One of the reasons people will pick an electric scooter over an electric bike is space. A folding bike though will make the space argument a smaller point in favor of electric scooters. How then do electric scooters compare to folding bikes and electric folding bikes?
We’ll firstly compare electric scooters to electric folding bikes and see how they compare price wise, how much their running costs are, and how easy both are to get around town using. We’ll then have a look at folding bikes and see if they offer any alternative to their electric version or e-scooters.
Cost of electric scooters and folding bikes
Electric scooters come in a variety of prices from $100 Amazon versions to $1000+ carbon fiber all singing, all dancing versions. In previous tests, we have looked at many of the electric scooters available and have found that between $350 and $500 is the best place for your money.
At this price point, you’ll be getting good battery life, a nice top speed, and quality construction in your electric scooter. As the electric scooter market grows, it is already a multi-billion dollar industry. You’ll find that you get better spec at this price every year.
Electric folding bikes start just north of $500, but you will be on a very low-quality bike at that price. The bikes with good battery life, an acceptable weight, and good components start just over $1000. So you will be looking at more than double the outlay for your new form of sustainable transport.
Cost of accessories
You will also want to look at spending money on things such as a helmet and perhaps waterproof clothing. For both an electric scooter and an electric folding bike these items will be pretty similar, and you can expect to pay around the same.
We recommend using a MIPS helmet for when your riding either option. MIPS is a recent innovation for helmets and can be the difference between you carrying on your way to work or taking an expensive ambulance ride.
When you think about it that way, the cost of around $100 for a MIPS equipped helmet looks very reasonable. The reason MIPS helmets are expensive is that they have a newly designed interior that mimics the synovial fluid in your head. The helmet helps to move head knocks disperse around your head. Check out our recommended electric scooter accessories you can’t live without in this post.
Waterproof clothing wise you can find trousers and jackets from around $50 on Amazon. Staying dry and warm will help you to enjoy your commute to work, everyone tends to love their ride home regardless of the weather.
You’ll also want to carry a little toolkit with you in case you need to tighten anything or fix a flat tire on your commute. Both e-folding bikes and e-scooters are susceptible to punctures so for both you’ll want to take a tube and mini pump with you.
A new tube will be faster and easier than trying to glue a patch when you’re in a hurry. You’ll also not have to worry about the puncture patch blowing off when you pump your tire back up as well. To go with this, we also recommend a mini-tool with various Allan keys. Parts can be shaken loose as you ride so make sure you can tighten as you go.
Battery life, speed, and distance
If you’re buying an electrically powered vehicle of any style, you’ll want to know how long a charge can last. It is the best way to make sure you don’t plan trips where you’ll run of battery nowhere near a charging point or battery charger.
Most good electric scooters will have a battery that lasts around 10 miles and can get up to around 15 mph with others reaching 20 mph (or even more if you are willing to pay). Check out this article on speed of electric scooters. That is why we recommend electric scooters for a commute of under 5 miles. They are also great if you’ll be hopping on and off of a lot of public transport during a trip or for help solving the last mile problem. Read more about e-scooters range here.
You can expect your electric folding bike to help you get up to around 23mph. That is because most electric scooters are what is called an electric pedal bike (pedelec). A pedelec is an electric bike that uses a motor to assist your pedaling.
You won’t find electric folding bikes that use a throttle like on your e-scooter. If an electric bike uses throttle and doesn’t require you to pedal it will be classed as a moped or a motorbike. Technically then an electric folding bike can go as fast as you can pedal it, just that the motor will stop at 20-30 mph (depending on the max speed in your state).
Due to the nature of the way that electric bike batteries work you can expect a charge to last anywhere between 25 and 70 miles. The higher end you go, the better your battery life will be. We would be expecting between 30 and 40 miles on a bike just over $1000.
Cost of electricity
Your average e-scooter will take about half a kilowatt of electricity to have it’s battery fully charged. A half kilowatt of electricity should not add a huge amount to your electricity bill. It will be around 5 cents per charge.
In a previous article, we worked out that if you used an electric scooter for commuting to work your electricity charge would be around $12 per year. That is probably less than your weekly coffee bill.
You could also charge your electric scooter when you get to work. Some places of work will actively encourage this behavior while others will not be as happy. Only you can tell us which way your work will go.
With folding electric bikes, there are many variations of batteries being used just now. We found figures that look like average e-bike batteries will take about 2 kilowatts of energy. The cost would work out at 20 cents per charge.
Which makes sense as you’ll have a larger range on your e-bike than you’ll have on an electric scooter. A larger range needs a bigger battery, and by default, a larger battery will require more charging.
If cost is important to you, we have an article where we computed the maintenance, electricity, cost per mile, and overall cost of ownership of an electric scooter. Check it out here.
