What’s your reason for buying an Electric Scooter?
Whether you’re thinking of buying an electric scooter for everyday commuting, heavy-duty off-road fun with your boys at the weekend, or just cruising the city sites and sounds, they’re a fantastic way to get around.
They’re an easy and convenient way to avoid traffic jams, no more being pushed and shoved on a bus or train. They’re what urban lifestyle commuting should be all about.
An electric scooter gives you the freedom to express yourself, to get out and enjoy the fresh air, battle with all types of terrain while staying friendly to the environment and saving money.
Which electric scooter is right for you?
Currently, there are thousands of electric scooters to choose from; they all come in different shapes and sizes; some are multi-colored while others look super sleek, elegant and almost make a fashion statement.
Some are lightweight and nimble, making them perfect for whizzing in and out of traffic during your daily commute, others have fantastic ranges, so they’re ideal for weekend touring with friends. In contrast, some are super heavyweight ‘big boys’ that like nothing more than simply rolling over any type of off-road terrain.
But whatever scooter you choose, there are a few things you need to look for and consider. So we’ve put this buyers guide together that gives you all the buying tips and insights you’ll need to consider before placing that order.
To make your life a little easier we’ve broken it down into easy to read sections;
- Price & Warranty
Choosing the right size scooter
Whether you’re choosing an electric scooter for adults or kids, you can ride a scooter of any size, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to handle or comfortable to ride. Choosing the right size scooter for your height and weight is essential. And while we can guide you here on what to consider, it’s going to come down to what’s more comfortable for you.
One of the significant considerations of how your scooter will feel is the height and width of the handlebars bars and while some scooters come with height adjustable handlebars not all of them do. But how do you decide which size you need and what difference does it make?
For greater balance, comfort, and performance, your scooter handlebars should sit around your hip to waist height when standing upright on the deck. If bars are too far above the waist, you could have difficulty in controlling the scooter. If you have the bars too low, then you could be in for a very uncomfortable ride.
Choosing the width of your handlebars is about personal preferences, but a good tip is to choose a bar that is about the same width as your shoulders.
The deck size will determine a lot of things regarding the comfort of riding your scooter. Typically a bigger deck will be more comfortable for larger riders, while a smaller deck will make the scooter lighter.
However, again it’s about personal choice; if you’re using off-road scooters, you might want a bigger deck, one that lets you move around and helps you with your balance. On the other hand, it might be all about just making sure both feet can sit comfortably on the deck – you choose.
Deck Length & Width
The deck length of the majority of most scooters will range from 19″-22″, while most deck widths are around 4″-5″. Again choosing the right deck length and width is about what’s more comfortable to you.
When you’re looking at the weight load of your scooter, remember to include the weight of your backpack or anything else you might regularly carry. For example, if you come in at say around 200lbs, go for a scooter that will hold 230lbs comfortably.
Power matters when it comes to electric scooters, and by power, we mean the amount of energy that the rechargeable battery delivers to the motor to achieve both the speed and range of the scooter.
Types of batteries
Batteries come in three formats, Nickel Metal Hydride, Sealed Lead Acid, and Lithium-ion. While they all have distinctive advantages, the majority of scooters are fitted with the Lithium-ion version.
Why Lithium-ion Batteries
The reasons why Lithium-ion batteries are so popular with everyday electric scooter users are:
- They are the lightest type on the market today.
- Faster charging times.
- Run time is about three times longer than other batteries.
- Safer for the environment when compared to Lead Acid batteries.
- Maintenance-free with no interruption of power.
- Resistant to seasonal temperature changes.
Battery Power: Watt-hours
Batteries are rated in watt-hours, which is a measure of their capacity. Capacity is one of the critical factors that determine the range of the scooter. Cheaper lightweight scooters will have an ability of around 250-watt hours while the ‘big boy’ scooters can have almost 3,000 watt-hours.
Housed within the construction of the deck for better protection, most scooter batteries require an average charge time of between 5 and 7 hours.
As the energy source batteries make up a large part of the overall weight of the scooter and can range anywhere from 5 kg to 26kg. So you need to think about this if you’re going to be using your scooter for daily commuting, particularly if you’re carrying it upstairs or on the bus or metro.
To get the best out of your battery, charge it daily if you use your scooter daily, and after a ride, recharge the batteries immediately as you don’t want to end up pushing your scooter home because the battery has no charge.
Choosing the right speed
When it comes to speed, there are two types of defined speeds, the maximum speed & comfortable cruising speed. While most commuter scooters offer a top speed between 20-30mph, the more powerful off-road scooters can achieve an eye-watering nerve changing 60mph.
However, when it comes to choosing what’s the right top speed for you, well, that’s going to depend on several factors, including who’s the rider and how the scooter gets used. As an example, you might consider the following
- Child/beginner – 8mph
- More experienced children and teenagers – 10-15mph
- Adult/daily commuter – 15-20mph
- Long-range & off-road – 20-50mph.
