For those of us who are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, an electric scooter is a convenient way of protecting the environment without compromising on a convenient travel option. Whilst owning an electric scooter can be a great step towards displaying a greater environmental consciousness whilst saving money, it can be daunting having to choose an electric scooter motor, with the wide range of voltages and styles that are available to choose from.
By learning about the varieties available and how they can be used, it can be easier to make an informed decision. This guide will take a look at electric scooters and motors, and the distinctions between the available types.
What Is an Electric Scooter?
Electric scooters are similar to their fuel-propelled counterparts (motorcycles), but are plug-in electric vehicles that are recharged using electricity from an external source. This electricity is stored within the scooter in a rechargeable battery that powers one or more electric motors, which creates locomotion. Whilst electric motorcycles are also available, electric scooters are distinguished from electric motorcycles by the addition of a step-through frame (where the cross-bar or top tube going from the seat to the handlebars is low or absent). They usually have two wheels (one in the back one in front) or three wheels (two at the back, one large one at the front) depending on model and manufacturer.
Materials and Battery
The materials and components used to make electric scooters tend to vary with manufacturers’ preferences. Many scooters have a lightweight aluminium monocoque body, whilst other components can be made from stainless steel, recycled materials or a mixture of new and recycled materials. The seat cover is usually soft leather or a similarly waterproof material.
Some electric scooters have Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries, which tend to be heavier and bulkier than other batteries, but are inexpensive and easy to find.
Others use Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries, which are lighter, more expensive and have twice the life of SLA batteries.
Finally, some scooters require lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries which are more expensive than NiMH and SLA batteries They have roughly 2-3 times the life of an SLA battery, are lighter than NiMH batteries and are largely maintenance free, without the need to be recharged monthly like NiMH batteries to maintain its full capacity.
Lithium Manganese, Lithium Polymer and Lithium Phosphate batteries may also be used. Many electric scooter manufacturers also opt for the newer lithium iron phosphate batteries, which tend to be more efficient and less likely to malfunction. For some electric scooters, batteries are interchangeable, whilst others require specific batteries for it to run. Batteries can be charged using an on-board charger or from a standard domestic power socket, depending on the model. It is important to check the manufacture date of the battery, as old batteries can melt, leak and pollute the environment. The scooter motor will be discussed in more detail in a later section.
Difference between Electric and Petrol Scooters
As electric scooters are rechargeable without the need for fuel-based replenishment, they are significantly cheaper to run and maintain than conventional scooters, and are kinder to the environment due to the lack of harmful gases that are released during use. Electric scooters also do not have an exhaust pipe and are therefore quieter than conventional scooters.
Electric scooters also tend to have fewer parts than a conventionally powered scooter. Although a more modern invention than conventional scooters, the range of electric scooters is extensive, with eBay likely to be hosting every brand and model in production at any one time.
What Are Electric Scooter Motors?
The motor is usually located at the wheels, with some having in-wheel motors, and determines the speed at which the scooter travels. Most electric scooters have an internal motor, located in the hub of one or both wheels, resulting in a more streamlined scooter than if the motor was an external, chain driven one mounted on the side of the scooter.
Motors come in a wide variety of power ratings, from 200W to 700W, the more powerful ones giving higher speeds. The weight of the motor also plays a factor on the speed of the scooter, as it can be the heaviest aspect of the scooter, becoming a drag-factor.
In terms of maintenance, most motors are sealed and can withstand light rain and moisture. Water penetration into the motor is likely to result in a short out, which may or may not be covered by warranty, depending on the responsible use of the owner. Constant rain damage can reduce the battery range and motor effectiveness of the scooter.
As they are sealed units, all electronic components of electric scooters, including the motor, require nothing more than routine lubrication with a suitable oil and the occasional cleaning as directed by the manufacturer’s user manual.
