With local mobility in full swing, the electric bike and e-scooter craze is in full swing as well. Which of the two is the more practical for getting around town and commuting?
Is it reasonable to compare the electric bike to the electric scooter? The variety of models of either and the diversity of practices could make this question incongruous. However, when considering leaving your car in the garage or avoiding public transportation, both solutions should be considered.
Electric bikes and scooters can not only replace traditional means of transportation, but they also have numerous advantages. They can save time, help avoid crowds, help you get back to physical activity, or all of the above.
Read also: Are electric bikes more expensive than electric scooters? Commuting: 9 criteria for choosing between e-bike and e-scooter.
Therefore, the question of choosing one or the other arises, and the arguments to choose between them are numerous. From the price to the speed, not to mention additional costs or their ability to move around town, we have reviewed all these criteria to help you see the differences more clearly.
For this comparison, we have chosen to limit the type of electric scooters to the 50cc equivalent and the bikes to classic electric bikes with assistance limited to 25 km/h (15 mph). A wider reflection could include speed e-bikes, but let’s focus on the most popular models first.
Price: How much should you pay for an electric scooter or electric bike?
Whether we are talking about electric scooters or electric bicycles, we are always talking about a mobility market that is structured and regularly sees the arrival of new players and new machines. Similarly, the price range for an electric bike or scooter can vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars or euros.
For this comparison, we have chosen to determine an average price. Indeed, we estimate that a good electric bike costs around 2500 $/€ and that it is possible to find a good electric scooter at the same price.
It’s rather easy to go beyond this price point, we don’t recommend opting for much less expensive, and probably less reliable, models, especially if you’re going to be on the road every day on a “bike-to-work” trip.
Annual cost: which is the cheapest over time?
Price is one of the main criteria to differentiate an e-bike from an electric scooter. But it is not the only factor to evaluate. In addition to the purchase price, you have to account for the additional costs, such as insurance, maintenance, or the need to invest in mandatory equipment.
The purchase price is usually the biggest part of the initial investment, the additional costs are not insignificant, especially in the case of a scooter.
Let’s consider the following example:
For the electric bike:
- A good anti-theft device costs about 40 $/€.
- A helmet: about 60 $/€.
That is to say, a total of 100 euros of essential equipment is needed to plan.
For the electric scooter:
- An approved anti-theft device (required in many insurance contracts): 70 $/€
- A motorcycle helmet costs around 200 $/€.
- Annual insurance: depending on the size of the vehicle and the parking conditions (300 $/€ on average).
- Gloves: about 50 $/€
So the total cost of 620 $/€ of essential equipment is to be planned.
These estimates are not scientific and may vary according to the situation of each user or the quality of the equipment. Nevertheless, they allow us to note that there is a significant difference in total costs between the two modes of transport.
Read also: How much does it cost to own an e-bike? And, What is the difference between cheap and expensive e-bikes?
Finally, in addition to these fixed costs, one must add more specific expenses linked to unforeseen events (a flat tire) or the maintenance and other annual revisions of one’s two-wheeler. Here again, estimates vary from one user to another, but they are generally advantageous for bike owners.
Result: on the aspect of annual cost, the verdict is clear: an electric bike is more economical than an electric scooter.
Which is the fastest?
Leaving your car in the garage in favor of a bicycle or a scooter can only be done on one condition: a speed guarantee allowing you to consider a home-to-work trip at an acceptable time.
On the strict criterion of travel speed, it is enough to refer to the law to decide between our two contenders. A scooter (50cc equivalent) is limited to 45 km/h (32 mph). As for the electric bike, its engine stops at 25 km/h (15 mph), forcing the cyclist to pedal if one wants to exceed this limit.
Result: The electric scooter wins this round, but it is a relative victory. Indeed, if its theoretical speed is 45 km/h (32 mph), the chances of reaching this peak vary greatly depending on the route. In an urban environment with a high density of traffic, this high speed is not usually realistic.
Read also: How far can e-bikes go? What is e-bike range on a single charge? And, How fast are e-bikes?
