If you live in a city with lots of hills, buying an electric scooter presents a little bit of a challenge. You need to understand the climbing abilities of different kinds of scooters, so you can get a scooter that climbs efficiently without slowing to a crawl or draining the battery.
Furthermore, what goes uphill must come down the other side, so you’ll want to think about scooter safety on steep descents, where braking, traction, and suspension come into play more than they do on flat ground.
But can’t most electric scooters climb hills? Do you have to buy an expensive, high-powered scooter to do the job? How much power, exactly, do you need (and how much $ do you have to spend)?
In this post, we’ll look at selecting an electric scooter for hilly cities, the importance of motor power in navigating uphill slopes, understanding battery life and range for extended travel in hilly areas, and safety features to look for in electric scooters for riding in cities with lots of elevation.
Along the way, we’ll try to answer all your questions about riding scooters in hilly terrain.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Electric Scooter for Hilly Cities
What do you need to know about electric scooters to choose the best hill-climbing scooter for you? The first thing to consider is the scooter’s motor power: whether it produces enough rotational force – or torque – to drive both the scooter and rider’s weight uphill at a reasonable speed.
Motor power is expressed in Watts, and electric scooters generally have anywhere between 350 Watts of power to more than 6,000 Watts. The vast difference between these numbers hints at the differences in power between single motor and dual motor scooters, which we’ll discuss more below.
Motor Power and Torque
As we’ve noted, electric scooter motor power is rated in Watts, but a motor’s torque, usually measured in Newton-Meters, is rarely given. So, how many Watts do you need for a good hill climbing scooter?
There are typically two numbers given with a scooter’s motor: continuous, or nominal, power and peak power. A 450W scooter motor might have 600W of peak power or it might have 1000W, meaning it can generate much more torque under high load for a short period of time.
Electric scooter motors with higher peak power output will generally produce more speed and power for climbing hills.
Single Motor or Dual Motor Scooter?
If you’re considering a single-motor scooter, whether the motor is mounted in the front or the rear, you’ll want a bare minimum of 1000W peak power for climbing hills. Ideally, around 1000W continuous power is better for single motor scooters in very hilly cities.
And if one high-powered motor is good for climbing hills, isn’t two even better? The answer is yes! Dual motor scooters generate twice the power with a motor in each wheel, and they are more efficient because the rider’s weight is evenly distributed between the two motors.
The two motors are usually matched in terms of power output, so a scooter with 450W motors and 1000W of peak power would have a total power output of 900 continuous Watts and 2000 Watts of peak output.
Dual motor scooters cost more, on average, than their single-motor counterparts, but they’re worth the added expense, especially if you live in a hilly city or a mountainous area and don’t want frequent slowdowns on your commute.
A single motor scooter will often quickly max out its speed and acceleration when it encounters a hill steeper than a 10% grade, leaving you chugging uphill at analogue bike speeds. If you’re riding in car traffic, this can not only be embarrassing, but it can also be unsafe!
If you’re choosing between a single motor or dual motor scooter – for example, between the Apollo City Single and the Apollo City Pro Dual Motor – and you live in a hilly area, consider going with two motors over one. You won’t regret having an additional motor up front for faster speeds on hills and flats.
Battery Life and Range in Hilly Areas
There are few things that can drain the battery of your electric scooter more quickly than pushing its motor to extremes, whether that means exceeding the scooter’s weight limit or trying to race or climb steep hills with a scooter that isn’t designed for it.
Not only can you overheat or otherwise damage your scooter’s motor, but you can shorten the battery’s overall lifespan with rapid discharges and more frequent charging cycles.
Scooters with powerful motors for climbing hills should also have large, powerful batteries with plenty of power for longer-range rides over hilly terrain. The best hill climbing scooters have energy-dense batteries that can hold a lot of power.
High-powered, dual-motor electric scooters like the Apollo Phantom V3 and Apollo Pro 2023 have large batteries for longer ranges and high speeds. The Apollo Pro’s in particular is one of the best in the industry, a Samsung-made battery with energy-dense 21700 cells and a second-to-none battery management system (BMS) that conserves power and extends range and overall battery life.
Safety Features: Braking and Suspension Requirements for Hills
Descending steep hills on your electric scooter can be a thrilling experience, but it can also be a harrowing one if you don’t have reliable brakes or a suspension system to stabilize your ride. Make sure you can slow down and stop safely and comfortably.
Braking on Descents
Regenerative braking is great for slowing your scooter down and stopping on the flats. But for descents, you’ll want additional brakes, whether mechanical or hydraulic, to firmly bring you to a stop without throwing you over the handlebars.
Mechanical disc brakes have very good stopping power, and hydraulic disc brakes can usually be operated with only one of two fingers because they are so powerful. But frequent descents also means a lot of wear on brake pads, and frequent brake adjustments to keep rotors true and pads aligned.
Drum brakes have a little less stopping power than disc brakes, but they have one key advantage: they last more or less forever without needing replacement parts, and they only require minor adjustments over their lifetime.
Several Apollo scooters, including the City Pro, Air, Apollo Pro, and the new Apollo Go use an efficient, durable, reliable, maintenance-free combination of regenerative braking and drum brakes for smooth, confident braking.
Descending hills can also cause your scooter to bottom out or lose stability unless you have a good suspension system to absorb the impacts of gravity as you go, and cushion the forces pushing against you when you pull on the brakes.
You might think of a suspension system as something meant only for potholes, rocks, or curbs, but suspension also acts as a stabilizer, making steering and handling far easier under more extreme riding conditions, such as steep descents, sharp corning, and riding at high speeds.
Ideally, you should choose a scooter with a dual suspension system for hilly terrain, as you’ll be exerting extra force on both the front and rear of the scooter as you climb and descend hills frequently.
There are dozens of scooter models out there promising good hill climbing ability. As an informed consumer, you need to know the basics: does the scooter have sufficient motor power for climbing hills? Does it have enough battery and braking power for your needs? And do you need a single or dual motor scooter for the hills in your area?
Ultimately, the decision will come down to a balance between budget and best performance. Apollo scooters offer something for nearly everyone, with dual and single motor scooters that are all great at climbing hills while also standing up to tough terrain and keeping riders safe and comfortable.