Some of us have been there. You order your brand new scooter, you patiently wait for it to arrive, it arrives at your doorstep, you unpack it, assemble it, take it outside, you reach for the power button, and then… the scooter doesn’t even turn on! Or even worse, it only works for about a week, and just as you start falling in love with your scooter, it breaks down in the middle of the ride!
While dead-on-arrivals and lemons are the exceptions to the rule, it’s really not fun to be the person that gets one of those. Luckily, we have a lot of data about electric scooter defects available today, and we can make educated purchasing decisions based on that data, decisions that can help us drastically reduce the chances of buying a scooter of poor quality that will break down after very little or even no usage.
I put together this research on electric scooter problems to help you identify the models that have the smallest chances of being defective upon delivery or within a very short period of ordering them. The quality of an electric scooter model is almost the same as the lack of defects that model has, so in many ways, this research provides an answer to which are the best-quality electric scooters.
Electric scooter defect rates
To get a better idea of electric scooter defects, I went through the ratings and reviews of all the most popular electric scooters on Amazon, and extracted all the data points about defective scooters, or scooters malfunctioning after relatively short periods of time (less than 12 months). This will help you evaluate the risk of your scooter breaking down quickly, and whether it’s worth taking that risk.
|Electric Scooter||Avg. Rating||N. Reviews||N. 1-star||N. 2-star||N. Total Defects||Est. Defect Rate|
|Ninebot Zing E8/E10||4.6||2104||60||6||50||2.38%|
|Xiaomi 1S/Essential/Pro 2||4.3||1064||47||10||35||3.29%|
|Hiboy S2 Pro||4.5||1164||39||17||53||4.55%|
|Ninebot Air T15||3.3||21||2||1||1||4.76%|
|Macwheel MX Pro||4.2||629||34||14||31||4.93%|
|GoTrax XR Elite||4.3||675||36||7||38||5.63%|
|GoTrax XR Ultra||4.4||1448||66||17||82||5.66%|
|GoTrax GXL V2||4.3||4699||391||109||345||7.34%|
|Hover 1 Alpha||4||692||41||14||51||7.37%|
|Swagtron Swagger 5||3.8||879||116||25||121||13.77%|
|Swagton Swagger Pro||2.9||98||30||9||30||30.61%|
|Swagtron Swagger 1||3||429||112||38||154||35.9%|
|Average/Total||Avg. 4.12||Total 28510||Avg. 65.46||Avg. 20||Total 2086||Avg. 7.32%|
We can observe a lot of interesting facts from this data. Let’s briefly go over the methodology and explain the abstracts of this research, and then dive into the most useful conclusions about the quality of electric scooters.
Methodology and things to keep in mind
It’s important to remember that the number of scooter defects alone is not very valuable to look at in isolation, and it only makes sense when looking at it together with how many units the scooter has sold.
However, since the exact number of units sold is almost impossible to know, the defect rate obtained here will be much, much bigger than the actual defect rate, as we obtain it by dividing the number of defects by the total number of reviews. The real defect rate would be obtained by dividing the total number of defects by the total number of units sold.
Also, while most dissatisfied customers report these defects online, we must assume that some will simply not bother with that, even though the large majority of unfortunate owners will definitely report the defect, usually with a very strong tone. This fact does tip the balance a bit back towards the defect rates not being too small, but still probably not enough to give us the real defect rate, which will still end up being much lower than the real one.
So, the defect rate is only meant to represent the relative defect rate of every scooter model compared to other models, and it will be a gross overestimation of the real-world defect rate.
Besides the total number of reviews and defects reported, we will include the scooter’s average rating and the number of 1-star and 2-star reviews (data collected in June 2021). The 1-star reviews and the 2-star reviews only count the reviews from verified buyers.
I counted the defects individually in each review. So, if an owner reported both the brakes giving out and the battery dying, that single review produced two defects for the scooter. Of course, I only look at reports of actual defects, and didn’t simply count the 1-star and 2-star reviews, as those are often caused by poor customer support or slow delivery process and don’t really matter for the scooter’s overall quality.
Since Amazon is the only place that shows all the reviews of the scooters they sell, I concluded that they would be the most reliable data source, and probably the only reliable one, in fact. Some other online retailers like Walmart and Target had much less data they could offer, so I decided to not include them. Also, I decided to not include data from the online shops of the scooter brands and manufacturers themselves, because they obviously filter out all the negative reviews, and almost no scooter brand shows the 1-star and 2-star reviews in their scooter’s review section. And, of course, 1-star and 2-star reviews are exactly what we need for the defect rates, so review data from the brands themselves were practically useless for this research.
