Disadvantages of electric scooters (what you need to know before buying)

Last Updated on February 10, 2023 by Matt

I’ve been around electric scooters for quite a long time now, and I have helped many people choose the perfect scooter for their specific needs. I’ve done a lot of research on many electric scooters, and in the process, I’ve become closely familiar with many of their intricacies, including their biggest disadvantages, weaknesses, and tradeoffs. If you are thinking of buying an electric scooter, you should be aware of them as well.

Note that this is a guide specifically for the disadvantages of electric scooters, and doesn’t address common issues and problems that require repairs or troubleshooting (that will be another guide coming very soon. Now let’s see which of the disadvantages are the most important, and more importantly, under which circumstances will they have significant consequences, and which models are affected the most.

Electric scooters can suffer flat tires

Electric scooters affected: pneumatic-tire scooters (about 60% of all models)

One of the biggest disadvantages of pneumatic-tire scooters is their vulnerability to flat tires.

Now, if your scooter suffers a flat tire, it’s not the end of the world. A few scooters may give you a hard time when fixing the flat, but most of the time, the problem is manageable, and you will not even need the help of a mechanic. The risk is worth it, as pneumatic-tire scooters provide much more comfortable rides than solid-tire scooters.

See the guide on flat tires to know how to reduce the risk, and what to do if you suffer a flat.

Batteries wear out as they get older and may require replacement

Electric scooters affected: all models

Poor battery quality is one of the most common electric scooter problems, and the most common reason for complaints by scooter owners.

Batteries wear out and lose their capacity as they get older. This is not a scooter-specific disadvantage, as every electronic device suffers from this, but with scooters, it can get more annoying, as the range is pretty important and the scooter becomes next to useless as its range gets decimated. Further, there’s always a small chance that the battery starts to degrade faster than usual, and while this is getting less and less common, it’s still a small risk even with the better scooters.

The solution is getting a new battery for your scooter. On average, you will probably see your battery last between 2 or 3 years, or between 300 and 500 charge cycles, and will cost somewhere around a quarter of the original price of the scooter. Check out the guide on electric scooter batteries to learn what you can do to take better care of your battery.

Possible breakdowns and short lifespan for some budget models

Electric scooters affected: ultra-budget models (around 20% of all models)

For most scooters, this is more a matter of bad lack, and that includes even the cheapest scooters.

Of course, there are still some suspicious choices available online and in retail stores, usually coming from new or no-name brands, with a lot of Chinesium and low-quality parts or execution, and the risk of a breakdown even in the first month of usage will be higher.

But most scooters coming from the trusted brands will typically last at least a few years without serious defects.

Some electric scooters have very short warranty periods

Electric scooters affected: a handful of budget models

The majority of scooters will have pretty fair warranty periods included in their prices (either 1 or 2 years), and extending the original warranty is often a good deal at an acceptable price.

Some of the budget scooters, however, will come with warranties of just 3 months. Interestingly, some of these scooters have proven to last far longer than their warranty, but still, after the initial period expires, the scooter will not be covered, and you will have to pay for repairs yourself.

See the guide on electric scooter warranties to find out about some common pitfalls.

Charge times can be long

Electric scooters affected: about 25% of all models

Now, this can be subjective, but I believe a charge time of more than 8 hours to be too long, especially for commuter scooters. Luckily, most scooters get charged a lot faster than that (average charge time is 5.5 hours), and long charge times are found mostly in racing or power scooters, which are not that common.

Range may not be as advertised

Electric scooters affected: around 60%-70% of all models

Over-inflated range in the specs is probably the most annoying disadvantage of electric scooters you should be aware of. Manufacturers usually report the range of the scooter obtained in ideal lab conditions, which include a flat road, no turning, ideal temperature, no stopping, starting with a full battery, and a rider that’s not too heavy (often weighing around 155 lbs / 70 kg).

Now, to be fair here, manufacturers have no choice here, as there’s not a standardized way of obtaining a “real-world” range, and they are kind of stuck with reporting the ideal range. Also, there is a growing trend of manufacturers starting to specify in their specs that the range has been obtained in ideal conditions, and some even dare to give an estimate of what you might actually expect to get in your day-to-day rides.

See the real range calculator to figure out the actual range you may get from a scooter.

Some models don’t provide very smooth rides

Electric scooters affected: around 30% of all models

Most commuter scooters, pretty much all higher-end scooters, and many budget scooters, will provide very decent and smooth rides. They will either have larger pneumatic tires, or have suspension that absorbs a lot of the shock from the ride.

However, many budget models will have no suspension at all, and since they will have smaller tires, the rides can be bumpy. Also, a lot of budget models have solid tires, and their rides are even bumpier (although usually, solid-tire scooters have some suspension).

Fast and powerful models are too heavy and difficult to carry

Electric scooters affected: around 20% of all models

This is more of a tradeoff than a disadvantage, and in a way, we can’t expect anything else here.

