"How fast, how far?" are the first questions usually asked when checking out an electric scooter. There's no, one simple answer.
Many factors come into play, such as:
Size of motor
Type of tires
Riding surfaces / terrain
Legal speed limit
If you're considering a subscription on an electric scooter, designer-built for premium, daily commutes. Or looking for high-powered electric scooters to hit full throttle around your precinct - it's important to understand the limits of electric scooters when choosing the right model for your riding needs.
Let's kick straight off - with the big question first...
How fast can I go on an electric scooter?
Here's what you need to know.
The average speed range for most urban commuting, electric scooters is in the ballpark of:
24 - 48 km/h (15 - 30 mph).
However, an ability to hit a maximum speed of 48 km/h (30 mph) is most often limited to performance-built, high-powered scooters.
The average top speed for most electric scooters, commercially available, is nearer to:
32 km/h (20 mph).
A great example of having the speed you need for different rides is the high-end, Unagi Model One. It's purpose-built for smooth, comfortable commutes at 19 km/h (12 mph) - and - an impressive top speed of 27 km/h (17 mph) - for when only a full-throttle ride will do.
Some scooters have been known for totally maxing out their speedometers...
Electric scooter's top speed record
"Which is the fastest scooter?" - everyone loves to ask the question.
To date, the Top 3 electric scooters known to hold the all-time speed records are:
1. Rion 2RE70 Thrust – 129 km/h (80 mph)
2. Rion RE90 – 121 km/h (75.2 mph)
3. Dualtron Storm Limited – 121 km/h (75 mph)
When you're hitting warp factor speeds on the fastest electric scooter, there will be a direct impact on battery charge time and travel distance. Plus, you might hear the sound of a police siren...
Which brings us to speed limits.
Electric Scooter Laws: Road and Sidewalk
Legal speed limits for riding electric scooters
Unlike bicycles, e scooters are restricted by electric scooter laws as to where they may be ridden. As well as governing an electric scooter's speed limit.
On the road
Here in the USA, the maximum speed you're legally allowed to ride your electric scooter on the roadis 40.2 km/h (25 mph).
The only exceptions are:
Colorado - where the speed limit on the road is 48 km/h (30 mph).
Pennsylvania and Delaware - where you're completely prohibited from riding an e scooter on the road.
On the sidewalk
Several states impose their own speed limits, as well as restrict where you can ride your e scooter:
California: 24 km/h (15 mph) - restricted to a designated bike lane, bike paths or trails, - which means no riding on a sidewalk.
New York: 24 km/h (15 mph) - prohibited from roads and sidewalks.
Chicago: 16 km/h (10 mph) - max speedlimit on your first ride, and 24 km/h (15mph) max speed on all rides, from there on out.
In most cities too, riding e scooters in designated bike lanes is allowed. It's important to also check out the local laws on riding electric bikes in your district or around the precinct where you live.
Electric scooter riders are not only limited by the miles per hour legally allowed. Or where you can and cannot ride. A number of other important factors impact an electric scooters speed.
Understanding the limits of electric scooters
Your individual electric scooter model may simply not be built for hitting a higher maximum speed. In many cases, riding performance is within an average electric scooters speed ranges and travel distances.
However, it's important to note your scooter motor may have a power value stated as peak rather than as continuous power.
Continuous power vs peak power
A brand manufacturer can often state an electric scooters motor power as:
or sometimes also include:
Real power - also called 'continuous' power.
It's important to know the difference.
The two separate power values are based upon a motor's operating temperature.
Peak power - is where the motor requires less effort to move the scooter forward. This means less heat is generated because you're scootering in ideal riding conditions - a straight, flat and smooth riding surface. With no obstacles in the road, or making stops, turns, cornering or climbing gradients.
Real power -is where the motor needs to work harder.This means more heat is generated to move the scooter forward in "real world" riding conditions, more likely encountered on a daily urban commute.
Actual power values
Realistically, it should be expected that an e scooter motor can generate an average continuous, 'real' power of between 50 - 60 per cent of peak power. Some escooter motors may only reach around a third of peak power while more powerful scooter motors can achieve up to 90 per cent.
6 main factors affecting e scooter speed and range
Apart from state speed limits the ability of scooter riders to extend, say, a maximum speed limit or range will mostly depend on these main factors:
1. Size of motor
An electric scooter's speed is chiefly governed by its 'size'. This is understood to mean the amount of power the motor packs so it can deliver:
Faster top speeds
Steeper hill climbs
Carry heavier riders
An e scooter fitted with a smaller motor will simply be incapable of reaching higher speeds and range.
