It does have some known reliability issues, such as the tires getting flat quite easily, and the folding mechanism reportedly breaking while riding:
Depending on the speed and circumstances, the latter can produce a painful experience for the rider. It never happened to me personally, but I found that soon into having bought the scooter, creaking noises around that hinge appeared. I resolved it by putting a rubber spacer in the area around the hinge in the folding mechanism. I assumed that without these vibrations and noises the stress on this mechanism would also be lower, and fortunately never had a problem personally.
I tried buying a steel version of the hinge locking part (which is what usually breaks), only to be scammed by Chinese suppliers who would just send another aluminium part similar to the original one, in spite of advertising it as steel.
More recently I decided to up the game when I found that a different class of e-scooters began to emerge in the market at acceptable prices. And by a different class I mean with a 20x power rating compared to scooters such as the Xiaomi M365. This of course, at the eye of the vehicle regulations in most countries, can make it difficult to keep it as a license free electric vehicle comparable to the M365. For example in Portugal, an electric vehicle is only considered comparable to a bicycle in terms of unlicensed use, if its output power is limited to 250 Watts, and the maximum speed it can propel the vehicle is capped to 25 Km/h.
The Laotie Ti30 (as with many similar chinese e-Scooters - all seem to come from the same "foundry", in spite of the different brands) has switches and modes (i.e. "Eco" mode) which will limit its power so that the motors cannot propel it at above 25 Km/h unless the user takes the more deliberate action of pressing the switch.
It only takes a slight touch of the throttle for it to pull violently, as if the scooter would be trying to get rid of the rider. It is quite an intimidating experience. I found it slightly more manageable to only disable Eco mode together with having 2 WD disabled, i.e. run in Turbo mode only on the rear motor. Turbo mode and 2 Wheel Drive is like riding a rocket. Slight increments of throttle will produce massive acceleration. While riding at 25 Kh/h it will still try to pull a wheelie when pressing the throttle in this mode. Didn't even consider starting in this mode. It is probably not a good idea for someone with limited experience and relatively light weight (I have 75 Kg - eventually a 100 Kg dude will be safer here).
Ordering the scooter was simple and Banggood seems to be the exclusive seller of this particular brand. I was surprised with the quick delivery - shipped from Poland via UPS it took 7 days to arrive to Portugal. As the purchase was done within the EU, I didn't incur in additional custom fees.
Given its weight, it is not a carriable item like the M365. Its 50 Kg are far from being an easy load to carry by hand.
The construction is quite solid - with a mix of aluminium and steel parts. The "yellow pages phone book sized" battery (for those who know how these looked like back in the days) accounts for 20 % of that weight. The front suspension fork is very similar in robustness and size to that of some motorcycles. The single suspension damper at the rear is more frugal and similar to that of some bicycles. It is not protected from dust, which is somewhat of an issue if left that way.
I referred previously in this blog about Chinese products that tend to require technical attention or improvements by the user since day one for safety and reliability reasons. This one, in spite of the rich experience that is likely to provide, is no exception. I will keep that as the focus of this post, as there is much to be said and done in that respect for this scooter.
I knew what I was going for, as I read videos and posts from other users about this scooter, and it was useful because it gave me the opportunity to perform some preventive care before stumbling into problems.
One of the important things that should be done before riding, is to protect that rear damper, as I have explained. It comes unlubricated - which in part is good because it will not capture the sand and dust quite as much, but will cause wear due to friction. As such I started by disassembling the rear suspension and apply grease to all of its moving parts. The inside of the damper had to be lubricated as well.
Because now the damper will be more prone to collect dust which will be permanently attached to its surface due to the grease, it is important to protect it. While a rubber bellow is the ideal solution to protect this part, it may be difficult to obtain the correct size and it will take time. There is however a quick, cheap and reportedly reliable solution, which consists of wrapping the damper with a few layers of kitchen plastic wrap (as can be seen in the photo above). It can then be secured with zip ties, and it is ready to go. I followed that approach and so far it is doing great.
The other important aspect is the tightening of all the screws. These should all be checked because are not guaranteed to be properly torqued, given the rush in which these products are assembled.
One important screw is only accessible from the bottom, and in order to minimize creaking sounds from the steering, it needs to be better tightened. It is part of the folding mechanism, and it helps keep the tension together with the locking lever:
Some report that 5 or 6 Nm of torque on this nut is sufficient to avoid noises. I personally tried to keep a balance between the locking lever still be movable, and no slack or creaking sounds being apparent.
The issue was solved by properly attaching the switch to the casing with epoxy, and adding a screw (visible in the photo on the left side of the casing) that acted as a detent for the rear of the turn signal switch (replacing the broken piece of plastic).
While relatively subtle in intensity and size, it is not technically legal in many countries, where blue lights in civilian vehicles is strictly forbidden (these are reserved for authorities and first responders).
One last element requiring changes was the headlights: these have a red LED ring, and internally there is also a red power LED.
My first glance of the battery deck after opening it for the first time, was of observing an absolute mess of wires crammed together in a tight space:
Cable management aficionados and people bearing OCD issues would have a hard time with this vision. In the middle of the spaghetti, the disconnected yellow wires without a known purpose.
While there is not much leeway for proper cable management given the very limited available space, I found important to group the cables with zip ties, and identify and label the connections. Also added some heat shrink material around some of the cable bundles in order to better protect and isolate these. The result, albeit not ideal, is slightly tidier:
In a next step I plan to replace the large yellow 3 phase motor connectors with higher quality gold plated 6 mm bullet connects. Besides the superior electrical contact, those are also more compact than these large boxes. And as you may have figured out, space is at a premium inside this battery deck.
Applied it to the surfaces of the deck that contact the lid, in order to form a joint, and to the cable openings:
Regarding the brakes, not much had to be done. These are of the relatively popular brand Zoom, and the only thing I found important was to adjust the calipers by loosening its screws, let the caliper bite the disc, and tightening back the screws while pressure is applied on the brake.
Basically this converter has to transform the 60 Volts from the battery into the 5 Volts required by the micro-controller. In order to achieve this in an efficient way, a switching mode power supply design is used. On the secondary side there is a 78L05 linear regulator that further regulates and drops the DC voltage to the required 5 Volts.
It is therefore necessary to add a fuse to its input wire, allowing the rest of the circuit (including the alarm itself) to be protected by the fuse. I measured that with the blinkers, the headlights on and the motors running, the current does not go above 500 mA (motor current does not go through this circuit, only ESC micro-controller power). So a 2 Amp fuse should be decent protection, while also not bringing exaggerate resistive losses.