Powerful scooters, including racing or offroad models, will pack large motors, and usually huge and heavy batteries, which will make these scooters weigh quite a lot, with a lot of them weighing more than 66 lbs / 30 kg, and the heaviest scooter even weighing 154 lbs / 70 kg!

Luckily, this will only be the case for a very few models, and they will typically be so expensive that the regular commuter or casual rider will never consider them. In fact, the average weight of commuter electric scooters is just 28.3 lbs / 12.8 kg, which is easily manageable for pretty much every adult.

Lightweight scooters will typically not support heavier adults

Electric scooters affected: around 25% of all models

If you or the person you’re buying the scooter for is on the heavier side, then most lightweight scooters will not be a good option. The typical weight limit of electric scooters in the affordable category is either 220 lbs / 100 kg, or 265 lbs / 120 kg, and many of those models will start to provide decreased performance as the rider approaches the weight limit. Heavier people will be much better served by scooters for heavy adults, which will usually be heavier in weight themselves, and can sometimes cost a bit more.

Handlebar height is not adjustable for many scooters

Electric scooters affected: around 60%-70% of all models

The majority of electric scooters don’t provide adjustable handlebar height. The reason for that is primarily because adjustable handlebars can easily compromise the safety and the stability of the stem, and manufacturers simply choose to make their scooters fit for the average person.

Typically, scooters will be comfortable for people of many different heights, and even scooters with non-adjustable handlebars usually provide ergonomic handlebar heights for people between 4′ and 6’6” / 120 and 200 cm, with the average handlebar height being 39 in / 99 cm. That eliminates this particular issue for the majority of people.

But people outside of that range often have difficulties picking a good scooter for them. Usually, tall adults can’t ride the majority of the regular commuter scooters, and they will probably want to see some scooters designed for tall adults.

Very few models don’t fold

Electric scooters affected: very few models, around 5%

The term “foldable electric scooter” is almost the same as “electric scooter”, as a foldable stem is a default these days.

Only a handful of models will not fold, which, to be honest, is a bit of a dealbreaker for me personally, and I would never go with that scooter.

Some models don’t fit in public transport and car trunks

Electric scooters affected: around 20% of all models

The majority of electric scooter models are commuter scooters, which means they are meant to provide a good range, but also easily fit in both public transport and car trunks.

Some of the bigger scooters, typically racing or offroad scooters, will be so huge in volume (and usually heavy as well), that bringing them inside a bus or a train will be impossible, and even fitting them in a large car trunk can sometimes be difficult. Luckily, these are mostly long-range scooters, and there’s almost never a need for them to fit in a car trunk, as they have insanely long ranges of more than 60 mi / 96 km.

Some places don’t allow electric scooters on the street

Electric scooters affected: most models

The overwhelming majority of cities and countries worldwide have no problems with electric scooters on their streets, as long as they are street-legal and obey the local traffic laws.

There is one high-profile exception here, and that is, of course, the city of London, which prohibited electric scooters on public roads a few years ago after an accident that involved a fatality (although the ban will likely be lifted very soon). Luckily, that’s just one major city, and most places will let you scoot without problems, with places allowing or prohibiting scooters based on their motor power. See the electric scooter legal guide to find out the details of your location.

Many places limit the top speed for electric scooters

Electric scooters affected: almost all

Most countries and cities have a speed limit for electric scooters, and that’s often 15 mph / 25 kmh or less. That limits the majority of scooters (even budget ones), as most of them are capable of going at least 18.6 mph / 30 kmh, and the fastest scooters can go much faster than that.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here, and this can’t be considered legal advice, but there is some good news here, and that’s the fact that this rather low speed limit is rarely enforced. Of course, obey your local traffic laws at all times, but if you happen to go a few mph / kmh above the limit, chances are, nobody will even notice. Again, not legal advice, and obey your traffic laws at all times.

If you want to see the speed limit for your location, check out the legal guide.

Some places have age restrictions for electric scooters

Electric scooters affected: most models

Age is not a factor for electric scooter legality in many countries. But in some countries, people under a certain age, usually 16 or 14, will not be allowed to ride electric scooters, and in other countries, there will be additional requirements for younger riders, like them having to wear a helmet at all time.

See the guide on electric scooter age requirement to find out the specifics for your location.

Electric scooters are (mostly) not allowed on airplanes

Electric scooters affected: almost all

Most airlines will outright prohibit any electric rideable on the airplane, with the only exceptions being mobility devices for people with a handicap or a disability. There are a few airlines that do allow some electric scooter models onboard, and usually, they only allow scooters with very small motors, so small in fact that only a handful of scooters will fit the criteria. See the guide on airline-approved electric scooters to see which airlines allow scooters on board, and which scooter models they may allow

Electric scooters shouldn’t be used in the rain or the winter

EMove Cruiser in a winter setting
image credit: @electricscooter_norway (Instagram)

Electric scooters affected: all

Simply put, there are many water-resistant scooters, but none are truly waterproof. Riding in the rain or in a wet environment like through snow or mud should always be avoided, as both brands and owners recommend this, and warranties never cover water damage.

