If you have been around any large cities lately, you have probably seen hordes of eBikes and electric scooters that you can rent-per-hour with a smartphone app. A lot of people wonder, which is better, eBikes or electric scooters?
Let’s talk about the differences quickly.
Electric scooters are smaller than eBikes and are generally designed for shorter distances. As such, they tend to be lighter and have less powerful batteries.
Electric scooters also have a different shape. Instead of sitting on a seat, you stand on a flat platform near the ground, though some electric scooters have a seat.
Electric scooters normally have brake handles like those on a bike but some have a brake mechanism on the rear wheel you activate by pressing down with your foot or some.
eBikes, in contrast, are designed like traditional bikes with frames, handlebars, pedals, seats, and brakes. They are built for longer distances and have a more relaxed profile for long rides. In some states, you need a driver’s license to operate an eBike but there are no license requirements for riding an electric scooter in any state.
The main difference from eBikes is that electric scooters lack pedals. As such, they are much less exercise-intensive and have a lower top speed.
Electric Scooters vs Electric Bikes
Winner: Electric scooter
Electric scooters are usually cheaper than eBikes of comparative quality. Electric scooters tend to have a simpler design and fewer moving parts than an eBike so they are less expensive. They also use cheap, efficient batteries. You can find a decent electric scooter for anywhere between $200-$400.
eBikes, in contrast, tend to be more expensive. Your average, run-of-the-mill cheap eBike can run you anywhere between $400-$1,000. Higher-end models can cost $2,000+. eBikes are more expensive because they have more moving parts, are larger, and use more sophisticated electric motors.
Electric scooters win this matchup because they are more affordable. However, some cheap electric scooters are extremely poor quality and won’t last very long.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, most electric scooters do not have a seat and you can get tired quickly while standing for long distances.
Scooters also tend to have smaller batteries compared to eBikes so they produce less power.
eBikes, in contrast, are designed for longer travel periods. They have a seat and your body can adopt a lower-impact stance than standing on a scooter. EBikes are also more efficient because the torque from the motor is supplemented by your feet pedaling. You can go for longer because you are not relying entirely on the motor and battery.
So overall, eBikes win out when it comes to distances. eBikes can go for longer and are much more comfortable for riding for longer periods of time.
This one is probably obvious, but eBikes have a much higher max speed than electric scooters. The fastest, most powerful street-legal electric scooters can maybe get around 20 mph, but most have a top speed of about 15-16 mph. (Note that there are some crazy tricked out scooters that can allegedly go over 50 miles per hour, but they’re very rare and very expensive). That is pretty decent for low speed-limit areas such as in the city but is probably too slow for other roads.
eBikes, on the other hand, can reach speeds of around 30 mph or higher (though most are limited to 28 mph with motor assistance). There are some very powerful eBikers out there that can reach speeds up to 40-50 mph, although these are rare and may not be street legal everywhere in the US.
Overall though, when it comes to speed, eBikes come out on top. This makes sense after all as you can further increase your speed by pedaling an eBike. eBikes have a wider range of speeds and so are more versatile than electric scooters.
This is a hard one to parse because both electric scooters and eBikes can be very comfortable and more comfortable than each other in specific circumstances. If you are traveling short distances, an eScooter might be more comfortable as you can mount/dismount quickly and you get a nice breeze around your body for standing. But you can get tired if you have to stand too long and most scooters do not have a seat to rest on.
eBikes are more comfortable for longer distances because they have padded seats and a more relaxed sitting position. So which one is more comfortable depends largely on what you need an electric vehicle for.
If you want something for small distances and plan to ride it casually, then an electric scooter might be a better option. Alternatively, if you want something that you can use for serious commutes, then an eBike is probably the more comfortable option as you can sit down and have a better posture for longer-distance trips.
So overall, we say that this category is a draw.
Winner: Electric scooter
You might think that eBikes have a larger battery capacity than electric scooters, but actually, electric scooters normally have a larger capacity battery. The reason why is that electric scooters cannot rely on physical pedaling as eBikes can, so all the torque has to come from the battery alone. Electric scooter batteries normally have a 20Ah capacity and tend to be the most expensive part of the scooter.
Some eBikes can have a larger capacity battery than electric scooters but when you consider battery capacity to total weight electric scooters come out on top. High-end electric scooters tend to have powerful lithium-ion batteries.
Traffic and Regulations
Winner: Electric scooter
One good feature of electric scooters is they are very easy to figure out and operate. Most people can get up on one and start zipping around without prior experience or much practice. You also do not need any kind of special license or registration to ride an electric scooter, as you do for a car, motorcycle, and, in some states, eBikes. You also do not need insurance when you purchase an electric scooter.
eBikes, on the other hand, may require special licenses to operate. For example, in Missouri, eBikes are classified as mopeds and you must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license to operate one. There is no similar legislation for electric scooters. Missouri does not require eBike riders to have insurance, but some states may require it.
Aside from Missouri, Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and North Dakota require a driver’s license to operate an eBike. Other states might have more specific rules about who can use eBikes so make sure you know your state laws before buying one.
One important thing: you absolutely CAN get a DUI if you are caught riding an eBike or electric scooter while intoxicated. Most states have DUI laws that cover driving electric vehicles that can reach a certain speed while intoxicated. It depends on how, exactly, your state defines what is and isn’t a “motor vehicle.”
Overall, eBikes are better suited for a wider variety of terrain than electric scooters. EeBikes can ride on pavement, gravel, asphalt, dirt, and grass, and some are specifically designed to be multi-terrain. There are a ton of hunting eBikes meant for off-road use.
Electric scooters, on the other hand, are designed mostly for use on paved roads and throughways. There are some scooters that have larger, thick wheels for rough terrain but these are not as common and are not as maneuverable as an eBike on rough terrain.
That being said, you should not try to put your eBike over too rough terrain. The rougher the terrain, the more work the battery has to do to move the bike forward. Pedaling helps, but ultimately, riding on rough terrain in an eBike can deplete that battery faster and may cause motor damage if the terrain is too rough for the bike. Fat tire eBikes are great for this, though.
Winner: Electric scooter
Electric scooters are generally safer than eBikes because they have a lower top speed and are lighter, so they do not do as much damage if you crash. You are also closer to the ground on an electric scooter, so if you do fall, there is less risk of seriously injuring yourself. That being said, electric scooters can be risky and dangerous if you are not paying attention or are being reckless.
However, electric scooters can be more dangerous on certain types of terrains. Electric scooters normally have smaller wheels, which means if you are on rough terrains, like gravel or dirt, the wheels can bounce and skip from small obstructions. This can cause you to skid and lose control of your scooter.
eBikes tend to have larger, thicker tires and a more durable suspension system, so they handle much better on rough terrain and are more stable. In urban areas, both eBikes and electric scooters can be very safe, as long as you wear protective gear, obey the rules of the road, and drive defensively
Winner: Electric scooter
When it comes to portability, electric scooters are much easier to transport and carry with you than an eBike. Electric scooters are not only lighter than eBikes, but also have a much more storage-friendly design. Many electric scooters can fold in half near the base of the handlebars which makes them convenient to take with you on the bus or train.
That being said, modern eBikes are getting smaller. Thanks to materials like graphene and carbon fiber, eBikes are becoming lighter and more space conscious.
So there you have it, everything you need to know in the eBikes vs eScooters debate!
Depending on what factors above are most important to you, you may choose an eBike or an eScooter. There’s no real “right” option, so it’ll depend on your preferences and when/where/how you ride.
For ease of use, short distance commuting, scooters are typically lighter, easier, and quicker.
For longer, more versatile and durable riding, consider an electric bike.Last updated on: