Halfords is well known for its Carrera brand of bicycles, with its Vengeance boasting the title of “UK’s most popular mountain bike”, but up until this point, it has been busy selling the likes of Segway’s Ninebot and Xiaomi’s Mi range to punters looking for electrical assistance on their daily scoot.
Seeing as the personal electric scooter market is in somewhat of an ascendance at the moment, Halfords has decided to unleash its first Carrera-branded scooter in the form of the grammatically ignorant impel is-1 – an oversized adult scooter that features 8.5-inch pneumatic tyres, a 15.5mph top speed and 18-miles or range from its slender, below-deck battery packs.
At £399, it will sit in the same price bracket as the Pure Air, Xiaomi Mi 1S and cheaper Ninebot Segway E22E - all very good scooters in their own right, but really the Pure models are the only scooters that can match the speed and range of Carrera’s latest effort.
Carrera impel is-1 review: design
Much like the wider Carrera range, this debut electric scooter won’t be able to compete with its more expensive, design-led rivals when it comes to sleek lines and clever touches. For example, the frame is forged from lightweight but bulky alloy tubes and much of the spot welding is still visible at the joins. There are no stylish angular lines or deliberate design flourishes here.
The buckle that locks the handlebar into the rear fender is absolutely massive and the metal finish looks like something lifted from a piece of industrial machinery. Stand it next to the diminutive and ultra-fashionable Ninebot Air T15E and you couldn’t get more chalk and cheese.
But that said, the Carrera feels like a much beefier proposition and does absolutely everything you ask of it, with a crystal clear LCD screen taking care of speed and power level read-outs, while the ubiquitous thumb shift throttle is smooth and accurate. Even the rubber buttons that switch the machine on and adjust the power level feel overly rubberised and solid.
On top of this, there’s a clever (if a slightly clunky) integrated lock that consists of a wire that emanates from the side of the handlebars and loops back into a small clasp, itself operated by a small combination barrel. It’s not chunky enough to put off determined thieves, but great for slinging around a lamppost when popping into a shop.
To ensure the safety of its riders, the impel is-1 also comes fitted with a rear light, which acts as a brake light when the front or rear brake levers are pulled. There’s also an always-on headlamp and two sets of reflectors placed on each flank.
At 17cm wide and around 44cm long, the standing deck is considerably larger than many of its rivals, meaning it is possible for anyone with an average shoe size to stand with feet side-by-side, which I think is slightly easier on the quads than the typical scooter split stance.
While the handlebars are non-adjustable for height, they do easily fold backwards and lock into a chunky loop on the rear fender, meaning you can carry it via the bars. Still, it’s not exactly small when folded and will feel pretty heavy to most.
In order to bring the Carrera to a stop, Halfords has fitted fairly sizeable disc brakes to the front and rear. Thankfully, these have been tuned so they aren’t particularly sharp on the front but have slightly more bite at the rear. It’s a nice balance.
Carrera impel is-1 review: performance
Unlike popular products from Ninebot Segway and Xiaomi, there is no accompanying app to fiddle with before setting off. This is a bit of a blessing in disguise, as I’ve found sitting through the three-minute safety videos a bit condescending and many of the app features are largely irrelevant anyway.
With the Carrera impel is-1 is, it’s simply a case of thumbing the power switch and the scooter comes to life. There’s also a default digital code to input to prevent light-fingered folk making off with your pride and joy. It’s a neat deterrent, as it beeps like a scooter possessed and slams on its brakes if you try and move it without first inputting three numbers.
Thankfully, you can turn this setting off with a bit of button combo holding, but it’s definitely recommended if leaving the scooter in a public place for any length of time.
Like most other electric scooters, operation is really just a case of giving a small kick to start off and then depressing the thumb throttle. At around 2-3mph, the rear electric motor kicks in and takes over propulsion duties. With four different power levels, it’s easy to tailor the Carrera scooter to the conditions. Although I often just cranked it up to the highest level and modulated the throttle. Probably not the best for conserving battery life but definitely the most fun.
On the subject of battery life, this is also pretty good, although you won’t get anywhere near the 18 miles if you do cruise at a constant top speed or often ride in the highest power level. The same goes for chilly weather or a particularly hilly ride, as these scenarios will drain the batteries faster.
During a week of local scooting, I managed three or four days of short trips before it required plugging in, which is good in my books. It’s highly likely you can eke more with careful riding.
The brakes are also very well-judged, providing plenty of stopping power, even in nasty riding conditions. The 8.5-inch rims and pneumatic tyres are slightly smaller than rivals but they do a good job of feeling stable underfoot. However, there’s a lot of vibration through the handlebars at higher speeds and it can get a bit bumpy.
Manufacturers plaster warnings all over their products surrounding tyre pressure, but I’d be tempted to let some air out to try and smooth the ride out a little. But hey, what do I know?
Carrera impel is-1 review: other features
A lack of smartphone app means there aren’t many technological highlights to note, but there are a lot of analogue features that rival scooters lack. The built-in pin lock electronic immobiliser and combination cable lock pair up to make a pretty formidable security system and save owners having to lug a separate chain around in a bag when parking.
The wheels also incorporate a split rim design that, according to its maker, ensure puncture repair is a little less time consuming - an area that often frustrates electric scooter owners who don’t want to have to visit the retailer every time the tyres go flat.
Similarly, the LED display isn’t the most technologically advanced (or pretty) but it does everything you ask of it. Two large rubber buttons cycle through the electronic immobiliser feature upon start up and then adjust the motor assistance level when riding. There are also read-outs for speed and battery charge level.
Carrera impel is-1 review: verdict
The Carrera impel is-1 is a solid debut offering, packing the speed and range of its closest Pure rival but arguably offering slightly more scooter for the money (in a physical sense, that is) and a more solid build quality. You can bump it off a kerb without too much of a worry, but some might find its overall bulk a bit off-putting.
That said, the folding mechanism on the Carrera might not look particularly appealing, but it’s a lot easier to operate than the Pure Air, for example. Overall, the Carrera majors on the everyday stuff but doesn’t exactly excite with its design. It’s a case of function over form… but that’s no bad thing.