Best Electric Scooter of 2020
Best Long-Range Scooter
Ninebot KickScooter MAX
The Ninebot KickScooter MAX offers a well-balanced blend of comfort, portability, long travel radius, and affordability. This machine has a smooth ride thanks to its ample-sized pneumatic tires. The 350-watt motor also produces plenty of power to tackle hills. The single lever, dual brake system made for easy steering while braking. The broad standing platform will accommodate even the largest of feet and the redundant locking mechanism on the steering column means you can pin the throttle with confidence.
Although this model is certainly fun to ride, it is designed with transportation in mind rather than recreation. Given the intended use, it's a bit heavier (43.4 lbs.), bigger (44 1/4" long), and more expensive than other models in the class. If you're going to put some miles on your machine, then these features are a boon. But if you just want to take a spin at the local park, it's probably overkill. Regardless of your intended use, this machine is top of the line and worth the high price of admission.
Read Full Review: Ninebot KickScooter MAX
The Best Mid-Range Scooter
Xiaomi Mi M365
If a stylish, efficient, and affordable scooter is what you're after, then look no further than the Xiaomi Mi M365. This shred machine earned above-average marks in every testing metric, and, thanks to its well-designed pneumatic tires, has one of the smoothest rides in the class. This machine is reasonably fast, too. With a max speed just under 15 mph, a long-lasting battery life, and manageable carrying weight, the M365 successfully balances fun with practical concerns like portability.
The M365 sports a single lever, dual brake system (electric in the front, disk in the rear) that will consistently bring the rider to a stop should the unexpected occur. However, one tester reported that some adjustments to the cable actuating the rear disk brake might be necessary to achieve power on par with other models that employ the same brake system. Given that the rear brake is the only significant concern that testers reported amidst many accolades, we think that this model will appeal to the broadest array of users.
Read Full Review: Xiaomi Mi M365
Best Bang for Your Buck
The Hiboy MAX offers consumers a lot of value. The machine is a leader in the class in both power and range. The scooter is fleet with a max speed of 19.3 mph and, importantly, has decent braking capabilities. Add to these desirable features a competitive price and it should be no wonder why we favored this vehicle.
While the MAX has a lot to offer, it isn't without its problems. Specifically, the non-pneumatic, solid rubber tires do little to mitigate the feedback from bumps and cracks in the road. We also observed an unusual amount of wear on the rear tire following our brakes tests. As a final concern, the hinge-lock on the steering column/ carrying handle is single-stage, meaning that you need to take extra care to ensure that it's secured. That said, we think that this machine is a fantastic deal and worth a look regardless of your budget.
Read Full Review: Hiboy MAX
Best for Portability
Razor E Prime III
The Razor E Prime III has a lot of appeal as a ride and carry commuter vehicle such as those commuiting on a college or corporate campus. The reason for this assessment is that it is relatively affordable, it is simple to operate, it's light enough to easily carry through a library or office, and it has a decent travel range. In addition, it has a simple and effective folding/ unfold locking mechanism, so you'll be good to ride or carry the machine without mishap.
There is a lot to like about the E Prime III but it's not without its shortcomings. Specifically, the model has a prolonged recharge interval at 6 hours when the battery is fully depleted. Additionally, the motor's power tapers with the battery charge. Moreover, we observed some unusual wear to the back tire following the brake tests. While there are some issues with this machine, we maintain that it is a good choice for those who need a portable vehicle for short frequent commutes such as those made by students living near campus.
Read Full Review: Razor E Prime III
Best for Braking
Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES2
The Ninebot Kickscooter by Segway ES2 is an attractive-looking scooter with a lot of thoughtful features — such as head, tail, and under deck lights — that make it a joy to ride. However, what sets this model apart from the group is its superior braking capabilities. Not only is it a breeze to stop on steep descents, it can — figuratively speaking — stop on a dime. To put it in plain terms, when using both the electric and fender brakes the ES2 can go from 12 mph to a complete stop in just 16.3 feet.
Although the braking alone makes the ES2 worth a look, it is not without faults. For example, the scooter suffers from a limited travel radius of just 8.5 effective miles which is below the class average. Additionally, it lacks the power to climb the steepest of our test hills (15% grade), though it made it much of the way up before stalling out. On the upside, the ES2 will maintain its max speed throughout the battery charge which means you can cruise along at full tilt until it's time to plug it in — a definite plus.
Read Full Review: Ninebot Kickscooter by Segway ES2
Why You Should Trust Us?
Senior Research Analyst Austin Palmer and Senior Review Editor Nick Miley have more than 15 years of combined experience in consumer product analyses and reviews. Austin has extensive experience testing and reviewing personal transportation devices such as hub motor and belt-driven electric skateboards, monowheels, hoverboards, and self-balancing scooters, as well as a myriad of other electronic devices. Additionally, Nick has spent years in university laboratories posing research questions, designing experiments, refining protocols, and writing about the results.
