Hardly a day goes by these days when there isn't a news article about the electric scooter. Some recognise this machine as being exactly what frustrated commuters need whilst others are unsure about its lasting impact on the city.
We know that the electric scooter will (and is) revolutionising the city commute. There are teething problems, as there are with all changes, one of which is making sure that the rider gets the right scooter for their commute, for the right price and for their riding ability.
And this is why we created the Adult Electric Scooter Buying Guide for 2019 because different riders need different scooters
Your daily commute may be short in mileage but long in time or you may face the double whammy of a long journey that takes a long time. The electric scooter for commuting is often touted as the ideal solution for today’s city commute - which it is - but at Ride with Elka, we are conscious that not every commuter needs the same scooter. Hence, investing in the right machine that will definitely last the distance is paramount to commuting success on two wheels.
There is an old saying, ‘buy cheap, buy twice’.
There are also many new companies springing up either offering electric scooters for sale or as city-wide sharing schemes. As you would expect, it is possible to buy a cheap electric scooter from China but you also won’t be surprised to discover that not all of these machines are of the highest quality. Unreliable and poorly manufactured, much to your frustration you will have wasted your money, and you will be at risk of road accidents.
Reliability is key
One frustration of the daily commute is how unreliable the transport network in and out of the city can be. The electric scooter aims to resolve that by giving you the means to commute quickly to where you need to be. You’ll save cash too and you never know, you might find that the scooter makes the daily grind of commuting not only fun but also an adventure.
But you need the right scooter. And this means understanding what to look for when it comes to examining the growing range of electric scooters for sale in the UK. It means getting to grips with the technical aspects, like the capacity of the electric scooter battery and the mileage range it delivers, as well as other aspects like braking technology and tyres.
We’ll also take an unbiased approach examining the range of high-quality scooters, as well as pointing out all the good bits about the Elka Model T.
If you need any more help or info, we’re here to answer your questions. There is the live chat facility on the website or you can email the Elka team.
The Ride with Elka Team
Choosing an electric scooter for the daily commute is a great choice. You’ll save cash and leave the stress of busy tube and train stations behind. It’s also far more fun to scoot to work! In this electric scooter buying guide, we examine all the important features to look for when buying a scooter.
Why an electric scooter?
Commuting problems are many and varied. Aside from the time spent commuting, it is also expensive to get to and from work, a cost that isn’t reducing any time soon. The average commuter in the UK spends £149 a month getting to and from work. In London, this figure rises sharply to £305 a month[i]. There’s also the stress of commuting, the psychological impact of which is increasingly being studied across the globe [ii]. And then there’s pollution, the effects of which are choking us and our cities.
Doing nothing about the stress, time and pollution of the daily commute isn’t an option. There are solutions, one of which is to enjoy the daily commute, save money and contribute far less in terms of pollution with an electric scooter.
Key features to look for in a scooter purchase
You need to be confident you have the right electric scooter for you and within your budget. An electric scooter must be reliable, giving you confidence and peace of mind that you’ll make it into the office on time – and home again!
THE ELECTRIC SCOOTER BATTERY
Possibly the most important feature of the electric scooter is the battery simply because this is the ‘fuel’ that moves you from A to B. You need a scooter battery that delivers its charge over the range of kilometres so you can comfortably scoot to and from work without worrying it will run out of charge.
Electric scooter batteries are rechargeable but not all batteries deliver the same cycle performance.
* The higher the battery ‘ah’ rating, the further the scooter should travel before it needs charging.
* A bigger battery doesn’t always mean better, however. To save on charging costs and optimise charging time, opt for a battery that delivers the cycle you need it to. For example, our 36v 6.4 Ah rechargeable lithium battery delivers an average cycle of 15 km before it needs recharging, more than enough for daily city commuting.
* Lithium rechargeable scooter batteries are considered the superior option as they retain their cycle performance for many years.
* Check if the battery is replaceable. You don’t want your electric scooter to become obsolete if you can’t change the battery and it’s always useful to be able to charge without the burden of the scooter (that is, you can remove the battery and plug to charge).
* Consider the charging time of the battery. The quicker it charges from empty, the better. A charge time of between two and four hours is considered the norm. However, some of the larger scooters can take 8-12 hours to charge.
THE ELECTRIC SCOOTER TYRES
The type of electric scooter tyre is important as it adds to the comfort of riding your scooter. There are different types of scooter tyre;
* Traditional scooter tyres – comprising of an inner tube and outer tyre, this traditional design has one problem: punctures.
* Hard, rubber tyres – also known as punctureless tyres, they sound great but because they are hard, they make for an unpleasant scooter ride as the suspension is compromised.
