What kind of e-scooter tires are there?
When talking about electric scooters, tires come in three different variations, each with their own capabilities:
- Pneumatic or air-filled
- Solid or air-less
- Honeycomb or hybrid
Let’s explore the advantages, disadvantages, and differences between these types. If you’re not interested, you can skip to the pressure, replacement and puncture tips & tricks part.
1. Pneumatic or air-filled tires
Starting off with the most used tires, the pneumatic ones are the most popular for a few reasons regarding their core design.
However, before going into this segment, I must mention first that there are two types of pneumatic tires. They are the inner tube and the tubeless tires.
One of their major advantages is that they are filled with air. Thus, due to not being solid, they are granted some moderate degree of maneuverability and comfort. While riding, the air inside pushes outwards, resisting any outside force that would try to ”deform” the tire. As a result, it facilitates some sort of cushioning effect when it hits any kind of small obstacles.
You are, thus, being offered a better ”in-built” suspension and control system, while not being hindered by the mass and lack of comfort of solid tires.
Another solid advantage is that, if one follows the correct manufacturer’s indication of tire pressure, they might even be the best option of all tire types. This is due to how, when calibrated properly, they create greater resistance between it and the road/off-road, allowing for a great deal of grip and control.
A great disadvantage that comes with such a design is a lack of quality paid as a price for increased utility. In short, they are more susceptible to getting punctured, since the tires are not reinforced as to prevent air-spillage. Even the more expensive inner tubes might be, at times, lackluster, given that they are put under harsh conditions: prolonged usage, hot temperatures, rough terrain, etc.
Another flaw is that they require constant air calibration. If you do not use the correct pressure specification for the tube, not only that it might lose its comfort and control, but also deform the tire and possibly tear.
2. Solid or air-less tires
The next type of tire on our list is the solid or airless type. It is the complete opposite of the pneumatic tire, being either made from hard rubber or being filled with polyurethane foam.
Being made from the aforementioned materials, it is safe to say that they have little to no risk of being deformed. Consequentially, they are unable to get ”punctured”. They are, however, able to lose parts of themselves (rubber), akin to how a tree loses parts of its bark.
Another one is that, due to not having much to maintain, require little investment/maintenance from you.
A last major advantage is that, due to being near ”unbreakable”, they are very good for off-road and bumpy terrain.
For starters, they are heavier than other wheel types. But convenience is always the price for strength and vice-versa. This leads me to the next one, which is that, due to being solid, it lacks the comfort, maneuverability and the traction of the pneumatic tires. Thus, expect them to offer you a rougher time on bumpy and/or wet surfaces.
3. Honeycomb or hybrid tires
The third and final type of tires, the hybrid. They attempt to combine the best of both worlds, and to an extent, have succeeded in that.
However, on average and regardless of e-scooter, the numbers would be akin to (for weight loads):
110-155 lbs (or 50-70 kg): the front wheel should be 35-40psi, the rear wheel should be 40-50psi.
155-198 lbs (or 70-90 kg): the front wheel should be 40-45psi, the rear wheel should be 45-55psi.
198-220 lbs (or 90-100 kg): the front wheel should be 45-50psi, the rear wheel should be 50-60psi.
220+ lbs (or 100 kg+): the front wheel should be 50-55psi, the rear wheel should be 60-65psi.
Does the electric scooter pressure need to be adapted to the rider’s weight?
Definitely, and I wish to refer to the previous paragraph regarding the optimum tire pressure. If the pressure is off, you will significantly shorten the lifespan of both the tube and the tire. This highly depends on the weight of the rider, so the bigger he/she is, the greater the impact on the wheels. Thus, the higher the pressure must be. This is why the manufacturers always include such specifications in their user manuals.
However, keep in mind that the greater the weight and the pressure, the higher the chances are that the tire/tube will degrade faster. The same goes for when the pressure is too low, seeing as how the weight will hasten the degradation of the wheels. Thus, always keep them at optimal pressure.
What are the signs/effects of low/high tire pressure?
