Every electric scooter is unique and comes with a different set of features than its competitors. This can leave you wondering what kind of features should you look for in your next scooter, and how can you make a clear distinction between the different parts of electric scooters.
Electric scooter features are quite numerous, although most of them are not that complex. In this article, we will go through all of the features you can see in e-scooters today, what are the different types of each feature, and how scooters with and without a specific feature compare to each other.
Electric scooter features are divided into 5 categories:
- Performance features -motor, battery, controller, folding mechanism
- Comfort features – wheels, tires, suspension, seat,
- Safety features – brakes, lights, keys, and locks
- Convenience features – screen, waterproofing, controls, fender
- Extra features, accessories, customizations, upgrades – basket, trunk,
- Apps – mobile phone applications for specific scooter models or general-purpose apps
The most important parts of any scooter are its performance features. These are present in every scooter model and are the key components you first want to look at.
By definition, every electric scooter has to have an electricity-powered motor. If it doesn’t have one, it’s not an electric scooter.
A scooter can have one or two motors in its build, which you’ll notice by the marks “single-wheel drive” or “dual drive” in the scooter’s advertising materials.
Based on its position, it can be a hub motor – mounted inside the wheels, or a chain-drive motor, present elsewhere on the scooter and connected to the wheel via some mechanism. Most e-scooters today come with hub motors as they save a lot of space and are much more practical than chain-drive models.
A motor can also be geared, like in petrol scooters, or gearless, which is often the preferred method for electric scooters.
There is one more important distinction between different types of motors in electric scooters. Based on the electric technology they use, motors can be brushed or brushless. However, almost all e-scooter today are released with brushless motors as brush technology is outdated and has many disadvantages over the newer brushless versions.
The power of the motor is measured in Watts, and you will usually see two data points here – real and peak power.
To understand the difference between real and peak motor power, you first need to know one important thing – as motors heat up, they slowly lose their performance.
Now, real motor power is the power the motor generates in typical real-life scenarios, when driving for the whole day, in traffic, going up and down, and turning corners.
Peak power, on the other hand, is the max power a motor can generate in an ideal scenario – riding on a straight, flat road, with no obstacles, and perfect weather conditions.
If you want to know more about different types of motors in electric scooters and how they work, you can check my complete guide on electric scooter motors. If you’re here for a quick answer, you should mostly look for a gearless brushless hub motor, preferably dual drive for more speed and power.
The first thing anyone looks at when buying a new vehicle is how fast can it go.
Speed is a crucial element of any scooter, as you are not only buying them for their energy efficiency but also because they are much faster than walking or even riding a bike.
The average top speed of today’s e-scooters is around 25 mph / 40 kmh.
Depending on your budget, today you can find scooters that have a top speed of 20, 40, or even 70 mph! That may sound unbelievable, but it is very much possible with the fastest electric scooters out there.
Brands usually advertise the absolute top speed you can reach with their scooters, but their actual speed in the real world will often depend on many circumstances: battery level, rider weight, road conditions, weather conditions, and other stuff affecting the ride.
Besides speed, another important thing that motors contribute to is acceleration.
Theoretically, power from electricity can be transferred from the battery to the motor in a much faster and more efficient way than in motors with internal combustion.
But, unlike cars, fast acceleration is not that important on electric scooters, since you will most often ride them in crowded areas with lots of people nearby. And a super fast acceleration is not a good thing to have with hundreds of pedestrians around. That’s why most scooters, even those without geared motors, have a relatively slow start and build momentum over time.
With expensive racing scooters, this is not the case. The absolute top models on the market can reach 30 mph in less than 5 seconds.
But with most regular scooters under $1000, you can expect them to take up to 10 or 15 seconds before gaining a solid speed level.
The final important thing the motor has an effect on is the climb angle of the scooter. This feature measures how steep of an incline can the scooter climb using only its motor power, with no additional help from the rider.
Climbing angles are measured either in degrees or percentages. Steep inclines and uphill streets typically have the angle of steepness displayed on a sign at the very bottom of the street, so you can always have a rough idea of whether your scooter will be able to take you up that street or not.
