Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Update Jan 2016 - New Luggie

My original Luggie has served me well, a superb piece of kit and worth every penny.

However, it's now five years since I bought it and I've not given it an easy life!

It's really designed for use on flat surfaces, smooth pavements or walkways outside, or indoor use and, as usual with any piece of equipment owned by me, I've pushed it to its limits and given it little or no consideration. Not for me the Sunday morning wash and polish with a valeting every month, no, I just use and use and use (or abuse, depending on your viewpoint).

It's been back and forwards to Greece as often as me and driven on rough roads as well as silky smooth airport concourses. It's been up and down hills, up and down steep Greek pavement ramps, across rough concrete patches, loose gravel and shady back streets. In fact, wherever I've wanted to go, its been with me, with hardly a grumble, even around the medieval walls of my home town, the pavements of which are crossed at regular intervals with wide shallow grooves to allow rainwater to flow across and which play havoc with the Luggie's otherwise calm constitution.

But the worst surfaces have been in Rethymnon where I spend a lot of my holiday time. The streets in this city have been gradually gentrified over the past few years. Main tourist streets and even the quiet back streets have benefited from this makeover. The rough concrete has been dug up and replaced with a variety of surfaces, from large paving slabs to smaller ones, from large concrete setts to smaller 100mm square ones.

The net result of this is, whilst making the streets look smart and easy to walk along, if your sole mode of transport is a mobility scooter with solid wheels and no suspension, you don't half get shaken about.

In fact I've seen me go to the supermarket and buy some double cream only to find, when I get back to my apartment, it's turned to butter!!

So what I'm really saying is, my Luggie has served me well, above and beyond the call of duty.

And so, it came as no real surprise when a fault developed. After all, even a Luggie has limits.

The first time it happened was a few months ago. While going round my local supermarket (a practice I reserve for early on the odd Saturday when it's quieter), I realised that I seemed to be sitting at an angle and upon further examination I found that the seat, which has two height positions, was twisted between the lower position on one side and the upper position on the other.

I left it until I got back to the car where I found that the seat locking mechanism was jammed with the seat in the upright position and I was unable to lower it. So I just loaded it into the car until I was able to look more closely at it when I got home.

I managed to fix it but then again, just last week, the same thing happened again.

This time, when I took the locking mechanism apart, I noticed a crack in the plastic base which no doubt contributed to the fault and was probably caused by all those bumps and rough roads and pavements I'd been racing about on. I ordered a second hand part from ebay but when I looked closely at the mechanism, it looked like a much bigger job than I'd thought.

And I just don't have the energy or dexterity to do these jobs anymore.

So I started to look for a used Luggie on ebay and I also began to check on Gumtree and Preloved. There was no shortage of used machines available, some from dealers with a short guarantee and others from private individuals and then I had a brainwave!

Why not ask Paul at Local Mobility, where I had originally bought my Luggie, if he had any second hand machines available.

And so I did - and he said that he did and what was my budget? I replied with a figure that I'd been thinking of and he asked if I would be interested in a shiny new Luggie if he took my old one in part exchange.

Well, I'd never thought of that.

After all, it would mean my old Luggie was recycled and I would get the benefit of a two year guarantee and a brand new machine, not only fit and ready to face the Greek roads on my holidays but also an updated version complete with speed controller which wasn't on my original Luggie.

I now use it every day in the house as my walking and balance have reached a point where I'm a bit of a menace to myself if I try to manage unaided. Fatigue also plays a big part and as I'm a lazy sod anyway, a battery powered set of wheels is a great help.

But, before accepting Paul's generous offer, I decided to have a look online and see what alternatives to the Luggie were available, just in case there was something either better or cheaper or both.

I did a full mornings research but I could see nothing I liked. Sure, there were now other machines out there and one or two of them looked pretty good, folding down easily and also with lithium batteries to save weight but..............

I decided to stick with the Luggie for various reasons.

One, and this is a small point but valid for me - some of the competitors had silly fancy controllers at the top of the tiller instead of the simple uncomplicated Luggie design which I prefer.

Two, I knew the Luggie, I liked the design and was very pleased with the build quality and the ease of use and I also was very impressed with the level of service and professionalism of Paul's company.

Three - and this for me was the most important point - the Luggie folds flat before it folds in two. This means that it can be left folded flat and in that position can be lifted into the car and I have a well established routine for doing so.