Electric motors are measured by Watts and Volts where voltage is a measure of the electrical ‘pressure’ required by the motor, whilst wattage is a measure of the power it consumes. Generally speaking, higher voltage batteries help to make the motor more efficient, whilst higher wattages make for more powerful scooters, giving a faster speed. The types of motors such as brushless and gear motors will be described in more detail in the following section.
Types of Electric Scooters and Motors
Electric scooters are divided into categories according to their speed requirements and how they are operated. Electric scooter motors in this guide will be categorised according to their voltage and type of motor. Some available types of electric scooters and motors are (separately) listed below:
All scooters are two or three wheeled, have a step-through design and handle bar steering. Some have seats whilst other require the operator to stand, and can vary in size from child-friendly to full-size adult scooters for two grown adults. The power output of most electric scooters ranges from 8-12 mph for children’s scooters to highway speeds, and include indicators, brake lights, horns and fog lights.
- Children’s Electric Scooters: also called kick scooters; these scooters are designed for recreation only and not for transport on public streets. With a maximum speed of around 12 mph, it can also be propelled by the rider pushing off the ground with their leg. Many Children’s electric scooters fold for convenience. Some kick scooters are made for adults, particularly for doing tricks and have a larger front wheel, and a top speed of 25 mph.
- Full-Sized Electric Scooters: are all seated and step-through designs with operational safety features akin to motorcycles and conventional fuel-powered scooters. Full-sized electric scooters can achieve speeds from 25 to 65 mph and may require an operator’s license for use on the road. See the section on legal issues for more details.
All scooter models come in contemporary and retro designs, in a choice of colours.
Motors vary in terms of the model, voltage, wattage and direction of rotation, with most motors rotating in either direction. Some of the various motors that can be purchased are listed briefly below:
- 24 Volt 100 Watt Electric Scooter Motor
- 24 Volt 350 Watt Electric Bicycle Gear Motor
- 24 Volt 400 Watt MAC® Brushless Motor With Built In Speed Controller
- 36 Volt 600 Watt Electric Scooter Gear Motor
- 36 Volt 600 Watt Planetary Gear Motor With Cooling Fan
- 36 Volt 800 Watt Electric Scooter/Pocket Bike Motor
- Rear Wheel With 36V 1000W Motor for Currie® eZip® 1000 Electric Scooter
Some features of motors such as those listed above include:
- Powerful four brush permanent magnet electric motor
- 100% ball bearing construction
- Variety of different tooth, and chain sprocket and belt lengths for each type of motor
- Shaft rotation reversible by reversing power leads
- Clockwise shaft rotation
- Built-in gear reduction transmission
- Bolts on one side or more sides of motor for mounting (depends on weight and size of motor)
- Built-in variable speed controller
- Polished aluminum case
- Glossy black paint finish
- Built-in planetary gear reduction transmission
- Cooling fan
- Variety of power leads including 12-gauge for larger motors
- Brushed rare-earth magnet electric motor
- Fully enclosed gear-reduction transmission system
Buying Considerations and Legal Issues
Before purchasing an electric scooter, ensure it is road legal in the UK by checking specifications. Laws in the UK for electric scooters are written with the operator’s age and the scooter’s speed, motor size and power in mind. Other factors may also come into the criteria, depending on where the scooter is going to be used, whether the user has a license (or if they need one) and whether the scooter is EC type approved and registered.
As electric scooters are eco-friendly, they are likely to be congestion charge exempt and road tax free, but it is wise to check the local laws regarding all aspects of electric scooter ownership before purchase. The use of helmets and high-visibility jackets may or may not be required by law.
With electric scooters getting more popular, and their lower overall cost, variety of designs and availability of a range of motors making them even more attractive, it is no wonder that many are opting to buy an electric scooter for their primary means of transport. With a wide range of designs and innovative features being introduced by manufacturers all the time, the choice available has never been greater.
Meanwhile, eBay’s range of electric scooters and accompanying motors provides ample window shopping opportunities before finding and finally purchasing the perfect scooter for your needs, and the perfect motor to go with it.