On the outskirts of London’s Olympic Village, a crowd has formed. All are staring at Bo’s first production e-scooter, the Bo M. Company CEO Oscar Morgan is peppered with questions about range, speed, price and if he’ll give a freebie to a tween whose nickname is Bo. All of this is taking place while I’m trying to photograph the new model, but I can’t blame them for getting in my way. After all, this sublime e-scooter of the future can’t help but turn heads.
Bo was co-founded by Morgan, Harry Wills and Luke Robus – the first two met as engineers for the Williams F1 team. They worked on a number of other brands’ EVs and scooters before striking out on their own to build something better with Robus, a Jaguar Land Rover designer. All three bring an automotive sensibility to the company, and a desire to build a scooter a generation or two beyond the state of the art. Less a toy, (or a niche tool) but a vehicle, engineered so well that e-scooters’ widely known and accepted flaws were polished away.
I first rode the prototype a year ago and was blown away by how much better than every other scooter it was. The team has spent years developing technologies to improve and maintain its balance, and while the motor is powerful it’s not aggressive. And then there are the refinements like the centrally-mounted load hook that ensures you can carry a bag without harming stability. (It pulls double duty as a mounting point, should you need to securely lock your scooter when you’re out and about.) While it lacks active suspension, the deck has 11mm of elastomer foam to act as a shock absorber, evening out the bumps in the road.
The Bo M looks unlike anything else on the market, with a thick, high-strength aluminum body that seamlessly curves into its deck. Removing the ability to fold down the neck means it’s harder to stow and transport, but provides more space to craft a thicker monocoque body. Morgan mentions, several times, that Bo M is more a vehicle you can park outside your home like a car; a .
Compared to the prototype, the new Bo M has a thicker cowl and a taller, longer deck, but not by a lot. Its unique silhouette remains unchanged and it’s only when you look at the prototype and its successor side-by-side that you can spot the few millimeters of added heft. Inside, however, there have been so many internal changes and refinements over the last year that it’s effectively a new machine.
For instance, during an intense period of user testing in Bo’s Bristol base, the team noticed users dropped their scooters off the sidewalk and onto the road. The edge of the curb was banging against the underside of the monocoque, so the whole body was redesigned to be less prone to grind against the concrete and better able to take the stress.
The rest of the spec list has been re-written as well, with more powerful motors now with a peak power of 1,200W and a rated top power of 500W, the legal limit. The Bo M has a top speed of 35 kph, or around 22mph, more than enough for an e-scooter you’re going to be primarily using on your commute. Nestled in the deck is a bigger, 655Wh battery from LG Chem with the promise of 31 miles or so worth of range. Given the innumerable horror stories about hoverboards and scooters catching fire, Morgan spared no expense to avoid the risk. There are bigger wheels, now with 10-inch pneumatic tyres, more refined brakes – including the regenerative e-brake – a better throttle controller and a more refined version of Safesteer.
And as for Safesteer, Morgan and Wills were naturally cagey to go into too much detail about how it worked during my first test ride. But now, with the machine so close to launch, Morgan explained that it uses a series of opposing torsion springs to keep the hardware vertical in spite of what a rider might do. I’ve even inadvertently put this to the test: I hit a fairly massive rock and the scooter’s refusal to tip to the side helped me avoid an accident.
The one downgrade has been the death of the electrically-powered load hook that was shown in plenty of the initial concept videos. Instead, much like recessed door handles, you’ll need to flip the lock out from its position hidden in the cowl by pressing on one end. As much as the power version was cool, the beefy hinge actually helps give you the confidence that this thing won’t be easily separated from the hardware should an enterprising thief try to make off with it.
Bo was meant to launch at the start of 2023, and there are two reasons why it’s taken so much longer to reach users. Part of that was the usual vagaries of product development, but more so, the UK’s failure to implement a proper framework to make private e-scooter use legal. Morgan was reluctant to talk about the issue given the political sensitivities at play, but the issue clearly frustrates the country’s sizable e-scooter industry.
At present, private ownership of an e-scooter is legal, but it’s illegal to ride one on public roads. The only exception are sharing scheme scooters, which were authorized as part of a trial in a number of locations. Consequently, the UK micromobility industry hangs in limbo, to the country’s lame-duck government to ask for some sort of action. If nothing happens before May 2024, then even those trial operators will be required to shut up shop, too.
The extra development time has enabled the team to ensure the unit is as repairable as possible. Morgan didn’t outline specifics, but said plenty of components will be easy enough for a user to fix. It’s likely the battery and drivetrain won’t be part of that, with users instead expected to return their scooter to a trained technician for service. But Morgan outlined a vision in which users would keep hold of their Bo for tens of thousands of miles, with regular services to ensure things remained perfectly operational.
A few weeks after our jaunt around London, Morgan arrived with the Bo M at my home, 110 miles north east in Norwich. We’d been speaking about my usual testing environment for mobility gear, including a hill with a 12-degree incline on one side, and a 22 degree climb on the other. On a particularly damp Thursday morning, we took the Bo M on one of my usual test runs to see if it could cover terrain that plenty of other units have failed on. To my surprise, not only did the Bo M make it up the 22 degree climb, it did so without breaking a sweat despite the fact that I’m actually heavier than the company’s specified maximum rider weight.
I’m rarely prone to evangelizing, but even before all of Bo’s refinements, I was already of the belief that Bo was category-defining. It is, I think, the first e-scooter I could see myself buying and using on a daily basis, because it’s easy and convenient and safe.
The Bo M is the first in a series of Bo scooters that will be released across the next few years, and the company has already started dropping hints about what’s to come. But, for now, the focus is on the Bo M which has entered production from today, with the earliest pre-order customers due to take ownership of their units towards the end of the year. It will then open up to general customer orders in February 2024, with the UK being the first territory available. Not long after that, however, the Bo M will be available to buy in the US, where there has already been a massive spike in interest for the scooter.
From the start, the Bo team was clear that its first products would be sold as high-end products at the top of what people might expect to pay. Brace yourself, then, when you learn that the (around $2,754) and, while I’m often the first to balk at how much stuff costs, that feels pretty reasonable. If you’re currently paying to get to work and back each day, then it’s likely that the Bo will pay itself off in a year or two, not to mention the fact that you’re driving the most advanced e-scooter on the market. And, as I said before, it can’t help but turn heads.