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Granted, you won’t keep anything like as fit on an e-scooter as you would on a bicycle, but because they can be folded in two, you can board a standing-room-only train with an e-scooter without causing grief to other passengers, then scoot off to your final destination on the other side.
While it is perfectly legal to sell, buy and own an e-scooter, current UK law forbids their use anywhere other than on private land, and with the owner’s permission. However, in most big UK cities, thousands of riders are flouting the law every day and, in the vast majority of cases, getting away with it.
Rather ridiculously, electric scooters in the UK are currently governed by the 1835 Highways Act which restricts the use of Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEV) to private land.
Truth is, we are aeons behind other countries when it comes creating legislation that applies to e-scooters, though the government has at least started a series of e-scooter trials in a number of cities across the UK.
Nevertheless, we can expect the current legal situation to remain as is until at least late 2022.
How do e-scooters work?
E-scooters are powered by rechargeable lithium batteries and are restricted to a top speed of 15.5mph (25kph), which is more than enough pace for safe riding. Any faster and those tiny 8.5- to 10-inch wheels may not be able to cope.
Most e-scooters have a maximum range per charge of around 20 miles which is exceptional given their diminutive dimensions.
The average e-scooter is equipped with a small handlebar-mounted thumb-activated lever or finger trigger that controls acceleration and speed.
Most models provide three different power bands – walking pace, cruise and sport. The majority of sensible riders tend to use the cruise speed setting which is set at a maximum of around 12mph, an ideal speed for general commuting and leisure riding.
The e-scooter will also have a display controller that’s often integrated into the handlebar stem. This LED display provides information like current speed, average speed, plus an odometer that records the total mileage covered. The majority of e-scooters can also be paired with an app for easier access to the controls and settings.
Many better-quality e-scooters are equipped with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) that harnesses electricity and feeds it back into the battery when the bike is coasting down hill or braking.
In order to start off with an e-scooter, you need to kick off with your foot to reach about 2mph before the brushless motor kicks in.
This is a safety requirement and it’s a good thing because it prevents the scooter from shooting off if you accidentally touch the trigger while it’s at a standstill. Most e-scooters are fitted with at least one rear disc brake but if you want better stopping power, consider a model with disc brakes fore and aft.
Since e-scooters are flying off the shelves, it’s in your interest to know which models are best.
Here is our pick of the best e-scooters currently on the market.
Segway Ninebot KickScooter MAX G30
Average range: 40 miles; Max rider weight: 100kg; Speed modes: 3; Weight: 19kgs
Segway is famous for its self-balancing personal transporters that have become really popular at many tourist attractions. The Ninebot is one of the most expensive e-scooters on test but it’s an exceptional scooter in many respects.
Yes, at 19kgs, it is unquestionably heavy and not capable of accommodating rider weights in excess of 100kgs, but on the other hand it has a massive range of up to 40 miles and uses three levels of regenerative braking to assist the front drum brake while feeding more juice back into the battery.
The Ninebot has a similar electronic dash display as the Xiaomi Mi, which is hardly surprising since Xiaomi now owns Segway. This single-button controller is really easy to use though you do need to lift a hand off the handlebar when changing the speed mode function on the fly.
Despite its weight, the Segway Ninebot MAX G30 is a top choice for long-range commuting.
Average range: 25 miles; Max rider weight: 150kg; Speed modes: 3; Weight: 19kgs
Furo Systems is a UK based company best known for its excellent range of electric bicycles. The Fuze is the company’s one and only e-scooter and a highly accomplished model it is, too. Yes, it’s a hefty beast – too heavy to carry for more than a few minutes – but then it is rugged enough to accommodate riders of up 150kg in weight.
The Fuze is better equipped than most of its rivals since it comes with a wider deck, height-adjustable handlebars, front and rear lights, a horn, fatter 10-inch tyres and a very useful suspension system that helps it glide over gnarly Tarmac and even handle off-road terrain.
However, those fatter tyres also make it feel less nimble when cornering and, indeed, some users may initially find that it’s more difficult to steer until they get used to it.
The Furo X comes with disc brakes on the front and rear for excellent stopping power. However, the finger-controlled power trigger doesn’t feel as tactile as the thumb controllers on other models. From a security point of view, this model also ships with a wireless car-style key fob for locking and unlocking.
