By now, most everyone has either been an e scooter rider or has seen adults riding electric kick scooters if they haven’t ridden one themselves.
Scooters have shed their association with kids toys and can be considered viable alternatives to most local transportation, be it public transit or the daily drive to work.
But we already had a viable alternative to the subway and the car – the bike, which in recent years has transformed from the conventional bike into the e bike, combining pedal power with the expansive storage capacity of the lithium-ion battery.
So why ride an electric scooter instead?
The popularity of scooters, both shared and owned, in bike lanes, sidewalks, and city streets shows that millions of people have their reasons, and we'll look at just a few of them.
But we have to give hugely popular electric bikes due consideration as well: for many people who want to get out of the car, an electric bike just might make more sense.
Let’s dig into the pros and cons of scooters vs bikes and by the end of this comparison, you should have a good idea which mode of transportation might suit you best.
Electric Scooters vs. Electric Bikes
Both e bikes and e scooters use some similar mechanisms to drive them forward: a large-capacity battery transfers power to a small, powerful electric motor embedded in one or both wheel hubs.
Riders on e scooters use a throttle control to increase the power and accelerate, whereas many e bikes kick in the electric motor assist automatically as the rider pedals.
E scooter brakes can be electric and regenerative (which means they transfer a small amount of power back to the battery), as well as mechanical or hydraulic (disc or drum brakes on e scooters).
Small, large-capacity batteries (usually lithium-ion) and small, powerful electric motor technologies are relatively new, and so electric scooters and electric bikes have grown up together, so to speak, and might be thought of as having reached a similar stage of development.
Both electric bikes and electric scooters will both get you where you need to go many times faster than walking, and usually even faster than driving in major cities since they can skirt around traffic snarls.
How Do You Know Which to Choose?
Despite some basic similarities in operation and electrical components, electric scooters and e bikes are different enough to warrant serious thought about which one to ride if you're wanting to ditch the gas engine for a personal electric vehicle.
Is public transport part of your commute, or could it be? Are you hoping to get some exercise on your everyday commutes or do you want to keep your outfit looking fresh? How much are you willing to spend? Do you need to carry kids and cargo or do you travel light and solo?
We'll look at these questions below in our discussion of electric scooter vs electric bike.
For the purposes of this comparison, we’ll define e scooters as electric stand-up kick scooters and electric bikes as pedal assist bikes: electric bicycles with a manual drive train in addition to a hub motor.
Cost of E-scooter vs. E-bike
Maybe the first question to cross anyone's mind when they think about a new mode of transportation is: "How much will this cost me?" There isn't a simple answer, given the range of costs involved.
The average electric scooter can be priced from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. But on the lower end, you can purchase a quality entry level electric scooter for around $500.
Simply because of their larger size and increased material costs, even conventional bikes have a higher price floor than scooters. A good conventional bike will start at around $1000 for a reliable entry level model.
A good electric bike can cost anywhere from $1200 to $10,000, depending on the brand and size of the bike, frame materials, the battery, and the motor.
If you’re buying a large cargo bike or lightweight electric road bike, you can expect to spend at least $2000 minimum on a quality product, and that’s usually for a base model. Consider that a comparable lightweight electric scooter might only set you back about half that much, and you’re looking at a very different level of investment.
Electric scooters can cost hundreds less than e bikes at the entry level, but at the midrange, their prices are comparable. At the higher end, electric bikes are much more expensive than comparable electric scooters.
Comfort, Speed, and Range
When it comes to comfort, electric bikes have an advantage. Electric bikes offer a smoother ride, as the rider can sit down and pedal, and larger wheels and tires mean bikes can glide over most road bumps.
Standing e scooters can be very comfortable, however, and many have pneumatic tires and spring or hydraulic suspension systems to dampen vibration and provide a smooth ride. It’s just typically easier to sit for longer rides.
When it comes to speed, it can be a toss up. Most commuter e bikes have a maximum speed of 20-30 mph. Similarly priced scooters can reach speeds of up to 40-50 mph, though it's rarely safe or legal to ride that fast. The speed limit for electric scooters in most places is under 20 mph.
Range is generally better for e-bikes, as they have larger batteries and can travel farther on a single charge, and pedal assist e bikes depend on human power as well as electric and can still take you home if the battery dies.
However, electric scooters are an excellent option for those looking for a quick and easy way to get around. They are more maneuverable in tight spaces and can be easier to park. Plus, as we noted, they are often more affordable than electric bikes.
E bikes are generally a more comfortable ride and are better for longer distances. Electric scooters are best for shorter trips and can easily beat city streets with their maneuverability and high speeds. E scooters are the better choice for city traffic.
The new Apollo Phantom 2023 (V3) folded
It might be harder to carry groceries on an electric scooter, but it’s got a definite advantage when it comes to carrying the vehicle itself.
