A comprehensive guide to buying an electric scooterMay 8th 2019
Electric scooters are offering people a way to travel five times quicker than walking while being environmentally friendly, fun and very low cost. Unlike a bicycle, you’re not sweaty when you arrive!
Speed, size, weight, range, reliability and cost are just a few of the factors you need to take into account before you buy an e-scooter. In this guide we have tried to help you understand what’s important to ensure that you pick the best electric scooter for you.
We purchase the best e-scooters across the world and rigorously test them to find out what’s good and bad about each one. We then listen to our customers feedback to ensure we continue to only sell the best e-scooters.
UPDATE: We now have a 'Help Me Choose' tool which will recommend the best electric scooter for you.
Quality of ride: The ride quality of some e-scooters is so bad that they can’t be ridden for more than 1 mile on anything less than a perfect surface. These e-scooters look great on a web page, but many people stop using them because they are ‘bone shakers’.
There are 3 main factors that affect the ride quality:
- Wheel size: We strongly suggest you avoid wheels less than 8 inches diameter. Smaller wheels give a rougher ride and are more susceptible to getting stuck in potholes.
- Solid or air-filled tyres: Air-filled tyres definitely give you a better ride. We strongly recommend that you use a puncture protection fluid (see accessories we recommend) as it's not easy to mend punctures. Scooter tyres are much more difficult to get on and off than bicycle tyres, which does make fixing punctures far harder. Solid tyres offer a solution to punctures if you are regularly riding where there is a lot of glass, thorns or nails.
- Suspension: A nice idea, but it only takes out the jarring from the biggest bumps. A scooter with large, air-filled tyres without suspension will give a smoother ride than a scooter with suspension, but with solid tyres and small wheels.
As a rule, you need large wheels with air in your tyres OR you need suspension. If you are going to do a lot of off road, you will need fat treaded tyres.
Speed: The speed is determined by the motor power, 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 using a flat, smooth surface with correctly inflated tyres. Our advice is don’t chase maximum speed. A speed of about 15mph is ideal. Average walking speed is 4mph, average car speed in London is 7mph and average bicycle speed for commuters is 14mph. Road gradient and rider weight will affect the speed at which your scooter can travel; on steep hills, the heavier you are, the slower you will go.
Brakes: Your safety should always come first, and brakes are important when picking an electric scooter.
There are 3 main types of brakes on electric scooters:
- Electric brakes: Low maintenance but less effective at stopping you quickly.
- Disc brakes and drum brakes: The best of all but will wear out over time. They will eventually need to be serviced, just like a car.
- Foot brakes: Require you to stand on the rear mud guard. Unless you are used to using a kid’s scooter, this takes time to master.
Range: It is important to note that the manufacturers' quoted ranges for electric scooters are generally best-case examples. Most are based on a light person (70kg) riding on smooth, flat, straight road, with a new battery. Be aware that cheaper scooters have cheaper batteries and the amount of charge they can hold diminishes with every charge.
Build Quality: Most scooters are made in China. Chinese manufacturers produce some very high-quality products (like the iPhone), but they also produce some absolute rubbish. Some electric scooters look cheap and ‘plasticky’. While the electric scooter industry is in its infancy, it is wise to stick to the bigger, more reputable companies.
Reliability: Electric scooters are still a relatively new product category. Our advice is to stick to the large manufacturers. We have heard of some electric scooter manufactures who have had up to 30% with faults (obviously we would not stock these products).
Two main factors need to be considered:
- Will the company be around in the future to honour it? Going with established companies should give you peace of mind.
- If you need to use your warranty, where will you need to send your electric scooter? We have heard horror stories of people having a minor fault and needing to send their scooter back to China to be fixed. This has taken months and cost a lot of money. We suggest you only purchase a UK spec scooter, covered by a UK warranty.
- Fakes and cheap Chinese imports: There are a lot of cheap scooters being imported from China. These often look the part, but cut quality (cheap wheel bearings, battery problems, etc). This results in the scooter failing to operate as it should. The Xiaomi M365 is currently the world’s top selling electric scooter but there are also high volumes of fake versions that look very, very similar. The fakes are hard to spot when purchasing online, but the quality received tends to be terrible. You should only buy from trusted UK suppliers using UK stock.
Size: We recommend people consider whether the scooter is the right size for them while riding, and if it is small enough to store conveniently when folded down. Most scooters fold down to make them small enough to store at home, in the car or under the desk.
Some things to consider:
- Bar height and width
- Deck size
- Fold down size
‘Cool’ factor: Some manufacturers have cut costs by borrowing reliable and cheap components from bicycles, and it shows! This does not affect the functionality of the electric scooter, but they do look like home-made devices. Whilst for some people the look and style of the e-scooter may be unimportant, for others it is a priority.
Weight of scooter: It is important to consider how far you might have to carry your scooter at the beginning or end of your journey. Most electric scooters on the market weigh around 15kg, some a bit more, and some a bit less. If you are not so strong, we would suggest you go for one weighing 12.5kg or less.
Maximum Load: Not all electric scooters are built to carry the same load and you should factor this in to your decision making. Scooters designed for Europe tend to have a maximum load of 100kg. A lot of people who weigh over 100kg ride these scooters every day. However, you must be warned that this can invalidate your warranty and could be dangerous.
Lights: Some electric scooters have built-in lights, some have reflectors. It is an easy upgrade to put state-of-the-art bicycle lights on your scooter if you are going to do a lot of night riding.
Noise: Some e-scooters make a loud annoying whistling noise from the motor when being ridden (this can be hard to spot in pictures!). We know people who have stopped using their selected electric scooter due to embarrassment caused by the level of noise it makes.
Accessories we recommend
- Helmet: your electric scooter will be going as fast as a bicycle, so we strongly recommend wearing a helmet at all times.
- Lock: your electric scooter is a valuable item and having a small portable lock will ensure its safety.
- Phone holder: allows you to concentrate on riding and the roads – so you’re not holding your phone. Also, very useful too if you need to use maps!
- Puncture protection fluid: if you have air-filled tyres it is worth using puncture protection fluid to reduce risk of punctures.
- Lights: extra lights can be attached to your e-scooter for safer night riding and visibility.
Cost: In addition to the advertised retail price of your chosen e-scooter, there are a number of cost factors to consider:
- Finance available: finance options may make your e-scooter of choice more affordable by spreading the payments across a period of time.
- Import duty: a few companies are currently quoting very low prices for electric scooters, but they are not being transparent with the total costs. There have been cases where the seemingly cheap e-scooter has gotten stuck in UK customs and the customer has had to pay around 30% of purchase cost (in VAT and import Tax) before receiving their product.
- Postage: some reputable retailers offer free delivery, but this is not always the case and postage can be very expensive. Postage is not always listed on product pages, be sure to check carefully!
Why Pure Electric: We are a UK based scooter specialist providing independent advice on a range of what we believe to be the best available scooters. We can sell any electric scooter model and don’t make our own, so we only recommend the top products to ensure you get the best electric scooter for you! Unlike some UK based retailers, we hold stock and offer next day delivery, so you won’t have to wait 30 days to receive your purchase. We also offer a number of finance options in the UK to help spread the cost of your purchase. We have a team of industry experts dedicated to providing you with the best advice, best products, best service and best value.