Electric bikes and scooters are jumping into the mainstream. More and more people are opting for these personal electronic vehicles to cruise through the city and run errands. Both e-bike and e-scooters offer loads of benefits to your life and wallet. So, which one is right for you?
E-scooters are generally more affordable and more portable than e-bikes. They work well in urban environments that require shorter travel times. E-bikes, meanwhile, provide more utility and durability plus some exercise as you ride, but the cost is 2-3x higher. Bikes are preferred for use on roads.
There are a ton of factors to consider as you decide between these two vehicles, like your commute, riding style, and budget. It’s hard to say which of these options will suit you best. Thankfully, we’ve compiled everything you need to know to figure it out!
What Is an E-Bike?
When you think of an electric bike, you may picture something closer to a motorcycle or a moped. However, electric bikes or e-bikes are similar to traditional bicycles. Electric bikes have added electrical components such as a motor, battery, controller, and throttle. These components can be integrated into the frame of the bicycle or attached externally.
What Is an Electric Scooter?
Now that we’ve discussed the e-bike, what comes to mind when you imagine an electric scooter? It’s probably something that resembles a kid’s toy, right? Although there are children’s models, electric scooters are powerful personal electric vehicles for all ages.
Models typically contain a motor, deck, battery, and controller. Adult electric scooters have higher weight limits and can include a seat in some cases. You usually ride an electric scooter standing up and the handlebars are used to maneuver around. You’ll know what to expect if you’ve ever ridden a Lime or Bird Scooter.
Key Differences Between E-Bikes and Electric Scooters
The options are near endless when it comes to personal electric vehicles (PEV). Each of these PEVs has unique advantages and disadvantages. There isn’t one option that’s better than another in every regard, so it’s important to review the various factors to help you determine which option suits your specific needs.
Let’s start with portability. As you can imagine, electric scooters are generally lighter and smaller than electric bikes. Most electric scooter models can easily fit into the trunk of an average-size sedan. Electric bikes typically don’t typically have this advantage.
The average electric scooter weighs around 25 to 50 pounds. E-bikes weigh much more, making it hard to find a model under 40 pounds. Electric bikes under 50 pounds are considered lightweight models.
That’s not to say that this rule is set in stone. You can find heavy-duty electric scooter models weighing more than 100 pounds. There are also foldable electric bikes that can easily be stored in the trunk of a car or taken on a train or bus. Generally speaking, electric scooters are easier to transport and weigh less than the average e-bike.
Price points are one of the key differences between these personal electric vehicles. Generally speaking, electric scooters are more affordable than electric bikes. A decent entry-level scooter costs around $500. Of course, there are also high-end and luxury electric scooters that far surpass this margin.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to find an electric bike that comes in under $1,000. Entry-level e-bikes can easily cost anywhere between $1,250 and $3,000. You can even exceed $5,000 if you’re looking at high-end electric bikes.
Another thing to note is that e-scooters have recently come into the market. This means they aren’t as regulated as electric bikes. Electric bikes are more standardized, so paying more usually means higher quality components and lighter weights.
E-bikes also have the distinct advantage of customizability. You can use conversion kits and DIY solutions to transform regular bikes into high-powered vehicles. Electric scooters lack this feature.
You might expect that electric bikes are faster than their scooter counterparts. However, it’s not always that simple.
E-bikes have more regulations, restrictions, and laws surrounding their top speeds. The US typically limits electric bikes by classification. Class 1 and 2 models can only travel up to 20 mph. On the other hand, Class 3 e-bikes can travel up to 28 mph. The laws vary depending on your location.
Electric scooters, on the other hand, don’t have many restrictions. This means you can easily find models that can surpass local e-bike speed limitations. Some e-scooter models can travel at top speeds ranging from 40 mph to 100 mph.
Furthermore, the compact nature of an electric scooter allows for more maneuverability. It’s easier to zip through traffic and roadways on an e-scooter. You also have more portability and travel options because they usually weigh less than e-bikes.
Electric bikes win when it comes to range, or how far you can travel on a single charge. Part of the reason is that you can do some of the legwork yourself. It’s uncommon to find an electric scooter with realistic ranges above 40 miles. Electric bikes can easily reach these ranges and go far beyond them.
E-bikes are also more functional when the battery dies. Although they’re heavy and cumbersome, you still have the option of pedaling your way home. It’s much harder to use an electric scooter once the battery runs out.
The range may be less of a concern if you live in an area where you don’t have to travel far distances. But for some people, range is key.
Electric bikes might be the winners in the safety department. The larger wheels of a bicycle provide more traction and can easily brush off bumps in the road. The heavier frames and designs ensure more visibility and stability.
However, electric scooters can be safe as well. E-scooters are nimble and easy to maneuver, allowing them to weave through traffic without issue. It can also be easier to jump on and off an electric scooter, which makes injury less likely.
In the end, the safety of an electric bike versus an electric scooter comes down to how you ride. The model and manufacturer also play a crucial role in your security. Research is still inconclusive on which PEV is safer.
