The world of electric scooters gets increasingly complicated by the minute. Each year, hundreds of new scooter models are released, each with its own specific set of features, pros, and cons. It can get quite hard to make sense of this cluttered mess.
In order to find a new electric scooter that will perfectly suit your needs, you must first know what types of scooters can you find at the moment, and what upsides each of them has.
To ease this journey of yours, in this guide we will outline the most common types of scooters available on the market, categorized by their most important aspects.
Electric scooters are divided into four categories:
- by price – entry-level, middle-priced, and premium scooters
- by intended use – urban-based and off-road scooters
- by recommended user age – kids and adult scooters
- and by features – varying in tire design, battery type, seat, folding mechanisms, suspension, and waterproofing systems
Looking at the price of an electric scooter is the simplest way to tell if it’s of high quality or not. The cheaper the scooter, the less you get out of it, as is the case with any other product.
Here you can mainly see three types of electric scooters: entry-level, middle-priced, and high-end premium models.
As the name itself tells, entry-level scooters are the most affordable models on the market, aimed at buyers on a tight budget with few demands. These scooters are typically priced up to $500, and are the ones you can most often see on popular e-stores like Amazon or E-bay, and there’s not much to them.
Budget scooters have the most basic features, relatively low top speed and range, and are often made to last for a couple of years before breaking down. They all have the same lean e-scooter design, and the best you can hope for here is a decent lighting system, some suspension, and solid brakes. Everything else is a plus.
You can find hundreds of budget scooters on the online market today, and there are a few steals here if you’re hunting for a valuable cheap option. I’ve compiled a list of the best budget scooters you can find today, so make sure to check it out if you have a tight spending limit.
This is a very loose category, defined differently by both riders and brands, but anything between $500 and $1500 can be considered a middle-priced scooter.
A mid-range scooter is one of the best buys you can get if you are looking for a personal commuter. They are much better than the budget models, can last for ages, have solid performances, and can sometimes even compete with the most expensive scooters on the market. Here you can see the first off-road scooters made to withstand tough rides, as well as feature-packed scooters with high-end specs like hydraulic brakes, spring suspension, and battery ranges above 30 mi / 48 km.
Of course, there are a lot of rotten apples in this category as well, so you’ll have to keep your eyes open.
Premium scooters are where things start to get blurry and eye-watering. This is the point where we jump from “casual personal commuters” to “powerful racing electric vehicles on two wheels”.
Scooters in this category come with only one goal – to provide the absolute top performance you can imagine. They can cost up to $7000, but come packed with the latest-gen tech features and often exceed speeds of 62 mph / 100 kmh!
Now, as cool as they look, these things are no joke. Premium scooters should only be used by experienced riders who want to take things to the next level. You must always wear a helmet and protective gear, and only ride these scooters on tracks designed for such rides.
Different scooter models come with different sets of features that determine where can you use them. Some scooters have small and smooth air-filled tires for maximum comfort on the street, while others come with strong suspension and deep threads designed for adventurous off-road rides.
The line between an urban and an off-road scooter is thin, but as a rule of thumb – if it has regular smooth tires instead of deep threads, it is made for the streets.
Another sign that a scooter is made for an urban terrain is the lack of proper suspension. If a scooter does not have shock absorbers, you will feel every pothole on it, let alone bumps on dirt tracks.
Off-road scooters are much rarer than every other type. The demand for these types of scooters is relatively small, but you can still find many options if you are interested.
You must look for three main things: strong durable build, solid suspension, and large tires. The downside here is that these scooters are usually priced very high, but there are a couple of good options below $1000 as well.
When looking at different types of electric scooters, it is important to note that not every scooter can be used by both adults and kids. Young and inexperienced riders simply cannot be put on powerful scooters, while adults who try to ride small-sized scooters almost always end up damaging them.
E-scooters for kids
Kids’ scooters have a few key characteristics: low height, low speed levels, and only a few features that do not overcrowd the cockpit.