Unlike most e-scooters which are restricted to 15.5mph, this beast can reach speeds of up to 25mph: mode one starts at 7mph, mode two reaches 15mph and mode three is off the scale. For legality purposes, mode three should only be used in countries with higher speed restrictions.
If you’re in the market for an e-scooter that will leave everyone else in its wake, can be used on smooth off-road surfaces and carry heavier riders, this model ticks every box.
Although the Fuze is currently sold out, more are on the way. That said, Furo also sells refurbished models at heavily discounted prices.
Carrera Impel is-1
Average range: 13 miles; Max rider weight: 100kg; Speed modes: 4; Weight: 17kgs
Sold exclusively through Halfords, Carrera is a great bicycle brand that has also started producing e-scooters, like this keenly-priced model. The Impel is-1 has a larger deck than most of its competitors, making it a good choice for larger riders.
Equipped with disc brakes and LED lights to the front and rear, the Impel comes with a four-stage speed controller – from walking pace to the prerequisite top speed of 15.5mph – and a tactile thumb-controlled power lever that feels reassuringly smooth.
Rather handily, the Impel comes with two security measures: electronic locking and a handy pull-out cable replete with combination lock. The cable system is a great idea though it could be easily snipped by a thief who’s come prepared. Nevertheless, for short-term locking – like when when nipping into a shop – it’s a great option to have on board. The electronic combination lock, on the other hand, is fiddly to engage every time you start it up but it can thankfully be disengaged using the slightly bulky but perfectly acceptable control display.
Although this e-scooter feels too heavy to carry up a long flight of stairs, it rides exceptionally well, with responsive steering and excellent balance. It folds very easily, too, by clipping the handlebar into a little handle on the rear mudguard. This rear handle also serves as means to lift the rear of the scooter over ledges.
With its range of around 13 miles, the Carrera Impel is-1 is great choice for leisure use, but it may prove a tad too heavy for commuting, especially if lots of stairs are involved.
Xiaomi Mi Pro 2
Average range: 20 miles; Max rider weight: 100kg; Speed modes: 3; Weight: 14.2kgs
This high-end model from market leader Xiaomi (pronounced ‘showme’) is a top choice if you’re looking for a lightweight e-scooter capable of achieving a range of up to 20 miles on a full battery. The Mi Pro 2 weighs a shade over 14kgs and that makes it an ideal choice for railway commuting or anyone with regular stairs to climb. It’s also quick and easy to fold and unfold.
This model comes with shock absorbing 8.5-inch pneumatic tyres which work exceptionally well on even poorly maintained Tarmac. It also feels spritely and nimble and is very good at tackling hills, with only a small drop off in power on steeper inclines.
The excellent one-button multifunctional dash LED is really easy to use, providing access to key functions like the speed modes and the front and rear LED lighting. It also pairs very easily with the Xiaomi Home app. The spring-loaded speed controller, meanwhile, is beautifully balanced and a joy to use. On the safety front, the Mi Pro 2 is equipped with reflectors to the side, back and front, plus LED lamps both fore and aft.
This model only has a rear disc brake but it also uses regenerative braking (KERS) that can be adjusted to different strengths in the app. In a nutshell, the more KERS you apply, the quicker the scooter will slow down.
Of all the e-scooters in the roundup, this one’s definitely the best choice for commuting, carrying up stairs and most leisure riding. A true all-rounder, in other words.
Pure Air Go
Average range: 12 miles; Max rider weight: 120kg; Speed modes: 3; Weight: 16kgs
Pure is one of the most popular brands on the market and produces a range of brilliant e-scooters that are stylishly minimal in design and superbly functional.
If you want to jump on the e-scooter bandwagon but don’t fancy forking out too much, this introductory model should be your first port of call.
The Pure Air Go has a 12 mile range and three speed modes that are relatively easy to adjust on the fly via the brilliant but small LED display that’s mounted into the handlebar stem.
This scooter also features a waterproof chassis, 10-inch puncture resistant tyres, a front drum brake and a rear electronic KERS brake that uses the motor to slow down, plus LED lights fore and aft.
At 16kgs, it’s not too heavy to carry up a flight of stairs, making it a great choice for railway travel. This writer was really impressed by how stable it felt, even at top speed. Best budget buy.