How To Select an Electric Scooter
If you are looking for an electric scooter that enjoys all the legal freedoms of a bicycle, then it must meet several criteria. In order to qualify as a power-assisted bicycle, the scooter must be equipped with operational pedals. The motor must have a continuous power of no more than 500Watts for Canada and 750Watts for USA. Finally the bike must be limited to a top speed of 32 km/h (20mph).
Almost all electric scooters currently on the market are manufactured in China, since gas motorcycles have been banned in many Chinese cities since 1998. Asian scooters equipped with pedals are classified as bicycles and almost all of them are built in bicycle factories. Since the demand for electric scooters in China is very high, there is no requirement for licensing or certification for assembly factories producing electric bikes for the domestic market. This affects the consistency and reliability of their complete product but makes it very competitive in price, which is the highest priority in Chinese domestic market. These factories are not allowed to export their products, but it is very easy however for any of them, for a small commission, to get their stuff exported through trading agencies. Very often the advertised specs of these bikes do not match their capabilities.
The only factories in China that are legally allowed to export their electric scooters are registered and insured motorcycle factories. They are only 3-4% of the hundreds manufacturers of electric scooters because they must comply with a number of requirements to be licensed as such. Since these factories are internationally insured, they must purchase their components from suppliers that make them with higher quality materials and are manufactured according the international automotive standards. These factories are WMI (World Manufacturer Identifier) registered and ISO 9001 certified. They are allowed to make electric scooters for export only if these scooters have been previously engineered, manufactured, and tested according International Safety Standards as gas motorcycles.
Many changes have been made to the MOTORINO™ scooters since 2003. In 2008, after two years of design work, Greenwit Technologies developed a new driving system for their MOTORINO™ electric scooters which revolutionized their performance. The new CCT (Continuous Current Transmission) made it possible for scooters limited to 500W for Canada or 750W for USA to have the same climbing ability as 50CC gas motorcycle. As of 2015 all Motorino scooters were upgraded to Sine-Wave controllers and the warranty of their drive train extended to five years.
Features affecting safety, overall performance and durability of the electric scooters
The criteria affecting your riding distance in descending order are: Battery capacity and voltage, tire pressure, motor and controller type, the weight.
- The battery capacity for 500W scooter should be at least 20AH to ensure you a range of at least 40 km. If the distance is priority for you, you may consider upgrading the battery to a lithium one that has a higher energy density and for the same space a higher capacity battery can be installed.
- The tire pressure should always be monitored. Low tire pressure not only lowers your range, but may damage the controller and the motor. Look for brands with DOT approved tires that support higher pressure.
- Some BLDC drive systems can consume more energy because of their lower efficiency during high power demand conditions. The CCT drive system ensures high efficiency of the drivetrain at low speeds – during acceleration and hill climbing. The new generation Sine-Wave controllers combined with CCT system have even higher efficiency and the regenerative braking system recuperates more energy back in the battery – all contributing for longer overall range..
- The total weight exponentially lowers the range with the rise of the incline. A high voltage and bigger capacity of heavy lead-acid batteries can extend the range but not proportionally to capacity increase because of the added weight. Using a higher capacity lithium battery is suggested when long range is priority
- Climbing capability and acceleration:
The criteria affecting the electric scooter torque, acceleration and respectively its climbing capability are: motor type, motor power*, controller, battery type, total weight.
- The motor
- Brushed motors are obsolete and they are very seldom used as direct drive motors because of their lower efficiency
- Brushless motors are more efficient on flat but the legal limitation of 500W for Canada and 750W for USA restricts their torque. The CCT brushless motor and controller can improve the scooters efficiency and increase the torque and range up to 60% at the comparable conditions.
- The motor controller
- The controller can increase the power but kill the battery, motor or burn itself if it doesn’t match the battery and the motor. The max. current for a normal 500W BLDC motor is 25-30A. If more powerful controller is installed, not matching the motor more heat will dissipate on hills due to the lower efficiency.
- The CCT controllers can increase the efficiency while climbing and respectively boost the torque 60% more than a regular BLDC motor without adding to the total battery consumption. It is possible by utilizing the energy towards torque instead of wasting it in heat. The newest Sine-Wave controllers provide more sustainable torque on inclines. They also recover the energy more efficiently with regenerative brakes.
- Volts and Amps: Since an electric bikes nominal power is regulated by law, there is an optimal voltage ensuring the best performance of low speed electric scooter type bikes. We consider this to be between 48 and 60V (See FAQ) . If the system is 72V it must draw low enough current on continuous power preventing overheating and ensuring that it falls in legal limits. At the same time it must provide high torque to ensure stable speed on hilly roads.
