These days, you can’t go five minutes in a major city without seeing an electric scooter or an electric bike whizzing by. Micro-mobility is here to stay, and these electric vehicles are fast becoming some of the most popular modes of personal transport around. If you’re looking to get on board the trend yourself, you may be asking yourself if an electric bike is better than an electric scooter or vice versa. There are so many aspects to weigh up, and the online e-bike vs. e-scooter discourse can be confusing, to say the least.
This handy guide is designed to dispel the nonsense and help you figure out which of the two is the right choice of vehicle for you. E-scooters and e-bikes are great options, but they vary in some key areas, mainly in terms of exercise benefits and inner-city use. Your lifestyle and needs will determine which one you should buy, and beyond that, there are other things to consider like safety, portability, and cost. With this simple guide, you’ll soon feel confident enough to make an informed choice between the two. Then the only thing left to do is hit the road!
Looking at electric bikes vs. electric scooters in terms of cost is a good place to start. After all, it’s the first thing you’ll notice when you go to hand over your hard-earned cash! In general, you might be surprised to find how cheap these vehicles can be. A low-budget electric bike can be bought for between $500 and $1000, while an entry-level scooter can come as cheap as 300 bucks.
If you’re looking for something a bit more advanced, the sky’s the price limit. Powerful electric mountain bikes like those sold by Giant and Trek can go for upwards of $10,000, whereas super-fast e-scooters like the Dualtron XII and Kaabo Wolf can go anywhere between $3000 and $7000. A good mid-range e-bike or e-scooter, like the kind you’d use for regular city usage, would generally set you back about $1500 or $800, respectively.
As you’ll have noticed, e-scooters are generally cheaper than e-bikes, as they’re much smaller and have fewer moving parts. It’s important to weigh up cost over time, too. If you can invest in a good e-bike, you can get it repaired (at a cost) for years and years to come. E-scooters, meanwhile, are less likely to need maintenance, but it’s harder to find technicians for them, at least at the moment, so it can be prudent to think of them as a one-off purchase rather than a lifelong investment.
While top speed might seem like an important aspect of micro vehicles, it’s surprisingly irrelevant when it comes to inner-city use. After all, you’ll most likely have to obey strict speed limits anyway in congested areas, and different cities around the world have different laws on e-bike and e-scooter usage. For example, most e-bikes are subject to a 20mph speed limit for Class 1 and Class 2 vehicles in the US and a 28mph limit for Class 3 variants – i.e., more powerful bikes.
Scooters are less regulated and often fall into a legal grey area regarding road use and speed limits in cities. That being said, there are certain scenarios, like trail-riding or driving on private land, where you can push an e-bike or an e-scooter to the limit, and in this case, both vehicles can move surprisingly fast. Some e-bikes like the Stealth B-52 can hit 50mph, whereas some incredible e-scooters can hit a whopping 80mph; the Rion Thrust is one such example.
If you’re using these vehicles on city streets, you obviously won’t be hitting such rapid speeds. In this case, while most electric bikes are generally faster than their scooter counterparts, an e-scooter can come out on top in terms of speed. This is because they’re easier to maneuver through traffic, and thus you avoid more delays than if you were using a bike. Plus, in some states, like California and Texas, you can use them on the sidewalk, too, cutting journey times even further.
One concern that many people have about electric micro-mobility vehicles is how safe they might be. Of course, whether you’re using an e-scooter or an e-bike, it’s important to wear protective equipment, namely a bicycle helmet, to keep yourself safe on the road. Aside from that, common sense is the most important thing.
The fact is, scooters have been seen as recreational vehicles for so many years that not everybody respects them on the road. The most important thing is to treat an e-scooter with respect yourself; a fast scooter can be just as dangerous as a fast bike if you fall off. You’ve got less protection on an e-scooter, too, as the chassis is lighter and thus more prone to knocks, bumps, and potholes.
E-bikes offer a little more protection in this regard, along with greater visibility, thanks to their increased size. Some city variants even come equipped with headlights, brake lights, and turn signals, making them an excellent choice for road usage. As such, they’re generally safer to ride than e-scooters, but ultimately it all comes down to how careful you are as a rider. If you treat your scooter as a vehicle, signal your turns, and wear a helmet, you’ll be just as safe as anyone riding a bike.
