Micromobility is here. Personal electric vehicles are solving last-mile problems and replacing trips by car as major cities move away from car-friendly infrastructure. More and more commuters are realizing how much faster and easier it is to get to work on an electric scooter or electric bike than to slog through the dreaded rush hour traffic or be at the mercy of unreliable public transport.
When it comes to which personal electric vehicle is best, the choice between an e-bike or an e-scooter might already be made for you by some critical factors such as portability and storage capacity. Will a full-size electric bike fit in your small one-room flat? Can you carry it up the stairs in your building without a lift? If not, you are probably leaning towards a scooter or a small, foldable electric bike.
But there are many other considerations, especially if you’re just figuring out how to transition from traditional modes of transportation.
Other points of comparison are the need to easily reach other modes of transport or to carry larger loads, the distances you usually have to travel or the desire to get some exercise on the road. Both energy-efficient options are excellent choices in their own right, but they are very different types of vehicles, as we will see.
Comfort and Convenience
If you ask 3-4 people about the ideal electric vehicle for private use, you might get 3-4 different answers. Bodies and needs are different. Some people find riding an electric bike difficult or impossible. For others, standing and balancing on a scooter or skateboard may be too difficult. For a number of riders, an electric bike may simply be the most comfortable option.
Most electric bikes have large frames and tyres to support the extra weight of the battery and motor. Electric mountain bikes and hybrid bikes also have full or partial suspension systems, which are just as useful on bumpy, pothole-strewn city streets as they are on the trail. If comfort is your primary concern, consider the wide range of electric bikes, which also come in lighter, foldable versions to better meet the need for portability.
However, this is not to say that electric scooters do not offer riding comfort – they do. Many heavy-duty models even come with large pneumatic tyres and suspension systems, but at the cost of a larger vehicle that cannot be folded or transported as easily and can weigh as much as an e-bike. For most people, these heavy add-ons negate one of the main reasons for owning a scooter – convenience.
Most lightweight, sturdy scooters which weigh less than 30 pounds in both single- and dual-motor versions – ride smoothly and comfortably over level pavement and are easy to fold up and store in a closet or take on public transportation. Electric bikes, on the other hand, can weigh between 50 and 100 pounds.
But convenience is a relative term. If you want to use an electric vehicle to do your regular shopping or take your kids from one place to another, there’s no better choice than a sturdy electric bike with a large rack, extra seats and cargo capacity. If you want to pedal your way and get a workout, a lighter electric bike is the best choice. If your ideal mode of transport is to weave through traffic, travel light and have the option to easily catch a taxi or hop on a bus or train, a lightweight foldable electric scooter should be the clear choice.
Range and Speed
It is true that most electric bikes outperform most lightweight e-scooters in top speed, but there are of course exceptions. To keep the weight down, scooter manufacturers equip their vehicles with smaller batteries and motors. Most electric scooters reach a top speed of 22 mph, while electric bikes can reach speeds of up to 30 mph or more. But if you’re riding in heavy traffic or on crowded roads, speed may not be the most important thing.
E-scooters are sleek and maneuverable, easily maneuvering past cars and other vehicles that slow cyclists down. In a comparison between different electric vehicles, an Electrek reviewer writes: “I rarely felt I had to go faster than the scooter’s top speed because I had to slow down to pass cars anyway. With such a narrow vehicle, it was easy to glide between and around cars stuck in traffic when riding on roads that had no bike lane.”
It is also true that electric bikes tend to have a much longer range and are therefore best for longer rides and adventures, although charging the larger batteries can take more time. Many people who choose to buy an electric bike live in areas with low population density, many roads and trails, and longer distances. Scooter buyers, on the other hand, tend to live in big cities where lower speeds and ranges are a worthwhile trade-off for convenience, mobility and maneuverability.
Cost and Safety
When deciding between an electric bike and an electric scooter, cost is certainly not the least of your concerns. If you need to transport things, spending extra money on an electric bike may be the better (or only) option. However, not all e-bikes cost more than high-quality electric scooters (and not all e-bikes are more difficult to transport and store). How much money you are willing and able to invest in a personal electric vehicle depends largely on your specific budget and transport needs.
The price differences between more expensive electric scooters and cheaper electric bicycles are usually negligible. On the other hand, you can spend several thousand dollars on high-performance, specialized and cargo electric bikes. You can buy an electric scooter of similar quality and durability, for less than a thousand dollars. You should also bear in mind that an electric scooter is much more theft-proof.
Electric bikes are much more likely to be stolen because of their high resale prices and the fact that they have to be left outside for most rides. This increases the operating costs due to expensive bike locks and e-bike insurance. Electric bikes are also much more maintenance-intensive than well-made e-scooters, where you might only need to replace the battery every few years.
When it comes to riding safely, an electric bike can be a better option on the road than an electric scooter. There are several reasons for this, some of which have to do with the design of the vehicles themselves: Scooters sit lower and their wheels are much smaller, so they don’t handle bumps and jolts as well. In addition, scooter riders are less visible to motorists than cyclists.
When deciding between an electric bike and an electric scooter are As we have already established, the choice between an electric bike and an electric scooter (if you have to choose!) can depend on a number of variables that vary greatly from rider to rider. No personal electric vehicle is designed to meet all possible transport needs. However, when it comes to cost, convenience and ease of use, electric scooters might be the best option for most urban commuters and riders who travel around town.