Finally, be aware that every single one of these scooters costs less than $1000, and some of the scooters cost even cost less than $300, which clearly makes this research focused almost entirely on the budget price category. More expensive scooters will naturally have even smaller defect rates.
One downside of this study is the lack of data for some models. I already omitted several scooters that had just a handful of reviews, as those had the potential to create a completely wrong picture about a scooter. That’s why it’s important to look at the entire context. Otherwise, a scooter like the Ninebot E22 may seem like the perfect scooter that never ever breaks down, and while that’s a pretty good scooter, the fact that it only had about 30 reviews is probably the real reason why it still doesn’t have any negative reviews.
Average electric scooter defect rate
Out of the 28510 electric scooter reviews combined, owners have reported major defects and malfunctions that have rendered their scooters useless in less than a year in 2086 cases. That is an average defect rate of 7.32%, across the most popular electric scooter models in the world.
Meaning, there’s about a 7.32% chance that a popular budget scooter may suffer a serious defect in the first year of ownership.
That’s not too bad, especially for budget scooters. And, as you can see from the table above, some of the most popular budget scooters today like the Ninebot Max or the Xiaomi 1S will have even less than a 3% chance of a serious defect in the first year.
Remember, the real defect rate is almost certainly smaller than these numbers. In fact, it may be orders of magnitude smaller, as online sellers report their customers to leave reviews in only 0.5% – 1% of cases, while the percentage of frustrated customers with defective scooters that leave negative reviews may even be close to 100%.
Anyways, a 7.32% chance of a defect in the first year is probably a pretty good defect rate, considering all the complexities involved in an electric scooter (I’ve seen computer keyboards with higher defect rates!). That’s about 1 in 14 budget scooters, which, again, while incredibly frustrating for those that it happens to, is still a good rate for a complex electronic gadget overall.
Also, note that there’s a very big variance from model to model. The majority of the most popular scooters have even less than a 7% chance of breaking down soon, and a handful of scooters of poor quality drive the defect rate up by quite a lot. If you simply avoid buying one of those models, like the Swagtron scooters and the first Xiaomi model, then the chances of an early malfunction decrease by a lot.
Best quality electric scooters
To find the best-quality electric scooters, we have to massage the data a bit, as we don’t want to answer such an important question by including scooters that have sold very few units, as it easily might happen by chance that a scooter has had a good “run”, let’s say. So, we will only look at scooters with more than 100 reviews, as those are tested by a large number of people in various situations, and the chances of a defect going unnoticed are much smaller.
So, with that out of the way, we can see the best-quality electric scooters in 2021.
The electric scooter with the smallest defect rate is the Xiaomi 1S. The scooter has an average rating of 4.6 stars (just 27 reviews with 1 star and 8 reviews with 2 stars). Users have left 1169 reviews of the scooter, and only reported 15 major defects that have rendered the scooter useless, which is a defect rate of just 1.28%.
Other popular scooters of great quality are:
- Ninebot Zing E8/E10, 2.38% defect rate (see on Amazon)
- Ninebot E22, 2.54% defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Ninebot Max, 2.6% defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Xiaomi 1S/Essential/Pro 2, 3.29% defect rate (read the 1S review/Essential review/Pro 2 review or see all on Amazon UK)
- EverCross, 3.85% defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Hiboy S2 Pro, 4.55% defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
Worst electric scooters
We can apply the same logic from above, and only look at more popular scooters to determine which are the worst and have the highest chance of breaking down after little or no usage.
The worst-quality electric scooter today seems to be the Swagtron Swagger 1. Out of 429 reviews, the scooter averages only 3 stars, which is the second-worst rating (right after the Swagtron Swagger Pro with 2.9 stars). The scooter has 112 1-star reviews and 38 2-star reviews complaining of serious defects, for a total of 154 defects and a 35.9% chance of failure within the first year of ownership.
Other poor-quality scooters include the Swagtron Swagger Pro, with a high defect rate of 30.61%, the GoTrax G4 with a defect rate of 18.41%, and the Xiaomi M365 original version with the defect rate of 18.42%, although the vast majority of the defects for the latter were tire issues (more on that below).