Now we come to the all-important question – what can I do with a micro-mobility vehicle? Well, you’ll be glad to hear they have a whole bevy of applications in modern life, the first and foremost of which is that they’re a great tool for inner-city commutes. This is one of the key draws of both e-bikes and e-scooters, and both are ideal vehicles for zipping through town for a work meeting or heading out to meet friends without worrying about public transport or traffic.
E-bikes and e-scooters are very different vehicles, and as such, they have a few unique applications each. For example, electric cargo bikes are ideal for those taking on messenger or delivery jobs around the city. Electric bikes can also be equipped with child seats, pannier racks, mudguards and so forth, giving them a massive range of possible uses. E-scooters, meanwhile, aren’t quite as adaptable, but there are many different models available with lighting setups, off-road suspensions, and grippy tires – to name just a few variations. So while e-bikes are more versatile in this regard, scooters do have some flexibility between models.
Of course, the biggest difference in utility between the two is in their potential as exercise aids. By their very design, electric scooters are not sedentary vehicles; you simply stand up and ride to your destination. Electric bikes, meanwhile, are fantastic for exercise, all thanks to their pedal-assist and unassisted riding modes. Some studies have even shown that those who own electric bikes are more likely to cycle regularly than those with manual road bikes, making them in some ways even better for your health than traditional bicycles!
Portability / Storage
So, is an electric scooter better than an electric bike in any way? When it comes to portability, the electric scooter is a clear-cut winner, which is for a couple of reasons. First off, they’re lighter than most e-bikes, making them easier to carry onto trains or to throw in the trunk of a car during a longer trip. Because of this, they’re a perfect pick for mixed-transport journeys, and they mostly fold down as standard, too, further increasing their portability.
If we look at storage potential, e-scooters come out on top once again. They’re easy to stow, as noted, and can be brought indoors into an office or public buildings if you can’t find parking on the street, which also makes them considerably harder to steal than an e-bike. For this reason, if you live in a small apartment or up multiple flights of stairs, and you’re unable to leave your vehicle outside, then in general, you’ll be much better off with an e-scooter than an e-bike.
That’s not to say e-bikes can’t be portable too. Like the Furo X or the Gocycle, many can be folded down just like an e-scooter, making them easy to take onto public transport or bring indoors. They’ll still be heavier than an e-scooter, of course, but they’re a good compromise for those who want the portability of an e-scooter with the flexibility of an e-bike.
One advantage of an e-bike’s larger chassis is that it has more space and weight capacity for heavy batteries, so in general, an electric bike will have a longer range than most electric scooters. While there are long-range variants of each vehicle available, e-bikes typically have a powered range of 40 miles plus, with top-of-the-range options, like the Delfast Top 3.0, going for 200 miles or more.
Meanwhile, a mid-range e-scooter might be able to hit the 25-mile mark, while even expensive variants like the Dualtron Ultra top out at a 75-mile range. This is decent in its own right, but there’s one other key thing to consider: an e-scooter that runs out of battery is pretty much useless, whereas an e-bike is still a competent vehicle even without electric assistance.
All in all, while both vehicles have a long enough range to last a day of riding back and forth in the city, the e-bike is a much stronger pick for long-distance, single-vehicle journeys.
Last but not least, it’s important to consider just how suitable an electric bike or electric scooter is for your lifestyle and day-to-day needs. For example, if you’re planning on buying something to get you to work, then an e-bike is a good choice for longer, single-vehicle journeys, while an e-scooter is a better option if you’re hopping on the subway or bus halfway or if you don’t want to work up a sweat.
For cross-country or multi-day travel, you’ll want an e-bike with a high battery capacity and sturdy tires, especially if you’re taking on a variety of road surfaces. If you’re looking for something that’ll help you run errands around town meanwhile, an e-scooter is a great pick, thanks to its portability and ease of use. Younger riders with metropolitan lifestyles might find an e-scooter suits them to a tee. In contrast, older riders looking to get back into exercising would find an e-bike a perfect fit – though both are great for people of all ages.
Ultimately, e-scooters are best suited to recreational use, inner-city journeys, short hops and daily commutes. E-bikes are more versatile and a better option for longer journeys, and on top of this, they’re great for exercise. Still, the reality is that both vehicles have fantastic benefits. They enhance your freedom of movement, save you money on gas and transport, and allow you to do your bit for the environment too, making them an excellent addition to anybody’s life.