2019 has been the year of the escooter. The lightweight, electric little vehicles didn’t first appear this year. But it’s been the year during which they’ve suddenly appeared to be everywhere. Venture capital-funded start-ups have flooded cities around Europe with escooters that can be hired on-demand through apps, with users simply picking one up on the street, unlocking it with a tap of their app and then leaving locking it back up with another touch of their smartphone and leaving it.
Love them or loath them, on-demand escooters have suddenly become a visible component of the modern urban transport mix. And now, as well as the bog standard branded scooters of the companies behind the on-demand apps, luxury models are to be available.
The term ‘hyper’ is often tagged onto ‘car’ or ‘motorcycle’ to denote a group of vehicles considered to represent a class of elite performance models. A British company has now developed the first ever ‘hyperscooter’.
The company behind the ‘hyperscooter’, which can reach speeds of 38mph and features tilt steering technology, integrative suspension, regenerative braking that helps recharge replaceable battery packs, storage space and a touchscreen dashboard is D-Fly. D-Fly, whose ‘hyperscooter’ model has been named Dragonfly, is owned by Jeremy Williman and employs a team of experts who have worked in F1 racing, at the carmaker Range Rover and in the aerospace and technology industries. Williamson made his name as inventor with the Tensator retractable queue barrier technology that is commonly used at airports and events.
The hyperscooter has four wheels and can travel around 30 miles on one charge. Each wheel is powered by 1800 watts, allowing it to reach the same kinds of speed as cars on urban roads with a 30mph speed limit. The cheapest model will cost around £3800 and all models feature an under-patent ‘three-dimensional steering system’, called Full-Tilt that the inventor claims is the first of its kind.
The Full-Tilt system allows a Dragonfly rider to change direction through movements of their feet, body and arms. It’s been compared to how a kitesurf is directed, with the scooter’s platform self-righting and centring to keep the rider balanced through changes of direction.
Mr Williman commented on his company’s invention:
“This is beyond everything else that is out there. We called it a hyperscooter because it is unfair to classify it against any other scooter because it simply isn’t like any other scooter.”
“You are completely connected and locked into this vehicle and all your movements have a direct effect on the steering. Compare that to a scooter with this one-dimensional left and right, and there is no comparison.”
The Dragonfly’s frame is made from a combination of carbon fibre, aerospace-grade aluminium and reinforced wood. LED headlights and flashing indicators alert others to the scooter turning. The dashboard-esque HD 4.5-inch screen connects to the rider’s smartphone by blutooth, allowing them to use their apps and GPS through the display. Bose speaker technology offers a stereo system and emits a faint warning sound to alert the rider of approaching pedestrians.
The £3800-£5000 price tag is steep when compared to the usual few hundred pounds for a basic escooter model but Mr Williman argues it is not only justified but a bargain when compared to even bicycles made from materials of a similar quality:
“The reality is if you want a high-end bicycle with carbon fibre, that can easily be $10,000, and it’s the same for a high-end electric bicycle. Unfortunately, because of the relative numbers of production, because of the high end materials and the development, invariably this not a comparative cost with a piece of steel with low end engineering, it’s just the nature of the beast.”
UK-based escooter enthusiasts, and those who aren’t yet but could be tempted by the high end qualities of the Dragonfly, will, however, have to wait a little before they can get their hands on one. Despite D-Fly being a British company, the US market will be its first target. That’s because its legal to ride escooters on public roads and pavements over the pond, while in the UK they are still illegal to ride on public paths and roads under the 1835 Highways Act and 1988 Road Traffic Act and.
However, D-Fly’s Dragonfly hyperscooter should be available in the UK by late 2020.