If you are considering an alternative to your automobile, you’ve probably wondered whether an electric scooter is better than a manually operated kick scooter. The answer might surprise you and depends heavily on your particular preferences.
Determining whether a kick scooter or an electric scooter is best for you depends on a few factors. If you intend to use a scooter for longer commutes, an electric scooter is a great option and more eco-friendly than a car. However, if your primary objective is to find something convenient and easy to use, a kick scooter may be a better option.
We’ll break down the ins and outs of kick scooters and electric scooters, and even compare them to bicycles so that you can easily decide which is best for you.
- Scooters: Are They Better Than Bikes?
- Kick Scooters Basics: What You Need to Know
- Riding an Electric Scooter: Is It the Right Choice for You?
- Final Thoughts
Scooters: Are They Better Than Bikes?
You may already commute with a bike and have found that you need something more convenient — or maybe you are simply looking for something a little bit different.
A skateboard might present too much of a challenge. There’s a steep learning curve and skill involved, but there’s still another option: a scooter.
While they’ve not completely risen to the top of the popularity charts just yet, they are certainly increasingly seen as a unique, more eco-friendly way to commute — both electric vehicles and scooters, as well as kick scooters — resulting in less of a carbon footprint than a car .
However, the question remains, are scooters better than bicycles?
Bikes have been around forever, and they’re an equally popular recreation means for both adults and kids. With both classic and electric bikes available, it’s not a bad idea to look at a few reasons why a scooter might be a better choice, especially if you are in decision-making mode.
While there’s good reason to believe that both kick scooters and electric scooters offer both are excellent choices, and it largely depends on what you prefer.
Nonetheless, below you’ll find just a few pros in favor of the former.
When it comes to portability, a scooter is a pretty clear choice, both the electric and kick versions. A traditional bike is bulky, large, heavy, and nearly impossible to fit into the back of your car should you need to take it with you on a longer trip — you’ll need a bike rack for that.
An electric bike is likely a minimum of 40 pounds, more often 50 or more, and extra cumbersome. And while some e-bikes are foldable, the frame is heavier than what you’d find on a scooter.
On the other hand, a scooter is, on average, both lighter and smaller, making it a more convenient choice for many. Some electric scooter models range between 20-25 pounds, which isn’t too bad to lift and move around.
A kick scooter will weigh somewhere near 15 pounds, maybe slightly more, but for most models, not by much.
Nearly all kick scooters are foldable, too, and there are more versions of electric scooters that do the same. If you are searching for something more portable that you can take with you on a bus or train, a scooter is likely a better choice than a bike.
When it comes to price, electric scooters are cheaper than electric bikes. If you are looking at a kick scooter, the price is exponentially lower. Broadly, you are looking at double the price for an electric bike versus that of a scooter if you consider two models of similar levels of performance and value.
Meanwhile, a kick scooter can be as low in cost as $50 US, and, similarly, a traditional bike is much more expensive, most likely somewhere around $300 US for a solid road vehicle.
There is an option to electrify the bike that has been sitting in your garage collecting dust, but that’s no small feat and one you might not be equipped to handle on your own.
Speed and Safety
When it comes to speed and safety, the waters get a little bit murky. Because electric bikes have been around longer — the first in existence appearing in the late 19th century — the laws pertaining to speed and safety are more standardized and controlled.
Most electric bikes can travel up to 25 miles per hour, and some higher-powered versions even faster, but state and local laws regulate them.
If they do have the capacity to reach a speed as fast as 45 miles per hour or more, they’re generally classified as a moped and require a license to operate.
On the flip side, electric scooters are less regulated. However, with the increase in popularity for both personal e-scooters and ride-share options, that is beginning to change.
Still, most e-scooters will operate at speeds similar to electric bikes, making the speed-to-safety ratio similar. There are some electric scooters, though rare, that can travel much faster, which is, of course, not very safe.
If you consider the size of a scooter wheel versus that of a bike, a scooter wheel is a lot smaller. Potholes and bumps in the road will be significantly more damaging and dangerous to a scooter rider than a bicycle rider, especially if you aren’t paying attention and going too fast.