An electric scooter does not require a huge amount of maintenance. It also doesn’t cost a lot of money to keep your e-scooter running. You’ll want to wipe your scooter down and a clean weekly. Give everything a shake and make sure nothing has come loose.
You’ll also want to give your tires a check for debris, that there are no cuts in the tires, and then make sure they are inflated to the correct pressure unless their urethane wheels in which case you should be good.
You’ll also want to make sure your bearings are rolling smoothly. You should be able to feel rough bearings if you roll the wheel backward and forwards in your hand. You’ll also not be wanting any side to side movement in your wheels.
A folding electric bike will take a bit more maintenance. You’ll again be wanting to give it a weekly clean and check over. You’ll also be checking your tires are okay. Then checking for loose parts, you’ll have more bearings to check.
We recommend that you do this checking in an M-shape. You’ll hear cyclists talking about this as an M-check.
- Start at your rear wheel. Check your tire, spokes, and give the wheel a waggle to make sure it is not loose.
- Now check that your saddle and seat post have not come loose.
- Look at your chain (it should be clean and lubed), cranks, and pedals.
- Press your folding catch and see is it secure and tight.
- Pull your stem and handlebars, does anything feel loose. Press your brakes and make sure they work. Change gears and make sure they work.
- Wiggle your headset. Does it feel looses or gritty?
- Finish at your front wheel, checking your tire and spokes.
By checking this way, you’ll make sure that you don’t miss anything. The more you do this, the better and faster you’ll become at spotting issues before they become proper issues. It is worth making sure you get to know both how an electric scooter and an electric folding bike should feel.
Legalities of e-scooters and e-bikes
On an electric scooter, you’ll find that they are still fairly new to most parts of the world, so there is a lack of laws around them. You’ll want to check your local laws though. Only a few places have ever banned them, but most of these places have since relaxed bans on them and allow them in certain areas.
The good rule of thumb to follow is that if you can ride a bike in an area, you can then ride an electric scooter in the area. Check out our article which specifies exactly where you can ride e-scooters depending on your state.
Electric folding bikes are different though. Electric bikes have been around long enough for laws to be created. That is why the speed your motor cuts out is 20 mph (25 km/h) usually. The legal speed depending on the state is between 20 miles per hour (usually) up to 30 miles per hour in some states.
Around the world, including most parts of Europe, any faster than 20 mph (25km /h) and it would count as an electric motorbike.
To go with the speed limit, you’ll also find that they can’t be fitted with a very powerful motor. There are some powerful motors available on e-bikes but they are used for climbing steep hills or more powerful acceleration. But they are usually limited to the max speed in your state. Although in states such as Alabama and Alaska e-bikes are considered as motorbikes regardless of motor size and speed capable. If you live in either of these states, you’ll need an M-class license to ride a folding e-bike.
It is therefore highly important that you check your own state’s law and legislation before you purchase an electric folding bike.
The traditional folding bike
You might then decide that you want to avoid the technicalities of an electric folding bike and just buy a traditional folding bike. Doing so will save you from having to make sure you get a motorbike license no matter where you are.
The good news is that a folding bike can go as fast as an electric folding bike. The bad news is that you’re the battery and motor for a regular folding bike. Technically with the correct fueling strategy, you should be able to ride a folding bike non-stop for a good few days. We don’t recommend that though.
Which is lighter?
A normal folding bike will be a lot lighter than an electric folding bike. You’ll be looking at between 33 and 45 pounds for an electric folding bike. A standard folding bike will be around 25 to 30 pounds. Electric scooters also weigh around 30 pounds.
Both the e-scooter and a standard folding bike will be great if your jumping on and off transport all day. They will also be great if your work or home is up a load of stairs. Carrying 45lbs will get easier over time, but the first few trips might be a huge effort.
As you might be able to work out, a standard folding bike costs a lot less than an electric folding bike. You’ll again find bikes costing around $100, but you’ll want to avoid them. You should find many great models between $400 and $500.
For the average cost an electric folding bike you should even be able to afford something as high-end as a Brompton. To give you an analogy this would be like buying a Rolls Royce for the cost of a Honda Civic.
Folding bikes are still a fairly heavy form of transportation. Especially as they are designed to have a minimal footprint. An electric scooter will still take up a marginally smaller area in your house. Folders can be hard to carry upstairs, and I wouldn’t want to carry a 45 pound to far of a distance.
You’ll also need to still pedal with your electric folding bike. They do not have the option, like an electric scooter, of just pressing and throttle, and off you go. You’ll still have to use some effort to get places. It might be a good option if your recovering from an injury and want to rehabilitate yourself.
The electric scooter is an excellent choice if you just want to get to work and do it using as little effort as possible. You’ll be able to cruise in and out.