How to Select an Electric Scooter

If you are looking for an electric scooter which enjoys all the legal freedoms of a bicycle then it must meet several criteria. In order to quality 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. As in North America, Asian scooters equipped with pedals are classified as bicycles and they 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. Many of these factories have no full time employees but only hire them when they have orders during the season. They are free to purchase their bike components from any supplier they choose. The profit stake from the quantity in China is very big and the assembly factories are constantly searching for pennies cheaper parts. This affects the consistency and reliability of their complete product but makes it very competitive in price which is the first priority in Chinese domestic market. Since there is no control on the supply and production quality of these factories they are not allowed to export to the overseas markets. 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 standard for scooters with pedals for the Chinese domestic market for example is 350W but once they leave the country they are advertised as 500W.

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. Before their products leave the factory they are tested by independent government institutions to prevent any liability issues.  

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. This electric drive system was incorporated in scooters manufactured by a motorcycle factory as gas scooters according the specifications of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers)  The new CCT (Continuous Current Transmission) made possible for scooters limited to 500W for Canada or 750W for USA to have the same performance as 50CC gas motorcycle, This system features a specially designed controller with a micro chip and a motor that with a flip of a three positions switch can independently extend your range, improve your climbing ability or increase your speed when switched to an economy, high torque or high speed mode.

Features affecting safety, overall performance and durability of the electric scooters

1. Range:

The criteria affecting your riding distance in descending order are: Battery capacity, scooter weight, tire pressure, current consumption, motor type (brushless or brushed).

  1. The battery capacity for 500W scooter should be at least 20AH to ensure you a range of at least 40km. If the distance is priority for you, you may consider a brand of scooter that supports second battery which will add 30-40 km additional range.
  2. The tire pressure should be always monitored since it not only lower your range but may damage the controller and the motor. Look for brands with DOT approved tires that support higher pressure.
  3. Keep in mind that in temperatures of 20.0, 10.0, 5.0, 0.0,-10.0 degrees the capacity drops respectively to 99%,92%,88%,72%
  4. Some motors like the gear ones can consume more energy because of their lower efficiency and respectively affect the range. Brush motors have also lower efficiency.

2. Climbing capability and acceleration:

The criteria affecting the electric scooter torque, acceleration and respectively its climbing capability are: motor type, motor power*, controller, battery capacity, total weight.

  1. The motor type can be brushed, brushless and geared
    1. Brushed motors are obsolete and they are very seldom used as direct drive motors because if their lower efficiency
    2. Brushless motors are more efficient on flat but on start and on higher gradients they loose their efficiency. The CCT brushless motor and controller can improve the scooters efficiency up to 3 times and respectively increase the torque, speed and range up to 60% at the comparable conditions.
    3. Geared motors have better torque than regular brushless but their speed is limited by the gear ratio, they have significant losses from the gear box, require more maintenance and are less reliable.
  2. The motor controller can increase the power but  kill the battery, motor or burn itself
    1. The max current for a normal 500W BLDC motor is 20-25A. If more powerful controller is installed the motor and controller will start overheating on hills due to the lower efficiency that can go down to less than 25%
    2. The CCT controllers can increase the efficiency on climbing up to 80% 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 save energy towards torque instead of loosing it in heat.

      *When the motor and the controller are properly designed a lower power rated motor coupled with a well designed controller can outperform a higher rated one

3. Support:
  1. 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 stay.
  2.  Before buying an electric scooter, the best option is to check out the scooter reviews, which 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.
  3. Look at the support pages of the brands. Look at their parts list and manuals, supporting diagrams, tips, repair manuals etc.
  4. Look how many dealers are selling this brand, call them for advice. More technically educated dealers mean better technical support and training from the brand supplier.
  5. Search BBB and other consumer reports for the particular brand. Keep in mind that the fewer sales the company has made the less is the chance to find any references about their brand.

4. Maintenance:

  1. Motor - Classified below are the motors from the highest to the lowest maintenance
    1. Geared motor have a geared box with a fluid that requires regular change and has higher risk of failure than the other types.
    2. There is a high current going through the brushes in the brushed motors which causes arcs. Ashes are deposited inside the motor. That is why a brushed motor has to be disassembled once in a while and cleaned and the brushes replaced.
    3. A brushless motor does not require maintenance and its life is limited by the life of two bearings which most definitely would survive the life of the bike itself.
  2. Brakes – Three type brakes are used in Electric scooters – Drum brakes, Disk brakes and regenerative electro-magnetic brakes
    1. Drum brakes require regular adjustment of the cable and needs to be disassembled and cleaned. If you consider a scooter with drum brakes make sure they are motorcycle size – other types have insufficient braking power.
    2. Hydraulic disk brakes do not require maintenance, it is self adjustable and doesn’t collect dirt because it is open
    3. Regenerative magnetic brakes – require no maintenance The more powerful your regenerative brakes are, the longer your brake pads will last. Based on the double size motor magnets the power of CCT regenerative brakes  is sufficient to be used for a full stop of the scooter which can more than double the life of the disk brake pads
  3. Tires – Tubeless tires can be fixed on spot without even removing the wheel and will safe you the hassle of transporting the bike when you have flat. All MOTORINO™ scooters come with DOT approved tires with 6 protection layers. A tire repair kit is included in each MOTORINO™ scooter.  A protection fluid can be used in tubeless tires that seals them instantly when punctured.

5. Durability and safety:

  1. 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 are using steel tubes with quality specified by SAE. All MOTORINO™ scooters are built on motorcycle grade chaises by WMI registered manufacturer.
  2. Brakes Drum brakes, Disk brakes and regenerative electro-magnetic brakes
    1. All drum brakes require regular adjustment and cleaning. 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.
  3. 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 ABS.
  4. Wheels and Tires – The wheels and tires can be motorcycle or bicycle standard
    1. 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. The rims are aluminum and the tires are tubeless which allows a flat tire to be fixed on the spot.
    2. Bicycle standard– the measurement of the wheel size is the diameter of the tire which for scooters is usually 2.2”-3”X16”. They are usually mounted on aluminum wheel with a tube inside.
  5. Suspensions –  They can be Motorcycle grade and Bicycle grade
    1. The motorcycle grade suspensions are much more reliable since they are made according the specifications set by SAE. They are always hydraulic at least 30mm thick. The rear suspension of all MOTORINO™ scooters is also adjustable.
    2. The bicycle type suspension can be front spring or swing arm type. The hydraulic one imitates the motorcycle grade suspension but it 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 spring type and because of the number of their pivotal points they have the tendency to cause a shake the front fork which may cause a lost of traction.
  6. 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 head lights but due to the fact that the Motorino scooters are built in motorcycle factories and there are no DOT approved LED head lights yet they are equipped with Halogen lights.
  7. Additional safety 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.