Electric scooters are one of the most exciting developments coming from the electric vehicle industry right now. The low cost, low barrier to entry and low emissions are proving incredibly popular with commuters and enthusiasts alike. In this complete guide to electric scooters we’ll cover absolutely everything you need to know about this fascinating new technology that is quickly taking the world by storm.
We’ll cover exactly what electric scooters are, including their development history and their inner workings. We’ll take a deep dive into the advantages of e-scooters over traditional transportation and offer a thorough comparison of the two with breakdowns of their efficiencies and performances. A large selection of the currently available e-scooters on the market will be covered as well, that will include traditional Vespa-esc e-scooters, stand-up kick e-scooters and many other innovative designs that are available right now. We’ll also talk a little about the legality of these vehicles and, of course, there has to be a section on scooter-sharing services such as those offered by Bird. We’re going to try to keep this as object and informative as possible but we’ll finish with what we think of the current state of the e-scooter industry and where we think (and hope) it will head in the future.
Feel free to use the contents section below to skip around and read what interests you the most.
What are Electric Scooters?
To really understand what an electric scooter is, I think it’s important (and very interesting) to take a journey into the past to see where current models can trace their lineage to. We’ll start at the very beginning:
1895 – Ogden Bolton Jr.
At the end of the 19th century cars didn’t exist, personal transportation was still mainly horse drawn carriages, however there was constant innovation around oil, steam and most importantly: electricity. These exciting changes around electricity could be seen in a number of different ways. There were streetcars – basically early versions of trams – which created enormous demand for electrical power, there were the first public street lighting which was being introduced in the form of arc lamps, and there were also rudimentary transmission lines, being used by engineers as they struggled to get power delivered to different areas.
But then in 1895 an American inventor filed a patent for a bicycle with an electrical motor. His name was Ogden Bolton Jr. Very little is known about him that’s not found within the patent. His idea was fairly simple, it was for a DC motor to be installed within a bike’s rear wheel hub. It could take up to 100 amps from a 10V battery. The battery was stored under the horizontal tube of the bikes frame. If any of this is sounding familiar it might be because many e-bikes and e-scooters today have a somewhat similar core design. However, this patent offered no gear system so it’s likely that the bike wouldn’t run for very long and output a very limited performance. There’s not much more we know about Ogden and his hub motor, but this was the first recorded origin of the scooters we have today.
1895 – 1915
During this period there were many more attempts at designing electric bicycles. Just a year later, in 1896, a man from New York called James O’Brien developed an e-bike where the motor was placed just under the seat and a silk belt would drive the rear wheel. In 1897, Hosea W. Libbey created a mid-drive bike where all the driving mechanisms were fixed under the seat and between the wheels. It can be seen on the patent application that it didn’t have any pedals, so could be considered as a type of e-scooter. There were many more interesting inventions in similar veins. The British company Humber created an electric tandem bike in 1897, in 1899 John Schnepf designed a motor that powers a roller atop the rear wheel, dubbed a ‘friction drive’. In 1900 Aebert Hansel used a frame mounted jackshaft to power the left side of the rear wheel which has even been used recently as an e-bike propulsion system. Within this 20 years, e-bike development was quite considerable but nothing really matched what we would consider a motorized scooter, until 1915.
1915 – The Autoped
Although this is a petroleum powered scooter, it is the first recorded existence (that we know of) that has the same core design as a modern, motorized, stand up scooter. It’s built with a reduced frame, requires the user to stand up and is controlled through a vertical handlebar. This was manufactured in the United States until 1921 and was generally quite popular with traffic cops. It was also popular with a now famous Lady Florence Norman, an English suffragette, socialite and activist who had a photo taken of her on an Autoped in 1916.
The Autoped was continued to be manufactured in Germany by Krupp from 1919 to 1922. Despite a number of general innovations in electric motor technology and e-bike advancement, there were relatively few advancements in the e-scooter industry for many years.
1986 – Go-Ped
Like the Autoped 71 years before it, the Go-Ped Roadster and the Go-Ped Sport were motorized, stand up, kick scooters. They look very similar to the standard kick scooters of today except with a small gas motor attached to the back wheel to provide the power.
1996 – Peugeot Scoot’elect electric scooter
In the next decade there were minimal advancements in the technology that Go-Ped had utilised, however, electric moped-like scooters were being researched and developed by numerous companies. In 1996 the first successful electric scooter officially hit the market. This looks like a standard moped, but was in fact a sit down electric scooter. It had a range of around 25 miles, could do 31MPH and was in production for 10 years with roughly 3500 units sold. This was the first successful introduction the world had to electric scooters.
2001 – Go-Ped Hoverboard
Then in 2001, Go-Ped release the Hoverboard. This is a large and clunky kick scooter that is powered by an electric motor, making it the first ever production e-scooter and is what all of today’s e-scooters originate from.
Since then there have been many dedicated people and innovative companies working on similar projects, but with the progression of battery technology in the last few years we’re only now starting to see what electric scooters can really do.
How does an electric scooter work?
The inner workings of electric scooters can quickly become quite complicated so we’re going to keep this explanation fairly high level.
Most electric scooters are designed in very similar ways. They have a battery of some kind to provide the energy for the scooter. This is used in the motor to propel the scooter forward. There are other components, like brakes, wheels, suspension systems, handlebars, the deck and sometimes additional features like seats, headlights and displays. The below photo shows some of the major features that make up electric scooters:
The combination of the battery and the motor are the defining features of an electric scooter. Ever since the introduction of mass produced lithium-ion batteries there has been a huge growth in the number of electric scooters being built. This is because lithium-ion batteries are lighter, smaller, more efficient and can provide more power over time and at once. They have progressed to a point where some electric scooters have a max range of over 80 miles on a single charge!
Before we take a deeper dive, we need to clear a couple of things up. Energy and power are different. Energy is how much power can be delivered per unit time. So how long your scooter can last is dependant on the energy of the battery, and how fast your scooter can go is dependant on the power (measured in watts) the battery can deliver (and the motor, weight and more).
With batteries there are a few specifications that you need to be familiar with as well. The first is the Amp-hour (Ah) rating. This tells you, very basically, how much energy the battery can store. The higher the Ah rating, the more energy is stored and the longer the scooter can work. For example, the Dualtron X has a 49Ah battery pack. This means it can supply 49 amps for 1 hour. It also means it can supply 4.9 amps for 10 hours, and any other variation using the same scale of 49Ah. Due to power loss through heat and other annoying aspects of physics, these are rough guidelines to what you can expect from the battery and exact numbers are virtually never met.
Batteries also tend to have a voltage number along side the Ah rating. This can be used in conjunction with the Ah rating to give you a better idea of how much energy your battery can hold and the power it can deliver. The Dualtron X has a 60V rating on it’s 49Ah battery pack. This means it can be rated at 2940 Watt-hours (Wh). This is found by multiplying the two numbers, a voltage and amperage, together to give Watts. This gives a more accurate number to volume of the battery pack in the scooter.
But if you’re a bit confused, just remember that bigger numbers are better.
Along with the battery, the motor is the most important part of an electric scooter. But unlike the battery where lithium-ion rules, there are a few more variations of the motors that are used in modern e-scooters. They are also a bit simpler, with a higher Wattage (W) value, generally meaning a faster scooter.
Hub Motors – As we mentioned before, the first hub motor was designed in 1895 and ever since then the design has remained fairly similar. The aim of any electric motor is to turn stored electrical energy into kinetic energy. This is done by feeding electric current through coils of wire that are placed between magnets. This effect creates an electromotive force that turns a rotor attached to the scooter’s wheel. With a hub motor, the actual motor is placed within the wheels themselves, rather than having a motor linked to the wheel via a chain. This means you can quite easily add in a front and rear hub motor to an electric scooter to add more power, efficiency and even redundancy. Electric scooters such as the Mercane Widewheel come in variations of single and double motors where either the rear wheel, or front and rear wheel contain hub motors.
Mid-drive motors – These are becoming less and less common but are still part of some of the most popular e-scooters around. Instead of the motor being placed within the wheel itself, these work by taking a more traditional position somewhere between the two wheels. This is then connected to the wheels with a chain or a belt. Electric skateboards commonly use a belt if they have a mid-drive motor, but with electric scooters you’ll more than likely see a chain. For example, the Razor E300 uses this exact configuration. This drive system can be good for tackling steep inclines and rocky terrain but is becoming less popular due to the clunky practicalities and addition maintenance generally required.
After the battery and motor the brakes are arguably the most important part of an e-scooter. These come in many shapes, sizes and configurations but all work in the same general manner.
Footbrake – This is unique to scooters and is regularly seen on traditional kick scooters. These simply work by having the riders press their heel down onto the fender of the back wheel. This creates friction which slows the scooter. These types of brakes can be found on many of the lightweight, lower performing e-scooters as they simply do not provide enough stopping force for many of the higher performing models.
Handbrake – The handbrake on an electric scooter is very similar to a bicycle brake. You squeeze the handle and the scooter stops. These are regularly disk brakes that can be mounted on the front, rear or both wheels of a scooter.
