Like anything else, electric scooters have pros and cons. These are the main advantages and disadvantages that electric scooters bring.
These are the main pros of electric scooters:
- most models are affordable
- they are a great investment and pay themselves off quickly
- riding them is almost free
- very fun
- easy to use
- the rider doesn’t tire when using them
- safety is pretty good
- most models have great range
- they can handle many different terrains
- pretty reliable in most scenarios
- maintenance is usually easy
- great for avoiding traffic
- most models are easily portable
- good for the environment
- positive public opinion
- growing trend
The main cons of electric scooters are:
- the technology can sometimes be immature
- repairs can be difficult for some models
- you can’t ride them everywhere
- some places restrict them
- some models are not waterproof
- older models are not very powerful
- some models can be heavy
- some models don’t climb very well
- the battery will need to be replaced at some point
- premium models can be too expensive
While the pros far outweigh the cons, it’s wise to know about both of them if you’re thinking of buying an electric scooter. Let’s dive into more detail for each one of the points and examine the reasons behind them.
Pros of electric scooters
The benefits of owning an electric scooter are numerous and apply to the vast majority of people, especially people in urban areas.
These are some of the most important advantages of electric scooters (and this is not a complete list by any means).
1. Electric scooters are a great investment
Electric scooters, along with some other rideables, are the most cost-efficient means of transport today. Cost-per-mile, no other mode of transport beats them.
Buying an electric scooter will set you back a few hundred dollars initially.
Some can cost a thousand, or even a few thousand dollars, but you can easily find amazing scooters for under $1000.
However, the bulk of the money you spend on your electric scooter will be at the beginning.
There are almost no costs to riding your scooter after that, except in the event of a defect after the warranty expires.
The cost of electricity for charging an electric scooter is ridiculously low. I don’t want to say it’s free, but it’s practically free. Certainly beats fuel for your car, as it is orders of magnitude cheaper.
If you want to find out how much you can save on your car commutes, or how soon your scooter will pay for itself, check the car commute calculator.
In big cities, the cost of public transport tickets over one year will be the same as buying a medium-priced electric scooter. It’s a no-brainer really – you pay off your scooter in a year, and then you’re left with a free mode of transport for life.
2. Electric scooters are cheap (most of them)
They are the cheapest means of transport that you can ride without putting in any effort. They’re certainly cheaper than cars or motorcycles. Some great scooters are even cheaper than many regular bikes.
Granted, there are many expensive scooters as well. You will get your money’s worth with most of them, but they may require you to dish out a thousand dollars or more.
But luckily, those are the exceptions. Most scooters are priced for the average person’s budget, and are very affordable while providing great features.
Even better, the cost of electric scooters goes down over time. As with all great technology, it gets cheaper even though it gets improved all the time.
3. Riding an electric scooter costs nothing
Well, technically, not nothing, but very close to it.
The price of a single charge will depend on both the location you’re in, and the scooter itself (its battery specifically).
But still, the cost will be a few pennies. For example, charging a Xiaomi M365 Pro costs around 4 cents in the USA, about 6 pence in the UK, and between 3 and 8 euro cents in most of Europe (refer to the tables in this post, or see the scooter charging cost calculator). For just a few pennies you get a few dozen kilometers of range.
As I said, not exactly free, but very close to it.
4. Electric scooters are fun
This may actually be the most important thing to a big part of owners.
In fact, this may be the primary reason why electric scooters have seen such wide adoption and widespread use – they are extremely fun to ride!
There’s just a certain feeling of flow, of being in the moment, when sliding effortlessly through the streets on one of them. Certainly beats dozing off in the subway or the bus. No wonder people love them.
5. Electric scooters are easy to ride
Electric scooters may seem a little daunting to someone that has never ridden them before.
If you haven’t and you decide to try one out, you will be surprised by quickly you learn most of the things you need to know, and how easy it is to ride.
All you need to do is start with a kick and then just hit the throttle. Can’t get any simpler.
It’s even easier than riding a bike!
6. Electric scooters don’t tire the rider
Unlike other free modes of transportation like bikes or skateboards or traditional kick scooters, the great thing about electric scooters is that they don’t require any physical effort from the rider to move.
That’s why many professionals choose them for their commutes – they simply arrive at work clean and ready, instead of sweaty, dirty, and tired. Also, electric scooters can be used for delivery as well.
It’s amazing when you think about how you get the best of both worlds – the ride is basically free, and still you don’t have to pedal or kick or do anything other than maintain your balance.
