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Electric Scooters and Trikes

E-Scooters

 Scooter circa 1919

An e-scooter or motorized scooter is a stand-up scooter powered by an electric motor (or in the past a small utility internal combustion engine). Classified as a form of micro-mobility, these scooters are generally designed with a large deck in the center on which the rider stands. The first motorized scooter was manufactured by Autoped beginning in 1915.

Recently, electric kick scooters (e-scooters) have grown in popularity with the introduction of scooter-sharing systems that use apps allowing users to rent the scooters by the minute.

Electric kick scooters, like the Razor kick scooters of the 1990s, have two wheels, a platform called a deck, and handlebars for steering. They differ from the unmotorized kick scooters of the 90s due to the addition of a battery, electronics, larger (often air-filled) tires, and an electric motor.

Though the majority of scooters are intended to be ridden while standing on the deck, some scooters can be converted into seated electric scooters with optional accessories. 

Recently, there has been an enormous surge in interest for scooters — mainly driven by their notorious overnight introduction into cities by scooter-sharing companies such as Lime and Bird.

Scooter sharing has increased the general public awareness of micro-mobility and driven the growth of the personal market. The explosion of the personal market has led to the import of hundreds of different models of electric scooters by a huge number of different brands.

Though most companies are making electric scooters for adults, some companies — notably Razor — are targeting the kids and young teen market.

 

Adult Scooters:

Adult electric scooters are the most common type of scooter available on the market. They differ from electric scooters intended for children because they have a larger weight capacity, typically around 220 lbs. (100 kg), more powerful motors, a larger battery, a larger deck, and a taller stem.  Electric scooters intended for adults also tend to cost at least $300 whereas an electric scooter intended for children can typically be had for under $200.

Some popular brands of electric scooters for adults are Boosted, Glion, GoTrax, Xiaomi, Swagtron, Zero, Fluid FreeRide, Kaabo, and MiniMotors. Some notable models are the Xiaomi Mi M365, Dualtron, Wide Wheel, Zero 10X, Boosted Rev, and Wolf Warrior 11.

A typical adult scooter weighs under 30 lbs., has a 250-watt motor, a 250-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, has a top speed of 15 mph, a range of 10 miles, and costs around $500.

Child Scooters:

Electric scooters intended for kids or teens are typically smaller, lighter, and less expensive than their adult counterparts.  They are often made of less durable materials such as plastic, have weak motors, and may even contain low energy density lead-acid batteries.

It is worth noting that children’s electric scooters aren’t typically much more than toys and should be used as such.  They shouldn’t be used for riding on public roads or ridden by adults.

Some popular brands of electric scooters for kids are Razor and Jetson. A typical children’s electric scooter weighs around 20 lbs., has a 150-watt motor, a 100-watt-hour battery (either sealed lead acid or lithium-ion), a range of 3 miles, and costs around $200.

Note: Larger or taller teens should use an adult electric scooter because a kids scooter will likely be too small and underpowered.

Seated Scooters:

Seated electric scooters are primarily for adults and made to make longer rides more comfortable. Most electric scooters do not come with a seat, but many have optional seat attachments that are sold as separate accessories.

A hallmark of the modern e-scooter is its ability to fold — making it both portable for carrying and convenient for storing.  This is the main advantage of folding electric scooters, compared to electric bicycles.  When a seat is added to an electric scooter, this typically eliminates its folding ability and, in our eyes, reduces many of the advantages of folding e-scooters.

If you need a scooter with a seat, you might consider an electric bicycle instead. Electric bicycles are typically easier to ride, faster, and more comfortable for longer distances. You can’t fold them up for easier carrying — but neither can you fold a seated electric scooter.

How does an Electric Scooter work?:

When the rider uses the throttle, electric signals go from the throttle through wires to the controller, which instructs the battery to release electric energy to one or two motors in the wheels. The motor transforms that energy into a movement of the wheels, and the scooter moves forward.

Electric Scooter Components:

For the most part, electric scooters are only made up of several major components.

The battery is the heart of every electric scooter. Its voltage, charge, and energy storage capacity will be the dominant factor in determining the most important features of the scooter, which are the overall performance, and the maximum distance it can go on a single charge.

The motor is of equal importance to the battery. Its power and quality will determine a lot about the scooter’s performance, primarily its speed, torque, its ability to climb hills, and its range to a lesser extent. The motor and the battery are connected through electric wires, all controlled by the screen and throttle on the handlebar. Their performance is managed by the rider through the controller component.