To find out which electric scooters are the best in class, we did an exhaustive investigation of all the top brands and models. Based on this research, we then bought all the models that showed promise to perform at a high level. We ran each through a battery of comparative testing that pushed the machines to the limits of their performance, utility, and safety. These analyses include, but are not limited to, speed, hill-climbing ability, braking, battery longevity and recharge speed, and portability. Our goal here is to simulate the highest demands a consumer could place on these machines and evaluate which could stand-up to such impositions.
Related: How We Tested Electric Scooters
Analysis and Test Results
To analyze the practical strengths and weaknesses of scooters, we devised quantifiable tests to allow us to rate each product side by side. An analysis of this sort prevents us from making vague, anecdotal assertions. Instead, we hone in on specific categories of interest, such as scooter portability, battery range, braking, and power. The following sections delve into each of the scooter test categories and elucidate how we quantify the performance of each product therein.
Related: Buying Advice for Electric Scooters
When making an electric scooter purchase, you first need to consider how the scooter will primarily be used. Generally speaking, the more you ask from these vehicles, the more you will have to fork over at checkout. However, this does not equate to a reduction in value so long as the functionality increases with the price. To put this into context, let's say I want a commuter scooter. My particular commute is 5 miles each way, and the route has a few short, steep hills. When I get to my destination, I need to fold the scooter up so I can ride the elevator to my office. Furthermore, it's not possible to recharge the battery for the return trip.
This kind of commute demands a scooter like the Ninebot MAX or if you don't want to carry the folded scooter, the Glion. Both of these products require a considerable outlay of cash. However, we would say that they offer a high value because they can meet all of the requirements above, whereas a less expensive product would leave you walking up the hills or running out of battery. Conversely, if one is looking for a fun toy for the kids to play with on the driveway, the high-end scooters would be overkill. Accordingly, the value would fall because a more appropriate scooter, such as the XPRIT or the GOTRAX, could fit the bill at a fraction of the cost. The moral of the story is that value is, in large part, derived from getting the right tool for the job.
Range, or travel radius, should be the first factor to consider when shopping for an electric scooter because all the other considerations fall by the wayside if your ride runs out of juice, and you end up walking. To collect comparable range data on the models we first set up a flat test track of known length on surface streets near our lab. We then ran the contending models around the course at their top speed until the batteries drained to the point that they could no longer propel the scooter and rider.
This test highlights some nuanced issues that require the establishment of two subcategories to quantify and accurately explain the range of each model. These are: effective range and maximum range. We define the effective range as the number of miles traversed at or near the scooter's maximum speed. Conversely, we define the maximum range as the highest distance you can travel at any speed. Ideally, one would want the battery to propel the scooter and rider at full tilt until the very end of the battery's charge. However, this is not the case with a number of the models tested. Not surprisingly, the Xiaomi Mi M365 and the Glion Dolly Foldable both run at ~13 mph for 12.8 and 13.2 miles, respectively, until the battery died.
Complementing the range analysis is charge time. All the models in this review, except for the Razor E300, use Lithium-Ion batteries. Average charging time for these batteries is about 4.5 hours. While charge times vary a great deal, one way to look at a model's performance is the ratio of range to charge time. Using this ratio as a yardstick, the MEGAWHEELS is a stand out with a range of ~10 miles and a recharge time of just 3 hours.
We concede that power is a fairly general term, but it's nonetheless an important performance consideration for any motor-powered vehicle test. As such, we formalized this amorphous concept by breaking it apart into an assessment of a vehicle's maximum speed and its ability to climb both moderate (3.5%) and steep (10.5%) grades. The speed test — which was conducted on flat ground — is simply an assessment of maximum speed in miles per hour.
Before we dive into the power tests, we should first mention how these scooters actually get going. Most of the test models will not take-off from a dead stop without the rider first kicking once to get them moving. Once the human gives the machine some momentum, the electric motor takes over and pays the human back in kind plus some serious interest as it accelerates and cruises without any additional input.
Okay, with that out of the way, on to the speed tests. Once the vehicle was moving from the initial pump, we took them up to their maximum flat ground speed — the speed with the throttle fully depressed — and it was timed while it traversed a 100 ft stretch. This test was repeated three times for each model. Finally, we calculated the average feet per second of the three trials and converted it into miles per hour. The Ninebots and the MEGAWHEELS ES are standouts in this category, reaching speeds in excess of 16 mph.
As for hill climbing capability, all the models in our test (except the XPRIT) cruised up the 3.5% grade with mild reductions in speed ranging from 3-7 mph. The XPRIT was defiant, moving at a pace akin to a crawl when directed onto this modest incline. When forced to ascend the much steeper (10.5% grade) quarter-mile test slope, most scooters displayed their lack of power and failed to complete the ascent. However, the Glion and the GOTRAX both powered through, albeit with significant decreases in speed. Conversely, the MAX flew up this hill like it had a hell hound on its heels.
