Choosing an electric scooter can be a lot of work. There are all these different brands, models, features, prices, and numbers to think about.
Then you need to take into account your needs, your budget, your unique situation…
All of that soon becomes very complicated.
Don’t worry. We’ve all been there, and we know exactly how it feels like. We’ve created this electric scooter buying guide to help you make the right choice for you.
Follow this simple framework described here to make a smart decision for buying an electric scooter.
Electric scooter step-by-step buying guide
When buying the perfect electric scooter for you, make sure your model of choice follows this checklist:
- stays within your budget – there are good scooters at all price points
- abides your local traffic laws
- can support your weight
- can support your height and arm length
- has enough range and battery life to fulfill your transport needs
- is water-resistant enough, especially if you live somewhere with heavy rain or snow
- has good enough hill-climbing abilities, especially if you live somewhere with lots of hills
- is portable enough for your needs
- has as many positive reviews and as high ratings as possible
- comes from a reputable brand and manufacturer
- looks the way you like to, or at least looks good enough
With all these tips, you can even choose your scooter through a simple process of elimination.
However, this is not the whole story. Read on to find out exactly how and why each of these plays a role in your choice, and what it will mean for you years down the road.
To start, let’s see how to apply this system.
How to choose your perfect electric scooter?
This is a simple method that will usually lead you down to 1 to 3 choices. If you have more than one choice available, you can pick based on your gut feeling, knowing that all your bases are covered.
This is a value-first system. You may have noticed that we start from the price, we go over each important need, and we leave the looks for last. As you will see, we have a very good reason for that.
To start, simply write down your needs with respect to 9 of the 11 points above:
- how much is the absolute maximum you would pay for an electric scooter
- what are the legal requirements for electric scooters in your city or country (age requirement, speed limits, whether they’re road legal, etc)
- your body weight, or weight range if you tend to fluctuate
- your height, and your expected adult height if you are still growing
- the range that you will need from your scooter for your longest planned trip
- the amount of rain or snow your city or country has (low, medium, high)
- how hilly is the area you expect to ride in the most (low, medium, high)
- how often will you have to carry your scooter and how much of an issue will that be for you (low, medium, high)
- the level of quality you are after (covering model ratings and brand reputation)
- should your scooter specialize in a certain area (like being a great student scooter, or being a great scooter for deliveries)
Then, you will use our electric scooter buyer helper tool (coming very soon!) and plug your specific needs into it.
While it will reduce your options to a handful of choices, you should be aware of one thing – it’s still just software. It will not be a replacement for your common sense and judgment. So use it as a helper, not as a rule set in stone.
From then, you will have to check the remaining choices to simply pick the one you like the most. While the looks of your scooter are important, it should only be a factor after everything else is considered.
Finally, if you still can’t make a decision, you will take into account some other features. These are not as important features, but they can make your choice easier.
They will be:
- top speed
- motor type
- deck size
- ground clearance
- charge time
- charging cost
- tire type
- accessories available
- app quality
When you arrive at a choice, you will be confident it has everything you are looking for.
If you don’t find any choices, it is likely that your criteria are too strict. You will have to adjust them to be looser and try again.
If you are buying for someone else, make sure to follow the electric scooter gift guide, and see which scooters are the best gift ideas.
Now, let’s jump right into how to select each of these according to your needs.
Your electric scooter should stay within your budget
If money is not a concern for you, well, feel free to skip this section. And also, congratulations, you will be picking from the best electric scooters ever made!
For the rest of us, we will have to do some money management.
It makes sense to start from the most limiting factor for the vast majority of the population.
Chances are, we would all like those super-expensive scooters which cost as much as a brand new car, if we could afford them. And yes, typically, the more expensive a scooter is, the better it gets.
However, that doesn’t mean there are no great scooters in other price ranges. In fact, some of my all-time favorite models are in the middle to low price range.
Plus, most of the time, the hyper-expensive scooters are a huge overkill. I would never ride with 75 mph / 120 kmh on a scooter. And I believe, chances are, neither would you. (If you would, you have my utmost respect though :)).
So, determine your budget to start. As long as it’s more than $250, there is some chance you will find a scooter for you. In fact, if you already have $300, you can find several budget-friendly scooters that have proven themselves throughout the years to be solid choices for that price.