I put in in the boot of my car which was chosen because it had a loading platform which is level with the open door - no lip to lift the Luggie over. I simply lift the folded machine by its lighter end, the front, and place the front wheels in the car. I can then get hold up the heavier back end, either lifting it by the underside of the seat or the rear lifting handle and, using the principle of leverage, raise it onto the loading platform. Easy peasy!

All the other machines I looked at made a big thing of being able to simply fold their machines in half in some sort of clever scissor action and then being able to pull them along on wheels with the front tiller acting as a handle.

They didn't seem able to fold them flat so that, instead of being able to lever your scooter into the boot, you had to lift the thing in, all in one go.

Now all these scooters are lightweight compared with more smaller traditional lead acid machines but they still weigh 25 to 30 kilos and this can be a wee bit of a problem if, like me you have poor balance or poor leg strength or suffer from the sort of fatigue associated with m.s.

And besides, if you're using a mobility scooter, then why would you want to wheel the damn thing about? Just sit on it and fire it up!!

So I treated myself to a shiny new metallic red Luggie suppled by Paul at Luggie Scooters and I look forward to all my next Greek holidays, safe in the knowledge that I'm still able to get about and explore all those back streets as well as the main drags.

If you're heading that way, I may even bump into you.

Kalo Taxedi!


The airport requirements for the Luggie seem to change from year to year and you may think that you've given them full details of the Luggie beforehand but you're always asked at the check in to give the details again, so I've printed out some cards which I carry with me and which the check in clerks are delighted to get.

A link to a PDF of the page of lables is shown below and this is up to date as of 2015.

Luggie Labels PDF

Friday, 14 September 2012

Update - September 2012

September 2012

Just a general update on my Luggie experiences so far.

I took it with me to Malta earlier this year and, once again, Easyjet was easy to fly with. No bother at all, in fact this time I was asked if I wanted to take the Luggie into the departure gate, which I did. I drove it onto the ambulift and when we reached the aircraft I walked on and left the Luggie with the handlers. I was a little bit nervous that they'd forget to load it onto the plane but they assured me that there would be no problem - and there wasn't.

At the Malta end, easy peasy, the Luggie was waiting for me and I was escorted through the customs check and that was it. We were met by a dour Maltese who drove the transfer bus and who wasn't very pleased when he saw the mobility scooter because his firm hadn't told him we'd be there. But when I showed him how easy it was to fold down, he mellowed a bit - though still a miserable soul!

At the hotel there were steps to negotiate but the staff were very helpful and lifted it in for me. After that it was simply a case of driving it into the lift and into our room where we put the battery on charge until morning.

Luggie performed well until we took it into Valetta with us on the bus, again an easy thing to do as there was a large baggage area in the bus where the Luggie sat.

In Valetta town, which is a bit hilly in places, everything went well until I made the mistake of going down quite a long steep hill and was then, obviously, faced with the challenge of getting back up again.
I made it, but only just and with the help of a passing pilgrim!

By the time we'd got back to the bus square, I felt the battery was getting a bit low and in fact, because I couldn't sit still and just HAD to go around the central area, the damn battery ran out, leaving me to drag the thing. A bit of a problem 'cos my walking is pretty bad - the reason I got the Luggie in the first place.

Now, in all honesty, I think that maybe the fault was mine.

Over the winter I hadn't been using it so much and I hadn't been keeping the battery on charge. I had also bought myself a golf buggy to enable me to walk the dog and take her over fields, something the Luggie isn't designed for, so once again, the Luggie wasn't getting regular use. As a result, the first time it started to get sustained use again was going to Malta. And perhaps the battery had suffered from the months of relative inaction.

When I got home I'd lost confidence a bit and I took it out several times to check it but on one occasion,  the battery definitely wasn't performing as well as it might so I contacted my supplier and although it was out of guarantee, he replaced it for me. Thank goodness, because new batteries cost about four hundred quid!

If I could afford it, I'd carry a spare!

Anyway complete with new battery we set off on out summer holiday to Crete again and this time it performed as well as ever.

A point to mention:

When you're transporting the Luggie by plane, DON'T fold it in half - just leave it with the seat and tiller folded down flat. The reason for this is simple, when it's folded in half, the plastic 'bullnose' at the front of the tiller is exposed and it gets a right clatter from the baggage handlers. This happened with me the very first time we went abroad and it cracked the bullnose and bent the 'wig wag' which controls the speed.

