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Why walk? Check out the best electric scooters for 2020

With people still being urged to stay at home as much as possible and public transit systems everywhere operating on limited routes and schedules, having an e-bike or electric scooter might make sense for essential short-distance travel — it’s an easy way to drop needed goods off with vulnerable family and friends as safely and quickly as possible. Or perhaps you want to cover longer distances faster than walking or maybe you have been looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint — all good reasons to consider a rideable.

I’ve learned a lot from testing different types of battery-operated rideables, some tested before the coronavirus outbreak, others more recently, on a commute through sections of midtown Manhattan, around Central Park or down the West Side Highway bike path.

This roundup covers electric scooters and skateboard-like devices. E-bikes get their own list. Why would you want a scooter over a more traditional bike? Electric scooters are nimble and smaller, and are easy to take on mass transit, leave in the trunk of your car or store at home.

I’ve included water resistance ratings when available for each electric scooter. IP ratings, which stands for ingress protection, lets you know the dust- or water-resistance of a product. For example, if something has an IP54 rating, the first number after the letters refers to resistance to solids while the second refers to moisture. Read more in our IP rating explainer.

Also, and let’s not make a big deal of it, but I exceed the rated weight capacity for most of these products. For the most part, they all still performed as expected, though maybe with a little less range or speed. No devices were harmed during this roundup.

Lastly, if you plan on getting into rideables, be safe about it. Leave enough space between yourself and both cars and riders on plain old human-powered bikes and scooters. Remember you’re able to go a lot faster, so ride and pass with caution. Make sure to charge your battery and check on your tires. And, most important, always wear a helmet when you ride.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Swagtron Swagger 5 Elite is the least expensive product on this list, and that’s its greatest feature. This folding e-scooter doesn’t outperform any of the products mentioned here, but at $299 it’s hard to complain about it not being the best electric scooter in the overall marketplace. It has a single 250-watt motor that doesn’t put out much torque but can reach a smooth ride speed of 14 to 16 mph. The listed travel distance is approximately 11 miles on a fully charged battery, with a lithium-ion battery will charge in 3.5 hours. The maximum weight supported is 320 pounds and the e-scooter weighs 26 pounds. Although it supports larger riders, due to its low-powered motor, you may get a slower takeoff and slowdowns on inclines. It may also lose its charge faster.

See our gallery of the Swagtron Swagger 5 Elite.

Sarah Tew

The Levy Electric Scooter slides into this list due to its price-to-practicality ratio. An electric scooter that can hit 18 mph, costs around $500, weighs just under 30 pounds and has a removable battery is a pretty good all-around deal. Levy also has scooters available for rent through its iOS and Android app.

The Levy has air-filled tires that make for a comfortable ride. The battery is located in the steering tube, unlike a lot of other scooters, so you get some body flexibility similar to a longboard for those bumpy roads. I really appreciate that the battery is removable as well. Anyone with a yard or stairs can leave it locked, and remove the battery to take into charge.

The Levy is rated to travel about 15 miles on a full charge but that’s not at top speed. I would say most riders would get realistically about seven to 10 miles. But because it is removable, you can buy a second battery for $139 and carry it with you.

For a closer look, check out our gallery of the Levy Electric Scooter.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Segway Max is a reliable electric scooter that can take you very far. It’s rated to go 40 miles on a full charge (if you’re driving slower and on flat ground), which is a bold claim by Segway. In real-world conditions, I was able to go seven miles (my daily commute before working from home) at top speed using 45% of the battery. That’s still pretty good considering the scooter itself is rather hefty, weighing 41 pounds and I frequently got it up to 18mph.

The air-filled tires make for a more comfortable ride than the ES series from Segway. One feature I really appreciated was the charging cable. It’s a generic power cord with no brick, making it easy to carry around or replace. The 551-watt-hour battery can be fully charged in 6 hours.

To stop, riders can just use the handbrake. There’s also a bell built into the handlebar to alert pedestrians you’re coming. And if you’ve got big feet, like I do, I loved the long riding deck, which gave me plenty of room to get comfortable.

See our Segway Ninebot KickScooter Max gallery.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The ES4 Kick Scooter sits atop the Segway consumer scooter chain, with a secondary battery to make a long distance ride or a lengthy ride time a breeze. It can travel an estimated 28 miles on a single battery charge, and the electric motor allows for a top speed of 18 mph (which I was able to hit). The folding point on this e-scooter is different from the others in this roundup. The entire front post folds down, wheel and all. While braking, I would shift my weight back over the rear wheel, pushing down on the spoiler brake along with hitting the handlebar brake (which is an antilock brake), but without much of the front headtube flex you’d feel in some other scooters. There are also shock absorbers that help with shock absorption when you ride over bumpy surfaces.