The last thing you want is to ride your scooter at less than walking pace, but at the same time, you don’t want one that is so fast you’re a danger to yourself and too other commuters.
All electric scooters have at least one motor while some of the more powerful ones will have two, and they come in three forms; Chain Driven, the more popular brushless Hub motor, and the recently introduced BLDC motor.
The chain-driven motor works in the same way that a chain connects the pedals and rear wheel on a bicycle and is mounted outside the wheels. With a chain-driven motor, the response time, sound level, power, and torque are not as optimal as with a hub motor. The Razor E300 is an excellent example of the chain-driven motor in action.
The Hub motor does not require an external gear system and is connected directly to the front or rear wheel and eliminates the space needed for mounting a motor, so overall; the scooter is less bulky. Typically Hub motors are found on scooters like the mid-range Mi M365and the incredibly powerful Dualtron Thunder.
The BLDC motor (brushless DC electric motor) is a more recent innovation; it is highly reliable as it reduces the number of electronics needed on the motor. Permanent magnet BLDC and sensorless e-scooter motors might become the industry standard soon. Current scooters using BLDC motors include the GoTrax GXL and the Swagger 5.
The range is calculated as the distance any scooter will travel as a result of a single full charge of the battery. There’s an extensive choice to choose from anywhere from a mere 9-10 miles up to long range scooters reaching a staggering 60 miles. So before you choose which scooter to purchase you need to think about how you are going to be using your scooter, is it for your daily commute or for long-distance rolling with friends on the weekends?
State of the art technology is being integrated more & more into the world of electric scooters. For example, models such as the Swagger 5 currently offer you a mobile phone app that lets you connect to your scooter via Bluetooth, allowing you to personalize your ride and handling, letting you control things like cruise control, speed, headlights, and a whole lot more. However, while that’s great, there are occasions when Smartphone integration isn’t what you need when you’re mid-ride.
But fear not, there is an alternative, models like the Xiaomi M365 and others deliver all the information you need at a glance via incredibly stylish and easy to read SMART information dashboards. These allow you to not only view trip information (speed,
range, power, etc.) but also let you customize the handling through the ‘Ride Mode’ settings, enable/disable the lighting, or engage the motor lock function if fitted.
Things to come
SMART technology will continue to play an ever-increasing role in electric scooter development as manufacturers strive to offer a point of difference, and already brands like Merlin have introduced a scooter with smart front and rear LED lights that turn on automatically. All of which goes to making your choice of which electric scooter is right for you even more fun and interesting.
Okay, so now you know how far and how fast your new electric scooter is capable of, let’s take a look at how comfortable it is to ride and how easy it is to handle. Again to help you make an informed decision, we’re going to look at several aspects of comfort; Sit or Stand, Tires, Suspension, Braking, Build Quality & Weight along with Noise.
To Sit or Stand
Some scooter riders prefer nothing better than standing tall on the deck, wind in the air as they navigate their way through the busy city streets or taking on rough terrain. While others much prefer the comfort of seated electric scooters.
There are various models available with quick-release removable seats from the ultra-fast Nanrobot RS7 down to the more relaxing UberScoot. While having the option to sit can go a long way to enhance your ride, in most instances, you do need to remove the seat and detach the seat post before you can fold the scooter down – but typically, it’s a pretty quick process.
When it comes to tires, there are two types to choose from, pneumatic and solid. However, can we say straight off the bat if you’re a little on the heavy side it’s best to go for pneumatic – you will have a much more enjoyable rider experience.
Because tires play such a crucial role in rider safety, you must choose the best ones to suit how you’re going to be using your ride.
Pneumatic tires, also called air-filled, are tires that use air pressure to maintain their shape and can come without or without inner tubes.
Because they come in bigger sizes than solid tires – up to 11″ we always feel Pneumatic tires are better performing, tend to be more efficient, offer better cushioning across all types of terrain and allow you more traction even in wet conditions than solid tires.
They also have what is called ‘lower rolling coefficient of friction,’ which means when they roll, they lose less energy, so you get better mileage and higher top speed.
The downside to pneumatic tires is they can be susceptible to punctures, and there is a need for tire pressure maintenance.
Solid tires tend to be smaller in size than pneumatic tires and use a rubber or solid polyurethane foam filling rather than air pressure, so they will never go flat like a pneumatic tire. In our opinion, this is their only benefit compared to pneumatic tires.
Some solid tires go by different names and forms of construction, including honeycomb. Honeycomb solid tires have a rubber internal honeycomb structure that helps keep the tire weight down.
There are also a couple of other things you need to consider with solid tires, firstly due to the fact they are made from hard plastics they can wear down more quickly due to their higher rolling friction.