You can also get caliper brakes which are like cheap bicycle brakes. These are generally mounted over the tire with two arms and then squeeze the tire to slow the bike/scooter. Another form of handbrake is the drum brake. This is when a drum-like case is attached to and mounted over the wheel with the braking system stored inside the drum. Instead of a disk pushing against the wheel or calipers squeezing the wheel, a drum brake will have brake pads within the drum that pushes outwards, make contact with the moving drum and slow the scooter down. We recommend looking for e-scooters with disk brakes as they tend to be the best performing version.
Electronic Brakes – These are the most uncommon brake types available and aren’t seen very often. They usually work with a button press rather than a handle squeeze and work by having the button press directly slow down the motor for you.
Regenerative braking – This is a type of braking that actually helps to restore power back to the battery. This takes advantage of the fact that the motors on the scooter can also act as generators if powered in the other direction. When the scooter wants to brake, the system switches the motor to generate and takes the kinetic energy that the scooter has whilst in motion to power the generator. This converts kinetic energy to electrical energy, slows the scooter down and charges up the battery. These braking systems are becoming more and more popular as they help improve the efficiency of the scooter as a whole and will give you more ride time. Look out for them when buying an e-scooter.
Wheels might not seem that important but there are a huge variety of types and sizes used that can drastically alter the performance of the scooter.
The size of the wheels on a scooter has a large effect on the stability and the terrain it can tackle. Sizes can range from 5 inches all the way up to 14 or 16 inches. The width of the wheels is also important, offering greater stability and traction with a wider wheel.
Wheels generally can have two types of tires. Pneumatic and solid. Pneumatic means they are air filled and is made of an airtight inner core that is filled with pressurized air. These types help to provide a slight cushioning effect to make the ride smoother.
On the other hand, solid tires generally form much more of the wheel itself. They are usually a hard rubber with many solid spokes that offer a little flex. This can give a very similar feel to a pneumatic tire but without the worries of tire pressure and potential flats. They might not offer as much of a cushioning effect but when paired with a good suspension system they work great.
It’s important to note that not all scooters have suspension, some rely on just the air filled tires to improve the comfort of the ride. A proper suspension system is definitely worth the investment though, it will make a huge difference to the comfort of the ride and if you’re going to be riding for many miles you’ll definitely thank yourself for picking up a scooter with some suspension. Despite some quite large differences, all suspension systems aim to dampen the impact of bumps in the road. Here are two of the most common suspension types used in electric scooters today:
Hydraulic – This is a slightly unconventional form of suspension that is beginning to get popular with electric scooters. Hydraulic systems can be more expensive that spring shock absorbers but will usually give a very good performance that helps the ride be more responsive and generally very smooth.
Spring – This is a more traditional suspension system and uses springs to cushion any bumps in the terrain. This is used a lot on the front fork of the scooter and can be commonly used in addition to a different type of suspension on the rear wheel.
The rest of the features on an electric scooter are fairly obvious.
The deck is where you place your feet, these regularly contain the batteries. They need to be strong and grippy to make sure they can withstand any knocks and to help you stay in place.
The handlebars and fork are where you control the scooter. The control mechanisms are sometimes trigger throttles, sometimes twist throttles like a motorbike and sometimes something completely different like the Boosted Rev’s thumb wheel. The handlebars will also house the brake controls and sometimes a display of some kind. These displays will give you a read out of important information about the scooter. For example, you may see the current speed, the battery level and more. The fork/handlebars are also a popular place to house any headlights and even charging ports. All of these electronics will be connected to some kind of simple control system and to the battery for power.
Types of Electric Scooter
Today there are many types of electric scooter available to ride and buy. The range of scooters is growing by the day, with new start-ups and larger companies all entering the scooter market. We’ll break down the most popular types in this section:
Electric kick scooter – Arguably the most popular type of electric scooter, is the stand up, kick e-scooter. This is probably what you have in mind when thinking of electric scooters as these are making all the headlines and what we are mainly focusing on. But that’s not it, there are many more versions and inventive creations out there.
Electric motorcycles – The electric motorcycle market is seeing just as large an increase as the electric scooter market with many new and old companies innovating and bringing electric motorcycles into the modern day. When we talk about electric scooters under this category we’re talking about the Vespa-esc e-scooters, not the high performance street or racing superbikes. These are gaining just as much popularity with the public for their low prices, cheap running and simple designs. In the same vein as these e-scooter we have the next section that we’ve dubbed ‘In betweens’.
Electric In-Betweens – This category if for scooters such as the Ford Ojo that isn’t quite an electric motorcycle (as it doesn’t require a license among other reasons) but is far from a kick scooter. Another example of this is the Razor Ecosmart Metro, one of the first of this type of ‘in-between’ e-scooters. These types of electric scooter definitely have their draw. You get most of the benefits of an electric motorcycle, but pay less upfront, don’t need a license, insurance or tax. We’ll be interested to see how long these last was as Ojo have shifted to another business model after sales started to dwindle.
These are the main types of electric scooter and the ones you’ll likely see the most on your travels. However, there are a few other types that we thought we’d include for completeness.
Mobility scooters – Many times when you’re searching for electric scooters on the web, you can end up seeing mobility scooters in the search results. Whether you want this or not we think it’s important to touch on some of the innovations in mobility scooters. The best example of this is the Glion SnapNGo. This is a scooter that’s aimed at anyone with walking difficulties. It started life as Glion’s other product, the Glion Dolly, but after a few suggestions from fans, it developed into a fully fledged, lightweight, electric mobility scooter. It has the ability to separate into multiple components that then ‘snap’ together and is ready to go. It’s this kind of innovation that we love to see, from the initial user suggestion to the fully developed product actually helping to change people’s lives.
Other types – There’s a few other types that we think are worth a mention. Firstly, electric trikes and 3 wheel electric scooters. These can be very similar to both mobility scooters and to normal kick scooters depending on their design. For more information you can read our guide to the best 3 wheel electric scooters. Another type that you might find fairly unorthodox that has seen some innovation and growth within its fairly enthusiastic fanbase is the electric unicycle. Maybe this belongs more in the e-bike category but we thought it was interesting enough for a quick mention.
Why use an Electric Scooter?
One of the main reasons we personally use electric scooters are because they are a lot of fun! The potentially high speeds and standing position create a unique thrill that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere. But a bit of fun probably isn’t enough to convince you that one is worth going out and buying. So here are some of the benefits:
Benefits of e-scooters
Perfect for last/first mile commuting
Last/first mile commuting is where you use another form of transportation to get you from your house or office to the public transport that takes you the majority of your journey. This not only gives a more convenient commute to the people that are already using public transport, but it also incentivises people that are not using public transport to start doing so. This will help bring cars off the road in major cities, which not only has an environmental impact, but will also improve safety.
In a report conducted by the Portland Bureau of Transportation it was found that 30% of e-scooter users had replaced a car trip with a scooter trip. This shows that scooter use (both private ownership and using scooter sharing companies) can have a systematic impact on overall safety as accidents rise and fall with car usage. As we will note later, there is more to the safety aspect of e-scooters and much of it comes down to education, but as an overall impact, electric scooter use can be seen as favorable when considering the safety of a city’s people.
Generally cheaper than alternatives
When compared to car ownership, e-scooters will usually come out as the clear winner. They cost very little to run, some can cost very little to buy and there are no additional costs to running one such as insurances and taxes. The same story tends to be true when compared to public transport. In many cases it has been found that the same distances can be travelled at noticeably lower cost.
Let’s first look at the cost to buy an e-scooter and a car:
We’re going with one of the cheapest new Honda Civics we can find. That’s the 2019 Honda Civic LX which starts at $19,450. The e-scooter we’re going to look at is the Xiaomi Mi M365. This is the scooter that was initially used by Bird and is one of the most recognisable and popular e-scooters available right now. On Amazon it is currently selling for $399.00 but we have seen this considerably cheaper on elsewhere.
Using these examples, you can buy 48 Xiaomi M365s for the same price as the Honda Civic and get 110 times more mileage for the same fuel cost using the scooter compared to the car.
The above figures were found from our commuting cost spreadsheet. Here we’ve put together how much it will cost to run a car and an e-scooter for the year.
You can download that spreadsheet for FREE by signing up to our email list at the home page.
The spreadsheet also has commute cost information on using scooter sharing apps so if you’re considering using Bird, Lime or another scooter sharing company then we recommend checking out the second page on that spreadsheet.
For those of us that are unable to physically ride a bike or walk a significant distance then an electric scooter could be exactly what they need. With the development of the Glion SnapNGo and other electric scooter based mobility solutions, there is a good chance that the physically disadvantaged will be able to greatly benefit from e-scooters.
In comparison to taking public transport, the chances are that an electric scooter will be considerably more convenient. There is no waiting around, there’s no cramped seating/standing arrangements and there’s no walking to and from bus stops and stations. If you live a bit further away from work than a scooter can handle, then many e-scooters have been designed with commuting in mind. They will fold down and actually be able to be taken on public transport with you. With these types of scooters you can also take them with you into your workplace as many can comfortably fit under desks or even in some larger lockers. However, many may need to be locked up outside, so you’re no worse off than if you rode a bicycle into work. Except for the added bonus of not arriving drenched in sweat.
