Should I Get an Electric Bike or a Scooter?
June 5, 2023
When you’re making the choice between an electric bike (e-bike) and scooter, you’re probably finding there are many similarities. Both are greener, convenient options for shorter-distance travel. With the benefits of electric bikes, mopeds, and scooters overlapping, it’s hard to know which one is the right one for you. So, which is better: an e-bike, moped, or scooter?
Both mopeds and e-bikes offer riders a seat, whereas electric scooters only offer the option to stand. Scooters and e-bikes, however, are generally allowed in bike lanes, in parks, and on most walking paths, where mopeds must ride in the same lane as cars. If you’re looking for more versatility in what you can do with your motorized vehicle, opt for an e-bike or a scooter.
While e-bikes and scooters have much in common, they also have notable differences. They aren’t interchangeable options, so you need to consider several factors when making a choice between the two. Let’s break down the characteristics between an e-bike and a scooter, as well as factors that will help you make the right choice.
What Is an E-Bike?
An e-bike is a motorized vehicle with a motor that only activates when the bicycle is pedaled or activated by throttle. The motor assists the rider with pedaling, helping them reach speeds as high as twenty-eight miles per hour(MPH), depending on the class of the e-bike.
What Is an Electric Scooter?
An electric scooter, or motorized scooter, is a stand-up scooter that has a motor or electric hub to power it. Unlike e-bikes, electric scooters do not require riders to push or pedal to activate the motor. Riders can activate the motor by engaging the throttle and can reach average speeds as high as twenty-five MPH, depending on the scooter.
How Do I Choose?
When choosing between an electric scooter and an e-bike, you need to consider the following factors: your lifestyle, your reasons for investing in electric micro-mobility vehicles, and safety of your vehicle. Let’s explore each of these factors in-depth.
Need for Speed (and Range)
Your average scooter and e-bike will have the same speed, somewhere around twenty MPH. However, as the scooter market expands, more and more electric scooters can reach speeds of forty and even sixty miles per hour. Class 3 e-bikes can reach a maximum speed of twenty-eight MPH, but in some states (like New York), they are limited to speeds of twenty-five MPH. Some ebike designs now are reaching speeds north of 40 mph, but are intended for use on private property only.
With scooters reaching these higher speeds, their range shortens considerably when riders stay at those speeds consistently. With a full charge and no extra batteries, the average scooter can ride for about twenty miles before requiring charge. E-bikes, however, can range between twenty and thirty-five miles or more under the same circumstances. E-bikes with larger batteries will have a wider range, with ranges extending significantly if riders pedal. The option to pedal is not available to scooter riders, making their range less variable.
Consider Your Health
The open air does wonders for your physical and mental health, but what about exercise? If one of your main motivations to switch to a scooter or e-bike is exercise, an e-bike is the way to go.
Even if an e-bike is equipped with a throttle, they still require pedaling to use the motor’s pedal-assist functionality. Scooters? Not so much. Scooters solely rely on their throttle, requiring almost no physical engagement from the rider other than standing, steering, and activating the throttle. This makes riding a scooter a leisurely activity, and not one that can build or improve physical health to the extent an e-bike can.
Safety and Regulations
Because the popularity of electric scooters is fairly recent, there is far less regulation and infrastructure in place to protect and educate their riders. For many riders, it’s unclear if their electric scooter belongs in bike lanes, on sidewalks, or alongside cars. Many riders make the mistake of riding on the sidewalk, resulting in colliding with pedestrians and other liability concerns. Additionally, there are not many options to insure your electric scooter.
E-bikes have far more infrastructure in place to support them. Most states and places will have specific, clear-cut regulations regarding what class of e-bike is allowed in what setting. E-bike insurance is fairly common as well, although it is not required.
In terms of rider safety, scooters fall short here. Due to a lack of clear regulations on scooters, many riders opt to not wear protective gear, such as helmets or reflective gear. This combined with scooters being lower to the ground, riders often find themselves in dangerous situations and collisions because of their lack of visibility to others around them. Also, their wheels are smaller, making it more difficult for them to safely ride over bumps or potholes. All of these factors combined can lead to dangerous situations.
E-bikes are designed with larger tires, allowing them to navigate shifts in pavement, potholes, and jolts with ease. If you already have traditional bike gear, you have everything you need to ride safely. Due to the e-bike’s size, they are more visible to cars on the road.
Ultimately, electric scooters are a convenient way to go shorter distances, but there may not be infrastructure to safely support using them for regular commuting purposes. They can be great for leisure in certain circumstances, but the responsibility is on the rider to be informed about scooter safety. E-bikes are more versatile and are generally safer options when it comes to riding on uneven terrain, knowing where to ride, and are more visible.
Looking for more information about which micro-mobility vehicle is right for you, including the difference between a moped and an e-bike? Ride1Up has your back!