Here’s what I learned while riding an electric scooter

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Standing on e-scooter at stop light

Standing on e-scooters at traffic lights

Adam Birney/Android Authority

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, my city has developed numerous bike lanes and an increasing number of devices that travel along them. There are many new technologies for getting around, from electric bikes and scooters to e-boards and futuristic looking unicycles. I wanted to see what the electric vehicle (EV) craze was all about and decided to buy an entry-level e-scooter to commute to work in the summer. Was the commute as fun as it looked? Here are five things I learned from riding an electric scooter for the first time.

Continue reading: Electric Scooter Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Riding a scooter is easy to learn

Gotrax G4 handlebar

Adam Birney/Android Authority

For the uninitiated, it might seem daunting to catch up with all those electric vehicles whizzing down the road. However, rest assured that there are surprisingly few learning curves to driving an electric scooter. I chose the Gotrax GXL V2 ($348) because it was an affordable model for first-time drivers and had twice the range I needed to travel to and from the office on a single charge.

When it finally arrived, the Gotrax GXL V2 was easy to put together and even easier to ride after a four-hour charge. As a cyclist, I found a familiar handbrake and bell on my left. To my right, a tempting thumb throttle that I kept wanting to squeeze. My first test run was around the desks in our open office (which may have forced some of my colleagues to put on their noise-cancelling headphones), and then I took them outside for a real road test.

After a few days I felt like I had mastered the basics of riding an electric scooter. And after a few weeks of commuting, the fun factor doesn’t let up.

With one foot on the scooter and the other pushed off the ground, a simple twist of the throttle was all it took to pick up speed and maintain balance. As far as slowing down, I found the brakes a bit inconsistent on this model, sometimes slow to stop and sometimes too abrupt. The higher your speed when braking, the faster they wear out and require maintenance.

Turning is easy enough, especially if you can afford a large radius. They can’t really signal your turns, however, as you need both hands on the handlebars, although some recent high-end scooters have added flares for this reason.

Invest in practical features

The first thing I felt when riding my Gotrax was every bump and crack in the road. One feature my e-scooter didn’t have was suspension and my knees would have appreciated some support. Even if your commute is mostly flat pavement, I recommend investing in suspension or fatter tires to smoothly roll over any surprises on the road.

Carry folded scooter

Adam Birney/Android Authority

The second thing I noticed was the speed reduction on the smallest climbs. The 250w motor would struggle to climb hills and it took a few kicks to propel me uphill. Hills also drain the battery faster, reducing maximum range. Look for a 350w or even 500w motor if you plan to travel longer distances or over steep terrain.

While the scooter is fun under the sun, I don’t expect to use it for most other west coast seasons as it’s not waterproof. As soon as it started to rain, it quickly became slippery under the wheels. There is also concern that splashes could damage the electrical components. If you live in a humid place, look for a model with an IP rating of at least five, but preferably six (IP5X or IP 6X) to be protected against the elements.

Finally, there is the portability factor. While the Gotrax GXL V2 only weighs about 25 pounds, the folding clip (or lack thereof) made it difficult to carry. The plastic cap failed the shake test and unexpectedly flew open. If you plan on carrying your scooter in transit or through public places, take my advice and invest in one with a strong enough lock to keep the scooter folded, such as a scooter. B. the Gotrax G4.

Legality is a gray area

Gotrax G4 electric scooter

Adam Birney/Android Authority

At first I wasn’t sure about speed limits and it seems most municipalities don’t know where to set them either. My city is in the midst of a three-year electric scooter pilot program, threatening anyone who moves faster than 15 mph on the streets with a speeding ticket. However, that doesn’t stop some riders from doubling that with high-end models. However, most budget-friendly options have an engine limited to ~25 km/h, which is on the safe side of the regulations.

Check your city’s laws before making a purchase.

It was also about the question of where I can drive my e-scooter. For example, I looked forward to driving along the Stanley Park seawall, only to find that it was restricted to bicycles and pedestrians.

Finally, certain areas have different regulations for night driving. If you plan on cruising around after dark, get a scooter with a good headlight and reflectors. While most e-scooters have a headlight, you can usually find reflective decals that can wear off over time. For added safety, some helmets now have LED lights to improve visibility.

It’s faster and more fun than the Transit

Mounted e-scooter next to cyclists in traffic

Adam Birney/Android Authority

I used to take the bus everywhere, but now I never go back unless I have to. Feeling the breeze as I walk across the bridge downtown and the quiet satisfaction of passing cars stuck in traffic will never get old.

I find I’m constantly testing the distances I can travel and errands I can run while riding my scooter.

An electric scooter is perfect for going fast until you have too much to carry. Riding with a backpack isn’t a problem, but if you need more cargo space, consider a bag mount to hang from the front handlebars. If that still isn’t enough storage space, there’s always the option of getting an electric bike. While it’s more expensive, it allows you to carry heavier loads on the front and back of your bike.

Our leader: What you need to know about electric bikes, plus our top tips

It made you want more

While the Gotrax was a fun and safe introduction to the world of electric scooters, it left me wanting more. Having already tested a few more models, I can say that paying a little more for some high-end features is worth it. Namely, look out for suspension or thicker tires for a smoother ride, a secure folding clip, and better waterproofing. The fewer plastic components, the longer your scooter will last.

Have you bought an electric scooter?

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Standing on e-scooters in the sunshine

Adam Birney/Android Authority

After a week of riding I was confident that I could handle more speed and power. One of the frustrating things was not being able to overtake slower cyclists or scooters on the bike lane. The inability to pick up speed also made me feel unsafe about dodging traffic at short notice. Some models, like the Segway Ninebot Max, have multiple speed modes that allow beginners to up the ante after a little practice. With a longer range, you can also drive longer without worrying about charging.

Electric cars are becoming more and more popular as the technology gets better. If you’re thinking about getting one, there’s no better time than summer to dip your toes into the burgeoning world of electric micro-mobility. And if storage space is not an issue, then a good e-scooter is the right choice.

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