Things to consider before buying a mobility scooter

Written by
Helen West

Mobility scooters can give you a new lease of life. There are a huge number of options and features available, but this can make it difficult to know how to choose the right scooter for your lifestyle.

In our 'top tips for choosing a mobility scooter' article, we explained the difference between pavement and road scooters; the benefits of three and four wheel models; and whether or not you need to register your scooter before using it on the road.

The right scooter can give you back your independence...

This article looks at folding versus dismantling scooters; the difference between classic and delta handlebars; and why ground clearance and suspension are important for a smooth ride.

We understand that the right scooter can give you back your independence and allow you continue to enjoy everything that life has to offer.

Folding and dismantling scooters

If you need a scooter that you can take with you on days out or trips away, you probably want a model that will fit neatly in your car.

There are two main categories of scooter that have been designed for convenient transport. Folding scooters fold down to a compact size using either an automatic or manual folding mechanism. Dismantling scooters are made up of four or five separate sections, and can be taken apart then reassembled when you arrive at your destination.

Folding scooters

Folding scooters are really easy to use. If you choose one with an automatic folding mechanism like the Middletons Discovery, you won’t need to worry about bending down to fold or unfold your scooter. All you have to do is press a button, and your scooter will unfold on its own.


Folding scooters are generally designed to be lightweight, and many feature wheels and a handle so you can pull your scooter along behind you like a suitcase. However, because you have to lift them as one piece, their weight could still be an issue. The Discovery weighs just three stone, but if you need something even lighter, you may be better suited to a dismantling scooter.

Dismantling scooters

Dismantling scooters break down into several separate sections and so are incredibly portable. The disassembly and reassembly only takes a few minutes, and the process is generally really simple. Most models don’t even require any tools.

If you are concerned about being able to lift your scooter, a dismantling scooter may be your best option. Our Pathfinder weighs five stone when assembled, but when taken apart, the heaviest piece is just 15.2kg – that’s less than two and a half stone.

Types of handlebars

Scooters also come with two different types of handlebars: classic or straight (T-shaped) handlebars, and delta or wraparound handlebars.

Classic handlebars

Straight handlebars are the more traditional style of handlebars, and many people prefer the way they look and feel. Their simplicity means you can steer with precision and they give you predictable control over your scooter.

Image of classic handlebars on a Middletons Discovery travel mobility scooter

It’s also worth considering the size of the handlebars. If they are too wide, you may struggle get a good grip, particularly if you have small hands.

Delta handlebars

Delta handlebars are also known as wraparound handlebars. They are better for individuals with conditions like arthritis, which can affect your hand strength and your grip. The curve means there are a larger number of angles you can use to grip the handlebars.

Image of delta wraparound handlebars on a Middletons mobility scooter

The curved shape also reduces the amount of movement needed to steer. Your hands are positioned closer together, which allows you to steer the scooter by lightly pushing and pulling the handlebars rather than twisting. This can help prevent pain and stiffness in your arms and shoulders, especially if you plan to use your scooter for long journeys.

Ground clearance and suspension

It’s also worth considering the type of terrain you will be using your scooter on. If you plan on using your scooter predominantly inside, on the pavement, or on relatively smooth surfaces (like a shopping centre), a lightweight travel scooter will be perfect.

Image of the wheels on a Middletons Traveller road mobility  scooter

However, if you plan on using your scooter on hills, on rougher paths, or on the road, you will need a scooter with good suspension and higher ground clearance. This means you will probably need a class 3 scooter, also known as a road scooter.

Class 3 scooters have larger wheels and better suspension than class 2 (also called pavement) scooters. Using a class 2 scooter on rough surfaces could damage the underside of the scooter, and won't offer as comfortable a ride as a scooter with all-round suspension like our best-selling Traveller scooter. Good suspension also helps gives you greater control on uneven surfaces, so you'll feel stable and confident when you drive.

Read more: Holiday ideas for wheelchair and scooter users

Read more: What is arthritis?

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