Last Updated on February 10, 2023 by Matt
If you are looking to ditch your car as the main daily commuter and go for something greener, there are tons of things to choose from today. You can use public transport more often, although it would make every commute slower and more annoying. Or you can get a bike, but then deal with going to work all sweaty and tired.
Thing is, if you want to get a new light vehicle with fewer carbon emissions than your car, the choice really falls on either an electric or a kick scooter. Besides, scooters are like the perfect middle ground for all personal commuters: they are cheaper than motorcycles, more fun than bikes, and much safer than skateboards or rollerskates.
But the question is, should you now get an electric or a standard kick scooter? What does each type provide? And which one is the perfect choice for you?
In this article, I will try to answer all these things and some more, and try to help you make the best choice for your next light daily commuter.
Differences between electric and kick scooters
The main difference is that e-scooters are powered by a motor and a battery, using electricity, while kick scooters are powered by the rider themselves, using their body and energy. Thus, electric scooters are faster, easier to ride, and require no energy, while kick scooters are slower and get you very tired, but come way cheaper and have tons of health benefits.
Electric scooters come in many different shapes and sizes, with tons of models, each one with a different set of features and benefits. You can find them priced anywhere from under $300 to $7000 or more.
They are typically divided into three price ranges: budget, middle-priced, and premium, while based on their intended use they can be city-based, off-road, or multi-terrain. There are many other ways to categorize electric scooters, as there are literally hundreds or even thousands of different models out there, but these are the main types that will be useful to you.
But no matter what category it falls into, every electric scooter has the same base shape: an open cockpit, two wheels, a motor, and a battery. This type of build brings along many advantages, but it does not come without some shortcomings as well.
The pros of an e-scooter include: higher speed, ease of use, comfortability, more features, and tireless rides.
Since they are motorized and don’t rely on human energy for their rides, it’s obvious that electric scooters are way faster than kick scooters. The average top speed of an electric scooter is around 25 mph / 40 kmh, which is simply unattainable on a kick scooter.
Electric scooters are also much easier to ride on, compared to kick scooters where you’ll need to learn how to maintain your balance while riding at a constant speed, how to break properly, and some other tricks for seamless use. With electric scooters, you just need to stand on top of them, press the throttle, and let the vehicle do the rest for you.
A major advantage of electric scooters is how feature-packed they are in comparison to kick scooters. Almost all e-scooters come with a set of lights, proper disc or rim brakes, and an LCD screen for controls, and many models also have their own suspension systems. Kick scooters have none of this, except for some of the more expensive models.
You can also put a seat on most electric scooters, while kick scooters, on the other hand, can only be ridden while standing.
These featureful advantages of electric scooters make them more reliable and much more fun.
The main disadvantages of electric scooters are: higher prices, heavier and less portable builds, and the fact they require some maintenance.
The cheapest, least reliable e-scooter can cost you three times more than some of the best kick scooters on the market. As we mentioned above, the most affordable electric scooters you can find today come at around $300. Compare this with the average price of a kick scooter on Amazon, which is around $80, and you see that these vehicles are much, much more expensive than their non-motorized counterparts.
Higher speed also means greater danger. Cruising at 25 mph / 40 kmh on a vehicle with an open design is way more dangerous than doing the same in a car. Electric scooters are generally safe, but any wrong turn or sudden stop can have serious consequences, which makes e-scooters much riskier than the average sluggish kick scooter.
Another disadvantage of the packed design of e-scooters is their heavy weight. The motor, the battery, and the thick frame all add significant weight to these vehicles. The average weight of an electric scooter is around 50 lbs / 23 kg, while kick scooters usually weigh only around 10 lbs / 4.5 kg.
Last but not least, let’s not forget just how much maintenance electric vehicles require in general, compared to non-electric ones. In fact, there are almost no maintenance issues with kick scooters. Electric scooters, on the other hand, have to be properly cleaned and kept safe from water damage, recharged every day, their electric parts need to be checked upon regularly, you’ll have to inflate the tires and do tons of upkeep if you want it to last for a long time.
Kick scooters are generally divided into two categories: ones for kids, and ones for adults. And the differences between the two are very small.
Adult kick scooters typically come with longer decks and larger wheels, have minimalist looks, monochromatic designs, and often come with some extra features like shock absorbers, making them more comfortable for long rides. Kids’ kick scooters, on the other hand, have little to no extra features, are somewhat smaller, and are often colored in light, flashy, colors to make them more appealing to younger riders.
Since e-scooters are generally only reserved for adult riders, in this article we will only compare them with adult kick scooters. And those have a long list of pros and cons.
The main advantages of kick scooters are: lower costs, no charging, very few maintenance issues, some workout benefits, and generally longer lifespan.
Kick scooters can be found anywhere: in local bike shops, hardware stores, e-shops, and even in wholesale supermarkets. And in any place you find them, they cost largely the same, between $50 and $100. Even the most expensive high-end kick scooter costs way less than the cheapest e-scooter at the moment.