So, what climbing ability should your scooter have?
Well, the regulations for wheelchair ramps are that they cannot exceed 5° / 8.3%, so anything above that should be enough for a casual city ride.
The good news is that the industry average climb angle of e-scooters significantly increased as new motor technologies were put to market. Today, you can easily find a cheap scooter with a climb rate of above 10° / 17.6%, with most models going well above that.
Of course, there are a lot of amazing climbing scooters that can go for 35° or higher. But the regular urban commuter will be satisfied and taken care of with much less.
Electric scooter batteries are another essential component. Since the most important function of the battery is electricity storage, you should always look for one with high capacity in order to get the maximum range out of your new scooter. The battery’s capacity is measured in watt-hours (Wh), which basically tells how much power (watts) can the battery flow over one time period (an hour). While most scooters will have a battery capacity from 150Wh to 750Wh, the most expensive models out there have a lot more than that. Some even go above 3000Wh
The battery’s power input and output, on the other hand, are measured in Volts (V). Simply put, voltage is what tells you how fast can the battery release its power. The higher it is, the faster the power goes from the battery to the motor. The voltage on batteries can vary from 24V, all the way to 120V.
The final important thing you need to know about scooter batteries (and the thing people most often ask about) is charging time. Charging time will depend on two things – the battery itself, and the charger. Most brands sell their scooters with standard chargers, which take between 10 and 15 hours to fully charge a standard, 1000Wh battery. You can also buy a fast charger aftermarket and lower this time to 6, or even 4 hours, depending on the model.
Over the years, many new technologies were invented to make batteries last longer. Today, there are two main battery designs used in the e-scooter market: lithium-ion and sealed lead-acid. Other battery types, like nickel metal hydrides, could be seen in the past but quickly went out of fashion.
Li-ion is the latest battery trend in the e-vehicle industry. They are the smallest and lightest of all types, have huge storage respective to their size, but are also the most expensive ones to build. Nevertheless, they are the most frequent type of battery in e-scooters as they provide great value for money.
Sealed lead acid batteries, on the other hand, are the cheaper alternatives that require less maintenance, and have a big power output, but come with some significant downsides that have caused them to gradually get pushed out of the market. For one thing, lead acid batteries are much heavier than li-ion, and have a shorter lifespan. And since portability is an important matter with e-scooters, the weight aspect plays a huge role when manufacturers choose what type of battery to put in their products.
One of the newer developments in battery technology is the ability to remove them from the scooter. Today, scooters with removable batteries are one of the most sought-after models, since they enable the rider to lock the scooter outside and just take out the battery and charge it in their apartment or office without having to carry the entire scooter inside. Also, these scooters practically enable their riders to double their range, as buying an extra battery and carrying it around in a backpack enables the rider to switch the empty battery with the fully charged one and replenish the range of the scooter.
The range of an electric scooter is one of its most important features. Personally, it is the first thing I look at, as I believe it to be the single most important feature, for both myself and the typical scooter rider out there.
The range depends mostly on the battery capacity, which is why scooters with longer ranges will tend to have bigger batteries, and thus weigh more.
On the other hand, range is negatively affected by the scooter’s weight and the weight it has to carry.
The controller is a lesser-known part of e-scooters, but it is very important nonetheless. It is the main “connector” between the controls and the electric parts of the scooter, mainly the motor and the battery.
This part’s main role is to signal the battery how much power it should output to the motor, practically regulating the speed of the ride. It has many additional roles, like regulating the top speed of the scooter, assisting in regenerative breaking, and some other functions.
The controller is placed inside the scooter’s body, usually right beside the battery. It looks like a small box with a dozen cables sticking out of it. Due to this universal design, a faulty controller is one of the easiest parts to replace on a scooter. You can find tons of e-scooter controllers on the web, and you can even replace one yourself if needed.
There are mainly two kinds of folding scooters: ones where only the stem bar folds over the deck, and ones where the whole front part including the wheel folds down.
