Your Complete Electric Scooter Buying Guide!

Electric scooters are becoming more and more popular as a means of transport and are giving people a choice in how to get around, particularity now for longer distances. These scooters aren't for kids they are specifically focused on the adult scooter 

There are hire company's popping up everywhere. Many people that have ridden these hired units think every electric scooter is the same but beware! There are dodgy retailers out there that sell cheap gear that will leave you with a useless piece of junk and with little or no warranty. 

This article will give you the 14 different things you need to know before you part with your hard earned cash to buy and adult scooter, hopefully enabling you to spot good value and see a fake.  We hope you find this electric scooter buying guide useful

1. Comfort: 

The ride quality of some of the e-scooters is so bad that they can’t be ridden for more than a couple of km's on anything less than a perfect asphalt or concrete surface. These e-scooters look great initially because of their low cost point and some are even top selling, however after a couple of uses people leave them to gather dust because they lack  suspension systems, ride quality and lets face it will cause injury to your back after prolonged use.

There are 3 main contributors that affect ride quality:

  • Wheel size: Rule of thumb is if you want a smooth ride, the bigger the wheel the better the ride. We strongly recommend you avoid wheels less than 8 inches in diameter. These maybe compact but the Smaller wheels give you a rougher ride and are more susceptible to getting stuck in potholes, the smaller the wheel the more dangerous at top speeds.
  • Tire Type: Typically there are 3 types of tires. 1. Air-filled (pneumatic tires), 2. Solid & 3 Honeycomb. Of the 3 types pneumatic tires are definitely more comfortable as the air provides the cushioning and give you a better ride. However getting a puncture is a real pain and not easy to fix on the go. Solid tires eliminate the puncture problems but you then heavily rely on the suspension within the scooter frame (if any). The honeycomb tires combine the best of both, giving you some air cushioning with the benefit of no punctures. Examples of each are: Pneumatic tires Inokim Quick 3 or Inokim OX, or Kaabo Mantis, Solid tires Mercane Wide Wheel, Kaabo 8S and Honeycomb tires Unagi
  • Suspension Systems: As technology progresses we are seeing all forms of suspension being introduced into e-scooters. Stating the obvious an e-scooter with large, pneumatic tires without shock absorbers will give a smoother ride than a scooter with suspension running solid tires. Ultimately an e-scooter with pneumatic tires tires and shock absorbers will be far superior to both of the cited examples. Where this becomes more of a major factor is if your doing longer trips or using the e-scooter for off road purposes, for these applications most definitely combine air tires with suspension. Examples of Suspension Systems & Wheel types below.

 

  

2. Speed: 

The speed is determined by the amount of power, riders weight, tire pressure, the surface and the ambient temperature. Power is represented in watts (1000W) the electric motor produces, the larger the electric motor the more power, the higher the speed. Manufacturers typically quote top speeds / max speed which is generally based on a 60kg riders weight using the scooter on a flat, smooth surface with correctly inflated tires. Road gradient will of course affect the speed at which your scooter can travel, dual hub motors over single motor will have additional power it can draw on up steep hills. 

Our advice is don’t buy for max speed. In Australia e-scooters are limited to a speed of 25kmh and most e-scooters are capable of doing this on your daily commutes. If however if you are looking to use the e-scooter on a private or off road application then you may want something that can be adjusted to suit the circumstances.  

3. Brakes: 

One of the most important functional aspects of your e-scooter is its safety features. Your safety and that of others should always be priority. Most electric scooters are now starting to include brakes both front and rear. 

There are 4 main types of brakes on electric scooters:

  • Foot brakes: Require you to stand on the rear mud guard. Takes some getting used too and wears the rear tire a lot quicker
  • Electric brakes: Low maintenance but less effective at stopping you quickly.
  • Drum brakes: Are still quite popular as seen on Inokim Quick 3 and the Inokim Light 2. Drum brakes still work quite well, but need to be maintained and can be an issue if you get grit and dirt within the drum. 
  • Disc brakes: There are generally 2 types of disc brakes. 1. Cable which has the braking system set up with levers connected to cables and when operated pull the cable so as to pull the disc pads together putting the brake on. 2. Hydraulic brakes run levers however rather than using cable the brake system is filled with oil and operate on pressure within the system to compress the disc pads together. Of the two systems Hydraulic are normally found on expensive units of $2,000 and up and are far superior to cable versions. A great example of Hydraulic disc brake system is the Inokim OXO. But like drum brakes the disc pads and rotors will wear out over time. They will eventually need to be serviced, just like a car, and if not careful a damaged disc will impact braking and even use of the scooter.