Which is the most convenient to ride?
Speed isn’t everything. In an urban environment, maneuverability, acceleration, and generally the ability to quickly get out of a jam are important criteria for evaluating which of the two machines is more comfortable in the city.
In reality, the advantage of one or the other will depend on the route you take. The scooter will most often have the advantage in acceleration and top speed provided the route allows the electric scooter to express itself fully.
Three to four times lighter, the electric bike is inherently more maneuverable and better able to weave between cars. If it cannot compete in terms of pure speed, it has the advantage of being able to ride on bike paths and bus lanes, which generally allows it to close the gap with its competitor.
Read also: How to select the best folding e-bike (with examples)? And, How much does a good foldable e-bike cost?
If there aren’t enough of these, their number tends to grow as authorities become aware of the desire to build a good infrastructure for cyclists. As a result, even if in theory the electric scooter can go almost two times faster than the bicycle, in reality, this gap is not true in urban areas. On the contrary, on a trip of about 10 km (6 miles), the difference is usually about 5 minutes.
On the other hand, the scooter is much more comfortable to ride. On the one hand, because it offers a larger and more pleasant surface to sit on than a rough saddle, but also because its wider wheels absorb more shocks.
Finally, it is almost always equipped with a shock-absorbing system, which is not necessarily the case on bicycles, especially those that focus on speed.
Result: It is possible to prefer the scooter on certain very fast routes or when traffic is less dense, but because of its flexibility and its ability to use reserved lanes, the bicycle has an undeniable advantage in the city. What could tip the balance in either direction is not only the type of trip but also its duration.
The length of the route is also a significant influencer
Now that the road qualities of the two contenders are known, it is worth asking whether the type of route and its length have an impact on the choice of one or the other. It seems that the number of kilometers to be covered is as important as the conditions for the trip.
The advantages of the scooter (top speed and acceleration) become more and more useful as the distance increases. On very short urban trips, the electric scooter will have a much harder time getting up to speed and will be equally penalized by its weight and traffic or parking restrictions. Conversely, the shorter the trip, the more time the electric bike will save.
- For a trip of less than 5 km: On this kind of short trip, especially in urban areas, an electric bike will always be faster than a scooter. Most importantly, once you arrive at your destination, you won’t waste time finding a parking space.
- The question of choice is most relevant for a trip between 5 and 15 kilometers long. In this case, it will depend on the profile of the trip. The more it includes fast or rolling portions, the more the scooter will help. Conversely, the more bus lanes and bike lanes you have on your route, the more the gap will narrow in favor of the electric bike.
- For trips longer than 15 kilometers: On longer trips, electric scooters have more opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities. Nevertheless, the electric bike should not be excluded from the discussion. It can correspond to more sporty user profiles, for example, or simply compensate for a lack of public transport interconnections.
As a result, it is impossible to determine a clear winner on this point. The choice must be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of route and each user’s profile. Just keep in mind that the longer the trip, the more points the electric scooter scores, and vice versa.
Read also: How far can e-bikes go? What is e-bike range on a single charge? And, How fast are e-bikes?
Which one is the most practical to park?
Not everyone has a garage at home or a bike room at work, so the problem of parking your bike must be considered at the time of purchase. In this respect, the electric bike has an undeniable advantage since it can be parked almost anywhere as long as it does not interfere with traffic or street furniture.
On the contrary, the electric scooter must be parked in specific places. Failure to comply with this requirement exposes the owner to a fine.
As a result, the e-bike wins the parking match without difficulty.
Autonomy: Not Just a Question of Batteries
As with all types of electric vehicles, the announced range is a theoretical figure. It depends on factors as diverse as the weight of the rider, the type of route, the outside temperature, and the tire pressure.
However, it is possible to define an average range for a mid-range electric scooter of about 65 km (40 miles). Some scooter models also have a second slot for an additional battery, which considerably increases their range. On an electrically assisted bicycle at an equivalent price, the autonomy is much higher and varies between 80 and 100 km (50 to 60 miles) according to the type of battery and its integration.