If you’re looking to buy your first scooter, you can find a lot of great scooters for under $500. However, keep in mind that scooters under $500 are often considered value scooters as well, and if you’d like to make sure you are getting the highest-quality scooter that still doesn’t destroy your budget, I’d recommend checking out the best scooters under $1000, as that price point already includes several extremely high-quality popular choices.
On the other hand, if your budget is very limited, you can still find a great used scooter, but you will have to do a bit more due diligence when buying. Make sure to check my guide on how to buy a used electric scooter, where I cover several key insights obtained from the EScooterNerds used scooter marketplace.
However, my advice would be to see buying an electric scooter as an investment. As a matter of fact, it is an investment, and a very smart one. So it will pay off to get as good a scooter as you can.
If you can add another few hundred dollars to your budget, play it that way. Your scooter should serve you for a long time. By increasing your budget, you are effectively increasing the chances of owning it for longer and having a better experience with it.
How I chose my budget
I really felt like I should get the Xiaomi M365 Pro. For just an extra $100, I would get a scooter that I actually liked, and other people obviously said only great things about it.
So I just decided to muster up an extra hundred by selling some old stuff I didn’t need from my home. It took me about 10 days more and about $120 extra. I got the Xiaomi M365 Pro.
I’ve never looked back.
Trust me, those extra few dollars can go a long way. Especially in the lower-priced categories. Even if it means waiting a few extra days to gather the money, or hustling up a few extra bucks.
Anyway, you will come up with a final budget in the end. This will be your cornerstone, and your decisions will start from here.
Your electric scooter complies with your local laws
The next thing to check is the local traffic laws, and other laws that may affect your rides.
For starters, check where can electric scooters be ridden.
Some places allow them only on the roads, some allow them on bike lanes but prohibit them from riding on sidewalks.
In many countries and cities worldwide, electric scooter usage is still largely unregulated. Typically, in these scenarios, the same laws for bicycles or small motorcycles will apply for electric scooters.
Which means you will have little legal issues.
In any case, make sure you check your own specific laws, and consult the electric scooter legal guide as well.
Often, in places where there is some regulation that applies to electric scooters, their speed will be limited.
For a lot of countries, this limitation will be 15 mph / 25 kmh.
While usually, these laws will be somewhat lax, they will still be the actual law. Your smartest option will always be to respect it.
Does this mean that you must get an electric scooter that is not able to go faster than your local speed limit?
Of course not. Respecting the law comes from you, not your scooter.
Still, if your local speed limit is 15 mph / 25 kmh, there’s little use to get a 62 mph / 100 kmh scooter if you’re only gonna use it for commuting.
In many places, electric scooters will come with their speed limits capped at exactly what the law requires.
In fact, in some places, if your scooter is simply capable of reaching speeds higher than the traffic limit, it will be technically illegal.
That’s kind of a silly law. If we think in that way, then all cars should be able to only go about 31 mph / 50 kmh, since that’s the speed limit in most cities, right?
If, however, the laws are not applied that much, and you can actually have a road-legal scooter able to go faster than the limit, you should aim for a more powerful scooter.
My recommendation is to aim for a top speed of about 6-9 mph / 10-15 kmh higher than your local speed limit. That way, you will have a scooter more capable of dealing with any challenge.
So, to recap:
- if scooters with top speeds higher than the speed limit are not road-legal, your only choice is to get a scooter as fast as the speed limit
- otherwise, get a scooter with a top speed between 18-31 mph / 30-50 kmh
If you are not of legal driving age, check the legal age requirement for riding an electric scooter in your city or country.
In most cases, you will be able to ride if you’re at least 16. In many cases, there will be no age restrictions at all.
Your electric scooter supports your weight
Most electric scooters today support maximum weights of at least 220 lbs / 100 kg. Half of all scooters can carry up to 265 lbs / 120 kg.
This shouldn’t be a critical factor in your decision. For example, if you weigh about 216 lbs / 98 kg, you can get a scooter with a 220 lbs / 100 kg capacity. And even if you’re 224 lbs / 102 kg, your scooter will still carry you.
But it is strongly recommended to go at least 22 lbs / 10 kilograms extra from your weight.
As your weight approaches the weight limit of the scooter, you will see your performance drop significantly.
