Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Matt
Deciding to get an electric scooter can be an exciting but also intimidating experience, especially if you don’t know all the basics. This post covers everything about electric scooters to help you decide if the vehicle is the right choice for you.
What is an e-scooter?
An electric scooter, or an e-scooter is a rechargeable motorized scooter, usually powered by a brushless DC motor fixed in the hub of one or both wheels. Its components include a motor, battery, throttle, controller, brakes, etc. Electric scooters are usually lightweight, compact, portable, cheap, and very convenient, which makes them stand out among other electric vehicles.
How do electric scooters work?
Electric scooters convert electrical energy from the battery into mechanical energy to propel the electric scooter forward. When you twist the throttle to accelerate your electric scooter, it signals the controller to turn on the motors.
Depending on how much you twist or press the throttle, the controller regulates power from the battery to the motors. During the ride, you can adjust the throttle to further increase or decrease the speed of the scooter.
If you want to stop or slow down the electric scooter, use the brake levers on the handlebar to signal the controller. The controller will decrease the power output to the motor and slow the scooter down until it stops.
Some electric scooters also come with a foot brake which you can use by pushing down on the fender covering the rear wheel. This creates friction between the fender and the wheel which causes the scooter to slow down.
Check out my complete guide on how electric scooters work to find out more.
How to ride an electric scooter?
Riding an electric scooter is similar to riding a traditional one.
Get on the scooter and turn the power button on.
Use the throttle to accelerate and increase the speed of your electric scooter while steering the handlebar in the direction you want to move.
While some scooters start moving automatically, others might require you to kick off the road with one foot a few times before the motor completely activates.
When you want to slow down or stop, use the throttle to decrease the speed of your electric scooter or gently use the brake lever on the handlebar. If your electric scooter has a foot brake, you can use that as well.
You can see my guide on how to ride an electric scooter if you want to learn some more advanced tips.
Can you ride an electric scooter manually
It is possible to ride an electric scooter manually or when its battery is empty, but that’s neither effective nor recommended. Most electric scooters are designed to be used through the throttle, and if you try to ride them like a regular kick scooter, you will probably quickly find that you’re getting tired, the deck is too high off from the ground, the scooter is not really moving that fast, and the motor is causing you a lot of resistance.
Safety tips for riding an electric scooter
Here are some electric scooter safety tips you should keep in mind at all times:
- Always wear a helmet and other safety gear to prevent injuries in case you fall or collide with something.
- Always respect your local laws for electric scooters.
- If you’re riding your electric scooter at night, turn on its lights and wear a reflective vest to be visible to other motorists.
- Use paths designated for scooter riding, like the bike or scooter lanes. Avoid riding on the sidewalks so you don’t crash into pedestrians.
- Never apply the brakes too suddenly or too hard. You’ll lose control and may get into an accident. Instead, be intuitive and brake gently a few seconds ahead of when you plan to stop.
- Maintain a safe speed, especially on slippery or rough roads.
Components of an electric scooter
Every electric scooter’s components may differ depending on its manufacturer and model, but here are some components you’ll find common in most scooters.
Electric motors to drive the scooter forward
Most electric scooters have a brushless DC motor in the hub of its front or rear wheel to drive the scooter forward. These motors are more efficient, require less maintenance, and are more durable than brushed motors.
Some electric scooters have 2 motors for high power, one in each wheel. On average, most electric scooter motors have power outputs between 250 to 750 watts, depending on the type and size of the electric scooter.
A battery to power the motor
The motor of an electric scooter is useless if you don’t have a compatible high-capacity battery to connect it to. Electric scooters have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to power the motors.
The more motors in an electric scooter, the higher the battery capacity you’ll need to run them. Most electric scooter battery capacities range between 2000 mAh to 10000 mAh. The voltage can vary from 12V to 96V or more.
The battery of an electric scooter is usually fitted at the scooter’s base, although it can sometimes be placed in the stem or attached to it as well. Most of the batteries are fixed, but there are also scooters with removable batteries that are becoming increasingly popular. On average, charging time for electric scooters is between 3 and 8 hours, although in some outlier cases, it can take both shorter and longer than that.
Electric scooter batteries can usually go between 7 to 53 mi / 11 to 85 km before needing to recharge.
That being said, how long an electric scooter’s battery lasts depends on the type of terrain, the scooter’s speed, and the rider’s weight, among other factors.
Wheels in the front and back
Most electric scooters have a front and rear wheel. Some models can have two wheels at the back and one at the front. The tires are usually made of either rubber or silicone and can come in different sizes.
Smaller wheels are easier to maneuver, while larger ones provide a smoother ride and more stability at higher speeds.
Choosing the right size and build of tires can do wonders for an electric scooter’s performance and decides how comfortable the ride will be.
Brakes controlled by levers on the handlebar
Typically, electric scooter brakes can be mechanical or electrical, but many scooters have both.
