Opinion with Christine Tongue: Thrills but no spills – yet!

Aboard the Terrain Hopper

When your legs don’t work, thrills get a bit thin on the ground. Just standing on my wobbly legs is risky so mountain climbing or white water rafting is off the menu.

My mobility scooter has become my legs. But it won’t go everywhere. It balks at steep slopes and even a bit of grass can bring it to a standstill.

But there is a mobility scooter that can cater to the thrill-seeking wheelie. It’s called a Terrain Hopper and looks a bit like a quad bike or a military jeep. Really macho! I might get a camouflage outfit, or black leathers, if I get one.

I tried one out for a test drive in the most challenging weather so far this winter.

Sam, from Terrain Hopper, parked it outside my house just as hail started flinging itself down. It was a bit difficult to get into with my reluctant legs but eventually I was strapped in and heading down to the seafront.

Halfway there a huge flash of lightening landed just in front of me. (felt like it anyhow) and hail piled up inside my coat. The coward in me turned round. The roller coaster fan in me carried on to the beach.

The Hopper can do deep water, ploughed fields, woodland, mountain sides and takes steps in its stride! No need for dropped kerbs, you just aim for the step and up you go.

Driving on the beach in the snow was very thrilling. Speeding along on the edge of the sea and leaving wide tracks in the whiteness. Best fun I’ve had since the Dreamland roller coaster, years ago.

Viking Bay has a steep slope of sand in winter, the berm, built to protect the beach huts from high tides. “Try it on the slope” said Sam. So I did. And got stuck! It’s the only thing the hopper can’t do, deep fine sand. My wheels were digging me in deeper, the snow was pouring down and I was identifying with Scott of the Antarctic or Lawrence of Arabia. Or some other hero on a mad expedition.

“Go backwards!” Shouted Sam. Backing worked to get me out of the sand dune but then I was heading fast towards the sea and couldn’t see behind me. “Try going backwards up the slope!” advised Sam. But the four wheel drive super scooter just couldn’t cope. Broadstairs defeated the best mobility scooter in the country!

Going back up the high street and terrifying some of the traffic, the snow stopped and people were stopping me to ask about my wonderful vehicle.

“That looks fun!” a woman shouted. It was.

To buy one will cost about £15,000. I wish….

But what I also wish is that the technology that has gone into making scooting safe and thrilling could be available to everyone whose legs are packing up on them. I want to not worry about steps and kerbs and grassy fields or tipping over on a slope or getting onto the beach etc etc. Our best technology has often come out of space research. I need a moon rover and I need it now!


  1. Ohh wow Christine what an amazing experience, so exciting to be able to go places that are usually impossible, then i saw the price! might as well be a moon rover, and your right it shouldn’t be so inaccessible for those of us without that kind of money

  2. Maybe campaign for the the council to buy a few that can be rented.

    Might be cheaper than a lift and they could also tow lesser powered ones up the hills!!!

  3. I joined the Mobility Scooter gang a couple of weeks ago, with a Lupin, a 3 wheeler, with pump up tyres, and 5″ ground clearance. I bought it because it can be folded up and its only 22″ wide, which is important because I need to get it into my rear garden! The battery can be removed for recharging, which many other Mobility Scooters can’t do, and have to have an all weather power point installed.

    The biggest drawback is not the scooter, but the terrible state of Thanets pavements! I have been riding a bike for the last 25 years, so haven’t even walked on a pavement much! Thanets pavements are worse than the roads, and they are bad enough, some 3rd world countries would be ashamed of them! Its not just so called “Dropped Kerbs” which are not nearly dropped enough, and some roads don’t even have them! This means riding on the roads, and as my scooter can only do 4 mph, it means I am a bit of a danger to myself and others! And what about tree roots!!! Whoever planted trees on pavements didn’t think about Mobility Scooters, or even pedestrians!

    Trees that are now very mature, have their roots poking up through the pavements, which makes it very unstable for Mobility Scooters, and pedestrians I suppose. Also, many people have had dropped kerbs installed so they can park their cars in their front garden, which means they have a large “Camber” which makes a scooter very unstable!

    So, anyone thinking of getting a Mobility Scooter bear these points in mind, and try a demonstration model if you can, which I couldn’t do, as I had to buy it unseen from a dealer! The best advice I can give is do not go too fast when negotiating tree roots, dropped kerbs, and cambers!

    • You’re absolutely right! Our pavements and roads are hazardous for pedestrians as well as scooters but the lack of dropped kerbs is the worst sin of all! Scooters of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our potholes!

  4. This would be wicked for my father. That said, how are you using it in the road when it isn’t registered, taxed, MOT’d or insured?

    • Apparently it still counts as a mobility scooter. I was surprised I didn’t need a special licence to terrify, but I didn’t!

  5. Whats the hooter like? Mine seems to startle people when I come up behind them on the pavement, after ignoring my shout of “Coming up Behind You”. Its usually because they have head phones on, or similar!

  6. I didnt try the hooter. I was attracting attention without making a noise. My current scooter has a pathetic squeak to show I’m there. So mostly I just wait until I’m noticed or apologise grovellingly….

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