If go kart-ing everywhere was safe, efficient and magically weather-repellent, I’d do it in $2,200 Segway’s Go Kart Pro and a bedazzled helmet.
Well, the helmet would just be for safety. The Go Kart Pro, a mecha kit for Segway’s Ninebot scooter models, is the core of a 23-MPH racing experience that I had the chance to test myself. I knew my job was fun, but it’s not everyday I get to zip around a tire-lined track until I’m dizzy.
Segway makes some of the best electric scooters, namely the Segway Ninebot eKickscooter Zing E10 and Segway Ninebot Kickscooter Max. Last year, the company proposed a way for customers to transform a compatible Ninebot S self-balancing transporter into something more thrilling. Referred to as mechas, these at-home alterations change the way you ride a Ninebot.
The Go Kart Pro mecha kit introduces everything you’d imagine a go-kart needs and more. It features a steering wheel, two pedals, a pair of front wheels and a dual braking system. There’s even a Bluetooth speaker that attaches to the steering wheel’s neck, so you can play your own tunes as you take on the track. For the full effect of the demonstration, Segway ran fake engine sounds on my battery-powered Go Kart.
Believe it or not, I’ve never ridden a go-kart before. I imagined it would feel like a $2 boardwalk carnival ride — cramped and janky, and probably capable of causing whiplash. Then I realized I didn’t know the difference between bumper cars and go-karts.
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There’s nothing cheap about Segway’s Go Kart Pro. It looks as sophisticated a miniature car can, making anyone who buckles in look cool. At least I thought so as I readied for my first lap, with little more guidance than which pedal was gas and which pedal was brake. I tapped the gas cautiously at first to gauge the motor’s sensitivity, and stopped hard once or twice to build a sense of security. But then it was all eyes on the finish line.
My competitive nature compelled me to crush my fellow racer, another media member checking out Segway’s 2022 scooters at the company’s campus in California. With even speeds, whoever best navigated the course’s turns would win. Again, I used caution at first, feeling out the right amount of wheel turn and pedal pressure to move smoothly. After the first lap, I figured it out.
I was surprised by how safe and balanced I felt riding what my grandma would call a deathtrap so close to the ground. Even around the sharpest of the makeshift course’s turns, the go-kart traveled with intent. My body jerked around just enough to make it fun without leaving my neck or ribs sore.
It’s hard to remember when I won given how much time I spent at the track on this particular day. The Ninebot’s battery touts a 15.5-mile range, which I think translated to about 75 laps on the course I rode. It could easily cover my daily work commute back home if, you know, it was possible to go-kart through Manhattan.
I imagine the Go Kart Pro kit would be fun for a group of neighborhood kids to race around low-traffic suburban streets. Me? I’d transform my non-existent large backyard into a small track with some asphalt and spray-painted tires. That way I could perfect my powerdrift.