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Meet URB-E, the lightweight, folding electric scooter

Larry Edsall, Special to The Detroit News

So you’re eager to ride the QLine as part of your weekday commute (or to the Fox Theatre or to a Tigers game), but since the line doesn’t stop directly in front of your home or drop you at your office door, you’ve been pondering perhaps a longish walk.

The scooter folds to fit in a car trunk, or can be carried on a transit train or bus. It unfolds for riding as far as 20 miles at speeds of up to 15 mph.

Well, wonder no longer. All you need is an URB-E.

What’s an URB-E? Well, the URB comes from urban and the E from electric. URB-E is a portable, foldable, electric scooter that has applications well beyond getting you to or from light-rail commuting. Already some 2,000 units have been purchased and the lightweight but effective (and sturdy) two-wheeler already has proven popular with owners of recreational vehicles seeking an easy way around the campground and with those who need transportation around the paddock and pits at motorsports race tracks.

An URB-E weighs only 35 pounds and folds into a compact size that easily fits in a car trunk or can be rolled right into the transit train or carried on to a bus. But lift the seat, spread the wheel arms and add just a quick set of the handle bars and you’re ready to turn the key and ride.

Oh, and you can travel up to 20 miles on a single charge of the 36-volt lithium-ion battery and you can ride at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. You can even charge your smartphone while your ride. And if you need to re-charge URB-E’s battery, it takes only four hours.

I did a test drive of an URB-E recently while attending Monterey Car Week in northern California. URB-E sales manager Tom Gilfillan gave me a quick schooling and off I went, scooting around the paddock at the Laguna Seca race track and later riding in a more urban setting in Monterey.

People who have ridden motorcycles seem to adapt to riding URB-E as if they were born on the thing. Those of us who have not might need a little more cautious, slow-speed practice, but it doesn’t take long and you’ll feel right at home as you glide along.

URB-E provides two sets of pegs for your feet. Gilfillan suggested that new riders use the back set rather than those at the base of the front bracket, where your feet can affect steering.

Your speed is controlled by a motorcycle-style hand-twist throttle. There also is a bicycle-style hand brake when you need to slow or stop.

Gilfillan noted that because URB-E is governed to 15 mph, no license is needed to ride.

He also pointed out that URB-E is American made of carbon fiber and 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum.

The project began in 2013 with a crowdfunding effort. Early prototype units were produced overseas, but the URB-E team in Pasadena, California, wasn’t happy with quality so it decided to bring that work home and take advantage of Southern California’s aircraft production experience. Sales began a year ago and 2,000 units have been shipped to customers.

Larry Edsall tries out the URB-E, a 35-pound folding electric scooter.

The basic URB-E retails for $1,499. A version with more torque is $1,699 and an upscale “red label” version is available for $1,999. Gilfillan said units ship within 7-10 days after an order is placed.

Also available are such accessories as a heavy-duty bike lock, handle-bar cell phone mount, and a shopping basket that attaches to carry anything from a briefcase to your groceries.

For more information, and for videos of URB-Es in action, see the www.urb-e.com website.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.