The dual-battery model weighs just over 30 pounds, and it supports riders weighing up to 220 pounds. The scooter has some good power and can put out 300 to 800 watts depending on the riding mode. Single charge time is longer than the average, about seven hours. If you run out of battery life and don’t have time to charge, it can also work as an old-fashioned kick-and-go scooter. It also sports some customizable LED lights under the deck between the tires. Those and some other settings can be adjusted in the iOS and Android apps.

See our Ninebot by Segway ES4 gallery.

Mark Licea

The Onewheel Pint is $950, practically half the price of the bigger Onewheel Plus XR, which costs $1,800. It weighs 26 pounds and supports riders up to 250 pounds. The Pint can travel six to eight miles on a full battery charge with the motor allowing a top speed of 16 mph. It is more maneuverable than any previous Onewheel and most other rideables. It handles inclines with ease and sports rear along with front lights for night riding. The board is operated by shifting your weight forward and back to move forward and back, and heel to toe to steer. Once you get the hang of it, it’s like riding a skateboard, and you’ll be tempted to pull off some tricks (which we do not officially endorse).

For a closer look, see our gallery of the Onewheel Pint.

Read our OneWheel Pint hands-on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Premium scooter manufacturer Unagi adds new color customization options and a dual 250-watt motor to this update to last year’s E450 model, our previous pick for the best all-around electric scooter. Why call this one the E500? Because that’s the new total motor output wattage.

Due to the dual 250-watt motors, the E500 required a slightly larger battery (28.8 volts) than the E450 to maintain the same travel distance. It makes the carbon fiber and aluminum body about two pounds heavier, at just a hair under 27 pounds.

The display is bright and easy to see in sunlight and instead of sticking a bell on the scooter, they’ve put on an electric horn that’s loud enough to be heard through a closed car window.

The electric scooter can support riders up to 270 pounds, hit a top speed of 18 mph, and a travel distance of 15 miles. To stop the scooter just use the ABS electric brake or put a little pressure on the rear spoiler brake for those steep hills.

For a closer look at this electric scooter, check out our gallery of the Unagi E500.

Read more on the Unagi E500.

Sarah Tew

The Mercane Widewheel scooter is the best electric scooter when it comes to motor power in this lineup. Powered by dual 500-watt motors, it has some serious takeoff power and torque.

Most models are locked to a top ride speed of 15 mph, but there’s an advanced mode where you can unlock its full battery power and ride it to 25 mph (but you do so at your own risk). It has a dual suspension and weighs a whopping 50 pounds. The range is up to 20 miles on a single battery charge, and it supports riders weighing up to 220 pounds. The riding deck is longer and wider than your average scooter, making it easy to get both feet on the board comfortably. It has an IPX4 rating.

The scooter gets its name from its 8-inch wide tires. The tires are great for staying upright during a ride, but turns take some getting used to with the tires. Unlike most of the honor-system devices here, this one needs a key to start.

See our Mercane Widewheel gallery.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Boosted is best known for its motorized skateboards, but it’s now getting into the e-scooter market with the battery-powered Rev, the best electric scooter for the sophisticated set. This smooth ride has a powerful dual 1,500-watt motor and air-filled 9-inch pneumatic tires for a top ride speed of 24 mph. Due to its motor power and speed, it’s best as an electric scooter for adults and not exactly a scooter for kids — though if you’re looking for an electric scooter for kids, there are plenty of options out there.

The $1,599 Rev (and its pneumatic tires) supports riders weighing up to 250 pounds, which is 30 more pounds more in weight capacity than some other scooters in this list, which makes it the best electric scooter as far as weight capacity. Bonus: For those with larger feet, the board is wide enough to get them side by side.

For a closer look at the electric scooter, check out our gallery of the Boosted Rev.

Read our Boosted Rev hands-on.

The Onewheel Plus XR is the bigger and older brother to the Pint. Still one of my favorites, due to the all-around freedom you feel when riding. That along with the ability to travel 12 to 18 miles on a full charge of the battery, plus the motor lets you hit a top speed of 19 mph.

A nice feature found in the app, for iOS and Android, is while riding you’ll get a notification once the battery is at 50% so you can make it back home from wherever you may roam. The app offers a bunch of other settings from social to board riding customization. It’s not the most travel-friendly in terms of carrying around, it weighs about 30 pounds, but is easy to store. In addition, it only takes about two hours to fully charge the battery.

For a closer look, see our gallery of the Onewheel Plus XR.

Read our Onewheel Plus XR hands-on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Out of all the scooters in this lineup, this is the one that can most closely replace your car. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Apollo Pro made running errands and checking on the family the fastest and safest way to get around New York City.

This is a comfortable ride, due to its dual 10-inch air-filled tires and spring suspension, which you really need for a scooter that can hit 40 mph.

The Pro can travel close to 50 miles on a full charge and is powered by two 1,000-watt motors. You can ride the electric scooter in single- or dual-motor mode (balancing longer life versus more power), or get extra green with an eco mode.

Read our Apollo Pro Scooter hands-on.


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