Whilst the initial numbers are looking good for the environmental case there are a few things that need to be noted. Firstly, when speaking about the scooter sharing services, the collecting of these scooters to be charged is usually done in a large van. The emissions from the collecting process appear to never be taken into account when calculating environmental factors. Also there could be an environmental impact from potential littering of these scooter and the batteries they contain. In the grand scheme of things we believe these impacts to be fairly low and are relatively easy to fix. So in time we expect the environmental argument to just get stronger.
This Medium post quickly breaks down the enviromental impact of using electric scooters with additional factors taken into account, such as the chargers emissions. They come to the conclusion that using 10,000 scooters in 500 cities across the world will save the equivalnet of 13,500 metric tons of CO2 a day. Which is the equivalent of taking 105,000 cars off the road every day. However, this still doesn’t take into account the scooters life cycle or manufacturing process.
It’s all these factors that has helped propel the search for ‘electric scooters’ to 3 times the amount there were 2 years. We also think that another factor may have played its part in this rise in awareness of electric scooters, and that’s what the next section covers.
Scooter Sharing Services
This next section is about ride sharing companies. We can’t really talk about electric scooters without mentioning some form of ride sharing service.
What is a Scooter Sharing Service?
There’s a good chance that, unless you’re an electric scooter hipster, you first found out about this new way of transport either from the internet or from seeing branded e-scooters left around a city. The source of both of these are likely to be from a scooter-sharing company.
A scooter sharing company is one that provides electric scooters to the public for short-term rentals. The scooters are generally unlocked using a smartphone app which will charge the user a fee. These scooters tend to be ‘dockless’, meaning they do not have a fixed home location and are instead picked up and dropped off at any location around the city. This makes them ideal for people looking for a cheap, eco-friendly and theoretically easy way to complete last-mile commutes or just for general short range transportation.
These scooters are charged thanks to users that act as charging contractors, commonly called ‘chargers’. This process generally works by having people collect the abandoned scooters with the help of another app. They then charge them. Then they deliver the fully charged scooter to a specific, generally high-traffic, area. In return they receive some form of compensation this is normally good old fashioned money.
Just how popular are these companies?
The popularity of these companies is really quite staggering. Bird Scooters reached 10 millions rides in less than 2 years and is valued at over $2 billion as of early 2019. Bird’s competitors, Lime, have been recently valued at $2.4 billion after their series D financing and they also launched in 2017. There are other scooter sharing companies out there as well such as Spin that sold to Ford for $100 million after around 2 years in existence. There’s Skip, a 2018 start-up that’s valued at around $100 million and was co-founded by Boosted Boards founder, Sanjay Dastoor. Scoot is another similar company that started a bit earlier, in 2011, with motorcycle like e-scooters which then expanded into traditional electric stand-up kick scooters in 2018 and was very quickly acquired by Bird for an undisclosed amount.
Whilst these numbers are pretty huge, they aren’t quite in the same range as Uber for example, which was valued at a ‘disappointing’ $82 billion when they went public in May 2019. However, what’s so impressive about these e-scooter start ups is the tiny amount of time that it took to reach such large valuations. For example, Bird became the fastest ever ‘unicorn’. When talking about investing a unicorn is a start-up valued at over $1 billion. And Bird managed to beat out the likes of Facebook, AirBnB, Uber and any other company to become the fastest to reach that milestone.
The rapid expansion of Bird has seen it move into over 100 cities worldwide, including Paris, Milan, Warsaw, Tel Aviv and even London. London is a strange one though, as (at the time of writing) electric scooters are actually illegal in the UK. But it’s not just cities that Bird is aiming at establishing itself in. It has also started offering its services within University campuses and currently there are 15 universities around the United States where Bird scooters are available.
Lime vs Bird
When it comes down to it, there isn’t much to differentiate any of the scooter sharing companies core businesses. They all have virtually the exact same business model, offer very similarly priced rides and even have similar sounding, single syllable, 4-letter words as their names. They even run similar initiatives, such as giving out free helmets, and face similar problems such as people vandalising their scooters. We believe that the electric scooter sharing company that most people will use is going to be the app they already have on their phone or the scooter that is parked closest. Having said that, here’s a quick comparison between the two biggest players in the e-scooter sharing game.
A direct comparison like this is always difficult, with numbers, statistics and locations always changing (and sometimes difficult to find definitive values on). There are also some differences the companies are beginning to develop that need to be taken into account, such as Lime offering an e-bike renting service as well as e-scooters. This is likely the reason for the fairly large disparity in cities. Also Bird is selling its own scooter and also has a ‘platform’ part of their business where people are able to create their own fleet of scooters using Bird as the backbone of their business.
Safety and Accidents
Electric scooters don’t come without their risks. These are powerful, motorised, two wheeled vehicles that can be ridden alongside cars. There will inevitably be some accidents. As you’re probably well aware there have been many cases of this kind of accident reported by the news. Whilst there is obviously a justifiable reason for this we can’t help but think that as this is also a (fairly) new technology that is going through the first stages of its life cycle, the media has been latching onto that uncertainty and digging its sensationalistic teeth into it. Within the flood of reports of some awful incidents and a lot of careless scooting, one of the first in depth studies was recently released looking at e-scooter accidents and has finally given us some clearer context with actual statistics.
This report, which was conducted by the Public Health and Transportation departments in Austin, Texas and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied the injuries of e-scooter riders over a 3 month period. There was a total of 891,121 miles ridden on the scooters with a total of 936,110 trips taken and 271 ‘potential scooter-related injuries’. This includes dockless scooters (like Bird), personally owned electric scooters, normal scooters and 33 including vehicles that were not appropriate cases. The research team ultimately found out that there were 20 injuries reported per 100,000 e-scooter trips over the 3 months.
There were some interesting results found with this data. Firstly, 33% of riders injured were riding an e-scooter for the first time, this number was almost halved for riders who had 30 or more rides.
Over a third (37%) reported that excessive scooter speed had contributed to their injury.
Almost half of riders (48%) suffered a ‘severe’ injury of some kind. This was classified as:
- Bone fractures (excluding nose/fingers/toes)
- Nerve, tendon, or ligament injuries
- Spending more than 48 hours in the hospital
- Severe bleed
- Sustained organ damage
Almost half had injuries to the head which could have been prevented by wearing a helmet, but only one of the 190 people injured was actually wearing one.
Here are a few visual aids to help understand the findings better. They use percentages of the known data (hence why some percentages are a little different).
Ultimately the report suggests that your chances of being injured when riding an e-scooter are greatly reduced if you don’t go too fast, get a bit of experience in a safe environment and wear a helmet. And it’s these exact situations that the scooter sharing companies are trying to encourage. For example, Bird offer in-app safety lessons and guidelines on how to ride, where to park, rules of the road and more. They also have been offering free helmets for people who sign up through the app.
Similarly, Lime are investing $3 million and are offering 250,000 free helmets in a campaign to help educate riders on the safety aspects of riding electric scooters.Their Respect the Ride pledge will also hold education and safety summits with local officials and policymakers.
We personally think this is a step in the right direction, however there is a way to go before e-scooters are seamlessly integrated into modern cities. We believe many cities would benefit greatly from better defined cycle lanes and a general infrastructure improvement for scooters (and bikes) which would also help reduce the amount of people riding on sidewalks to aid in pedestrian safety as well. It will be interesting to see how this issue develops and if any cities commit to making their streets more e-scooter friendly. We think an investment of this kind could be really quite beneficial, not only for peoples convenience but also to help reduce the number of cars in cities which will ultimately be safer and better for the environment.
We’ll link Bird’s April 2019 safety report that talks a little more about these types of issues.
Another problem that many people have with scooter sharing companies (and other ride sharing companies) is that of the scooters ‘littering’ the city. There have been countless cases of scooters being strewn across sidewalks, in parks and elsewhere, rather than carefully parked like the companies suggest. One of these examples was the recent finding of more than 50 Bird, Lime and Razor scooter thrown into a river. No one knows why they were there or who did it, but it can be assumed that with this many that it was done under vandalistic pretenses. So, whether it’s laziness, carelessness or spite, some of the scooter sharing e-scooters are proving to be causing more problems than they are solving.
These early successes are likely down to the many benefits we talked about earlier. The fact that people can open up an app, sign up in minutes and then be riding an environmentally friendly, fast, fun e-scooter for the ‘last mile’ of their commute and arrive at work not sweaty, without the worry to store the scooter is just too good for people to ignore. However, the safety concerns, the carelessness and downright disrespect of some people towards these scooters leaves a lot of room for improvement. In the future we think that a lot of these concerns are going to have to be dealt with for the long term success of these types of initiatives to prove they aren’t just another fad. There have already been many similar successful and failing businesses with traditional and electric bicycles so it will be very interesting to see how the e-scooter sharing businesses fair in the future.
