Review: Segway Ninebot F Series F40 Kick Scooter is fun and practical - at a price

When electric scooters first appeared on the streets of Auckland I resisted trying them out for as long as possible.

That wasn't because I had issues with their safety or thought it cost too much to use them. I was simply convinced once I started, I wouldn't be able to stop.

And so it proved. I was running late one day and decided to jump on board and zip across downtown to make my appointment and it was exhilarating.

I found excuses to use them more and more as walking became boring in comparison - until I was stuck at home thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Would I still feel the same way 18 months on, and could I be persuaded that buying one was worthwhile?

I've been using the Segway Ninebot F Series F40 Kick Scooter for a couple of weeks now and here are my thoughts.

The good

Setting up the F40 was surprisingly easy: Just a few screws and it was done, plugged in to charge and paired with the Segway-Ninebot app.

I was like a kid at Christmas as I took it outside for the first time and stood on it. I pressed the accelerator button expecting to be whisked away in a cloud of joy. Instead, I got nothing. 

My partner barely stifled a laugh as I double checked the app and settings, made sure the kickstand was up and examined the scooter as if I knew what I was looking for.

It turns out that you need to get it going with your feet first before the motor kicks in, something the name might have given me a clue about. 

Once I worked that out and I was zooming around the place and it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

I've bought, tried and reviewed so many different gadgets this year but I can't recall any that leaves me as ridiculously happy as the F40 does.

If you've never experienced an electric scooter before you're definitely missing out. It reminds me of the first time I rode in the pillion seat on a friend's motorbike; it almost feels illicit, that you're doing something that shouldn't be allowed.

That feeling alone practically had me reaching for my credit card. In my younger days I would already have ordered one, but these days I'm a little more conservative and look for a bit more in the package before purchasing.

Segway Ninebot F Series F40 Kick Scooter
Photo credit: Newshub

The good news is there's plenty to back it up.

The 10-inch tyres mean the ride is as smooth as possible, even when on gravel roads or a bumpy sidewalk. I even took it on some shorter grass and was surprised how easily it handled it, even with the ground a little softer than I had realised.

I never felt anything but safe while riding the F40, even going downhill beyond the 30km/h top speed advertised. It's incredibly well balanced and handles beautifully, meaning it's easy to avoid obstacles and ensure your safety, as well as that of others nearby.

There was only once when I had to stop suddenly, when a car pulled out of a driveway without looking, and the disk brake slowed me quickly and without skidding. It meant I had plenty of time to give the driver an evil stare before carrying on.

I live in Helensville and one thing it doesn't lack is hills. Steep ones, too. For that I engaged Sports mode, one of three different driving modes for the scooter.

That offers faster climbing ability and handles slopes better. If you build up momentum then I often found myself getting up big hills at decent speeds.

If you are slow into a steep hill, however, you will eventually slow to a halt and have to provide an extra kick or two before the motor helps you.

The other modes weren't quite as useful around my hometown. Eco mode limits the top speed to 15km/h to extend your range on a low battery, while normal mode is a balance between both speed and battery life.

Speaking of range, a full charge will take you somewhere around 40km which is pretty decent. Given how easy to charge the F40 is, I can't see a usage case where I'm going to push it to that kind of extremes, but it's good to know it's there if needed.

It's also built to last. Segway says the motor is good for around 3000 hours of usage, corresponding to an hour per day over eight years.

Battery life is also designed to keep you motoring in the long term, with the performance promising to be more than 70 percent of its initial capability after five years.

Throw in some LED headlights for when it's a bit darker out, an easy-to-read LED display for battery life and speed and an easy fold system that saves space on storage and allows you to put it in your car boot and you've got quite a compelling package.

Oh, did I mention how much fun it is to ride?

Segway Ninebot F Series F40 Kick Scooter
Photo credit: Newshub

The bad

Once I'd worked out that it took a decent kick for the motor to respond, things went surprisingly easy with the F40.

The biggest problem I have is actually not related to the scooter itself, but the associated app, which is set up more like a social media platform that gamifies the scooter experience.

Maybe I'm just too long in the tooth for such nonsense, but I don't care what someone on the other side of the world is doing with their scooter. I certainly don't need multiple pictures of them doing so.

I want to see my riding statistics, lock my scooter and upgrade the firmware, that's about it. Of course you can do that with this app, but it tries desperately to get you to do so much more.

Who cares if I'm at N1 Level with 40 N-Coins and 1 Medal? No, I don't want to watch videos to earn extra points, or publish 'quality posts' for another N-Coin.

Give me a simple app over this uber-complicated rubbish that adds literally nothing of value to my scooting experience, please.

It's also quite a heavy scooter, weighing in at just under 16kg. I think that probably offers a fair amount of benefits when you're riding it, particularly in stability, but it does mean when you fold it down and pick it up it's not exactly light.

Segway Ninebot F Series F40 Kick Scooter
Photo credit: Newshub

You're certainly not going to be carrying it over any extended distances because that gets heavy very quickly. It probably helps if you're not an upper-body strength weakling like me, though.

Last, but certainly not least, is the cost. The F40 will set you back around $1300 and that's a hefty amount of cash for what could be seen as a glorified toy.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't feel like that's too much for a gadget which promises years of use, certainly compared to what you might pay in petrol or bus fares over that same time.

But throw in a decent helmet, maybe some crash pads for your knees and elbows and a new backpack for your laptop and a change of clothes and that package suddenly starts to blow out a bit.

Yes, you can get cheaper. You can also get much more expensive. My feeling is that you're not being ripped off here.

The verdict

Even with some of the annoyances associated with the F40, every time I think about it I just end up with a smile on my face.

Sitting in a car just seems so pedestrian compared to the feeling of the rush of wind in your hair and random insects smacking you in the face as you hurtle along at 30km/h.

Of course, it all comes down to overall value and that's where things become slightly more tricky.

Segway Ninebot F Series F40 Kick Scooter
Photo credit: Newshub

It's hard to judge just how much I'd use this once I'm back in the office and having to drive the 45km to work every day.

It's tempting, because potentially it means I can park somewhere for free and simply zip to work on the scooter instead.

For my mind, that's where the real value is. I can't see myself paying all that money for a scooter that I'll use on weekends for nipping down to the local supermarket.

I can - and I suspect others will too - see much more justification if you can use it to avoid driving your car or taking public transport over shorter distances around town.

Suddenly that $1300 gets paid off much quicker, all while you get the fun of scooting about.

I can highly recommend it.


Newshub was supplied a Segway Ninebot F Series F40 Kick Scooter for this review.