Issues with Solid Tires
Plus, we have also heard of several instances where they are incredibly difficult to change, and you end up having to change the whole wheel and possibly motor, so keep this in mind when exploring electric scooter options that have solid tires.
However, having said all this, there are a couple of scooters, for example, the Horizon that mix pneumatic front and solid rear tire. So again, it’s all about understanding which format best suits your needs.
Choosing the right suspension is going to be the difference between you having a nice smooth ride or turning up looking like you’ve been shaken and not stirred.
In our opinion choosing between an electric scooter that has suspension and one without is one of the most important criteria after choosing which battery is right for you.
If your daily ride includes a lot of uneven roads and rough terrains, you should consider getting an electric scooter with suspension. And as a word of caution, never choose an electric scooter with airless tires but without suspension. The experience won’t be pleasant.
Choosing the right suspension
There are a lot of suspension systems to choose from, and on the more expensive scooters, they come as standard. In some instances, there is a mix of front spring suspension and rear hydraulic shocks that work well together. Other versions include suspension above the front wheel and in front of the rear wheel, creating an actual dual suspension electric scooter.
How you ride
The level of suspension you choose is going to be guided by how you plan on using the scooter.
- For daily electric scooter commuting, a combination of front and rear spring will be excellent
- If you are going off-road on dense terrain, then a high impact PU suspension system with enhanced shocks and front dampening is a must
You will even find that some lower-priced scooters use Pneumatic tires as an alternative to fitting suspension, which in some instances can be more effective than cheap spring suspension systems.
So again it’s all about identifying what best suits your needs.
It only takes a second for a car to turn, a car door opens or someone walks out in front of you without paying attention, and then next thing you’re on the floor in a crumpled heap seeing stars. So when you’re riding, not only do you need to pay close attention to what’s going on around you, you need to be able to brake slowly and smoothly while staying firmly in control.
Four Types of Brake
There are four main brake types: electric and or regenerative, foot, drum, and disc, with various connotations including E-ABS, which can be installed on the front, rear, or both tires
Electric and Regenerative Brakes
Electric and regenerative brakes are relatively new, they work by putting the electric motor into reverse mode, causing it to run backward, thus slowing the wheels. While running backward, the motor also acts as an electric generator, producing electricity that’s then fed back into the battery, so in theory, every time you brake you’re charging the battery in a small way – which is pretty neat.
Foot brakes are activated by pushing your foot down on a rear lever, which causes it to rub against the rear tire, slowing you down. This type of brake does have stopping power but it is dependent on you having enough upper body strength to constantly apply the pressure needed to bring you to a stop.
Drum Brakes are enclosed inside the wheel hub and are generally lower maintenance than other braking types and have consistent performance even in wet conditions.
Disc brakes are considered by many to be the best form of braking system because they have the most stopping power and are lighter than drum brakes. This system is most commonly fitted on top of the range daily commute and high-performance off-road scooters.
Build Quality, Weight & Portability
When it comes to the build quality of electric scooters, there are three key areas that you need to consider
- Frame Material
With regards to the materials that are currently being used to make frames, some manufacturers use cheap inferior materials which often won’t last, To ensure this isn’t the case with the electric scooter you choose, look for a frame that is made from one of the following,
● High-quality lightweight aircraft aluminum alloy, which is ideal for daily commuter scooters.
● Forged steel, which is virtually indestructible and is perfect for children’s scooters.
● Carbon Fiber which doesn’t corrode, degrade, rust or suffer fatigue, and has a much longer lifespan.
Along with choosing which frame material is best for you, check out the standing deck to see that it’s fitted with either a non-slip mat or is coated with anti-slip texture to ensure your shoes won’t slip when you ride in the rain and also check that the deck is sturdy enough to take your weight with no movement.
Weight is the physical weight of the scooter, including the battery. Typically the rule of thumb regarding weight is, the faster the machine, the heavier it weighs. Hence some of the specialist top speed off-road scooters like the Wolf Warrior II come in well over 100lbs. While the more urban daily commute rides are under 30lbs – depending on the model and battery size.
A foldable electric scooter is far more practical if you’re using it for your daily commute or if you are using it as your last mile ride. Typically you can fold and unfold it in around 3 seconds, so it can easily be carried, stored, or fit under your desk.
When checking out the folding mechanism on your scooter, check to see that the area around it is reinforced – seeing more screws will help you here and when it’s folded there is no unnecessary movement.
Also, remember even at under 30lbs it’s not going to be what you might call lightweight, so just make sure you are comfortable handling that sort of weight before you buy.
Noise is a funny subject when it comes to talking about electric scooters because, in theory, they run silent, and there shouldn’t be any (this is one of the reasons they are banned in some cities).
However, that’s not always the case, some of the chain-driven motors can produce a crunching like noise, while some Hub Motors can often produce a soft whistle or hum.