* Vacuum sealed tyres – these are similar to the traditional tyre but because the tyre and inner tube are sealed, they offer unrivalled performance. Your comfort when riding isn’t compromised and punctures are rare (when was the last time your car got a puncture? Yep, it’s because they’re vacuum sealed.).
THE ELECTRIC SCOOTER BRAKES
You need a simple, yet effective braking system on an electric scooter. Different scooter manufacturers use different systems;
* A footbrake is a rear brake used by pressing your heel down on the rear wheel ‘mudguard or fender. The resulting friction slows the scooter.
* Software brakes are operated by the touch of a button. They can also come with specialised software solutions, like “autoguard” which guarantees the motor shuts off when the brake is pressed.
* Regenerative braking is a new braking technology that converts the rider’s kinetic energy into electric energy to recharge the battery. Although this sounds good in theory, in practice electric scooters struggle to generate sufficient kinetic energy that will result in any significant enhancements to battery range.
* Disc brakes are considered to be a reliable braking system on an electric scooter. Depending on the manufacturer, you may have a disc brake on both the back and front wheels. You operate the brake by squeezing the lever on the handlebars, something you’ll be familiar with if you ride a bike.
Our electric scooters rely on disc braking. A proven braking technology, when you press the brake lever the scooter will slow. Press it hard and the scooter comes to a clean stop, something you will need on your busy morning and evening commute. Disc brakes are easy to maintain and won’t need replacing for years to come.
THE FOLDABLE, LIGHTWEIGHT ELECTRIC SCOOTER
The electric scooter for commuting solves what is referred to as the first and last mile commute problem. In other words, you might still need to take the tube into the city but for overground distance, you’ll use your electric scooter.
This means you’ll want a folding scooter and one that is light enough to carry. Our electric scooters weigh-in at under 13.5kg and is easy to fold and carry.
RUNNING COSTS OF AN ELECTRIC SCOOTER
The low running costs of an electric scooter will see you save significantly on the daily commute.
Buying the scooter
A very basic electric scooter will set you back no more than £150 which sounds great until you realise that your electric scooter for commuting continually breaks down, or the battery discharges quickly. On the morning commute, you need to be confident you’ll get to work and you certainly don’t want to entertain the inconvenience of a breakdown on the evening commute.
At the higher end of the market, you could spend way over £1,000 on an electric scooter but you’ll find that the features of an expensive model won’t deliver any more benefits than that of a mid-priced model.
Mid-price range scooters, around £450 to £550, offer a range of fantastic key features including a rechargeable lithium battery, reliable braking system and sealed tyres. They are also lightweight, perfect for folding for the last-minute dash for the tube or bus.
You’ll also need to consider battery charging costs. Depending on the energy supplier and the charge per kWh of electricity, the average cost per charge, based on four hours active charge, is around 50p[iii].
Insurance isn’t a legal requirement for riding your electric scooter but having said that, because the pavements and cycle lanes of London and other UK cities are swamped with people, cyclists, cars and HGVs, public liability insurance wouldn’t go amiss. The average UK premium for public liability for individuals starts at around £60 a year although like all financial products, you need to check what cover the insurance policies gives you.
Effectively, you are looking for a product that covers you against claims and legal costs should you be involved in an accident and are sued for personal injury claims, something that can and has happened recently, although not against a scooter rider but was a personal injury claim against a cyclist.
You’ll also want to consider insuring your electric scooter against theft. Many insurers will also include eventualities such as fire too, although electric scooter fires are rare.
Where to buy public liability insurance? Use a reputable insurance comparison site to find the best insurance deals for public liability. Before you buy, always make sure you read the small print. You may find exclusions that means you are not covered when you think you are!
You can’t fail to have noticed the uproar around the introduction of electric scooters. An increasingly common sight in London, they are also growing in popularity in many cities across the globe.
An issue that is raised is safety surrounding electric scooters, where and when they should be used. Tragedies are thankfully rare but there have been deaths reported after collisions between scooters and other vehicles. London saw its first electric scooter fatality in July 2019, followed by another serious electric scooter accident a few days later.
There is a lot yet to be done to ensure that the scooter becomes an accepted and acceptable means of commuting in the city. However, we want to make sure that everyone who commutes using a scooter does so safely.
Whilst we wait for the Highway Act 1835 to be updated or repealed (does anyone still drive their donkey along the pavement in London or anywhere in the UK?), promoting safety means following the basic rules of the road and pavement etiquette:
- We encourage our riders for the Model T electric scooters for commuting to be aged 16 or over.
