Here at the Co-op, we have had an electric scooter for close to a year using it at rallies, at the shop for parts runs and actually for transportation to and from work. We have well over 1000 on units and have had good service to date with them. No, we don’t drive it on the highway or long distances but for a short trip they are great. Let’s talk about what to look for in a good scooter:
1. Drive train
The heart of any vehicle is what makes it move. In this case its the electric motor, battery supply, power delivery to the wheels and power control system. Sounds very complicated but let’s look at each.
a. The electric motor has to be efficient and powerful enough to use the power given it efficiently. Generally speaking, the motors are rated in “Watts of power” and the heavier and harder the load is to pull will require more wattage motors to pull the load without overheating. The key is “overheating”, a kiddy car will go 10 MPH but will it do that with you sitting on it rather than your kid? It seems that 350 watts and above will motivate a currently offered scooter well.
b. Very important is the battery or power supply. How much energy can the power pack deliver on a full charge is the question. Now if the motor is efficient, the power pack will last longer, its all relative but lets say we have a good efficient motor. There are 2 issues in a battery, the potential or voltage and the power or current. Both are dependent on the other, as voltage rises, current requirement decreases, this is why a 24 or 36 volt power supply will last longer (given the same conditions) than a 12 volt system. A higher voltage system will require less current to do the same work. The scooter we use has a 36 volt ni-cad power pack. It is 3 12 volt batteries in series, this gives the scooter enough current for a good range on the scooter (@ 20 miles under good speed).
A removable power pack is nice , if you like you can buy an addition power pack and replace the battery like you do the battery in your screw gun and charge the other while using the second battery. The battery case also doubles as the floorboard. Having the battery slung low helps with a lower CG (center of gravity).
c. Transferring the motion of the electric motor to the drive wheel is usually done via a chain or belt. The chains are good in that they are hard to wear out but they do present a degree of friction that the motor must overcome. Rubber link belts present less friction but they are prone to wear out more often and become damaged. Both are used in current scooter models, ours use belts and I have had to replace them here recently.
d. Finally, the control system efficiency will give you extended battery life depending on how much current it requires to regulate the current to the motor. Currently, digital regulators are the most efficient. The regulator and voltage of the power supply will tell you if you are looking at a good or cheap scooter.
Remember this, all drive trains wear and will degrade over time and use. don’t get caught up in “how long will it last”, all batteries wear out, all components wear. Usually the warranty on these scooters is @ 90 days. Thats enough time to find out if the machine will perform as designed or not. Thats really all you can expect and shoot, for $3-400, how long do you expect it to last. You must be careful with these units, do not overtax them, charge the battery as they tell you and keep the drive chain or belt in good condition.
Didn’t know you were in for a lesson here did you! Well, there are pics at the end but if you have interest in electric scooters, I would take the time to read this.
Hey, it’s nice if they go fast but can it stop! You really need brakes front & rear Our scooter has front & rear drum type brakes. Would not be cost effective or needed to have disc brakes. remember the cost of these units are too low. Periodic adjustment will give you good brakes.
- OK, everyone wants a good body and no matter how good one of these scooters works if they look like a “poindexter” you won’t want it.
- On the technical side you want shocks up front for sure and in the back if possible. good fenders keep you dry and pneumatic tires keep your teeth in your head.
- Riding position is important, you really do want to sit, sitting makes you a part of the unit and you are better able to control and maneuver in tight places.
- Next would have to be cargo storage. You really need both hands on the handlebars so the question is “how much can you carry”? These units usually top out at @ 250-300 lb. capacity. Don’t put the grizzly bear up on one of these! Overloading a vehicle that was not built to “heavy duty” standards is a sure receipt for disaster and if you bend the frame or break a part, it will be “your chicken” to repair it. No, if you mistreat these by overloading them you will pay, these are not John Deer tractors! Our scooter has a clamp carry bar in the back and basket in the front. Another nice thing is you can sit larger items on the floorboard then find a spot for your feet. Sure it a bit confining but you shouldn’t look to go far like that anyway. Some scooters have a locking compartment, thats nice but with the ability of carrying the entire scooter off with one hand, I would not expect to leave anything of value on the thing anyway!
- Fold down capacity is important if you are going to carry these units with you. In this case the smaller the better but be careful not to sacrifice strength for compactness. Every break away point is a possible wear and loose point. Our scooter has fold down handle bars & seat stem. Its compact enough to stow in a seat floor or under a table.
I look at these as “creature comforts” not something you have to have. To this point everything we have talked about are needed to use the scooter, the next items while making the unit more useful do not negate its use completely.
Now remember, this is not a road vehicle, no matter what you do, you cannot get up to highway speed and everything on the road will pass you up with easy. No, this is a short distance transportation vehicle and as such cannot be compared to a motorcycle but people do so many electric scooters have many things “just like the big boys do”. A headlight is great to have, along with turn signals front and back with tail and brake lights. No, these are not included to make this puppy street legal but they are nice to have. Remember though, the more power you use for lights leaves less for the motor!
A horn is nice, you can sneak up on someone and scare them– they never heard you coming, a battery condition meter is important and an odometer would be nice to tell how far you’ve gone since a charge. Our scooter has a battery meter on it but no odometer.
Finally there is the “P” word Price. The scooter we use goes for $350. That’s $50 higher than those “infomercials” but given that we have availability of parts and services plus I have used this unit and feel good that it will last, I think it a pretty good deal. You see these things from @ $200 at Costco to who knows at bike shops. Don’t be fooled, there are differences in them and if $50 or $100 even is the difference in one you can get parts for and you trust may work past its warranty period, I would think that to be the one to get.
Look around and compare what you see to the above info, if it looks good and you have support– buy it. After owning one of these I could never be without one. If you cannot find a descent unit and are interested in one, give us a call & we’ll send one out. They are sometimes in short supply so there may be a lead time in delivery so bear with us. Pick a color and give us a call.