Electric scooter vs electric skateboard: which one should you choose to get around town? In theory, both are great ways to commute for shorter distances as they are compact and more environmentally friendly than using a car. However, there are some caveats, some of which we’ll try to explain below.
The best electric scooters are not only fun to use but, much like the best electric bikes, take the effort out of your commute. Nowadays, many brands offer their version of an e-scooter, including Pure, Xiaomi and Segway, to name a few. Some are lightweight and foldable, making them easier to carry around, while others focus on power output to flatten those hills more efficiently on your commute.
Riding an electric skateboard is probably the coolest way to tear up the tarmac. You won’t see many people using e-skateboards, but when you do, it’ll sure make you look. E-skateboards work in mysterious ways, and riding them will make you feel like Marty McFly from Back to the Future.
Which one should you get: an electric scooter or an electric skateboard? Read on to find out what is your best option.
Electric scooter vs electric skateboard: Price
Thanks to more companies constantly entering the market, electric scooters are comparatively cheap to buy nowadays. The best cheap electric scooters can be yours for less than $500, £400 or around AU $700, which is cheaper than even the most affordable e-bikes.
On the other hand, electric skateboards are not cheap. One of the most popular – and definitely more recognizable – electric skateboards, the Onewheel XR (opens in new tab), has an RRP of $1,800 in the US, £1,750 in the UK and AU $2,700 in Australia. You can get three and a half e-scooters for that price! Of course, not all e-skateboards are quite as expensive, but even the cheaper ones retail for around $800/£700/AU $1,000.
Winner: Electric Scooter
Electric scooter vs electric skateboard: Speed
Most electric scooters and electric skateboards have limited max speeds.
Electric scooters are usually limited to 15.5mph (25km/h), the same as electric bikes, to keep their users (and pedestrians) safe. In the UK and Europe, most rentable e-scooters also apply a so-called geofencing technology (opens in new tab) that limits the speed of the e-scooter even more in certain areas (e.g. in parks) to ensure the roads are as safe from speeding scooters as possible.
Electric skateboards are less regulated, so in theory, higher speeds can be achieved riding e-skateboards. The Onewheel XR mentioned above has a max speed of 19 mph, but some electric skateboards can go as fast as 28 mph (45 km/h).
Winner: Electric Skateboard
Electric scooter vs electric skateboard: Safety
Neither electric skateboards nor e-scooters are the safest way to commute. Despite the speed limitation, both can go relatively fast, considering how lightweight they are. Accidents happened to people who rode electric scooters before, and some even died riding into car doors – safety is paramount when riding these types of motorized transport. However, early pilot studies have indicated they could be safer than traditional pedal bikes.
Electric scooters have the competitive edge as they have handlebars, making steering more manageable and safer. Plus, it helps stabilize the body and control your weight, making it safer to ride them than e-skateboards that handle more or less the same as traditional skateboards (by leaning in the direction you want to turn).
Winner: Electric Scooters
Electric scooter vs electric skateboard: Terrain
Make no mistake: no matter how rugged some electric scooters and skateboards look, they should be ridden on smooth tarmac to avoid accidents. Some models with larger wheels and more rugged looks might try to convince you they can be used on all terrains but don’t let this fool you.
Electric scooters usually have smaller wheels and a low chassis – even low curbs can cause issues, let alone off-road riding. Electric skateboards have higher chassis, but due to the lack of a handlebar, they are equally as bad driving on rough terrain as electric scooters.
Electric scooter vs electric skateboard: Regulations
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not meant to be legal advice. In most countries, e-scooter legislation is volatile and unpredictable at the time of writing.]
Regulation is certainly a big issue. Electric scooters and skateboards are so new that most countries haven’t started regulating them and therefore are illegal to drive on public roads.
In the US, “E-scooters… are allowed on roads with or without bicycle lanes as long as they run under 25 mph. Riders must stay close to the curb and follow driving and traffic rules like driving on the right side of the road, observing traffic signals, and yielding to pedestrians”, Scooter Guide (opens in new tab) explains.
In the UK, things are slightly different. According to Halfords (opens in new tab), “Electric scooters are currently classed as ‘powered transporters’ by the government and fall under the same laws and regulations that apply to all motor vehicles”, meaning that it’s illegal to use them on pavements, in cycle lanes, and pedestrian-only areas. The one exception is ride-share schemes, so you'd be using publicly available scooters with in-built safety mechanisms, not privately-owned machines.
Moreover, it would only be legal to use them on public roads if they could meet the same requirements as motor vehicles (e.g., in terms of insurance, tax, license, registration and vehicle construction) – not something that’s possible right now.
The same rules apply to electric skateboards in both countries.
Electric scooter vs electric skateboard: Verdict
Electric scooters and skateboards are part of the wave of new micro-mobility vehicles and are gathering momentum. For obvious reasons, commuters are interested in this type of transportation as it provides a quick and easy way to get around town. Not to mention, using e-scooters and e-skateboards significantly reduces carbon footprint; at least they're more environmentally friendly than using a car for short trips.
Of the two, electric scooters are slightly less dangerous and cheaper to buy – a clear winner of the 'electric scooter vs electric skateboard' debate. Unfortunately, legislation is not clear about them in most countries, making them a less appealing option than electric bikes. Depending on where you live, the best cheap electric bike might be best for getting around.