Making Electric Scooters Lighter Without Losing Range

Daniel Foley
Written By: Daniel Foley
Published on: 5/2/2023

Electric vehicles have weight issues, and that doesn’t only apply to the electric Hummer.

Most electric cars weigh hundreds, even thousands, of pounds more than their gas-powered counterparts. Almost all that extra weight comes from their batteries.

Electric scooters rarely weigh much more than 150 lbs and can be as lightweight as less than 30 lbs. But the smaller their battery, the less battery capacity.

Thus, lighter electric scooters tend to get less range, while long range scooters tend to have heavy, high capacity batteries and can be impossible to carry up a flight of stairs.

There are other factors, such as the size of the motor, tires, and wheels, and the size of the rider, that affect range and weight.

A larger rider on a lightweight scooter will get less range, and scooters best suited for heavier riders often tend to weigh more because of suspension systems and dual motor designs.

On the whole, however, the single component weighing the most in any electric scooter will be the battery, with some weighing up to 40 pounds.

The larger the scooter – and the larger its weight limit – the larger the battery will typically be.

Larger batteries mean more power and they also mean more range, with some large capacity batteries producing up to 50 miles of range or more on a single charge.

Is it possible to reduce the weight of electric scooters without sacrificing range?

How Lighter Scooters Can Go Farther

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Reducing scooter weight solves a number of problems. For one thing, it actually helps increase range.

Take any two scooters with the same size riders, batteries, motors, and other electrical components, but significantly different weights.

The lighter scooter will travel farther along the same route because it has less mass and therefore requires less power to move.

Where to Shed Pounds? Start with the Frame

So, where do weight savings come from in an electric scooter? The best place to shed weight is in the frame itself, and this can be done in several ways.

It’s worth noting that while an electric scooter frame serves a number of purposes, protecting the rider in the event of a crash is not one of them.

Unlike cars, we don’t expect our scooters to shield us – that’s what helmets and protective gear are for – so their materials don’t need to be crash-proof.

Instead, what we need from electric scooter frames are features that aid in ride quality, stability, and handling.

Frame geometry is important. A well-made frame can shed several grams in an aerodynamic design that also eliminates excess materials.

Like the design, the materials that make up an electric scooter’s frame, stem, handlebars, fenders, and other structural parts can significantly affect the scooter’s weight.

Materials like steel and many kinds of aluminum may be strong and durable, but they’re also heavy.

Lighter metals like titanium or magnesium are stronger than aluminum, lighter than steel, and resist corrosion.

Carbon fiber can be cracked in an accident, but in general it is extremely durable, corrosion-proof, and also highly lightweight, tensile, and vibration-damping.

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Frame Design

Early in the development of the bicycle, frames were made from solid iron or wood. Too heavy to pick up and carry , they were also too heavy for almost anyone to ride comfortably.

Needless to say, no one rode solid wood or iron bicycles very far.

The development of tubular steel frames revolutionized the bicycle, making frames that were much more portable, manageable, safe and fun.

While no one had to worry about running out of battery power in those days, cyclists could and did ride farther and farther on lighter frames, until in 1903 they started racing all around France.

Since then, tubular frames have shown up in motorcycle design and have also shown promise for electric scooters.

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One of the fastest, best-rated premium electric scooter lines — the NAMI BURN-E, BURN-E 2, and BURN-E 2 Max — demonstrates how tubular frames can provide weight savings on a long range electric scooter while improving the ride all around.

The NAMI BURN-E 2 MAX, for example, can travel 48 miles on a single charge, farther than many comparable electric scooters with similar specs, and with much better handling and build quality.

But tipping the scales at over 100 lbs each, none of the NAMI BURN-E versions would ever be mistaken for portable electric scooters.

Lighter Materials

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Still, NAMI’s premium scooters reduce weight by making use of a material that has powered super-lightweight, long-distance cycling for decades: carbon fiber.

Complementing their hand-welded tubular frames, NAMI's stems are built from carbon fiber to further reduce weight and improve handling and ride quality.

Of course, the Unagi Model One has used tapered carbon fiber stems in all of their portable scooters since they debuted in 2019.

Unagi's Model One Classic and the new Model One Voyager not only use carbon fiber in their stem, but they also have magnesium handlebars to bring down the electric scooter's weight without compromising the build quality.

Energy Dense Batteries

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In order to make powerful lightweight electric scooters you can carry with one hand, Unagi has always sourced premium materials and used innovative construction to reduce weight in its aluminum frame, carbon fiber stem, and magnesium handlebars.

Still, the Model One Classic did not have quite the range that some riders wanted, because its LG-made battery erred on the smaller side for optimal portability.

While Unagi has consistently been rated as one of the best lightweight electric scooters on the market, it received some complaints about limited range.

The Model One Voyager redesigns the Classic's iconic look and takes advantage of another essential weight-saving, range-extending technology:

Energy-dense battery cells that can carry scooters farther without packing on more pounds, and make a compact scooter more efficient overall.

In the Unagi Model One Voyager, larger, denser battery cells result in a higher top speed and add 40-50% more to the scooter's range!

How to Get More Battery Life From the Same Lightweight Electric Scooter

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The Model One Voyager uses improved battery cells, which are slightly larger and more energy dense, but not significantly heavier. The battery itself has higher voltage than the Classic (36V vs 24V), giving the scooter a higher energy output overall.

The Voyager optimizes the scooter’s battery, motor power, and controllers while adding less than a pound to overall design. It’s still the same ultra portable city commuter riders have loved for years. Only now it can travel up to 25 miles on a single charge.

Similarly priced scooters with dual motors may boast similar range numbers, but few can also claim to be one of the most portable electric scooters on the market, due to the ease of Unagi's folding mechanism and under 30-lb weight.

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Conclusion

Two of the best ways electric scooter manufacturers can reduce weight while improving range are 1) innovative frame design and lightweight materials and 2) using batteries with larger, more energy-dense cells and optimizing components for more efficiency.

The Unagi Model One Voyager continues to use the same lightweight, high-quality frame materials in its premium build to keep down weight.

This new iteration of the by-now iconic commuter scooter takes advantage of the latest in battery, motor, and motor controller technology to almost double the range.

The Voyager shows how lightweight scooters can extend range without adding extra bulk.


Daniel Foley
Daniel Foley

Daniel tests all the latest e-scooters and currently enjoys the Unagi Voyager as a daily driver for it's light weight, good range, and stylish look.

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