Also, I lash one of those broad luggage straps around the seat to hold it in place as it's just hinged and the back can move up or down unless secured.

If asked by airport staff, I find it best to emphasise that the battery is a sealed lithium ion unit and is disconnected when folded for loading. It's also easier for you if you tell them it's all one piece and the battery doesn't come apart from the scooter.

I'm just as happy with my Luggie as I was when I first got it. It has superb hill climbing abilities and it's easy to carry in a car, assuming you're able to lift it.

Always remember, the Luggie ain't designed for rough terrain - be careful. Because of it's easy to fold design, it can tip and the small hard wheels are NOT made for bumpy roads. Greek pavements are a challenge because they have bits missing, the smooth surface suddenly becomes rough concrete, the pavement ramps, where they exist are STEEP and very often blocked by Greek drivers just parking on them. But don't get upset, just go with the flow and, if you're stuck, someone will come along and help - always. Just relax!!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Off to Crete with Luggie

Mid April and departure time to Crete was at hand. Because it was too early for the charter flights, I was flying with Easyjet, from Newcastle. Firstly to Geneva and then onwards to Heraklion, Crete. All done in a single day.

My son and his wife were coming with me, supposedly to make sure I made it OK, but really just for a free holiday!

This was why I'd bought the Luggie. I could no longer manage all the walking at airports and I needed a way of getting about when I got to Crete, so that I could explore, once again, the back streets of Rethymnon and just wander from one cafe to another and watch life go by. Besides, my wife had insisted!

I'd informed Easyjet that I was taking a mobility scooter and would also need some assistance at the airport but I had no idea what this entailed as I'd never done it before, so it was with some trepidation that I arrived at Newcastle.

My son went off to the Easyjet enquiry desk to find out the procedure and then we checked in. My case went on board as normal luggage and the Luggie was given a baggage sticker and we were told to check it in at the outsize luggage desk. This we did without any bother, although I made the mistake of checking it in folded, instead of leaving it flat. More on this later.

We then grabbed a wheelchair and my son wheeled me into the lift and up to the departure lounge. When our flight was called, we went along to a separate gate from the rest of the passengers and waited there along with other wheelchair users. It took me a while before it dawned on me that this was a different gate and then I realised that flights to different destinations were all using this room.

The room was on the first floor and before long an airport truck arrived outside, at ground level. It reversed so that it was directly below the gate doors and then the box section on the back of the truck elevated itself until it was level with these doors. The gate doors opened and a guy came out and identified a couple of elderly ladies who were going to Spain and started to wheel them into the box section. Once they were secure, he got in with them, the thing lowered itself back down and off the truck went!
Magic! It was the first time I'd seen this device in action and I thought it was great.

It wasn't long before it came back again and we were called, all our party, myself, son and daughter in law. We got in along with another couple, sat down and were driven across the tarmac to the plane where the box section was elevated to the door at the front of the plane directly opposite the normal entry door. We were first in and took our seats before anyone else. We felt like VIPs!

When we arrived at Geneva we were a bit early and had to wait for a while until the assistance arrived but that was no bother, we just sat and chatted to the crew and then, when the lift truck arrived, off we went again. An attendant wheeled me out of the truck and into the airport where we picked up my case and the Luggie from the baggage carousel. By this time, instead of being folded up, the Luggie was lying flat, but that was OK. It was probably easier to sling about that way for the baggage handlers.

I was then wheeled into a sort of 'holding' room along with miscellaneous other people with wheelchairs, crutches etc. A lady in the corner sat at a computer and answered the phones. My attendant took my son and his wife along to baggage check in where they checked in my Luggie and my case. He then disappeared, refusing my son's offer of a tip!

Our flight wasn't for an hour or so and, when it was boarding time, another attendant came for me and wheeled me along, through security and into yet another 'holding' room, complete with TV.

We were than transferred to another elevating truck and trundled out to our second Easyjet flight and onwards to Crete where we didn't even go through passport control but ended up at the baggage reclaim.

When I got the Luggie back and unfolded it ready for use, I noticed that the plastic 'bullnose' at the top of the front column was badly cracked. It didn't affect the working of the Luggie but it's a point to note. If you fold the Luggie in half for ease of carrying, this plastic bullnose is exposed and liable to damage, particularly by baggage handlers at airports! Best leave the Luggie in the flat position and the folded down seat offers protection.

