Are you looking to buy an electric scooter? We’re seeing more and more people using them for a daily commute. They require minimum maintenance and can be easily stored when not in use. With so many brands and types available on the market, it’s not an easy decision to make. With these 11 tips, we’ll help you make the right choice!
Please note that here we are only looking at a motorized scooter powered by an electric motor and ridden by standing up on a small deck (electric motor powered kick scooter). With the advancement of batteries and electric motors, they gained popularity in the past several years and are used for short and quick rides around the city.
This is most likely going to be one of the most important factors when selecting an electric scooter. Depending on your commute type and riding preferences you want to pick a scooter that will match your commute type and riding preferences. Are you going to zip around the city, ride short distances, hop on public transportation with your scooter, or hit a wild and dirty outdoor adventure? Let’s see what are the most common scooter types available on the market today and what purpose do they serve:
Road scooters – This is the most popular option for many commuters. Depending on the wheel configuration, there are two-wheel and three-wheel scooters. Three-wheel scooters have either two wheels at the front or the back (trike). Compared to two-wheel scooters, the three-wheel scooters provide better stability.
Off-road scooters – These scooters are perfect for folks who want to enjoy adventures and feel that adrenaline rush. Compared to road scooters, off-road scooters are usually bigger having the sturdier frame, high ground clearance, and bigger wheels with knobby tires accommodated for rough terrains. They will climb hills, travel over obstacles and bumps, while still providing a riding comfort.
2. Range and Battery
The range will definitely depend on the battery capacity, riding style, and terrain.
Think about the distance you are going to ride most of the time, both ways – back and forth, then check the range offered by a scooter and see if that covers your requirements. Many scooter makers offer a couple of battery options. Make sure the range provided by the battery is bigger than what your needs are, providing you with some range leeway.
The range is anywhere between 5-7 mi (8-11 km) on Gotrax G2 up to 40 mi (64 km) on Segway Ninebot Kick-scooter MAX.
In case of round trip exceeds the range of your scooter, think about purchasing an extra charger. One that you’ll keep at home and the other one that you’ll take with you or keep at your other location (work/office). This way you’ll never have to worry about your battery running out of juice.
When it comes to riding preferences, some people simply like the boost when kicking off on a green light, the control to react in changing traffic situations, riding uphill, or going crazy while having off-road fun. If you want that extra torque, go with a higher capacity option if offered by your scooter brand, but also keep in mind that a bigger battery can add significant weight to your scooter if you need to carry your scooter when not riding.
Remember that with sharp accelerating and braking will drain your battery way faster.
Ultimately, try to strike the balance between your most common riding distance and battery capacity. First, take a cup then pour the milk.
There are a couple of characteristics you want to take into consideration when choosing the scooter size. As with picking the scooter type – your riding preference, commute type, and even your body size will determine the scooter size you would like to go with.
A rule of thumb is that bigger scooters will feel better for long-distance and off-road rides, but they are bulkier and harder to transport, while smaller scooters are better for tricks and commute hops (think public transportation, taxi, airplane) and are taking less storage space. What to pay attention to?
Deck – The bigger the deck is, the more comfortable riding experience, especially for longer distances. The bigger deck also provides more feet space, particularly for bigger riders. On the other side, the smaller the deck size, the lighter and more compact the scooter will be. The bigger deck will also absorb the road bumps better.
Handlebar – The scooter handlebar height is all up to personal preference. The handlebar is adjustable and for most riders, it should sit around the hip to waist height when standing on the deck. The foldable handlebar is great for scooter conveyance and preserving storage space while the scooter is not in use.
After all, you want to feel comfortable while gliding on or off-road. Not only that, you want a good fit for your body size. However, if you often switch between different means of transport, go with a more compact option.
4. Riding Comfort
In general, scooters are easy to ride, almost like a bicycle, but with these couple of extra tips will make your riding experience even more pleasant.
Inflatable tires: excluding a couple of exceptions that come with solid, most scooters come with inflatable tires. Inflatable tires are good enough for a comfortable ride in most situations.
Pro tip – Before use check tire pressure and inflate them if needed. Scooters come with a valve extender for easier tire inflating.
