This comprehensive guide is the ultimate resource for buying an electric scooter. You will learn about electric scooter price classes, features, components, distributors, maintenance, and some tools that will help you with your buying research.
Electric scooter buying guide
The guide is divided into a few sections. Feel free to use the links below to jump straight to what you’re looking for. If you’re totally new to electric scooters, then it’s helpful to read the whole guide.
Not sure you’re in the right place? We have lots of other guides.
- Our Editor’s Choice of Best Electric Scooters that we’ve reviewed.
- Make in-depth technical and price comparisons.
- Compare real-world performance including range and hill climb tests.
Table of Contents
- Categories of electric scooters
- Electric scooter features
Buying an electric scooter can feel a bit like buying a car or other large purchase. We created this ultimate buying guide to help you along the way. This guide covers technical aspects of the electric scooter itself, price categories, where to buy, and maintenance.
The guide can be used in conjunction with our electric scooter comparison list. The list contains the price and specifications of every electric scooter available on the market today. It is a useful tool for researching electric scooters.
Categories of Electric Scooters
Budget Electric Scooters (<$300)
Most scooters in this category are not recommended for anything but minimal or light recreational use. At this budget price-point, expect under-powered motors, low capacity batteries, and weak brakes. However, there are some excellent and very functional values in this category. They are worth taking a look at if you this is your budget.
See Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooters Under $300
Commuter Electric Scooters
The commuter class of electric scooters is the biggest one and therefore divided into three price categories. At these price points, we generally find that scooters are fairly balanced in terms of features, quality, performance, and price.
Budget Commuter ($300 to $600)
These scooters are great for traveling shorter distances, have a reasonable range, and suitable build quality for daily commuting. Expect occasional repairs over the few year expected lifetime. They are best when your commute has relatively smooth surfaces and not a lot of steep hills. They are light enough that you can fold and carry them up stairs once in a while.
Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooters Under $600
Mid-ranged Commuter ($600 to $900)
A mid-ranged commuting electric scooter will have slightly larger batteries for more range and possibly more motor power than the Budget Commuter. You won’t see any dual-motor scooters at this price, but you will see the incorporation of suspension into some models.
Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooters Under $900
Premium Commuter ($600 to $1200)
These scooters typically add suspension, larger motors, bigger batteries, and better brakes to the Budget or Mid-range offerings. The ride will be more comfortable, safer, and have a better range due to these upgrades. However, there is a tradeoff with increased weight — expect these scooters to be around 40 lbs (18 kg) — that makes loading into a car or carrying upstairs more difficult.
Ou Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooter Under $1200
Performance Electric Scooters
Performance electric scooters are a class of scooter that starts to offer either serious speed or ultra-long range. Many of these scooters incorporate dual motors and sizeable battery packs. The longest-ranged scooter in this category can deliver up to 50 miles (80 km) of real-world range.
At this price point, which ranges from $1200 to $1600, you will also start to see some premium features appearing, including large tubeless pneumatic tires, semi/hydraulic brakes, powerful lights, and turn signals.
Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooters Under $1600
Extreme Performance Electric Scooters ($2500+)
These scooters are the highest performing in every category except portability. They have massive, dual motors (some reaching speeds above 40 mph), extended battery life for extreme range (40+ miles), top-notch suspension, and hydraulically-activated disc brakes for stopping at fast speeds. Although still capable for daily commuting, their larger tires are the only ones suited for off-roading. These are the heaviest as well (typically 70+ lbs), so if you need to fold and carry these scooters, make sure you are comfortable with the weight.
Editor’s Choices for Best Electric Scooters Under $2500
Hopefully, you have some idea of what category your ideal scooter falls into.
- If you want to see the best electric scooters across the entire price range, check out our Best Electric Scooters article.
- Read our picks for the best electric scooters under $300, $600, $900, $1200, $1600, and $2500.
- Power users/enthusiasts may want to search our electric scooter database to find scooters based on features and price.
Electric Scooter Features
Once you have a price range, it is important to understand the features of electric scooters.
If you are using the comparison database, the top column gives you the most important features to consider when deciding what to purchase. They include price, range, weight, top speed, max weight, tires, motor power, suspension, lighting, brakes, and tires. Let’s go over each one.
There are always going to be better and worse values in purchasing electric scooters, but basically quality and features improve with price. You won’t be buying an off-road beast for $200. Refer to the main classifications for price brackets.
Range refers to the distance a scooter can travel before it runs out of battery power. A cautious rule of thumb is to take whatever the manufacturer advertises and divide by two. Results from the 2018 Electric Scooter Survey show most manufacturers overestimate by 30% in their range claims.