There are some e-scooters that combine both Drum and Disc brakes having a drum on the front and rear wheel sporting a disc which works well. e-scooters that have this feature are: Kaabo 8S or Kaabo Mantis, Examples of Brakes below.

4. Range: 

s determined by the battery pack and is represented in Volts and Amp Hours (e.g. 60V 24Ah).  Manufacturers state max range for electric scooters based on a 60kg riders weight on smooth, flat, straight road, and with a new battery. In Australia the top branded batteries are LG, and Panasonic. When buying an e-scooter you will normally get what you pay for; cheaper electric scooters have cheaper batteries and the amount of charge they can hold diminishes with every charge. High quality adult electric scooters can now have a range of up to 110km making these a viable alternative form of transport, such as Inokim OXO and the Mercane MX60 keeping in mind the larger the battery pack the longer the charging times.

5. Reliability: 

Electric scooters are still a in their infancy within Australia, like any industry it takes time to establish the better brands this is one reason why we only stock particular models and brands. We have heard of some electric scooter manufactures segway ninebot having issues with electric brake failures, and Xiaomi have had to recall their most popular model the Xiaomi M365 due to safety issues around the folding mechanism. We would suggest to also look at the construction of the scooter particularity quality and strength of the deck, the area around where the battery pack is placed, the column strength, whats exposed and whats concealed. Look at cabling and exposure of electronics or susceptibility to wet conditions, remember you are using an electrical piece of equipment so any water in bits that shouldn't get wet could have a detrimental impact. See our guide to cleaning and riding in the wet here

6. Warranty: 

If you need to use your warranty, think about where do you need to send or bring your electric scooter? The last thing you want is for a seemingly minor issue evolving into a huge deal, and being forced to send the scooter to China to be fixed, this costs a fortune and takes months. Make sure you ask whoever your buying it from, what is the warranty claim process. If they tell you we send it back to the manufacturer forget about it! If they don't have presence here in Australia to fix it its not worth the risk.

7. Fakes and Cheap Chinese imports:

There are a lot of cheap e-scooters being imported from China, some re-branded to look and feel the same as the real thing, however more often than not poor quality parts have been used. The Xiaomi M365 is currently the world’s top selling electric scooter but there are high volumes of fake versions doing the rounds that look very, very similar and to the untrained eye difficult to tell the difference. Most of the time the lack of quality is within the parts you don't see like crappy batteries or wheel bearings, and some electronics. Fake imports typically don't have the battery life as the original manufacturers, and don't come with the appropriate IP rating for dust and water ingress resistance. You can ask whoever your buying the scooter from what the IP rating of the batteries and wheel motors are and if they either cant tell you or the IP rate is below IP54 run! For an explanation on what IP ratings means see our guide here

We strongly recommend that you only buy from Authorised resellers of the top brands.

8. Size, Weight & Portability:

When checking if the e-scooter is the right size for you we recommend that when you place your hands on the handle bars your elbows should be bent in resting position and not too high. An e-scooter that provides column height adjustment and bar adjustment is ideal.

  • 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 in between 12- 22kg, Typically the bigger the battery the heavier the e-sccoter. The heaviest e-scooters around at the moment can weigh up to 35kg not something you want to carry up stairs or to far, admittedly these units are not your typical commuter versions. 
  • Portability: We would recommend that your purpose is to use a foldable commuter review the dimensions of the unit when folded combined with its weight to determine if its something you can regularly carry and store. Most product pages have a specifications section that will provide both dimensions unfolded and folded. A handy feature of some e-scooters allow the handle bars also fold in on themselves making the scooter narrower to carry.  

9. Maximum Load:

Not all adult electric scooters are built to carry the same weight capacity and you should check this first. All scooters we carry are rated to 100kg riders weight or above. If you are riding an electric scooter and are over 100kg we would suggest the  Inokim OXInokim OXOMercane MX60 and Kaabo Mantis, all these are rated over 100kg capacity. An important point to note if you are over 100kg and ride an electric scooter not rated for your weight this can void your warranty and could be a safety issue.

10. Lights: 

Our lowest priced electric commuter scooter the e-Glide G60 has an inbuilt LED light, however there are some that only contain reflectors. This is not a bad thing you just need to consider what time of day are you going to do most of your riding. If your e-scooter only has a reflector its an easy upgrade to have a LED light installed. 

11. Noise:

Unlike a motorized scooter, adult electric scooters make little or no noise at all, this can be hazardous around pedestrians, we have experienced this ourselves on occasion where a pedestrian has not been paying attention and doesn't hear a scooter approaching causing a near miss. Its important to think about this when riding in high pedestrian traffic areas, we would recommend you check to ensure your electric scooter has either a bell or inbuilt horn. Most do these days.

12. Other things you will need:

  • Helmet: in all states within Australia it is a requirement by law for bikes, normal scooters, electric skateboards and electric scooters (where legal) to be wearing a helmet at all times. We recommend S1 Helmets as we have found these to be the most comfortable and provide the largest range of colour styles. 
  • Lock: your electric scooter is a valuable item and having a small portable lock will ensure its safety. Or for the more expensive units consider insurance.
  • 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 tires it is worth using puncture protection fluid to reduce risk of punctures. 

Examples of Helmets:

 

13. Cost: 

In addition to the advertised retail price of your chosen e-scooter, there are a number of cost factors to consider, think about comparing the cost to use a ride share service like Lime or Neuron versus purchasing. We have created a calculator for you to quickly check if purchasing an e-scooter is a more cost effective option. Also think about the cost of charging and servicing, typically allow 10-15% of the purchase price per year for cost of charging and regular services:  

  • Price Range: In the market you can typically find electric scooters from $200 up to $4,000 this is a huge range so where should you look? In our experience we find most e-scooter riders, genuinely looking for an alternative form of transport and want something good quality purchase around the $1,200 - $1,900 range. Electric scooters from $2,000 and above are for those wanting dual high powered units and something that is all terrain. At ecorides our price range is between $799 - $3,800.  
  • Finance available: For those pricier alternatives or if you just want to make you e-scooter of choice more affordable there are finance options available. Typically you would have heard of AfterPay or Lattitude Pay however they will only finance products in value up to $1,000. Other alternatives are ZipPay or Humm which will finance up to $3,000 - $4,000 items with a 20% deposit and you have the option to pay over a monthly period at 0% interest yes that's right 0% interest. The fees are paid by the retailer not the customer. Our preferred partner is Humm which allows you to purchase now and pay later over a defined period depending on your purchase.
  • Shipping: Depending on where you purchase your electric scooter from some companies will charge you shipping from their store, this can be expensive up to an additional $130 depending on the size and weight. Look for retailers or online stores that offer free shipping, just ensure to look at the retail price to make sure they haven't increased the price to cover the cost of shipping.  
  • Fake Sales: Don't be caught out, there are some stores and sites out there that inflate the retail price and claim the product is on sale but haven't actually discounted it. Do your homework and know how much it's worth, also look for promotions like free shipping or free bundles or offers. We sometimes offer free t-shirts or bundles at certain times of the year.  

14. What are the Laws for where I live?

At the moment wherever you live in Australia other than Queensland, the ACT and in VIC it’s unlikely that you’ll be allowed to ride an Electric Scooter or e-scooter outside of a private road. Some states are introducing trials, and allow limited use with imposed restrictions on the power output of the electric scooters motor to 200w and maximum speeds between 10km/h and 25km/h. Brisbane was the first city to adopt new laws around the use of electric scooters which allows them to be used on pedestrian footpaths and shared predestination and cycleways, electric scooters are not to be used on roads or dedicated cycleways. It's also a requirement when riding an e-scooter that an approved helmet be worn. 

To assist you we have created an article that outlines the laws state by state for 2020 and links to all the relevant government sites here.

So what do I do with all this information?

To help you out, we have created a Personal Ride Recommendation Tool that you can complete in 30sec. Answer 5 questions and you will have the scooter(s) perfect for your riding style and application. You can access the tool here

About ecorides.com.au: We are Australian owned and operated, and after extensive research, we have only elected to partner with select suppliers of premium high-quality products to become an Authorised reseller, so you are assured of local customer service and support. You can also expect priority Australian delivery throughout our network of couriers and we offer a 30-day returns policy. We never charge for shipping for orders over $150. We have a team of industry experts we can call on dedicated to providing you with the best advice, best products, best service, and best value.

 

1 comment

Derek

What insurance is available for these devices? I am in Canberra (if that matters)?

Derek

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