There are some non-folding scooters as well, but you can probably disregard those. A folding mechanism is something so simple yet so useful that it’s futile to not have it on your scooter.
Scooters use a variety of mechanisms for folding the stem. It can be either a clasp, a screw, a lever, or even a button. But the base principle is always the same: you press and hold the clasp, or whatever holds the stem upright, and slowly lower the stem down.
Some scooters, typically the premium models, also come with folding handlebars. This is quite a useful feature as it saves more storage space, while keeping your handlebars protected during transport.
If you have a low weight and rarely exceed 150 lbs / 70 kg, you don’t ever have to worry about your scooter’s weight limit.
However, it is useful to know how much weight can your scooter actually sustain, so you don’t overload it by mistake. After all, backpacks, grocery bags, and other loads often go on the scooter’s deck or on your shoulders, and sometimes they can add substantial weight.
Almost all e-scooters today support a load of 220 lbs / 100 kg. Even the cheapest, lightest ones.
Many models go much higher than this, and some even have a weight limit of 330 lbs / 150 kg and above.
The best scooters for heavy adults aren’t always cheap, but if you need an e-scooter that supports a heavy rider, you’ll never be short of choices.
Not all features on electric scooters are for performance and power. Without enough comfort, your rides will feel like endless stiff bumps all the way.
Wheels are, naturally, key features of an e-scooter, but based on their type and size, they can impact the ride comfort a lot.
There are two wheels on every electric scooter, one front, and one rear. Some mobility variations have three wheels in total, with two in the rear, but these are mostly designed for elderly riders and those who cannot use a scooter while standing.
Scooter wheels mainly differ in size, including their diameter and width.
The wheel’s diameter ranges from 6 – 11 in / 15 – 28 cm, with most scooters typically having 8 or 11-inch wheels. 8 inches is the standard size for city-streets or commuting scooters, while 11-inch wheels are more often used for fast scooters or off-road scooters.
The width of a scooter wheel is typically between 2 – 4 in / 5 – 10 cm.
In general, bigger and wider wheels lead to better riding comfort and better handling of rough terrains and road bumps, although there are many other aspects that contribute here as well.
The second key feature that affects scooter riding comfort is the tires. Just like wheels, tires also vary in size and width, but also in tire type and material.
There are two types of tires used in electric scooters: air-filled or pneumatic, and airless or solid tires. See my guide on solid vs pneumatic tires to learn more about the differences between them.
Air-filled, or pneumatic, are the standard tire type used in every vehicle in the world. They can be tubed or tubeless, based on whether there is an inner tube beneath the outer tire or not.
The advantage of a pneumatic tire is better shock absorption and generally bigger speed, but they require more maintenance. Pneumatic tires have to be constantly inflated at the correct tire pressure, and you will often deal with flat tires and tire swaps.
Solid tires, on the other hand, are a somewhat new invention that still hasn’t gotten stable legs in today’s industry. You won’t see them on heavy vehicles, like cars, for a long time, but they’ve started appearing more and more on smaller commuters like e-scooters.
This type of tire is usually made of rubber and comes in three variations: honeycomb, linear, and dotted design. Honeycomb is the one most often used for e-scooters, and you can also see it even on budget-priced models.
Solid tires have one main advantage, and that is being non-puncture. A solid rubber tire cannot go flat, as it doesn’t have air inside, and there is no maintenance required for it. The disadvantage here is worse ride comfort and less control over your rides as you can’t fill the tire at your own preferred air pressure. See my guide on the best solid-tire electric scooters for the best options in this category.
A good suspension is crucial for a comfortable ride. However, suspension systems are still a sort of luxury, rather than a key feature of electric scooters. Cheaper models rarely have any suspension at all, and those that do, generally have some low-end type that isn’t that effective.
When looking for scooters with good suspension systems, it’s important to distinguish the three different types of suspension that are out there:
- hydraulic – the best one, but also the most expensive
- spring – the most frequent one, a solid system found on two-thirds of scooters with suspension
- rubber – the least effective one, only practical for small scooters
A hydraulic suspension uses oil called hydraulic liquid that’s stored in a tube. The tube is then connected to a spring, which is subsequently connected to the wheel. Whenever the wheel meets an uneven surface, the spring absorbs the shock by compressing and pushing the liquid inside the tube. The liquid then pushes back to return the spring to its original state, returning the wheel back once the surface flats down.
