There have never been so many options for anyone who wants to hop on an electric scooter. With so much choice, how do you know which one is right for you? Let’s look at the main features and characteristics of electric scooters along with some tips and advice that can help you decide what kind will work best for what you need.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to electric scooters. And it’s not just because of aesthetic reasons, like when choosing neckties or lipstick shades, but because of the various technical specifications that go into the design of different scooters.
Electric scooters may look fairly similar when lined up next to each other but don’t be fooled — there is a wide range of design components, features and various intangibles that have pros and cons that you need to know about before reaching for your wallet.
Here are the primary aspects of any electric scooter you need to consider before making your final choice.
Let’s start here because it’s an often overlooked metric but understandably so — you’re thinking about riding it, not carrying it, right? Well, yes, but depending on how you use it, you may find yourself carrying your scooter up stairs in public transport networks, the building where you live or any number of other places.
That means every pound or kilogram may matter more than you think.
To state the obvious, the bigger the load a scooter is meant to carry, the heavier it will be. The industry standard for maximum weight loads is 100kg (220 lbs) and scooters designed to carry more than that will necessarily themselves weigh more. It’s simple physics — any design meant to accommodate more weight will have to be bigger and heavier.
Another factor that adds to an electric scooter’s weight is the size of its battery and motor. Batteries are extremely dense and even a slight increase in physical size can result in another kilo or two. Bigger motors are obviously heavier than smaller ones. The point here is that there is a tradeoff between power and weight.
This relationship often creates a curious vicious circle at the higher end of this scale, where a scooter needs more power because it’s heavier, which makes it even heavier, which means it needs more power, which means it becomes heavier, which means....and on and on.
Remember that in the vast majority of cases, most riders don’t need the most powerful motor & battery combination out there.
Also, weight alone doesn’t tell you everything and you can’t make your decision solely based on this.
Pros of a heavier electric scooter:
- Higher weight-carrying capacity
- Sturdier construction
- Probably has a larger motor & battery, which means greater max speeds and acceleration
Cons of a heavier electric scooter:
- Well, it’s...heavier
- Sturdier construction can mean “handles like a tank”
- Heavier build and larger motor that goes with it can make it more expensive
Generally speaking, you’ll want a lighter-weight e-scooter if you’re using it on public transport, have to carry it up stairs or are mostly using it in cities, where top speeds are not so relevant. A heavier e-scooter is better if you need a higher weight-carrying limit or will use it in open spaces where you can go faster.
If you do choose a model that’s a bit heavier than others, make sure you get something for it in return, like more power or battery range.
This is a factor that’s related to weight — the lighter your scooter is, the more portable it is — but still distinct from it. This is because many electric scooters offer a convenient feature that cuts down on its overall size and allows it to be more easily stored — a foldable steering stem.
Being able to easily and quickly collapse your e-scooter is a huge plus if you’re riding to work or are short on storage space at home or anywhere else. This is not a universal feature, but it’s widely available enough to give you lots of options.
Pros of a portable electric scooter:
- Significantly smaller overall size
- Great for storage, either temporarily under a desk or long-term
- Convenient when navigating crowded public transport
Cons of a portable electric scooter:
- Are there cons to being portable?
Battery & Motor
Yes, we know these are two different things but they work as a pair so we’re going to cheat a little and put them together here.
The more power they’re capable of creating, the faster you can accelerate and the easier you’ll handle inclines. The greater the battery capacity, the further you can go on one charge. It’s pretty straightforward.
But let’s look at three specific issues related to an electric scooter’s battery & motor that are worth special consideration when making a buying decision.
Yep, we’re combining two-in-one again.
Max speeds on e-scooters are regulated in most legal jurisdictions so this is usually taken off the table when it comes to comparisons. The details will vary according to where you live, but the max speed of just about any electric scooter will fall in the “fast enough but not too fast” category.
Power is a much more important metric. The power a motor produces is what delivers acceleration and the force needed to take on hills. The importance of this may not register with anyone who lives in a perfectly flat area but anyone regularly with even slightly uphill climbs will definitely want to pay attention to this.
A battery’s capacity will determine how far you can go on one charge and how much of that time you can spend at high speeds or consuming lots of motor power going uphill. The greater the capacity, the more general use you get out of your e-scooter before it’s time to connect to the power outlet again. This may not be an inconvenience for most, but if you want to reduce the frequency of your recharging for whatever reason, battery capacity is something to keep in mind.
Just let us quickly mention here that the range a fully-charged battery can deliver will vary according to a few different variables, like the rider’s weight and the general condition of the battery, which can be compromised by extreme weather conditions and general wear over time. This is true no matter what kind of electric scooter you ultimately choose.
The size, capacity and power of an electric scooter’s battery & motor combo have a direct impact on its price. You may find that an increase in the size or quality of one or the other may come at a cost that you’re not comfortable with. If you’re a bit more price-sensitive than others, keep an eye on more budget-friendly options that still tick other boxes on your list but don’t come with power that you may or may not need.
Pros of a more powerful battery / motor combination:
- Acceleration on demand, fewer problems handing inclines
- Get more out one charge, less worry about running out of power
- Less frequent recharging
Cons of a more powerful battery / motor combination:
- Do you really need all the power?
- Adds to overall weight of scooter
- Drives up price
This is something that doesn’t really lend itself to a “pros and cons” examination — there is no downside to build quality — but is definitely on the list of things to look at.
Build quality is closely associated with the overall feel or rider experience of an electric scooter. Rigidity is essential to a smooth ride where the rider feels in control. It’s rooted in the design, the assembly process and the materials used. A scooter that isn’t sufficiently rigid will amplify every bump in the road, every rock and every disturbance on a smooth surface.
Another factor in build quality is the type and size of tyres used. Bigger tyres are better and generally speaking air-filled are better than solid.
On top of that, there are things like the quality of the braking mechanism used, lighting options and safety features, grips and more. Even the ability to customise certain parts of the scooter should be considered.
While there isn’t an absolutely fixed and direct relationship between price and build quality, it’s fairly consistent. If budget considerations are paramount for you, you will have to compromise on something and that almost certainly includes build quality. While it’s easy to overpay for features that you don’t need (a super-powerful motor, for example), you can also get a bargain on a scooter that you won’t be happy with because the same thing that makes it inexpensive also makes it uncomfortable to ride.
These can be tough decisions but no one knows your preferences as well as you do. We hope this list helps to make you more carefully consider the many factors in play and ultimately choose just the right ride for you!