Technical Guide: Electric Scooter Throttles

EMOVE Touring electric scooter - close-up, voltmeter, QS-S4 display, twist throttle

This technical guide covers the four different throttle styles for electric scooters: trigger, thumb, twist, and wheel throttle. We cover their pros and cons, why you might choose one over another, repair considerations, and also give and also give you a crash course on basic ergonomics ergonomics related to throttles.

Trigger Throttle

QS-S4 trigger throttle display

Highlights

Most common in performance-level scooters
Most capable performance and tunability
Easiest to replace
Often results in torquey acceleration
Can interfere with brake lever activation

The Trigger Throttle Is Ubiquitous

The (finger) trigger throttle is the most common throttle installed on electric scooters and is especially prevalent among high performance electric scooters. All of the established brands that sell Titan/Unicool offshoots (like Apollo, Turbowheel, Zero) as well as Kaabo and Minimotors scooters use a variant of the finger trigger throttle. Even newer models, like the Splach Turbo, sport this style of trigger throttle with attached LCD display.  

Trigger throttle pros

The main reason most high performance scooters come standard with finger trigger throttles is their capability to access and control performance settings, including functions like torque/acceleration strength, regenerative braking strength, cruise control, odometer, and display brightness. This style of throttle delivers torquey, spin-the-front-wheels acceleration more often than the other styles, and is the throttle on most scooters used for racing-level competition. 

Trigger throttle cons

Another reason we keep seeing this style is that most speed-thirsty riders feel that the trigger throttle is the easiest to modulate at any speed, including over bumps, around turns, and going fast. However, others argue that this trigger-finger hand position, especially combined with unsupportive handgrips, causes their hand to cramp. Although the acceleration can be tuned down, operating the trigger requires more strength from your pointer finger than the pressure needed to control a thumb throttle. 

Also, depending on how everything is placed in the cockpit, having the trigger and the front brake lever (if your scooter has one) can become crowded together. This can make it difficult to reach or cover the brakes while driving, should you notice a hazard in the road.

Common Trigger Throttle Models

There are two main models of finger trigger throttles: the EY3 (EYE3) throttle and the QS-S4 throttle. Both throttles feature rubberized buttons, an LCD display, a finger trigger on the right-hand side.

EY3 versus QS-S4 trigger throttles

Here are the main differences between the two styles.

EY3 (EYE3) ThrottleQS-S4 Throttle
Display colorBacklit green/blue with 1-color fontBacklit display with 5-color font
WaterproofNoYes*
USB portNoYes
*Some versions of the QS-S4 have been rated as weatherproof, including the finger trigger throttle on the EMOVE Cruiser. Generally, the QS-S4 is more susceptible to damage than the EY3 as it generally has more gaps in its construction, especially around the trigger mechanism. 
EY3 Throttle - close-up, display power on screen
EY3 trigger throttle LCD display

Both displays are backlit, but the EY3 color scheme is limited whereas there’s a color for every type of data on the QS-S4, including colors corresponding to types of alerts. Although neither throttle model is waterproof, this waterproof replacements are available. You can also purchase waterproofing covers from specialized sellers.

QS-S4-Throttle-close-up-screen-on-normal-view
QS-S4 trigger throttle LCD display

The biggest distinction between the two throttle styles is that the QS-S4 throttle comes with a USB port on the back of the display, which can supply ~500 mA of current at 5V. Some have reported using it to charge electronics, but this is not its intended purposes and can fry the display.

QS-S4-Throttle-back-of-throttle-close-up-from-angle-shwoing-profile
QS-S4 throttle display with USB port

For more information on the QS-S4 throttle, check out our QS-S4 LCD throttle technical guide. For more information on the EY3 throttle, check out our EY3 LCD throttle technical guide. If you need guidance on how to calibrate a specific scooter, don’t miss our P-settings database.  

