Choosing An Electric Scooter
(Contributed by Mark Loon)
You’ve seen them zooming around and grown tired of walking everywhere. It’s time to get an E-scooter of your own. Like most people who are new to e-scooters, you will find the myriad of terminology and numbers to be daunting. Welcome to Pick-a-scooter for dummies!
When we first visit an e-scooter shop, the first thing that we usually go for is the price. “Uncle how much is this?” While this is an important consideration for most people, there are a few other important factors that you need to take note of when picking the best e-scooter for you.
Rules Of Thumb
Some rules of thumb before we go into the details:
- Suspensions will make the ride more comfortable but also add to maintenance and weight
- Bigger battery capacity (Ah) increases the range but also the weight
- Smaller and lighter also means less stable and comfortable
- More comfort and stability also means bigger size and weight
- Pneumatic wheels are more comfortable and lighter than solid wheels but they can puncture (check this: Tires)
- Keep it simple, focus on the features that are really important to you. More features=more potential issues
- Most importantly, test ride the scooter before putting your money down!
Key Factors To Consider
The Range – how far do you want to ride your e scooter per charge? Do you use it only for short runs to the supermarket or are you trying for the Round Island Marathon? The keyword here is battery capacity (Ah). Depending on your weight, a battery with 10 Ah is considered short range (~20-30 km), something under 20 Ah is considered medium range (~30-40 km) and anything over 20 Ah is considered long range (over 40 km). The bigger the battery, the higher the price, the heavier the scooter. Law of physics and economics.
More details here: Batteries
The Weight – will you be riding from point to point or will your scooter be a last mile solution? E-scooters will weigh anything between 6 kg to 40 kg. According to LTA rules anything above 20 kg can’t be used in public. If you are planning to 'Ride-Bus/Mrt-Ride' picking a light weight and compact scooter will be a better option. If you are commuting from point to point directly the weight should not be on the top of your list.
The Size - physical dimensions are an important consideration if you bring your scooter onto public transport frequently. Most public transport operators impose upper limits for PMDs on their services. In Singapore it is 120cm length, 70cm height, 40cm width. The physical dimensions are also important if you plan to transport the scooter in your car. Some scooters are not foldable!
Related article: When Taking Public Transport
The Power – 250W, 500W, 1000W. what’s all that? When you see W it means Watts and without getting too technical, it means how much power your motor can produce when match with the right power supply. You will need power to carry your weight around, climb slopes and gain speed. If you are on the heavy side (over 90 kg) then something above 500W will be a minimum for you. If you are over 70 kg, then you can probably get away with anything above 350W. If you are under 70 kg, then lucky you. Probably any scooter in the market is available to you. As a simple rule, buying the most power within your budget is your best bet.
Mentioned in one breath with the motor power is always the Voltage. In simple terms, the voltage here means the rated operating voltage of your scooter, typically ranging from 24 volts to 60 volts. Generally, the higher the voltage, the higher your scooters speed and torque, but also higher weight and costs. Test a few different models and go with what you are comfortable with.
The above are some very basic fundamentals on how to pick a scooter. There are a number of other factors that you will need to consider such as ride comfort, quality, ergonomics, reliability, warranty etc. These are important but are best researched in relevant forums such as BWSS. There are to many models and variations in the market to list each of their pros and cons here.
Knowing about the basic like battery capacity(Ah), motor power(W) and voltage(V) will help prepare you with valuable information when looking at scooters and also makes sure you ask the right questions when talking to a sales person.