- The battery
- The Lead-Acid battery must be at least 48V/20AH. The advantage of the Lead-Acid batteries is that they are inexpensive. They are suitable for low speed scooters and their capacity can ensure traveling distances of 40-50km. The disadvantage is that they are heavy and have a tendency to lose voltage when the power demand is high. This results in losing 5%-10% of the power when climbing hills.
- The Lithium-Ion battery delivers almost constant voltage, ensuring sustainable power during acceleration and on hilly roads. Their energy density allows for more than two times capacity than a comparably weighted lead-acid battery. The most important thing when you consider an upgrade to Lithium batteries is distinguishing Lithium-Ion from Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LiFePO4) ones. The second ones have 2-3 times longer life.
- The motor
- Support and Warranty
- Look for a brand name. Choosing the best electric scooter from a reputed brand, you will have fewer problems to worry about later. Research how long this brand is on the market. Many companies came and went from the market for the last few years. The longer this brand is on the market, the better the chances are that it will last.
- Before buying an electric scooter, the best option is to check out reviews on different scooters. This can help you in the process of decision making with regards to choosing the best electric scooter. Independent forums are the best place to look at.
- Scooter type bikes are very popular these days. Ask someone with one on the street for a reference of the bike they use and the service provided for it.
- Look at the support pages of different brands. Look at their parts list and manuals, supporting diagrams, tips, repair manuals etc.
- Research how many dealers sell this brand. Call them for advice. More technically educated dealers mean better technical support and training from the brand supplier.
- Search for consumer reports for the particular brand. Keep in mind that the fewer sales the company has the least is the chance to find any reviews about their brand.
- Read the warranty policy of the company. The warranty is closely related with the parts availability of the brand. Research if the company have all panels of a particular bike in stock in all its the colors. Find out how long this brand has been available on the market. It is not credible if a brand is only 1-2 years on the market but the company warrants this brand for five and more years.
- Durability and safety:
- Frame – Scooters built on heavy-duty motorcycle-grade frames provide a smoother ride, and are safer in a collision. The scooters made by WMI registered motorcycle manufacturers use steel tubes with quality specified by SAE. All MOTORINO™ scooters are built on motorcycle grade chaises by WMI registered manufacturer. .
- Brakes – Drum brakes, Disk brakes and regenerative electro-magnetic brakes
- All drum brakes require regular adjustment. Motorcycle drum brakes are more reliable than the other drum types but the diameter of the drum must be at least 7”. The worst drum brakes are the small drums with 4” diameter usually used on the front wheel and the belt brakes usually used on the rear wheel of the cheep scooters.
- Disk brakes can be cable or hydraulic. The cable disk brakes is a good selling features but many of them are even inferior to a good quality drum brakes. Some small size hydraulic disk brakes imitating a motorcycle grade brakes can be worst than a drum brake. All Motorcycle type hydraulic disk brakes are DOT approved. The high end brakes may be equipped with Blocking System ( ABS).
- Wheels and Tires – The wheels and tires van be motorcycle or bicycle standard
- Motorcycle standard- The standard measurement of the wheel is the one of the rim which is 10” or 12” by standard. The motorcycle type tires are at least 3.5”or 4.0” wide, always tubeless and DOT approved. These tires improve the scooter traction and their stability in wet conditions. A flat tire can be fixed on the spot without removing the wheel from the bike.
- Bicycle standard: The measurement of the wheel size is the diameter of the tire which for scooters is usually 3”X16”. They are usually mounted on aluminum wheels with a tube inside.
- Suspensions – They can be Motorcycle grade and Bicycle grade
- The motorcycle grade suspensions are much more reliable since they are made according the specifications set by SAE. They are always hydraulic and repairable. The rear suspension of all MOTORINO™ scooters is also adjustable.
- The bicycle grade suspension can be hydraulic or swing arm type. The hydraulic one imitates the motorcycle grade suspension but is thinner with a spring inside. The swing arm suspension of the front wheel is a typical configuration for bikes designed for the domestic Chinese market. They are a spring type and, because of the number of their pivotal points, have the tendency to shake at the front fork which may cause a loss of traction.
- Lights – Almost all electric scooters currently on the market are equipped with head lights, turn signals, tail, brake light and horn. Some scooters have LED lights but check if they are the ones from the last generation LED with high lumen rate that can replace a halogen lights.
- Additional safety and security features – It has become basically a standard now the scooters to be equipped with remote alarm, lockable steering wheel and lockable compartments. The new MOTORINO™ scooters also come with 12V cigarette lighter plug, portable compressor and tire repair kit making possible fixing a flat tire for a few minutes on the spot. They also come with rain cover, rain cape, user’s and repair manual and spare parts catalogue.