Mechanical brakes can be disc brakes, drum brakes, or hydraulic brakes (the best but also the most expensive ones). They involve applying pressure to the scooter’s rear wheel to stop or slow it down. These brakes require frequent adjustment and maintenance but are very effective at timely stopping an electric scooter.
Electric brakes, on the other hand, use the controller to lower the speed and stop the scooter’s motor. These brakes require less maintenance but are also less effective than mechanical brakes.
A controller that regulates power
The controller communicates with all the electrical components of an electric scooter to make sure the ride goes smoothly. It receives signals from the throttle and adjusts the speed of the motor.
If the rider chooses any riding mode or speed setting, the controller adjusts everything accordingly. It’s usually fitted at the base of a scooter in a protective casing.
A suspension system to absorb shock
Some electric scooters have a suspension system to absorb shock from riding on uneven roads and surfaces. Electric scooters may have shock absorbers on either of the two wheels, and most high-end scooters have suspension systems on both wheels and offer a more comfortable and smooth ride, especially on rough terrains.
Escooters without suspension systems rely on the tires and frame to absorb vibrations and shock from a bumpy ride.
The throttle of an electric scooter is the button or lever used to get the scooter moving. It’s fixed to the handlebar and can be adjusted by the rider to control the bike’s speed. Some throttles have to be twisted, while others need to be pressed. The more you twist or press it, the faster the scooter goes.
Constantly having to hold the throttle to keep moving can sometimes get annoying. To solve this, some electric scooters come with a cruise control feature to maintain a constant speed without the need for pressing the throttle.
An LCD display on the handlebars
The LCD displays on an electric scooter communicate with the controller to send and receive data. This includes conveying any scooter settings the rider makes so that the controller can adjust the electrical system accordingly.
It displays data received from the controller, such as the speed, distance traveled, and battery level to the rider. If the controller is integrated with a navigation system or connected to a smartphone, the rider can use the features through the display.
Electric scooter features
The following sections describe the most important features of electric scooters you should be familiar with if you’re thinking of getting one.
Speed and acceleration
When it comes to electric scooters, probably one of the first features everyone thinks about is their speed.
The typical top speed of regular electric scooters is between 15 and 28 mph / 25 and 45 kmh. Most scooters will have their top speed limited to 15 mph / 25 kmh so that they are compliant with local scooter laws and regulations, even though the motor and battery configuration might be capable of going faster. The fastest electric scooters are capable of going much, much faster than that (some can go as fast as 100 mph / 160 kmh), but those models are rare, expensive, and typically only interest adrenaline junkies.
Acceleration is another feature that’s usually related to the top speed. Typically, the faster the scooter can go, the quicker its acceleration will be, although this is not always the case, as there are scooters that accelerate quickly but can’t really go that fast, and vice versa. In general, most regular scooters will be able to develop their maximum speed in between 5 and 10 seconds, especially if you start with a kick.
Another common question that electric scooter newbies have is whether scooters can climb hills, and how steep can they climb. Most scooters should have little trouble climbing hills that are under 15 degrees (that has been the case with pretty much every scooter I’ve ever tried).
The best scooters for climbing hills will be capable of conquering slopes of 35 degrees or more, but typically those will be dual-motor scooters that are quite powerful and usually a bit more costly.
Range and charging time
For me personally, the range of the scooter is the most important feature, as I really enjoy long rides and not having to worry about charging the scooter often.
The average range of scooters for adults today is 28.5 mi / 46 km. Of course, long-range scooters can cover distances much greater than that (the Dualtron Storm Limited, which is the longest-range scooter in existence, has a range of 136.7 mi / 220 km, for example).
The range is one of the main factors that determines how long will the scooter take to charge, along with the charger speed and efficiency. On average, scooters take between 3 and 8 hours to get fully charged, with the average charging time being 5 and a half hours.
Weight, dimensions, portability
Portability is one of the most sought-after features of electric scooters. The majority of consumer scooters are foldable, easy to carry around, store, and maneuver.
When folded, most scooters can fit in the trunks of most cars, as they rarely exceed 50 in / 127 cm in length and 20 in / 50 cm in height.
The average weight of electric scooters is 28.6 lbs / 13 kg (even though more powerful scooters can reach weights of up to 155 lbs / 70 kg).
On average, the weight limit of electric scooters is 265 lbs / 120 kg.
In my experience, even though the specifications typically specify weight limits in that area, scooters can carry a bit more than that, although the performance will naturally start to degrade. Some scooters for heavy adults don’t have that problem and have weight limits of up to 660 lbs / 300 kg.
Waterproofing and water resistance
Most electric scooters are water-resistant to a degree, although almost none are truly waterproof.
The water resistance of an electric scooter (and any electronic device in general, in fact) is expressed through the IP standard, or specifically the second digit of it. The higher the second digit – the better. A value of 4 or more already indicates good water resistance (for example, IP54, which is the standard for electric scooters).
I’ve ridden my own scooter through the rain countless times, sometimes in the snow as well, and I’ve tried many others in the rain too, and I’ve never noticed any problems or defects because of that.