So is renting electric scooters the best way to go about using one? Here at AltRiders we think that purchasing your own e-scooter could be a better way forward. Not only will you (hopefully) understand the machine you’re buying and take more care of it since you actually own it, which will reduce litter and accidents, but actually owning one can save you money, help the environment and is a whole lot of fun!
In the next part, we’ll look at some of the best electric scooter brands on the market right now and hopefully give you an insight into some of the options that you might not know about.
Electric Scooter Brands
In terms of design, electric scooters can oftentimes look very similar to one another. Especially at a time when electric scooters in city life are very quickly increasing in popularity. The market can become saturated with knock-offs on top of knock-offs on top of knock-offs. So specs, attention to detail and brand reputation are what we like to look at a lot of the time. For example, Boosted have just recently come out with their own electric scooter, and although there are much cheaper scooters out there, they/we know that many people will pay that premium for what will almost certainly be an elite electric scooter. This list of companies aims to go through aspects that we consider important, to inform you and help you decide what you want out of your electric scooter.
Of all the electric scooters, if you’re a westerner, you are most likely to have heard of is Bird. It seems as though this company took hipster-America by storm. A dockless electric scooter sharing company based in California, this company filled a gap in the market for the modern-day commuter. It was just like Uber, but with more efficiency, and less talking to strangers – all you needed was the app. As previously mentioned, this scooter company is the fastest ever ‘unicorn’, and though many other dockless electric scooter sharing companies have popped up since the rise of Bird (such as Lime and more), Bird is still the go to company when discussing scooter sharing services.
Bird initially utilised the Xiaomi M365 and the Ninebot ES2 as their scooters of choice, however in late 2018 Bird unveiled their custom made scooter – the Bird Zero. This scooter was designed specifically for the ridesharing company, and aims to tackle commuters’ needs. Bird strongly pushed features such as its large battery (meaning extended range), bright lighting for visibility and general rider comfort. This scooter is now used in selected cities in conjunction with the Bird ridesharing app and is intended to ultimately replace the Xiaomi and the Ninebot.
Bird has continued to design original electric vehicles, and less than a year after releasing the Bird Zero, they have two new products up for sale to the general public: The Bird One and the Bird Two. As you might have guessed, the Bird Two is the upgraded version of the Bird One. Where the Bird One has an aluminium frame with steel reinforcements, a digital lock and is GPS enabled, the Bird Two has all of this plus a bigger battery, autonomous damage sensors and anti-theft encryption. As it can be seen, Bird, just like many other electric scooter companies out there, are aiming to be at the cutting edge of electric vehicle technology.
The fact that these scooters are GPS enabled comes in handy when you utilise the Bird app, which gives you stats and general information on your personal Bird scooter. Initially I was sceptical of any electric scooter companion apps, as they often crashed and building mobile applications was clearly not the company’s forte. However, over time, I can see the companion app is slowly becoming more useful and I’m sure Bird of all companies have what it takes to make a viable companion app.
As an added bonus, after purchasing this scooter, Bird will gift you twenty free rides on any of their dockless electric scooters.
At the time of writing, Boosted are in the early stages of shipping their first electric scooter after making a name for themselves with their ever popular electric skateboard. They’re based in Mount View, California and were founded in 2012. They raised well above their Kickstarter goal of $100,000, reaching almost $500,000 to fund their first product. Since then, they’ve released multiple electric skateboard models, which have made it onto our lists of the Best Electric Longboards and Fastest Electric Skateboards, and there is a brimming anticipation for the release of their electric scooter which has so far had positive early reviews.
Update April 2020: The Verge reported that Boosted has some serious financial issues driven by the US-China tariff war and that the ownership of the company will change. We hope that they will survive and continue producing great products!
Their one and only model is the Rev. Boosted are almost certainly hoping to follow in the success of their skateboard, aiming to be in a class of their own in the electric scooter market. The Rev is in the early stages of release, and according to the Boosted official website, it is a weatherproof dual wheel drive (both wheels are equipped with motors) with regenerative braking and 3 ride modes for different skill levels. Most features we’ve seen before but there are a few innovative extras that we can’t wait to try. We’re super excited to see Boosted’s take on an e-scooter.
Daymak are a Toronto based company that was founded in 2002. They are one of the regions leading developers and distributors of electric vehicles and currently offer a large range of e-ridables including many electric bikes, electric scooters and even electric ATVs and dune buggies.
The e-scooter that we’re interested in today is Daymak’s Photon. This is quite a unique e-scooter that features a set of dual speakers that can connect to your smart phone with Bluetooth to play music. It also has a built in solar panel on the deck that is covered by a sheet of tempered glass. This solar panel can trickle charge the battery, giving a range of up to 1km per hour of sunlight. The Photon also includes a built in alarm system. Whilst the aesthetics of the design leaves quite a bit to be desired, we really do admire the effort to innovate. We don’t think this will win any awards for best scooter but instead this could be perfect cheap and cheerful present for your kids.
EcoReco advertise themselves as being the eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. They may not be as big as some of their competitors but they are sitting comfortably in the electric scooter market. They are based in California (Silicon Valley to be exact) and have a number of different models available for purchase right now.
EcoReco has released 4 different series of scooters; XS, S, M and L. Each of these series has a different specialty, the M5 (pictured) being one of their most popular and was created for ‘optimal durability’. You’ll find this scooter to be relatively compact when looking at the bulkiness of some other electric scooters. It has a reliable aluminium frame with front and rear suspension with a handy little LED screen which displays all of the necessary stats, and many other convenient features that help this scooter do well in city environments.
The step up from the M series is the L series, which includes the L5 and the L5+. This scooter was designed for ‘high performance’ and generally has features which are a little bit better than the M series’. Such as the top speed being boosted from 20MPH to 22MPH, and the range improving to 14-28 miles from 10-20 miles.
EMOVE started in 2016 with a vision of building an innovative, convenient and practical range of electric scooters and bikes. Their tagline is “The Future of Transportation” and through their futuristic looking physical store and their creative solutions to some classic product problems, we think that their tagline is quite accurate. Since their creation they have grown in many ways, they have many more products, more customers and have been featured in some big publications.
The most interesting of their products is the EMOVE Cruiser. This is a 1600W electric scooter that focuses on performance and can hit 28MPH and has a max range of 62 miles. It’s also got some practical features such as dual suspension and is even foldable. Their other scooter of interest is the EMOVE Touring. This is a cheaper and slightly less powerful model compared to the Cruiser, but still has many of the features that help make the Cruiser so good.
Evolv Rides are based in British Columbia, Canada but sell most of their products through Urban Machina who are also based in Canada. They have 2 other dealers, another in Canada and one in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Evolv have 3 e-scooters in their lineup at the moment. They are the City, Tour and Pro. This range of scooters is based on the Zero range but are branded under the Evolv brand. The City series is for the everyday commuter as it’s compact and portable but can still reach a top speed of 22MPH and a max range of 25 miles.
The Tour is the mid range model and is aimed at people who expect to take extended commutes as it boasts a 31 mile range. The Pro is capable of almost anything, being based on the Zero 10 e-scooter this has a top speed of 40MPH and a maximum range of 55 miles. It’s powered by 1000W over two motors, has front and rear suspension and two disc brakes. This is one of the best machines on the market right now.
EvoMotion seem to go by multiple names, they are also called EvoScooters and are based in the UK. They have historically made many different models of e-scooter but today only a handful of those can be found anywhere.
The main product they sell now is the EvoMotion DirtKing. This is a range of beefy e-scooters that have large wheels, large decks and large price tags. They also have a lot of power with many versions having a least 2000W. The entire range also comes with attached seats, headlights and suspension, making them a seemingly good option for hardcore off roading.
eWheels are a distributor of electric scooters and electric unicycles. They have one of the largest collections of electric unicycles we’ve seen but also sell their own scooter, the Turbowheel.
The Turbowheel range of scooters include the Dart, the Hornet and the Lightning. Like with Evolv Rides, these three models are based off of similar Zero brand scooters. This means they’re good value, perform well and have some great features.
FLJ are a scooter manufacturer based in China. They only seem to sell to the West through AliExpress.
Whilst their company profile might not interest you that much, the actual scooters they manufacture might. They go by the names T113 and the S8. These are both really quite striking looking machines that are aimed at the premium market. The T113 has a power of 3200W, includes dual disc brakes, full suspension, LED lighting and a built in seat. The S8 also has a 3200W motor with full suspension, dual disc brakes, LED lighting and more. It also has a very unique set of handlebars and frame like structure.
Founded in early 2017, FluidFreeRide is a US based electric scooter company that aims to provide a curated selection of scooters for every need. They ship a range of scooters worldwide from warehouses in Texas and Shenzhen and are moving into Europe through a location in Sweden where they are shipping their flagship model, the Mercane Widewheel. But FluidFreeRide also have their own branded scooters, the Horizon and Mosquito. Ran by their diligent and enthusiastic founder, Julian Fernau, we expect to see great things from FluidFreeride in the future!
The Horizon is a great all-rounder, and doesn’t cut any corners on performance or quality. It can reach a top speed of 25MPH and you’ll be able to tackle an incline of up to 20% with ease. With sturdy wheels, and being relative lightweight compared to its performance, this scooter is really quite manageable, coming in at 40 lbs.
Their most compact scooter is the Mosquito. This is a fast, portable scooter that was definitely designed for city life. It’s 22lbs and has a 300W motor that can get you up to speeds of 20MPH. This scooter was designed for efficiency yet has all of the qualities you’d need – dual suspension, front and rear lights, and a handy LED display.
Glion’s story is not a short one. Founded in 2012, the company have described their goal as one which was born out of a ‘last mile’ desire due to experiences of being a BART commuter in the San Francisco area. This idea was combined with their aspiration for their products to be part of a reduced carbon emissions future. With the plans in the works, they did not introduce their first product until 2014 by means of a Kickstarter campaign – this was the Glion SmartScooter. This led onto the release of their most popular product in 2015 after a second Kickstarter campaign, the Glion Dolly.
Glion have two main products available – the Glion Dolly and the Glion SNAPnGO. The Dolly is a hugely popular commuter scooter with a design that fits perfectly into a city dweller’s lifestyle. The Dolly has never-flat, solid tires, meaning they never need air or go flat. The scooter will be fully charged in 2 hours, and has a 1 second folding mechanism. This works perfectly with its patented vertical self-standing feature, retracted handle and roller wheels, meaning you can easily wheel it along like a suitcase wherever you go. It has a respectable 250W motor, with a top speed of 15MPH.
Their SNAPnGo model has been mentioned before because if it’s unique and innovative design. This is a mobility scooter that has been stripped down to the bare essentials, creating a portable, collapsible and convenient mobility scooter unlike anything the world has seen. First designed from a customers’ recommendation, the SNAPnGO has since become a huge success.
As we’ve previously mentioned, Go-Ped was the first company to create what we now think of as an e-scooter. They now sell a huge range of different products, from classic e-scooters to Go-Karts to parts and accessories and even Go-Ped t-shirts.
The main product Go-Ped sell is the ESR750 Hoverboard e-scooter. This is the modern version of the scooter that started it all and still has a very similar style with its big, chunky wheels and wide deck. It now uses Lithium-ion batteries to give it a range of around 22 miles if you’re riding in Eco mode. In Eco mode you can expect a top speed of around 12MPH. In Turbo mode the range reduces to about 10 – 17 miles but the top speed increases to about 20MPH. Whilst these stats are quite modest for the rather steep price tag, you are getting a little bit of e-scooter history when you buy one. Maybe best for the collectors or sentimentalists out there, rather than someone looking for a practical e-scooter for your morning commute.
GOTRAX are a large company that sells a wide range of electric products including scooters, hoverboards and bikes. Initially they started off selling just electric scooters, and as we speak they have a range of popular scooters on the market. However, as of 2017 they launched their hoverboard line, which is very popular among children and adults alike. So at this point it’s safe to say that GOTRAX are one of the leading brands in budget e-rideables, with their hoverboards and electric scooters dominating a respectable chunk of the market.
GOTRAX have a few electric scooters available, and one of the most appealing things about them has to be the price. When looking at many other companies, you’d expect to be paying $500 at least, or even over $1000 in some cases. So far, GOTRAX have managed to keep their products below $500 without majorly compromising on the quality. One of their best selling products, the GOTRAX GXL (pictured), is a commuter scooter for the masses. Its sleek black and red colour scheme compliments the wireless design. It has an edgeless display which outputs information such as the battery life of the 250W motor, which allows you to reach speeds of up to 15MPH. Of course this is foldable, it wouldn’t be a real commuter scooter if it wasn’t, and if you’re looking to carry it onto a train or bus, it comes in at 27 lbs, so is light enough to do so.
Other GOTRAX scooters also include the Glider, which is a small, unintrusive electric scooter. It is 20 lbs and has 5.5” tires but hasn’t taken off quite like the GXL.
Inokim was initially called MyWay and was first started as a garage project in 2009 by an award winning designer, Nimrod Sapir, who set out to find a solution to the challenge of commuting from A to B with minimal effort, while reducing the carbon footprint of car use in urban environments. In 2010 this goal had developed into the release of the first ‘Light’ model folding electric scooter. Since then they have been producing new designs and updated versions of their original models ever since. They currently have 10 different versions with 5 defined models.
These are the Mini, Quick, Light, Oxo and Ox. The Mini is a lightweight, travel e-scooter that has a fantastic design. There are extendable handlebars, that not only give taller riders more options but also act as a handle for pulling the scooter along. This is made possible by a set of trolley wheels that make the Inokim Mini one of the simplest scooters to fold up and walk around town with.
The next model is the Quick, this is more of a standard e-scooter for commuting. It has a solid set of stats, including a max range of up to 28 miles.
The Light model is similar to the Quick but is more focused on the fact that it is lightweight and easy to transport. This weighs 27 lbs but still manages almost 19 miles of riding on a single charge, has a full LCD display, road lights and 8.5” pneumatic tires.
The Oxo is designed to be able to tackle any kind of terrain. It has 10” tires, full suspension, front and rear disc brakes and can manage a max range of over 60 miles.
Similar to the Oxo, the Ox is designed with performance in mind. It’s able to be ridden on any terrain has all the bells and whistles that the Oxo has but just at a slightly lower level. For example, this has a front drum brake and rear disc brake, where as the Oxo has front and rear disc brakes. The best way to think of it is, the Ox is roughly ⅔ of an Oxo, and conveniently this is indicated in the price as well. But it will still set you back a couple of thousand dollars.
What we like about all of Inokim’s e-scooters are that they are designed really well, are feature rich and look great. They also come in a range of stylish colors that will satisfy virtually everyone.
iWatMotion are an e-rideable company that was founded in 2015. They focus more on the European market and have links with Chinese manufacturers. There range of products is quite impressive, from a range of 4 e-scooters to e-skateboards and even a similar product to the Segway electric shoes.
iWatMotion currently provide a range of standard e-scooters and some 3 wheel electric scooters. Their standard range are aimed at the lower end of the market. These are the R6, R8, R9 and the R9 eXtreme. The R6 is the most basic, costs a couple of hundred dollars and is meant for minimal, basic city riding. The R9 eXtreme is a re-branded Xiaomi M365 so is a decent scooter and can be found at good prices. iWatMotion also offer a 2 year warranty which is quite difficult to find in the e-scooter market at the moment.
Joyor are a Spanish company, based in Barcelona, that have designed their own range of e-scooters aimed at beginners all the way up to performance models. The scooters are designed in the Netherlands and are in line with Joyor’s vision of freedom, sustainability and accessibility.
Some of Joyor’s products are based on other designs but their most striking product is their H1. This is a low cost, lightweight convenient scooter that is ideal for commuting. It comes in 6 colors and has a modern design that we really like. It looks like some thought and care has been taken with the design to create something unique, rather than simply replicating what is known to work.
Kaabo are a Chinese company that specialise in electric scooter design and manufacturing, among other products. They have a couple of notable e-scooters but only one is commonly available in the West.
The Kaabo Wolf Warrior 11 is a high performance off-road electric scooter. It has 2400W of power, 11 inch vacuum tires, front and rear hydraulic brakes and a full suspension system. It has a crazy top speed of 50MPH and can manage 80 miles on a single charge. If you’re looking for one of the best performing off road electric scooters, then the Kaabo Wolf Warrior is it. It’s currently available in the US via FluidFreeRide.
MegaWheels are an expert supplier of hoverboards, electric scooters and electric skateboards. They were founded in 2014 in China and have since grown substantially and have even built a 20 person strong R & D team to help them create the best products possible.
Currently they have 2 main e-scooter models. These are the S5 and the S1. The S1 is a fairly basic commuter scooter that has a top speed of 14MPH and can do around 8 miles on a single charge. Their S5 is a little better across the board, it can manage 15.5MPH and around 13 miles. Both are generally well reviewed and the S5 is even currently ‘Amazon’s Choice’ for electric scooters.
Mercane are a creative and innovative e-rideable designer and manufacturer based in South Korea. They were founded in 2015 and have quickly become a big player in the e-scooter market. Their products all have a unique feature or design that makes them stand out from the crowd and sometimes results in a fantastic product.
The main product from Mercane is the WideWheel e-scooter. This is one of the highest rated products on AltRiders.com and continues to be one of the most popular electric scooters on the market. It’s unique selling point is what it’s named after, it’s wide wheels. These offer a distinctive aesthetic and experience that you simply can’t get from anywhere else and in tandem with the suspension help offer one of the most comfortable rides of any scooter we’ve tried. Overall, this is a large, powerful scooter that you can get in a single or dual motor variant. The dual motor variant will help you reach 25MPH due to its 1000W of power. This scooter may be a bit too bulky for a commute, however, whatever you choose to do with it, you won’t feel disappointed by the ride. It’s available from FluidFreeRide in the West.
Another of Mercane’s unique rides is their latest development, the Trans Board. This is a 3 wheeled electric scooter that can fold up into something that resembles a travel case. The folding system is meant to work in one gesture and allows for simple and convenient transport and storage of the scooter when folded.