Of course, in both cases, it is possible to extend this average value by adapting one’s driving or by opting for a lighter assistance mode (the famous “Eco” mode). However, where the two solutions differ is when the battery runs out. Indeed, when the available energy threshold reaches 10%, certain scooter models automatically switch to “Eco,” reducing their performance.
Read also: How much elevation / altitude can electric bikes climb? And, Can electric bikes go up steep hills?
Finally, if the battery runs out, there is no other way than to push your scooter with your arms. On this point, an electric bicycle will always have an advantage. On the one hand, the rider can choose to save the battery power at any time by pedaling, and on the other hand, in the event of running out of power, it is always possible to pedal home, albeit more slowly.
As a result, the autonomy match is logically in favor of electric bikes, which not only have greater power reserves but also possess an alternative in the event of a flat battery.
Risk of theft: Is weight more of a dissuasion than an anti-theft device?
Whether you choose an electric bike or a scooter, the risk of theft exists. In both cases, you will have to invest in an anti-theft device. For the e-bike, it is even recommended to take two, to dissuade a possible thief.
Statistically, an e-bike is more exposed to theft than a scooter. The majority of these misdeeds, however, are caused by the use of a low-quality anti-theft device, the failure to attach the e-bike to a fixed point, or the failure to attach the e-bike correctly (only on the front wheel, for example).
The electric scooter is heavier and more difficult to move, but it is less exposed. Above all, some models, have a geolocation system that makes it relatively easy to find them. While it is not possible to make a bike as difficult to steal as a scooter, there are some ways to deter the unwary.
Marking your e-bike (which will soon be required to be done at the time of a sale for all new e-bikes) is an additional anti-theft device and a guarantee that your e-bike will be returned if it is ever discovered by the police.
Some connected bikes, such as Cowboy or Vanmoof, also have a GPS chip in their frame that allows them to be geolocated via a mobile app.
Read also: How to protect your e-bike from theft? And, Does it make sense to buy specialized e-bike insurance?
Finally, some manufacturers like Haibike offer to “chip” their bikes and make them detectable on a map.
Result: An electric scooter has an advantage in this case. An electric bike will be more vulnerable, and it will cost you more if you want to dissuade thieves by buying additional equipment or insurance.
Purchase Aid: Which one gives you the best deal?
Many types of financial aid or purchase bonuses are available for electric vehicles both on the federal and local levels, such as the region or the city.
Result: The nature of financial aid and the conditions for obtaining it are relatively similar, with some differences, depending on the type and purchase price of the electric vehicle.
Rules and Obligations: A Quick Reminder
The use of an electric bicycle does not commit its owner to anything other than strict respect for the Highway Code. The helmet, although recommended, is not compulsory (except for children under 12 years old), and it is simply necessary to have your e-bike in order.
On the other hand, an electric scooter equivalent to 50 cm3 is considered a moped and requires its owner to:
- have a driving license.
- Have a registration card and a license plate.
- Wear an approved helmet.
- to have insured his vehicle.
Read also: What are traditional e-bike and speed e-bike rules and regulations in the US, UK, Canada, Australia?
In the end, the choice between an electric bike or an electric scooter will depend mainly on your needs. Depending on your budget, the parking conditions, and especially the type of route you will have to take, the first one could be more advantageous than the second one, and vice versa.
An electric bike will always be more versatile, less constraining to handle and park, but also less fast and less comfortable than an e-scooter. This difference in top speed has an impact on trips longer than 15 km (10 miles), but for a more classical route, both means of transportation have arguments to be made in their favor.
In short, if both solutions allow you to leave your car in the garage and avoid public transport, the electric bike has an unbeatable advantage: health. Indeed, by encouraging physical exercise and by letting the rider precisely adjust the level of assistance, the electric bike provides a much more valuable service to its owner than a few minutes wasted in a head-to-head competition with an e-scooter.
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Riding, testing, and writing about e-bikes since 2017.