Most popular electric scooters
The popularity of an electric scooter doesn’t necessarily reflect its level of quality in theory. In practice, however, this is almost always the case, and obviously, the scooters that have a lot of reviews and a very good rating overall will be much better choices than the scooters with very few reviews, with bad ratings, or both.
Based on the data, the most popular electric scooters today are:
- GoTrax GXL V2 Commuter, 4699 reviews with a 4.3-star rating (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Ninebot Max, 3772 reviews with a 4.6-star rating (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Xiaomi M365, 2367 reviews with a 3.9-star rating (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Ninebot Zing E8/E10, 2104 reviews with a 4.6-star rating (see on Amazon)
- GoTrax XR Ultra, 1448 reviews with a 4.4-star rating (read the review or see on Amazon)
Electric scooter defects
Besides the defect rates, we can also learn a lot by looking at the numbers of each individual defect type for every scooter. The table below represents the defect numbers for every popular electric scooter, broken down by the type of defect.
The defects are grouped as follows:
- quality: general defect type, serves as a catch-all category for unspecified defects (like reports saying “doesn’t work” or “broke down after a week”, for example)
- electronics: any defect related to the motor, controller, dashboard, or the electronic circuit of the scooter that renders it useless, including the screen displaying error codes that are not possible for the owner to fix and force the owner to ship the scooter back to the manufacturer
- battery: defects related to the battery, including the battery dying but also the scooter having a much smaller range than advertised
- charger: any defect where the charger is the main cause
- controls: defects related to various throttles, buttons, triggers, levers, or handlebars, that impact the scooter seriously and prevent its usage
- brakes: any major defects that cause the brakes to malfunction
- wheels: defects related to the wheels, fenders, and tires (includes suffering a flat tire which is too difficult or impossible for the owner to fix)
- fold: serious defects of the folding mechanism
- lights: any defect that causes the lights to not work
- app: defects related to the app, most often the user not being able to connect the scooter to the app via bluetooth, often resulting in the scooter not being able to even be powered on
This table is probably even more valuable, as it lets you know each scooter’s exact weakness, and can help you make a better purchasing decision based on exactly what you need from the scooter and where you want it to excel. The total number of reviews is also included in the table so that you have a reference for the number of defects as well.
|Electric Scooter||N. Reviews||N. Quality Defects||N. Electronics Defects||N. Battery Defects||N. Charger Defects||N. Controls Defects||N. Brakes Defects||N. Wheels Defects||N. Fold Defects||N. Lights Defects||N. App Defects|
|Ninebot Zing E8/E10||2104||8||23||7||10||1||1|
|Xiaomi 1S/Essential/Pro 2||1064||8||9||10||1||1||2||2||2|
|Hiboy S2 Pro||1164||11||14||8||3||6||4||2||4||1|
|Ninebot Air T15||21||1|
|Macwheel MX Pro||629||14||11||3||1||1||1|
|GoTrax XR Elite||675||4||17||10||1||3||2||1|
|GoTrax XR Ultra||1448||9||33||23||1||6||3||5||2|
|GoTrax GXL V2||4669||36||120||99||17||15||24||24||5||5|
|Hover 1 Alpha||692||11||9||7||1||7||3||7||6|
|Swagtron Swagger 5||879||26||45||25||2||5||3||9||3||3|
|Swagton Swagger Pro||98||9||11||2||3||3||2|
|Swagtron Swagger 1||429||27||50||34||5||7||17||14|
Let’s see some interesting points that stick out from this data as well.
Most common electric scooter defects
The most common defects in electric scooters are faulty electronics. They account for 32% of all critical defects, and often render the scooter useless. This defect type includes the scooter not being able to get turned on, accelerate, or fried controllers or wirings.
Battery defects account for around 20% of all defects, while general quality issues are represented with 15%, and issues with the wheels and tires are found in around 12% of scooters.
Flat tire problem with Xiaomi scooters
The most jarring defect type in a scooter model, and also the most notorious one, is probably the issue of the frequent flat tires in the Xiaomi M365, and the difficulty that owners have when trying to fix the tires. The Xiaomi M365 alone is responsible for 65% of the complaints about wheels and tires!