Minimotors is a company that specialises in powerful and fast. They are veterans of the electric scooter game, as they were founded in 1999 in Busan, South Korea. They started officially exporting their products in 2015 and have since become one of the most popular electric scooter companies in China and South Korea, and are definitely making waves in America and Europe with two of their products, the ‘Dualtron’ and the ‘Speedway’. The Dualtron even holds the title of the world’s first all wheel drive electric scooter and variants of it have made it onto our list of the fastest electric scooters.
As previously mentioned, the Dualtron and the Speedway are Minimotors’ two exports. These scooters are basically normal electric scooters on steroids. Looking at the Dualtron X, it has 6,720W Brushless DC (BLDC) hub motors, 13” wheels, a top speed of 59MPH and a range of 84 miles. The charging time ranges from 20 hours to 5.4 hours depending on what charger you purchase. This is truly the top of the line and Minimotors are really pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the likes of the Dualtron X.
The Speedway is technically a step down from the Dualtron, but it is still decked out to excess. The Speedway 5 has dual motors giving an output of 3,600W, a 23.4Ah battery and a top speed of 40MPH. It can climb gradients of 37% and has a max range of 75 miles. The charge time ranges from 13 hours to 4 hours. If you’re looking for the highest performance possible, then Minimotors is the place to go.
We’ve recently completed an entire article dedicated to Dualtron Electric Scooters. For a more in depth look at what makes them one of the best e-scooter brands available right now, check it out.
Nanrobot have quite quickly become one of the leading companies in performance e-scooters. They have a range of high quality models that are consistently considered some of the best scooters on the market. They originated in China but have set up US and European operations.
The ‘basic’ Nanrobot model is the X4, but on paper it’s far from basic. It can reach a top speed of 22MPH and gets around 15 – 20 miles on a single charge. It’s foldable, weighs about 33lbs and has a charging time of about 4-6 hours. This makes it Nanrobot’s most commuter friendly model.
On the other end of the spectrum is the RS11. This is one of the fastest electric scooters on the market right now. It has a top speed of about 55MPH, a max range of about 55 miles and is powered by a huge 3200W of power. But if that’s not quite what you’re after, there is also an off road version, the RS11, or another high performance model, the LS7.
Nanrobot also sell some very popular mid-range models in the D4+ and the newer D5+ which both have 2000W of power and can comfortably reach 30MPH.
Ojo has had a busy history in its few years operating. It started out as a small startup that created a high quality product and got some attention due to it’s sleek design and celebrity users. Famously Lady Gaga was spotted riding one. Ojo was then acquired by Ford and not much really happened. Until, at the start of 2019 they announced that Ojo would be turning into a ridesharing company and taking on the likes of Bird and Lime. At the time of writing they are operating in 3 cities in the US and are looking to continue their expansion.
Their only product is the Ojo electric scooter. A Vespa like hybrid between a moped and a traditional stand up e-scooter. They are not currently being sold by Ojo but can be found on Amazon and other places second hand if you really want to own one. AltRiders rated the Ojo a 9/10 so we’d recommend it as a product and are very interested to see where it goes as a rideshare business.
Onan are a Hong Kong based e-skateboard company that has branched out into electric scooters with their rising popularity. They’ve been in business since 2006 and have only recently started using their knowledge to built e-scooters but have already got 2 models available.
The L1 and K1 are the two scooters that Onan manufacture. The L1 is a rather stylish electric commuter scooter that features a very streamlined design. It’s capable of up to about 30 miles on a single charge and can reach a top speed of around 18MPH.
The K1 is a rather uniquely designed scooter that requires you to sit down when riding. It has a folding mechanism that tightly compacts the scooter which can then be pulled along similar to a suitcase. The can manage around 15 miles on a full charge and can reach about 15MPH.
Qiewa are one of the original performance electric scooter companies. Their Q1Hummer model of e-scooter was at one point the fastest electric scooter in the world. Since then they have released a couple of new models to compliment the Hummer.
The Qiewa Q1Hummer has 800W of power, can reach 37MPH with a range of around 60 miles. With the success of the Q1Hummer, Qiewa have released a less expensive version called the Qmini. This is still capable of about 37MPH, but can only travel about 35 miles on a single charge. It’s also smaller, lighter and a little less well equipped. Qiewa’s other main product is the QPower. This is a juiced up version of the Q1Hummer that is ideal for off road riding. It’s got chunky, wide tires, 3200W of power and can reach a top speed of about 55MPH. This is Qiewa’s attempt at once again being the pinnacle of e-scooter performance.
Razor is a huge scooter company that was founded by Carlton Calvin and JD Corporation in Cerritos, California. They started off in 2000 selling simple kick scooters, which had massive success, selling 5 million in the first six months. As the company progressed, they introduced their first electric scooter in 2003. They now have a range of successful electric scooters, targeted at adults and children alike.
If you head over to the US Razor website right now, you’ll find a lineup of 19 electric scooters being sold. They range from simple toys, to commuter scooters, to seated scooters. The E300 is one hugely popular Razor scooter. This works well as a kids’ toy, and could be used as a commuter scooter as well. As far as electric scooters go, it is a pretty basic scooter, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. It has a simple design with a top speed of 15MPH, 40 minutes of riding time and takes around 8 hours to fully charge. I’m not a fan of the chain driven motor as this means more components and therefore more things that could go wrong. However, if you are looking for a cheap, simple scooter for a short commute or some wholesome fun for your kids, you may want to consider this. Razor also sell the E300s, which is a carbon copy of the E300, except it comes with a seat!
Razor also sell the more substantial E Prime. This is definitely not for little kids, and is perfect for a commute or general travel around a city or neighbourhood. Razor have pulled out all the stops, kitting this scooter out with an aluminium frame, a hub motor and an extra long, extra wide aluminium deck. You’ll reach up to 15MPH and get up to 30 minutes of continuous use.
You’ll recognise the word ‘Segway’ from the period of time when everyone who was anyone wanted to be seen riding a Segway PT, the self-balancing personal transporter. Though they may seem like a gimmick, Segway are much more than that. They have an array of products, from unicycles, to robots, to electric scooters. Founded in 1999 by inventor Dean Kamen, Segway launched the Segway PT in late 2001. After a rocky few years Segway was acquired by Ninebot Inc. in 2015. Ninebot was a robotics startup that would eventually lead them to release a series of electric kick scooters under the brand name ‘Ninebot by Segway’.
The original ES1 was Segway’s answer to a simple electric kick scooter, the newer ES2 is the refined version. This is a lightweight (27.6 lbs), one-click folding electric kick scooter that can be carried in one hand wherever you go. It can reach 15MPH, has a 15 mile range and has a 300W motor. Segway have provided front and rear shock absorption, an electrical brake with anti-lock braking system, and for extra safety they’ve added a mechanical brake too. Additional features include an LED display, bluetooth capabilities and an optional external battery which would extend the range and speed. This is also the scooter of choice for many scooter sharing companies, such as Bird. Bird have also started using the ES4, a version of the ES2 but with an additional battery for longer rides.
SoFlow are a Swiss company based in Flawil, Switzerland. The sell worldwide and offer a range of products including, electric scooters, electric bikes, electric skateboards and electric karts.
They mainly sell one e-scooter, the Air. But this comes in two varieties, an aluminum version and a carbon fiber version. Both are well priced and are aimed at the lower budget market. They are ideal commuter scooters, have LCDs screens, front and rear lights and can be ridden for about 13 miles.
If you could describe Swagtron’s products in three words, it would be simple, affordable and innovative. They are another business that focuses on e-rideables as a whole, so therefore have a spread of products on the market, including hoverboards, electric scooters and e-bikes. Swagtron offer a range of rather unique products and have been known to include many interesting features into a very reasonably priced package.
The Swagtron Swagger is one of the first electric scooters from Swagtron. At first glance, the Swagger could be mistaken for a normal kick scooter. It is a lightweight and cheap electric scooter with a quick charging time (1 and a half hours to full charge) that makes it great for commuting. It has a simple and effective control system which consists of minimalist speed controls, a handbrake and an LCD display which provides all of the information you’ll need. The Swagger would be a good choice for a first electric scooter, especially if you’re looking at the lower end of the price range, as you won’t get a better scooter for less than $300.
The Swagger 5 is possibly one of Swagtron’s most recognisable scooters. It’s slightly more bulky than the Swagger and is great as a commuter or general travel. It’s 27.5 lbs and has an 18MPH top speed. The Swagger 5 has a 250W hub motor and a disc brake. The rear tire is a maintenance-free ‘never-flat’ tire, and the front tire which houses the hub motor is rubber and air filled. The scooter is fully charged in 3.5 hours, and you’ll get 6-12 miles of travel out of it depending on terrain and incline. Overall this is a solid scooter which contains all of the expected features such as an LCD screen, LED headlight and rear light, and three power modes.
