Both electric scooters and e-bikes are becoming increasingly common in the streets, with people using one or the other to commute. They’re convenient, cheap to use, and easier to park or store than other vehicles, and you don’t need to worry about exorbitant fuel prices that rise by the day.
Also, they don’t get stuck in traffic and can even maneuver between cars if necessary. Naturally, some people would swear by e-bikes while others want electric scooters. So, which is preferable for anyone looking at the electric scooter vs. electric bike comparison in search of their next in-city vehicle? Stick around to find out the differences and whether you should choose the electric bike or electric scooter.
Electric scooters look a lot like the scooters you or your friends had as kids. They have two small wheels attached to a footboard. There’s also a steering handle typically connected to the front wheel, which can be foldable to make it more portable and easier to store.
While riding on a scooter as a child, the handle may have been slightly higher, but as adults, it will typically be as high as your waistline when standing on the footboard. The basic design remains the same, albeit with the inclusion of a battery and motor under the floorboard, as well as throttle control.
On the other hand, there’s a wide variety of bicycle designs, including folding, mountain, utility, cruisers, etc. The addition of throttle control components and a battery and motor make them e-bikes, although the overall design still influences the types of terrain you can tackle.
For instance, mountain electric bikes also have suspension components, a battery, a motor, and other electric components. This helps ensure you’re comfortable on that bumpy and hilly backroad.
Fixed-gear bikes only have a single belt which means they’re low maintenance and lighter than those with multiple gears. Electric fixed-gear bikes have the same perks in addition to the electric components that eliminate the need to pedal on some stretches of road.
For those looking for a fixed-gear electric bike, multiple reviewers recommend the EVRYjourney New. In addition to the single belt design, it comes with a sleek, lightweight frame and thin 26c wheels, which make it easier to carry and better for city roads.
As for whether to choose an electric scooter or an electric bike: it depends. While this can be a frustrating answer, it’s accurate. Picking one or the other will likely depend on several factors, i.e., your preferred riding style, the speed and range that works for you, brakes and safety, motor and battery capacity, durability, etc., all of which we cover below.
These factors could mean the difference between whether you’re satisfied with an electric bike or scooter.
In bike riding, there are different styles suited to the various riding scenarios you’re likely to find yourself in. There’s manual pedaling, which remains an option even with electric bicycles. It’s also an excellent option to extend range since you only need to use the battery when you can’t pedal anymore.
There’s also an electric pedal assist. You still have to pedal manually with this option. However, the motor takes some of the load to propel you forward. This allows you to pedal longer since you don’t strain your legs and muscles. That said, it can drain your battery faster than manual pedaling.
Throttle control is where you only use the battery and motor to propel you forward while your legs rest on the pedal. This option burns through stored energy the quickest, although depending on the size of the battery and the distance to where you’re going, the battery life may be enough to get you to the destination and back home.
Most people use a combination of the three depending on the scenario. For instance, they might use manual pedaling when they want to exercise. Alternatively, if they’re going up a hill that’s proven too hard to handle, they might use the electric pedal assist, giving them an extra boost.
Throttle control is when you’re cruising and don’t want to tire yourself by pedaling.
As for electric scooters, you can only ride them when standing up, so if you prefer to sit, they might be a problem. However, for those who spend their days sitting at the office, standing on a scooter might be an excellent option to keep them upright.
Another scenario where it might be preferential to have a scooter is when you’re unsure of the device’s safety when you’re not around. With most bikes including non-electric options, you must leave them outside when entering certain buildings. This is doubly true when you have an electric bike since they’re heavier and may not be as easy to carry into storage as other bikes.
Electric scooters are significantly smaller and lighter than most bikes and can typically be carried inside pretty easily. They also don’t take up much storage space and will even fit in the corner of your office if necessary.
The typical terrain you encounter in your daily riding scenarios may also help with your selection. The larger bicycle wheels may be handy when riding on bumpy terrain or MTB trails filled with obstacles. The smaller wheels on some electric scooter models may be unable to ride over certain obstacles forcing you to get off and walk.
Consequently, there are electric bikes for hunting or tackling MTB trails, which you don’t get with electric scooters. If you want the best electric mountain bikes under $3,000, for instance, multiple options have the suspension to tackle MTB trails just fine.
