to others in the market that are not as robust as the Ninebot Max.
Although the scooter is heavier in weight, which you will know when you are climbing stairs, the weight is a trade-off for a rugged scooter that will hold up for your commutes.
This is the type of scooter that will go the distance and serve you well for years to come.
Andy is an urban survivor passionate about recycling, clean energy, and micromobility. He loves nature and people and peacefully militates for a balance between the two. When he’s not writing on Noble Urban you’ll find him riding his bike, fishing, or reading a good book.