That said, it’s still best to avoid riding in the rain and snow as much as possible.
Scooter tires are usually either solid or pneumatic.
While solid tires can be more durable, I, like most people, prefer air-filled ones. They need to be maintained more often, and they can suffer flats, but the smooth ride you get with them is worth it in my opinion.
Solid tires will be immune to flats, but they can still wear out over long time periods and require replacement, while providing you with a much less comfortable ride in the meantime.
I recommend pneumatic tires 9 times out of 10. Only get solid tires if you’ve tried pneumatic tires already and your scooter has constantly suffered flats.
Electric scooter pros and cons
Every list of pros and cons for electric scooters will be subjective, but in my opinion, these are the several true pros and cons of electric scooters.
|most scooters are affordable||still new technology|
|great investment||repairs can be difficult for some models|
|charging a scooter is very cheap||can’t be used everywhere|
|very fun||some places restrict them|
|easy to use||not all models are water-resistant|
|don’t tire the rider||old models are slow and inefficient|
|good safety||some models are heavy|
|solid range (most models)||some models don’t climb very well|
|versatile and good on different terrains||battery will need to be replaced|
|pretty reliable in most scenarios||premium models can be expensive|
|great for avoiding traffic|
|usually very portable|
|net-win for the environment|
|good public opinion|
Why buy an electric scooter?
Electric scooters provide an easy, cheap, and sustainable way to commute and run errands at short to medium distances. They are a great idea because of the following benefits:
- Electric scooters are convenient and safe to use. Unlike scheduled public transport, you can use them anytime you want, and go anywhere you wish.
- Using electric scooters instead of cars for manageable commutes is eco-friendly because it can help reduce air and noise pollution caused by fuel-powered vehicles.
- Electric scooters are easy to maintain and have low operating costs. You can easily perform the maintenance checks yourself and avoid major repair costs in the long run.
- You can use the scooter as a last-mile transport to avoid traffic jams. If you ever get stuck, you can simply fold the scooter and move to a more open path.
- Using your electric scooter in combination with public transport, you can travel longer distances.
- Electric scooters are especially beneficial for people with mobility health issues who have trouble driving cars, bikes, or get easily tired while walking. They require no pedaling, so you’re less likely to get tired. In addition, seated electric scooters provide a truly comfortable ride.
- Believe it or not, riding an electric scooter come with mental and physical health benefits.
How much does an electric scooter cost?
Electric scooters usually range from $200 to over $1,500, depending on their quality, brand, and model. You can get cheaper scooters for $200-$300, but they will have fewer features and a lower top speed.
Mid-range electric scooters give you a more reasonable battery capacity with a longer range and better features. They are usually priced at less than or around $1,500. You can trust them for regular commutes and running errands.
High-end electric scooters are higher-powered with larger battery capacities and can set you back by more than a few thousand dollars. They’re great if you want premium features or plan on riding your scooter off-road.
The ideal electric scooter for you is the one that’ll meet all your needs. You don’t have to spend extra on a high-powered scooter if you only need something to travel short distances.
Check out this post for some of my favorite scooters that are cheap but still pack a lot of punch.
Are electric scooters worth it?
Judging from my own experience with electric scooters, and the experiences of my friends who’ve owned electric scooters, I’d say getting an electric scooter is definitely worth it for the majority of people, although there are some people for whom an electric scooter would not be a good option.
I believe an electric scooter is not only a great investment but also incredibly fun if you fall into one of the following categories:
- you have a short or medium daily commute (less than 10 mi / 16 km)
- you often have to make short to medium trips that you don’t want to take by foot or another mode of transport
- you have a last-mile transportation scenario you need to solve (such as your train or bus stop being far away from your final destination, or a big parking lot at a popular supermarket, for example, where you still may have to walk to your final destination after arriving at the parking)
- the public transport in your city is not very good
- you want to save on transport costs (including gas for your car and public transport)
- you enjoy off-road adventures with various vehicles (see my guide on the best off-road electric scooters if that’s you)
- you’ve tried renting an electric scooter and you’ve enjoyed the ride
- you simply like electric scooters (and there’s a lot to like)
However, for some people, electric scooters would not be a good investment in my opinion:
- you don’t really have a transportation need you need to solve
- you’ve tried electric scooters several times and you just don’t like them for some reason
What to look for when buying an electric scooter?
Before buying an electric scooter, decide on a budget and consider what you’ll actually use the scooter for. Do your own research and read customer reviews to know what brands and models have served riders best.
If you need to travel long distances, you’ll need an electric scooter with a high battery capacity and preferably a seat for comfort. If you live somewhere with steep hills or plan on riding the scooter on rough and uneven surfaces, look for scooters with higher-powered motors and broader tires for stability.
If you plan on taking your scooter to work, on trips, or public transport, consider getting a lightweight, foldable scooter that isn’t a hassle to carry around.
I recommend checking out my electric scooter buying guide for a complete step-by-step decision-making process on how to choose the ideal scooter for your needs and budget.