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Bird Air electric scooter review: Budget price, bumpy ride

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 349
inc VAT

A compact and lightweight electric scooter, the Bird Air is well priced but sadly fails to impress

Pros

  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Short range
  • Uncomfortable tyres
  • Not powerful on inclines

Depending on where you live, Bird might be a name you’re already familiar with. With its rental e-scooters already whizzing around over 100 US and European cities – including in Stratford, London – Bird is now hoping to translate its same success to a new range of personal e-scooters, which all kicked off with last year’s Bird One.

Aside from a top-notch GPS tracking system, however, the Bird One was riddled with failings. With its ludicrously high price, back-breaking weight and lack of a folding mechanism, the Bird One was a mediocre first attempt.

Bird is taking another stab at the personal e-scooter game in 2021, however, with the launch of the Bird Air. With must-have features that are more closely aligned with the buyers’ market at a more affordable price, does the new Bird Air successfully compete with its e-scooter rivals?

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Bird Air review: What you need to know

The Bird Air uses a 250W motor, with a 16-mile maximum range and 8in semi-solid “puncture-proof” tyres. Unlike the Bird One, this year’s Bird Air can be folded, and at just 13.6kg, it’s significantly lighter, too.

The Bird Air’s 36V, 5.2Ah battery takes around four hours to charge from empty, and an IP35 water-resistance rating means it should be able to withstand the occasional shower as well.

It’s important to make clear that electric scooters are classified as Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs) and are illegal to use in the UK unless on private land or as part of an authorised rental scheme. Although there are no specific laws in place, we recommend riders wear a helmet, too, and you should always follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.

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Bird Air review: Price and competition

The Bird Air costs £449 and is available exclusively from Pure Electric in the UK. At the time of writing, however, it’s currently available at a discounted price of just £349.

For the same price, you can also pick up our current favourite budget e-scooter, the Pure Air Go, which comes with a more powerful motor (350W v 250W), larger tyres (10in v 8in) and is better equipped for British weather with an IP65 rating.

Costing just £30 more (£379), another solid pick is the Xiaomi 1S, which despite using a 250W motor, offers a slightly longer maximum range per charge, at a quoted 18.5 miles. It’s a bit lighter, too, weighing just 12.5kg.

If you can stretch your budget to £449, then the as-yet-unbeatable Pure Air also comes into play, providing more power (350W) and larger 10in wheels.

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Bird Air review: Setup and design

The Bird Air is easy to set up and you should be ready to ride in under 10 minutes. After unfolding the stem upright, you simply lock the clamp in place and pull up the cover to secure it. Like every other e-scooter, the Bird Air’s handlebar is positioned on the stem and tightened in place with a couple of screws that are included in the box.

The scooter comes in two colours: black and silver. I received the black model for review, and the all-black finish looks quite nice, neatly blending in with the trims, wheels, deck and mudguards.

The scooter’s headlight is built into the front of the handlebar, so sadly you can’t adjust its angle as on other e-scooters. When switched on, the Bird Air’s centrally placed LED screen displays the current riding mode and speed, as well as battery status and a headlight indicator. The push-down accelerator throttle is located on the right grip.

The scooter’s most intriguing design feature is its electronic brake, which sits on the left grip and mimics the throttle in function, rather than the standard lever handbrake that’s common in most other scooters.

While the main stem is chunkier than usual, the scooter’s standing deck is much narrower, leaving little room for manoeuvring your feet. The scooter weighs 13.6kg, which isn’t the lightest by any means, but it’s substantially more portable than last year’s Bird One, which tipped the scales at a hefty 17.5kg.

The Bird Air is built to carry a maximum load of 100kg, which is just a bit behind some of the Pure models that support weights up to 120kg. The scooter rides on 8in semi-pneumatic tyres which, according to Bird, are puncture-proof.

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Bird Air review: Mobile app

The accompanying Bird Air mobile app (available on both Android and iOS) comes with a handful of useful features, such as displaying remaining battery life as a percentage, viewing miles travelled as well as being able to switch between the various riding modes.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment, however, is that you aren’t able to view the location of your Bird Air on a map within the companion app, which was something you could do with last year’s Bird One. This was useful for keeping tabs on where you parked the e-scooter, as well as providing some peace of mind in case it was stolen.

Buy now from Pure Electric


Bird Air review: Comfort and performance

While the Bird Air looks the part, performance-wise it leaves a lot to be desired. After recently reviewing a number of scooters with 10in pneumatic tyres, riding the Bird Air was a bit of a shock to the system.

Not only are the smaller 8in tyres unforgiving on uneven surfaces, the design – solid, semi-pneumatic – sadly makes the riding experience much worse. On one particular bumpy stretch of road, for instance, it felt like I was standing on a power drill as I juddered along. I never once felt this uncomfortable while testing other e-scooters.

The Bird Air also struggled with inclines. The relatively weak 250W motor didn’t provide enough oomph while travelling uphill, and on more than one occasion I had to dismount and begrudgingly push the scooter.

There are three riding modes. Take-off provides a max speed of 9mph and is generally used as a starting speed, while Glide tops out at 12mph and Fly unleashes the scooter’s top speed of 15.5mph. On uneven surfaces, the scooter sometimes felt a bit unsteady in the fastest mode, mainly due to its narrow deck and smaller tyres.

Using the throttle-style brake brings you to a stop fairly quickly – in three or so seconds across a few metres. This braking method worked reasonably well, but personally, I prefer lever brakes, since they tend to give you more control and bring you to a stop quicker.

Another negative was the Bird Air’s range. After riding just three miles in Fly mode, battery life plummeted to 40%.

Buy now from Pure Electric


Bird Air review: Verdict

Considering Bird’s success in the rental e-scooter market, I expected better of the Bird Air. When considering buying an electric scooter, you should always put motor power, range and comfort above all else, and sadly the Bird Air fails on all three of these counts.

The Bird Air is adequate enough, but simply being a mediocre scooter doesn’t really cut it when there are far better alternatives for the price. If you’re on the lookout for a dependable budget electric scooter in the same price range, then you’ll be far better served with the Pure Air Go or the Xiaomi 1S instead.

Buy now from Pure Electric


Bird Air review: Specifications

Top speed15.5mph
Range16 miles
E-scooter weight13.6 kg
Max. rider weight100 kg
Motor power250W
Charge time 4 hours
Wheels8in semi-solid

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