The rider issues a command on the screen, and through the throttle and brake levers or buttons. The screen is usually an LED screen right in the center of the handlebar, or a small circular screen on the right handlebar and the throttle control is on the right. Some handlebars also have a brake lever on the left handle.

Some older scooter models have their motors placed in the deck and use chains and gears to turn the wheels. Most of the modern scooters are gearless and have the motors built right into the wheels. These are called hub motors. It’s quite common for the more powerful scooters to have two motors, one in each wheel.

The wheels themselves are an obvious part of the scooter. They come in two basic types – air-filled and solid. Some scooters will also have shock absorbers for a more comfortable ride. We will go into more detail about wheels later. Either one or both wheels can have brakes. Brakes can be electronic, mechanical (with a disc or hydraulic), or activated by pressing the foot against the rear fender.

All of these components are tightly integrated into a solid frame, usually made up of industrial-grade aluminum alloy, or sometimes of carbon fiber. The frame can be visually divided into the stem, which is the front pipe-like part, and the deck, which is the surface on which the rider stands.

Other than plastic and silicone, not many other materials are used in building the scooter. The frame of the scooter is often foldable. Most electric scooters have at least one headlight and one or more smaller lights in the rear to serve as brake lights too. As we can see, that’s not a lot of components, especially given how useful scooters are. What’s more interesting is how they work together in concert.

 

E-Trikes

An electric trike is an adult-sized motor-powered bike with three wheels, much like those small children ride. It’s commonly used by adults with disabilities and seniors who may be unable to ride a two-wheeled bike. An e-tricycle offers motor assistance when the rider pedals and the three wheels remove the need to balance. Without the concern of balancing, as on a traditional bike, riders can enjoy themselves more and reap the benefits of cycling in general. Like other e-bikes, these three-wheeled electric bikes have become an enjoyable way of getting around without having to worry about hills or headwinds.

Three-wheeled vehicles with one front wheel and two rear wheels are known as a delta design or the traditional trike (tricycle) design, such as the Hase Kettwiesel.

Three-wheeled vehicles with two front wheels and one rear wheel are known as a tadpole design, such as the Odyssey Mk. 5 and Outrider 422 Alpha.

E-trikes can go up to 30 mph, with most having a motor that maxes out at 20 mph, depending on the brand and model. They can typically ride for 30-40 miles on a single battery charge before dying so you shouldn’t have trouble getting where you need to go.

Components of an Electric Trike:

Benefits of Riding an Electric Trike:

Riding an e-trike provides essentially the same benefits as riding an electric bike. They may require less balancing effort, but you will still be able to ride in the same places and receive the same workout from pedaling. 

Riding an electric trike is great for a number of things:

  • Mental Health
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Joint Health 
  • Muscle and bone strengthening  
 
Mental Health

Getting regular exercise and being out in nature is proven to enhance your mood and release positive endorphins. It can help with depression and anxiety and calm your brain.

 

Additionally, vitamin D (from being out in the sun) and fresh air can help maintain a more balanced mood and improve cognitive function. And riding an electric trike or bike is a safe, fun way to improve your mental health.

Cardiovascular Health

Riding any bicycle on a regular basis can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, strokes, and age-related issues. This is because it increases your physical activity and works your cardiovascular system. Riding can also help keep your weight down and burn calories, leading to a healthier body overall. Further, receiving a proper amount of exercise can boost your immune system.

But the absolute greatest thing about riding an electric trike, instead of a regular bike, is that it makes exercise much easier. Thus, you’re more likely to do it and will do it more often, which will improve your overall physical fitness.

Joint Health

Riding a bike is a low-impact exercise and puts much less stress on your joints than running or high-impact sports.

And since electric trikes have pedal assist, and often a power throttle, you can take as many breaks as your joints need while still moving forward on the bike. Just increase the level of power assistance to make pedaling easier or use the throttle exclusively without pedaling at all.

Muscle Strengthening

Pedaling an electric trike is a great way to strengthen your bones and work on building up muscle strength, without having to worry about balance. Building muscle will not only help you burn fat, but it’ll also keep you stronger and more capable in other daily activities.

Plus, cycling, in general, will strengthen your bones while increasing muscle.

Conclusion:

Electric Scooters and Trikes are great ways to improve your personal electric mobility, health, mental well-being, and overall enjoyment of life. They are innovative with a long history of development, meant to be used by the average individual looking for an alternative to a bicycle. For your next purchase perhaps consider an Electric Scooter or Trike and try out the possibilities.