Also, if you want the best electric bike for hunting, some options available can even go on trailless routes in the forest, which you’re likely to encounter when setting up for hunting season.
Another determinant factor in the electric bike vs. scooter for the commuting battle is the speed and range available.
Electric bike speeds are heavily regulated, especially in the U.S., and are classified into three categories, i.e., classes 1 through 3. The rules differ for the three classes, with the maximum allowed speed increasing with class.
For most people weighing the pros and cons of electric scooters vs. bikes, the question, “how fast can an E-Bike go,” may have popped into their minds once or twice. To find out about a particular model, you might need to consider whether it’s a class 1, 2, or 3 bikes.
Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are capable of up to 20 mph speeds, while class 3 options are limited to pedal-assist mode and can go up to 28 mph.
If you’re looking for a class 1 e-bike due to the regulations in your city, buyers recommend the Co-op Cycles CTY e2.1 Electric Bike. This option is great for city use, given its 50-mile pedal assist range, lightweight aluminum construction, and front suspension to better navigate bumps on the road.
However, the fact that scooters aren’t as heavily regulated as e-bikes means you could find several that are significantly faster than most e-bikes on the market. Naturally, you’ll get them for a fraction of the cost, given it doesn’t take as many materials to build as an e-bike.
On the other hand, e-bikes have much bigger bodies, allowing them to have similarly big batteries. This can be beneficial if you want more range since they store more energy. Electric scooter manufacturers focus on lightweight designs, which in many cases also means smaller batteries. Consequently, many e-scooters max out at about 20 miles of range.
Most e-bikes should be able to provide between 20 and 35 miles of all-electric range, depending on battery size. This can also be increased by using pedal assist or pedaling manually. Electric scooters don’t work on long-distance commutes if the battery is drained.
For some, buying bigger, heavier scooters is a solution since they come with bigger batteries. They’re also likely to be more powerful and typically offer more range. For instance, the fastest electric scooter’s battery is big enough to offer about 55 miles of range.
Nevertheless, the fact that you can still get to your destination if your battery is damaged or just drained is a big positive for e-bikes in the e-bike vs. scooter debate.
Battery capacity is one of those areas where the vast majority of e-bikes will have more than what’s available in most electric scooters. However, this may not always translate into more range, given that scooters have less load.
Nonetheless, the reason why e-bikes have more battery capacity is simply that their batteries are bigger. Even if they’re designed to fit into the bike frame, they might take up a huge chunk of something like the downtube.
Additionally, e-bikes can come with bigger electric motors because the frame can support them.
With the construction and size of the scooter being so much smaller than that of an e-bike, it really shouldn’t be surprising they have smaller battery packs as well. Naturally, this translates to lower battery capacities and range, although exceptions exist.
As mentioned above, being smaller doesn’t have to be a disadvantage. It’s what makes them so portable and easy to store or carry.
Also, just because the bigger bikes have bigger motors doesn’t mean they have more power or even better acceleration. Some scooters have dual motors, which gives them a power advantage.
With dual motors propelling the two wheels, you’d be surprised how quickly the devices get to top speed. Among the fastest scooters, for instance, it’s common for some models to get from 0 to 30 mph in under 4 seconds, rivaling even some cars. This is made possible by the combined 2000+ watts produced by the dial motor setups, something you’re likely to encounter on any bike.
If you love an adrenaline rush, the fastest scooters may prove more exciting due to the acceleration and speed, so it’s something to remember as you’re comparing.
Regarding safety, some people favor bikes over electric scooters. Given scooters are closer to the ground, moving vehicles are unlikely to see them making accidents more likely. Also, with the wheels being so small, something like a small bump or pothole can derail you and send you into the nearest bush.
An e-bike’s larger wheels are easier to control, not to mention they’re more stable than their counterparts. That said, the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents notes that bicycles are several times more likely to be involved in accidents than electric scooters.