- Pavement etiquette is essential - being aware of your surroundings and people, commuting with focus and alertness, and a willingness to share the available space is essential for safe scooting in the city.
- Ride your scooter with the right attitude - in other words, ride with consideration of others at all times, just as you should when you are behind the wheel of a car or cycling through the city.
- Wear protective gear every time - this includes a helmet that is well-fitting, along with protective pads on elbows and knees.
- Practice before you commute - riding an electric scooter is easy when you know how. That means on delivery of your new scooter take time to practice and get to know the machine, how the brakes works and so on.
- Service and maintain it - just like other vehicles and bikes on the road, keeping your scooter ‘roadworthy’ is essential. That means replacing tyres when the tread is worn, making sure the brakes are in working order and that nothing is protruding from your scooter that could catch pedestrians as you ride past.
- Be aware of your speed - excessive speed contributes to accidents and not just with scooters. Limit your speed in areas that are busy with pedestrians and other road users.
TOP SELLING, POPULAR ELECTRIC SCOOTERS FOR THE COMMUTER
We’re suitably proud of our Model T electric scooter. Its removable lithium battery, powerful motor and state-of-the-art braking system make it one of the best on the market but there are others, all of which could solve your commuting problems.
Xiaomi M365 Pro
Xiaomi M365 Pro @Vivescooters
✔ Long battery life
✔ Simple to use
✔ Different riding modes
✘ Takes some getting used to!
✘ Non-swappable battery means the scooter must be charged indoors
is the Xiaomi M365 Pro, the latest model that boasts significant improvements since its predecessor the Xiaomi M365. The more powerful battery and slightly more powerful motor mean that this scooter has an impressive 28-mile range per battery cycle, perfect for the longer commute.
With a top speed of 15.5 mph, it is an impressive machine although there are a few drawbacks that reviewers of this new-to-the-market scooter pointed out. There is no suspension, for example, and so you are relying on the tyres to absorb the lumps and bumps of riding along, although it copes well with tarmac and concrete.
The ‘sports mode’ will give you a smooth acceleration,once you’ve got the hang of it. The small wheels and small handlebars make the ride unstable when you’re trying to alter the riding mode. The braking system is also effective (which is what you need!) but even experienced riders found that there is a need to hang on with both hands when braking sharply.
The Xiaomi M365 Pro can be used on its own or with the smartphone app that also contains a handy feature called ‘motor lock’. It means drive away theft is impossible.
It also has a large screen that gives all the essential info you need including estimated mileage, total mileage, battery temperature and battery level too.
For an electric scooter to be used for commuting, there is no denying the power and range of this model.
Ninebot ES2 / Ninebot ES4 max
The Ninebot ES2 @PureScooters
✔ Optional second battery
✔ Excellent smartphone app
✔ 3 speed mode
✔ Shock absorbers front and back
✔ Cruise control
✘ Low maximum weight
✘ Additional battery expensive
The Ninebot ES2 is a more powerful version of its older sibling ES1. If you’re wondering what the ES4 Max is, it is the same same electric scooter but with an additional, spare battery similar to the Elka Model T scooter. Officially, there are only two models of scooter - the ES1 and the ES2.
The similarities between the Xiaomi M365 and the ES2 are striking as they should be as the M365 model heavily influenced the design. It has all the impressive features that you would expect. You can set your own speed limit via the smartphone app.
It’s the battery that is the main attraction with the ES2 easily managing 15 miles in one charge with ‘perfect conditions’ (that is, no harsh accelerating, not hills and so on). Invest in the second battery and, as you would expect, the range virtually doubles making is a popular scooter for the city commute.
Charging from 0 to fully charged in a little under four hours, this certainly a great scooter to take a second look at. With a powerful 700w motor, you won’t be hanging around either.
On the flipside, it does have a low maximum limit even though the review we’ve come across haven’t found a problem with a ‘heavier’ user on board, although acceleration was slower. The cost of the additional battery also has earnt it favourable reviews although if you are looking for a reliable, powerful electric scooter for commuting, the ES2 (or ES4) won’t leave you short.
You’ll get a pound change from £500 for the ES2 (although it’s always worth shopping around) with the ES4 coming in at around £680.
Zoom Stryder EX
Zoom Stryder EX @PureScooters
✔ Super zippy
✔Kickstart can be set to optional
✔ Responsive braking (incs. emergency brake)
✔ Automatic headlight
✔ Brilliant battery life
✘ Riders complained of the ride feeling a little ‘loose’
✘ Cruise control hard to use
The rather niftily named Zoom Stryder EX certainly ticks plenty of boxes. Again, the stand out feature is the battery. A recent change in the battery has improved delivery of power no end, something that many reviewers use as forgiving it for feeling ‘loose’ in its ride (play in the handlebars, that kind of thing). While other scooters struggle to maintain its top speed charging up hills, the Zoom Stryder EX had no such problems, great news if you have an uphill on your commute.
