With a new year comes a new wave of electric scooters that are hitting the streets, and we're happy to share that we're testing quite a few of them this month, including a fully folding e-scooter from Riley and a new offering from Pure.
We should have a number of new e-scooter reviews available soon and, naturally, fresh entries on this guide. Stay tuned!
Michelle Rae Uy, Buying Guides Editor
The best electric scooters are a convenient, cheap and green way of commuting. That's right; these aren't toys that get you quickly from one spot to another in a fun way. E-scooters also offer a cleaner, greener, more sustainable means of commuting, especially in congested areas like big cities where public transit isn't as prevalent and extensive.
Although electric scooters are getting a bad rap because of irresponsible riders as well as the lax road rules that govern their use on public roads, they're actually excellent commuting alternatives. Plus, they'll help you limit your carbon footprint as well as minimize air pollution and road congestion. They will also help you save money by reducing your fuel usage.
When ridden safely, the best e-scooters offer plenty of benefits to the riders and to the environment. And, much like the best electric bikes, they will get you out of that artificial air environment you spend most of your days in and breathe fresh, natural air.
We've tested many e-scooters ourselves, from the best budget e-scooters and the best electric scooters for students to the more premium ones. We gathered the best electric scooters in this guide, considering things like performance, weight and ease of use, build, and features like app support and anti-theft protection. Focusing on those that are ideal for everyday commutes and running errands instead of expensive performance models that boast much higher top speeds, you'll find the best electric scooter for you, whether you're a casual user, a daily commuter, or a hill rider.
The best electric scooters 2023
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The second-generation Pure Air Pro takes our top prize for the best electric scooter of 2022. It's a big upgrade from last year's model, with a longer range, more powerful battery and – surprisingly – a smaller price tag. It can hit a top speed of 15.5mph at full throttle but offers a very impressive maximum range of 50km (about 31 miles) if you're willing to cut back the speed and ride at a slightly more sedate pace.
The electric scooter folds easily for storage and carrying, with a sturdy catch to hold it together, and the air-filled tires and large with a puncture-resistant fluid. In our tests, the suspension ironed out small bumps in the road, and acceleration felt smooth as butter.
The Pure Air Pro isn't perfect – pushing the speed will drain the battery fast, and it's pretty heavy. However, for the more experienced rider the Pure Air Pro is tough to beat. If you're new to riding, you'll be better off with the lighter and less powerful Pure Air, below.
Read our full Pure Air Pro (2021) review
Although not as powerful as the Pure Air Pro, the Pure Air is the best electric scooter we've reviewed in terms of value for money. We'd recommend it for people looking for their first ride, or something that'll be dependable and long-lasting.
It's an entry-level electric scooter that sits below its big sibling, the Pure Air Pro, in a few different ways. However, thanks to its low price, the Pure Air sits above the Pro in this list of the best e-scooters.
The Pure Air has the same top speed as most of the scooters on this list, and it's got a fair range if you don't drive it too fast. It's also sturdy, safe to ride and decked out in lights and reflectors. We found the Pure Air safe and comfortable to ride for the most part, and well worth your money if you're looking for your first electric scooter, though experienced riders will love it too.
Read our full Pure Air review
The NIU KQi3 Pro may not have that sleek and lightweight design that seems to have been the very first marker of an excellent electric scooter. What this impressive model does offer is much more important: comfort. It's also surprisingly, amazingly affordable – more affordable than other premium e-scooters with less features.
Its brilliant fat tires, as we found out during our extensive review, are the ticket to a smooth ride. Each tire on this is 2.5 inches thick, and that allows the scooter itself to have amazing shock absorption – so amazing, in fact, that we don't have to weave through a bad road just to avoid the small potholes and big cracks when riding it, which is something we do with other electric scooters.
NIU also slapped on amazing features like regenerative brakes, the always-on Halo headlight and rear light, zero starting (which activates as soon as you hit 200 riding meters for safety), and anti-theft. The anti-theft feature is uncommon if you're looking at e-scooters within this price range and is therefore a nice treat. Once it’s activated, an alarm will go off if someone tries to wheel the scooter away, ride it, or turn it on. So while it doesn't actually prevent someone from loading it on the back of their truck, it certainly makes a huge fuss, which will hopefully deter petty thieves.
Read our full NIU KQi3 Pro review
The Kugoo Kirin G3 is a staggering scooter with an imposing profile to match, boasting a 936Wh juicing a 1200W motor that gives it a 70-km (37-mile) range and a top speed of 50kmh (about 31 miles). It's an impressive piece of kit whose max speed and great acceleration won’t lag far behind cars in large metropolitan areas. Of course, its 10.5-inch off-road tires make riding a smooth affair even if you have to take it on not-so-well-paved roads.
