Electric scooters have seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the last couple of years with the discovery that they can be a surprisingly convenient and fun way to shave some time off the morning commute. With social distancing in place in many countries worldwide, more people than ever are looking for an eco-friendly alternative to driving or using public transport.
They're a big purchase, and you probably don't know exactly what to look for from a scooter, so we've picked out some of the best on the market, breaking down the features and specs that you need to think about before you buy.
Are electric scooters legal in the UK?
Before you rush out and buy an electric scooter you should know that privately-owned electric scooters cannot currently be used legally on the roads or pavements in the UK. This means you can only use them on private land.
However, the Government has since announced a trial of rental electric scooters in various areas of the UK. Under the new legislation, anybody over the age of 16 with a provisional drivers license will be able to ride the rental scooters on UK roads legally, as insurance and taxes are being fronted by the rental companies. It's not clear where these trials will be available just yet, but the BBC claims over 50 local councils are interested in participating.
But as we noted before, despite the UK's new stance on rental scooters, it remains the case that private electric scooters are still illegal on UK streets. We imagine it's to do with the insurance and taxation of the electric scooter - it's not like you can head to confused.com and insure it, right?
But we are confident that private electric scooter use will eventually be legalised in the UK, following most other European countries already enjoying the perks of e-scooters.
If you need to travel a longer distance, you might like to read about the best electric bikes.
Best electric scooters 2020
Xiaomi Electric Scooter
The Xiaomi Mi M365 is so much fun - fast, practically silent, battery power that just keeps on going and speed-trackable via a mobile app.
It has a folding design that should make this electric scooter easy to carry, although thanks to the huge battery even with its aluminium chassis it still weighs 12.5kg. There are some other cool features too, including cruise control, adjustable acceleration, a headlight and brake light, a kinetic energy recovery system and an ABS braking system at the front and mechanical disk brake at the rear.
It will take up to 100kg of weight, which is about 15.5 stone (one big adult or a medium adult and a child), and keep going up to 30km. You won't manage quite this distance if you push it to its top speed of 25km/hour, but you'll still get hours of playtime. Large 8.5in tyres will allow it to manoeuvre small kerbs and some light offroading.
A newer 'Pro' model has also been announced outside the UK, and is available on GearBest now for £412.50.
Read our full Xiaomi Electric Scooter review
Ninebot Max G30
The Ninebot Max G30 is a phenomenal electric scooter with impressive acceleration and a 40-mile range, but it’s not for everyone. The Max G30 undoubtedly offers one of the best electric scooter experiences available right now thanks to the large 10in tyres that help reduce shock when riding along, and the three driving modes offer different levels of power to suit your journey, but at 18kg, it’s certainly not portable when compared to other scooters in our chart.
That heft is mainly down to the tyres and the large internal battery that offers an incredible 40-mile range, making it the ideal solution for longer commutes to work. The issue is the weight makes it difficult to take on trains and buses - less than ideal if you’re looking to bridge the gap between your the various modes of transport you currently use.
Read our full Ninebot Max G30 review
Kugoo Kirin S1
Costing less than many of its rivals, you might assume Kirin S1 isn't much good. But apart from a weirdly dim display that you can't see in sunny conditions, there's not a lot you can criticise the S1 for.
The real-world range of around 15km isn't too great, but as long as your trips are shorter, which most will be, it's not really a problem.
Under 12kg, it's lighter than most rivals and has a nice, quiet motor that pushes you along.
Read our full Kugoo Kirin S1 review
The Reid E4 electric scooter is a great option for commuters, offering a slightly more premium experience than what you’ll get from the likes of Xiaomi, although you are paying a little extra for the pleasure.
The E4 doesn’t look like the majority of scooters you’re likely to see on the road, sporting an ergonomic shape, a large display, tilted handlebars and more customisable LEDs than you can shake a stick at. Powered by a 250W motor, the E4 can hit speeds of 15.5mph and offers a range of up to 17.4 miles.
