Ten tips for buying an electric scooter
Electric scooters are a lot of fun to ride, and there are many options out there.
How do you pick the one that’s right for you? These tips will help steer you in the right direction.
Taking your scooter on stairs, public transport, or inside? Sometimes you can’t help but carry a scooter. If you are going to be carrying your scooter for more than a few steps, then you are best choosing a lightweight model.
A comparison. An average five-year-old child weighs about 18 kilograms, and while you might not want to carry one all the way to the park, you might be happy to help it up a flight of stairs or two. Think about the routes you’ll take with your scooter and apply the same logic.
Bigger, powerful scooters are great for speed, but they tend to be heavier. It is all about balance. For me, I like the flexibility of an 18-kilogram scooter because I can hoist it onto the bus with me, ride the last leg to my office, then carry it to my desk.
2. Wheel size
Check out the route that you’ll take most regularly on your electric scooter. Is it well-paved and smooth? Or is it bumpy and filled with potholes? Is there gravel or sand? Grass?
For places with bumpy paths, larger wheels are safer and more comfortable to ride. Large wheels also cope better with loose surfaces, such as sand and gravel. If you are mainly going on smooth surfaces or grass, small tyres will cope fine.
3. Tyre types
Electric scooters can come with a few different types of tyres. You can get solid wheel made of rubber, or pneumatic tyres, which are filled with air. There are two types of pneumatic tyres: inner tube, like bicycle tyres; and tubeless, like car tyres.
The big benefit of solid rubber wheels is that they are puncture-proof. If you are likely to encounter broken glass, three-corner jacks, prickles or anything else that might puncture a tyre, a rubber wheel might be what you need.
But unless you are regularly riding through those types of hazards, give solid tyres a miss. If you have ever ridden in an old-fashioned carriage, or pushed a shopping trolley across a carpark, you know it can feel real rattly even on flat surfaces. That’s where air tyres come in.
Pneumatic tyres, the ones filled with air, give you a more comfortable ride. The air in the tyres acts like a cushion. I recommend choosing an air-filled tyre if you can, as you will notice the difference.
What kind of pneumatic tyre is up to you. The ones with an inner tube are the best value option, and the type most commonly used in electric scooters. Although tubeless tyres are more comfortable, they are much more expensive and only found in top models.
4. Motor power
If you are taking your scooter up steep slopes, you need at least a 400 W motor to climb it at a decent speed. In really steep areas, you might need to use your foot to push off and assist the scooter. If you don’t want to do that, you are better getting a motor 600 W or more. The more powerful the motor, the easier you can take your scooter uphill without losing speed or acceleration.
Though it’s not something to worry about, keep in mind that power and wheel size need to be matched. Having a high-power motor with small wheels will result in lots of skidding. That’s why more powerful scooters tend to come with larger tyres.
Prices for electric scooters can range widely, from $250 AUD to well above $4000 AUD. But it’s not just the price, it’s about value. If you’re planning to use your scooter instead of a car, then you are saving heaps on petrol and parking over the long term. Ditto for public transport.
Cost out your monthly expenses for transport and multiply that over a few years, and you might well find an electric scooter will pay for itself. My sister works in the city where parking costs easily $10 a day. That’s $50 a week, and over $2400 a year.
The same logic applies when choosing a model. Choose a reliable brand and a model that is comfortable and powerful enough for your needs, so that you’ll enjoy the rides and be excited to take it out for a spin. The fun side of riding is part of the value too.
This one is easy. Plug in your planned routes into Google Maps and see what distance you need to make it a round trip. That’s the max distance to look for in a scooter. Most scooters will list their max distance or range, though it can by influenced by hills, terrain, and speed. Give yourself some wiggle room.
You can charge scooters at any normal PowerPoint. So, if you are taking your scooter to and from work, or to a friend’s house, you can probably charge it up while you’re there.
A good quality electric scooter and battery should come with a 12-month warranty.
Electric scooters aren’t cheap investments, so you should always go with a brand that provides warranty and after-sales support. For example, all Dash scooters come with a 12-month Australian-backed warranty. It’s just peace of mind.
8. Battery quality
The lithium ion batteries used in e-scooters are pretty expensive to start with, so it is best to go for a good quality battery that will last a long time rather than a cheap one that might fail. Typically, Chinese manufacturers make batteries with half the lifespan compared to batteries made in Korea or Japan.
LG and Panasonic make batteries for e-scooters that come with solid documentation and proven charge cycles. They are both good options when it comes to choosing batteries, as you know exactly what you are getting.
9. After-sales service
Like any piece of equipment, an electric scooter requires regular maintenance – which you can either do at home yourself, through Dash, or a specialty bike shop. Brakes and tyres can wear over time, so look for a brand that can provide parts for replacement. All Dash scooters have this covered.
Once you’ve crunched your numbers and figured out exactly what you need, remember the fun factor. Pick a model that has enough power that it will be fun to zoom up that hill, go for extra comfort if it will help you enjoy a commute more in the mornings.
I am a total geek when it comes to research and tech, and I love reading blogs and making spreadsheets and looking up details. But at the end of the day, what I really love about electric scooters is that they are the funnest way to get from A to B. Is funnest even a word? Maybe it’s thrill, or adventure, or the wind on my face. I don’t know. It’s just fun.
That’s our ten tips for buying an electric scooter. Did we miss anything? If you have a comment or question, post it below.