Are electric scooters about to replace their petrol-driven counterparts as the dominant two-wheeled force on our roads?
Improvements in battery technology in recent years have seen electric scooters increasingly become real contenders as an economical, environmentally-friendly option.
While motorists still largely shy away from pricey electric cars because of range anxiety, scooters are increasingly seen as a viable option by commuter-riders making shorter journeys.
With more companies bringing new products to the market at competitive prices, and the government setting aside £7.5 million to offer grants of up to £1,500 for buyers of new electric bikes, Bikesure takes a look at what’s on offer.
As with their petrol-powered siblings, the restrictions on who can ride electric scooters are determined by their speed.
It’s vital to know the difference between true electric scooters and Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPCs). EAPCs are classed as electric bicycles, they are limited to a maximum speed of 15mph and must have pedals. This means that they can be ridden without a driving licence and do not require road tax, insurance or an MOT.
The first category of true electric scooters is restricted to 30mph, equivalent to 50cc petrol scooters. These need number plates, registration documents, road tax and must be MOTd after three years. Riders must wear helmets and the bikes cannot be used on motorways, but on the plus side they are road tax exempt.
The most powerful scooters are treated as small motorcycles, and cannot be ridden without a valid CBT certificate or full motorcycle licence. Check our guide to electric scooters and the law.
Yamaha’s electric scooter takes full advantage of the lack of an internal combustion engine and delivers a stripped back, modern design. While it looks appealing, one review found that it only had a range of approximately 14 miles – that’s a rather short journey. Charge time is seven hours, which is disappointingly average for something that’s going to require so much of it.
Drawing inspiration from classics like the Vespa, the EV1200 is a stylish scooter with a top speed reported as 45mph. A range of customisation options is available, and a new model featuring lithium ion batteries was launched early in 2016. With only one UK dealer based in the Wirral, this might not be the best choice for everyone but it could be the ideal choice for eco-friendly mods.
E-Rider offers a range of machines covering all categories of electric scooter. The bicycle-class model 15 has a range of 20-25 miles at a stately 15mph, while the 50cc equivalent Model 30 allows 43 miles per charge with a top speed of 30mph. Things get interesting with the Model 60 (above), which the company describes as the most powerful electric scooter you can drive on UK roads. Regardless of whether that’s strictly true or not, its top speed of 60mph puts it into serious bike territory, and you will need a motorcycle license to ride one. E-Rider sells all its bikes directly to consumers, which helps to keep prices down but means that the company doesn’t have dealers. In order to facilitate test drives E-Rider has established a network of owners willing to provide prospective customers with test drives, which would hopefully give you an honest opinion of the bike – although as you can see from the map on their site, depending on where you live you might have a bit of a trek to get there!
eGen offers a range of powerful, high-spec electric scooters with stylish modern designs. The eG5 is an economical 30mph-max scooter, while its sister the eG3 has an improved range and a pillion seat for a passenger. Both come with removable Li-Ion batteries. The eG1 has a top speed of 60mph, a higher range, and has extra storage room under the seat. For the real scooter speed freaks, the eGX can be fitted with a 10kW motor, equivalent to a 400cc engine. This gives it a maximum top speed of 75mph, and a maximum range of 80 miles with the larger battery. eGen also offers a version designed for deliveries, the eG-D1, which is fitted with a large rear-mounted cargo box. The eG-D1 has a total payload of 160kg (including a driver) and is mainly targeted at commercial users, although if you require an eco-friendly method of carrying lots of stuff this is a great option.
The Govecs Go! range of advanced electric scooters incorporates a number of features, including a motor designed specifically for use in scooters. These are all “true” scooters, all equivalent to at least 50cc and therefore you will need a license to drive them. The main difference between the S1.4 and the S2.4 is battery size – the smallest version has a 15kg battery, giving it a range of between 18-31 miles. It’s worth bearing in mind that Govecs scooters use a belt drive on the wheel, rather than direct drive, which will require additional adjustment over time. They are also more costly than other bikes on this list, but most reviews refer to high build quality which should translate to greater reliability in the long run.
The first thing you notice about the Eko bikes range is how good they look. It’s the usual mix of modern designs with the token Vespa lookalike but the designers obviously had a particularly strong cup of coffee the morning they came up with them, because they are rather beautiful. The Zippy, is particularly nice. Sleek and thoughtfully designed, it’s one of the best tributes to the king of scooters.
For people who like living in the future Eko has three modern designs. Like the Zippy, the Slider is a 50cc equivalent. Both the smaller bikes have ranges close to 50 miles. Meanwhile the Speedster and Maxx are bigger bikes and have a choice of motors, allowing them to reach a maximum speed of 50mph.
BMW C Evolution
By and large, the more established manufacturers have been fairly slow off the mark in joining the electric scooter revolution. BMW are one of the exceptions. The C Evolution is certainly one of the better options on the market, although it’s more expensive than many of the alternatives. For your money, you get a range of 60 miles, a cruising speed of 60mph and a top speed of 75mph. It also has a reverse gear, helpful if you’re parking in tight spaces!
As battery technology improves and more modern materials come down in price we’re bound to see increasingly powerful and efficient electric vehicles. The majority of machines currently available are, well, scooters, but there are a few indications of what the future holds.
The Daymak Beast (below) is a stripped back, chunky beast designed for off-road use. One unique feature it includes is a solar panel, allowing for on-the-go charging. It won’t be completely self-sustaining, but it might well make the difference between walking or riding home. It is only available in the US, although they do sell to Europe.
The ATX8080 (below) is another machine that looks like it’s rolled straight out of a 1980’s action film. It’s not yet in production but if it piques your interest you can sign up for the run of 500. Again, it’s pricier than most other available scooters and you will also have to pay import duty, but if you have the money then why not go for it?
Are you ready to embrace electric scooters or motorbikes? Or do you already own one? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how it works for you, or if you can’t bear the thought of leaving behind the engine and exhaust notes of your favourite scooters and bikes.