It did drop speed as battery life was low and although this was expected, some rider felt that the drop in speed made it difficult to balance.
The Zoom Stryder EX is an example of a scooter using regenerative braking which although super responsive - that is, stops you when it need it too! - they do feel different to the disc brakes that your find on the Xiaomi M365 Pro, for example. It has an emergency brake which when used, was very effective.
Battery range was good and generally, the feedback was positive. If you want a super zippy ride and have some hilly points in your commute, then the Zoom Stryder EX at £598.99 is worth a second look.
Inokim Light @VRZone
✔ Great for beginners
✔ Speed limit settings of 8, 17 and 25 km/h
✔ Good battery life
✘ Acceleration good but takes some getting used to with the kickstart
✘ On the heavy side for carrying
If ever there was a scooter that could be described as middle-of-the-road for everything, it is the Inokim Light. That said, the name ‘light’ implies that it is although most reviews you come across say that for a short hop, carrying the scooter is not a problem but for anything longer, it is slightly too heavy. It does come with a handy carry strap, however.
Where this scooter does win is just how functional it is. There are no ‘bells and whistles’ on it as such which is why for the nervous scooting newbie, this is a great model to start with. It delivers what it says on the tin - it has an excellent battery life with a decent range of 25km to 30km, so perfect for the city commute. The battery charge quickly enough and although you won’t be winning any uphill races, this is a scooter that performs.
It has a three speed limit setting and although acceleration is good, you may find you wobble a little as you get used to the routine of kickstart and accelerate.
It comes out top for style although you’ll find most Inokim Lights being sold second hand for anything between £800 and £900 as it has now been superseded by other models (take a look at the Inokim OX next).
Inokim OX @InokimUK
✔ A scooter for on and off road
✔ Adjustable suspension system
✔ Brilliant battery life and range
Everything is impressive about the Inokim OX. If you want more power, more miles, more grunt and more bite, you’ve got it. But you’ll pay more. This is a top end electric scooter, retailing in the UK at £1,800.
It has a 60v battery that delivers a range of up to 62 miles, so if you enjoy taking a detour on your way home or to the office, then this is the one for you. It has been described as the SUV of the electric scooter world so you should get a fair idea of what it's like.
It has a top speed of 29mph according to its impressive specification list which is perfect for off-road (ie. not for chasing through London's streets and pavements!). Still very new, the feedback thus far is encouraging but the price tag might be off-putting for some. But sometimes, pay more, you do actually get more.
When it comes to buying the right scooter for you, as well as budget, you also need to consider whether it is geared towards an experienced scooter rider or a newbie, as well as battery and range.
With your brand new scooter out the box, charged ready to go, your daily commute just got a lot more fun and a lot cheaper. Until that is, there is a puncture or technical malfunction. When you’re riding every day, there’s also the question of keeping your electric scooter in good working order with regular maintenance.
Not all electric scooter retailers offer after-sales support. At Ride with ELKA, we’ve thought hard about developing the most affordable maintenance options. Here are your choices;
* The Standard Package is perfect for when you want to buy the scooter upfront with repair support via our app
* With the Commuter Package, you’ll pay for the scooter monthly with repair support via the app and any replacement parts sent by priority service and you’ll own the scooter after 12 months.
* The Commuter Pro Package is also a pay monthly option that includes repair support, priority part replacement service, a repair service at a time that suits you, spare battery and a safety kit. At the end of 12 months, you’ll own the scooter. The beauty of this package is that you won't be ‘off the road’ for longer than a day. We arrange scooter pick up, repair and return within 24 hours, minimising disruption to your commute.
An electric scooter for commuting is a fantastic investment that will save you money and make the daily commute less of a grind. Knowing what to look for in an electric scooter for commuting means you get the right one for you.
A lithium rechargeable battery is not only replaceable but efficient and reliable. Scooter tyres need to be robust and not prone to punctures. Brakes need to be easy to use and maintain and offer superior braking too.
Lightweight and foldable, an electric scooter for commuting will change your commute for the better.
[iii] Source - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1K29dR2jJfpajIVrNQRd7lXWWnNV34wxLW2aGYiZ6Tg4/edit#heading=h.5vz0cpqx3kc7 but swap for published blog link saving the cost of commuting one