According to Reuters, Trusted Source Ebikes show a distinct pattern of severe injuries Reuters Ebikes and electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, but the powered bikes carry a higher risk of severe injuries than traditional bicycles and a different pattern of injury risks compared with scooters, a recent study finds. www.reuters.com e-bike riders also typically get more serious internal injuries when they’re involved in accidents than those on electric scooters. A common theory for this is that bike riders can’t jump off the bikes as easily, even when they see the accident coming.
On the other hand, concussions are pretty common in accidents involving scooters. The small wheels and turning radiuses may also help with evasion, as e-scooter accidents are less likely to involve pedestrians.
As for the brakes, picking may not be an advantage. Electric scooters and e-bikes use similar brake systems, whether mechanical, disc, or drum brakes, and as such, offer differences in stopping power may be minimal.
It’s worth noting injuries from e-bikes, e-scooters, and other micro-mobility products increased by 70% between 2017 and 2020, as reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Trusted Source Injuries Using E-Scooters, E-Bikes, and Hoverboards Jump 70% During the Past Four Years According to advance data from a soon-to-be-released CPSC report on hazard patterns associated with micro-mobility products, injuries and deaths continue to rise, but data are certainly consistent with the notion that a lot of people staying home in 2020, led to a leveling off or slight reduction in scooter use. www.cpsc.gov . These numbers are likely to increase over the years, so you should be more careful no matter what device you get.
Regarding durability, both bikes and electric scooters are probably at the same level. They might even consist of the same construction materials, whether it’s steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, etc.
However, with e-bikes being almost the same as other bikes but with batteries, motors, and wiring added, you get way more support than is available for scooters.
You can walk into any bike dealer and have your chain replaced, the e-bike serviced, or a flat tire replaced. Similarly, most other bike issues are easy to fix. The only exceptions may be the electrical components like the batteries.
With scooters, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a qualified technician to diagnose and repair a problem. Furthermore, the young companies that make the devices haven’t had centuries to perfect them. Fortunately, they don’t have as many moving parts as e-bikes, which helps offset some damage risks.
Nevertheless, the lack of supporting infrastructure helps make a case for e-bikes in the electric bike vs. electric scooter debate.
If you want to exercise, the electric bike becomes the obvious choice. It allows you to pedal, while with an electric scooter, you only have to stand until you reach your destination. Ultimately, it depends on how much importance you put into fitness.
Alternatively, if you already get your daily dose of exercise from somewhere else, e.g., the gym, you can do just fine with an electric scooter.
Comfort levels also vary between the two options, which is why most people prefer an e-bike over an electric scooter. With the bike, you can sit for the whole journey while resting your legs on the pedal. You can even stand if that option is more comfortable.
With the scooter, you only have the option of standing, and while that may be comfortable for some over short distances, it can get uncomfortable if you do it for too long. With suspension options available on an e-bike, you might also have an easier time going over obstacles.
Additionally, with more bikes to choose from than scooters, you increase your chances of finding a comfortable model by looking through the available options.
E-scooters can also incorporate suspension systems for higher ride comfort and ease of use. However, the small wheels limit their effectiveness. They also make the scooter heavier and trickier to carry around. This cuts down the portability, one of the device’s main perks.
Both electric scooters and bicycles are more environmentally friendly than the cars we drive daily. Also, with most car trips never exceeding six miles, this is enough distance for either option to handle easily.
The electric scooter is a little more environmentally friendly than its counterpart since it has fewer components. As such, it leaves less of an environmental blueprint. Also, with battery packs being much smaller, the cost of recycling to the environment is smaller than that of recycling e-bike batteries.
Ebikes offer the option of going longer distances since you can always pedal back if you deplete the battery.
Another byproduct of using smaller and fewer components on the scooter is that they’re cheaper. Even scooters that offer the same speeds and range as their bike counterparts may cost a fraction of the price. Therefore, if your budget is limited, you may want to go for the scooter even if you want an e-bike.
Some lightweight commercial scooters even cost less than $500, while most e-bikes are priced at over $1000.
Ultimately you can buy either based on what you value. If it’s safe, electric scooters seem to be a better option. If it’s ride comfort, the electric scooter vs. electric bike debate goes the way of the latter. That said, it’s important to have a good grasp of the pros and cons of each before committing to one. Alternatively, if you have the funds, you could get both and use them on different occasions, depending on daily circumstances.