Unagi are an interesting company that immediately impressed me with their dedication to modern and high quality products. This company was first founded in China as Swan, which was then rebranded to ‘Unagi’ by David Hyman after he travelled to China and toured multiple different scooter factories before landing on Swan. Hyman is an established entrepreneur and is the former CEO of Beats Music, who decided to start his own electric scooter company after feeling let down by the dockless electric scooter systems in his city.
Unagi’s only available electric scooter is called the Model One, and it comes in a range of colours and two different power levels – a single motor at 250W and a dual motor at 200W and 250W. The Model One is a sleek, stylish, detail oriented electric scooter. It comes out on the pricier end of the spectrum (over $1000 for the dual motor scooter) but after doing some research, it’s hard to deny its appeal. The handlebars are magnesium, the frame is carbon fiber and the deck is aluminium. The Unagi’s Model One has a patented one click folding system. Of course, in this day and age you’d be hard pressed to find an electric scooter that doesn’t fold, however this one does have a system that works better than a lot of other stuff out there at the moment. The wheels have a built in suspension system comprised of air pockets evenly spread throughout the tires, and they will carry you over a range of about 15 miles.
Urb-E is a company that takes a somewhat different approach to electric scooters, as can be seen by the alternative design. The company behind Urb-E was started in March of 2011, and was initially called ideapiphany. After deciding they wanted to tackle the ‘last mile’ issue, a new company was launched called EcoLogical Mobility Solutions and the Urb-E began development in late 2012. Among many other impressive team members, the Urb-E team contains Sven Etzelsberger, a former lead engineer at Porsche.
Urb-E have a Pro series and a Sport series. The Pro series is the more expensive of the two, reaching almost $2,000. The standard Pro model features a frame made of aircraft grade aluminium and handlebars made of carbon fiber. It has 10” pneumatic tires and gets you roughly 20 miles per charge and can reach speeds of 18MH. This is all wrapped up in a scooter that weighs 35 lbs. The upgraded Pro GT version is almost identical except has a more powerful motor, meaning better acceleration and torque, at a price that is well over $2,000.
Urb-E’s Sport series is cheaper and more lightweight, with both versions of the Sport being within the $1,000 – $2,000 price bracket. The standard Sport model features never-flat tires and a removable power source which contains two USB charging ports. It is able to reach 16 miles per charge and can reach a top speed of 14MPH. The Sport GT is very similar however features better suspension than its sibling. These both weigh around 30 lbs.
UScooter are the US division of the company E-TWOW, a company that got its start in Shanghai in 2013, being founded by a Mr Sirbu. E-TWOW basically rebranded as UScooter for its American market, and have gained a fair amount of popularity since the rebrand. If you head to UScooter’s official website, you will see they have received their fair share of media attention over the years. As it stands now, UScooter specialise in lightweight, electric kick scooters, and have a couple variations of this concept up for sale right now.
One of their most recent products is the UScooter Booster V, which is an electric kick scooter. This scooter weighs 23 lbs and has a hub motor situated in the front wheel. UScooter went for airless tires and provide the scooter with front and rear suspension. The Booster V has a top speed of 25MPH and can go for 24 miles on a single charge of the 500W motor, which will also get you up a 25° slope. Some helpful features are an LCD screen which provides you with all of the necessary information, and a cruise control function.
Voyager have a plethora of city-ready e-rideables on the market. They are a relatively new company that was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018, and now seems to be doing relatively well for itself. They sell, among other things, e-bikes, hoverboards and electric skateboards.
Amongst a range of electric kick scooters being sold by Voyager, the Ion is probably the most compact. This scooter is 19 lbs (our lightest on the list), is of course foldable, and is powered by a 250W hub motor situated in the front wheel. The Ion can get to about 12.5MPH and has a 10 mile range. It has an aesthetically pleasing LCD display situated between the thumb throttle and the electrical brake. Due to its portability, this scooter is perfect for short commutes to and from work, or the ‘last mile’ journey.
Works Electric started off life as a small shop in Portland, Oregon, and was created by Brad Baker. As a mechanical engineer, Brad would spend his spare time perfecting the ideal Rover. This went on for many years, and after the product was completed, he started selling to the general public.
Works Electric has three Rovers available right now, each one as intimidating, powerful and detail-oriented as the last. The Hollyburn P5 is an all-American 4400W electric rover, which weighs 86 lbs and is constructed almost entirely of aluminium and stainless steel. It has a 35MPH top speed and can go 24 miles on a single charge. It has a highly efficient, highly durable chain-driven motor to get you through any terrain with ease, and has an IP66 weather rating, meaning you can take the Hollyburn P5 out in any weather conditions, including rain or snow. Basically, this rover is perfect for the great outdoors, or any all-terrain adventure.
Xiaomi aren’t like any other e-scooter company. They’re a huge corporation that was founded in April 2010 and are currently listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. They are mainly a smart phone and electronics company and are the world’s fourth-largest smartphone brand. They’ve also developed TVs and projectors, multiple smart devices and a range of power banks. But of course, they also have one of the world’s best selling electric scooters in their arsenal of products.
The Xiaomi M365 is probably the best known electric scooter on the market. It has a recognisable design that has been copied time and time again. It has been used as the main scooter for Bird and other scooter sharing companies. It’s also one of our favourite commuter scooters and the latest model has been made even better. It’s now capable of up to about 28 miles on a single charge, a significant increase over the original model. It’s also got a quick folding mechanism, a user friendly control panel and a set of new disc brakes. One of the best e-scooters for commuting just keeps getting better.
Xprit are a company that sells a host of e-rideables, as well as general electronic gadgets and appliances, with the aim of providing you with the best product at the best price possible. The electric scooters they sell are all kick scooters, with explicit categorisations into kids scooters and adults scooters. The kids’ electric scooters here are some of the cheapest we’ve seen.
The scooter we are looking at here doesn’t seem to come with a name, and is just labelled as XPRIT 8”, due to its 8” wheels. It’s a foldable scooter with front suspension and solid rubber tires. The display is an attractive and minimalist LCD display which shows mileage, speed, speed level and battery life. It has a reasonable 350W motor with a maximum speed of 13.6MPH. This seems to be an all-round standard commuter scooter that comes in at a lot cheaper than most of its competitors.
Zero is a company that sells a range of products. From scooters that are good ‘all-rounders’ and could be used on a commute, to products that are a little bit more adventurous than that, so much so that some of their models have the word ‘extreme’ in the name. Generally Zero has a reputation for being the one to beat in terms of performance scooters, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’d do well to keep Zero on your mind when browsing.
The Zero 9 is reasonable enough in size that it won’t turn heads, while also being powerful enough that it packs a huge punch. The 600W motor gives way to a 25MPH top speed and a 27.5 mile max range. It has front and rear suspension and an extra large deck for comfort and a constant feeling of safety while riding. It has 9” tires and the hub motor is controlled by a trigger throttle sitting next to an eye catching LCD display. You’ll be able to bring yourself to a controlled stop with the disc brake, and has plenty of front and rear LED lights, as well as two strips of lights along the deck.
The Zero 10X is a beast of an electric scooter. It has dual 1000W hub motors which give you crazy good hill climbing capabilities as well as amazing off-roading when combined with the dual suspension. The hub motors output power that not many sane human beings would ever need, and luckily you have the choice to go between single/dual drive. You can reach upto 40MPH and have 60 miles of range, so you could probably be out on this thing all day without worrying about the charge running out. If you purchase this scooter you have to know what you’re getting into, this would fit in a reasonably sized car but it is by no means small. It has 10” x 3” pneumatic tires and weighs around 77 lbs.
Zoom are a Singapore based company that are aiming to develop lightweight, comfortable electric scooters. These scooters seem to be purpose built for city life, and it seems Zoom has managed to do a pretty good job of developing a commuter scooter in a city that appears to be a perfect fit for the electric scooter revolution.
The Zoom Stryder is the only electric scooter being sold by Zoom. It’s a fast, lightweight, hill-capable scooter with a lot of fun and useful features. This scooter has a 500W hub motor which led to great acceleration, with a 19MPH top speed and the ability to climb a 25% gradient. The folding mechanism is fast and simple, and with a weight of 24 lbs means it’s possible to travel with the folded version fairly easily. The Zoom Stryder has dual suspension, which are great for the rubber tires as they do not always give the best cushioning, it has front and rear lights and a cruise control function. Overall this scooter manages to fit perfectly into the commuter scooter bracket, and is definitely one to watch out for.
There are more companies and clones/rebrands of products that exist that we’re not covering because we think this list is comprehensive enough to give you a good choice of the main e-scooters available. Also, the electric scooter market is rather volatile at the moment, with many new companies entering and others going bust or changing business model that it’s hard to keep up.
Disclaimer: The following information does not constitute legal advice and is here as a guide only. The information may not be current or comprehensive and ultimately it is down to you to ensure you are obeying the laws in your area.
As modern scooters are still a relatively novel form of transportation there have been few laws and regulations specified for their use. In addition, the many types of scooters with various motor sizes and large range of features can understandably make it quite tricky for any governing bodies to fairly control their use. Unless of course, they use outdated laws that ban anything that wasn’t around tens of years ago (cough, cough, the UK…).
So what does that actually mean for the legality of riding an electric scooter where you live?
