Jeff Kong Of Glion Talks About New Mobility Products
I had the privilege of interviewing Jeff Kong one, of the owners of Glion, we discussed Gilon’s upcoming Balto and their other projects in development. It was great to “meet” him face to face on video chat.
Jeff recounted how he and Robert McCormick met and how Glion was formed out of a love of lithium ion energy and transportation. Jeff wanted to develop a foldable scooter for a solution to the last mile transportation problem that so many people have when commuting on a train or public transit. Glion began with a kickstarter campaign in 2015 and became a successful scooter company with their Dolly scooter.
Jeff went on to say that many people wanted a seat on the Dolly and Glion didn’t want to just add a seat to the existing Dolly scooter. They wanted to make a true mobility scooter solution to serve customers the best. This led to the 3-wheel scooter the SnapNGo,(here’s an Amazon link, if you use it, I make a few dollars for sending you) which is the one that I have (here’s a link to see mine). It’s a lightweight folding mobility scooter that draws many questions from people while I ride.
The company is extremely customer service oriented and they have a US service center in Nebraska. I can vouch for that as I had an issue with my seat post on my SnapNGo and they immediately sent me a new one to use for my travel seat. They also sent me a new cup holder and the small plastic adapter that goes on the bottom of the large seat with a back rest. I know from experience that Jeff wasn’t just saying they’re customer focused, they really are. They continually strive to help their customers with any issues and they’re very interested in customers uses for the different scooters.
With the success of the two scooters, Jeff and Glion have turned their attention to creating a longer range and faster foldable scooter with a seat. It’s the Balto, named for the famous sled dog from Alaska. This new device is a sort of Cross-Over, you can use it standing or sitting and carry cargo in a basket all while being portable. It can stand in a corner and also be pulled about like a dolly on the little wheels attached to the cargo rack.
The Balto rack and the wheels for transporting it while folded.
Covid has changed many peoples lives and the way they travel and interact and the Balto is now an attempt to solve another transportation problem. Many people don’t want to use busses as much or other public transit and would rather use something with longer range and higher speeds than the current Glion Dolly. The Balto meets that challenge head on as the cross-over design makes it a solution for longer distance commuting by allowing for use like a moped. The pandemic has also made people think more about eventualities and how to be more self reliant in case of emergencies. The Balto addresses this as a backup power station because it has a removable battery and available inverter. This also helps if you want to just get away and go somewhere on the Balto and take a laptop and devices which might need to be charged. You can pack your things in the basket and go far from a plug using the inverter for your devices. Glion’s working on an inverter combiner or parallel kit that would allow for three of the inverters to be combined for up to 1500 watts of output while using three Balto batteries. They’re also looking into a car charger for the battery and a solar panel hookup for it as well to allow for charging without household power.
Jeff talked about using the Balto while seated with it’s large floor board area for foot room and how it’s front wheel drive as opposed to the Dolly’s rear wheel drive. It can climb hills and traverse grass too because of the fat 12″ tires and geared 750 watt motor. I’m most interested in riding the Balto like a moped while seated because my MS doesn’t allow for standing without pain. I plan to use the Balto according to what the ADA states as an Other Power-Driven Mobility Device (OPDMD) which is any motorized conveyance that a mobility impaired user needs to be mobile. Because of this even if motorized scooters or mopeds are not allowed on a trail, because I have a genuine mobility impairment and disabled parking ID card from my state according to the ADA I can use the Balto as my aid. See https://www.ada.gov/opdmd.htm. I also plan on putting little blue handicap symbol stickers on it so as to show that I’m using it in that way. Check out my other post about OPDMD: The ADA and Mobility Scooters in the US
I was keenly interested in what Jeff had to say about the future longevity of the Balto and it’s technical specifications due to my background as an engineer. We talked about the battery life being between 3-5 years in normal use and about the frame being steel and aluminum. He also stated that the motor is replaceable which I really appreciated.
The future projects that they have going right now are interesting to me with respect to the OPDMD. They have a foldable fat tire ebike that should work in the snow and sand planned for early 2021. That’s the sort of device that would get me back to being able to go up small deer trails and hiking paths that I haven’t been able to hike since becoming mobility impaired. For me that’s a great device to bring back some outdoor activity, but for those who aren’t mobility impaired it’s also a great addition for regular use as an ebike. I also look forward to trying a bike like that for riding with my sons. This is another device that crosses over between the able bodied uses as a normal ebike and also helping the mobility impaired users out there so more with friends and family outdoors.
A much needed addition they’re working on is a lighter weight and smaller version of the SnapNGo they call the “Mini”. It’s going to be made for a rider less than 200lbs with a sturdy basket in front and cargo area behind the seat as well. It’s being designed with better anti-tip features and a 24 volt battery. This is really interesting as well because I get many questions about my SnapNGo from people who would like one that’s even lighter, so I can see that this one would be great for those people.
Yet another mobility scooter that has 4 wheels is also in development and should be light, portable and sturdy. He didn’t state any other details on that one, so we’ll have to wait for some more information.
Jeff Kong was an amazing inventor and businessman to interview and I look forward to Glion’s continued development of electric vehicles and mobility aids. Jeff said they’re in it for the long haul and to help people and from what I’ve seen that’s right.
I purchased my Balto on pre-order and I can’t wait to receive it. It should bring me further off the road even if just a little. It looks like it’ll be good on grass and rougher roads than either of my two current scooters and I’ll be sure to review it and post about it as soon as I receive it. I’m going to take it on roads, bike paths, grass and then even on some minor off road trails just to check how it does and report back about it.