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What should you consider when choosing an electric scooter for an adult?
If you want to avoid 'buyers remorse' you have to take some time and get the right scooter for you, that includes your size, how you will use it, your budget, your commute, and your skill level - It can also be great to have the option of a seat!
As far as we know, and we have been making it our business to know for over 4 years these are some of the most important purchase considerations for adults looking to by an electric scooter for NZ use.
Size includes both height and weight you need to consider both when choosing your scooter.
If you are on the taller side then you need to test the riding the position, it is very rare for an adult scooter to come with adjustable handlebar height.
An example of one that does is the STORM Nano - as it is built in the same factory and by the same people that make Kawasaki E-Bikes, quality!
If you do not have the luxury of an adjustable neck height like the Nano then you will need to try different scooters to make sure it is made with a comfortable ride height for your stature.
As far as weight is concerned you will need to get a scooter that has suitable build quality, as when you hit bumps weight and speed combined equal the force that the parts are put under, so if you weigh 100kg for instance then you are putting one heck of a lot more wear and tear on all the parts and joins on your scooter than a rider doing the exact same terrain and speed who weighs 60kg.
So make sure you choose a scooter that is of high build quality, uses quality materials and constriction - such as tube steel (like the Nano and Fat Tyre Cruiser S) or a metal alloy chassis (like the Mercane WideWheel).
A lot of cheap scooters, either the no brand name ones that are on sale on TradeMe (run a mile), or even the well-known brand name ones that come in well under $1k, have a reputation for breaking.
At least with the known brand name ones that have actual physical stores you are likely to have a warranty...
BUT if you do not check the weight restriction on your scooter before you buy it and break it... then you may find yourself without a warranty also.
Range anxiety is one hell of a buzzkill, nothing sucks the fun out of a scooter commute than running out of battery and having to walk the rest of the way, arriving late and sweaty and grumpy to work or your appointment. Especially after you have been so smug to everyone about how great your new scooter is.
Commuting on an adult scooter means that you need to make sure it has enough range to get you there, it is very important to remember that the factory stated range may be way off what you actually get in the real world.
Make sure you know the REAL WORLD range of your scooter. Factories give best case scenario specs for range and many retailers simply parrot them to their customers. When you buy from a site or store that sells a large range of scooters - they will not have tested them all, and they will not know the real range of the products.
A Jockey in a Velodrome: Factory Range (especially on lower quality/price products) is often some ridiculous scenario like a 60kg person riding non-stop on the flat. What uses your battery is stop-start riding so if you never stop, you never have to start and accelerate so, of course, you go further. We call these tests 'a jockey in a velodrome' and they are rubbish compared to an 80-100kg person riding up and down hills and stopping and starting - you know, like in the real world.
Range and Battery SIze are linked so make sure you are aware of the Ah (ampere hour - most people just say: amp hour) rating of the battery - think of Ah as how much 'fuel' does it have? In general a 20Ah battery will get you a lot further than a 12Ah battery in the same/similar scooter - take care to note the last point as a bigger heavier scooter take more power to get going, so it is a lot like a gas tank in a petrol scooter, bigger scooters need more Ah (fuel) to get you where you need to go. [If you want to know more about Ah.]
This is a great way to fact check claims also as if one scooter says it is 20Ah and goes 60-80km range and another scooter has a 12Ah and claims the same distance... well that is not very likely now, is it?
Battery Quality is a huge factor also so Ah alone is not everything, make sure there is a decent warranty, that includes the battery.
If you are planning on long daily rides then make sure you have front and rear suspension - read that again 'front AND rear' suspension.
NZ has some really rough footpaths and even just crossing up from the road to the footpath can be very bumpy.
It is also becoming fashionable to put in cobblestones, for instance around Wynyard Quarter in the Auckland Waterfront... yeah sure they look good... BUT even with dual suspension that is not a fun surface for a scooter. Without it, well good luck on your back and your scooter staying together.
Speed gets a bad name, and yes going faster does mean you get hurt worse if you crash. However, speed and acceleration are absolutely your best friends to prevent you from crashing or being a hazard on the road when you are interacting with cars, the ability to get yourself out of the way.
So you need a scooter that has enough power for you to get the speed you need.
For reference the WideWheel has a top speed of 40km/h (has a 25 km/h limiter that can easily be toggled on and off), the Cruiser S has 3 speed modes at the touch of a button which limit you to about 25/25 and 45-50 km/h, and the Nano has a top speed of just over 30km/h.
So all are suitable to be classed as 'adult electric scooters' but they are all very different in size, weight, and price, so you need to check them all out carefully to make sure you get the best one for you.
You would be blown away by the number of phone calls we get every single week from people who have bought a cheap scooter that has broken down. The better the quality the longer it will last.
Seems almost silly to have to say this but we get a dozen calls a month from people who bought an under-priced under-powered scooter not suitable for adults, or a cut-price scooter from TradeMe 'because it was cheap'... Yeah well, how cheap is it now 6 months later when it is a useless piece of junk?
The balance between what you spend now and what it will cost you, in the long run, is an important decision.
We have all heard the old adages about quality vs price and the difference between 'price' and 'value'. Well buying an electric scooter is no different, in actual fact, in this case, it can be more important of a decision than most things you buy.
You only trust your life and wellbeing to a small selection of things you buy, and you may not have thought about it but your scooter is one of them - anything that you intend to hurtle along on at 20-30-40km/h (some do more) certainly has the ability to cause you some significant issues if it fails. Think Brakes...
So upfront, you should be ignoring virtually any scooter that costs less than $1,000 the odds are it is either made from cheap components (how else can it be so cheap?) and will break, or will be underpowered and useless = buyers remorse.
Commuting is very different than 'last mile' usage when you plan to rely on the scooter to get you all the way to work and appointments, you need to be able to trust it.
Make sure you consider the hills and terrain that is involved in your specific commute. Not all scooters are created equal and no 2 commutes are exactly the same. Be especially aware if you have a particularly steep hill or rough terrain to negotiate on your commute.
Some scooters now come with seat attachments, the Cruiser S already has a seat built-in (very comfy), as does the STORM Nano, and the WideWheel has it as an optional extra.
Matching the scooter you buy to your skill level and experience is critical for safety. Adult Electric Scooters are usually powerful machines, with instant torque response and high top speeds.
You should only buy a scooter that is within your capability to control. The WideWheel, for instance, comes in both a single rear motor 500w version, as well as a dual-motor 1000w version - they are night and day to ride, the 500w is a powerful yet very forgiving and smooth ride, an absolute pleasure with no kickback at all and perfect for beginners. Whereas the 1000w is a bit of a beast, you had better make sure you are on top of your throttle control otherwise you could quickly find yourself having a scary ride.
So at the end of the day remember that you are going to be spending a good $1,200-3,000 on your electric scooter, even for an 'adult' that is typically a high ticket item to purchase.
So take your time, read the e-scooter reviews, read blog posts like this, check out all the stats. Check out companies Google Reviews and Facebook Pages - are they active? Do they have good reviews?
Do some test rides, sometimes what the reviewers love in the video testimonials on YouTube will not be exactly what you are looking for.
Call companies on the phone, or at least email them, do they seem like good people? Are they knowledgable about their products? Do you think if you had a warranty issue they would be there to support you?
Do your research and you will end up being super happy with your purchase!
Right so now it is time to stop renting a scooter, be an adult, and buy your own!