An electric scooter's ride is a more subjective metric than the others discussed thus far. However, it is a critical aspect of our appraisal because it evaluates the smoothness — or lack thereof — that any person who has operated a vehicle knows. To make this assessment as objective as possible, we test on a 1.2-mile surface street loop that has a variety of surface textures. When the scooter wheels pass over bumps and cracks in the road, we asked ourselves: how aware am I of these features? When on rough surfaces that cause vibration, we asked: how do my hands and feet feel? Is there any discomfort? Do I feel in control? And most importantly, is this still fun?
One way to contextualize the questions posed above is to create a spectrum for comparison that has a skateboard (small, hard rubber wheels) on one end and a beach cruiser bike (large pneumatic or air-filled tires) on the other. As the reader may already know, skateboards give a ton of feedback passing over cracks. In comparison, pneumatic tires on a bike give and absorb vibration quite well.
The products in this review that enjoy the highest marks in the ride metric — such as the MAX, Xiaomi, and GOTRAX — have pneumatic tires. Accordingly, they transfer minimal vibration through the handlebars and the deck (standing platform). On the other hand, the models with hard tires, such as the Glion and the XPRIT, offer relatively rough rides. Even the Ninebot Segway ES, which has a front and rear suspension system, does not achieve equivalent ride quality to the models with pneumatic tires.
Ride isn't just a luxury. A rough riding product can be a safety concern because roughness at its extreme translates to a loss of stability and, ultimately, control. On the other hand, a smooth ride provides a predictable platform that allows the operator to focus on other concerns such as cars, pedestrians, and potholes that have the potential to give more serious feedback.
Up to this point, we have concerned ourselves with what makes each test model go: how fast, how far, how smooth. To be sure, these are important features to consider. However, we also think that stopping is pretty important. Before going into how we assess braking, let's first look at the different types of brakes that are employed on the scooters in our review. These are electronic, disk, fender, and drum. The first is a battery dependent magnetic device, while the latter three are friction devices.
In most cases, the brakes discussed above will be paired either as disk + motor or fender + motor. In the case of the MAX, it's drum + motor. The Razor, and Glion are the exceptions as they only employ a single brake.
The way we see it, there are two scenarios in which brake performance is critical. The first is flat-ground braking when something unexpected occurs, and you need to bring the scooter to a rapid halt. An example of this would be: you're cruising down the street, and a car unexpectedly pulls out in front of you. The other is when you're heading down a hill. Although zipping around at high speeds can be a hoot, hills are a place where things can quickly get out of hand, so you need to be able to rein it in quickly. This sounds like we have the makings of a test!
We dubbed our hill test the confidence on descent test. We conducted these tests on three different grades (5, 10, and 15%). All the models performed well on the shallower two grades, so we'll move on to discuss the steepest of the three. All models here reviewed allowed the testers to hold their speed to a comfortable level or come to a complete stop on a 15% grade. However, we discovered that if we carried speed into the hill this outcome became a bit harder to achieve, requiring additional brake pressure and resulting in prolonged slowdown distances.
Models with fender brakes proved a bit more difficult to use on the steeps due to the required change in body position and weight distribution. Models with dual brake systems activated by a single hand lever proved most effective on descents because the system is quite powerful. Moreover, the convenience of the hand lever allowed the test rider to maintain a balanced, comfortable position that was otherwise disrupted when using a fender brake.
The flat ground stop tests uncovered some unanticipated disparities in the braking systems when contrasted with the descent tests. First, we were surprised by the distances required to bring a scooter going ~12 mph to a complete stop using the motor + disk brake system. Second, we were surprised and impressed by the power produced by the fender brake. On average the motor + disk systems took 27.9 feet, while the fender brakes took 16.3 to completely stop! The Ninebot MAX reduced that distance to just 14 feet, the shortest in the class!
Portability is a critical feature for anyone who wants to use a scooter as a transportation device in an urban setting. Why? Well, the machine must be able to fold to stow in an apartment, at an office, on a train, or in the trunk of a car. Additionally, the machine must be light enough to carry up stairs or through turnstiles. With a critical eye on design features supporting these needs, we looked at the folded dimensions (compactness), the carrying handle, and the ability to roll the machine — opposed to carrying it — when folded.
The MAX is an outlier in this category as it weighs 43.4 pounds and has bulky dimensions relative to others in the class. However, all of the products in this review, except the Razor, attempt to address the portability issue. As the name implies, the Glion Dolly Foldable effectively resolves the portability problem. The Glion is light, compact, and it can be rolled when folded — like a dolly — to make walking with it a cinch. None of the other models here reviewed can claim to have a dolly function, although one can roll them on their rear wheels if needed. Of those models trailing the Glion, the Xiaomi is a near second.
There are dozens of electric scooters on the market today, and each year the number grows. We know how difficult it can be to pick one out of the many and still feel confident about the decision. Above we have outlined what we think are the most important factors to consider and which models perform best in each area. We hope that this thorough review will aid you in your choice to purchase one of these fun and practical machines.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer