Apart from being environmentally friendly, electric scooters also help you get around safely and quickly. They are a godsend in the current lockdown situation because people are trying their best to avoid public transport and maintain social distancing measures while commuting.
People of all ages have gotten in on the action, with many adults using electric scooters to commute, while countless kids simply use them for fun. It's easy to think that most electric scooters are basically the same, although that's far from the truth. In terms of visual design, there are definitely similarities, but when you look at each scooter’s specifications, you’ll notice big variations in top speed, mileage, charge time, weight, weight capacity and wattage.
We've selected the best e-scooters available right now, starting with a useful at-a-glance table of what you can expect to read in detail when you scroll further down the page. We know that many of you have questions regarding the legality of riding e-scooters, especially in the UK. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a detailed buyer’s guide covering everything that you need to know before you make your buying decision.
How to choose the best electric scooter for you
Choosing an electric scooter isn’t as easy as you might think, and there are also some legal questions to consider before you buy one. The following section should help you decide on what sort of electric scooter you’re looking for and whether you feel fully comfortable buying one. We'll start off with the laws surrounding electric scooters in the UK, US and Europe.
Are electric scooters legal in the UK?
Electric scooters are classified as “personal light electric vehicles” in the UK, which means that you're only legally allowed to use them on private land with the landowner's permission. If you're caught riding one on UK roads or pavements, you can be fined £300 and receive six points on your driving licence. However, unless you're riding rashly, it's highly unlikely that you'll be stopped or fined.
UK electric scooter trials have been fast-tracked to June
Electric scooter trials were initially set to take place in four areas of the UK next year, but this has now been fast-tracked to June 2020 in every city. This is part of the UK government’s wider £2 billion plan to encourage walking, cycling and greener modes of transport. The government launched a consultation about legalising e-scooters last month and would need to pass secondary legislation to legalise their use across the UK. We'll update this page with more information as soon as an official ruling is made.
Are electric scooters legal in the US?
While electric scooters are legal in most US states, their laws tend to differ from state to state. While some states like California have embraced them, making them a common sight on roads, other states have different legislations - including strict speed limits, helmets below a certain age or only street use - to ensure safety. Some states even require you to have a driving license to ride an e-scooter.
Are electric scooters legal in Europe?
Just like with US states, different European countries have different e-scooter laws. While many European countries initially banned them, most countries have now softened their stance. They are now legal to ride in most European tourist hubs including France, Germany and the Netherlands, but each of these countries has different laws regarding the use of helmets, maximum speed limit, and so on.
Are you buying for a child or an adult?
We cover both child- and adult-friendly electric scooters in this buying guide, so before you scroll down and discover the best electric scooters, you should be fully sure of who you’re buying this scooter for. There’s absolutely no shame in riding an electric scooter to work, but traversing through town on a kid-sized one may not do much for your street cred. And, on the other side of that coin, your child may not be ready to handle the speed and power of more grown-up models.
How fast and far do you want to go, and how often?
The main differences between electric scooters relate to how fast they can go, how far they can go and how often you’ll need to charge them. If you’re planning to use one for your commute, it’s worth considering the total mileage you need to cover daily, and how quickly you’d like to be travelling on it. Also, consider whether your electric scooter will be able to complete your commute in both directions without needing a recharge. This will save you the hassle of lugging its charger around all day.
How much should you spend on an electric scooter?
Most of the good adult electric scooters (such as the Xiaomi M365) start from £420, but our two current favourites (the Xiaomi M365 Proand the Reid E4 Plus) are closer to the £600-mark. There are also some really high-end options, which cross the £1,000 mark. Generally speaking, you’ll see longer-lasting batteries, higher speeds and better mileage the more you're willing to spend. But if you’re only planning on using your scooter for a few minutes each day, you may be better off choosing a good cheaper or mid-range unit.
Precautions to take before riding your electric scooter for the first time
Electric scooters are relatively easy to operate, but if you haven't ridden one before, its speed and manoeuvrability can take some getting used to. Before riding your electric scooter in any crowded space, we recommend getting a hang of it for about an hour in a secluded area. Apart from checking all its features (including if any are hidden within an accompanying app), pay careful attention to how much pressure you need to apply to the throttle to accelerate, and to the brakes when you need to slow down or halt. While riding, it's a good habit to always keep one hand on the brake.