As part of relocating to the Detroit area to join the Autoblog team, I found myself in the midst of a small crisis. My short-term rental contract was coming up and I’d moved to a new, long-term location across town. While moving is never pleasant, it’s plenty manageable under normal circumstances.
These, of course, are not normal circumstances.
Like many enthusiasts, I faced a simple numbers problem. I own three vehicles; I can only drive one at a time. With the world in pandemic mode, I couldn’t in good conscience call upon my friends or colleagues to help me shuttle cars around. Ride-sharing options are also extremely limited, and even when Uber or Lyft drivers are available, that option comes with its own set of risks.
Instead, I turned to a third and somewhat unique option: personal transportation. Fortunately for me, one of the oft-neglected members of the Autoblog long-term garage is a 2017 Urb-E Sport GT. It’s not quite a scooter and it’s not quite a bike, but it is an electric mobility accessory with more than 10 miles of range and a top speed that is sufficiently high that it is much quicker than walking. It also fits in the trunk of a car.
My research consisted entirely of reading the First Ride piece we published on the Urb-E way back in 2017. I took Alex’s cautionary words to heart, bracing myself for a bumpy ride. As it turned out, I was not nearly as prepared as I thought I was.
It’s hard to overstate just how awkward the Urb-E is to ride. The rear suspension works well enough, but the unsprung front frame is downright punishing, and the solid tires don’t do anything to help. Every impact carried into my forearms. Just a few miles of riding was enough to leave my hands stiff and sore.
In fact, the ride was so harsh that while attempting to film point-of-view video of a ride around the neighborhood, hitting a crack in the pavement snapped the mounting clip of my GoPro.
With time, I learned to hop the front end over gaps and grooves. This is a workable solution, but comes with its own set of problems. Because the Urb-E’s frame folds, you do not want to catch air, as the rear frame will collapse toward the front, transforming it into the world’s least manageable (and least comfortable) pogo stick.
The Urb-E Sport GT ostensibly has a top speed of between 12 and 15 mph and a range of approximately 16 miles. I’m inclined to believe the former far more than the latter, as I was facing a depleted state of charge after only about six or seven miles.
Given the flat terrain, that was disappointing. But in the Urb-E’s defense, Michigan’s “spring” weather was not really helping out. Temperatures never climbed above the low 40s during any of my rides. As a result, I’m prepared to add cold weather to the list of things the Urb-E Sport GT doesn’t handle well. The other items include water, ice, broken pavement, leaves, sticks, and sunsets. It has no head- or taillights, after all.
As a utility item, the Urb-E Sport GT does the job it was intended to do, and at times, it can even be fun. Between the short wheelbase and the uncomfortable ride, it’s not for everybody, but for getting around dense urban areas with reasonably well-maintained streets (or sidewalks, where it’s legal to ride on them), it does a pretty good job.
For the money (ours was $1,100), there are far better options available, and several that are less dorky (yeah, we’ll admit it) and more comfortable. A standing electric scooter with nearly double the range can be had for under $1,000 these days, making us question the value proposition.
Urb-E has also updated its lineup since we purchased our long-term Sport GT, so there are even better options available in the same showroom, so to speak. I’d highly recommend springing for something with pneumatic tires. The extra cost is well worth it.