Electric scooters are fantastic, but they’re often not treated with the respect they deserve. People frequently think of them as jumped-up toys for having fun, something you can hop right on, zoom around, then jump back off.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand this mode of thought, as everyone’s ridden manual scooters before, and, structurally speaking, e-scooters are largely the same design, but the truth of the matter is that they actually feel very different to ride.
This difference can take you by surprise and cause an accident, which is why it’s important to consider the differences between manual and electric scooters before jumping aboard and taking one for a spin.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to be discussing how to ride an e-scooter. Stick with us, and you’ll be ready to tear up the town in no time!
Wear Protective Equipment
Some electric scooters can go upwards of 15 miles per hour, and although that’s not exactly light-speed, it is quite a fast pace to be traveling if you fall off the scooter and slam into the ground.
Yes, it’s easier to bail off a scooter than a bike if you sense danger, but you won’t always have the spidey senses necessary to avoid the threat in certain situations, which means you need some protection.
You’ll need a CPSC-certified helmet at the very least, and if you plan on traveling at high speeds, I recommend some quality long-leg protective pants and a long sleeved protective shirt or jacket.
Start Without Any Power Assistance
Electric scooters are heavier than manual scooters as they have hefty battery packs loaded on their frames. As such, they can feel a little awkward and hard to manage at first, which is why I’d recommend taking your e-scooter to a safe, flat area, where you can practice with no power until you get used to it.
During this time, familiarize yourself with the controls: you need to know where the brakes are, where the accelerator is, and how the folding mechanism works (if it has one).
Get To Know The Brakes
Modern manual scooters typically don’t have any brakes besides perhaps the rear fender, but electric scooters do, and as they have to be capable of reducing the extra momentum of a motorized system and heavy frame, they’re quite powerful.
This power can be quite jarring at first, so it’s a good idea to really get a feel for how they work before taking your scooter out for its inaugural spin.
Practice applying even pressure to both the front and rear wheel brakes, and try to develop a gentle touch.
Do Some Checks Before Setting Off
Some electric scooters can travel a long way, so just as you’d check a car before a long journey, you should check your scooter. You should ensure…
- The tires are properly inflated
- The brakes are properly calibrated
- The stem is locked in its upright position
- There is no obvious damage or weird noises coming from your scooter
- The battery is charged to a high percentage
- That you have your phone with a decent amount of charge
Launching Your Scooter
Most scooters require the rider to get them up to speed (usually 3 mph) before the assisted setting kicks into action, so to get things going, place one foot facing straight forward towards the front of the platform, then use your other foot to “kick off”.
You can continue using your back foot to push until you reach the speed at which the motor kicks in. Usually, it’s the dominant leg that does the pushing, with the weaker leg set on the platform, but you can do it whichever way you feel is most comfortable.
Once the motor is firing on all cylinders, you can use the throttle to control it, and bring your pushing leg onto the platform. It should go behind your front foot rather than beside it, as this helps with weight distribution and keeps you agile in the event of an emergency.
Some e-scooters have what’s known as “zero start”, meaning you can use the throttle from stationary, but make sure you’re ready for the acceleration before you do trigger this immediate response.
Go Slow At First
Now you’re off, take it nice and easy for a while. Spend some time getting used to the controls while in motion, and be very careful around people sharing the area.
When traveling at lower speeds, turning is all about twisting the handlebars, but when you’re really zooming, you’ll need to shift your body weight and lean the direction you want to travel. This is because if you turn your handlebars when going extremely fast, you’ll destabilize the scooter.
Remember, your legs should be doing the majority of the work when it comes to balance and stability. If you feel tense in the upper body and pull on the handlebars a lot, you need to reevaluate your stance and balance.
When you “slam on the brakes”, remember to account for the sudden change in momentum by shifting your weight back and downwards, towards the rear wheel of the scooter. Shift your weight over your rear leg, to prevent being bucked over the scooter or off the platform.
What’s more, you should always try to straighten up before hitting the brakes hard, otherwise, you’re at risk of skidding out. As mentioned earlier, you should apply even pressure to both front and rear brakes for ultimate stopping power.
It might seem scary at first, but you need to look forward to see where you’re going and navigate. Plus, if you’re looking down, you may not see an obstacle up ahead, which could cause an accident.
Be Aware Of Traffic
You know you’re on a motorized scooter, but drivers may not. They may not expect you to zip towards them at 15 mph, which can lead to slower reactions on their part. In light of this, it’s important that you stay very aware of your surroundings and the traffic in your area.
I know I’ve hit you with a lot of info here today, but if you take things step by step and keep all this in mind, you’ll be riding like the wind in a safe and sustainable manner.