Electric scooters have taken the UK by storm over the past couple of years, and we’re not alone. In fact, global e-scooter sales are expected to reach £20bn by 2025. So what’s all the fuss about? And are you actually allowed to ride them on public roads?

An electric scooter, or e-scooter, is simply a stand-up scooter powered by an electric motor. It allows you to zoom around in style, and they’re far better for the environment than driving or hopping on a bus. That’s why commuters are taking advantage of this fun and quick way to travel, with lower emissions.

As their popularity soars, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about electric scooters. From the different types of e-scooter and how to ride one safely, to exactly what the law says about where you can ride it. And we’ll look at the different features to consider, range, cost, and more to help you choose the right one for you.

Why buy an electric scooter?

Electric scooters offer a fun way to travel. Their foldable design makes e-scooters convenient to carry and store - perfect if you live in a small apartment! They’re stylish, and simple to use. They’re also a green mode of transport, so you’ll be doing your bit to protect the environment.

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Person carrying electric scooter downstairs. link

E-scooters offer a very efficient way of commuting. You can avoid the traffic, and they’re much cheaper to run than using a car, or public transport. You can even store your scooter under your desk at work. And they’re not as new as you might think. In fact, electric scooters date as far back as 1895 when the first patent was submitted. And with the first prototype of an electric scooter unveiled in 1919, designers and manufacturers have had over 100 years to develop the fun and convenient mode of transport available today.

Another advantage of an electric scooter compared to cars and motorbikes is that they don’t need a lot of maintenance. You need to ensure screws are tightened properly once a month or so, and lubricate it if needed. But otherwise, if you invest in a quality e-scooter, the parts are usually pretty reliable. Even if you do need to get it repaired, the cost will be much less compared to the cost of maintaining a car.

How do electric scooters work?

Most of us have used a standard kick-scooter at some point, whizzing around the park or on the way home from school as a child. And while similar in appearance, the key difference between a normal scooter and an electric scooter is the motor. E-scooters use a small, electric motor, so they need charging on a regular basis to keep them moving.

There are two main types of motor:

  • Rear hub motor: This essentially pushes you forward while you ride. These motors are found at the back of the scooter, which means most of the weight is positioned in the same spot where you stand.
  • Front hub motor: This is worked into the front wheel. A front hub motor does a better job at evenly distributing weight, although more weight at the front can sometimes mean less traction. Low traction can make the e-scooter tougher to ride over slippery surfaces.

To activate the motor, most electric scooters will need you to be moving. Once the wheels are spinning, turning the throttle will start up the motor, allowing you to gain speed. And you can slow down using a footbrake or a handbrake.

  • Footbrake: As the name suggests, this works by pushing your foot down on the fender above the rear wheel. This creates resistance and slows the electric scooter down. This type of brake can be effective in an emergency, although it can prove a little tricky to use at high speeds.
  • Handbrake: Found on the handlebar, a handbrake works in a similar way to the brakes found on a bicycle. They are much easier to use compared to rear wheel brakes, especially on rough terrain. And if you’re commuting, a handbrake will allow you to pull over swiftly, especially in urban traffic.

Most electric scooters are also built with a folding frame that makes them easier to carry and store. So if you don’t have much storage space at home, make sure you look for a foldable design. This will also make it much easier to pop your scooter under your desk in the office.

How far can electric scooters go?

Electric scooter batteries vary dramatically, depending on the brand of scooter and the specification. The battery is one of the most expensive components of the e-scooter, so generally the more expensive the e-scooter, the better the battery, and the further you’ll be able to travel before recharging.

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The daily commute with an electric scooterlink

Most electric scooters will have some type of lithium ion-based battery pack due to their excellent energy density and longevity. Although many electric scooters for kids and other inexpensive models contain lead-acid batteries.

Bigger battery packs have more capacity, measured in watt hours, and will let an electric scooter travel further. However, they also increase the size and weight of the scooter — making it less portable. An average scooter will have a capacity of around 250 Wh and will be able to travel about 10 miles at an average of 15 miles per hour. Top end scooters can have a capacity reaching into the thousands of watt hours and ranges of up to 60 miles. Though other factors you’ll need to take into account to determine how far your electric scooter will travel are:

  • Total weight: The range will vary for each rider, depending on their weight and size (including any luggage). Overloading your electric scooter will lead to drawing more power over the course of your journey.
  • Type of surface: The motor will consume more energy when going uphill or off-road. The ideal surface to ride further is a relatively flat and smooth road.
  • The weather: Lithium-ion batteries operate optimally at around 23°C. When the temperature drops, it’s normal to experience a shorter range than normal. Riding on a windy day will also affect its performance.
  • Tyre pressure: It’s important to maintain a tyre pressure of between 40 and 60 PSI. Under-inflated tyres will affect your scooter range, its handling and braking performance. So check your pressure before each ride.

