What affects the top speed of an electric scooter?
Electric scooters have a motor power rating is usually expressed in watts. The motor wattage indicates how much power the motor is capable of consuming. However, not all motors are created equal and motor power in watts, doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. For example, two motors could be rated for 250 W. This means they can both consume 250 W of electrical power, but it doesn’t mean they are equally efficient and produce the same mechanical power.
Naturally, faster scooters have more powerful motors, but they are also paired with bigger battery, and better BMS controller. This ultimately unleashes more power, and makes the scooter go faster.
The electronic speed controller, or ESC, is an electronic circuit that controls the speed of the motor in an electric scooter. It receives input from the throttle and precisely controls the flow of current from the battery to the motor. Controllers are rated in terms of current (in amps) and voltage (in volts), with higher-current, higher-voltage controllers being capable of driving more powerful scooters. For example, Kaabo Wolf King is equipped with 72V 40A controllers.
There is also a difference between sine-wave and square-wave controllers, but since it is a very technical thing, we will try to explain it in a separate post.
As lithium batteries discharge while riding, the nominal voltage output of the battery will slowly decrease as well. This means when you are riding on low battery, you won’t be able to reach the maximum speed and acceleration as with a battery that is fully charged. This is due to the under-voltage protection circuit in the controller that monitors the battery voltage, controls the battery output, and shuts down the motor when the battery voltage is too low. This protects the battery from over-discharge. Once your battery level is under 20-25% you will notice that it’s practically impossible to reach the top speed.
This is pretty self-explanatory: the more weight a scooter has to pull, the more strain it puts on the motors, making it slower. We don’t say you should diet in order to go faster on your electric scooter, but if you are on a heavier side and weigh close to or over 200 pounds, you may want to look for the scooter that is able to handle the heavy load with ease.
Wheel size and tires
The size of the wheels have very little influence on the top speed. Electric scooter wheels size ranges from 8” on small portable scooters to 13” in some extreme cases. Most performance scooters sport 10 inch wheels, which is the golden mean between comfort and performance.
What has an influence on the maximum speed a scooter can reach are the tires. Air-filled tires create more rolling resistance, so in theory, they should be slower, but that is not the case. In fact, on rough terrain, air tires may actually be faster because they’re pliable enough to absorb vibrations and small bumps. Just like larger wheels maintain their speed better over rough terrain, so do slightly softer ones. The result is gliding faster.
Tire pressure is another important factor that affects the maximum speed. When the tire pressure changes, it has a direct effect on rolling resistance force of the vehicle and reduces traction. With over-inflated tires there’s a smaller area of contact with the road, which creates loss of traction and uneven wear. An under-inflated tire leaves a larger contact area with the road, which increases rolling resistance and is less efficient. Every scooter has a specified tire pressure recommended by the manufacturer, it is usually your best bet is to stick to these recommendations.
The type of terrain also affects the electric scooter’s top speed and acceleration. Flat terrain and smooth road are the best conditions for getting the maximum speed out of your electric scooter. On inclines motor has to work harder to maintain acceleration and speed, and if you push it too hard it will cause it to overheat.
On the surfaces that are not smooth, like gravel or dirt there is more traction, which slows down the scooter. If you need an electric scooter that can go fast over rugged terrain, look for those equipped for all-terrain riding: with a reinforced frame, good suspension, and air-filled tires for a smoother ride.
Just like you, the electric scooter performs best in moderate temperature. If you look at the specifications, each electric scooter has a specified operating and storing temperature listed. Motor and battery are sensitive to temperature, so any extreme conditions will affect the performance. When the temperature drops, it puts extra energy demands on the battery, causing your scooter performance to decrease.
Hot weather does not affect the ability of the scooter to go fast, but it may cause it to overheat. Most high performance scooters have advanced heat dispersing systems, as well as some kind of overheat protection that shuts down the scooter in case it gets too hot. Again, battery is the part that should not get too hot, while the electric motor can withstand very high temperature. If you are riding your scooter in hot weather, keeping an eye on temperature and letting your scooter cool down from time to time, will do it good in the long run.
Top Speed vs Acceleration
Acceleration and maximum speed are both terms used to express the performance of a vehicle, including electric scooters. Top speed is the maximum speed that a scooter can reach, while acceleration shows how quickly an electric scooter gets to a given speed.