If you’ve never weighed more than 176 lbs / 80 kg, you basically have nothing to worry about.
If you are on the heavier side, you will have to get a scooter for heavy adults.
Fluctuating body weight
Finally, there’s another category of people, one in which I myself belong too. That’s the people with frequently fluctuating weight.
Personally, I weight about 185-200 lbs / 85-90 kg most of the time.
However, at times I’ve weighed as low as 159 lbs / 72 kg.
At other (yummy) times, I’ve even weighed north of 220 lbs / 100 kg!
And that’s somewhat noticeable in my Xiaomi as well. I’ve never weighed 220 lbs / 100 kg since I bought it, but who knows, I truly may reach that weight again someday.
Still, I’ve noticed slower acceleration, top speeds, and shorter battery life when I’ve been north of 198 lbs / 90 kg. Not by a lot, but there is a difference for sure.
My advice is, if your weight fluctuates, get a scooter with a weight load that accommodates your maximum potential weight.
I’ve kind of made that mistake by getting the Xiaomi M365 Pro (it has a weight capacity of 220 lbs / 100 kg), and I sometimes pay the price.
But remember, this is not as bad as it sounds. You will still be able to use your scooter. Just make sure you get the most use out of it by factoring in your body weight.
Your electric scooter supports your height
About 70% of electric scooters have adjustable handlebars. They can accommodate the majority of people, no matter their height or arm length.
And from the remaining 30%, many offer the option for you to choose the length of the stem so that it fits your height.
So typically, this shouldn’t be a problem.
But it can be. Some people have gotten stuck with scooters that are too tall or too short for them, and without a way to change that. So if you’re on the taller side (taller than 6’6” / 198 cm), you will definitely want to see some scooters for tall people.
Also, even if a scooter has an adjustable height, it can still not be tall enough for the tallest people.
Make sure you account for your height as well. Plug in your height, or check how tall should your scooter be in our guide here.
This shouldn’t be a problem, but it can be. Make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Your electric scooter has enough range even for your longest planned trips
I consider range on a single battery charge to be the most important feature in a commuting scooter.
If you’re like most users, you will use your scooter to get to and from work, or school, or another type of medium to a long trip.
Think about how will you use your scooter.
If you plan to use it as your transport method (which you absolutely should), then calculate the distance that you will regularly travel with it.
Check it on Google Maps by setting the route from your home to your office and then clicking Directions. Select the motorcycle icon, or the pedestrian icon if you can ride on sidewalks in your city.
Add 30% to that distance. That should adjust for inefficient rides, stopping and starting, and battery degradation.
You will then have your minimum range.
I recommend thinking this way even if you plan to use your scooter just for fun. Simply try and think about the longest route you may ever ride. You never know.
Your electric scooter is water-resistant enough for your environment
It is not recommended to ride your scooter in rain or wet weather.
That said, sometimes you may have no choice. Changing plans the last minute is inefficient, and sometimes you will simply get caught in the rain while riding.
For many places, rain is not going to be an issue at all. If you live in California, or Greece, or some other awesome place like that, then you can probably skip this section entirely.
On the rare days when it does rain, leave your scooter at home, it’s the right choice anyway. If you’re caught in the rain, take cover, but also know that a few drops of rain won’t melt your scooter immediately.
For other countries, like the infamous UK, or Seattle, or places with lots of snow like the Nordic countries or Russia, your best bet will be to have as water-resistant a scooter as possible, or make your scooter more waterproof.
You will look at the IP rating of the scooter.
That’s a two-digit value, like for example “IP54” or “IP67”. The second digit indicates the water protection standard. The higher that number is, the better the scooter can handle water.
In places with moderate rain, go for an IP rating of at least 4 in the second digit.
In places with heavy rain, 4 will be better than nothing, but you would be much safer with a 5. That number is 15 out of the 210+ electric scooters we have in our database.
The problem is, not a lot of scooters have the second digit of their IP rating higher than 4.
In fact, more than half the scooters today have no IP rating specified at all. That can mean one of the following three:
- their scooters are water-resistant but haven’t been IP certified (unlikely)
- their scooters have very poor water protection
- their scooters have no water protection at all
The lower number of water-resistant scooters, coupled with the fact that you shouldn’t even be riding your scooter in wet weather, make picking a model for rain-heavy places tricky. Not entirely impossible, but still tricky.