Thumb Throttle

Highlights

Provides linear control
Ergonomic hand position (generally)
Does not interfere with brake activation
May lack plug and play connector
Often more difficult to modulate than trigger throttle

The thumb throttle is the most common style across entry-level electric scooters, including those used in the shared scooter market. Many thumb throttles are constructed as a non-removable, difficult-to-replace component, often accompanied by a separate digital display either centered over the stem or attached to the thumb throttle. Not all thumb throttles are created equal, as some function much better than others both in modulating speed and being within comfortable reach when riding. 

Inokim Quick 4 Super electric scooter - close-up, thumb throttle
Inokim Quick 4 Super thumb throttle

Out of the throttle styles, thumbs vary the most in construction and operation, being the second most common style of throttles overall. You’ll find a thumb throttle on the everyman of scooters, the Segway Ninebot Max, that you cannot replace and a very different, more sophisticated thumb throttle that you can swap on the elite Apollo Pro Ludicrous. As with the throttle for the Ludo, most thumb throttle upgrades are implemented via plug-and-play cabling, while most other throttles are specific components of the scooter. We’ve also gotten the opportunity to try a new thumb throttle style with the Apollo Phantom, which is attached to a keystart ignition.

Apollo Phantom electric scooter - close-up, thumb throttle, keystart ignition, handgrip, brake lever, button controls
Apollo Phantom thumb throttle

In general, thumb throttles are the most ergonomic and comfortable for riding electric scooters, as they allow your driving hand to maintain grip with all fingers while the thumb controls the throttle. Thumb throttles tend to be the smoothest when it comes to modulating speed, but may be more difficult to control over bumps. They do not interfere with brake controls, as they’re generally positioned on the interior of the handlebars while brake levers are usually on the exterior. 

EMOVE Touring electric scooter - thumb throttle, keystart ignition, voltmeter, handgrip
EMOVE Touring thumb throttle and keystart ignition

However, we did not like the thumb throttle upgrade for the EMOVE Touring, which we did not feel was worth the swap. First, most thumb throttles operate in a vertical orientation, meaning you activate by pressing downward. The Touring’s thumb throttle is horizontally oriented, so you press the throttle inward toward your palm to accelerate. This proved awkward, especially when combined with the ultra-short cable on the back of the display, hindering your ability to adjust where the throttle and display are positioned on the handlebars. 

Inokim Light 2 electric scooter - close-up, display off, thumb throttle
Inokim Light 2 thumb throttle and display

Even with a wide range in quality and ease of operation, thumb throttles tend to be more durable or at least more likely to be weatherproof than trigger throttles. Only about 20% of scooters with a trigger throttle have an IP rating while around 53% with a thumb throttle have an IP rating (out of a database of 181 scooters). This correlation is likely due to the common pairing of thumb throttles with entry-level scooters, and the likelihood of manufacturers to construct rider-friendly machines that are easy to use and ready to hit the road (wet or dry) out of the box. 

Twist Throttle

Fiido seated electric scooter twist throttle

Highlights

Closest to motorcycle operation
Good control
Ergonomic hand position
Uncommon style
May not be replaceable
May interfere with brake activation

Twist throttles are not very common (at least not on electric kick scooters versus seated moped scooters). In fact, we’ve only seen twist throttles on three electric scooters: Glion Dolly, Fiido, and EMOVE Touring (as an upgrade). The Glion and Fiido have identical twist throttles with an attached one-color digital dashboard that displays battery power and almost nothing else. To accelerate, you grip and roll the front third of the rubber handgrip towards you. You can still hold and cover the brakes with a couple fingers while accelerating, if needed, so this twist doesn’t obstruct brake operation. Happily, this display carries an IPX6 water resistance rating. Although the Glion Dolly technically isn’t IP rated, the display and twist throttle are. 

EMOVE Touring electric scooter

To operate the twist throttle on the Touring, you roll the entire handgrip towards you, and this design has caused more than a couple accidents when walking around with the scooter powered on. To accelerate, you have to hold the whole handgrip in the same position until the scooter reaches speed, requiring use of all your fingers and thumb, so you really can’t cover the front brakes while accelerating. This throttle is not IP rated and, although functions most similarly to a motorcycle throttle, is not our favorite.

