Any device or service that gets people out of a fossil-fuel-guzzling, congestion-creating death machine (er, car) is great. But when it comes to e-scooters, I’m a big fan of owning your own, rather than renting one.
If you own your own scooter, you’re more likely to be familiar with its operation. You won’t be thrilled by the novelty and accidentally gun it into a busy crosswalk. You might wear a helmet. Most importantly, you won’t store it on the sidewalk in front of someone’s house, prompting an enraged citizen to toss it into a nearby river. Its life span will be much longer than that of a typical rental.
In 2018, Levy Electric debuted its entry-level scooter, which has a replaceable, rechargeable battery that extended the scooter’s usable life. This January, the company unveiled a new version, the Levy Plus. For the past week, I’ve been using it to e-scoot around my neighborhood to go to work, lunch, or volunteer at my kid’s school.
With bigger tires and a bigger battery, the Levy Plus is a good, decently priced compromise between the hulk-like Boosted Rev and the lightweight, tubeless tires of a scooter like the Unagi. It is fair to note, however, that I’ve been using a prototype. The version of the Levy Plus that started shipping to customers since January 2020 does differ from mine in a few ways.
Even taking into account that this is not my first e-scooter rodeo, assembling the Levy Plus is intuitive. I charged the battery, plugged in the LED display, screwed on the handlebars, and clipped the battery on the handlebar stem after it charged. Levy founder and CEO Eric Levenseller assures me that customers are now receiving a scooter that’s even easier to assemble. No longer do you have to thread the brake cable through the hand lever and tighten the brake attachment. The company also sends instructional emails after the scooter’s delivery date is confirmed.
The Levy Plus has a single-hub motor on a folding, matte aluminum alloy frame. It has a hand brake, rear stomp brake, and a kickstand. On the handlebars, you have an LCD display with a throttle, power and function button, and a little bell.
The LCD screen is deceptively simple. When you turn it on, it shows your speed, drive mode (Beginner, Eco, and Sport), battery life, and whether the lights are on. Turn the bright LED headlight and taillights on and off by pressing the function button twice.
But when you try to do anything else, you end up spending a lot of time holding a scooter in front of a computer screen, watching instructional videos and pressing different button combos. (Luckily, my desk is in my garage.) Press the power and function button to toggle through to P4 and change the max speed. To turn on cruise control, you do the same thing but toggle to P1, press the function button to edit, press the menu button to … ah, you know what? Just watch the video yourself.
On gray days I found the LCD display to be a little dim, but the model that’s shipping does have a brighter screen. Beginner mode maxes out at a very modest 6 mph, and on my version, Sport mode topped out at 15 mph. The current iteration has a top speed of 18 mph, and Levenseller noted that you can also cap it at 13 or 15 mph, depending on your city’s regulations. There’s another video that lets you figure out how to do that here.
The most noticeable difference between the Levy and other e-scooters is that the battery is located on the handlebar stem, rather than inside the stem or under the deck, for easier access. It’s not an attractive look, but hey, it easily clicks on and off for recharging.
You can also buy extra battery packs to swap them out or replace them when the battery eventually dies—thereby increasing the life span of your scooter and the value of your investment.
I was happy with how the battery performed—after a week of puttering around in Sport mode, turning it on and off, and going up and down hills, the battery was at 60 percent; it also has a regenerative ebrake that restores power when you use it. Levy touts a range of 18 miles, but you might find your range varies depending on your size, environment, and speed mode.
The single-hub motor was painfully slow on 10-15 percent hills (they do note it’s only recommended for use on 5-10 percent hills). Kick-push to start is the default setting for safety reasons, but it was especially annoying when going uphill. Whenever I stopped at a stop sign on a hill by my house, I usually ended up doing a quick spin maneuver to retrigger the e-assistance. (You can also turn off the kick-push to start).
I also liked the 10-inch inflatable tires, as compared to the original Levy’s 8.5-inch tubeless tires. I understand that some people might find it annoying to keep tires inflated, but their streets are clearly in much better condition than the ones around my neighborhood. I also liked that the Levy Plus has both disc brakes and a rear stomp brake, which felt trustworthy even when going down big hills.
It seems bonkers to describe a $699 scooter as moderately priced, but there you have it—it’s less than half the price of the Boosted Rev, but with a build quality I find reassuringly sturdy, a reliable disc brake, and tires that were soft enough that I didn’t have to steer around every crack in the road. And if you prefer to deal with US-based customer service inquiries, Levy is located in New York City. At the very least, there’s probably another instructional video.