That said, a huge part of owners disregard this advice and frequently ride in the rain, and interestingly, water-related defects are not as common as you may assume. The IP rating of the scooter is always a factor, and the better the rating, the stronger the water protection, but still, even scooters with high IP ratings can suffer water damage.

There are some steps you can take to make your scooter more waterproof, and while they will help, it is still a good idea to avoid riding in the rain as much as you can, and ride carefully if you must.

Good scooters are affordable but still not trivially cheap

Electric scooters affected: around 70%

This may be subjective, as “affordable” is obviously a different price for different people. Still, the majority of what we can consider good scooters cost at least $500, which is not a trivial sum of money for many. Now, given that most people wouldn’t hesitate to spend that sum of money on something like a bicycle, for example, we can’t really say that scooters are expensive.

If you are on a limited budget, you can still find decent scooters for $300. They will be budget models and the quality will not be the same as, say, $500 scooters, but they will still surprise you with their performance.

Some scooters don’t come with any lighting

Electric scooters affected: almost none

Pretty much every electric scooter for adults will come with at least a headlight, and most will have some form of a rear brake light as well. In addition, they may also have reflector lights, or LED lights on the deck, or some other form of lighting.

But some scooters come with no lights at all. These are often scooters that can be used by adults in principle, but are frequently bought for children.

In any case, if you want your scooter to be extra-visible for riding at night, chances are, you will need some stronger after-market lights anyway (surprisingly, this is the case even for some expensive scooters, as most electric scooter lights are not really that good). See the guide on electric scooter accessories for some good but affordable picks.

Many electric scooters will struggle on steeper hills

Electric scooters affected: most models except powerful scooters

Hills can be notoriously difficult for many budget scooters, and for many mid-price commuter models as well. While mild to moderate hills will rarely be a problem, you will need a good climbing scooter if you live somewhere with a lot of steep hills, as most regular scooters will either seriously struggle or altogether stop going when climbing the steepest hills. The scooters that specialize in climbing, and the more powerful scooters, will not have that problem, although those models will also be more expensive as well.

You will probably have to buy a lock

Electric scooters affected: almost all

I don’t believe I’ve seen a single model that comes with a lock. If you plan to leave your scooter outside, you will need a strong scooter lock, especially if your scooter is not cheap. You may also want to see some alarm systems if your scooter is expensive (see the guide on scooter accessories for that).

Some scooters will have a key ignition, and others will have some sort of a locking functionality through their app, and while both of those models really make the job of a potential thief harder, they don’t fully prevent theft, as the scooter can still be carried away. A lock will be the safest choice.

I recommend my guide on what to do if your electric scooter gets stolen and how to prevent that from happening as a good way to learn more about this.

Accidents are always a possibility

Electric scooters affected: all models

Scooters are as safe as the rider is responsible, so an accident is always possible, and the risk of a scooter injury is never truly absent. Also, riding an electric scooter presents some other risks that are not as serious as an accident, but they are a thing you should be aware of as well.

Of course, you should always wear a good scooter helmet when riding, that not only reduces the risk of a serious injury severalfold, but it also keeps you out of trouble with the law.

Repairs can be hard

Electric scooters affected: some models

Electric scooters are still quite a new phenomenon. As with any new piece of technology, there is a two-fold problem when it comes to repairing them – some mechanics may not be familiar with many models yet, and some issues may still be hard to diagnose and repair.

A good way to avoid this risk is to get some of the most popular scooters. Chances are, even bike mechanics will be familiar with those, and since they usually come from a popular brand, there may even be dedicated repair services for them.

Spare parts may be difficult to obtain

Electric scooters affected: few models

This is only the case for a few models, most of which are relatively unknown, but it is still something you should be aware of. If you stick with popular models that sell a lot of units, spare parts will not be an issue at all. Also, dedicated brands and merchants like Voromotors or FluidFreeRide will almost always have spare parts in their inventory.

Electric scooter health risks

Electric scooters are mostly perfectly safe, but there are some minor health risks that you should be aware of when using them frequently. Most notably:

  • possible back pain, neck pain, abdomen pain, or kidney pain from long rides
  • frequent use can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • electric scooters with seats may cause erectile dysfunction

You can see my full guide on the health risks from electric scooter use to learn more.

How to choose the perfect electric scooter?

Those are the most important disadvantages you should know about if you’re thinking of buying an electric scooter. If you are aware of them, your choice will be largely done for you, as you will know what to avoid.

To solve the other part of the equation and find out what to look for in your scooter, see the guide on buying an electric scooter.

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Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
My name is Matt Trajkovski. I love electric scooters, and electric vehicles in general. I like doing a lot of testing, reviewing, and research on various electric scooter models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience. All of the content published on this blog goes through a rigorous review and editorial process, and our product reviews not only include the hands-on experience of our own team members, but the experience of our audience members as well. My goal is to provide you with the best information about electric scooters possible. You can see all of my posts in my articles archive.

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