The only real complaint is that, like the Mi M365 and other 8.5in wheeled scooters, it uses solid tyres; while it means you won’t get any punctures when riding, it also means you’ll feel every lump and bump in the road.
Read our full Reid E4 review
The Alfawise M1 is a Xiaomi M365 copycat with an integrated speedo, a dual-braking system and more durable tyres. It's buckets of fun, with a top speed of 25km/hour and able to go up to 30km - not that you can easily keep track of this, since there's no companion app.
Unfortunately, issues with our review sample meant we had to replace the front tyre, and found that Alfawise does not supply spare parts.
The M1 is also cheaper than its Xiaomi lookalike. Since we reviewed the Alfawise M1 the company has made some improvements to its design that enhance comfort, durability and monitoring of stats, and it has increased the motor power from 250W to 350W. The second-generation model is available here at £280.60/309.67€/US$345.99.
Build quality lets down the M1, however, and we found it difficult to view the speedo in direct sunlight. We also found the automatic acceleration disconcerting, though once you get the hang of the throttle the cruise control feature is useful. Braking can be dramatic, too, so try to avoid doing so too sharply.
Read our full Alfawise M1 review
The InMotion L8F is great, offering a sturdier, smoother ride than the Xiaomi Mi M365 with the same 15.5mph top speed and range.
There's also a great headlight paired with a light strip and rear wheel light - the latter two you can change the colour of via an app. The rear wheel turns red when you brake and lights on the end of the handlebars mean this is safe for night riding.
While the L8F was initially incredibly expensive, it has since dropped to a much more wallet-friendly £399.99 on Amazon.
Not quite up to the build standard set by the Xiomi M365, but with a more informative LCD display, the Turboant X7 houses its battery in the handlebar tube which gives better ground clearance.
It's relatively powerful on flat surfaces, but struggles quite a lot up hills even with riders half the maximum weight of 125kg. The 8.5in wheels are inflatable and use standard schrader valves like car tyres.
The battery is removable and has its own charging port so can be charged separately from the scooter. You can now purchase additional batteries, although they're $299.99.
Like the Xiaomi, there's built-in lights and reflectors, plus cruise control which is activated by maintaining the same speed for 6 seconds.
Bear in mind that you can only buy it direct from Turboant in Shenzhen, China. There are warehouses in California and Germany if you need a repair or replacement under warranty, though.
You can check out Turboant's Christmas deal here. This gets you the X7 for $399 (around £312).
Inokim Light 2
Inokim builds top-quality electric scooters for adults, and the Light (now updated with the £1230 Light 2) is a serious model that you can use every day.
It isn't as light as the Mini and, at 13.7kg, you may not consider it light at all. But it is built like a tank and has a 250W motor in the rear hub which propels you along at a speedy 21mPh.
The brake is just as strong, and front and rear LEDs flash to warn others of your presence.
The scooter folds in half for transport or storage and the handlebars can be folded too. On the right side is an LCD display which shows your speed and total distance covered. Using the buttons you can choose between three power levels, but you can treat it like a normal kick scooter as well: you won't have to carry it when the battery runs flat.
Talking of batteries, the Light has a range of 24 miles, so you could easily use it to commute to work.
As well as the black model we tested, you can also opt for white, blue, orange or green.
Razor’s E300 electric scooter is a decent mid-range scooter, and is suitable for both kids and teenagers (possibly even big kids too, but we’ll let you decide that!). The E300 boasts a speed improvement over the E100, reaching speeds of up to 15mph while matching the 40 minutes of constant use that the E100 offers.
The E300 also features a ‘super size’ deck and frame, meaning the rider can stand firmly with both feet. It also features a twist throttle for finer control over speed, and a retractable kickstand so you don’t have to leave your scooter on its side when not in use.
The wider 25.4cm tyres should provide a comfortable and smooth ride, and the maximum weight limit for the E300 is 100kg.