These scooters are often further categorized by age and divided into the following brackets:
- for kids up to 7 years
- for kids aged between 8 and 11
- and for kids aged between 12 and 15
Riders aged above 16 are usually considered adult enough to be able to ride a regular electric scooter.
Whenever you are buying a scooter for a kid, you must also consider the kid’s character, whether they will take good care of the scooter or go rough with it, how much are they going to ride it during the day, as all of these things can help you decide what is the best scooter for that child.
E-scooters for adults
The main thing to look at to decide whether a scooter is made for adults is to look at its weight limit. Adult scooters will always have a much bigger weight limit than kids’ scooters, normally above 220 lbs / 100 kg.
You should also look at the scooter’s size and stem height. Kids’ scooters often have very short stems with low handlebars so the young rider can reach them. Adult scooters, on the other hand, have much higher and wider handlebars, and are typically stocked with accessibility features like an LCD screen, gearbox, cruise control, etc.
Besides the main categories listed above, you can also further divide electric scooters based on the features they come with. Not every scooter comes with the same amount or type of features, and this is often the main factor to consider when choosing between two models.
Nowadays, every electric kick-scooter can be folded. Most scooters fold only at the stem, but some have folding handlebars as well.
Nevertheless, a proper folding mechanism is a must-have feature on every scooter, even the cheapest ones. If somebody is trying to sell you an e-scooter that cannot be folded, you are probably getting ripped off.
E-scooters are generally seen as standing vehicles, but many models support mounting a seat as well. Only a few scooters come with a built-in seat, and with most, you’ll have to order it aftermarket.
Now, when it comes to seated e-scooters you have two main types: a regular kick-scooter with an extra seat on deck, or a seated e-scooter designed like a moped. Above is a picture of both types and, as you can see, the designs vary quite a bit. However, this difference rarely affects the price of the scooter, and both types can have different performance levels, so the only thing to choose is what type of look you want.
Electric scooters can come with many different sets of tires.
There are standard pneumatic tires, with and without inner tubes, and solid rubber tires. The air-filled ones have better ride comfort, but are prone to punctures, while the solid rubber ones, which don’t have air inside, are a bit less comfortable, but you’ll never deal with flats with them. There is an everlasting debate about whether solid or pneumatic tires are better, and it will always be down to your personal preferences and riding needs.
Tires can also vary in their size. Larger tires are usually better for off-road rides as they have a more balanced shock absorption, while narrow tires are better for speed and agility.
The same goes for tire threads. The threads can be deep, shallow, or non-existent, depending on the road conditions you will be riding on. Deeper threads fare better in muddy terrains and gravel, while smooth tires provide faster rides.
When it comes to factory-set tires, most scooters come with 7 to 11-inch pneumatic tires with standard shallow threads. These are great for paved streets with occasional bumps and potholes, but I always recommend swapping them for custom tires if you notice they don’t suit your needs well.
More than two-thirds of electric scooters worldwide use lithium-ion batteries, while only a few have lead-acid and other types of batteries. Truth is, li-ion has a lot more benefits than the rest, so you should always aim for a scooter with that type of battery.
The main division between battery types comes down to whether the battery is removable or not. A removable battery is one of my personal favorite features on an electric scooter, as it has tons of upsides over a non-removable one. You can charge it wherever you want, take it up to your office while leaving the scooter downstairs, or simply get a second battery and use the two interchangeably for double range.
The battery is typically stored below the deck, but some scooters have it mounted inside the stem bar instead. This can have two effects:
- If the battery is in the stem, it will put most of the scooter’s weight upfront and create a disbalance during the ride. Abrupt stops can be a real danger in these cases
- Stem batteries are usually much smaller and with less capacity than deck batteries, although this varies from one scooter to another
In conclusion, I would recommend a scooter with a removable li-ion battery stored inside the deck as the best option.
There are three main types of suspension systems on electric scooters: hydraulic, spring, and rubber suspension, ranked by performance in that order. It can also be placed on the front wheel, the rear one, or both.
While this technically means that there are 9 types of scooters based on their suspension systems, in reality, you can mostly find the following 5 types of scooters:
- with a front-wheel spring suspension
- with dual spring suspension
- with a front-wheel rubber suspension
- with dual rubber suspension
- with dual hydraulic suspension
Brands rarely put shock absorbers on the rear wheel only, as it’s much less effective than having it upfront. Hydraulic suspension, on the other hand, is almost exclusively found on premium scooters, so you always get dual springs to get your money’s worth.
Other types of personal electric commuters
Of course, e-scooters are not the only personal electric vehicles, although they are the most popular at the moment. Over the past few decades, tech teams have developed tons of new technologies that resulted in new unique types of electric commuters.
While some of them never saw the huge market boom as e-scooters did, others are largely expected to be the new wave of transportation modes in the near future.
E-bikes are the “new-old” hot thing that is expected to take over the market over the next decade. If you haven’t yet seen one, you are not in for a big shock. They look just like regular bikes, but with a battery attached to the down tube above the chain.
E-bikes can be used manually, just like any other regular bike out there, or be driven by an electric motor. They have some upsides to e-scooters, mainly their simplicity and well-known design (everyone has ridden a bike in their life, but everyone has hopped on a scooter), but also their versatility.
Cyclists will love these commuters much more than e-scooters, as you can always ride them manually, and have a spare battery for when you are too tired on the way home.
As the automobile industry is slowly shifting towards electric cars, so do the rest of the petrol-powered vehicles.
Mopeds are nothing new. They’ve been around for a century, and are probably the most widely used personal vehicle to date. But as more and more brands are releasing electric versions of their signature motorcycles, electric mopeds are slowly, but surely overtaking the streets at the expense of petrol models.
Electric mopeds still have a long way to go to outperform their petrol counterparts, but you can already see glimpses of what our electric-powered future will look like.
The 90s saw the first major advance in self-balancing technology. Since then, a lot of brands have tried to implement this technology in their own unique way. Some of these attempts have been very successful, while others were not as much.
Since you are looking deep into the e-scooter industry, I’m 100% sure you’ve heard about hoverboards at least once in your life. These are the epitome of self-balancing personal e-vehicles, becoming the favorite toys of young teenagers during the late 2010s.
But hoverboards never got to the level e-scooters did. This is mainly because they were never promoted as a main form of transportation in the first place, but only as fun toys for young riders.
Realistically, these vehicles are very impractical for daily use. They are quite hard to learn and even harder to master, have a much lower range than e-scooters, and quickly become too uncomfortable for long-range rides, even if you manage to refill their battery halfway.
I believe hoverboards will always stay the thing they are today – fun shiny toys.
Up until the digital age, unicycles were just a circus act, and could never fit out on the streets. But as electric vehicles got more and more common, and self-balancing technologies got further developed, these weird single-wheel rides have found their space between the rest of the personal commuters.
Similarly to hoverboards, electric unicycles could never reach the point of bikes and scooters in terms of being a main form of transport. They are designed to be fun little vehicles, and they very much succeed in that task.
Electric unicycles are pretty hard to learn, and it will take a lot of time before you will be comfortable on one. But they are so smooth, compact, and fun to ride that you’ll instantly fall in love with them if you are the adventurous type.
Two-wheeled personal transporters (PTs)
Two-wheeled personal transporters, or PTs, are arguably the most notorious product in the electric vehicles industry.
Primarily designed by Segway, the PT was a self-balancing scooter with a cabin for one person and a long handlebar upfront. It was driven by pushing the plates beneath your legs forward or backward, and it was terribly hard to ride. Because of this, the Segway PT became the headline of many YouTube fails compilations, forever destroying the reputation of two-wheeled self-balancing transporters.
The PT is currently discontinued, and it probably won’t be back on the market for the foreseeable future. Still, I’ve decided to put the infamous vehicle on this list as a nice callback to where the e-vehicle industry once was, and how far it came since then.
For quick reference, below is a summary chart of all types of e-scooters, colorized by category.