Electric bikes vs electric scooters

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decibel1
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Joined: 12/13/2006
Points: 170

As the (probably deranged) owner of three electric scooters and three electric bikes, I’ve reached some perhaps controversial conclusions about the virtues and drawbacks of each. It would be interesting to see if anyone out there as the same, or different opinions. So here, worded dramatically to drive the conversation, are a few of my conclusions:

1. Full-size electric scooters are much heavier than electric bikes built to perform at about the same speed and range. All that added frame, plastic panels, etc., seems to get you very little in the way of better aerodynamics or safety.
2. Speaking of safety, electric bikes have bigger wheels, and weigh less, both of which are safety assets, but they usually don’t have the lights, horn, etc. that scooters have and they have poorer brakes unless they are retrofitted with disk brakes.
3. Electric bikes will perform at about the same level of speed and range as electric scooters with half the stored energy in the battery pack. This is true at least up to 35 mph. After that I’m not sure.
4. A tire blowout on a scooter could be much more dangerous than on an electric bike because the wheel is smaller and the tire is a greater fraction of the total wheel diameter than on a bike.
5. Most full-size scooters have more storage space than electric bikes do.
6. If an electric bike’s drive system dies, you can (theoretically, at least) peddle home or to a service shop. Most full-size electric scooters are so heavy they can be practically impossible to push up a hill.
7. There is no particular reason why an electric bike could not be made to go 50-60 mph (some already have) and do so as safely as an electric scooter like the Vectrix.
8. The electric bike mentioned in 7) above could be built for less than half the price of a Vectrix.
9. Laws governing electric bikes and scooters need major overhauls in light of the latest technologies and they should be uniform from State to State.
10. Electric bikes are much stealthier than electric scooters in the sense that many people feel that they are just regular bikes and the rider is doing all the work, but electric scooters can be (in many States) registered and insured.
11. Electric bikes can be built from a kit much more inexpensively than the price of a comparable electric scooter (for which kits are not available to my knowledge), but pre-built electric bikes are expensive for what you get.

Agree? Disagree? Any additional conclusions you have drawn in comparing the two?

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dogman
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Joined: 04/29/2008
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Re: Electric bikes vs electric scooters

I like the bike because I don't get kicked off the bike trail with it. A scooter would be asked to stay in the street. And I have peadled home many times till I got lifepo4.

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boyelectric
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Joined: 10/12/2007
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Re: Electric bikes vs electric scooters

The center of gravity is much lower on the moped-styled scooter/bikes. For some, this is a big boon. Same with the easier access for less-nimble riders.

Sometimes, I have to wonder about the strength of my frame, brakes, and other components on my 5305 powered bicycle. I suppose the same could be said about a crappily manufactured scooter frame though.

andys
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Re: Electric bikes vs electric scooters

"There is no particular reason why an electric bike could not be made to go 50-60 mph (some already have) and do so as safely as an electric scooter like the Vectrix."

I can think of two good reasons why E-bikes aren't very safe above 25-35 MPH, wheels/tires and brakes. Something like a Vectrix has way more powerful brakes than even a good mountain bike disc, and thin gauge tall spoke built bicycle wheels are not designed for those kind of sustained speeds. Bike tires are not DOT certified, and are not designed for high sustained speeds. The thought of a flat tire at 60 MPH on a bike is terrifying. And bike tires go flat real fast in event of a puncture or pinched tube. I also doubt most frames and other components like wheel bearings can take the beating that very high speeds will hand out to a bicycle.

I know the pro racers hit 60MPH downhill on 16 pound road bikes,(very expensive road racing custom built bikes that is) but even they have catastrophic crashes from time to time and can't stop worth a crap in an emergency situation.

reikiman
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Re: Electric bikes vs electric scooters

Generally I agree with your points, but I very much disagree with point #7

Yes I've read reports from people who have taken bicycles to insane speeds. I think of them as Darwin Award candidates. The frame and wheels and brakes just aren't built for that speed. But take a bicycle with a beefy frame, beefy wheels, beefy spokes, beefy disk brakes, decent lights and horn and mirrors, etc, yeah maybe you could get one to run safely at 50+ miles/hr. But wouldn't you have just built a lightweight motorcycle?

The problem may be using the scooter as the basis of the higher end vehicles.

Last point.. The way I value the laws as they stand -- at least in California the vehicle code separates vehicles by speed and number of wheels, and this seems very reasonable to me. The vehicle speed controls in which part of the road you're going to ride, as well as what kind of roads. Laws aside if your vehicle can only do 20 miles/hr you're not gonna ride in the fast lane of the highway because that would be suicide. In other words the most practical place to ride a two wheeled 20 miles/hr vehicle is in the bicycle lane at the side of the road. The most practical place to ride a two wheeled 65 miles/hr vehicle is in the mainstream of traffic.

This means a 50 miles per hour "bicycle" doesn't belong in a bicycle lane, it belongs in the traffic mainstream. As such it needs to follow the regular rules and regulations of the traffic mainstream.

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ruprek
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Re: Electric bikes vs electric scooters

I ride a 39 mph I-Zip1500 scooter and No. 4 regarding tire blow out, just made my arm hair raise! Ugh,leaning bike.

decibel1
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Joined: 12/13/2006
Points: 170
Re: Electric bikes vs electric scooters

Dave:

You make a very good point. A lightweight motorcycle frame might be a better choice for a high speed electric two-wheeler than a scooter. I'm not sure why there hasn't been more product development along those lines, although the ready availability of scooter frames from China may be one reason.

As for the legal issues, I am not arguing against rationally based regulations. But as an example, I just moved from Maryland to New York State. In Maryland, electric scooters that go 30 mph or less do not have to be registered at all, and electric bikes are bikes for all intended purposes. In New York State, I had to work for six months to get my scooters registered because they were not on an official NYS list of approved scooters. Even worse, electric bikes are not allowed on streets at all, at least as I read the NYS regulations. We need sensible, uniform regulations across the country.

decibel1
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Re: Electric bikes vs electric scooters

Ruprek:

Thanks for the reply. When I was a college student I had a Lambretta 125cc motor scooter that I had a lot of fun riding around in. Then one day, while riding at its max speed, around 50 mph, I heard a funny noise from the front wheel and stopped. As I was getting off the scooter there was a huge bang and the front tire all but disintegrated. I haven't forgotten that experience, though I did get a new tire and rode on :>) Ah, the perceived immortality of youth.

bsterne
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Passengers & Trailers

A few more things to think about... On a bigger scooter you can take an adult passenger with you. On a smaller scooter - no passengers. However with an electric bike you can haul a child trailer. With an electric bike you can also haul (slowly) cargo trailers. Since I have a 3 yr old, and like to do lots of shopping / hauling, an electric bike is more functional / versatile.

Cheers,
- Brendan

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