Another factor to think about — if you really needed to jump off your scooter to avoid a collision, you theoretically can. Jumping off of a bike, whether an e-bike or traditional one, is a lot more challenging.
The obvious answer when considering a kick scooter is that it is safer all around. You’re going a lot slower, and you are using your own feet to power it, which usually means you are more in tune with your surroundings.
With that in mind, both e-scooters and e-bikes are comparable when it comes to speed and safety. Regardless, please remember to wear your helmet and don’t ride at night without safety lights and a headlamp.
The Final Verdict
We find ourselves at a crossroads in determining whether a bicycle or scooter is better. Similar to deciding between an e-scooter and a kick scooter, the choice primarily comes down to personal preference.
Nonetheless, when it comes to size, price, and portability, a scooter is an excellent choice and one you will not likely regret. So, the question is, which scooter type is right for you? Keep reading to learn more.
Kick Scooters Basics: What You Need to Know
Before you shake your head and wonder whether or not there exists a kick scooter for adults, you might be surprised to discover that, unlike the Trix cereal commercials of the 80s, kick scooters are not just for kids.
Adult kick scooters are increasing in popularity, especially in small cities and urban areas where sitting in traffic is not ideal and in places where you want to get around town a bit more quickly. Let’s face it; sometimes, a car is the slowest choice.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to kick scooters, however. You can learn more about that in “Is a Kick Scooter Good for Commuting?” But below, we’ll outline a few key considerations that will help you to determine whether or not a kick scooter is the best option for you or if you’d prefer an electric one.
Consider the Terrain and Where You Live
Kicks scooters are awesome on flat ground and even terrain. The first thing you’ll want to think about is what route you are looking to take and where you live. If your neighborhood is very hilly, a kick scooter may not be your best bet.
Because kick scooters are not made to climb, you’ll probably end up having to get off of your scooter and push it up most hills, which isn’t exactly enjoyable. So, if you can avoid steep hills, do so.
Also, the brakes on a kick scooter are not going to slow you down quickly or efficiently going down a hill — they’re not made to, which could potentially become dangerous to your safety.
One recommendation is to switch the direction of your feet when you are going down a small hill. Normally, your feet will face forward as you ride. As you gain momentum, if you turn your feet in a perpendicular position to the direction you are riding, it’ll feel more comfortable and add some stability.
Still, when it comes to terrain, hills are one reason why an electric scooter might be a better choice, but we’ll hold off on making that determination just yet because neither are electric scooters designed to go up or down hills at high speeds; it simply has more to do with the level of effort required by you.
For now, just bear in mind that kick scooters are going to require less effort to ride and propel forward on smooth, paved surfaces like city streets and well-maintained sidewalks.
If you are looking to commute to and from class on a college campus, for instance, a kick scooter is a great choice. Or, if your apartment is only a few blocks from your office and sidewalks or bike lanes are prominent, here again, a kick scooter and a backpack are all you need.
Kick Scooters Are Optimal for Short Commutes
When you think about how to ride a kick scooter, using a single leg repeatedly to kick off of the ground to propel you forward, a long commute is going to tire you out pretty rapidly, regardless of what kind of shape you are in.
Also, similar to writing with one hand over the other, most people are more comfortable using one leg over the other to push while the other foot stays planted on the scooter’s base. This simply means that switching back and forth when your dominant let gets tired isn’t really an option.
With that in mind, consider the length of your commute. If it is two miles or less, a kick scooter is a great option. Anything longer and you will want to consider an electric one.
While a kick scooter is great exercise and is going to give you stronger legs than you’ve had most of your life, getting to work after powering through a two-mile scooter ride during the summer months isn’t exactly ideal, either, unless you plan to pack a change of clothing.
We’ll get into how long the range is for an electric scooter further below so that you have a solid comparison when making your decision.
When It Comes to Eco-Friendliness, a Kick Scooter Takes the Gold
No matter how you cut it, if your primary concern is an eco-friendly alternative, a kick scooter is the best choice. Battery operated electric vehicles, while clearly better than a gasoline-powered car, require some level of energy to operate — not including the environmental cost of manufacturing.
There are no emissions involved with operating a kick scooter — the only energy you need comes from the bigger breakfast that you’ll require every day. Still, electric scooters are a much better option when it comes to being eco-friendly if you are comparing it to the environmental impact of operating your car.
