In a bustling world that is becoming more and more urbanized, electric scooters are a great way to get yourself around. Electric scooters are soon to dominate the landscape in the largest cities, but they will also become more popular in smaller urban centers as well. Smaller than motorcycles, much cheaper than a car, and easy to carry anywhere, electric scooters are a great form of transportation for anyone.
They’re easy to ride, cheap to maintain, and are perfect for students, city dwellers, and anyone wishing to have a great time. However, it’s likely that you don’t know that much about scooters, or how to pick one for yourself!
This buying guide is going to lay out all the various options you can choose when purchasing your first electric scooter. Let’s get started!!
Top Things To Consider When Buying An Electric Scooter
- Overall Quality Of Construction
- Suspension Quality
- Braking System
- Max Weight Carried
- Drive Type
- Run Time
We will get into the various kinds of electric scooters later in this guide. First, we need to lay out the very basics of choosing the best electric scooter for your needs.
If you are buying this just as a toy, you can certainly buy the lower end of the price range electric scooter and will probably be happy for the short amount of time that you will use it.
However, if you’re planning on using this electric scooter as a primary form of transportation as a student or an urban commuter for years, a higher-end electric scooter will be a much better investment. A higher-end scooter will have a frame composed of either an aluminum alloy or a high-grade steel and be highly resistant to damage. The cheaper lighter- or hollow-steel frames will not hold up under heavy use.
Also know that the bigger/heavier you are and the more you use the scooter, the quicker it will eventually break down. Know what the weight-carrying capacity is on any scooter you are considering buying. Not only does it prevent excessive wear and tear on the scooter if you stay under that maximum weight-carrying capacity, but it also allows you to maximize your scooter’s speed and distance potentials.
When a scooter is labeled as being able to achieve “x” number of mph or “x” miles traveled under one charge, they are using the rider weight to come to that number. Specifically they are looking for you to fall well under that number in order to maximize the stats given.
If you’re looking for a smooth ride, you need to have a great suspension. Are the roads in your neighborhood nice and smooth or are they super bumpy? Again, if you’re wanting to buy a cheap scooter or won’t use it much, you won’t need to worry about suspension. Many electric scooters, especially older models, won’t come with one. A smooth ride will depend entirely then on the type of tires that the scooter has.
Until recently, the only suspension choice was for front single suspension. While that is a big upgrade over no suspension, it’s not the best for a long-term scooter choice.
If you want the smoothest ride possible, go for the dual suspension models. These will do the best possible job of cushioning your knees and back while on the road. This is a definite must if you’re planning on heavy scooter usage.
Let’s also talk about tires here as well. Look for the best pneumatic tires that are also suitable for riding in the conditions you want. Don’t get big fat 10″ tires if you want to go fast, and don’t get the skinny tires if you plan on taking this scooter off-road.
Your braking system is going to be super important for those that live in more urban areas. There are all kinds of brake system options for scooters.
- Number of brakes – 2 brakes are always better than 1, especially if you’re a heavier rider. Having just a front brake could cause you to take a dangerous header over the front of your scooter, and a back brake could always cause you to slide and lose control at higher speeds.
- Band brakes – Avoid if you can. They slow you down but don’t necessarily stop you.
- Disc brakes – This is the best choice, hands down.
Also understand that brakes are designed to stop you when you’re going on a relatively flat road. If you’re riding down an incline then your brakes are going to be very taxed. That’s a quick way to start wearing them down and getting them to a point of being dangerous.
Max Weight Carried
You absolutely must pay attention to the max weight your scooter can carry. If you push the high end of this recommendation, you will not enjoy the same power and ride quality. The lighter capacity models will hold riders up to 225 lbs (100 kg), but the higher capacity scooters can carry a rider up to 375 lbs (170 kg).
If you’re a 250 lb rider on an electric scooter designed to hold no more than 225 pounds, good luck getting up that hill you want to climb. Good luck stopping yourself on the way down it as well.
Drive Chain Type
There are two basic kinds of drive chains:
- Chain Drive – Noisier but more durable. Will need to be changed much less often.
- Belt Drive – Much quieter but could be a danger if you’re too quiet and sneak up on people around campus or a busy street.
With the belt type it all boils down to how silent you want your ride to be. If noise is a critical factor for you, then the belt drive is a must.
How much power do you want? How fast do you want to go? Wattage on electric scooters can very from about 300 watts on a kid’s scooter to upwards of 1,000 watts on a high-performance model.
When it comes to power, though, it all boils down to top speed and its pulling capabilities for hills.
If you don’t live in a hilly area, then you won’t need as much wattage
Speed is not as much of a factor as pulling power. If you live in a hilly area, you’re going to want a higher-wattage scooter capable of pulling you up those hills smoothly and quickly. If that’s your situation, you’ll want at least 750 watts.
You want speed numbers, though, don’t ya? Well, the higher-end models can reach top speeds of up to 40 mph.
In other words, how long does the battery last?
On the low-end side, lead-acid batteries are the oldest and crudest battery you can find in an electric scooter.
Just like every other battery-run device, having a lithium-ion battery gives you the longest lasting ride and fastest charge.
Ultimately what you need to look for is the longest ride time (such as up to 10 miles or more) combined with charging speed (how fast the battery gets back to a full charge).
Keep in mind also that your run time is based on other factors besides the quality of the battery. Other factors include the age of the battery, how heavy the rider is, and whether or not you are going up hills on your commute or not.
Okay, so ultimately this is the limiting factor for most people. While you can get a lower-end scooter for around $300, the cream of the crop can put you back $4,000 or more.
For what the vast majority of people need, you should be able to get a high-quality electric scooter with a powerful motor to get you up some serious hills for less than $600. That may seem like a lot of money, but these scooters can last years and they are much, much cheaper than a car.
When you do get your first electric scooter, make sure that you take the time to get to know how it’s all put together. Maintenance and knowing what to look for when you have a problem are key aspects of keeping your scooter running well for a long time!
Check out our article on electric scooter repairs and maintenance here!
In the end, the most important factors when looking at purchasing your first electric scooter are price, battery life, powering ability, and how you’re intending to use it.