What's the Best Electric Scooter for you? Here's the ultimate buying guide from the e-scooter Connoisseur
Electric cars were introduced to the world only a few years ago and it finally felt like we were starting to get the technology that Back To The Future promised us. Electric bikes quickly followed and now it’s the scooter’s turn and it’s having a far bigger impact than anyone might have expected. These simple but game-changing devices let us travel five times quicker than walking, yet manage to be environmentally friendly, fun to use, low cost – and, unlike bikes, electric scooters are far easier to store and are so efficient you’ll never break a sweat.
Although electric scooters are a pretty recent thing, there are already a lot of options out there. Speed, size, weight, range, reliability and cost are just a few of the choices you’ll face before you buy an e-scooter. This guide will clear the clutter and help you understand what’s important, so you’ll remain happy with your electric scooter long after your first ride.
We constantly search and source the best e-scooters across the world, and rigorously test them to find out what’s good and bad about each and every one. We also listen to our customers’ feedback so we can deliver the products and services you want.
Think of us as your electric scooter personal shopper.
Quality of ride
The main thing most people don’t understand before riding electric scooters is that the ride quality can vary considerably. Many electric scooters have some nifty tech to give you a comfortable, smooth ride.
There are three main factors that affect ride quality:
- Wheel size: Bigger wheels help give a smoother ride because they cope with little bumps, holes and small objects, like sticks and stones, better. We suggest you avoid wheels of less than 8 inches as they’ll struggle with potholes and you could come to a messy stop when you try riding over even the smallest pebble.
- Solid or Air-filled tyres: Air-filled tyres definitely give you a better ride as their softness absorbs bumps. It’s not easy to mend a puncture on scooter tyres,
SpeedIt’s tempting to look for high top-speeds, but most people really don’t need more than 15mph which is the max for most e-scooters. Anything faster starts to get a bit hairy on those small wheels in that narrow-stance standing position. The speed is determined by the motor power (not just battery size), rider weight, how hard you pump up your tyres and the surface you ride on. The quoted speeds are generally based on a 70kg person on a flat, smooth surface, with the tyres correctly inflated.
The average walking speed is 4 mph / 6.5 kph. In cities, the average car speed is around 7 mph / 12 kph and average commuter bicycle is 14 mph / 22 kph. Road gradient will affect the speed at which your scooter can travel. On steep uphills, the heavier you are, the slower you will go.
BrakesYou should be able to stop quicker than you can go, so brakes are vital when picking an electric scooter. There are 3 main types of brakes on a scooter:
- Disc brakes and Drum Brakes: The best of all but will wear out over time with heavy usage. They will eventually need to be serviced, just like a bicycle.
- Electric brakes: Low maintenance but less effective at stopping you quickly
- Foot brakes: Require you to stand on the rear mudguard. Unless you are used to using a kid’s scooter, this takes a little time to master.
Manufacturers’ quoted ranges for electric scooters are generally best-case examples. Most are based on a 70kg person riding on a smooth, flat, straight road and with a new battery. Be aware that cheaper scooters have cheaper batteries and the amount of charge they can hold diminishes with every charge. Electric Scooter riders don’t have the same ‘range anxiety’ as electric car drivers – simply because scooters cover shorter distances, they can easily be plugged into any mains supply for a top up and if you do run out of juice, you can still use your electric scooter like a regular scooter and make it home with some old fashioned push power.
Some electric scooters are beautifully designed, while others can look cheap and ‘plasticky’. While the electric scooter industry is in its infancy, we recommend you don’t cut corners and stick to sellers with a proven reputation and a good warranty. Here at Swegwayfun, we sell the best brands from all over the World, with stock based in the UK and with up to 2-year manufacturer backed UK warranties.
ReliabilityElectric scooters are still a relatively new product category. We’ve heard of some electric scooter manufacturers who have had up to 30% of their scooters suffer faults –Swegwayfun don’t stock these brands.
Two main factors need to be considered:
- Warranty: Consider if the brand looks like it’ll be around in the future to honour a warranty. Going with established companies should give you peace of mind. Also, check where you would need to send a faulty scooter to get repairs done – many other retailers require the scooter to be sent to manufacturers overseas which can take between 4-8 weeks. Swegwayfun sells stock from our warehouse here in the UK, and with a UK warranty.
- Fakes and cheap Chinese imports: There are a lot of cheap scooters being imported from China that look great, perhaps even exactly the same as popular models – but they are not well made. Many have battery problems, loose cable connections, noisy electric motors, bad wheel bearings and terrible construction. The Xiaomi M365 is currently the World’s top selling electric scooter but there are also high volumes of fake versions which are hard to identify on a web page. You should only buy from a trusted retailer with domestic products.
SizeMost scooters are one-size-fits-all, though some have adjustable handle-bar height, and a few have wider foot plates than others. You should consider if the scooter is the right size for you while riding as well as how small it will be once folded down to store conveniently (at home, in the car, under the desk, etc..). Some things to consider are:
- Bar height and width
- Deck size
- Fold down size / collapsible handlebars
Style and looks/Cool factorSome scooters look pretty stunning – very simple lines, a little futuristic even. Others look like they’ve borrowed their looks and mechanics from a bicycle. This decision is all yours. What suits you?
Weight of scooterMost electric scooters on the market weigh around 15kg; some a bit more and some a bit less. It’s important to consider how far you might have to carry your scooter at the beginning/end of your journey. If you are not so strong, we would suggest you go for one weighing 12.5kg or less.
Maximum LoadFor the heavier scooter riders among us, we need to factor a few things in mind before buying an e-scooter.
When manufacturers quote speed and range, it’s typically based on a 70Kg rider - but, that’s not to say you can’t ride an electric scooter if you’re heavier - far from it in fact.
Like most of our electric scooters, the Tracer and Ninebot Segway ES2 will still be able to carry a rider of 110-120kg, but it will be slightly slower uphill (so you may need to give a leg push every now and again) and the range will be reduced since the battery will be working harder. Some of our other scooters, including the Ninebot Segway ES4, have been built to take heavier riders thanks to their superior build quality and more powerful battery.
So with a little compromise on acceleration, uphill speed and range most of us can enjoy the benefits of an electric scooter. Please bear in mind that if you’re over the manufacturer’s maximum recommended weight and any issues arise, the warranty could become void.
LightsSome electric scooters have built-in lights, others have reflectors. It’s an easy upgrade to put state-of-the-art bicycle lights on your scooter if you’re going to do a lot of night riding. Bearing in mind the back of a scooter is naturally very low to the ground, it’s a good idea to get tail lights which can fit on the back of a helmet, so you don’t disappear like a ninja in the night.
NoiseNot all electric motors are made equal – some e-scooters make a loud, annoying whistling noise from the motor when being ridden. We know people who have stopped using their electric scooter due to the stares they get! Needless to say, we don’t stock these scooters. We’ve rated each scooter with a volume score, where 1 - whisper quiet like a Rolls Royce to 5 – a referee’s whistle!
CostThere are a number of cost factors – good and bad - which could affect how much and how you pay for your new e-scooter:
- Finance available: Swegwayfun offer a number of finance options in the UK with Klarna and Paypal.
- Spread the cost over 3, interest-free equal payments
- Will not affect your credit rating
- Minimum spend of £35, Maximum spend of £800 for first time users and £1,000 for existing Klarna customers.