A spring suspension uses a similar process but excludes the usage of liquids. It relies on a metal spring to absorb the whole shock of the bump and is thus slightly less effective.
At the lower end, you have the rubber suspension system, which basically implements the same mechanism as the spring system, but with shock absorbers made of rubber instead of metal.
The general rule about e-scooters is that they are standing vehicles, while seats are optional attachments. Most riders opt out of having a seat, saying it’s much more practical and fun to ride the scooter while standing.
In my experience, this isn’t too far from the truth. Many e-scooters have small design details that force you to stand up – a tall unadjustable stem, a long but narrow deck, and no space for additional attachments. Some models don’t even support adding a seat to them.
However, for those that do support this feature, the seat usually goes in the rear of the deck, right in front of the rear wheel. The seat is mounted on a steel bar, which is then attached to the deck and tightened with screws.
There are many different types of seats out there. They can be made of rubber, memory foam, leather, and whatnot. You can also choose between triangle-shaped or elongated seats, with or without suspension, and other details like color, thickness, height, etc.
When buying a seat for your scooter aftermarket, it’s wise to first shop at the same store where you got the scooter. They will typically have the best seats that go well with your model.
In general, I recommend thinking about this decision before you buy the scooter. It’s not that simple to install a seat on a scooter that hasn’t been designed to support one, so you’re much better off getting an electric scooter with a seat in the first place.
The line between a performance and a safety feature is quite thin, as many features overlap between the two categories. Nevertheless, any feature that contributes to a safer ride, be it ride control, visibility, or general protection, is a safety feature.
It goes without saying that every scooter, no matter its price range, has brakes in its build. However, the type and quality of the brakes vary a lot depending on the price of the scooter.
The bad news is that you can’t do anything about this before buying the scooter. That’s why it’s important to regularly maintain the brakes, adjust them, and replace some parts if you notice they are worn off. Unreliable brakes are the major reason for scooter accidents, which should be a bigger concern if you are a high-speed rider.
Brakes are divided into two categories, based on the type of force they use. There are mechanical brakes, which are connected directly to the wheel and use force and pressure to stop the motion of the wheel in a split second, and electronic brakes, which use electric circuits connected to the motor and the controller to slow the movement of the wheel down.
Mechanical brakes include:
- disk brakes (a circular disk attached to the side of the wheel)
- drum brakes (two drumsticks attached to the top of the wheel)
- foot brakes (a pedal positioned above the rear wheel)
- hydraulic brakes (use a mechanism with liquid to provide the most efficient braking)
Electronic brakes, on the other hand, can be:
- standard (slows the motor down)
- with regenerative technology (slows the motor down and refills the battery using the stopping force)
See my complete guide on electric scooter brakes if you want to find out more about this key feature.
Lights are probably the most underrated safety feature on electric scooters. They have dual functions: on one hand, they illuminate the road ahead of you, while on the other they signal to those around that a vehicle is moving towards them.
That’s why it’s important for a scooter to have a sufficiently strong headlight and other forms of signals. Some models also include a rear light, a brake light, turn signals, and many different side reflectors attached to the sides of the deck and the stem.
Side reflectors can also include flashing LED designs, which are sometimes seen on the more expensive scooters. Brands that manufacture high-end scooters are especially known for illuminating their logos in RGB LED lights.
Keys and locks
Before diving into the different types of locks, it has to be said that built-in locks on electric scooters are not very effective. In fact, many scooters don’t even have a lock built into their design, while those that do, come with a system that is very easy to bypass.
The best and most effective way to protect your scooter from thieves is to buy a strong scooter lock and use it to tie the scooter onto a bike rack.
