Before I bought my first electric scooter, I always wondered what are electric scooters made of. The general materials seemed a lot like what is used for bicycles, so I already had some ideas and assumptions.
After trying rental scooters, and then finally buying one, I discovered that I was only partly correct. Electric scooters are designed to solve different problems, so they are sometimes made from different materials.
What are electric scooters made of?
The frames of most electric scooters are made of aerospace or industrial-grade aluminum alloy, but some are made of carbon fiber, or a combination of both. Their electric motors are made of metals, copper wires, and magnets, and the batteries are made of various metals and minerals. The details and supplementary parts are made of steel, plastic, rubber, and silicone.
In large part, the materials used (and their quality) will depend on the overall scooter quality and the reputation of the manufacturer. Read on to find out how to recognize a well-built electric scooter, and a low-quality one.
Electric scooter parts
Every electric scooter will have the following parts by definition:
- chassis (stem + deck)
- electric motor
- battery and controller
- electronics and wires
- throttle mechanism
- brake mechanism
Besides the essential parts, some scooters may have:
- suspension systems (arms, springs)
- key and alarm
- basket or trunk
- bell or horn
Electric scooter materials and quality
The basic building block of the electric scooter is the chassis, which holds everything together. Simply put, we can think of the chassis as the combination of the stem and the deck.
The majority of electric scooters use an industrial-grade aluminum alloy for their base. This is the same material used for bicycles. Some manufacturers go a step further and use aerospace aluminum alloy, the stuff used for building airplanes. That type of aluminum is lighter and provides benefits for some use cases.
A small number of scooters also use some steel in their chassis, for parts that need to be extra tough. A scooter made of steel entirely is not feasible as it would weigh too much.
Some electric scooters are made of carbon fiber. These are not very common yet, and many scooters employ a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is both lighter and harder than aluminum, but the drawback is less elasticity. Check out the post about carbon fiber electric scooters to learn about the pros and cons of carbon fiber, and when you should consider it.
Higher-end electric scooters can often use the same materials as cheaper ones, but the difference will often be easily noticeable in the finishing touches. They will feel more stable, have fewer parts wiggle or move, no loose screws or bolts, and will make fewer or more silent noises. Many times, high-quality scooters will simply feel “heavier” or “harder” on touch and while riding, even though they may weigh the same as a lower-end scooter. When riding a high-quality scooter, the main indicator will be the lack of shaking and vibration.
Everything else that’s non-electronic in the scooter is made from:
- steel or other metals (wheels, rims, disk brakes, screws, nuts, bolts)
- plastic (fenders, throttle button, brake lever, supplementary parts)
- rubber or silicone (surface of the deck, handle covers, tires, caps)
As a general rule of thumb, higher-end scooters will use sturdier, more expensive materials. They will frequently use silicone over rubber or plastic for many parts.
Some scooters put sandpaper-like grip tape on the top of the deck for increased grip.
Electric scooters for kids will often include more plastic or other cheaper materials in their build.
Electric scooter electronics
Every electric scooter has an electric motor, made from its common building blocks: copper wires, magnets, and other metals. Most often, motors are built into one or both of the wheels (hub motors), though some scooters have the motor outside the wheels and use metal chains to transfer the movement to the wheels. Scooters with high-quality motors will be very responsive to your commands, provide lots of raw power that is easily felt when accelerating or going uphill, and will generally not make loud sounds. You can check out the electric scooter motors guide to learn more about quality motors.
Also, every electric scooter, by definition, has a battery. Most modern scooters will have a lithium-ion battery, which is made from carbon, lithium salts, and metal oxides (source). High-quality batteries are found in scooters with long ranges, and are often made by Samsung or LG.
You control the electric scooter with the throttle button and commands on the screen. All of the electronic parts are connected with electric wires, and the controller is what transfers the commands you give with the throttle and the screen to the motor and the battery.
Electric scooter tires
Most electric scooters have rubber air-filled tires, aka pneumatic tires. They are further divided into tubeless tires and ones with an inner tire.
Some scooters come with solid tires, which are made from rubber or silicone. The main advantage solid tires have over pneumatic ones is that they don’t suffer from flats. However, the drawback is that your rides will be shakier and less stable. To know exactly which scenarios are perfect for a scooter with solid tires, check out the pneumatic vs solid tire comparison.
Electric scooter tires will come in various sizes and diameters, ranging from 6 to 11 inches or more.
Additional electric scooter parts
Some electric scooters can come with extra helpful parts that improve the riding experience. If they don’t include a certain part, it can often be added as an additional accessory.
One of the most useful accessories an electric scooter can have is a seat. It is a very in-demand feature, and even models that previously didn’t have a seat are now being redesigned to support one. The seat will usually be optional, and easy to add and remove.
Another useful addition is a basket or a trunk. Adults with jobs and responsibilities love this feature (I wish mine had one, and I will probably try and install a basket soon).
If you’re looking for a scooter with both a seat and a trunk, make sure to check out the article on the best models here.
The majority of scooters will come with some sort of a sound signaling part, either a bell or a horn. A few scooters will not include this out of the box, but you can easily buy one for cheap and install it (you can check out the very popular, very loud Airzound on Amazon).
Also, a very simple yet extremely useful feature is a rear-view mirror. The bad news is that not a lot of scooters include this out of the box, but the good news is you can find one for very cheap and easily add it to your scooter.
Check out the electric scooter accessories post if you need an additional horn, bell, or mirror, and to see some other cool accessories ideas.