When testing the electric scooter performance, it is usually tested how long a scooter takes to get from 0 to 15mph. Couple of extreme performance scooters like Nami BURN-E, or Kaabo Wolf King can do it in under 2 seconds.
Though they do go hand in hand, acceleration is often more important than maximum speed. Most riders don’t ride that much at top speed, but often ride between 0 and 30mph. Whether navigating traffic, or merging left into a left-hand turn lane, a scooter with a quick 0 to 30mph time makes it much easier.
How to ride safely at high speeds: pro tips
The faster you drive, the harder you hit. At higher speeds there is a greater likelihood of severe injury or death. As a rider, it is your responsibility to be aware of the dangers involved. These tips will help enjoy the trills of riding your electric scooter at high speeds and stay safe.
Riding fast and being in control does take some time to master, and there really isn’t a substitute for those hours spent behind the handlebar. Make sure to start slow and get a good grip over how your electric scooter works before you go fast and furious. Even the experienced riders need some time to get used to a new scooter, so a practice lap (or two) is always a good idea.
Wear safety gear
A helmet is the one piece of safety equipment that you should never ride without. However, riding at very high speeds requires a whole other level of protection. At speeds of over 25mph, it is best to wear a motorcycle-grade, full-face helmet. Another important piece of equipment are the gloves, especially if it’s a bit colder outside. They will also protect the skin on your hands in the case of a fall or a crash, particularly at high speeds.
Knee and elbow pads are also very useful for protecting the most vulnerable parts of your body and make a huge difference in case of a fall. Our go-to piece of protection gear when we are testing electric scooters is a padded jacket, as it is convenient, easy to put on, and offers the best protection for the upper half of the body.
Ease into the ride
Don’t be tempted to max out the throttle the first time you step on the scooter. Most electric scooters have insane torque and will launch you forward as soon as you touch forward, so be cautious and light on the throttle until you get used to it. It’s best to always accelerate gradually if the scooter allows it. Instant acceleration is not something you should play with.
Know what you are doing and be aware of the surroundings
A driver of a car is protected by a thick layer of safety systems, but on an electric scooter we are protected only by our own instinct of self-preservation. Safety at high speeds depends mostly on how well we are aware of the risks and how well we anticipate them.
Seemingly minor obstacles on the road such as wet pavement, small objects, debris, and uneven road surfaces typically pose little risk to cars, but they can prove dangerous to e-scoter riders. This is why it is important to have a clear idea of all the things that may pose a potential risk and watch out for them.
Learn how to stop
This is usually where you realize. It’s when you need to slow for something, that you’ll start to realize how fast you were actually going and that your braking distances are much longer than usual. I know that sounds obvious but it really takes some time to get your head around braking distances from high speeds. So practice slowing the scooter and get your head around the time and distance it takes before you start pushing the limits.
Why a fast electric scooter might not be for you?
They are not for novice riders
Electric scooters are relatively easy to ride, and almost anyone can do it, but riding fast requires some skill. Most of high performance scooters have settings and speed modes that allow you to gradually get used to riding and pick up speed, so even the most powerful scooters can be beginner-friendly. However, if you are just getting into the electric scooters, without a lot of any kind of driving experience, you might want to start with a smaller, more affordable scooter, and ride your way up to extreme performance ones, if you feel that is what you are into. If you just need a reliable scooter for your commute, you might not need the insane amount of power scooters listed here have to offer.
Not so portable
Electric scooters that can go at insane speeds have two motors and huge batteries, which makes them pretty cumbersome and heavy. Many can be folded to a more compact size, but even the lightest one on our list, Dualtron Thunder, weighs 95 pounds, which is not easy to lift and load into your trunk. Manufacturers are trying to lower the weight by incorporating parts made from carbon fiber, and smart engineering solutions, mostly to make them run more efficiently. Maximum performance scooters and lightweight portable scooters are two separate categories after all.
Take forever to charge
Extreme performance scooters come with extreme capacity batteries, which take a long time to recharge. After all, more power goes into a large battery than in a small battery, so using the same charger and the same wall outlet means that you will have to wait a whole day for your scooter to recharge.
The new generation of electric scooters with larger charging capacity supports extra powerful fast chargers that can charge the high capacity battery quicker. Some scooters have two charging ports, so you can cut the chargin time in half with two chargers.