When the tire pressure is too high due to over-inflating it, you will feel the following things. First, the ground will be touched only by the middle part of the tire, even when under the weight of its rider. Furthermore, the more it is inflated, the speedier (and bumpier) it will be. Keep in mind that higher pressure will lead to higher chances of a puncture.
If the pressure is too low, expect slower speeds, increased drag and a fast-approaching deformed/punctured tire. Furthermore, the tube will eventually get caught between the tire bead and rim, resulting in a speedy flat/puncture.
How to replace an electric scooter tire
The process of changing a tire is quite a simple one, actually. The steps are as follows:
1. Position the scooter in a comfortable side position and remove the wheels of the scooter. Remove the valve cap and place it on the side. Deflate the inner tube/or the wheel using a tool (I use screwdrivers).
2. Use something like a scalpel to remove the plastic strip (the entire plastic piece) from the rear screw cover.
3. Use a hex key to unscrew the screws that hold the trim on then pop the plastic piece off.
4. Take the hex key and unscrew counter-clockwise the axle bolt.
5. With the wheel still attached, squeeze the tire and slip the tire lever (I use a flat screwdriver) under the bead.
6. Slowly rotate the wheel, bracing the lever off of the frame of the scooter to release the bead from the wheel lip. This will require both some force and care since you do not want to slash the inner tube with the tool. Do it slowly, until you get it off halfway.
7. Flip the scooter over, repeat the process on the other side. Then slide the wheel straight back out of the scooter. Take the tire and pull out the inner rubber and then the wheel itself.
8. Wiggle the tube in order to pull the valve loose off the metal frame.
9. To replace the wheel, simply repeat all those steps in reverse.
For a visual representation of the process…
Here is a video explaining how to change pneumatic tires:
And this one for solid ones. Same application for the honeycomb variant:
How to repair a punctured electric scooter tire?
E-scooter tire mishaps are some of the most common types of malfunctions worldwide. (source) And they can be simply fixed through the application of one simple product: sealant or tire kits.
In order to apply slime, you will need to follow a set of specific and simple steps:
1. Get a slime (link to Amazon) bottle and use the provided tool to remove the valve system;
2. Connect the provided hose and pour the slime in (about 100-130 ml per tire);
3. Reinstall the valve system and re-inflate the tire, spinning the wheel afterward for centrifugal distribution of the slime.
Here is an exemplification on the Xiaomi M365 electric scooter:
Or, try the good old patching method:
1. Remove the wheel, take the tire/tube out and put it in some water to see where the air leaks from;
2. Clean, dry and rough up the affected area to help the adhesive stick;
3. Spread glue on and around the hole and place a patch. A patch can be cut from another tube or be bought (link to Amazon).
4. Let it dry for a bit and then put the tube/wheel back and inflate it. Done!
Here is the patching tutorial for a Xiaomi M365 electric scooter but it applies to all scooters with air tires:
Electric scooter tire pumps
E-scooter pumps come are similar to normal bike pumps. That is the beauty of it, as they are as simple to use as they are to buy (link to Amazon).
The deal with them is simple. They are universally small, as to fit the scooter wheels themselves and are ”moderately expensive at prices between 30-70$”. They are also exclusively hand pumps since you will need to adjust the pressure manually to the exact wheel specifications (see above for optimal tire pressure).
Furthermore, to avoid complications, most manufacturers include a pump adapter/tube, to help with those pesky angles.
Electric scooter tire size and how it affects the ride
When it comes to size, it does matter. This applies to both speed and overall performance and comfort.
Even when taken in their three types (pneumatic/solid/honeycomb), they come in different sizes, respective of their type. The solid and honeycomb tires tend to be smaller and sturdier, while the pneumatic ones are bigger, to accommodate the inflated tube inside. That, or the air itself, when speaking of the tubeless variant.
When it comes to the bigger ones, they tend to offer a greater deal of everything (comfort, speed, reliability). However, there are benefits to the small wheels as well. For starters, the smaller they are, the more maneuverable they are. Furthermore, since the small ones are also solid ones, they are much more resistant to wear and tear and basically puncture-proof. However, being small and sturdy, they have a way poorer resistance to bumps and shock.