Should I Buy an Electric Scooter? Pros & Cons, Buyer Checklist and FAQ

Source: Bird Scooters

Electric scooters have become ubiquitous.

But why?

Why do we need them when we have cars, motorcycles and bikes on the roads?

Electric scooters aren’t just for fun. They can substitute that walk to the office or walk back home.

They are the evolved versions of the bicycle, not the inferior version of the motorcycle.

Do I Really Need An Electric Scooter?

Whether you take the bus or the subway train, an electric scooter can help you travel a couple miles without shedding a sweat.

Mundane walks can also become pleasant if you hop on an electric scooter, given that you take the necessary safety measures. Apart from utility, they can also be used for adventures.

You can go for short trips, one to three miles, around town on the weekend and explore new restaurants. Or just ride for the heck of it, because life can be boring.

Now that you know electric scooters aren’t useless, here are the pros and cons of owning an electric scooter.

Electric Scooter vs Car

A car can be good when you’re travelling with family or friends. But when you are on your own and driving through the busy areas of a city like LA where the traffic jams can get really bad, you sometimes wish there was a better way to travel.

That is when electric scooter comes to your rescue. It doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket and doesn’t need a dedicated parking space. Nor does it cause pollution or need high maintenance.

On the other hand, if you want to travel long distances, over seven to eight miles, a car can be more reliable and safe. The electric scooter is handy and cuts through the traffic, but it leaves your body exposed to any incoming danger. A car, on the other hand, can absorb the impact if an accident occurs.

Electric Scooter vs Public Transport

Public transport can be good in cities which have special lanes for buses and street trains. It also helps you save on the high cost of ownership that comes with a car. It is cheap and predictable. You can just sit back and relax instead of taking the pain to drive and navigate through traffic.

But there is a caveat. You have to follow the transportation service’s fixed schedule. The bus station may be located far from your home. So you may have to walk to and from the bus station which takes additional time. On the other hand, you can take an electric scooter when you want and however far you want. It helps you travel on your own terms.

Electric Scooter vs Bike

A bike not only helps you commute from Point A to Point B, it also keeps you healthy. You get to exercise without carving out extra time for it. But on the downside, if your commute is over a mile long, you may end up getting sweaty.

You don’t want to be drenched in sweat when you step into your office. You want to look fresh and presentable. That is where electric scooter comes into the picture. It automates the commute so that you can just control the direction and let it take wherever you want to go.

If you often wear suits to work, riding a bike won’t be practical. So electric scooters are great for professionals or students who have to show up fresh and presentable to their destination every day.

Now you know that electric scooter isn’t just a fun gadget, but has a solid utility as well.

If you are interested in buying an electric scooter, here is the list of pros and cons to help you make an informed decision:

Pros

1. Convenience

You don’t have to get stuck in a traffic jam like you do when driving a car. You don’t have to pedal or get drenched in sweat like you do riding a bike. You can fold it and store it under your desk at work. It doesn’t get better than this. The electric scooter is meant for comfort.

2. Environmental

The pollution from cars hurts the environment. But electric scooters run on electric energy and don’t pollute the air. If you are conscious of keeping your city clean and healthy, perhaps it is time to use an electric scooter to cover the couple miles to your destination every day.

3. Ownership Cost

Price is always an important factor when buying a personal vehicle. With a car, you have to make hundreds of dollars in payments every month. On top of that, you have to shell out a significant sum of money for gas every month. Cars require even more for maintenance and service. Some car parts can cost as much as the price of a scooter. But if you use an electric scooter, you can travel at just nine cents per mile. Now, you can’t beat that!

4. Fun

Riding an electric scooter is fun. It is like taking a stroll around your area. Zoom through the hustle and bustle of the city and get some fresh air. If the commute is long, you can buy a scooter with a seat. Take the scooter to your favorite spot on weekends and have some “me time”. It is a great personal companion.

It can also become a thing in your friend circle. You can have a short ‘scooter trip’ with friends. There is a sense of freedom in riding around on the road. So you can use it as a stress buster as well.

5. Last Mile

An electric scooter is a perfect fit if you use it for the last couple of miles of your commute. You get off the bus, unfold your scooter and zoom through the last mile. Imagine having to walk the last mile when you’re tired. Nobody likes that.

If you have frequent traffic jams in your city or the area you travel to every day is very crowded, or it isn’t easy to get a parking spot, you can park your car a couple miles before your destination. Park you car there, take out your electric scooter and zoom through the traffic or crowd without wasting a second of your time. The electric scooter is compact and can be stored easily in your trunk.

6. Long Commute

People usually don’t use electric scooters for commutes longer than five to seven miles. But if you do, make sure you take proper safety precautions including wearing a visibility jacket and a helmet. Scooters don’t shield your body from the surrounding traffic like cars do. You are more prone to accidents, so make this choice wisely.