How do you charge electric scooters?

There will probably be an indicator located near the handlebars that lets you know the battery is running low. The time taken to charge the battery varies depending on the model you have. Some electric scooters can be fully charged in less than five hours, while others will take a full day. So this is something to consider when choosing which electric scooter to go for.

  • Lithium-ion batteries charge quickly and are reasonably lightweight, making them easier to carry around.
  • Lead-acid batteries take far longer to charge. They cost less than lithium-ion batteries, but have a shorter lifespan.

Charging your electric scooter is as simple as plugging in a cable and turning the power on at the mains. You’ll usually find the charging port somewhere on the base of the scooter. If your electric scooter comes with a removable battery you can charge it at home or in the office without taking the whole scooter with you (though you may need a screwdriver to get access to it).

To get the most from your electric scooter battery, you should:

  • Charge the battery regularly – don’t wait for the battery to go completely flat before you plug it in again. Try and get into the habit of charging your scooter after each long trip.
  • Always use the right cable to charge your scooter. And if you lose it, don’t be tempted to buy a cheaper third-party alternative as this can harm the battery.
  • If you’re charging a removable battery, make sure it's away from direct sunlight.
  • Turn off the power socket before you take a removable battery from its charging case.

Choosing an electric scooter

Buying an electric scooter should be a fun and exciting experience. Though there are so many scooters on the market, along with lots of things to consider. So choosing the right scooter for you can also seem a little daunting.

You can buy a child’s electric scooter from around £100 or so, but a quality adult e-scooter can cost anywhere from £350 to £1000 or more. And they range greatly in style and features.

If you’re looking for a good electric scooter for kids, this e-scooter by Razor is the maxed-up version of its standard model. The Power Core E100 at £219.99 will give you a longer ride time, and delivers 50% more torque than the Razor E100 – up to 60 minutes of continuous use at speeds up to 11 mph. It’s lighter and more efficient, and allows speeds of up to 18 km/h.

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Budget electric scooters under £350

Most entry-level adult electric scooters are only really suitable for minimal or light recreational use. At this budget price point you’ll usually get low capacity batteries, under-powered motors, and weak brakes. However, there are some excellent basic e-scooters available at this price. Like the Micro Explorer Electric Scooter at £349.95 which blends an 18 mile range with a 15 mph top speed and 3.5 hour full charge. Foldable and weighing only 13.5 kg, it’s super convenient and perfect for your commute.

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Mid-range electric scooters £350 - £700

There are plenty of electric scooters in this price range, and you can expect to get an e-scooter that’s well balanced in terms of quality, features, and performance.

Electric scooters at the lower end of this category are perfect for travelling short distances. They’ll have a decent range, and suitable build quality for daily commuting, though they are best on smooth surfaces and not a lot of steep hills. They are light enough to fold and carry over short distances, and occasional repairs may be required.

If you’re happy to pay a little more, an electric scooter at the mid-price point will have a slightly larger battery for more range and possibly more motor power. You won’t see any dual-motor scooters at this price, but you will often see models with suspension to deal with slightly rougher terrain. The RS2 Electric Scooter at £499 is a British designed e-scooter crafted from Aircraft Grade Aluminium Alloy. It’s a powerful electric scooter with a top speed of 25 km/h and a range of 45 km. And it has a detachable Panasonic battery which makes it easy to recharge and replace to go further.

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If you’re looking for a safer and more comfortable ride, an electric scooter at the top end of this price range will come with suspension, a bigger motor, larger battery, and better brakes compared to lower priced offerings. The ride will be smoother, with a better range. Though you can expect the e-scooter to be heavier (around 18 kg) which makes it more difficult to carry around.

Performance electric scooters £700 - £1000

High-end or performance electric scooters start to offer serious speed and ultra-long range. Many e-scooters at this price range will incorporate dual motors and large battery packs. You may also start to see some premium features including large tubeless pneumatic tyres, and semi-hydraulic or hydraulic brakes.

The super sleek Unagi One E500 at £899.99 features a range of impressive new and unique features. Its dual motors, one click folding system, 27 km/h top speed and standard solid tyres all together make this scooter a high spec, robust and all round brilliant choice. It has a dedicated 250 watt motor in each wheel, supplying 500 watts and 32 newton metres of torque so you can easily tackle hills with up to 15 degree inclines.

