Can electric scooters be used manually? It’s one of the first questions that electric scooters buyers have. This guide answers that question.
Can electric scooters be used manually?
Electric scooters shouldn’t be used manually. While you can use them manually, that’s difficult, impractical, tires you out quickly, and not recommended. In most electric scooters, the deck will be too high off the ground, and the hub motors will cause resistance, so you should avoid pushing them.
Can you use an electric scooter like a regular scooter?
While you should avoid using your electric scooter like a regular one, you still can do it if necessary. It may even be smart to use your electrical scooter like a normal kick scooter in some occassions, although that would be rare.
One such scenario is if your scooter has regenerative brakes, or the capability to charge the battery by kicking it, and you really need to power up your battery as soon as possible.
There are not that many other scenarios like this, however.
Maybe if you’re close to the top of a large slope and your battery is empty, you can kick ride to climb the slope and get some power in the battery to start your scooter, and then use the regenerative brakes to power up as you go downhill. But you won’t charge your battery that much. Regenerative braking is a nice efficiency feature, but not a reliable way to ride without battery power.
I’ve never been in a situation like this.
My scooter has ran out of battery a few times so far, and I either get another means of transport, or I walk with the scooter to a place where I can charge it. I recommend you do the same if possible.
Can you push an electric scooter?
You can push an electric scooter pretty easily. While riding an electric scooter manually is not advised, pushing it is both safe and simple, and is a good way to move your scooter over short distances when it’s out of battery.
This can be a handy fallback when you’re not near a charging station and need to reach your destination without interruption.
Can you ride an electric scooter without battery?
Most electric scooters are not made to be ridden without the battery. Technically, you could ride them without the battery, but that will not be a good experience. They are not designed to be used without a battery.
Can you kickstart an electric scooter without power?
You can kickstart an electric scooter without power, but that can be difficult. This will only be possible for scooters with regenerative braking, however.
Can you save battery by riding an electrical scooter manually?
Riding your electric scooter entirely turned off and only propelling forward by kicking will not drain your battery. If your scooter has regenerative braking functions, it will even recharge your battery when riding manually.
Since most electric scooters have lithium-ion batteries, their capacity will tend to get reduced with every charge. For many scooters, after a few years of usage, the original battery is at about half the capacity it had on day 1. Less battery means less range, and you might start noticing the need to save your battery a bit.
Most scooters with brushed DC motors have a regenerative braking function. Brushed DC motors are said to be “always-on”. They use electromagnetic induction to generate power and are thus recharged when kick-riding.
However, having a brushed DC motor means that the motor also has drag when working. That means that you will meet resistance from the motor when kicking, and it will be harder to ride it that way.
Your battery will be recharged, however.
If your scooter has no regenerative braking and no geared motor, it will be easier to ride it like a regular scooter. But the battery will not be recharged.
In any case, you will save your battery or recharge it faster if you kick-ride your scooter.
How much power does regenerative braking produce?
An electric scooter can get 10% or more of its energy back with regenerative braking.
In some systems, regenerative braking can save up to 70% of the power.
However, that is not the case for electric scooters.
You can think of it like this: kicking your scooter while turned off on a flat road for 10 meters will recharge your scooter with the power to go 1 meter.
That’s not a lot, and it can’t be considered enough to seriously rely on it. Still, regenerative braking features will help, and it’s better to have them than to not have them.
What the manuals say
Most electric scooter manuals recommend not to ride them manually or with one foot.
The difference between manually riding a scooter and riding it with one foot is only in the wording – how else will you ride a scooter manually, if not with one foot?
If your manual suggests not riding with one leg, I would take their advice. Often, these will be the manuals of scooters that have no regenerative brakes.
On the other side of the coin, the manuals of the scooters with regenerative braking don’t seem to have to say a lot about this.
They do state that kick-riding can help save battery or recharge it, and usually don’t warn against it. However, they will give you more resistance when kick-riding.
We can conclude that scooters with regenerative braking may be safer to ride like regular scooters than ones without it.
Why is it difficult to ride electric scooters manually?
There are a couple of reasons why it is difficult to ride an electric scooter manually:
- High deck height and inefficiency make manual riding challenging.
- Heavier weight and motor resistance make kicking harder.
- Shorter handlebars can affect stability on bumpy surfaces.
- Ground surface type impacts scooter mobility.
- Scooters with hub motors may experience more resistance.
High deck height and inefficiency make manual riding challenging
The biggest reason why scooters are hard to ride manually is that the deck is too high off the ground, and manually riding is very tiring and inefficient because of that.
Unless you’re very tall, riding an electric scooter by kicking will be very hard to do if the scooter’s wheels exceed 6 inches / 15 cm (which is most electric scooters in the world).
Electric scooters are simply not built for that. The deck being almost an entire foot above the ground will really prevent you to do an efficient pushing movement and get significant traction against the ground while keeping your balance.
Heavier weight and motor resistance make kicking harder
Many scooters can be quite heavy (more than 44 lbs / 20 kg), with the more advanced scooters being significantly heavier. Very different from the kick scooter I had as a kid, which barely weighed 3 kilograms.
The rider’s weight also matters a lot. If you’re a bit heavier, you might have to work harder to make the scooter go. Riding it with your own power can be tiring, especially for long rides, and you might get too tired to keep going.