Of course, not all scooters are like this. Some come with a built-in chain lock, which is a nice way to save some money, while others use ignition keys to start the motor. Although, I would never leave my scooter unlocked out in the open, as somebody can just hop on it and ride off manually.
Other types of locks include digital pins or passwords, screen locks, and app locks, but the bottom line is that none of these are as reliable as advertised.
While some features, like the motor of the wheels, simply have to be present on a scooter, other features are mostly put there for a more convenient ride.
Portability is a vague term that signals how easy it is to carry the scooter around when you can’t ride it using the motor. This can happen surprisingly often: when the battery runs out, when you meet stairs, when you hop on public transit, etc…
There are two things that mainly contribute to a scooter’s portability: its weight and its size, or rather its dimensions when it’s both folded and unfolded.
But because both of these things differ a lot, and in very small margins, we at EScooterNerds have come up with a way to put e precise number on how portable a scooter is. We call that number a “portability index”, which can have a max value of 100, and is calculated by taking into account the scooter’s weight, in kilograms, and its folded dimensions, in centimeters.
The most portable scooters in the world, those that you can walk around with, have a portability index of above 85. What makes them special is they are both very light (15-20 kg), and have narrow designs (width of 20-30 cm).
The stem is like the neck of the scooter. It’s a long straight bar that connects the bottom part (the deck) with the “head” (the steering wheel).
Stems are always made of hard metals, like steel or aluminum, as they need to be firm and stable, without any wobbly parts. They also need to hold the steering wheel so it doesn’t swerve around like crazy.
Another important aspect of the stem is that it keeps all the wires of the scooter in it. To be precise, these are the wires from the controls and the screen, without which you won’t be able to ride the scooter.
While this part is usually put in place and is non-adjustable, there are some models that allow you to customize the height of the stem. Shorter riders will need a shorter stem, as the steering wheel must always be in line with your chest. If it’s too high, you won’t be able to use the throttle and the brakes properly, but if it’s too low, then you’ll have to bend over too much and hurt your back.
Today, you can find a screen on any electric scooter, no matter its brand or price. When riding an electric vehicle of any type, it is convenient to always know how much battery you have left and how fast you’re going.
The screen is always located on the steering wheel, typically in between the handlebars. Most models today use LCD screen which shows the few most important specs: speed, battery level, riding mode/gear, and other features that can be turned on or off, like cruise mode, headlight, Bluetooth connection, and other.
There are mainly two types of e-scooter screens: flat LCD screens integrated into the steering wheel, or small screens hanging on top of the handlebar.
They also differ in position in size, but none of these aspects have too big an effect. The most important specs – battery and speed, are always the most visible ones, and typically the only thing riders need to know during the ride.
Like any other electric item, e-scooters can suffer a lot from water intake if their build isn’t properly protected. Unfortunately, not all e-scooters have a solid ingress protection (IP) rating, which showcases how much the scooter is protected from water and dust intake.
Electric scooters are typically made of hard materials, like metal, carbon fiber, or plastic, which are generally waterproof. But the battery and the motor often need much bigger protection than the base material, and that usually includes outer waterproof coating with a sufficient IP rating.
On average, a scooter will typically need a rating of at least IP55 to have proper protection from both dust and water intake, where the first number after the “IP” letters denotes protection from dust, while the second denotes protection from water. If there is a letter “X” in place of a number, it means there is no sufficient info about protection from that particular danger. (For example, an IPX5 means the scooter has no protection from dust intake, but it does have protection from light water sprays).
Riding a non-waterproof scooter out in heavy rain might result in damage to its electric parts, and even likely a faulty battery afterward. This also means you can’t wash it down with water, unless you only use a wet cloth very carefully.
You can check out my guide on how to waterproof your electric scooter if you’re concerned that it doesn’t come with enough water protection, or just see my guide on the best waterproof electric scooters if you want to never worry about rain or snow.