The general rule to follow is: if the place where you live has significant amounts of rain, get a scooter with a water protection standard of at least 4.
Your electric scooter can climb hills well enough for your area
If you live in a flat area, you generally don’t have to worry about this.
The hill-climbing abilities of your scooter will only matter to you if you live in a place with lots of hills and valleys, or maybe if you have one or two steep inclines on your regular rides.
However, the actual number of hills and valleys is not as important as their steepness. You need to consider both.
Think about the hills and valleys in your area. The choice of a scooter for you in the tool will look like this:
- if you have no hills at all, the maximum climbing angle of your scooter will not be taken into account
- if you have a handful of hills, or a few not very inclined hills, get a scooter with a climbing angle of 10°
- if you have hills, or some pretty inclined hills, you need a climbing angle of at least 20°
- if you live somewhere very hilly, or there are some very steep hills, get a scooter that’s great for climbing and has at least a 30° climbing angle
Your electric scooter is portable enough for your needs
This one can be a dealbreaker. For many, it is literally the most important feature of their scooter.
To figure out your personal needs in this area, think of two things:
- how much weight are you comfortable carrying for short distances
- how often do you have to carry your scooter in your hands, take it with you in a car trunk, a bus, a train, through doors and elevators, and climb stairs with it
There are several ways this can play out.
For example, if you weight 68 kg, and use your scooter as part of your commute which includes a bus, a train, and then climbing three floors with it because there’s no elevator in your office building, then you will most definitely not want a 30 kg scooter.
However, if you weight 82 kg, have a 3 km commute to work, and you only need to fit your scooter through one elevator door, you don’t need to exclude a 21 kg scooter.
If you are into racing scooters, portability will be of no significance to you whatsoever.
Plug in the maximum weight you can carry for short distances. If you’re not sure, test this out – you don’t want to be stuck with a heavy scooter you can’t carry anywhere (plus heavier scooters tend to be more expensive as well).
This will eliminate all the scooters heavier than what you’re comfortable carrying.
Then think about all the narrow places you will have to get it through. Using those two, describe how portable your scooter needs to be:
- not that much portability needed
- portability needed
- portability is critical
Then we will pick scooters based on both their weight and portability index.
The portability index is our own measurement we devised to measure how portable a scooter is. It takes into account the weight and the volume of each model, and rates their portability. Learn more about it in the portable scooters article.
Based on your needs, the following choices will be made:
- when you don’t need portability, weight and portability index will be ignored
- when you need portability, scooters with a portability index less than 20 will be excluded
- when portability is very important to you, scooters with a portability index less than 75 will be excluded
Your electric scooter has good reviews and ratings online
This is one of the most important things to consider when getting an electric scooter.
For almost every model out there, you will be able to see reviews, ratings, complaints, and recommendations from other users.
While we do our best to bring you as much useful information for making your choice as possible, you can still check out the reviews that your scooter has online.
I use a very simple system to measure the overall popularity and quality of the scooter. I take the average rating and number of reviews across all the online stores where the scooter is listed. Then I decide like this:
- if the scooter has less than 25 reviews, either avoid or wait
- if more than 300 reviews, the rating should be at least 3.6/5
- if between 200 and 299 reviews, the rating should be at least 3.8/5
- if between 100 and 199 reviews, the rating should be at least 4.0/5
- if between 50 and 90 reviews, the rating should be at least 4.2/5
- if between 25 and 49 reviews, the rating must be at least 4.5/5, and there must not be more than 25% one or two star reviews combined
I’ve found that this system is a great way to get a general idea about a product online (and any product in general actually, with slight modifications in the number of reviews). It takes into account the fact that more popular products can’t really maintain those high ratings, but that doesn’t make them bad products by any means.
While useful, this simple system is just an approximation. Nothing will be better than:
- digging deep into user comments
- talking to people that have tried, or even better, owned the scooter, either in person or online
Finally, make sure to see my research on electric scooter problems and defects, as it dives deep into which are the most common complaints around the most popular scooter models, and also gives you an idea of which scooter models you may want to avoid.
Your electric scooter comes from a trusted brand and manufacturer
While not as important as the reputation of the model itself, the reputation of the brand and the manufacturer must also be taken into account.