That said, we have to give props to Xiaomi here, because they’ve obviously taken the issue very seriously and have addressed it successfully in the newer models like the Xiaomi 1S, the Xiaomi Essential, and the Xiaomi Pro 2. The number of flats reported in those models is much, much lower (almost non-existent), despite all of those scooters being very popular as well.
I was hesitant whether to include app defects in this research, as they are not always directly related to the scooter itself. However, for many scooters, the app is a critical part of the entire experience, and in most cases, the scooter can’t even be used before it’s connected to the app, so I decided to count the cases of faulty apps as defects, too.
There is some good news hiding in here. There have been only a total of 32 app defects, accounting for just 1.5% of all defects reported.
Swagtron quality issues
Generally, I don’t like completely writing off scooters even if they have a few negative reviews online. Often, those are cheaper scooters that may not provide the best quality, but for someone with very little money and willing to take a chance, they might be a good option.
That said, I believe I wouldn’t recommend Swagtron scooters to anyone. Not only do they have the worst ratings and the highest percentage of defects reported across many different defect types, but their prices seem to have gone up lately, and for the sums of money that Swagtron tries to charge for their scooters, I believe you can easily find several scooters of much better quality.
Electric scooters with best and worst batteries
Battery defects are one of the most annoying ones, but in some cases, having a very weak battery is even worse than having a dead battery, as oftentimes manufacturers have shorter warranty periods on batteries or they don’t even cover weak batteries with the warranty as long as the battery is still operational.
That’s why it’s very important to know that your scooter of choice will come with a strong battery, that will provide you the promised range and performance, or something very close.
The electric scooters with the best batteries today, that delivered the promised performance, are:
- Xiaomi 1S: 0.26% battery defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon UK)
- Ninebot Max: 0.29% battery defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Ninebot Zing: 0.33% battery defect rate (see on Amazon)
- Macwheel MX Pro: 0.48% battery defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Ninebot E22: 0.56.% battery defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Hiboy S2 Pro: 0.69% battery defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- GoTrax GXL: 0.79% battery defect rate (read the review or see on Amazon)
- Xiaomi 1S/Essential/Pro 2: 0.94% battery defect rate (read the 1S review/Essential review/Pro 2 review or see all on Amazon UK)
The electric scooters with the worst batteries today are:
- Swagtron Swagger: 7.93% battery defect rate
- GoTrax Glider: 6.67% battery defect rate
- Ninebot Air T15: 4.76% battery defect rate
- GoTrax G4: 4.32% battery defect rate
Dead-on-arrival electric scooters
A large part of the electronics-related defects is noticed by owners right after they unpack their newly-arrived scooter. Oftentimes, they report the scooter not even being able to turn on, or not being able to accelerate, but also error codes on the screen are a very common reason for this as well.
As we said, about 32% of all defects are related to the electronics of the scooter, and for many models, dead-on-arrivals can represent half of those defects.
This is one of the most frustrating experiences for scooterists, as they eagerly await their scooters for days, or even weeks at times, only to have them delivered completely broken.
Luckily, in almost all of the cases, the warranty covers this type of defect, and all you have to do is ship the scooter back to the manufacturer, so that they can send you a new one or fix it and send it back to you. In many cases, you may even get a full refund.
I would only advise you to watch out for brands with very poor or slow customer support. If a company is known to take weeks to respond to your claims, it can sometimes happen so that your warranty is technically expired when the company receives or starts processing your claim, and they may give you trouble for that. If you’re concerned with that, stick with brands like Xiaomi, the number of complaints about their customer support was the smallest.
Most dangerous electric scooter defects
While dead-on-arrivals and app issues and weak batteries are annoying, some defects are much more than that – they can be outright dangerous! Electric scooters are generally safe, but several owners have reported some serious defects mid-ride, including the fold or the stem breaking apart or the brakes giving out. Those are much more serious issues, especially because they tend to occur while riding, and a handful of owners have reported suffering mild to moderate injuries because of them (no deaths were reported, luckily).
If you are concerned about this, I suggest maybe trying to stay away from scooters that tend to have a lot of defects related to their folding mechanism or their brakes. The most notorious scooters in this regard are the Swagtron Swagger Pro and the Swagtron Swagger 1. A batch of the Xiaomi M365 also seemed to have shipped with bad brakes, but that problem seems to have been addressed in later batches. Also, if you want to learn more about electric scooter brakes in general and how to keep them in great shape, see my guide on electric scooter brakes.