We’ll break down exactly how eco-friendly e-scooters are in the next section.
For Health and Fitness, Choose a Kick Scooter
A kick scooter is an excellent way to incorporate aerobic exercise for those of us who either don’t wish to pay for a gym membership or can’t find the time to go.
Most adults are strapped for time when it comes to fitting in a solid 30 minutes of exercise a day. Between work and school, family and friends, and the numerous other obligations on your list, it’s pretty common that physical fitness gets pushed to the bottom.
One benefit of an electric scooter is that you don’t have to do much work at all to ride it.
Yet, if you are looking to find a way to be more active and achieve a healthier lifestyle, a kick scooter to and from work every day will result not only in getting in that recommended 30 minutes but will also help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions and achieve better cardiovascular health.
Kick Scooters Are Easy to Ride and Very Low-Maintenance
If you are a person who does not enjoy having to maintain much of anything — many of us are, so don’t feel bad — a kick scooter is a great choice. There’s very little maintenance at all compared to electric scooters, where you’ll need to replace motors and batteries at some juncture.
Below are a few upkeep practices you’ll want to do each time you ride:
- Check your brakes and brake pads.
- Check that nuts and bolts are tight — if loose, a turn to the right will do the trick.
- If you are riding at night, ensure all lights work properly for safety.
- Check your tires and tire pressure.
Here are few other monthly check-in items to maintain your kick scooter and keep it in good operating condition:
- Lubricate the brakes with a multipurpose oil.
- Tighten spokes if necessary.
- Ensure that the handlebars are not loose and that they turn freely.
- Check your tires for any damage or leaks, and replace if needed.
The good news is that most maintenance and even some repairs for kick scooters are universal to all types and brands and from model to model. So, no matter what kick scooter you purchase, you’ll be able to keep it in good condition without too much hassle.
Riding an Electric Scooter: Is It the Right Choice for You?
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of kick scooters and why they may be sufficient for your needs, we’ll get into what makes electric scooters not necessarily better but certainly unique in their own right.
They’re pretty fun to ride, and it seems they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, so they’re likely to improve as they increase in popularity.
Similarly to your list of considerations for a kick scooter, the first thing to think about is where you live, the terrain of your commute, how long your commute is going to be, and other factors, such as storage and portability.
Commuting with an Electric Scooter
Similar to a regular kick scooter, one of the things that makes an electric scooter such a great choice is that, oftentimes, especially if you live in a city, an e-scooter is going to get you where you want to be a lot faster, and cheaper, than a car. No traffic, no repetitive red lights, and no wasted time finding parking.
Think about it — cars require a ton of money for upkeep, including weekly gas expenditure, regular oil changes and monthly maintenance, and insurance costs. All of that is going to cost a sufficient amount of money.
If you don’t have a car and choose to Uber or grab a cab day in and day out, those costs add up, too. A third option is public transportation, but, for many, that is not preferable, and catching buses and trains on time with crowds of people can make every day start off stressful, which isn’t at all ideal.
Back to your commute, a kick scooter, as we previously stated, is best for a two-mile range to and from your workplace or wherever you are planning to go. E-Scooters certainly trump kick scooters when it comes to range and distance.
On average, electric scooters can travel 10 to 15 miles on one battery charge. There are other long-range models that are capable of taking you much, much further — some up to 30 miles with one charge and others that are intended to make it 60 miles or more.
Certainly, the latter is going to cost more money. Regardless, if your commute is longer than a few short miles, an electric scooter is a great choice.
Just remember that electric scooters are, well, electric. If you forget to charge it, you’re not going anywhere fast. We’ll talk about battery charges, including how and when, next.
Charging Your E-scooter
As we said earlier, electric scooters require a battery in order to operate. There are pros and cons — namely, that you cannot just jump on and ride without a charge, and your battery will eventually need replacing.
Still, the battery is what makes your e-scooter better than a kick scooter when it comes to speed, distance, and duration.
You can think of your battery as your gas tank, for the most part. It’s what fuels the motor of your scooter. Most e-scooters come with a lithium-ion-based battery pack — the larger it is, the more its capacity to travel further and last longer.