Like all batteries, as time goes on, your battery capacity (and scooter range) will diminish. Think about your commute and how far you travel in a typical day. Remember that when your scooter runs out of power you can still kick to push it.
Pro tip: You can also take your charger with you on your commute or buy an extra charger to leave at your destination.
Weight can be a big consideration if you ever need to fold and carry your scooter. Think about your commute: will you need to walk up stairs? When you get to your destination, do you have an elevator? Sometimes it might be late at night or inclement weather and you may want to take a ride-share home. Most will allow you to put your scooter in the trunk, but you still need to maneuver it into the vehicle.
Most scooters with a reasonable range (>15 miles) will weigh over 25 lbs. Anything much above 30 lbs will be fairly difficult to carry for long durations. Having a handle or shoulder strap will help and some scooters have extra wheels or a folded configuration that allow them to be rolled, but will still have to be carried up stairs or lifted into a vehicle.
Pro tip: You can go to a sporting goods store and pick up a few dumbells or kettlebells to test what weight you can comfortably manage.
Top speed is not a huge factor for most commuters as long as the scooter can reach 15 mph. In fact, some municipalities have laws against going over 15mph on scooters. In reality, when traveling on roads or in bike lanes, 15-18 mph is fast enough. If you are interested in the extreme performance type of scooter, those go much faster and we recommend wearing safety gear when traveling at those speeds.
Caution: Always wear a helmet when riding your scooter at any speed.
The max weight or max rider weight is the weight limit that the electric scooter can support. For most scooters, this limit is 220 lbs (100 kgs). If you weigh more than this, you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at scooters that can support your weight. For safety reasons, you shouldn’t exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer.
Keep in mind that even if the scooter is rated for your weight, it will still be slower and have less range, compared to a lighter rider. For riders near or above 220 lbs, you should focus on scooters with at least a 500-watt electric motor.
Motor power generally starts at 200 watts and goes all the way up to 6270 watts on the Dualtron X. For adults, we do not recommend anything under 250 watts for daily commuting. This will be adequate for flat surfaces and very small hills. If you live in an area with steeper hills, think about going to 350 or 500 watts. Even with 500 watts, your scooter will slow down on medium-sized hills. At that point, you can always kick to help the scooter. Larger motors will not only help with powering up hills, but they will also get you up to top speed more quickly.
Suspension, similar to that in an automobile, smooths out bumps and indentations in the road. Without it, and especially if you have airless tires, you will feel every bump that you travel over. If your commute is longer or has more rough terrain to cross, strongly consider purchasing a scooter with suspension. Suspension can either be attached to the front, rear, or both wheels. Scooters in the Premium Commuter class should have either front or rear suspension.
Scooters, like bicycles, can have a white front light and a red rear light. If you ride after dark, it is necessary to have both a front and rear light. Due to the design of electric scooters, they typically do not have very visible rear lights. If you are going to ride at night, strongly consider adding some flashing red rear lights to your helmet or backpack.
Read our guide to electric scooter lighting.
There are four main brake types: electric and/or regenerative, foot, drum, and disc. They are listed in order from least to most effective and can be installed on the front, rear, or both tires.
- Electric and regenerative brakes are the weakest. If you are traveling at 15+mph and need to stop quickly, these alone will not do the job.
- Foot brakes, which are activated by pushing your foot down on the rear fender, cause it to rub against the rear tire, slowing it down. This type of brake has slightly more stopping power but is not as effective as the disc or drum brakes.
- Drum Brakes are enclosed inside the wheel hub and are generally lower maintenance than other braking types and have consistent performance in wet conditions.
- Disc brakes have the most stopping power and are lighter than drum brakes. They are typically found on the higher end Premium Commuter and High-Performance scooters but may appear on better quality Budget Commuter scooters.
Learn more in our guide to electric scooter brakes.
Tires come in two varieties: pneumatic (air-filled) and airless.
- Pneumatic tires have the advantage of shock absorption and better handling/traction (especially in bad weather). The downside to pneumatic tires is there is more maintenance required than the airless variety. Pneumatic tires are prone to punctures and need be filled with air when they have low pressure.
- Airless tires, on the other hand, are inferior in every way except they have virtually no maintenance required.
Pneumatic tires are common in all price ranges, except the Budget range, where tires are almost exclusively airless (solid).
Pro Tip: Do not underestimate the improved ride quality you will get with pneumatic tires. These will make a huge improvement when rolling over even minimally bumpy terrain, where road vibration can be very uncomfortable on your feet and legs. Additionally, you can nearly prevent flat tires by following a few simple tips.
