When it comes to buying an electric scooter, there’s no “one-size-fits-all”. Just like with cars, or bikes, there are a variety of different choices based on your intents and purposes, not to mention just personal preferences. So how do you know what to look for, and choose the right one for you?
Well get your pencils and notebooks out, because we’re going to answer: The Top 5 Most Asked Questions Before Buying An Electric Scooter!
1: Which scooter is right for me?
It’s an age-old question: which scooter is right for me? Well, as old as electric scooters are anyway. First, figure out what your needs are.
Are you looking for a fun toy to escape on during weekends? A power-commuter to get you to the office and back while keeping up with traffic? Or maybe an ultra-light portable scooter to throw in the back of your car, or take with you on the metro to finish that last leg of your trip.
This is a question that only you can answer, but it’s important to narrow this down in the beginning so you know what category of scooter you’re looking for.
Typically the categories are as follows:
There’s your budget electric scooters, which are mostly the smallest and lightest scooters, and can cost up to $500USD on average. These scooters are compact, and light, with minimal features and specs. These scooters are great for fun joy-rides around the block, or just as a back-up option for short rides. But they typically won’t take you very far, or carry you very fast, and are best used on smooth flat ground.
Then there’s your mid-tier category, which ranges from higher-end entry-level scooters, to power-commuters, and can even start to hit the threshold of beginner performance scooters.
These scooters are slightly bigger, with more range and speed, while still being relatively portable. They can cost anywhere from $500USD to $1500 and you can expect more features like suspension, better brakes, and bigger batteries and motors.
Lastly, there’s the high-end performance “hyper” scooters. Scooters in this category will cost around $1500USD on the low end, and can get as high as $3000 or more! If you’re considering this category of scooter, you’re probably already a scooter tech-head or experienced with personal motor vehicles and want the best.
2: What’s the difference between braking systems?
Drums or discs? What about hydraulics? How do you know which braking system is best? Well there’s no clear cut answer.
Drum brakes are the basics, typically found on budget scooters, or slower commuter scooters. They may even offer dual-drum brakes. Drum brakes are great as they require little to no maintenance, and will almost never lose braking strength.
Then we move on to disc brakes, which can be broken down into two categories: mechanical or hydraulic.
Mechanical disc brakes are cheaper than hydraulics and are perfectly suitable for most scooters in the mid-tier.
Functionally, there’s not much difference between the two, however hydraulic brakes do provide a smoother braking experience and are more efficient. And while they do usually require less maintenance over time, you may need to occasionally bleed and refill the hydraulic fluid, which can be a pain if you don’t know how.
There are also more and more scooters coming out these days with a dedicated regen brake, which helps regenerate your battery while riding. Regen brakes are great in that you much more control over customizing the braking strength and don’t have to get your hands dirty.
3: What does the IP rating mean?
When we say IP54, what does that actually mean? No, we’re not talking about your Internet Protocol. When it comes to IP rating, we mean the Ingress Protection. Or, how sealed your scooter is from the elements.
When talking about the IP rating, there’s usually two numbers listed. The first number is related to solids, and can prevent ingress of objects as big as a hand, to as small as dust particles.
The second number is related to liquids, and varies in protection from: vertically falling drops of water, to completely waterproof and can be completely submerged and withstand pressure for periods of time.
Most scooters in the industry are usually around IP54, on average. You might get higher ratings on higher end scooters that are more weather sealed, but for the most part, IP ratings tend to be in that middle level.
So what does that mean in the real world? Since these scooters are not wholly waterproof, it’s not recommended to ride in the rain or through puddles, although they can withstand some damp conditions.
It’s also important to note that most scooter companies do not cover water damage in their warranty, so if you do ride in the rain, be sure to do so with caution!
4: What are the different types of tires?
How many different scooter tires are there, and is there one that’s better than the others?
There are basically 2 main categories of tires: solid and pneumatic. And within each category are different variations.
Each type of tire has different pros and cons, and we’ll do our best to explain the differences for you.
Pneumatic tires with inner tubes are the most common type of tires on electric scooters and are exactly like what you might find on your bicycle. They are great at cushioning the scooter against bumps in the road and help make your ride more enjoyable. They also have better grip on the road due to the softer rubber.
Solid tires are great in that regard in that you will never have to worry about tire pressure or getting a puncture.
There are also self-healing pneumatic tires, which are air-filled tires but have a layer of thick viscous gel that works to quickly seal any punctures in the tire, effectively “healing” it and allowing you to continue riding! These tires are great, but are usually a little more pricey, and do not work on split rim designs, which most scooters have.
5: What to look for in a warranty
A scooter is only as good as the warranty it comes with, especially if it’s one you buy online.
While most manufacturers will offer a basic 6 month warranty, look for companies and retailers who offer a year or more, plus any other kind of post-purchase protection.
These are complex vehicles with many moving parts and you can expect lots of wear and tear. While wear and tear is not usually included in the warranty, some companies will offer replacement parts at discounted prices.
Understanding what is or isn’t covered under your warranty will help prevent headaches later on, and can help prepare you for the worst.
It’s also good to learn how to do basic maintenance on your scooter, which can prevent potential warranty claims or expensive wear-and-tear repairs, and minimize the time your scooter is not on the road.
We’ve said this time and time again, but keeping your scooter clean and well maintained is vital when it comes to scooter ownership, just like owning any other vehicle.
Hopefully one day we’ll be able to take our scooters down to the local repair shop for any fixes you might need, but until then, you should know, at a minimum, how to do some simple brake adjustments, and how to change a flat tire.