It’s possible that you get a great deal with a generic scooter from AliExpress, or even get a great scooter from a no-name brand.
But I wouldn’t risk it. For most of us, this is not a trivial decision. Putting some extra time into researching the brand will pay dividends later.
This is not an exhaustive list of trusted electric scooter brands by any means. But these are all respected names in the industry, and it is enough to get you started:
- Fluid Free Ride
- Minimotors USA (Dualtron, Speedway)
Check out our comprehensive guide to electric scooter brands and manufacturers to learn more.
Another very important factor to consider that’s related to the scooter’s brand is the scooter’s warranty. There are several different types of warranties and return policies, but in general, I recommend going with brands that offer at least a full year of warranty on the critical components, with at least 6 months of warranty on the battery, and a return period of at least 15 days, and preferably 30. See my guide on electric scooter warranties and return periods to find out more about how to read the fine print and avoid the common pitfalls.
You like the way your electric scooter looks
This one is up to you entirely. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
We choose based on design last because, while important, it’s not critical for your needs. Even an ugly scooter can get you to work and save you money.
After you’ve arrived at a few select choices, simply pick the scooter that looks best to you. That’s a much easier choice to make once you’re sure you have all your other needs checked.
Just in case you’re wondering, my absolute favorite models all have a little raw, nerdy look to them. I like smooth or matte black colors with bold red or turquoise details and finishes. I don’t really like scooters with white as their base color, and they are also the easiest ones to get dirty.
Other factors to consider
I hope that by now you already have your few perfect choices in mind. Or, at the very least, you are aware of what to look for when choosing an electric scooter.
However, if you still can’t make a decision, there are some other factors you can think of. They are not as critical as the ones above, but maybe some of them will help you with your choice.
While top speed is one of the most alluring, most noticeable features about an electric scooter, it shouldn’t be a priority.
First, it’s often limited by law. As we already mentioned, you will often be limited to about 15 mph / 25 kmh, or maybe 18 mph / 30 kmh in some places.
Second, and more important, riding faster than 31 mph / 50 kmh is already quite dangerous. And there are models today that can reach speeds of more than 62 mph / 100 kmh!
Simply get a scooter in the 18-31 mph / 30-50 kmh top speed range.
Unless you’re into racing scooters, in which case, you probably don’t even need this guide.
Anyway, if you want a faster scooter for any reason, include that in your decision. There are many amazing fast scooters, able to go as fast as you can possibly need them.
If you are thinking about getting an off-road scooter, this is probably not your first rodeo.
First of all, it’s way overpowered than what you will be able to handle.
Second, it will usually be on the pricier side. If you’re about to buy your first scooter, you may not even be sure that you will like scooters that much a year from now. No need to throw away several thousands of dollars.
However, if you are confident you want an off-road scooter, then your choice will probably become much easier. While there are quite a few awesome off-road scooters today, there are not hundreds of them.
Simply filtering by off-road abilities will narrow your choice and help you decide.
This option can be useful if you’re stuck.
If having to choose between a model with a geared and a hub motor, always go for the hub motor. Geared motors in electric scooters are so old, that you may not even be able to find them in the models of the last few years.
Electric scooter motors have one more dimension. They can be either brushed DC motors, or brushless DC motors.
If you have a choice, I would recommend going with the brushless motor. It’s simply a more modern, more efficient technology.
If you want to learn more about how electric scooters work, and the differences between brushed and brushless motors, check out the guide here.
While not critical, deck size can easily be your kingmaker.
Pretty much all scooters for adults will be big enough for the feet of most people.
However, bigger decks are usually better. Why not have more room for your feet?
If it comes down to this, you can choose the model with the bigger deck.
Ground clearance is the distance between the ground and the lowest point of the deck.
This data point is not always available. However, you can easily make an accurate estimation by finding out the tire size (which is usually available) and comparing that to the deck
The choice here, however, is not simple. You will have to think about your situation and needs a bit.
Choose lower ground clearance when you don’t have too many sidewalks to cross and you’d like a lower center of gravity for more stable rides.
Choose higher ground clearance if you ride through lots of sidewalks or other uneven and bumpy surfaces.
The best practice suggests charging your scooter at the end of each day, so that it’s fully charged for your ride tomorrow.