Watts and motor speed
A motor’s power is measured in Watts - also known as 'size' of motor, and its maximum power output.
The average commuter scooter will be capable of delivering power levels of between 200 and 500 Watts.
Watts..... Average Top Speed
250...........Up to 25 km/h (15 mph).
350........... Between 25 km/h (15 mph) and 35 km/h 22 mph).
500........... Between 40 km/h (25 mph) and 60 km/h (38 mph).
1000........Minimum 50 km/h (30 mph).
*Dual-motor: double the power
Some e scooters will be fitted with a single motor while others pack a dual-motor, which can effectively 'double' the power output.
A typical example is the stylish urban mover, Unagi Model One (E500), which comes loaded with 2 x 250 watt motors. Offering typical daily commutes between 19 km/h (12 mph) to 32 km/h (20 mph), max speed.
Dual-motor e scooters not only produce more power, higher top speeds and faster acceleration rates. A more powerful motor will tackle steeper hill climbs, and are better able to handle slightly rougher terrain when going off-road.
Voltage and your electric scooter motor
Voltage is a measure of the force, or intensity an electric current has when it flows through a circuit. Similar to water pressure, and how forcefully a water supply flows through a pipe.
Electric scooter motors are rated with one of six voltage values:
Torque and RPM
Scooter motors with higher voltage values will produce a greater torque -the amount of force needed to cause rotation around an axis (expressed as Newton-meters, or Nm). This will deliver higher RPM (revolutions per minute), enabling the scooter motor to generate faster acceleration and higher top speeds.
Rear wheel motor
As with motor vehicles generally, an electric scooter fitted with a rear-wheel motor will accelerate faster than an e scooter with a front-wheel motor. Even if both scooters have identical weight, power, and tire size.
As the scooter accelerates, weight is transferred to the rear, which forces pressure down onto the rear tire to give better traction.
2. Battery capacity and range
An electric scooter's 'range' basically depends on its rechargeable battery.
But how far your e scooter will travel on a single charge will also rely on other key factors such as battery type and cells, tires, total weight carried, your riding style, and riding conditions.
Most electric scooters today will carry a lithium-ion battery, which has a longer lifespan, and requires minimal maintenance.
It's generally recommended to look out for electric scooters loaded with high-quality, lithium-ion batteries produced by major brands such as LG or Samsung.
Premium, top brand batteries usually contain 217000 cells* , which can produce a consistently high-powered performance of up to 500 charge cycles overa 3 - 5 year lifespan.
*21700 batteries contain cells measuring 21 mm (width) x 70 mm (length). Which have a greater charge-holding capacity than 18650 batteries measuring 18mm (width) x 65mm (length).
Amp hours (ah)
Batteries are rated in amp hours (Ah) - the amount of electrical charge (measured in number of amps) that can be supplied within one hour.
The higher the number of amp-hours, the greater amount of energy stored, which ultimately means longer mileage, and a better range.
Watt hours (Wh)
Battery capacity is rated in Watt-hours (Wh) - this means electrical energy equivalent to one watt of power that can be used over one hour.
As with amp-hours, more watt-hours means more energy stored, to produce a longer range.
To calculate watt-hours (Wh): Battery voltage x Amp-hours.
The Unagi Model One (E500) comes with a 33.6 volt battery and 9.0 Amp hours.
(Battery voltage) 33.6 x (Amp hours) 9.0 = 302.4 watt hours (Wh), which means a single charge can deliver a range of up to 24.9 kms (15.5 miles).
Many riders usually refer to the efficiency of a scooter's battery performance by the number of watt-hours (Wh).
3. Type of tires
Your scooter's speed and range will be affected by the type and size of tires you're riding on. An electric scooter's tyre size is also directly related to the size of its motor. This is literally because the motors are mounted within the scooter’s wheel hubs.
This means larger tires will be fitted to an e scooter carrying a more powerful motor, designed for high performance rides, typically 25.5 - 28 cm (10 - 11 in) in diameter. And a width of 8.25 cm (3.25) - 8.75 cm (3.5 in).
A more low cost electric scooter may only be fitted with 21.5 cm (8.5 in) diameter tires, and a 5 cm (2 in) width.
Tire front-on PROFILES
Rounded tires (great for leaning into a turn)- can often be fitted to extra speedy e scooters. Their large surface area has more contact with a riding surface for maintaining traction.
Square front-on profiles (ideal for riding in a straight line/ cruise control mode) - here, a square profile will also make a wide surface contact, and recommended for responsive acceleration and braking.
Tires inflated to the correct pressure will achieve the best performance, including speed, traction, maneuverability, and wear.
