Tired of sharing your ride and ready to purchase your own e-scooter? Read through these tips before you permanently ditch the app and reach for your wallet. Just remember that how you plan on scootering about will determine a lot of pre-purchase considerations, like price, storage, and even helmet type.
Although there is a multitude of e-scooter companies manufacturing a wide range of models, like any consumable product, prices vary based on features. For example, sub-$300 motorized scooters like the Razor E300 will fulfill your basic transportation needs. But if you have more than a few Benjamins lying around, you can opt for the Range Rover of e-scooters, like Works Electric’s Hollyburn P5. All-terrain, two-wheeled domination will cost you $6,300—to start.
If e-scootering is part of your daily commute, especially one where you use other modes of transportation (e.g., subway, shared rides, stairs), an easy-to-carry option might serve you better than a hulking heavyweight. Commuter scooters weigh roughly 20 to 30 lbs., but more powerful and feature-laden models will invariably weigh much more.
Ride-share companies post their weight limits at 250 lbs. Lower-priced electric scooters may have sub-200-lbs. load limits and can be a great power-to-weight ratio option for petite riders. On average, though, most scooters range from 220 to 260 lbs. for rider-plus-gear maximum loads. Only a handful offer higher limits, like the Swagtron Swagger 5, which tops out at 320 lbs.
Time and Range
Both charge time and travel range are important and related factors. Based on the battery pack size, charging can take anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight. Ride-share e-scooters have a single-charge range of up to 20 miles, but personal-use versions can travel twice (or half) as far. Alternately, keep in mind that you can ride for roughly 30 to 40 minutes of continuous use until a recharge.
Depending on your needs and where you’re commuting, speed may be important. In a busy city with a lot of stop-and-go traffic, your acceleration time probably carries less importance than range. But if in the ‘burbs where there is a greater distance between stops and possibly wider bike lanes, speed could be a nice perk.
Ride-shares are capped at 15 mph, which is about where commuter e-scooters max out as well. Most don’t have top speeds beyond 18 mph, but some like the Dualtron Ultra can hit 50 mph. At that point, though, wouldn’t you rather ride in something with, I don’t know, airbags?
Ride-share companies use suppliers like Okai and Ninebot for their e-scooters, which have a powerband of 200 and 300 watts, respectively. Your experience and travel route should further help you decide just how much power you need. More go for steeper hills or less so for mostly flat surfaces. But, of course, there’s the 5400-watt Thunder electric monster from who else? Dualtron.
At some point, you’re going to want to stop. Unlike automobiles, e-scooters come with an assortment of brakes and sometimes are equipped with more than one kind. Electric and regenerative brakes coupled with foot brakes are common on ride-share models, but also considered the weakest for stopping power. Performance scooters will utilize drum or disc brakes (like a car) and high-end scooters may be paired with ABS.
Generally, this category will be determined for you as all but the low-cost models are outfitted with pneumatic (air-filled) tires. These offer better shock absorption and traction, which translates to a more comfortable ride. But like standard vehicle tires, they can be punctured and require maintenance. Airless tires, like the ones on old-school kick scooters, are inferior in the ride-and-handling category but require almost zero maintenance.
This is directly impacted by weight, but also playing a role is whether the scooter can be folded down and if a carrying case or strap is included. If commuting finds you in crowded areas like on a bus or train, the ability to minimize your space footprint will be welcomed by fellow commuters. Ask the guy who brought his bicycle onto the subway how many scowls he gets.
Also, if you travel at night, make sure your scooter is equipped with lights, whether they be functional (brakes) or design (decorative). Reflective trim also helps. If staying within a budget, you can shop around for more affordable aftermarket add-ons.
Finally, take a test ride! Just like anything you’ll use on a daily basis, whether a car, laptop, or phone, how the e-scooter feels and operates is a personal choice. The price and features may be right but, for example, if the handlebars and steering are a major dislike, keep shopping. Because at the end of the day, if you’re not enjoying riding or feel safe, chances are you won’t be happy about your purchase either.