Most electric scooters are smaller and, often, lighter than electric bikes, and most have folding and/or telescoping stems and/or folding handlebars to bring them down to more manageable size.
While you can buy a folding electric bike, most recommended e bikes don't fold and those that do cannot beat the footprint of a compact electric scooter.
Weight is also a significant factor. A lightweight, portable electric scooter like the Apollo Air might weigh between 30 and 40 lbs. A comparable electric bike might weigh up to 60 lbs or more, depending on factors like on- or off-road tires, frame materials, and level of drivetrain and braking components specced for the bike.
Portability is important for several reasons, especially if you rely on an electric scooter as your primary commuter vehicle. For one thing, you can always fold up your e scooter and throw in the trunk of a car share or on the bus or subway if you get caught in a rainstorm.
You can also bring your scooter inside with you, in most cases, and keep it warm and dry in the office and at home, letting it charge while you go about your day.
Being able to carry an electric scooter inside presents a huge advantage when it comes to security. Electric bike adoption is massively on the rise, but so too is electric bike theft.
It can be challenging to secure an expensive electric vehicle against all the ways thieves have devised to thwart standard bike locks.
Of course, you can't always bring your scooter inside with you, and when you need to leave it outside, you'll also need to lock it up and protect it against theft.
A few scooters have easily removable, lockable batteries, but most do not, while many electric bikes have batteries that can be locked while on the bike and removed and charged while off the bike.
Most electric scooters will be easier to carry and store than the average electric bike.
Maintenance & Repairs
The question of maintenance is a big one, especially if you're not the most mechanically inclined person and don't want to do any hands-on work yourself. If that's the case you'll need to find a reputable mechanic to service your electric vehicle.
Since electric bikes are now routinely sold at bike shops, they are also routinely serviced there. But electric scooters are a different story.
Electric scooters require less maintenance than electric bikes, as long as you buy a decent one and use it as it is intended. However, if something does go wrong, you may be hard-pressed to find an electric scooter mechanic in your area.
Electric scooters don’t require you to regularly change gears, clean the drivetrain, and lube the chain, like a regular bike will.
Apart from the occasional brake check, brake pad replacement, battery charging and care, checking the tires for air pressure, and fixing the rare flat, you'll be okay.
Just like makers of e bikes, scooter manufacturers will offer warranty service on most major parts.
Still, electric scooter riders should prepare to occasionally be without their scooter for whatever repair work needs to be done, and that can be a real pain if it’s your primary form of transportation. It is important to always consider insurance for your electric scooter or electric bike.
While electric bikes require more regular maintenance scooters, they can be serviced and repaired at most local bike shops. Electric scooter repair shops are harder to find and you might have to ship your scooter to have it serviced.
The new Apollo Pro, the world’s first hyper scooter
Electric scooters vs electric bikes - Conclusion
Electric bikes are great for riders who want more exercise, who live in cities with lots of bike lanes, bike paths, and bicycle areas, and want to go on longer excursions than the average electric scooter can take.
That said, as we noted, the technology is evolving and electric scooters are getting faster and more efficient. The new Apollo Pro, for example, the first "hyper scooter," will compete with most electric bikes in terms of range and speed, and it may be one of the most comfortable standing electric scooters on the market.
If your transportation needs include commuting through city traffic, if you're concerned about portability and want a vehicle you can fold up, and if you tend to take shorter rides and don't want to pedal, you should really consider riding an electric scooter.
There are many reasons to ride an electric bike, but when it comes to personal electric vehicles that maximize ease of use and portability and save you the most time and money on maintenance and repairs, electric scooters are the way to go.
What are the key differences between an electric scooter and an electric bike?
Despite some operational and component similarities, electric scooters and e-bikes vary in several ways.
Electric scooters are more compact, often lighter, and typically less expensive. They're also more maneuverable in tight spaces and easier to carry and store. On the other hand, electric bikes offer a smoother ride, are better for longer distances, and have a larger range due to bigger batteries.
How does the cost of electric scooters compare to electric bikes?
On average, electric scooters are less expensive than electric bikes. You can purchase a quality entry-level electric scooter for around $500, whereas a reliable entry-level electric bike starts at around $1000.
However, at the mid-range and higher end, the prices become comparable, and electric bikes can become much more expensive than electric scooters.
How does portability compare between electric scooters and electric bikes?
Electric scooters generally have a portability advantage. They are smaller, often lighter, and many models have folding features, making them easier to carry and store.
Electric bikes, especially those that don't fold, can't match the compact size of a scooter. Moreover, the ability to bring an electric scooter indoors can offer significant security benefits against theft.
Maintenance of electric scooters vs. electric bikes
Electric scooters usually require less maintenance than electric bikes, provided you use them as intended. However, if repairs are needed, finding a local electric scooter mechanic can be challenging.
On the other hand, while electric bikes require more regular maintenance, they can be serviced at most local bike shops.