Personal electric transportation is any form of vehicle designed to carry one person which is powered by an electric motor and rechargeable batteries. Electric bicycles and electric scooters are the most common forms of personal electric vehicles, although electric motorcycles are a growing force in today's market. Before purchasing anything, most consumers have a general sense of what they would like, but need to boil things down to make the best decision. This article attempts to help you focus your interests and help your find what is right for you.
There are many factors involved in choosing the right electric powered vehicle, for starters, you should determine if you want an electric bike or an electric scooter. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The main differences are size of the vehicle and its range. Electric bicycles are bigger and heavier than electric scooters, but they have a greater range per charge. They also double as a normal bicycle, so if you ever get caught short you always have the option to pedal (in some cases this will also recharge the battery).
Electric scooters are much smaller and compact than bicycles. This makes them better urban commuters than bicycles, especially for anyone who is "space challenged" (pretty much everyone I know in New York City!). Personal comfort is also a factor to consider as much or more than size and range. For instance, standing on a scooter and whizzing down the street can be thrilling for some but rather unpleasant for others. If at all possible, visit a shop with a variety of both electric scooters and electric bicycles that you can test out, and then determine your own comfort level. Once you've determined electric bicycle over electric scooter or vice versa, you should examine several factors in order to narrow down your options for the perfect ride. The criteria varies from electric scooters to electric bicycles so lets start with the electric scooters first. There are hundreds of electric scooters available on the market today, but don't let that intimidate you or confuse your decision making process. Once you've figured out which scooters will work for you, your choice should be easy.
The key factors to consider are range, portability, rider weight, terrain and temperature. All of these will really depend on what you are going to use the scooter for. Will you ride it to work or school? Is it just for recreation? Will you take it with you to swap meets and flea markets? Race tracks and camp grounds? Figure out how far you will need to go and whether or not you can recharge at the destination or not. Most electric scooters have a standard range of approximately 8 miles, but range varies a lot depending on rider weight, hill climbing, and temperature. The heavier the rider, the less range. The more hills to climb, the less range. In addition, extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, affect battery performance negatively by about 20%.
You need to ensure that your scooter matches your route. Electric scooters are super handy because of their portability; there is nothing more liberating than scooting to work, past all the traffic, folding your electric scooter up and carrying it right in the front door. Not all electric scooters work in this way, however. They range in weight from 31 lbs all the way up to 98 lbs! So, not everyone is going to be capable of carrying some of the heavier scooters. Indeed, for some, carrying a 46 pound scooter up a five story walk up is no big deal. Others wouldn't dream of carrying that weight more than 5 steps! If a person never has to carry the scooter anywhere, they are very lucky and can choose any scooter that will carry their weight.
Riders under 180 lbs can ride any scooter out there and achieve maximum performance. Riders between 180lbs and 250lbs can ride most scooters available with excellent performance. Riders 250 lbs or more have a more limited selection of scooters to choose from, but needn't despair because there are definitely electric scooters available with load capacities up to 500 lbs! In terms of terrain, the best case scenario is to live in a relatively flat area. In that case, any scooter (provided the rider is within its load capacity and it meets the individual's "portability factor") would work, because any electric scooter is capable of running on relatively flat streets and roads. Introduce some hills, and the choices become narrower. Be sure that the wattage of the electric scooter is at least 350. Of course this depends on motor type as well, for instance new rare earth motors are ranked at 500 watts but are really only 350 watts. Great hill climbers include the Charly, the Vego, most of the Currie line (now known as GT, Schwinn and Mongoose) and the HCF 711 Pacelite (aka XPort SLX).
Finally, weather is something to consider. If you live in a warm and sunny climate (hello California!) then just like those flat-landers out there, you can have pretty much any scooter you want (provided the rider is within its load capacity, it meets the individual's "portability factor" and is appropriate for the terrain). Electric scooters can be used year round, but riders will notice the power assisted range is reduced when the weather is extremely hot or extremely cold. Many customers ask about the rain and if it is safe to ride in the rain. I always tell them if you are stuck in the rain, by all means ride on home, but if you can avoid it, you should. Most motors are sealed and a little rain won't damage them. However, if water does manage to get inside the motor it is likely it will short out. What does this mean exactly? It means the motor will catch on fire and then not work anymore. Manufacturers may not honor a warranty replacement on a motor if they can see it was ridden in the rain. Most people end up parking their electric scooters over long hard winters and weather is not an issue at all. But if you do decide to ride in the cold just be aware of your reduced range when planning your commute or other trip.
Once you've figured out your needs in terms of load capacity, range requirements, portability factor, terrain and weather you can add two more important factors into the mix: budget and stand-up vs. sit down scooter. Unless you are under 150 lbs, never need more then 8 miles range, live in a relatively flat terrain where it is always warm and sunny . . . do not spend under $180 for your electric scooter. There isn't a person out there (under 250 lbs) who can't find the perfect scooter for their needs for around $500. The question of stand up vs. sit down is truly one of personal preference. There are a handful of scooters that do not come with a seat option but by and large all electric scooters can be used as either stand up or sit down units.
Electric scooters are a great way to get around. They are fun, safe, and easy to use. Be sure to make an informed decision so you don't get stuck with something that doesn't suit your needs. Don't get frustrated, your first ride on an electric scooter will be well worth all the hard work!