I was in Crete for three and a half weeks and I used the Luggie practically every day, either in town or out in the village where I was staying, transporting it, courtesy of my son initially, in the boot of the hire car. It was great, allowing me to get places I hadn't been able to walk to for years.

It coped well with the Greek pavement ramps as well. When you consider that a lot of the pavements had curbs of 12-14 inches, you can imagine how steep the ramps were! But, again, nae bother. The traffic in town was pretty hectic but I always found that either the bus drivers or the taxi drivers were most courteous, stopping traffic to allow me to cross.

Back in the village where I stayed I put the Luggie to it's real test, going up hills and down road which were, in retrospect, stupid to attempt. Some of the roads I used, particularly the one from the villa in which I stayed, were just rough concrete which had been allowed to set without smoothing off. Consequently the surface was all uneven and ridged and if I hadn't been able to stabilise myself with my feet, I would have tipped over.

I struggled to get up to the main road, but when I did, I headed for the next village and to the kafeneon there for a frappe (iced coffee). I then decided to continue on and found myself heading up a long continuous hill for a mile or more. I really didn't think I would make it but the Luggie managed exceptionally well, taking me all the way to the crossroads at the top of the road and then back safely to my starting point. I never really had the chance to test the range or the distance I could go before the battery packed in because I didn't really want to run out miles from home in the Greek countryside without anyone to call on for help, although I'm sure I could have flagged down a passing Greek for a lift back, but I was more than pleased with the hill climbing ability of the Luggie. A real workhorse.

So, although the Luggie may not be right for everyone, for me it fulfilled all I asked of it.

Easy to fold and carry in a car, takes seconds to fold down.

Ditto for an aeroplane.

Marvellous hill climbing and carrying ability (14 stone in the buff!)

Easy on the eye, looks cool.

Lightweight Lithium Ion battery packs a powerful punch.

Copes well with Greek roads and pavements ( not the best in the world).

What more can I say? If you have any queries at all about the Luggie, please post on this blog and I will do my best to answer.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

First experience with Luggie

Luggie and Me

The Luggie Mobility Scooter, my own experience.

Scooter manufactured by Luggie Ltd, Taiwan.

I'm sixty years of age and have been having problems with my walking for some time now and last year I began to think about the possibility of a mobility scooter. I was reluctant but thought it would be a good idea if I could get something that would easily go in the car and perhaps, who knows, even take abroad with me on holiday.

I started doing a bit of Internet research and found out two very important things:

1) Scooters were available which would fold or dismantle for car use and 
2) It was possible to take a scooter with you on an aeroplane.

Both these points seem obvious now, but back then they were a revelation.

I found a scooter called the Aquasoothe Travelite which looked OK and a rep called at my house and demonstrated it for me. Unfortunately, it wouldn't either go up my steepish drive nor would it go up the hill leading away from my house. It would however, fold up to go in the car. The price, £1500, was too dear, particularly as it didn't do everything I wanted. However, I convinced myself it would be OK and bought a cheap secondhand one from eBay.

Immediately it arrived, I regretted buying it. Although it did the job, folding to go into the car and performing well enough on level ground or even slight hills, I felt it was too ‘clunky’ and heavy for me - so I gave it to my mother who also has difficulty walking and she’s delighted with it.

I had done further Internet research and found a scooter called 'Luggie' which I really liked the look of. The videos on web sites and YouTube looked pretty good, the scooter looked pretty cool and not like a mobility scooter at all, the only drawback was, again, the price. £1600 - £2400, depending where you bought it. A few came up on ebay but even they were going for over a grand and I didn't fancy spending that much cash without seeing the product first. Trouble is, nobody in my neck of the woods sold them which made me a bit suspicious. Whenever I enquired about them, I was told, 'you don’t want one of them, what you want is......' and whoever it was proceeded to try and sell me whatever they had, without even asking me what I wanted the scooter for!

I'd convinced myself that I wanted one as it seemed to be very portable and reasonably lightweight and looked fine for air travel but I wasn't convinced the thing would carry my 14 stone,  particularly up steepish Greek hills and pavement ramps. And so, the only answer was to go and try one for myself. I'd found a seller who assured me he was the main importer and who sounded very knowledgable on the phone, the only trouble was, he was near Manchester and I live in the Scottish Borders. My son said he would take me, so off we went and the rest, as they say, is history.