Every electric scooter tire will have a recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) - between 40 - 60 PSI. It's important to regularly check both tires are inflated at the recommended pressure.
Under-inflated tires - will dampen your speed. This is because of increased rolling resistance or friction during contact with a riding surface. Your electric scooter will feel heavier and less able to smoothly steer or carry a rider's weight. Other negative effects include reduced braking ability, overheating and sidewall bulging.
Over-inflated tires - will also affect your speed. A reduced area of tire profile is in contact with the riding surface, causing a loss of traction. You will also experience poorer suspension, and a reduced ability to cushion against a bumpy riding surface, such as uneven pavements or potholes. This often means your electric scooter is harder to steer, and actually slows down as you try to move forward fast.
4. Riding surfaces / terrain
Your speed will always be affected by different road or ground surfaces. A flat, obstacle-free sidewalk can instinctively make you want to open up the throttle, and go for maximum speed. Remember - you need to stay within the permitted limit, and keep a watchful eye out for pedestrians and pedal cyclists.
Many parks and recreation areas will also have well-maintained tracks and walkways. Where you're more likely to have a pedestrian-free, safe space for hitting top speed. Or perhaps trying out a few wheelies.
You will definitely need to vary your speed when dealing with curbs or simply coming across an uneven or cracked road surface.
P-settings and top speed modes
High-performance electric scooters offer pre-programmed P-settings as part of cockpit control. So too, some high-end e scooters designed for the urban commute.
The feature acts as a self-regulating speed limiter. It allows you to adjust your top speed and acceleration according to riding conditions or your ongoing riding skills.
The Unagi Model One (E500) has 3 onboard settings - or modes - for top speed in each mode.
MODE 1. 14 km/h (9 mph): Ideal top speed for learner riders, and a speed that may be more suited to steering on some types of surfaces.
MODE 2. 19 km/h (12 mph): Typical top speed for the urban, daily commute. Or those longer distance rides where a "balanced" throttle (or cruise control) can be engaged.
MODE 3. 27 km/h (17 mph): A top speed setting - also called the "sports mode" on other electric scooters.
Tackling hill climbs or steep gradients will always demand more speed from your electric scooter, whatever the model. How well your electric scooter is able to handle slopes and steeper climbs depends on 4 key factors:
Total scooter and carrying weight
Tires and suspension
Apart from budget e scooters, most electric scooters can handle slight inclines of 15 to 20 degrees. But some may struggle with gradients rising above 25 degrees.
The most powerful, high speed scooters should easily zip up the steepest slopes of 30 degrees or more.
Faster speed setting
High acceleration is usually needed before you reach a gradient. A maximum speed should be selected if your e scooter starts to struggle. Before easing off the throttle to slow down as you reach the top of the hill.
The ride back down a hill can be less stable. Downhill is usually taken at a slower speed to avoid a sudden jolt, and while covering the rear brakes
5. Rider's weight
An electric scooter's weight capacity and weight limit are further key factors which influence how fast you can ride.
It's important to know the manufacturer's recommended weight limit for individual electric scooter models. The bigger the weight limit, the heavier and less portable the escooter is likely to be. You always need to factor in both a rider's weight and the weight of items to be carried, such as a backpack or tote bag.
The weight limit also indicates the maximum safety level in an e scooters performance. Overloading can cause slower speeds and overall scooter performance. Leading to possible stress and potential damage to e scooter components.
The weight carrying limit of most e scooters is usually between 100 kg (220 lb) and 120 kg (265 lb). You can obtain a more heavy duty e scooter with a weight limit of 181.4kg (400 lb) and above, which may be ideal for the heavier rider.
A heavier rider looking for an e scooter should always consider:
Suspension - front and rear, for added cushion against uneven surfaces.
Strong Frame - and robust folding mechanism to avoid potential frame fractures.
Motor - a higher rated motor accelerates, and provides a more comfortable ride at speed.
Battery - high capacity for comfortable weight carrying, and to travel longer distances.
Brakes - more responsive for longer stopping distance needed during high speed rides.
Source: Electric Scooter Guide
6. Riding style
Your riding style and stance, and how you carry out maneuvers, can also affect your speed and scooter performance.
It's recommended to only rotate your handlebars when riding at low speed - around 8 km/h (5 mph) to 16 km/h (10 mph).
Rotating your handlebars at high speed will reduce your speed when making a turn. It could also cause your scooter to jack-knife.
The smoothest, most efficient way to make a turn when riding at speeds above 16 km/h (10 mph) is to lean into the turn without rotating the handlebar.
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