7. Electric scooters are safe (when ridden responsibly)
Electric scooter health risks are minuscule, and accidents are not common. If you ride defensively and responsibly, you will ride your scooter for years without an accident.
Of course, accidents can happen, but most of the time you will not be riding at speeds that can cause you or anyone else any serious injuries.
When accidents happen, they usually involve either a very distracted rider, a careless pedestrian, or riding at unsafe speeds. Even when accidents happen, the injuries are not serious and the material damage is not great.
Check out the complete electric scooter safety guide for a comprehensive list of all the scooter tips on avoiding accidents and minimizing risks.
8. Most electric scooters can have great range
This is an area that has seen great improvement over the last several years.
Even the average scooter today can travel somewhere around 18 miles / 30 kilometers on a single charge. That’s more than enough for most people’s needs.
Some scooters have lower ranges that make them more of a hobby instrument than a reliable means of transport. If you want to use your scooter for actual transport, I suggest getting one that has at least 12 mi / 20 km of range. Sometimes the range specified by the manufacturer will be lower in the real world, and 12 mi / 20 km is already not that much, so it’s wise to err on the side of the longer range.
On the other hand, there are scooters that have crazy long ranges. A few of them can go more than 62 mi / 100 km on a single charge, and some can go even 93 mi / 150 km! Naturally, those beasts will be on the more expensive side.
For the regular user that wants to get to and from work efficiently, any range between 20 and 30 mi / 30 and 50 km will get the job done, and that’s already the case with the majority of good scooters.
9. Electric scooters handle many terrains well
Manufacturers recommend only riding the scooters on flat, even surfaces, preferably asphalt or pavement.
Most cities, however, have parts where the streets are filled with holes, bumps, and various other obstacles.
Luckily, scooters handle these quite well. This is especially true for higher-end scooters, scooters with air-filled tires, or scooters with suspension. Since users sometimes have no choice, they have to ride through rough terrain, and the general observation has been that while not perfect, the rides are good enough.
Also, there are many off-road scooters that are specifically built for rough terrain. They tend to be more expensive and are reserved primarily for true enthusiasts, but they can be used on any ground without any issues.
10. Electric scooters are reliable
Reliability is another trait that has seen great improvement over the years.
Electric scooters have come a long way since the early 2000s, when they were little more than toys for nerds and hipsters. Twenty years later, they are spearheading a revolution – big cities are seeing significant reductions in pollution and traffic jams because of them.
Today, electric scooters are an established mode of transport. That has only been made possible because of the increase in the general reliability and durability of electric scooters.
The bulk of the popular scooters will last for years without defects and will take their owners to their destinations swiftly over great lengths. Defect ratios are dropping, ranges are increasing, and scooters are getting more battle-tested with every passing year.
We already have many reliable electric scooters made by established brands that are very affordable to the average person.
11. Maintenance of electric scooters is easy
As far as transportation vehicles go, electric scooters are not very complex machines.
Sure, they are more complicated than some non-motorized means of transport, but compared to a car or any fuel-powered vehicle, they are much simpler. They are simpler than most electric bikes.
There are only several points where things can go wrong enough for a serious defect to occur. As long as the motor, the battery, and the screen are fine, everything else is almost trivial to maintain.
The brakes are easy to adjust. Most manuals include instructions on how to do that.
Changing a flat tire is fairly simple in most scooters (though there are some models with which users have a more difficult time). But flat tires are not super-common, especially for vigilant and responsible riders.
Cleaning your scooter is also not difficult. It is not a large object and it only has a little surface area to cover. It’s best if you don’t spray water on it when cleaning it, even if the scooter is waterproof. Simply wiping it with a dry or semi-wet microfiber towel will do the trick.
12. Electric scooters are great for avoiding traffic jams
This is how I first fell in love with the idea of electric scooters. I kept seeing young people just joyfully sliding through traffic, while I was stuck on the bus, waiting on a red light, with 30 vehicles in front of the bus.
Electric scooters have the strange benefit of being a motorized vehicle while also being small enough to be able to go through any kind of space. They are as fast as a vehicle, but not much bigger than a pedestrian.
Traffic jams don’t affect electric scooters at all. With my scooter, I even get about 10 minutes faster to work than with public transport, and other times I take the scooter on the bus with me.
13. Electric scooters are easily portable
Most electric scooters are fairly portable, especially lightweight scooters that are meant for commuters. Popular electric scooters rarely weigh above 45 lbs / 20 kg, and most are somewhere around 33 lbs / 15 kg. Not exactly light, but perfectly carryable for short distances for most people.
Almost every electric scooter is easily foldable. When folded, scooters can easily fit everywhere, from your home and office to the elevator or the trunk of your car.
14. Electric scooters are great for the environment
Unlike gas-fueled cars, and even public transport, electric scooters don’t pollute. Every car that is taken off the streets because of an electric scooter makes that city (and the world) a cleaner place.
Given how alarming the situation with pollution is becoming worldwide, we can expect electric scooters to become even more ubiquitous as a clean transport mode.
In countries where people are highly environmentally conscious, electric scooters and other rideables are gaining the most momentum.
Some cities have even measured and confirmed that pollution has gone down as electric scooter usage has increased.
15. The public has a positive view of electric scooters
This is hardly surprising, given how fast the use of electric scooters is spreading.
We’re still not at a point where electric scooters are universal, but they are very common in modern cities today. Also, because of ride-sharing companies, the number of people that have ridden electric scooters is greater than the number of scooter owners.
A study found that 70% of people have a favorable view of electric scooters. They are generally viewed as a positive change that is good for the environment and also increases efficiency at the same time.
The biggest complaint people have is not about the electric scooters themselves, but about the ride-sharing companies that cause electric scooter loitering. Many cities are addressing those concerns with regulations, and the public image of electric scooters is improving as a result.
16. Electric scooters are a growing trend and technology is improving
Manufacturers have to keep up with increasing user demands, and they also have to worry about their competitors too.
There are already a lot of brands that produce amazing electric scooters at very affordable prices.
While competition drives down the prices, it also increases innovation. As manufacturers try to outsmart each other with great features, the public wins by getting better scooters at cheaper prices.
Just taking a look at any series of electric scooters clearly points this out. Every new model is better than the last one. The most important things like range and power are all improving constantly, and defect ratios are all dropping with each new iteration.
Cons of electric scooters
Even though the downsides and disadvantages of electric scooters are far less numerous than the advantages, they still exist.
While none of them are exactly dealbreakers, at least with most scooters and for most users, it’s still worth going over them and seeing how they might help you in making a decision.
1. Electric scooter technology is still new
While the individual components of electric scooters have all been around for quite a while, electric scooters as we know them today are still fairly new. The original Segway Personal Transporter, which is the precursor to today’s electric scooter, was first sold in 2002. As far as technology goes, that’s not a short time frame, but also not long enough so that we can consider the technology mature.
When it comes to technology, being new has its own pros and cons. While new tech is innovative and useful, often even groundbreaking or revolutionary, it is still not yet tested by time.
As mentioned before, we are seeing improvements constantly and we can expect to see them a lot more.
But the plateau where electric scooters can no longer improve is still far away. Range, power, battery life, climbing power, they will all get much better in the coming years.
Also, while very rare and constantly going down in number, scooter defects still happen at a bigger rate than with more conventional modes of transport. This has been improving and we can expect it to improve even more, but we’re still a few years away from arriving at a point where defects are almost unheard of.
2. Repairing an electric scooter can be difficult
Since electric scooters are not yet universal, repair shops that specialize in them are not that common.
Mechanics and repairmen whose primary focus is something else can be of great help, but they can still not be the expert your scooter may require on occasion.
The good news is, serious defects are rare. Some of them you can easily fix yourself, and for others, you can find tons of YouTube tutorials on how to do it. Unless it’s a critical malfunction with the motor, battery, or electronics (which are all rare), you will not need a specialized expert.
The availability and price of spare parts will depend on the scooter brand and model. Naturally, the more popular scooters will have more available parts. While not always, some parts will be proportional to the scooter’s price.
If your scooter’s warranty is still not expired, you can have your manufacturer send you spare parts for free. Otherwise, you can likely order parts from them as well.
3. Some places are not suitable for riding
Electric scooters can handle most urban terrain perfectly. Usually, the higher the quality of the scooter, the better it will handle all terrains.
Still, there are many surfaces where riding an electric scooter is not a smart idea. Old roads with holes, bumps, dirt roads, cobblestone, and basically anything that is not a smooth asphalt road or pavement is not a recommended road for your scooter.
But how many times have you thought about taking your scooter to the mountains anyway?
Plus, if that’s your thing, you can choose from a large number of great offroad scooters that can tackle any terrain and challenge.
4. Some places heavily regulate the use of electric scooters
There are a few cities worldwide that have altogether banned the use of electric scooters. The bans have mostly been overreactions to scooter accidents, and not a well-thought-through course of action.