We arrived at Local Mobility in Leigh, near Manchester and the manager, Paul, demonstrated the Luggie to me. Not that there’s much to demonstrate - it’s and incredibly simple and well made machine. He suggested I take it out to an area near his shop where there was a multi storey car park and try it up the ramp to see if it was capable enough for me. He was quite confident and just handed the demonstrator over.

Piece of cake! My first time in public on a mobility scooter and I was impressed. It handled the car park ramp with ease and felt like it would just keep on going to the very top if I wanted to.

It was simple to use, an on off button and a forward/reverse lever, that was it. Inertial brakes so that coming down the ramp, it kept a constant speed depending on the amount of pressure on the ‘wig wag’ lever. Let the lever go and the Luggie stopped.

I drove it back to the shop and took a closer look. It’s reasonably lightweight, about the same weight as a sack of potatoes, extremely well made and incredibly easy to fold flat for loading into the car.

I wanted one right there and then!

Fortunately, Paul had an ex-demonstrator in stock and I had a credit card in my pocket so the deal was done. The Luggie was boxed up and my son lifted into the boot of the car and off we went.

I could have bought one from ebay for a little bit less but Local Mobility are main importers and they gave me a 12 month guarantee as well as allowing me to try the Luggie out. I know I’m not going to need the guarantee but when you’re spending that much money, it’s comforting to have and, besides, I’m all for supporting local business.

Check out his website: http://www.luggiescooters.com/about.htm

I couldn’t wait to try the Luggie out when I got home and immediately put the battery on charge, ready for the next day. The battery is Lithium Ion and weighs about the same as a hard back book and is about the same size. It charges up in situ on the Luggie but an off board charger is also available and is well worth getting.

Next day I was off!

Down the drive - about 40 yards of rough surface and fairly steep, but downhill on the way out. At the bottom of the drive, hills in both directions, one less steep than the other but, in the interests of science, I chose the steeper of the two. It’s the way out to the main road anyway.

I don’t know what I thought.

I’d tried the Aquasoothe up this hill but it took one look and gave up. I also have an adult tricycle, a Powatryke which has a 200 watt motor on the front hub and is powered by three 12 volt batteries and it will make it up the hill but it has to be pedalled pretty hard as well and also needs to be ‘tacked’ from side to side. It ain’t an easy task, let me tell you and it’s one I can’t do any more ‘cos I haven’t the power in my legs to pedal.

So, I pointed the Luggie up the hill, pulled the ‘wig wag’ lever and set off.

Nae bother!!

Straight up that damn hill, carrying 14 stone of flesh and bone.

Alright, so it slowed down at the steepest part but it took me up the hill and along the road at the top where I turned around and came back down, elated! I was mobile again. (I've since measured the slope of the hill with an Ipad app and it comes out at between 15 - 17 degrees)

When I got to the bottom of the hill, I took one look at the drive and thought ‘I’ll be lucky!” It’s not quite as steep as the hill but it’s much rougher, grassy, weedy bit in the middle and tracks either side made of embedded rough ‘hogging’, a sort of large rough gravel.

But I tried anyway and, Lo and Behold, it did it. Took me right up the drive, across some loose gravel at the top and right over the paved patio to the french doors.

I was tickled pink! The Luggie had done all I had asked of it. I admit, even though I’d taken it up the car park ramp at Leigh, I didn’t really think it would get up that dam’ hill at home.

Next day I took it out in the car with wife and dog. She dropped me off at the top of the steep hill (another one) down to the river with the dog while she went down to wait for me in the car. I Luggied down the hill and she continued on with the dog along a field while I played about on my new toy. I got fed up waiting for her and decided to test the Luggie’s capabiities yet again, so I headed back up the hill from the river. This was a proper tarmac road but another steep hill, rather like the one at home, only much longer!

Once more - Nae Bother. Although the road was wet in places and pretty damn steep, the Luggie took me up without a hitch! And this was after I’d already used it to climb up the hill from the house before putting it in the car for our dog walking expedition. And all this was done with a new battery which hadn’t reached it’s maximum charge yet as Lithium Ion batteries need to be charged about a dozen times before they reach maximum output.

At this stage, I was more than satisfied with my Luggie and was looking forward to it’s next major test - travelling to Crete!