Suspensions – Unless you deal with a lot of gravel and rough terrain in your commute, suspensions are not mandatory feature and inflatable tires will do just fine in absorbing most of the road imperfections. However, if you ride a lot on bumpy terrain or off-road, a scooter with suspensions and bigger/thicker tires is something you would like to consider.
Handlebar – A wider handlebar gives you more leverage and control. This means that hitting unexpected road bumps with your front wheel is less likely to tear the handlebar out of your hands. On the other hand, a wider handlebar can give you some trouble sneaking through the busy traffic in a congested city. Another thing to consider is the handlebar angle, i.e. the angle between the handlebar and the deck. Ideally, you don’t want perpendicular angle, but a slight incline in the rider’s direction, it will feel more natural to ride.
Steering – On the contrary to two-wheel scooters, where steering is done by turning the handlebar, some three-wheel scooters turn by leaning (lean to steer), similar to how skateboards steer. Steering by leaning combines balancing and steering into one single action and can be fun.
Deck – As already mentioned, the deck size will determine riding comfort, especially for longer rides.
5. Acceleration and Brakes
Staying safe in traffic is probably the most important feat. Wearing protective equipment helps you to avoid injuries, but you also need to be able to react quickly to changing traffic situations. You must have a very good command and control over your vehicle. This is where brakes and good acceleration comes into play.
There are three ways to brake on electric kick scooter: standard, mechanical disk brake (just like ones seen on bicycles); rear fender foot brake (just like ones seen on non-electric kick scooters where you step on the fender to brake); and lastly, using the electric motor. Yes, the electric motor can brake and even charge back the battery.
We’ll write about working principles in another article, for now, don’t get caught up by “regenerative braking” gimmick that many manufacturers advertise, it didn’t show any significant value in practice. Some vendors, such as Dualtron go even step further and make ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) equipped brakes.
Disk brakes are standard equipment as motor brakes on its own are not enough to stop the scooter in a reasonable time at high speeds. More often than not, scooters will be equipped with a combination of brakes. Motor brakes are handy when going downhill to slow down or control the speed of movement.
If you ride in a busy city and you want to boost on a green light, or you don’t want to feel sluggish when by-passing other vehicles or you even live in a hilly area and you don’t want your scooter to struggle to go uphill, then pick scooter with powerful motors. There are combinations of single or dual motors. A dual motor scooter will provide more torque, but will also drain the battery faster. Motor power is expressed in Watts and on most models ranges anywhere from 250 to 750 Wats.
6. Top Speed
Although these devices look innocent they can go pretty fast, reaching speeds up to 24 mi (37 km) per hour on models such as Booster Rev. Ask yourself how often will you reach maximum speed? If you commute on a flat, straight road this might be something worth paying attention to, but more often than not, your ride will not allow for reaching and keeping maximum speed while still staying safe in traffic. Just how often will you have to stop, accelerate, turn, and so on?
Don’t get carried away, even if it feels good, be cautious about riding at high speeds. On a bumpy terrain, a scooter can quickly become wobbly and get out of control. It’s way more important that you enjoy the ride instead of getting injured. Always stay safe in traffic!
So-called power or riding modes (slow, medium, fast) will dictate the maximum speed. One more thing to keep in mind is that riding at higher speeds the battery will drain way faster for the same distance as riding on a lower speed.
Warranty is anywhere from 1 to 12 months and also depends on the country of purchase. Some vendors provide different warranty periods on different parts. For example, Segway provides a 1-year warranty on the deck, 6 months on the battery pack, 3 months on a kickstand and so on for the Ninebot KickScooter for consumers in North and South America.
Bear in mind that to qualify for the warranty, the product cannot be used for rental or commercial use, must not be modified, and does not cover normal wear and tear, or any damage caused by improper assembly, maintenance or misuse.
If you want warranty coverage for a longer period, check if there is an option for an extended warranty to provide further coverage for repairs and maintenance. Extended warranty contracts are sold separately by sellers or manufacturers. You will need to ask if there is such an option and get the one that is right for you.