During testing, we had no range issues and were able to zoom up and down hills, thanks to its powerful motor and 30-degree hill grade. And, we found its deck to be very effective at keeping our feet in place during high-speed rides. Its black and orange colour scheme might not be for everyone, but you cannot deny that it adds a bit of stylish flair and a study look that means business.
There are a few things that could be improved here – the on-screen buttons, for example, we found to be a little finicky. However, this scooter's pros far outweigh its cons, and none of the cons is deal breakers.
Read our full Kugoo Kirin G3 review
How to choose the best electric scooter for you
Don't panic if you haven't purchased an e-scooter before. Choosing one isn't as hard as you might think; you just have to know the main things to consider. And, trust us, you'll learn more as you do your research.
Urban commuters typically prioritize weight and portability over power, especially if they live in a city that's mostly flat and with good roads. Consider top speed as well – although do consider the e-scooter rules in your city, state, or country.
Of course, there's also battery life. A handful of the best electric scooters give you a week of use before they need charging. However, more commonly, e-scooters for commuting only give you two or three days. That heavily depends on the miles you clock in every day though. An 18-mile e-scooter should last you about three days if you've got a three-mile-per-trip average, but you might need to charge it every night if you're commuting more than eight miles per trip.
A top-notch braking system is very, very important for your safety. Some of the best e-scooters have a simple braking system while a few of the more robust ones come with a dual one, which is much more reliable and safer for riders. That's especially if you live in a hilly area.
Naturally, build, weather-proofing, and wheel size are to be considered as well. Features are important too. Depending on your needs, you might need things like app support and an anti-theft system.
Which brand of electric scooter is best?
There's no one best electric scooter brand. However, there are several that we've found to deliver the most well-constructed and great-performing e-scooters: Pure, Kugoo, Segway, and Xiaomi.
Segway is a little on the expensive side, but they do make great scooters with excellent build and smooth performance. Meanwhile, Kugoo has the art of building rugged commuting electric scooters that feel also feel luxurious to ride on. Finally, you can count on Pure and Xiaomi to give you the best value for your money.
Can I ride an electric scooter in the rain?
That very much depends on the electric scooter model you have and the ingress protection (IP) rating it has. Most commuter electric scooters have protection against water jets from all directions, which gives them an IPX5 or IPX6 rating. However, those aren't recommended to use during rain, especially heavy downpours, most likely in case you encounter flooding.
If you want something that's completely safe to use in the rain, we recommend finding something that can survive submersion. That would have an IP rating of IPX7 or above.
Glossary of electric scooter terms
Commuter electric scooters - A commuter e-scooter is a type of electric scooter that’s designed specifically, as its name suggests, for everyday city commutes. They’re designed to be sleeker and more lightweight, a lot of them having a folding capability to make them easier to take on a bus or a train.
Hill grade - An electric scooter’s hill grade rating is the incline angle that its motor can handle when going up a hill. Most commuter e-scooters have a hill grade rating of 15% to 20%.
Pneumatic tires - Pneumatic tires are essentially just rubber tires filled with air. They deliver better stability, suspension, climbing, and traction than solid tires.
Solid tires - Solid tires are the opposite of pneumatic tires in that they are not air-filled but are instead made up of layers of rubber. Some solid tires have built-in air pockets, but they generally need less maintenance and are less prone to flats and punctures.
Regenerative brakes - Brakes with this regenerative braking feature have the capability to recover some of that kinetic energy the e-scooter uses during braking and send its back to the battery to extend its range.
Kick start - A kick start simply means that to get an e-scooter going, you have to kick it off quite literally with a nice, firm push using your foot.
Zero start - A zero start means that an electric scooter doesn’t need you to kick it off to get going. Its throttle does all the work for you.
How we test electric scooters
Testing electric scooters is the fun part of our job because we get to ride around our cities and get a bit of fresh air and sunshine. We don't always go for a joyride, however.
Every e-scooter we test, we use for at least two weeks, running errands, commuting, and exploring new areas. We test its performance – just how instantaneous it starts up, how fast it picks up speed, how reliable its brakes are, and how effective it is at climbing inclines. We test it in different road conditions as well to see how it fares outside of city roads. That's just to start.
We also take a look at its design – whether or not it's easy and intuitive to use if the dashboard is bright enough to be visible in bright sunlight, how great and spacious the deck is, and if the folding mechanism is quick and effortless. Finally, we check the battery, to see if it lives up to the rating and if has fast-charging capabilities.
When we've got all our data, we then compare all of that with the price to make sure that it isn't overpriced and is a great value for the price.