Which Is Better: Electric Bikes or Electric Scooters?
Comparing the electric bike to the electric scooter, is it reasonable? The variety of models of one or the other and the diversity of practices could make this question incongruous. And yet, when considering leaving your car in the garage or avoiding public transport, both solutions must be considered. The electric bike or scooter can not only replace conventional means of transport, but they also have advantages. They allow you to choose between saving time, avoiding crowds, resuming physical activity, or all at the same time. Therefore, the question of the choice of one or the other arises, and the arguments to decide between them are numerous. A broader consideration could include speed bikes or larger engines, but it should start with the basics: scooter or bikes?
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 guarantee of speed allowing you to envisage a journey between home and work at an acceptable time. On the strict criterion of the speed of movement, it is enough to refer to the law to decide between our two suitors. A scooter (50 cc equivalent) is limited to 45 km/h. As for the electrically assisted bikes, its motor stops at 25 km/h, forcing the cyclist to pedal if he 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, the opportunities to reach this peak are very variable according to the course. In urban areas, with high traffic density, this high speed is utopian.
What 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 crossroads are important criteria for evaluating which of the two machines is the most comfortable in town. In reality the advantage of one or the other will depend on the route you will take. The scooter will most often have the advantage of acceleration and top speed provided the ride allows the electric scooter to express itself fully. Three to four times lighter, the electric bikes are in essence more manageable and allow more to sneak between cars. If it cannot compete in terms of pure speed, it has the advantage of being able to circulate on cycle paths and bus lanes, which generally allows it to close the gap with its competitor. If these are not numerous enough, their number tends to increase as the authorities become aware of the importance of setting up a good infrastructure for cyclists. Consequently, even if in theory, the electric scooter can go almost two sees faster than the bicycle this difference does not occur in urban areas. On the contrary, on a journey of about 10 km, the difference generally observed is about 5 minutes. On the other hand, the scooter is much more comfortable to use. On the one hand, it offers a larger and more pleasant surface to install than a slightly rough saddle, but also because its wider wheels absorb more shocks. Finally, it is almost always equipped with a damping system, which is not necessarily the case on bicycles, especially those that favor speed.
Result: It is possible to prefer the scooter on certain very rolling journeys or when traffic is less important, but by its versatility and its ability to use reserved lanes, the bicycle has an undeniable advantage in town. What could tip the balance one way or the other is not only the type of journey but also its duration.
Travel time: the adjustment variable
Now that the qualities on the road of the two contenders are known, it is worth asking whether the type of course and its length has an impact on the choice of one or the other. It would indeed seem that the number of kilometers to be covered is as important as the conditions in which the journey will be made.
Indeed, the advantages of the scooter (top speed and acceleration) prove to be more and more useful as the distance increases. On very short urban journeys, the electric scooter will have much more difficulty in asserting its speed and will be just as penalized by its weight and its traffic or parking restrictions. Conversely, the shorter the trip, the more valuable time the electric bike will save.
- For a journey of less than 5 km: On this kind of short journey, especially in urban areas, an electric bike will always be faster than the volute scooter. Above all, once you arrive at your destination, you won't waste time finding a parking space.
- For a journey between 5 and 15 km: It is on this type of journey that the question of choice is the most relevant. In this case, everything will depend on the profile of the trip. The more fast or rolling portions it includes, the more the scooter will use. Conversely, the more bus lanes and cycle paths there are on your route, the more the gap will narrow in favor of the electric bike.
- For a journey longer than 15 km: On the longest journeys, electric scooters have more opportunities to assert their qualities. Nevertheless, the eBike should not be excluded from the discussion. It can correspond to more athletic user profiles, for example, or simply compensate for a lack of public transport interconnections. Finally, as an example, when we test bikes, our typical route in daily use is 20 km, which we cover in about 55 minutes.
Result: impossible to determine a clear winner on this point. The main adjustment variable for this comparison must be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of journey and the profile of each user. Just keep in mind that the longer the trip, the more points the electric scooter scores and vice versa.
What is the most convenient for parking?
Not everyone has a garage at home or a bike room at work, so the problem of parking your car must be considered from the moment of purchase. In this regard, 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 obligation exposes its owner to a fine.
Result: the bike easily wins the parking game.
Autonomy: not just a question of batteries
As with all types of electric vehicles, the advertised range is theoretical. It depends on factors as diverse as the rider's weight, the type of route, the outside temperature, or the tire pressure.
However, it is possible to define an average which for a mid-range electric scooter would be around 65 km. Some scooter models also have a second slot for an additional battery, thus considerably increasing their autonomy. On an electrically assisted bicycle at an equivalent price, the autonomy is much higher and varies between 80 and 100 km depending on the type of battery and its integration. Obviously, in both cases, it is possible to extend this average value by adapting your driving or by opting for a lighter assistance mode (the famous “eco” modes). Finally, in case of battery failure, there is no other way than to push your scooter with the strength of your arms. On this point, the bike will always have an advantage. On the one hand because at any time its user can choose to save its battery by using its legs, and on the other hand because, in the event of a breakdown, it is always possible to pedal until the house.
Result: the autonomy match switches quite logically in favor of the electric bikes which not only have greater reserves but is also an alternative in the event of a breakdown.
In the end, the choice between the bike or the electric scooter will depend mainly on your needs. Depending on your budget, the parking conditions but above all the type of route you will have to take, the first could well be more advantageous than the second and vice versa. The electric bikes will always be more versatile, less restrictive to handle and park but also slower and less comfortable than a scooter. This difference in top speed mainly has an impact on journeys longer than 15km, but for a more classic route, the two means of transport have arguments to make. Ultimately, if the two solutions allow you to leave your car in the garage and avoid public transport, the electric bike retains, in our opinion, an incomparable advantage: that of health. Indeed, by encouraging physical exercise and letting its pilot precisely adjust the level of assistance, the electric bike renders a much more valuable service to its owner than a few minutes wasted on a straight line.