Well in many states of the US electric scooters are rarely classed as motor vehicles and therefore don’t generally need a license or registration. This law is based on the power of the scooter and it’s top speed. A 2002 Federal Law states that if an electric bike has a motor power of less than 750W and a top speed of no more than 20MPH then it will be classed as street legal. If the scooter falls within this category then there should be no problems at all.
If the scooter has more power or a higher top speed, there may be problems depending on the state and even city and we highly recommend you seek more information for your exact location. However, it has been our experience that authorities will rarely prosecute as long as the riding is sensible. But it is always best to check!
For example the difference between California and New York is quite substantial. In California electric scooters are permitted on roads, trails, bike paths or bikeways. Their laws are one of the most lenient in the US and this is likely why many of the scooters sharing companies choose California as one of their first cities. On the other hand there is New York, where electric bikes and scooters are completely illegal for use on public land. Not that it stops people from doing it. This will however change soon as the use of electric scooters and electric bikes (except of Manhattan) has been recently legalised as part of the FY2021 budget, though with speed limitations of only 15MPH for electric scooters and 25MPH for electric bikes.
In Canada the laws are quite lenient with almost all electric scooters being legal. They require no license, plates or insurance and can be ridden in public just fine. These motorised scooters are classified under federal law and each province is able to make minor changes to the law such as age requirements etc. In addition to this each municipality can make changes as to where they are permitted to be used. There are a couple of exceptions with Alberta, BritishColumbia and Ontario stating they can only be ridden on private land. So, again we recommend you check for exactly where you live, especially if in a city, but we generally expect you to be able to ride your electric scooter freely.
In Europe most countries are quite scooter friendly, or will be very soon, expect the United Kingdom.
From September 2019 it will be illegal to ride e-scooters on pavements in France, but will still be legal in cycle lanes or on the road. Similar laws are active in Germany, who have recently legalised electric scooters on public roads. The same can be said for Italy where sharing schemes have found their way to Rome, Florence and Pisa.
In the bike loving Netherlands, electric scooters are legal to ride as long as it has been authorised by the country’s vehicle authority. The scooters must be ridden in bike lanes and travel no more than 25MPH.
The UK is bound by the need for a change to primary legislation if they want to see legal electric scooters. With Brexit happening and a major reshuffle in the works, we don’t see any changes to the electric scooter law any time soon. However, like with many of the other countries on the list, if the e-scooter is ridden at a sensible speed, the rider wearing a helmet, and it’s ridden in a way that isn’t dangerous to pedestrians or traffic then there have been reports of the authorities overlooking the technical breaking of the law. But there have also been cases of people doing just that and being penalised for it. So ride at your own risk.
In other countries in Europe there’s a good chance that electric scooters are legal. Europe even has its own ride sharing company called Voi that takes a slightly less brazen approach to deploying their fleet than Bird and Lime have. They are working directly with cities and only deploying to cities that will genuinely benefit from the scheme.
A few notable mentions are:
Japan, where any speed over 9kph will classify the scooter as a motor vehicle and it will need a full license, registration and anything you would need for a moped/motorbike. Without those, it will be illegal to ride an e-scooter in Japan.
In India most e-scooters are legal to be ridden as long as their top speed is less than 25kph and their motors produce less than a total of 250W.
In Singapore, where many of the e-scooter manufacturers are based, there have recently been new laws passed that allow e-scooter to be ridden in public. They are allowed on the sidewalk and not the road but have to be within certain specifications. For example, they need to weigh less than 20kg (44lb), have a top speed of less than 25kph and be less than 70cm wide.
China have began to enforce stricter laws with regard to personal forms of transportation and ride sharing companies ever since they saw a huge influx of e-bike waste after similar scheme had a huge supply without the demand. This led to masses of bikes being literally thrown out. This had led to power and weight restrictions on e-bikes but no specific mention of electric scooters. They are however banned on roads in most cities.
Australia has had several trials with scooter companies such as Lime which have had varying success. In most parts of the country they are illegal and will be confiscated by the police.
In New Zealand as long as the wheels of a scooter do not exceed 355mm and the motor output does not exceed 300W then the scooter isn’t classified as a motor vehicle and is ok to be ridden without a license. They are allowed on roads and footpaths but not cycle lanes.
It’s a similar story in a lot of South America where many cities are trailing e-scooters. The company Yellow is a Sao Paulo based scooter sharing start-up that is looking to become the Bird of South America. Another is Cosmic Go, based out of Bogota Colombia. With a good amount of interest and many scooters start-ups aiming at the South American market we expect some of the stricter countries/cities to begin to bring in some e-scooter trial periods.
There was considerably less information regarding the use of electric scooters in Africa. I suspect that’s because the craze hasn’t yet affected this continent quite how it has many others. However, in South Africa they appear to follow the same EU rules which state: “South African legislation, conforming to the European Union rules, allows bicycles which are powered by electric motors of no more than 250 W, and a speed limit of 25 km/h to be driven without a driver’s licence, and without being registered, as it is still considered to be a bicycle.” We presume this will extend to electric scooters as well but the laws are currently quite unclear.
We don’t think you can ever completely classify electric scooters as either good or bad and we’re not going to try to. A lot of the bad publicity has come as a result of the scooter sharing companies which has helped exaggerate the negatives of the e-scooter industry. Some of this is definitely justified, such as Bird’s rather bold initial strategies of just dumping the scooters in cities and hoping for the best. In addition to this, whenever you give members of the public open use to vehicles such as these there are always going to acts of stupidity that can taint the experience for others.
I think a good comparison is to that of drones. The early drone communities were very respectful and understanding because, as early adopters of a new technology, they understood what they could do and regularly had to build their own, instantly adding a sense of pride and ownership. However, as they became more mainstream and commercially accessible the problems started to arise, such as the Gatwick airport disruption. Despite this, there is still a strong community of drone enthusiasts and the technology is continuing to progress and open up new possibilities that simply did not exist a few years ago. However, the problem comes from attempting to manage the carelessness, negligence and sometimes malicious intent of a small group of users. We feel as though this is a very similar problem to that of electric scooters, especially with the rise of scooter sharing companies.
On the flip side, the positives of electric scooters are numerous. From the ‘benefits’ section mentioned earlier in the article we showcased a few of the most obvious benefits that we really think can impact people’s lives. The convenience of e-scooters as they are today is enough to have greatly impacted the scooter sharing storm and with a few more years of development and cities working with e-scooter companies, like Voi are in Europe, we believe they can greatly impact the future of personal transportation. But if they don’t receive the attention they need, then there is a high chance that this could be another relatively short lived fad that isn’t able to make the impact they desire. If this is the case, we don’t think electric scooters will die out completely as there’s already a strong community of enthusiasts, such as the community at AltRiders, that I can’t see stopping using them.
When it comes to the scooters themselves, we do have a few favorites. The Mercane WideWheel (available at FluidFreeRide) is one of these due to its inventive design, superior comfort and mastery of the basics. For commuting something a little lighter is preferred. The Xiaomi M365 and the Segway Ninebot ES2 are always going to be favourites here as they are tried and tested, despite some reliability issues for both. For performance scooters anything by Dualtron (available at MinimotorsUSA) or Zero is our choice.
There are a lot of options when it comes to picking the best electric scooter for your needs and we’re here to help. The whole of AltRiders.com is focused on finding the best e-rideables and other transportation products available so head over to the rest of the website to find out more.
We hope you found this both informative and interesting. Electric scooters are part of the world as we know it right now and can all trace their roots back over a century. Their development has dramatically increased over the last few years due to improvements in battery and electric motor technology and we’re looking forward to seeing where things go in the next few years.
The introduction of scooter sharing companies such as Bird and Lime has created huge business that has been replicated by numerous companies throughout the world, and if the challenges can be overcome through education and cooperation with the cities they inhabit they could pave the way for the future of personal transportation.
E-scooter rental companies aren’t they only way of experiencing this new form of transportation. The many new electric scooter manufacturers and distributors are making it easier than ever for anyone to own an e-scooter. The hundreds of models out there already offer a range that should be able to satisfy any type of user, from the speed and adrenaline junkies to the mobility impaired looking for an evolutionary way to get around.
We think within the next few years e-scooters are poised to quite possibly flop or fly and whatever happens it will be a very interesting time.
Notes to the Reader
For the electric scooters that are featured in this article, we have strived to provide the most up to date technical and performance specification data. When possible, this data is taken directly from the manufacturers, either from official specifications on website, or from direct communication. Sometimes, this information could result in figures that differ from the actual performance of the product. In these cases where data has not been directly specified by the manufacturer we have made an attempt to obtain this information from the vehicles available to the public.
These performance data are also very variable in comparison to real world performance and the provided data may not reflect the performance you obtain if you were to ride one. Reasons for this include but are not limited to: age of vehicle, terrain, weather conditions, rider weight.
The products in this article are included because how appropriate they are for each section and their merits. No manufacturers paid any money to be included but there may be affiliate links included. These links will not be faced with any additional charges if you decide to buy something using these links (sometimes you’ll actually receive a discount).