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If you want an even more impressive set of wheels, extreme performance scooters have huge dual motors (some reaching speeds above 64 km/h), extended battery life for extreme range (around 64 km), top quality suspension, and hydraulically activated disc brakes for stopping at fast speeds. Although still suitable for commuting, they’re really built for off-roading. Though with extreme performance comes weight (typically 32 kg or more), making them a lot more difficult to carry around.

How to use an electric scooter

Though fairly simple to use, more and more people unfamiliar with electric scooters are trying to ride one for the first time. And while it is like riding a kick scooter, e-scooters can go much faster, so it’s important to know how to ride one safely.

The safety gear you need for an electric scooter is the same equipment recommended for bicycles: A quality electric scooter helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads. You may not need knee and elbow pads once you’re more experienced, but you should always wear a helmet.

So, how do you ride an electric scooter? First, place the scooter on a flat paved surface. This will allow you to get a feeling for riding without having to worry about hills or other obstacles. When you’re ready, raise the kickstand with your foot and get into position:

  • Place your weak leg on the scooter’s deck with your foot facing forward. Lean forward and hold the handlebars with both hands.
  • Once you’re moving, place your strong leg on the deck behind your weak leg. This will allow you to keep your balance and minimise your size.
  • Slowly and smoothly press the throttle. Different kinds of e-scooters will have different types of throttles, but the technique is still the same. Pushing the throttle too hard will make the scooter jump forward and could make the rider lose control or fall off the deck.
  • Rotate the handlebars to turn. Like the throttle, the movements should be slow and steady to keep the ride as smooth as possible. You’ll also need to shift your weight to keep the scooter upright. Turning the handlebars too far can make this impossible and cause the scooter to fall.
  • Simply pull on the brake lever to slow the scooter. Be sure to pull it slowly as you can be thrown from the scooter if you do it too quickly. You can also use the rear brake to slow more gradually.

Storing your electric scooter

Make sure you always lock your electric scooter when leaving it unattended as they are sadly prone to theft. And when you’re not using your scooter, you need to store it properly at home to keep it in tip top condition. It doesn’t matter if you have a basic or performance electric scooter - you need to take care of it. So if you’re not planning on using your electric scooter for a while you should:

  • Clean it before storing it away: Even if your e-scooter looks clean, dust and other particles could accumulate in some components. Cleaning it before storing also allows you to inspect your electric scooter to see if it had any damage from your last trip.
  • Charge the battery: Never leave your battery flat, even if you won’t be using it for a while. Storing your electric scooter without charging can affect your battery’s capacity and performance when you use it again. So get into the habit of charging your e-scooter after every use.
  • Store in a clean dry place: Ideally, you need a clean, dark, and dry place to store your scooter to keep it in good condition. Avoid storing your e-scooter in damp, or extremely cold or hot areas, as storing them in these conditions can oxidise or corrode some of your e-scooter components and reduce your battery capacity and performance quickly.
  • Remove the battery: If your storage space isn’t the right temperature for the battery, you should remove the battery and store it somewhere safe at home. The ideal temperature for lithium batteries is 80 degrees F/30 degrees C. If the temperature drops to 50 degrees F/10 degrees C, your e-scooter's range and performance could decrease by around 30%.
  • Use a storage bag: Your electric scooter can accumulate dust if left in storage for a while, so keeping it in a bag will help to keep it clean. You can also use the bag when commuting to carry your scooter around in, especially when riding on public transport as this will help protect it from knocks and scrapes.

Keep these tips in mind to store your electric scooter properly. Don’t forget to charge the battery at least once a month to keep it in good condition, and make sure you check the tyres too, especially if you have pneumatic tyres. Then, when you’re ready to ride your e-scooter again, check all the components first and charge it to 100% to ensure that it’s working properly. Following these steps and taking good care of your electric scooter will give you the best riding experience and help prolong its lifespan.

Electric scooter laws

Feel a little in the dark over scooter law? Before you buy an electric scooter, you need to know where you can and can’t ride it.

E-scooters are not illegal in the UK and you can buy, sell, and own one perfectly legally. Although at the moment, electric scooters can only be used on private land. And it’s illegal to use them on public roads, on pavements, in cycle lanes and in pedestrianised zones. To be ridden on public roads, electric scooters need to conform to the same rules as cars, with licence plates, indicators, rear lights, tax and insurance, but those currently on sale don’t comply with these conditions.

Is it possible to rent an electric scooter as part of a recognised scheme. Though these e-scooters are limited to a max speed of 15.5mph. And you will need a driving licence to hire one.

Find out more about the laws around electric scooters.