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How to choose an electric scooter: sorting it out with attention to detail

by IrideEV Team | Last Updated: 6th June 2022
How to choose an electric scooter sorting it out with attention to detail

You have arrived at the most detailed guide to choosing an electric scooter. Here you will learn about the impact of the design on steering in different conditions; understand what is important to you. After reading this article, you will be able to choose your own model like an expert.

The best electric scooter

The “Best electric scooters” or “Top 10 electric scooters this year” selections are designed to highlight trends, not serve as a catalogue. They should not be relied upon as they do not take into account the full range of products available for your lifestyle. For example, such a list often includes the fastest electric scooter of the year, but fails to mention that it only reaches its top speed on a perfectly flat road. Recognized by all magazines as the most reliable electric scooter of the year, it can be unsafe for you personally because of such a trifle as the wrong handlebar height.

All this will be explained in detail below, but here we will focus on the following: it is not necessary on the basis of ratings to buy the most popular, the most compact or the cheapest electric scooter. Which one is best for you should be decided on the basis of a list of parameters. We have divided these parameters into 3 categories: design elements, additional options and technical features.

Design of the electric scooter

The design features affect the user’s (rider’s) comfort. Once you understand them, you will understand how to choose an electric scooter for an adult for the city in which you live.

How to choose an electric scooter: Design of the electric scooter

Frame height and handlebar width

The ideal setting is for the handlebars to be at hip or waist level when standing on the deck. If the handlebar is much lower than your hips, you will experience balance problems and physical discomfort from long rides; if the handlebar is much higher than your hips, manoeuvrability will suffer (the scooter is harder to control).

The width of the handlebar itself is not as important and is dependent upon personal preference. A general recommendation is to choose a handlebar that fits the width of your shoulders. A narrow handlebar makes it easier to do tricks, while a wide handlebar improves stability and for some riders also gives added comfort.

Wheels and tyres

The wheels and tyres are responsible for the cushioning and stability of the electric scooter, but also affect its weight. In order to enjoy the ride and not to injure your body, choose wheels and tyres according to the weather and roads you plan to ride on.

First, pay attention to the size of the wheels. For classic city roads, a diameter of 9 inches or larger is the norm. Wheels larger than 10 inches are more comfortable to ride, but carrying a scooter with these wheels is more difficult. Transport with wheels smaller than 8 inches to ride better for a short time and on smooth roads, such as park alleys and paved paths closed housing estates and cottage communities. And scooters on small wheels are also much more manoeuvrable and easier to slow down and accelerate, making them suitable for indoor and stunt riding.
How to choose an electric scooter: Wheels and tyres

When choosing tyres, keep in mind that it’s not just the level of cushioning that counts, but also the safety of riding in unfavourable road and weather conditions. Even the answer to the question of whether an electric scooter can be ridden in rain or snow will depend to a large extent on the capabilities of the tyres.

There are classic tyres: solid tyres (airless) and pneumatic tyres (filled with air). The former are difficult to damage, but they don’t cushion, so the rider feels vibrations even from hitting a pebble of a couple of millimetres. The latter considerably improve ride quality and increase safety in difficult road and weather conditions, but they are prone to punctures.

Sometimes special advanced tyres are found, such as the patented Segway-Ninebot dual density tyre which combines the properties of an air chamber with the puncture resistance of airless tyres.

Suspension and shock absorbers

In addition to the tyres, a suspension system with shock absorbers on one or two wheels is responsible for the shock absorption. The shock absorber on the front wheel relieves the vibration load of the steering wheel, while the shock absorbers on two wheels make the electric scooter easy to drive, even off-road.

Suspension can be spring or pneumatic. The latter cope better with its tasks. But on the whole, any suspension is better than without it – it softens shocks, absorbs jolts and dampens vibrations. There’s just one “but”: good big air tyres can cushion better than a simple spring suspension with weak cushioning springs. This is something to consider if you’re choosing between an electric scooter with pneumatic tyres and an electric scooter with spring suspension.

You’ll get the most riding comfort from a scooter with pneumatic suspension and pneumatic tyres. They are suitable for both urban and rough terrain. Scooters without pneumatic tyres and without shock absorbers should not be ridden on uneven surfaces, as they are not only uncomfortable, but also bad for the spine. These electric scooters are usually used for stunts or indoors.

The presence of a shock absorber can reduce the possible speed of the device and increase its weight. Unless you’re riding on a cobbled centre of an old town or in the suburbs on unpredictable pavement like cobbles, there’s little reason to opt for an adult scooter with suspension. However, if the road is not perfectly smooth, it is better to at least have cushioned tyres.

How to choose an electric scooter: Electric scooter deck size and weight

Electric scooter deck size and weight

The bigger the deck, the heavier the electric scooter and the easier it is to stand and balance.

A larger deck is good for: 1) people with a poor sense of balance; 2) people who like to change foot position frequently; 3) people who intend to walk long distances.

Smaller decks are suitable for: 1) those who like to do tricks and 2) those who often carry an electric scooter in their hands (on steps, on public transport, etc.). The devices with small decks usually have small wheels, so you are likely to find the most compact and lightest electric scooter among these models. But beware, if the deck is too small for you, you won’t be able to put both feet on it and balance it properly while riding.

Think about how far you will have to carry the scooter at the start or end of a ride – realise that lifting the device requires a certain amount of physical strength. When in doubt, opt for a mid-sized deck and an electric scooter that weighs around 15kg. Models that weigh more than 15kg are more stable on the road, but will require extra effort to move it in your hands (even if you’re rolling it, not carrying it). If you’re not used to carrying heavy loads, you’re better off looking for an electric scooter that weighs 12.5kg or less.

How to choose an electric scooter: Lights and reflectors

Lights and reflectors

The basic need for safety already dictates that the electric scooter must be equipped with headlights and reflectors – so that other road users can see it in the dark.

Do you want to ride in the evening and at night? Check the headlamps carefully:
Reflectors or taillights, which usually shine a red light, protect the rider from nighttime collisions with other road users. If this type of light is on the sides of the stern, it is barely visible to those following the scooter on the road (especially motorists), so to ride safely at night you need reflectors over the wheel at the rear and/or a headlamp that shines directly backwards (without blinding).

The front light is usually white and it is advisable to adjust the height and level of the light, otherwise it will dazzle people walking in the opposite direction.

You can buy an electric scooter without the necessary lighting elements, but then you will have to install them yourself.

Mudguards

Mudguards protect riders from the mess that comes flying out from under the wheels of their electric scooter. But this is often forgotten when buying an electric scooter. As a result, even the most powerful electric scooter is not used in cloudy weather – residents of some cities, where the weather is unpredictable, do not go to work on electric transport – they are afraid to come to the office in dirty trousers. If you live in such a place too, bear in mind that mudguards can protect your clothes from mud flying out from under the wheels – they need to cover at least half of the wheel.

Look for either a model with mudguards as part of the package or one with mudguards that can be fitted.

How to choose an electric scooter: Brakes

Brakes

The brake affects: 1) riding style, 2) possible riding positions and 3) safety. So choosing the right brakes will affect almost everything.

That’s what your brake can be:

  • An electric brake (regenerative) – motor braking;
  • Mechanical brake;
  • Disc system (mechanical or hydraulic) – braking with pads;
  • Drum system – brake pads;
  • Foot brake – rear fender braking;
  • Combination system (disc + drum brake; regenerative brake + auxiliary brake).

The various variations of pad brakes are often referred to by the simple phrase ‘mechanical brake’, although they could be disc mechanics, disc hydraulics, drum brakes or a combination of disc and drum systems. What you need to know is that disc hydraulics allow you to apply the brake lever more easily and brake more smoothly than disc mechanics. However, both mechanical discs and hydraulic discs work fine when braking abruptly, but work less well if the pads get dirty (dirt needs to be removed).

The function of the pads is slightly different in a drum system, so the brake is not affected by dirt, but it can be made worse by braking in an emergency situation (going down a steep hill, for example). To get rid of the disadvantages of both systems, some electric scooters are fitted with 2 types of brake.

Regenerative braking (also known as electric braking) is motor braking. It sends some of the braking energy back to the battery, increasing range. With these brakes, it’s easy to control speed and stop smoothly, but you can’t brake sharply. This is why another braking system is often added to the regenerative brake.

The foot brake is rear fender braking, which requires physical effort and the rider to stay in a special position at all times.

How to choose an electric scooter: Folding

Folding

Not all scooters are foldable. And even if folding is possible, it is implemented in different ways. Depending on the model you choose, it will take either 2 seconds or 20-40 seconds to fold and unfold your electric vehicle. With some models, all you have to do is press a button and lower the handlebar, while others require a little more effort.

If you are looking for an electric scooter for adults in the city, we recommend a model with a folding function. With the scooter folded, you can comfortably climb stairs, go down the underground or into a cafe.

Battery location

The battery is located either inside the deck or on the handlebar. Accordingly, the charging port is also located there.

Some electric scooters have replaceable batteries that can be removed for charging. If the battery is not replaceable, you need to bring the scooter to the socket and use the charging port to charge the battery.

How to choose an electric scooter: Battery location

The location of the battery also affects the manual handling experience. If you pick up the electric scooter by the handlebars, in a model with the battery on the handlebar the underside will seem more mobile – the deck can hit you on the legs if you’re not careful. On the other hand, if you roll such a scooter beside you, it is easier to manoeuvre it. Does it matter to you? It’s up to you to decide.

Dashboard

Electric scooters are most often equipped with a display that shows information about the journey. You need to see speed, charge level and mileage on this display at the same time in order to monitor your ride.

A display that requires you to press buttons to display important indicators makes it difficult to keep track of information about the device and can unfocus your attention.

How to choose an electric scooter: Dashboard

Additional electric scooter features

These features are only implemented in some electric scooters and are considered nice bonuses:

  • Ability to attach a seat;
  • A buzzer included;
  • A mobile app for setting up the device;
  • Brand community (e.g. the Segway-Ninebot app allows you to meet people and Instagram hashtags to find like-minded people);
  • Folding handles;
  • Decorative backlighting;
  • Phone holder;
  • Lock included.

Additional electric scooter features

Technical features of the electric scooter

We are talking about the very features which are most often used to compile filters for online shops. They will help you find what you need and weed out unnecessary items in the shop.

Range

This indicates the distance that the scooter is able to cover, i.e. how many kilometres can be driven on a full battery charge. Keep in mind that this figure is calculated for ideal conditions, but in reality the battery will be affected by various factors (stops, changes in speed, hills in the path, temperature outside, etc.).

Speed

Riding a scooter at more than 30 km/h without equipment is unsafe, and in some places even prohibited. For urban environments, a comfortable speed is up to 20 km/h.

If you are a fan of higher speeds, you should keep an eye out for updates to the road traffic regulations (rules on pavements, roads, cycle paths, etc.).

Nominal power

Motor power affects acceleration speed and ride comfort on hilly terrain.

The standard electric scooter has a 200W to 250W motor, enough power for the average rider who doesn’t regularly ride up hilly terrain. A more powerful motor will enable better climbing ability and also make it easier for heavier riders to accelerate.

Tilt angle (elevation angle)

If the specification states that the climbing angle is 15°, this means that the electric scooter is capable of going uphill at an angle of up to 15°. This point is particularly important for those living in a region with significant elevation.

Charging time

It is advisable to charge the electric scooter no longer than necessary to recharge the battery (avoid overcharging) and via the original charger. Therefore, take the time indicated in the specifications seriously – you will need to adhere to it.

What speed and distance actually mean in the specifications

In order to create a passport for an electric scooter or other forms of personal transport, the devices are tested under near-ideal conditions. This allows the most independent evaluations to be made, as people use their vehicles for different purposes and in different situations.

Let’s find out what the speed and distance ratings mean, whether they can be achieved, and what factors can affect these ratings.

Maximum distance

This is the distance that an electric scooter or other device can travel on a single battery charge. You see a fixed figure in the specification, but in reality it may be different. Here are three factors that can affect the numbers shown on the data sheet.

Maximum speed

This is the threshold to which an electric scooter can accelerate. When you choose a device, you should bear in mind that it is not always possible to approach the threshold in urban conditions. In the city, an electric scooter rarely goes faster than 20 km/h.

There are other nuances as well. For example, the more weight of the passenger with luggage, the more difficult to disperse the device – especially if there is a low-power motor.

Advice!
When buying, be sure to check the maximum recommended weight. Choose one with extra weight – in case you need to travel with a heavy rucksack.

Battery charge level is the second factor that can affect speed. Some models will only reach maximum speed when the battery is at maximum charge. In other cases, manufacturers add a speed limit when the charge level is low. This is done so that the passenger doesn’t fall over if the battery runs out of power abruptly.

The road makes a difference too.

Try to think in advance about how you will use the device

The ratings can and should be used as a guide. They help you to compare models and calculate whether the unit is suitable for your application. But speed and maximum distance are influenced by many factors – it’s impossible to predict them all in advance.

That’s why you shouldn’t choose an electric scooter based on just one characteristic. It’s important to look at all of them together, to see the big picture and to take into account the conditions in which you intend to use the electric scooter.

Bottom line: how to choose an electric scooter?

So many options! How to choose? An electric scooter for the city is the easiest to choose because most models are designed for urban environments. Be guided by design features that fit your lifestyle perfectly.

An electric scooter for the countryside is usually the one with the longest range and good cushioning. If the region is elevated, pay particular attention to incline angle and motor power.