The option that is less dangerous will highly depend on your riding style and skill level. If you feel safer on an electric bike, go for it. On the other hand, if you prefer a more nimble ride, you may benefit from an electric scooter. Be sure to always wear a helmet, regardless of your choice.
How to Decide Which PEV Is Right for Your Needs
Now that you know the key differences, it’s time to decide which option is right for you. There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting between an e-bike and an electric scooter. The decision may come down to your needs, preferences, and budget. Let’s break into it.
Do You Need Extra Cargo Space or Utility?
When it comes to utility, electric bikes beat electric scooters in all aspects. Electric bikes come in a wide variety of models, including utility-based options. You can find e-bikes with front and rear cargo racks. Or you can purchase a heavy-duty model to tackle large loads and rough terrain. Furthermore, most e-bikes enable the option of buying aftermarket add-ons.
Electric scooters don’t offer as much utility. The most you’ll typically be able to haul is a backpack when you ride an electric scooter. If utility is your main concern, go with an electric bike.
What’s Your Commute Like?
Your commute is going to play a big role in this decision. You should think about the average distance you need to travel, the terrain, and why you’re using a PEV.
If you’re only traveling short distances in an urban environment, an electric scooter may suit your needs just fine. An electric scooter will allow you to go to your local grocery store or run basic errands. Electric scooters are better suited for urban environments with less travel distance and flatter terrain.
If you’re climbing steep hills, traveling further distances, or need something more practical, an e-bike is the better option. The best choice will come down to your preferences, circumstances, and budget.
Is Exercise Important to You?
Go with an e-bike If you want the added benefit of exercise. Despite having a motor, many electric bikes require you to do at least a bit of pedaling to get going.
Bikes with pedal-assist, like the ECOTRIC Fat Tire Bike (on Amazon), allow you to climb steep hills and extend your range with some light pedaling. That’s not to say you can’t accelerate from a complete stop with some models.
Electric scooters don’t often provide a way to exercise or burn calories. These PEVs are typically throttle-based and don’t require any pushing. If exercise is a crucial element to you, opt for an electric bike.
Durability and Reliability
Electric bikes have been around longer, so people are generally more familiar with how to deal with them. Common issues you’ll experience with an e-bike can be fixed by your local bike shop. Additionally, many e-bikes are sold through dealers who can provide direct support for mechanical and electrical components.
On the other hand, electric scooters are just now breaking into the mainstream. Most scooters use proprietary parts, and your local bike shop may not service them. Some manufacturers provide excellent customer support, but they usually lack the level of support that comes with owning an e-bike.
Generally speaking, electric bikes are going to offer more durability and reliability than e-scooters. However, if you properly maintain your PEV, it should last more than a couple of years.
Do You Prefer Sitting or Standing?
Comfort is almost always subjective. But one question you have to ask is, “Do I prefer sitting or standing?” You should use comfort as one of your primary deciding factors if you plan on using your PEV for most of your commuting needs.
You can find electric scooters with seats, like the Phantomgogo Commuter R1 (on Amazon). However, most models are going to require you to stand while you ride. E-bikes always come with a seat that can be adjusted to fit your body. You should also think about the handlebars, frames, and materials of the models you’re considering.
Electric bikes also have bigger wheels and built-in shocks absorbers. These factors put less stress on your legs and body when you ride on bumpy terrain. You can find cruiser models for smooth and easy riding.
Again, this consideration is going to come down to your personal preferences. If you want to sit and cruise around town, go with an e-bike. If you don’t mind standing or bumpier rides, you may prefer an e-scooter.
Do You Want Versatility?
Another element to consider is versatility. Both electric bikes and scooters have versatility; however, they differ slightly.
E-scooters provide more portability, allowing you to take them along in the car or on a bus or train. A scooter may be a better option for urban environments, as you can easily hop on a bus with a scooter in hand.
If you want the option of traversing the backcountry, however, an e-bike may be preferable. It’s uncommon to take an electric scooter through the woods or on a mountain bike trail. Most electric bike models can handle rough terrain to some degree. Some models are even designed for mountain biking.
Go with an electric scooter if you need to transport your PEV easily. If you want the option for off-roading, an electric bike will be a better option.
Consider Your Local Jurisdiction
Keep in mind that electric bikes have more laws, regulations, and restrictions. Most states have speed limits, helmet requirements, and some even require you to have a license. Electric scooters currently have fewer restrictions in comparison.
Sometimes e-bikes aren’t allowed on trails, sidewalks, or parks. If you were planning to go off-roading in the backcountry, you might be disappointed by your local guidelines. Be sure to check with your area’s local laws to determine the specifics.
Electric bikes and scooters provide a greener, healthier, and cheaper means of transportation. These options have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. You’ll have to consider your budget, commute, and preferences when deciding.
If you live in an urban environment with shorter commutes, an e-scooter might get the job done. An electric bike may be a better fit if you have a longer commute or need to run a few errands. Whatever your circumstances, we’re certain that there’s a PEV to suit your needs and budget.