Also, plugging it in when you arrive at the office, so that it’s ready for your trip back home.
Therefore, it is not really all that important.
But still, shorter charging times will always beat longer ones.
The charging cost will depend on both your scooter and the price of electricity in your country.
However, even the scooters with the biggest batteries, in the countries with the most electricity, will never cost more than a few cents per full charge.
Still, in those situations, the costs can accrue over time.
All other things being equal, no reason not to choose the scooter with the smaller charging cost. However, this is a bit of a paradox, since all other things will rarely be equal – different charging times usually means different battery sizes, which further mean different ranges.
I can easily see the type and size of tires as calling the final shot as well.
In fact, tire type deserves some more thought as well.
The main dimension across which you choose tire type will be solid vs pneumatic.
- choose solid tires if you live somewhere with lots of broken glass, garbage, or sharp debris
- otherwise, choose pneumatic tires
There are only a handful of real use-cases for solid tires, while they result in conceivable downsides, like reduced comfort and less stable rides.
The other aspect of tire selection will be smooth vs patterned.
Choose smooth tires for better overall performance, like better speed and longer range. Go with patterned or off-road tires when you need off-road or better climbing capabilities.
The final dimension of tires is their size. The most common tire diameters today will be:
- 6 inches
- 7.5 inches
- 8 inches
- 8.5 inches
- 10 inches
- 11 inches
The bigger the tire in diameter, the more torque your scooter will provide. However, that will also result in bigger power consumption.
Wider tires will provide you with more control and balance. But they will also increase friction, and will typically last not as long.
These seem like a lot of parameters about tires. But keep in mind that scooters usually come with the tires best suited for their intended use.
Off-road scooters come with large, patterned off-road tires.
Commuting scooters come with regular tires.
You should certainly learn as much as you can about scooter tires. But they don’t need to be another complicating factor that will influence your decision all that much.
All things being equal, scooters with suspension are better than ones without it. It will make a difference in the comfort of the ride.
However, suspension usually comes in somewhat specialized scooters, or ones that have some other design decision requiring them.
These will typically include off-road models, or scooters with solid tires. So, your decision may already be made for you, or if not, all of your final choices will have suspension.
Brakes in scooters are very important, but it’s hard to measure them effectively. We can only describe brakes as “strong”, “ok”, or “weak”.
Until we come up with a way to quantify the quality of brakes, simply look at the number of brakes that the scooter has.
There are three common types of brakes:
- mechanical disk brakes, activated by a lever
- electronic brakes, activated by a button
- rear fender brakes, activated by your foot
Since brakes can malfunction, it’s best to have as many failsafe options in place as possible. So if the choice comes down to this, go for the one with more brakes.
Most scooters will have apps for them.
If you have to choose between a model with an app and a model without one, the choice is clear – choose the one with the app.
If both have apps, look at their app store ratings. It will rarely come down to this, but if it does, go for the one with better app store ratings.
Hacks and updates
Hacking the firmware is rarely discussed, mostly because it’s only available for the most popular scooters.
You don’t have to hack anything on your scooter or in its firmware. There’s absolutely no need for that, plus you risk losing your scooter’s warranty.
However, if you can choose whether to have the option, you should go for it. Some of these hacks are pretty cool, and can give you all sorts of awesome superpowers. The best one is removing top speed limitations.
Accessories and customizations available
But many possibly important accessories are made specifically for a single scooter model, and while there are a lot of generic scooter accessories, buying one always comes with the risk of not fitting your scooter.
The most useful examples of this would be a seat and a trunk or basket.
If your choices don’t already come with some of those, pick the scooter that can support them. Even if you don’t need them now, it’s good to have the option available in case you change your mind.
Climate and weather
Climate is a minor factor that shouldn’t influence your buying decision all that much. However, if you live somewhere with a specific climate, for example, it can still be a nice bonus for your scooter to be well-adjusted to the weather in your geography.
So, for example, if you live in a place that’s mostly hot and sunny throughout the year, you may want to get one of the scooters that perform well in the hot weather and in the summer. Conversely, if you live in a place that’s constantly cold and where it snows a lot, you will want a good winter scooter if possible.
There we have it. All the possible parameters and choices you can make when buying a scooter.
Hope you chose well and according to your needs.