Learn more about the differences between pneumatic and solid (airless) tires in our electric scooter tire guide.
The ingress protection or IP rating tells you how resistant an electric scooter is to dust and water. The IP rating consists of two numbers, but we focus on the second because it tells you how water-resistant the scooter is. The greater the number is — the more resistant it is to water and moisture.
Not all scooters have an IP rating. If you are planning on riding your scooter in all weather conditions, you will want to invest in one with at least IPx4 water-resistance.
|IPx1 to IPx3||Very limited water resistance|
|IPx4 to IPx6||Suitable for riding in the rain|
|IPx7+||Can be fully submerged in water|
Pro Tip: You can sort our electric scooter comparison database, based on IP rating (the column is titled “Water”).
Where you buy an electric scooter can be almost as important as what you buy. When deciding who to buy from, you have a few options, outlined below.
- PEV Shop
- Big box e.g. Best Buy, Costco
- Department store
- Specialty distributors e.g. Rev Rides, Voro Motors, Fluid FreeRide.
- Big box e.g. Amazon
- Direct from China
- e.g. Alibaba / AliExpress
- Crowd-funded Campaigns
The editors of this guide tend to favor buying from a good domestic distributor, even though it will cost more. A decent electric scooter will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. The value added from buying an electric scooter from a good domestic distributor will be enormous: warranty, replacement, parts, repair, etc.
The benefit of buying domestically is fast shipping and better post-purchase support. The main downside is that buying domestically tends to be more expensive than directly from China.
Local PEV Dealers are a good option if you have any nearby. They will offer the best post-purchase support. However, they tend to be the most expensive with the smallest scooter selection.
Amazon will have the fastest shipping and easiest returns. However, you’ll have to rely on the manufacturer for post-purchase support after the return window has closed (typically 30 days). For popular scooters like the Xiaomi Mi M365 with many parts available and repair guides available, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Specialty distributors are online retailers that import, sell, and provide post-purchase support for electric scooters. Each of these retailers, which include: Rev Rides, Voro Motors, and Fluid FreeRide tend to specialize in a specific brand. Due to their specialization, they tend to offer a balance of the best prices and post-purchase support.
Direct from China
The benefit of buying direct from China is cost savings, which can be significant. The downsides are:
- Slow shipping time. It can sometimes take months to receive an order.
- Worse support. If there is a major problem you will not be able to return the scooter, though they may be willing to ship you parts.
- Authenticity. The scooter you buy may be a similar-looking clone of the branded model you really wanted. Some parts may be identical, but others may be different and worse.
Backing a crowd-funded electric scooter campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo can be a very exciting prospect. You can help support new and innovative products -and often get them at a steep discount over what their retail will be.
However, we strongly recommend against backing crowd-funded campaigns unless you are 100% prepared to lose all your money or are willing to wait one or two years for a product.
The history of electric scooter crowd-funded campaigns has been fraught; numerous campaigns such as Eon and Unicorn have failed out-right, leaving backers empty-handed.
Even successful campaigns have also burned sellers. Inboard used crowd-funded dollars as an interest-free loan to develop their product, which they decided to release only to the shared market. Mercane had a successful campaign for the WideWheel, but years later many backers claim they haven’t received anything despite the WideWheel being available to consumers World Wide.
Thinking about maintenance before you buy an electric scooter will save you from pain in the future. For example, some electric scooters do not have available replacement parts. Buying one of these will mean that you can only send it back to the manufacturer. The other thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t a good infrastructure in place for electric scooter repair, so the best option is often doing it yourself.
Read more about where you can get an electric scooter repair.
Even the most durable electric scooters will require maintenance. Our owner survey data indicates that most people have two issues per year or every 600 miles requiring maintenance. The most common parts needing maintenance are tires (flats and wearing out), brakes (brake pads, brake adjustments), and fenders (broken, loose, etc).
Preventative maintenance can save you a lot of trouble in the future. Though most electric scooters don’t require regular maintenance on most of their parts, you can do some on your tires.
Read more about some simple preventative measure you can take to prevent flats.
Still not sure exactly where to begin?
For a good starting scooter, we recommend something with: 15-mile range, at least one good brake (calipers, drum, or disc), <30 lbs, 250 W motor (or more), and at least one pneumatic tire. This setup should be reasonably useful for the beginner and available in every price category except Budget.
Check out our Best Electric Scooters article to our picks of the top electric scooters. expert selection of electric scooters.
For more information, become part of the Electric Scooter Guide Facebook — the most active Facebook group for electric scooters. You can connect with other enthusiasts for tips and information.