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Electric Bike or Electric Scooter – How to Choose?

4 August 2010 64,266 views 4 Comments
ezee bike Forte electric bike  - Scooter Underground - Photo  courtesy of www.ezeebike.ca This is an electric bicycle. Electric bicycles are usually based on traditional bicycle designs but they incorporate a battery pack, controller, and an electric hub motor on the front wheel, rear wheel, or both wheels.The electric bike can function pretty well as a bicycle even without having any battery power. If you want a bit of exercise, just turn off the power or leave the battery at home for a charge.

Storage is usually accomplished by the rider wearing a backpack or attaching saddle bags, bungee cords, or other storage device to the rear carrier (panniers). Electric bicycles typically do not incorporate built-in alarm systems.

In most jurisdictions, they are treated just like bicycles and they are allowed on bike lanes and commuter trails.

Electric bicycles are available in a wide range of prices. Our advise: Unless you are spending at least $1,500US, stay away from electric bikes.

Electric Scooter - Kaishan - Scooter Underground, Victoria, BC,  Canada - www.scooterunderground.ca This is an electric scooter. Electric scooters look like their gas scooter cousins except they are battery powered. Virtually all electric scooters have much smaller wheel diameters than electric bikes. They are designed as “twist n’ go” so that you just have to turn the throttle. They make lousy bicycles and the pedals are really for emergency use only.Most electric scooters have lockable and waterproof storage under the seat. Many electric scooter models have a built-in alarm and immobilizer to prevent theft. The electric scooter offers a bit of protection from rain and wind.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the electric scooter may encounter more restrictions than the electric bicycle.

To date, most electric scooters seen in North America have been Chinese imports and are at the lower end of the quality spectrum.

How do you choose between an electric bicycle and an electric scooter?

Let me point out some pros and cons, and some personal biases. From there, you can decide which fits your needs better.

Electric bike pros

  • Much like the bicycle you grew up riding but a bit heavier due to the battery pack and motor
  • Often have high quality bicycle gears and brakes form companies like Shimano and Magura
  • Many of the parts are readily available at bicycle stores
  • Two main propulsion technologies to choose from:
    • Pedelec = rider pedals. Motor input is only activated while pedaling. It feels like cycling with “tail wind”
    • E-Bike = Motor input is activated by turning a handlebar throttle
  • We find that, on average, the quality and ease of maintenance of electric bikes is better than electric scooters
  • No license or insurance required in most jurisdictions (subject to speed and wattage)
  • Treated just like a bicycle for access to bike lanes and commuter trails
  • ease of service and replacement parts
  • large tires are usually better on rougher surfaces and trails
  • no plastic panels to damage in the event of a mishap

Electric Scooter Pros

  • very low seat height and step-through clearance
  • provides some protection from rain and wind
  • USUALLY does not require a license or insurance (subject to speed and wattage)
  • USUALLY allowed on bike lanes and commuter trails
  • often has a built in alarm system and steering lock
  • has lockable, waterproof storage under the seat
  • often has a rear cargo box for additional lockable storage
  • simple “twist ‘n go” operation
  • small tires are very maneuverable

At this point, I have a bias toward electric bicycles over electric scooters. They are a more bulletproof design and many brands, such as the eZee bike, Sanyo eneloop, a2B, and kits by eZeebike and Bionx, are of superb quality with widely available replacement part components.

Here is a customer comment expressing his preference for an electric bike:

“I like the fact that I can ride to work using plenty of “assist” so that I don`t arrive at the office all sweaty. This is particularly appreciated by my co-workers since we do not have showers at work. On the way home, when I want to get a work out, I can use less assist or none at all and get some much needed exercise. With the electric scooter, it must be driven in `twist n`go`mode all the time since pedaling is more of a cruel hoax on these babies. The versatility makes the electric bicycle a preferred choice in my opinion.”

There are probably many customers out there who will give you a great counterpoint argument for the electric scooter.

Hope this helps.

Please leave your comments! Very helpful to the electric bike community!

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4 Comments »

  • Tesfay Haile said:

    I think i also like the electric scooters because they are fast and they are easy to use. With electric scooters, you won’t have to worry about traffic and space. If people are living in warm areas specially electric scooter, in general , all scooters are number one choice.

  • mstevulak said:

    We just wish we could find some really good quality electric scooters that would fit into the same licensing class as a 50cc scooter. So far, most of what we have seen is still not where we think it needs to be to meet the quality expectations of North American riders.

  • heamin said:

    I’m thinking about go into the scooter world, and research a lot.
    And my choice is hybrid 50 cc electric scooter. But seems like selling only in usa right now. anybody know where can I buy one in CAnada??

  • mstevulak said:

    At this point, I have not seen any on the Canadian market. Are you talking about electric and gas hybrid?

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