Let’s not forget the motor friction and resistance as well, which will make kicking even harder.
Shorter handlebars can affect stability on bumpy surfaces
Shorter handlebars are a problem too. They may not give you a good grip, making it harder to keep your electric scooter stable when riding it manually, especially on bumpy or uneven surfaces.
Ground surface type impacts scooter mobility
The kind of ground you’re riding your e-scooter on makes a big difference on how hard it will be. If it’s a bumpy or rough surface like gravel, it’s harder to move your scooter.
Riding on these kinds of surfaces, like gravel, or bumpy roads, is tough and can tire you out quickly. It might even make you come to a complete stop. So, it’s not safe to go very far on these rough and uneven surfaces.
Scooters with hub motors may experience more resistance
Some models don’t allow the wheels to move that fast without hitting the throttle. Most scooters have hub motors, which are tightly coupled to the wheels. This causes friction if you’re riding by kicking instead of using the motor, especially in scooters with brushed DC motors.
You will get tired very quickly. Trust me, I’ve tried.
In conclusion, it is very difficult to ride an electric scooter manually because it wasn’t built for that purpose.
Scenarios when you may need to ride your electric scooter manually
Will your scooter immediately break down and burst into flames if you ride it regularly?
The answer, at least for the majority of the scooters is, of course not.
Most consumer-grade scooters can still be used like regular scooters. It is neither efficient nor necessary to frequently do that, but you can get away with it if you’re set on doing that.
Most scooters need a kick in order to start. So it can’t be that bad really.
Plus, there are a few scenarios when your scooter can stop working, and riding manually may be your only option.
Here are the scenarios when you will have to drive the scooter manually:
- battery dies
- brake failure
- electronic malfunction
- flat tire
Your battery running out may be the most common but also the least harmful one to your scooter.
When your electric scooter battery dies, manual operation may be needed. That will allow you to continue your journey by propelling the scooter with your effort.
In the event of brake failure on your electric scooter, manually operating the scooter becomes a safety precaution, as it allows you to rely on your own physical control and momentum to slow down and stop.
This manual mode can prevent accidents and provide a vital backup when the scooter’s brakes are unreliable.
When your electric scooter isn’t working right due to problems with its electronics, using it manually it’s a way to make sure you get where you’re going safely even if the electronics aren’t working like they should.
Getting a flat tire on your electric scooter can happen when you go over a bump or get on or off a curb.
You might realize you have a flat tire right before you’re about to ride, and you might not have the tools or time to fix it properly, like if you don’t have a repair kit for emergencies.
If any of those happen to you, your best bet is walking with your scooter, or getting into a cab or another way of transportation. It is a way better option than kick-riding it.
This is especially true in the case of a flat tire – kick riding will damage your wheels permanently.
Walking instead of kick-riding is the consensus in the scooter community in general.
How to ride an electric scooter manually?
We mentioned several times throughout this guide that you should really avoid riding your electric scooter manually.
However, what if you absolutely have to? Or, maybe, you’re a rebel and you just want to ride your electric scooter like a regular one, for whatever reason.
Well, I will advise you against that one last time. But if you’re determined to do that, here’s how to ride your electric scooter manually in the best possible way:
- make sure your kickstand is up
- turn off your scooter to prevent motor resistance
- reduce the scooter’s weight as much as you can (remove unnecessary accessories)
- adjust the handlebar height to the lowest possible level that’s comfortable for you, it will make riding your scooter manually easier
- push with your non-dominant leg (if you’re right-handed, that means your left leg)
Electric scooter with manual option – a common myth
There are no real electric scooters with the option to ride them manually as well. Some models might be more convenient for that, especially the ones with a lower deck, but there are no models that are designed to be used both as an electric and a manual scooter.
What is a kick scooter?
A kick scooter or a manual scooter is a simple and lightweight personal transportation device. It typically consists of a narrow footboard with one or two small wheels at the front and a larger wheel at the back.
Users stand on the footboard, propel the scooter forward by pushing off the ground with one foot (or both feet in some cases), and control their speed and direction by steering the handlebars.
Kick scooters are often used for short-distance commutes, recreation, and as a fun mode of transportation for people of all ages.
Electric scooters vs kick scooters
While they kinda have a similar look, and operate on some of the same principles, electric scooters and kick scooters are very different, and they each come with a set of pros and cons when compared to each other.
The pros of electric scooters include higher speed, ease of use, comfortability, more features, and tireless rides, while their main cons are higher prices, heavier and less portable builds, and some maintenance.
Kick scooters, on the other hand, have lower costs, no need to charge them, very few maintenance requirements, some workout benefits, and generally longer lifespans as their main advantages, while their disadvantages are slower speed, tiring their riders, not being suitable for long rides, and not being reliable modes of transport.
See my guide on electric scooters vs kick scooters if you’d like a deeper dive into this topic.
While you shouldn’t ride electric scooters manually, you still can do it in theory. It will be difficult, tiresome, and your scooter may resist you, but technically, you can do it.
Now, should you ride electric scooters manually?
You probably shouldn’t. If you can’t ride it the way it was meant to be ridden for any reason, push it, walk with it, or get some other means of transportation.