The Riley RS3 is a well-built electric scooter that has a wonderful folding operation – it just lacks a little on the performance front
- Solid and useful folding mechanism
- Removable battery for easy charging
- Good ground clearance for kerb hopping
- Slightly underpowered
The Riley RS3 is one of the very few e-scooters that could be described as fully folding. Whilst most e-scooters have folding handleposts, the RS3 has a folding deck and a double fold in the handlepost. If you really need an e-scooter that will fold into a small, compact package, the RS3 stands out from the crowd.
Riley RS3 review: What do you get for the money?
Aside from its folding trickery, the RS3 has another feature that marks it out from the massed ranks of e-scooters: a removable battery. The 214Wh capacity is modest, but its 1550g weight keeps the scooter’s overall weight to a manageable 16.4kg. Quickly remove the battery, and you have an even more portable 14.85kg package. But perhaps the biggest bonus is that you can slip an extra battery into a small backpack and double your range.
Controls are pretty similar to what you might expect on many other mid-range priced e-scooters. There is a centrally located LCD display with your speed in the middle, battery capacity bars along the bottom, and a letter indicating which of the three power levels (or more accurately speed levels) is active.
Acceleration is achieved by a thumb trigger style throttle and you get a triple braking system, something which is found on quite a number of e-scooters these days. This combines a rear disc brake, electronic braking (where the front hub motor effectively becomes very hard to turn) and the basic, but effective, friction brake activated by pressing your heel on the rear mudguard.
To top it off there are front and rear hardwired LED lights and 8.5 inch pneumatic tyres with puncture resistance.
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Riley RS3 review: What’s it like to ride and fold?
Let’s tackle the RS3’s folding abilities first. Before we even get into the folding mechanism itself, it’s impressive how rigid and secure the hinges and locking joints are. To keep the ride stable and solid they need to be entirely wobble-free, and they are. This is one of the most solidly constructed mid-price point e-scooters that I’ve reviewed.
Folding is straightforward. First, pull up the rear of the solid rubber coated deck – this is kept in place by sprung ball bearings so just requires a good pull to fold it forwards – then undo the chunky double pivot latch. This allows the main body to hinge in two and it locks together with a satisfying and reassuring click. Finally, push the collars on the bars to drop the handlebars down and use the two hinged joints on the handlepost to complete the process.
This operation – taking little more than the 30 seconds that Riley claims – produces a folded package of around 70 x 43 x 27.5 cm.
If you pick it up by the ‘V’ formed by the bottom fold of the handlebars, it makes a very well-balanced, portable and compact package. It’s a pity that so many train companies have banned transport of e-scooters, as this kind of folding design makes it so much easier to put it in a train luggage rack (though most people will struggle to lift the weight much above waist height). Still, it also means it may well be much easier to bob into a small car boot or under a desk.
Putting rubber to tarmac, performance is more typical of other e-scooters. Our gentle hillclimb course showed it to be fairly similar to the Eskuta KS-450 we reviewed back in December 2022.
If you are used to e-bikes, it’s important to note that budget and mid-priced e-scooters rarely deliver the hillclimbing performance of your typical e-bike. This isn’t surprising given the relatively small hub motor and lack of any pedal powered contribution, but flat terrain and very gentle hills are more their forte.
Even so, it’s slightly disappointing to see the RS3 fall behind the Eskuta on rolling terrain, and its seven-mile range at full speed (15mph) is similarly off the pace. I suspect the RS3’s smaller 8.5in tyres are less efficient than the Eskuta’s 10in rubber. Still, the RS3 whizzes along on the flats and up gentle inclines and also has the benefit of ‘cruise control’ for long clear straights where you don’t want to suffer from ‘throttle thumb’.
Braking is well up to standard, however, and the triple braking system is highly reassuring. The pairing of cable and electronic brakes always stopped me in time, and it was nice to have the mudguard friction brake there if I ever needed it – which thankfully I didn’t.
The lights are similarly excellent, with the front one providing enough power to see clearly on unlit paths in total darkness, and the rear safety and brake lights are highly visible, too.
Riley RS3 review: Is there anything it could do better?
Apart from that slightly disappointing hillclimbing performance, I have few quibbles with the Riley RS3.
Whilst range is short it’s an easy matter to carry and use an extra battery (current RRP £149).
The battery gauge – in common with many other e-scooters – doesn’t reflect the actual performance of the e-scooter. At around six miles it showed one of four bars capacity remaining but power quickly drained away to the point where it was just as quick to walk.
The RS3 is heavy, too, but that’s a by-product of the super tough construction and stiffness of all those hinges. That said, it would be nice to see a premium version of the RS3 using pricier, more lightweight materials in the future.
Finally, it would be nice to have more side visibility of the lights to provide extra safety and to be able to adjust the angle of the front light which I felt was a bit ‘short range’.
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Riley RS3 review: Should you buy one?
If the traditional handlepost fold is enough for your needs, then save your money: there are plenty of less pricey options with great performance on our 2023 best e-scooters list.
If, on the other hand, you’ve been looking for a more foldable, portable e-scooter, then there isn’t much competition. According to my Google searches, the most obvious fully folding rival is the Pure Air Advance Flex, though at the time of writing this had not been released – and it costs £350 more.
If you can afford the premium over and above a more basic e-scooter, the RS3 is something of a game changer. With a brilliant folding design, a handy removable battery and reasonable all-round performance, the Riley RS3 really is as flexible as e-scooters come.