One of the essential benefits of lithium-ion batteries is that they have very high energy density at a lower weight, which essentially means that the amount of energy stored is substantial, and they can be charged repeatedly while still maintaining a high level of storage capacity . That means that they last longer, too.
Generally, your e-scooter battery should last somewhere between 300 and 500 charges before reducing its capacity to hold a full charge. After that, the battery life will continue to diminish, and you’ll eventually need to replace it to regain your scooter’s original power.
Still, that many charges should last you a substantial amount of time — somewhere around 3,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on your scooter. When it comes to charging time, on average, it’ll take your scooter two to five hours to obtain a full charge.
Remember, the larger the battery pack, the longer its life and storage capacity, and, likely, the more expensive the e-scooter. Below, you’ll find a few tips concerning properly charging your scooter and increasing the life of your battery:
- Avoid entirely depleting the battery before charging it — keep it at a minimum of 10%.
- Charge your e-scooter each evening if you commute daily.
- Avoid extreme heat and extreme cold — keep your battery in a dry environment.
- Only use a charger designed specifically for your e-scooter.
- If you don’t plan to ride for a while, make sure the battery is at 40-50% capacity.
- Don’t leave your e-scooter plugged in for a prolonged period.
- Charge at least once every 30 days — a sitting battery will ultimately cause damage.
E-Scooter Speeds and Safety
When it comes to average scooter speeds, you’re looking at about 15 miles per hour on a flat road. Though it may not seem so, that’s pretty fast. If you’re going downhill, that 15 mph can creep up. While a bit more durable than kick scooters, electric scooters are also best for use on flat ground or areas with minimal elevation.
The smaller wheels on most e-scooters, while also larger than kick scooters, still means that they cannot handle bumps, divots, and unavoidable potholes in the road. If you’re going downhill fast and you hit a bump, the hard truth is that you could very well find yourself thrown off of your scooter.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn’t consider stand-up electric scooters motor vehicles, and with that in mind, there are not standardized or issued rules for them, nor are there federal safety regulations.
What that means is that your municipality may have issued rules to keep you safe, but, for the most part, your safety is your responsibility.
There’s been a climb in scooter-related injuries and accidents, so as we’ve already mentioned repeatedly, a helmet is a must. If you plan to commute to and from work and you know it will be dark on your way home, invest in proper lighting equipment, including a headlamp for your helmet.
At the end of the day, your electric scooter is going to get you where you want to go quickly and safely if you ride it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some newer models go faster than 15 or 20 mph, but keep in mind how fast you actually need to go and where you will be riding.
As we stated earlier, if your primary concern is with regard to finding an eco-friendly option for commuting to work and other locations, an electric scooter is significantly better than a car, and a kick scooter significantly better than an e-scooter.
Considering all of the factors laid out above, a kick scooter may simply not be a workable option for your needs, whether that be due to where you live, the terrain, or the distance you need to travel.
What we can confirm is that electric vehicles are generally less harmful and cause less pollution than gasoline or fossil fuels, which means that e-scooters are better, in theory, for the environment.
However, you must consider other factors, including the manufacturing of the e-scooter as well as the impact on the environment from frequent charging. Most studies seem to confirm that the impact from charging is small relative to the material and manufacturing costs to the environment.
The major issue is that the lithium-ion batteries, while significantly better in performance, are unable to be recycled. Also, the materials necessary during the manufacturing phase do result in a significant carbon footprint.
Regardless, at the core, electric vehicles — whether cars or scooters or bikes — are more environmentally friendly than those that operate by diesel or gasoline or fossil fuels. There haven’t been enough studies done to solidify an argument in either direction.
What we can say, though, is that if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, there are a multitude of ways to do so, and choosing an e-scooter over a gas-guzzling vehicle is one small part of a much larger puzzle.
Determining whether a kick scooter is better than an electric scooter is clearly a subjective decision and one you’ll need to decide for yourself based on your needs and preferences.
Perhaps the answer is not necessarily one over the other, but rather that both are ideal options for commuting. Both options are significantly more enjoyable and better for your health than driving a car or getting stuck in traffic to and from work every day.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.