Those are the exceptions. The norm is to either regulate the usage of electric scooters, or simply leave them alone. Most places have at least somewhat coherent laws regarding electric scooters, or are on their way to achieving that.
When regulated, electric scooters have their maximum speed limited or they’re required to be ridden on certain lanes on the road.
5. Many scooters are not waterproof
The good news is that most electric scooters are water-resistant. That means they can handle rain and snow pretty fine (even though manufacturers don’t recommend riding in wet weather).
The most popular scooters usually have at least an IP standard of IP54, which makes them good enough for riding through rain.
But almost no electric scooter is truly waterproof. Technically, you can increase the water resistance of your scooter, but it will always remain an electronic device, and as such, it will be at least a little vulnerable to contact with water.
Being waterproof by definition means you can throw it in a pool and it will continue to work after you take it out. While your scooter will rarely end up in the pool, not being waterproof still means it can be affected by water.
The conclusion is: avoid riding your scooter in the rain. Only do it if you really have to.
6. Older models are less powerful and have less range
Electric scooters have been around for almost 20 years, but they have only become truly popular and mass-adopted in the last 5 years.
It is possible that the first creators of electric scooters didn’t intend them to be used as real modes of transportation. They were mostly hobby vehicles with weaker performance.
As users started to use them for real-world transport, the need occurred for them to get more powerful. The biggest need that users expressed was greater range, with greater power sitting at a close second place.
The manufacturers heard the feedback and started building actually usable scooters. Electric scooters made in the last 5 years have great range and power. Older scooters, however, may have a smaller range. If you’re considering getting an electric scooter for yourself today, this will probably not affect you, as most scooters will have sufficient ranges.
7. Some scooters are heavy
The good news is, the heavy scooters are not the ones that you will typically carry around.
An electric scooter is heavy only if it has motors and batteries so powerful that would make the scooter practically unusable for the casual commuter. Some of the fastest scooters can develop speeds over 60 mph / 100 kmh, so they also need to have a bigger mass in order to provide stability to such a ride.
The scooter you will get for real-world transport will probably not be too heavy. But keep in mind that weight can be an issue, and powerful scooters will tend to be hard to carry around.
8. Some scooters don’t handle steep hills very well
Most electric scooters will climb most hills that are not too steep without any bigger issues.
The less powerful scooters, however, will struggle when going uphill. Some scooters may even stop completely. If the hill is very steep, even the popular scooters can have trouble climbing it.
As time goes by and scooters get more power into their motors, going uphill will only improve. Until then, if you live in an area with lots of hills, you will get a great return on investment by buying a strong climbing scooter that can handle hills without much effort.
9. The battery will need to be replaced after a few years
This is probably the only real downside that every scooter will have no matter what.
Batteries have a lifespan, and lithium-ion batteries have a lifespan of 2 to 3 years. That’s just a fact of life that will affect you as an electric scooter owner. After that time period, the battery in your scooter will likely have its capacity diminished, and you will probably need a brand new battery.
You can increase the lifespan of your battery by proper care and never letting it drain completely, but you will still need to renew it eventually.
The good news is, this is not a big expenditure.
Even better news, electric battery tech is a very hot field right now. Even Elon Musk is working on providing the world with better batteries. It is likely that batteries will only get better.
10. The best electric scooters are still expensive
The most popular electric scooters today, the ones that are seeing the most widespread user adoption, cost in the vicinity of $500. That is a very affordable price for most people, and it will fit their needs perfectly.
However, the truly remarkable state-of-the-art electric scooters, the ones that have some real horsepower packed in their motors and have incredibly long ranges and can conquer hills and all terrains effortlessly, will cost anywhere between $1200 and $3500.
A couple of scooters today cost more than a car, at times as high as $10000.
Those are usually only made on request, and some of them are custom-made by hand. If you decide to go for one, you can be certain you will get your money’s worth.
For most people though, those kinds of scooters are way more than what they need.
Luckily, most scooters are much cheaper, and there are still many great scooters that anybody can afford.
Is it worth buying an electric scooter?
Both the pros and the cons lists are long.
However, the pros are undeniable and universal, while the cons are either specific to some models or other not-so-common scenarios. There are only a few true cons that apply to all scooters, and most of the popular scooters don’t suffer greatly from any major downsides.
Electric scooters offer amazing value. If you are considering getting one, go for it, you will be glad you did it. You can take a look at my electric scooter buying guide to see which scooter model will be a good match for your needs and lifestyle.