That said, electric scooters can allow you to commute over long distances, say 15-16 miles, on a budget. But for long commutes, you will have to invest in an expensive scooter. Normal scooters can only go up to four to six miles. Moreover, normal batteries are for short range, so you will have to make sure that the battery is built for long range commute.

7. Fast

Electric scooters are faster than you think. They can go as fast as 22 miles per hour, which is quite fast when you’re driving on the sidewalk or on the rightmost lane. Most electric scooters go up to 16 to 18 miles per hour. So if your workplace or school is less than five miles away, you can reach there in just fifteen minutes. That is quite fast for a lightweight electric vehicle.

8. Low maintenance

Cars are high maintenance vehicles. If your car needs a part replaced, it can cost you anywhere between hundreds to a couple thousand bucks. But with electric scooters, this isn’t the case. Maintaining electric scooters is easy. Just tighten the screws regularly and add lube when needed.

If you buy a good quality scooter, you won’t have to worry about spending a lot on maintenance as the parts are solid. But even if the scooter parts such as wheels, grips, lights or mudguards need to be replaced, it will cost a fraction of the cost of repairing a car.

Think of it this way. If you commute to work with an electric scooter instead of a car and your office is five miles away from home, you will save $250 on gas every year. Practically the scooter will not only save you money but pay for its repair every year.

9. Lightweight

One of the best things about electric scooters is that they are lightweight. You can easily carry them to work or school every day. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you can use them for a quick trip to the grocery store or a stroll around the city. You can fold them or unfold them within three seconds and once folded, they are compact enough to store in a small area.

This is the big advantage of electric scooters when compared to electric bikes or manual bikes. Electric scooter does the same job as an electric bike, but doesn’t need to be parked outside your office.

10. Silent

An electric scooter makes zero noise and allows you to drive peacefully on the roads. On the other hand, gasoline cars and motorcycles make a significant amount of noise. However, this comes with a caveat. You have to be careful while driving through a crowd full of pedestrians. You can’t drive recklessly since they won’t be able to hear an electric scooter coming toward them. Make sure you use a horn or bell to give a warning and have them make way for you.

11. Time

If your daily commute is five miles or less each way and you have been using public transport or walking a couple miles every day , an electric scooter can help you save a significant amount of time. You can save as much as an hour every day, which is otherwise spent in waiting for the bus or finding a parking, not to mention getting stuck in traffic. It is better to use this one hour of precious time to talk with your family or work on a hobby.

Cons

  1. Initial Price

Although the ownership cost of an electric scooter is low, you still have to shell out a significant sum of money to buy a reliable electric scooter. The main expensive component of an electric scooter is its battery. If you are buying a long range scooter, the battery will be more expensive.

If you already own a car, owning an electric scooter can be convenient if you commute to an area where parking is hard to find or the traffic jams are annoying. You can use an electric scooter for the last few miles.

  1. Range

Most electric scooters are meant for short range commute, that is five to seven miles. If your commute is longer each way, a car is a better option. Again, in this case, the electric scooter can be used to cover the last few miles if you’re driving to a crowded area.

That said, if you are going to buy an electric scooter to cover less than a mile each way, it doesn’t make sense to buy an expensive one. A robust scooter can cost upwards of $600, so if you want to cover less than a mile each way, buy a cheaper one.

3. Safety

A car may be ridiculously expensive when compared to an electric scooter, but it is a hundred percent safe. Electric scooters don’t shield your body against potential danger like cars. Cars have a robust body and modern safety mechanisms like anti-lock braking system (ABS) to ensure the car doesn’t skid, airbags to protect you in case an accident occurs, impact sensing door unlock system and other safety features.

Electric scooters don’t provide much safety by themselves. You can wear a helmet and knee/elbow pads to have some safety, but you are still physically exposed to potential danger. On top of that, an electric scooter can’t be used in bad weather. Imagine driving an electric scooter in heavy rains or bone chilling cold. It will be painful.

4. Road Limitations

You can drive a car through rough terrain, but not your electric scooter. If there is a rough patch on the road on your way to work, you may have to get off the electric scooter and walk until the rough patch is over. If there is debris on the road, this may get even more difficult as there is risk of getting injured.

Yes, I Know the Pros and Cons. But How Do I Decide Whether to Buy One?

We have explained everything in great detail. But sometimes too much information can be confusing. So here is a quick checklist to know whether you should buy an electric scooter or not:

Checklist to know that an electric scooter is for you:

  • You don’t have long-term bad weather in your area including long winters, rainy season or snow.
  • You want to use it for the last one or two miles.
  • You want to use it for the full commute but not more than five to seven miles.
  • You don’t own a car or if you do, you understand that an electric scooter won’t come cheap.
  • You understand that driving an electric scooter requires driving responsibly with safety gear on.
  • You don’t want to drive through traffic jams and need a scooter to easily navigate through crowded areas.
  • You want to follow your own schedule for travel, not the schedule of public transportation services.
  • You understand that although electric scooters are fun, they can be extremely dangerous if you drive recklessly.

Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to new technology, there is so much we need to know to make informed choices. In this section, we answer the most asked questions about electric scooters to help you make a decision.

1. Should I buy a used electric scooter?

Buying a used electric scooter isn’t necessarily bad. Make sure either you or your friend personally knows the owner of the electric scooter. Buying a new electric scooter isn’t too costly when you compare it to the cost of replacing a battery. If you don’t get a good deal, you will have to replace the expensive battery soon after purchase.

2. Which scooter should I buy?

We have detailed guides on the best electric scooters for adults, teens and kids. Use them to select an electric scooter that suits your needs.

3. Can I ride the electric scooter on the road?

You shouldn’t ride an electric scooter on the road along with cars. You have to ride in the rightmost corner of the road or the sidewalk. A thumb rule is to always ride in the bike lane or the sidewalk if there isn’t one.

4. How fast are electric scooters?

Electric scooters aren’t as fast as cars, but they are faster than you would expect. Electric scooters can go as fast as 22 miles per hour.

5. Can I ride my scooter in bad weather?

Short answer: no. If it is raining, you need to follow a simple rule: water and electricity don’t mix. So don’t ride an electric scooter if it is raining outside. If it is chilling cold, you won’t feel comfortable riding an electric scooter as cold wind will hit you harder when you’re moving fast. And if it is snowing, you will slip and fall. So you shouldn’t ride an electric scooter in bad weather.

6. Are electric scooters safe?

Safety on the road is in the hands of the driver to a large extent. Still, electric scooters are reasonably safe for short commute. If you drive responsibly with a helmet, an electric scooter can provide great convenience. But you must know that they are very fragile when it comes to impact from other vehicles on the road. The slightest nudge from a passing car or motorcycle can throw you off balance and lead to an injury.

Moreover, electric scooters aren’t as visible as bikes. So neither pedestrians nor car drivers can spot an electric scooter coming their way. You can get obscured among the crowd while riding an electric scooter. So you have to be really careful while crossing roads and making turns.

Make sure you wear proper safety gear. Don’t take your scooter on the road until you have practiced it enough to become familiar with its basic functions including brakes, acceleration and horn. If you’re a beginner, it will take sometime to understand how to keep yourself balanced on the scooter while riding.

7. What kind of safety gear do I need while riding an electric scooter?

You should never ride an electric scooter without a helmet on. In addition, you can wear a protective jacket and elbow and knee pads. Apart from wearables, you can add safety equipment on the scooter itself.

This includes rear view mirror on the handlebar, lights and turn signal for the seat and turn signal widget for your backpack. Finally, if your scooter isn’t high end, it probably doesn’t have a strong front light. If this is the case, you can use a powerful front light like the Fenix BC35R 1800 Lumens.

8. Do I need a license for an electric scooter?

You may or may not. It depends on the state you are living in. In states like South Carolina, Rhode Island and Michigan, you need a license. In Wyoming, there are no regulations regarding electric scooters. Here is the complete guide to understand the laws for electric scooters.

9. Would I need to buy insurance?

Insurance for electric scooters is not required by law in the United States. But you may want to get one separately as general vehicle insurance doesn’t cover electric scooters. Do a quick Google search to know the plans offered by insurance companies.

10. Can I ride an electric scooter on the pavement or sidewalk?

Yes, but it depends on the laws of your state. Ideally electric scooters are meant to be driven in bike lanes. But if there are no bike lanes, people drive them in sidewalks. Usually you can’t ride an electric scooter on the road with the traffic, but in Texas you can. It is always better to use the bike lane or the rightmost lane on the road rather than zooming through pedestrians on the sidewalk.

13. Can electric scooters go uphill?

Yes, they can. But it depends on how steep the path is. If you get scientific, it depends on the climb angle. If the angle is more than 18 degrees, driving uphill would be hard. It also depends on how much you weigh. The scooter can carry a lighter person uphill easier. If you regularly drive through hilly areas, it is better to invest in a more powerful scooter.

14. Can I ride an electric scooter on a dirt/gravel road?

Yes, you can ride an electric scooter on a dirt/gravel road depending on how robust your scooter is. But you have to be careful. If there is debris accumulated, you need to make sure you go around it and don’t crash your scooter. When it comes to riding on dirt/gravel roads, pay attention to the kind of tires your scooter has. If your scooter has flat rubber tires, you can easily ride on dirt or gravel roads.

Conclusion

The primary reason people choose to buy electric scooters is convenience. They are lightweight, can get you through crowded areas and are compact enough to be stored under your desk. They are the perfect “last mile” vehicles you can find.

However, you need to be careful as they aren’t quite visible to car drivers. You get obscured on the road increasing the risk of accidents. Wear proper safety gear and always pay attention to your surroundings.