They also come with tons of health benefits, as each ride is like a small workout. You constantly use your legs to push them, and your whole body to keep a balance. In fact, professional kick scooter riding is actually considered an extreme outdoor sport, much like riding a mountain bike or a BMX.
You also have way fewer headaches with kick scooters, as they require no charging and no maintenance. Even the tires on kick scooters are usually made of hard materials, like polymers, and do not require inflating, nor can they puncture and leave you with a flat in a middle of a ride.
And, at the end of the day, any kick scooter can easily last you your whole life, even for multiple generations, which is simply impossible with e-scooters, where the battery will typically last just a few years, and you’ll have to replace it eventually.
Kick scooters have some notable downsides like being way slower than e-scooters, tiring you off after a couple of miles, not being suitable for long, all-day rides, and just not looking that cool.
The slow speed is somewhat expected, as you are pushing the scooter yourself, instead of a motor doing it for you. But it is also the most important reason e-scooters got so popular recently, while kick scooters never saw their boom. You just can’t exceed more than 10 mph / 16 kmh on a kick scooter, no matter how hard you try. And even if you do, it will only last for a few hundred yards, as it’s really hard to maintain a high speed on these rides.
Using your body weight also means you get tired very quickly while riding a kick scooter. It turns out, nobody actually despised scooters, people just didn’t like riding them themselves and having to push them home after an exhausting day at work.
On that point, pushing the scooter yourself isn’t just more tiring, but also makes it unsuitable for long-range rides. You absolutely can ride a kick scooter all day, every day, but it would be one of the most uncomfortable quests you set yourself upon.
Finally, although it pains me to say this, kick scooters just don’t look as cool as electric scooters do. They are less functional, have worse aesthetics, and their lack of features makes them look more like toys rather than actual commuters.
Can you use an electric scooter as a kick scooter?
Depending on the model, you can use most e-scooters like kick scooters when the battery runs out, or if you just want to.
Some e-scooters, on the other hand, have their motor go into auto-lock when the throttle is released. This is a feature integrated for electric breaking, and it usually can be turned off. But this feature is more often an exception rather than a rule. With most scooters today, it is even recommended that you kick-start them at all times.
Are kick scooters suitable for adults?
Anyone can ride a kick scooter, no matter their age. However, it will have to be an adult scooter, and not a kid model. This means it’ll have to have the proper deck size, wheel size, weight limit, and not come with cartoon designs, unless you want to attract funny looks on the streets.
There was a time when there was a huge stigma on adults riding kick scooters, as they were considered for young riders only. But with the boom in electric scooters over the past two decades, this belief has been eliminated. Nowadays, it’s not weird at all to see an adult person riding a scooter on their way to work, may that be an electric or a kick model.
Is it hard to balance on a scooter?
Riding a scooter, whether an electric or a kick model, is super easy, and you would have no problem riding them or keeping your balance, even if it’s your first time. Many people who haven’t yet tried one are afraid it’ll be hard to learn, but scooters are, in fact, much easier to learn than, say, roller skating or skiing.
Now, when it comes down to kick vs electric scooters, electric ones have the upper hand and are a tad bit easier to ride. This is due to many helping features that electric scooters have, like heavier bottom, better suspension, and usually a larger deck.
How long does an e-scooter last?
On average, electric scooters will last you between 3-5 years, depending on the level of quality of the model and how well you maintained it. A more expensive model, like those priced above $2000, can last you for an eternity if you take proper care of it.
The first thing that usually fails on an e-scooter is the battery, but you can easily buy a new one and replace it aftermarket. Make sure to check out my guide on e-scooters lifespan to have a clearer picture of how long can they serve you.
Can I ride my scooter on the street?
Countries update their laws more and more each year to include and regulate electric scooters. Some countries today forbid riding an e-scooter on the street, as it is very unsafe for both you and the cars around you.
In general, I would advise riding your scooter on a bike lane or a pedestrian walkway, even if it is legal to ride them on the street where you live.
See my electric scooter legal guide for the exact details on scooter laws in your country.
Should you get an electric or a kick scooter?
When deciding between getting an electric or a kick scooter, you should mainly look at three factors: how big is your budget, what your average daily commute looks like, and what are you looking for in your future personal commuter.
Kick scooters are way cheaper than electric scooters, so if your budget is tight, the choice there is obvious.
Electric scooters, on the other hand, are made for comfortable long rides as they are driven by a motor and not by your own body. So, if your daily commutes are long and exhausting, you should definitely get an electric scooter.
And finally, although these two types of scooters look very similar, they provide very different things. E-scooters are made for fun, thrilling rides at modest-to-high speeds, while kick scooters are there for their health benefits and are a sort of light workout for the ride before and after work.
If your mind sways towards e-scooters, I recommend you visit my guide for the best electric scooters for beginners and start your search from there.