The rule of thumb is that the higher the warranty period is, the better the quality of the product. In any case, make sure to check with your seller about the warranty period and conditions before you make a purchase. After purchasing, keep your bill of sale and/or the warranty certificate.
Although the price of certain models can shoot up to $1599 for Boosted Rev, which is on par with the price of a good bicycle, second-hand car or motorcycle. However, many models are still in a pretty affordable range for many people. Several factors contributed to that: recent advancement in battery technology, more and more vendors entering the electric vehicle market making it more competitive.
Know what you can realistically afford as you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself. Many sellers offer installment payment, an option you can explore. Also, make sure you can fit any extra accessories in your budget.
Buying a scooter is usually not the only concern. There are a couple of added extras that will make your riding experience safer and more effective. Here are our recommendations:
Helmet – One of the most crucial safety precautions is wearing a helmet. In case of an unexpected event, it will protect your head from injuries in case you fall or hit an object.
Light – Being visible in dark for others in traffic is a very important safety measure. Furthermore, in many countries lights are required by law. Some models come with integrated LED lights and some models are taking it to the next level by also providing a brake light! If your scooter doesn’t have any lights integrated, definitely buy a pair (front and rear).
Lock – Given recent flood of rental scooters, many indoor places forbid you taking the scooter inside and sooner or later you are going to get into a situation where you have to leave your scooter unattended. Many underestimate strength and quality when choosing a lock. Make sure it’s really of good quality and cannot be easily cut through. Don’t be surprised about the price of good quality locks, yes they are pretty expensive. We’ll write more about how to choose a good lock that will keep your scooter safe from praying hands in another article.
Alarm – Going a step further in securing your scooter is using an alarm system. They are small, easy to conceal, designed to detect movement or vibrations and warn about the illegal activity using a loud sound. There are also GPS trackers if you want to make it even safer.
Mobile phone holder: We can’t imagine our lives without mobile phones nowadays. Why not just mounting it as a HUD so it’s always visible in front of our eyes and you can even monitor or manage your scooter if your vendor provides an app that you can connect to.
A couple of unrelated tips:
Water resistance – Even if a scooter is advertised as a waterproof one, always keep in mind that water can affect electric components and that riding in wet conditions is more dangerous. Most scooters would be able to take a splash or two and handle some scattered raindrops while better models even short intervals of light rain.
Kick to start – Certain models are unable to start from a non-moving point and you will have to propel the scooter by foot to a certain speed before the motor is engaged.
Cruise control – “Cruise control?” you’re wondering. Yes, just like in cars. For long, boring rides irreplaceable feature, however engaging is a bit awkward in our experience and doesn’t work as smooth as on cars. Something to consider.
Handlebar folding – We heard about scooters with a foldable handlebar that the latching mechanism is not well-engineered and is often coming loose or even braking. The handlebar latching mechanisms allow you to fold or pop up the handlebar. Given most, if not all, scooters available on the market come with the folding handlebar, make sure you pick one with sturdy latch. Just think about it. Every time you brake or accelerate you are putting a lot of force to the handlebar.
Beginner’s mode: Don’t be surprised if you are unable to accelerate over a certain speed on a new scooter. Many scooters will allow riding only in the slowest mode until certain mileage is exceeded. The purpose of this is to accommodate novice riders to the mechanics of a scooter.
App – An app will provide extra information such as remaining mileage, battery life, total mileage, as well as extra features such as cruise mode, anti-theft control, etc.
Parts and service availability: Before purchase inform yourself what is service available for your scooter and what is the usual waiting time for repair. There are chances that service is provided by the shop or distributor and if not, they will probably offer to send a malfunction scooter to a service or manufacturer.
11. Test Drive
Our final tip is a practical one. As already mentioned, we’re seeing more and more people adopting electric scooters for daily commutes. Probably someone you know has one already and you can borrow it for a test ride. Another option is to ask in your local shop if they offer test models that you can try. The first-hand experience can be the deciding factor that will help you make the final decision.
Picking a scooter that will perfectly match your needs is not an easy task. Hopefully, this read will help you make the decision easier. If you have a tip that could help others, do not hesitate to contact us.
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