Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Electric Scooters

Tuesday August 3, 2021
It is important to think about how you will be using your scooter...
It is important to think about how you will be using your scooter before choosing one.
Credit: Laura Casner

In an effort to find the best electric scooters available we purchased the top models on the market and spent many hours testing, cruising, and racing them in a variety of scenarios and road conditions. Our analysis not only addresses performance concerns but also the nitty-gritty details of budget, safety, and ability to stow so that you can confidently pick the right machine for your needs and desires. To see our comprehensive look at electric scooters check out our Electric Scooter review.

Sporty handlebars and a standard headlight are welcomed additions to...
Sporty handlebars and a standard headlight are welcomed additions to the scooter cockpit.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Power


To assess the power of each scooter we tested their ability to climb hills as well as how fast they will go on flat ground. The hill climb tests were conducted on a moderate 3.5% and a steep 10.5% grade. All the products in the review were ridden up these gradients to see whether they could climb the hill at all, and if so, at what speed they would do so. To assess flat ground maximum speed we took a running start, fully depressed the throttle, and brought the machines up to their maximum speed, then timed how long it took each to traverse 100 ft. This test was repeated three times for each model. The average feet per second for the three trials was calculated and converted into miles per hour.

Ride


Ride is admittedly a more subjective category than the others here analyzed. However, this is the critical component of motorized vehicle analysis as you'll know a bad ride when you feel it. With this in mind, we set up a 1.2-mile loop that covered a variety of surface textures and features and ran each test model around it. When the wheels passed over bumps and cracks in the road, we asked ourselves: how aware was I of those features? When we were on rough surfaces that caused vibration, we asked: how do my hands and feet feel? Are they uncomfortable? Do I feel in control of the vehicle? And, is this still fun? In the process, we took note of the various components (such as wheel type) on the test models to see which of these (or group of them) helps to produce the feel that we liked best.

Large pneumatic wheels improve comfort and safety of the ride.
Large pneumatic wheels improve comfort and safety of the ride.
Credit: Laura Casner

Braking


When devising tests for a brake analysis we concerned ourselves with scenarios in which the effectiveness of the brake systems would be critical to safety. Within this context, all agreed that a steep hill descent test and a rapid arrest test are essential metrics.

Our hill descent tests were conducted on three progressively steeper grades (5, 10, and 15%) and at two different speeds leading into the descent (phase 1: slow and cautious; phase 2: full speed). We also analyzed the different types of braking systems (many of the models tested have different brakes on the front and rear wheels) and we employed them separately, and side by side, to see which components were doing the work on descents and how well they worked together.

Our rapid arrest tests are a measure of how many feet it takes for a rider to come to a complete stop when going ~12 mph on flat ground. As with the descent test, the rapid arrest test closely inspected the brake system to see which components best halted forward momentum.

The rear fender brake carries the weight and, thus, the power of the...
The rear fender brake carries the weight and, thus, the power of the rider.
Credit: Laura Casner

Range


When considering electric vehicles of any kind, range — or travel radius — is of chief concern. One important component of the range is an assessment of the voltage discharge curve. Essentially, this is an evaluation of a battery's voltage output as the power stored is drained. To get at these two components of the range we separate range test results into two parts: effective range and maximum range. The effective range is how far the scooter will travel at or near its top speed whereas the maximum range is the miles traveled at any speed.

To test for the effective and maximum range we established a level test track and ran the contending models around it at ~13 mph. We continued to loop the track at the designated speed until that scooter was no longer able to maintain that speed; this is the effective range. Testers then continued until the battery was depleted to the point that it could no longer move the scooter and rider; this is the maximum range.

The Ninebot MAX can cruise mile after mile -- 26 miles to be exact...
The Ninebot MAX can cruise mile after mile -- 26 miles to be exact. The cushy pneumatic tires and broad standing platform keep the rider comfortable all the while.
Credit: Laura Casner

Portability


The portability analysis is primarily a measure of the folded dimensions, weight, and comfort of the carrying handle when gripped. Additionally, we looked at the ease — or difficulty — of making the conversion from riding mode to carry/ store mode. This included looking at safety redundancies in the steering column upright locking mechanism as well as the latch securing the steering column for carrying.

Because the electric scooter is meant to be a convenient...
Because the electric scooter is meant to be a convenient transportation device, portability is an important factor.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


We aim to not only test products in the manner that simulates how the average consumer will use them, but also to take these products to their limits to see if the claims made by the manufacturer are accurate and consistent. In an effort to simplify the comparative shopping process we quantify the results of these tests so that you, the consumer, can make apples-to-apples comparisons across the products in our review. The comprehensive electric scooter review provides all the information that we, the reviewers, would want if we were in the market for an electric scooter. We hope that you find the information useful.