Glion Dolly electric brake button
Glion Dolly twist style throttle

Even though there aren’t many scooter manufacturers using the twist throttle in their models, we like how it feels when we have gotten the chance to ride an electric scooter with one. The Glion Dolly, the first ultraportable scooter in the market complete with dolly wheels, is powered by a simple twist throttle, and is still a popular model for its ease of use and slight style. Given that motorcycles also use twist throttles, it makes perfect sense that the Fiido is super comfortable to drive, as the twist throttle works particularly well given the rider’s seated posture and limited top speed. 

Wheel Throttle

Boosted Rev | wheel throttle

Highlights

Intuitive and powerful control
The most ergonomic operation
Does not interfere with brake activation
Incredibly rare
Unlikely to come to mass market

Wheel Throttles Are Excellent But Uncommon

The wheel throttle, or thumbwheel throttle, is the most unusual to see on an electric scooter. We’ve only seen them on rare, dual motor electric scooters. There’s the stupid fast, crazy expensive Rion hyperscooters, and the Boosted Rev — a dual motor scooter that was orphaned by its bankrupted company less than a year after its release. It’s not very likely you’ll see either of these scooters on the road for a number of reasons. 

We’ve ridden the Rev over the years, and the wheel throttle is probably the best throttle design we’ve encountered. Your hand rests in a comfortable position, rolling the wheel inward to accelerate and outward to engage the regen brakes. It’s a natural, intuitive movement and it feels easy to control the Rev, even given its strong front-end torque when accelerating. When you push the wheel forward hard, the front wheel will spin out, jumping across the pavement. It feels really stable holding the throttle up to the Rev’s 24.0 mph top speed, and applying the regen brakes feels pretty nice but isn’t nearly as effective as the bite provided by hydraulic disc brakes. It’s very easy to modulate speed, and rides as smooth as possible on a scooter without suspension. 

Rion Curve Thumbwheel Throttle

Speaking of no suspension, let’s talk about the Rion scooters, and specifically the curve thumbwheel, which we have not had the pleasure of testing ourselves. Rion’s are touted as elite racing machines with high-end components that reportedly go in excess of 70 mph. It is made of “machine billet aluminum” with advanced technology to prevent whiskey throttle and provide exceptional control. The thumbwheel can be configured as unidirectional (acceleration only) or bidirectional, like the wheel on the Rev.

Rion Motors proprietary thumbwheel throttle - image courtesy of Rion Motors
Courtesy of Rion Motors

With the wheel throttle design, there’s less stress on your hand, as you can grip the handlebar with all of your fingers and don’t need to apply pressure with your thumb (only forward or backward motion). If needed, you can also easily cover the brake levers with both hands without having to lay off the throttle. However, because of the advanced technology and hardy components required, it’s not very likely that we’ll see more wheel throttles on entry-level electric scooters (or any under ). 

Plug-and-Play Connectors

Plug-and-play cabling

When the cabling provides standardized plugs to connect the components to the scooter, we call those plug-and play because they’re connected by a standard 5- or 6-pin connector.

This style of cabling allows you to install, remove, or replace other electronics, like a keystart ignition, voltmeter, lights, and so on. Given the universal plug-and-play connectors, you can replace trigger throttles if they malfunction much easier than other throttle styles that are hard-lined into the scooter.

Often, the throttles have stickers on the back that note the voltage and/or model of the throttle installed, and it’s important to mirror these specifications when replacing your throttle — both when purchasing and when setting up the voltage to match your scooter. 

EY3 throttle display

Electric scooters where the throttle and/or display are built-in with native cabling are often rendered unrideable once those components no longer work. Unless you have some technical know-how and feel comfortable with major disassembly or have a professional complete the service, it can be difficult to replace these built-in components (depending on the scooter). You might be able to get those electronics replaced by the seller under warranty, but that depends on your coverage terms and the seller’s provisions.

Wrist Movements and Throttles

How you hold onto the handlebars, apply the throttle, and respond with your body all affect how much stress you’re putting on your hands and wrists.

Good (Neutral) Wrist Position

The best position for your wrists during long-term riding is a neutral one, where you can draw an imaginary line from where your hand is resting on the handlebars straight down your wrist.

Example of good (neutral) wrist position

Bad Wrist Position

More than with the other throttle styles, trigger throttles cause slight forearm pronation, or angling of your forearm outward away from your body. They also require more wrist extension than the other throttle styles, as the trigger mechanism is often at least 4 inches above the handlebars. Bending your hand at this angle can result in one of the most common wrist diseases, carpal tunnel syndrome.

Example of bad wrist position

The thumb throttle, depending on how it’s configured, can cause some awkward hand positioning, but should still provide a more ergonomic application than the trigger. Both twist throttle styles require you to grip some or all of the handlebar and rotate your wrist forward and backward, which often puts your hand out of alignment with your wrist. The wheel throttle is the best when it comes to ergonomics, as it has the least impact on your wrist’s angle.

Summary

There are different benefits and drawbacks to each style of throttle, and trying the different styles yourself is the best way to know what you prefer, given your unique riding style and scooter. If you love to chase the pavement and high performance scooters, the trigger or wheel throttles are probably going to be your favorite. If you enjoy cruising more and torqueiness less, a thumb throttle is probably your jam. 

Here’s a comparison of the throttle styles including how the throttle responds, if the throttle style is a plug-and-play component, if it generally carries an IP rating, whether or not the style interferes with a rider’s ability to apply the brakes, and how much hand fatigue you might experience. 

Keep in mind these are based on our general understanding of the wide range of each type of throttle, and are dependent on specific models and available information.  

TriggerThumbTwistWheel
Throttle responseTorqueyLinearSmoothVery Linear
Plug-and-play 100%30%50%0%
IP rating20%53%63%Unsure
Brake interference20-50%0%20%0%
Hand fatigue40%20%60%5%

Throttle response

How acceleration feels in the scooter’s highest performance mode. Scooters with a trigger throttle are often tuned and ridden to be torquey. The thumb and wheel provide linear control, but don’t generally have as strong a bite off the start line (at least from the ones we’ve ridden).  

Plug-and-play

How likely it is for the throttle to come equipped with 6-pin connectors. We don’t see plug-and-play cabling on the wheel throttles, and most of the entry-level scooters have built-in thumb throttles. Some higher performance scooters have built-in thumb throttles, like the Inokim Quick 4 Super, while others have thumb throttle upgrades that are connected via plug-and-play. 

IP rating

How likely it is for the throttle style to come with a weather resistance rating. This one is data-based, as out of 181 electric scooters, this is how IP ratings are sprinkled among the throttle styles. It’s unclear if the wheel style throttles are water resistant, however it’s clear that a majority of thumb throttles are IP rated.  

Brake interference

How likely it is that using the throttle interferes with using the brake lever. This greatly depends on how everything is positioned on your handlebars, and how your hand is positioned over whichever throttle you have. It’s more likely that a trigger throttle and twist throttle will interfere with your ability to hit the brakes, especially the front brakes, and near impossible that attempting to hit the thumb throttle or wheel will keep you from being able to stop. 

Hand fatigue

How likely the throttle will cause hand fatigue. The twist throttle creates the most hand fatigue, requiring all of your fingers and thumb to grip the scooter, and holding your wrist in a sustained position to accelerate and hold speed. The wheel throttle causes the least fatigue, requiring only a forward/backward motion from your thumb. 

Throttle style really boils down to personal preference and experience. To learn more about the team’s individual thoughts on throttles, check out this episode of ESG Liveshow. 

Check out our current ESG Editor’s pick of the best electric scooters on the market!

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About the Author

Trina

With over a decade of writing experience, Trina is Assistant Writer at ESG. She crafts the scripts for videos and ESG Liveshow, writes the monthly eNewsletter, and is responsible for much of the content on the website.

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