Gas prices are ridiculously high and they just keep climbing. Your car isn’t getting any cheaper, but buying a new electric car also isn’t in your budget (and let’s face it, putting one more car on the roads isn’t helping anyone either). An electric bike would be a GREAT alternative, but maybe you just aren’t ready to go 20 mph on the side of the road with cars whizzing past your handlebars.
But there’s another great solution that you might have overlooked: the humble electric scooter. I’m talking seated electric scooters, like the Vespa kind – not the Razor kind. And here’s why you ought to give them another look.
This might sound like a crazy idea, giving up a car in favor of an electric scooter.
But I assure, it’s not crazy at all. In fact, it’s how my wife and I live. And how billions of others live across the world. It’s only in America where a scooter is seen as an oddity. Pretty much everywhere else, they’re simply a given.
I’ve written before about how my daily driver is a fun little 125cc-equivalent electric scooter. And the fact that I live in a city helps, but its 50 mph (80 km/h) top speed would work just as well in the suburbs.
You can check out that scooter (known as the NIU NQi Extended Range) in my video below. However, there are so many great options out there now that I’m not going to tell you which one you should choose. Instead, let’s see why any of them could be the perfect car replacer for you.
Ryan Kluftinger from FortNine, a popular motorcycling channel on YouTube, recently addressed the question of why car drivers should switch to a scooter.
It’s an easy argument to make from several different angles.
When it comes to moving a 200 lb. person around, a 4,000 lb. box on wheels is simply ridiculous. We don’t serve a scoop of ice cream in a traffic cone, do we?
Instead, a person-sized vehicle simply makes so much more sense from an efficiency standpoint. It’s cheaper to buy. It takes up less space. It uses less energy. It’s cheaper to operate. It gets where it’s going faster and offers more fun while doing it. The list goes on and on.
The problem is that there are still many misconceptions swirling around out there regarding scooters, though Kluftinger’s video attempted to tackle several of them. And while he seems to dangle the idea of gas-powered scooters as the ultimate solution for car drivers, it’s actually electric scooters that offer so many more advantages. Here’s why.
Can scooters haul my stuff?
You’re never going to carry as much cargo on a scooter as you can in the back of your F150. That’s just physics.
But don’t think that you can’t carry things on a scooter. Kluftinger has a bit of fun demonstrating that his 50cc Vespa can store 15 Starbucks cups under the seat, seven McChicken sandwiches in the glovebox, and “Timmy’s practice ball” on the bag hook.
While that might not be how most of the industry measures storage space, he’s got a point. You can fit a decent amount of daily requirements in various storage spaces designed into scooters. And he’s even demonstrating it on a Vespa, which had to design its storage around an old gas-powered engine. Electric scooters often move the motor to the wheel and get to place the batteries anywhere they want – often under the floorboard – meaning there’s usually even more storage.
Adding a rear cargo box creates extra lockable storage, plus you have all that space around your feet. That might sound strange to non-scooter riders, but the rest of us know just how valuable that space is and are used to carrying things between our feet. As much as I love riding electric motorcycles, I usually stick to my electric scooters in the city simply for the extra storage space between my feet. On the day I picked up my NIU from the dealer, I carried home the large box full of the charger and accessories between my feet. Just a few days ago I used the space to carry a folding solar panel to a friend’s house. I regularly see people carrying a bag of dog food or other large items there. It’s an awesome feature of scooters and one that you’ll be surprised how often you use.
Aren’t scooters for girls?
Most people who think this tend to have a dated image in their mind of Audrey Hepburn on the back of a ’50s Vespa. Well, we’ve come a long way folks. Believe it or not, anyone can ride a scooter, and everyone does.
But Kluftinger perhaps puts it best when posed with the question, popping a squat on three different scooters and succinctly answering that none of these inanimate objects care what his genitalia looks like.
Will scooters ruin my pants?
As little as we want to admit it, reality isn’t always blue skies and sunny days. It occasionally rains, and that’s a bummer for scooter riders.
There’s a saying among cycling commuters that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” Essentially, riding can be done rain or shine as long as you dress appropriately.
While that’s largely true, it doesn’t hide the fact that swapping on rain pants and an extra jacket is an annoying extra step, whether that be for cyclists, scooter riders, or anyone else on two wheels. If it’s a light drizzle though and you have a scooter with a decently sized front shield (so not a Honda Ruckus), you likely won’t get very wet at all on the bottom half thanks to the scooter naturally redirecting the wet airstream around itself and its rider. Coming to a stop will still leave you getting rained on, but many winter riders already install a skirt on their scooter to keep road spray off, which also helps with rain.
Ultimately, weather is an annoyance that is faced by all two-wheelers, but that can largely be mitigated with a bit of prior planning. And even if an electric scooter is your second vehicle and you rely on a car for the days with bad weather, that’s still a lot better than driving a car 100% of the time.
Are electric scooters fast?
They sure can be! Don’t be fooled by some of the slower 20 mph e-scooters that masquerade under electric bike laws.
There are plenty of fast electric scooters out there, and many are quite affordable. The CSC Wiz will carry you over 40 mph (64 km/h).
My NIU NQi Extended Range gets darn close to 50 mph (80 km/h), though admittedly the top speed is a tad bit less with two riders and a half-discharged battery. NIU’s latest MQi EVO electric scooter pushes even faster up to over 60 mph (100 km/h).
And these are all small, lightweight electric scooters that are often considered to be 125cc-equivalent scooters.
Even higher-speed and higher-power models like the new BMW CE 04 push the envelope even higher to reach 75 mph (120 km/h), offering minimum highway-level performance for commuters that need to access a mix of slower and faster roads on their way to work.
Aren’t electric scooters expensive?
Sometimes, but not always. Many electric scooters are still fairly new. And new rarely means low-cost.
There are low-power and low-speed electric scooters that can be had for under $2K, but most are going to start closer to $3K.
My scooter was priced closer to $4K in the US when I got it, though I wasn’t in the US and I paid a higher price thanks to import taxes.
Obviously a cheaper gas scooter is going to save some cash over an electric scooter, at least initially. But just like with cars, the gas cost will add up. Gas scooters may be more efficient than gas cars, but the gas still costs the same price, even if you’re using less of it.
Electric scooters, on the other hand, have almost zero operational costs. I use around US $1 in electricity per month to charge and ride my electric scooter. Let me repeat that. My 50 mph electric scooter that takes me and my wife all over the city and is the reason we don’t need a car – it costs me just $1 per month in “fuel.” And then there are the maintenance savings. Unlike gas scooters, which are in constant need of engine maintenance, electric scooters are almost maintenance free. I haven’t had to repair or replace a single thing on my electric scooter in two years. I’ll probably replace my tires in a year or so just due to age, but even my brake pads are still in good shape (partially due to using regenerative braking from the electric motor instead of brake pads much of the time).
So yes, electric scooters will cost a bit more than gas scooters at first. But the fuel savings and the maintenance savings alone will quickly add up and outpace a gas scooter.
In fact, electric scooters are so economical that many people won’t even need to trade their car in order to buy one since an electric scooter is a fraction of the price of a car. As I mentioned before, it can make a great second vehicle, and there’s a decent chance it will even become your first vehicle.
Or as Kluftinger put it while kicking a car door closed, “To get a scooter you won’t even have the sell the old box. Just whenever you can, think outside of it.”
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