There are four standard controls found in all e-scooters:
- throttle – to engage and speed up the motor
- brake lever/s – to engage the front and/or rear brake (scooters typically have a separate lever for each brake, but not necessarily)
- display – the main screen in the middle of the cockpit
- power button – powers the scooter on and off, and is typically placed on or beside the screen
Additionally, there are a few controls that are only found in some models, including:
- horn/bell – typically a ring bell, or a button that sounds up the horn of the scooter
- lights switch – one or multiple switch buttons that turn the lights and signals of the scooter on or off
- mode switch – controls the riding mode, or switches between gears, if the scooter has any
- menu navigators – some screens come with advanced menus and multiple buttons used to navigate through it
Handlebars and steering wheels are often used interchangeably in the e-scooter world, but there is a slight difference. A steering wheel is the whole top part that is placed on top of the stem, and it includes the handles, the controls, and the screen. A handlebar, on the other hand, is the outer part of the steering wheel where you put your hands on.
Like the stem itself, handlebars are often fixed and non-adjustable, but you can also find some scooters where you can both adjust and fold the handles.
Foldable handlebars are a great feature for storing. They significantly shrink the width of the scooter, making it much easier to store it in the trunk of your car.
The other thing you should look out for is the grips. All handlebars have grips, but some have them better than others. Some models have generic smooth handle covers, while others put much bigger attention on them. This will ultimately be a thing of personal preference, as some people prefer smoother handles, and others like them threaded.
The fender is a small and often underrated convenience feature. Many brands omit to put one on their scooters, which turns into a huge inconvenience for both the rider and the scooter, especially if the rider lives in an environment with poor roads or bad weather.
Lack of a fender on either wheel will not only result in rain and mud droplets on your pants and jacket, but it can also damage the scooter’s electric parts if they aren’t waterproofed.
The position, or rather the angle of the fender is also very important. If it’s placed slightly off, it will still let a lot of water through. Luckily, this feature is easily adjustable and swappable, so you can switch the fender up yourself if it isn’t doing its job efficiently.
Rearview mirrors are surprisingly very rare on e-scooters. Now, this might sound a bit too subjective, but in my personal experience mirrors are one of the most useful features for city rides.
Riding on bike lanes is not always possible, as many areas lack proper scooter infrastructure, and you are often forced to ride on the street. In this scenario, not having any idea what’s behind you can sound quite inconvenient.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a must-have feature. Many riders simply won’t feel the need for it. But if you are anything like me, you can always add a rearview mirror on the scooter yourself, as the steering wheel will most likely support it.
Extra features, accessories, customizations, upgrades
You probably won’t see these features built into an electric scooter, but for people who like to have a few extra upgrades in their scooter, or simply want to make their scooter look cooler, there are a few additional options as well.
One of the options you have is to put a basket on the front of the scooter, hanging on top of the stem. You can often see a basket like this on classic bicycles, and it looks quite nice actually.
The downside here is that the center of gravity on a scooter is much more upfront than it is on bikes, so adding a big feature like a basket upfront can make keeping the balance a bit harder. I wouldn’t recommend this feature for scooters with single front-wheel drives or those who have the battery stored in the stem.
A trunk will give you much more storage space than a basket, but unfortunately, very few scooters support such a feature.
The trunk will have to be put in the rear, on top of the wheel, while the scooter itself would have to have a rather wide deck with a big weight limit. Seated scooters are a much better fit for a trunk than standing ones. I would still say this is one of the most inconvenient and unattractive upgrades for electric scooters, at least in my opinion.
Accessories, customizations, upgrades
Besides the trunk or the basket, there are a ton of other electric scooter accessories and customizations that you can add to your scooter that will make it more useful.
Some of my favorite accessories include:
- additional lights
- scooter alarm
- hook for bags or other items
- carry handle or carry strap
- phone holder
- wall mount
See my detailed guide on all the possible electric scooter accessories to get some inspiration for cool new features you can add to your scooter for very little money.
A mobile app is a huge convenience bump for scooter riders. Apps are typically made as an extension to the scooter’s display, showcasing more detailed info than what’s present on the main screen.
In general, scooters connect with their appropriate apps via Bluetooth.
Of course, not all models support Bluetooth, or any other type of connection, which is the main reason why not all scooter brands have their own mobile app.