Other areas of your scooter where you may hear noise are from the disc brakes if not kept clean and also where the stem sits when the folding mechanism is locked in place for riding, in this instance, it will require you to fit additional dampers. So again this is something to think about before you buy your electric scooter.
You now know how fast and how far your new electric scooter will travel, you also have some idea how the tires, suspension, brakes, and weight will impact on your ride.
So now it’s time to get serious because we’re going to talk about rider safety. As we touched on when we were covering the various braking alternatives, it only takes a second, and you’re off your pride and joy sliding down the road, and things are starting to hurt quickly. So safety for both you and your scooter are a priority.
Electric scooter safety comes first and the rule here is simple,’ be seen and be heard.’ There will be times when the day is over, but you’re still out and about, and while most scooters come with lights, some are either very weak or mounted very low down on the stem, meaning visibility can be poor or restricted.
So for your safety and peace of mind, choose a scooter that has one if not two powerful LED front headlights fitted – this will let you see any obstacles in your way, like potholes, cracks in the road, and discarded rubbish.
Also, make sure the scooter is equipped with rear red flashing tail lights or as an absolute minimum a rear reflector. You could even think about installing deck lights that will let you be seen from all angles.
The next thing you need is to let people know you’re coming, so if a bell is not fitted to your scooter, make sure you install an audible bell one that can be heard but without frightening passers-by or other road users to death.
Price & Warranty
Electric scooters come in a wide variety of prices, but generally, high-quality, with more equipment and those with extended ranges, don’t come cheap. The main reason for this is a combination of high battery production costs and build quality. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t bargains or products that offer outstanding value for money to be found such as electric scooters under $500.
But while they might be expensive, when you compare them to the cost of ownership of a car and all that entails – petrol, taxes, parking, and maintenance, etc. or the daily expenses incurred using public transport, they represent outstanding good value as an investment.
Warranties can vary enormously from manufacturer to manufacturer. After visiting the Top 5 manufacturers, we found the warranty period to be anywhere from 90 days up to 2 years.
Some policies cover replacing or repairing the battery. At the same time, some excluded the battery – which seems strange when it’s the primary energy source, and the scooter won’t work without one and concentrated on selected parts. All of the manufacturers have exclusions, particularly when it comes to the fitting of non-OEM parts.
Before you purchase your brand new ride, take some time to go over the warranty to make sure you fully understand the terms and the length of the warranty.
You might also want to consider extending your scooter warranty for several reasons; if it was expensive to buy, then there’s a chance that repairing your electric scooter will be costly. If you’re using the scooter for daily commuting, the last thing you want to incur is additional out of pocket expenses while you’re waiting for the repairs to be completed, and lastly, if you’re not handy with tools.
How will you use your electric scooter?
As we mentioned earlier the great thing about electric scooters is not only are they fun to ride and give you a huge sense of independence, but there’s also an amazing choice to suit your lifestyle and to help you choose the scooter that suits you consider the following
- Teens & Kids – For a teens and kids electric scooter an ideal weight would be around 20lbs, have a 150 watt motor and range of approximately 3 miles at about 5-8mph.
- Daily Commuter – If you’re using your scooter for commuting that’s going to be used primarily on the flat with perhaps minor road and pavement bumps it’s going to weigh under 30lbs, will have a 250 watt motor with a top speed of around 15mph & a range of 10 miles.
- Inclines & slopes – However, if your commuter ride includes inclines and slopes of say no more than 10% with slightly rougher terrain and you’re of average weight, then you need to increase the motor size to around 350 watts which will give you a top speed of 18mph and a range of up to 25 miles.
- Hill climbing – When it comes to tackling really big hills anywhere from 15-45 degrees where you require the extra pulling power then you need to look at a scooter that weighs in at over 50lbs, has a motor of between 800 watts and 3200 watts. Typically these scooters for climbing hills will give you a higher top speed anywhere up to 45 mph and a longer range of up to 60 miles.
- Off-Road – Taking your scooter off-road can be a great way to enjoy time with friends. To get the best out of off-road riding you need to look at the heavyweights, off-road electric scooters that come in at around 80lbs with a battery power of 60 volts and dual motors that combined deliver anywhere from 3200w up to 5400w. This type of power will let you achieve a range of approximately 80 miles and a top speed of 50mph so you can tackle even the toughest terrain.
Remember to look for an electric scooter that is right for you, has enough power to get you where you’re going, has the functionality – tires, suspension, brakes, etc along with the necessary speed without being dangerous, and a range that suits your needs and your everyday riding conditions.
Electric Scooter Buyers Guide – The Last Word
Electric scooters are all about zero effort and zero stress; they provide you with a fun, quick, safe, economical, and environmentally-friendly way to get around town or enjoy fun weekends off-roading.
We hope this guide helps you to make an informed and objective decision on what to look for when buying your new ride.
Stay Safe, Ride Safe