Electric Scooter vs Traditional Bike – Pros, Cons and Verdict

We all have to get to work but how we do that is changing. There are now more options than ever before. With many of us changing to sustainable transport. We realize that we need to make changes in order to be more environmentally friendly. That is why many of us are thinking about using an electric scooter or a bike to get to work.

The question though is, do we pick an electric scooter or a bike for commuting to work? The simple answer is for trips under 5km I would use an electric scooter, and for trips more than 5km I would jump on a bike. How though did I come to this decision?

Let us start by looking at the costs involved in purchasing the equipment needed for both forms of transport. One of the funny things I always find is that people will see the prices of electric scooters or bikes to be large. Yet, they will then think nothing $36,000 on a car. That is the average cost of a car in America, and that is before insurance, tax, fuel, and servicing. Please keep those costs in mind when we break down prices.

The Costs of Electric Scooters and Bikes

With both scooters and bikes, you can find models for as low as $100 on the internet. I would like to recommend you stay away from these as they will not last and will fail fairly quickly. They will be a false investment to see if you like commuting by e-scooter or bike.

You would be much better served to try a hire scheme. Many cities have both e-scooter and bike versions of these now. If you do not have a local hire scheme try and see if you have a friend who can loan you one. The hardest part of commuting by e-scooter or bike is to do it the first time.

When we analyzed e-scooter prices in a previous article, we found that the market for them tended to slow down around the $500 mark. With the $350-$400 price range being competitive, we feel this is the best value price point at which to buy an e-scooter.

In the bike world, we found good hybrids to cost between $350 and $500. We picked hybrids to be a good option for commuting as they are generally rugged, come with mudguards, comfortable tires, and a nice gear range. All of which you want when commuting.

The next cost that we would recommend for both is a helmet. An urban style bike helmet would work for either and will perform a great job of protecting your head from accidents. We like the Giro Sutton MIPS helmet. It will work for both bike and scoter and costs around $100. $100 may seem a lot for a helmet. That $100 could be the difference between you going to work or having some hospital bills to pay.

Getting an Outfit to Match

With the bike, you will more than likely want padded shorts. You can wear them under more sensible clothes if you want. We know many people feel self-conscious about bike shorts. The shorts can make the difference between a terrible commute or an enjoyable commute. We would be looking at around $30 for one pair. We would advise a few pairs so that you always have clean ones to wear.

One other cost you may want to think about is waterproof clothing. As you can use both the same waterproof jacket and trousers for both e-scooters and cycling, we can call this a score draw.  We have found a waterproof jacket and trouser set on Amazon for $50. You won’t need bike specific ones as you should have already bought cycling shorts.

You would also need to factor in electricity for your e-scooter. We have worked this out to roughly be a cost of around $12 a year.  It will obviously be cheaper if you can plug it in and charge it at work. Try and save your household bill if you can or even find a solar charger for your e-scooter.

Getting Service

Servicing wise an electric scooter should cost you around $15 for a bottle of chain lube. You use this to make sure your chain and cables are in good working order. For a bike, we could be looking between $50-100. That price is dependent on you doing weekly maintenance by yourself. The $50-100 is for an annual service at a bike shop. Unless you feel confident enough to do it yourself.

If you do not buy any accessories, we worked out that if you have an e-scooter over two years, it will work out costing you 9 cents per mile if you do a 10-mile commute to work, around $212 per annum including the purchase of the scooter.

We also found that the average bike works out at $308. A bike though is expected to last five years and an electric scooter two years. Both of these options are a lot cheaper than a car. A car is expected to do a higher annual mileage than an e-scooter. Their average cost is 57 cents per mile.

The average annual cost of a car is $8,469 since you asked.

The Range of E-scooters and Bikes

Your bike will have as big a range as you can power for it. That could mean anywhere between a 1-mile commute or a “to hell with work today” set off around the globe. So after 18,000 miles a shed load of calories you might decide to call it quits. The 18,000 miles might seem glib, but the only way to determine your bike range is your willingness to suffer.

Electric scooters will generally last around 10 miles before you need to charge their battery again. That is why we think a commute of under 5 miles currently is the best option for an e-scooter. You are still able to use an e-scooter when its battery has run out, so do not fear.

There are electric scooters that can do more than 10 miles, but they are usually more expensive as battery prices are high. Read more about electric scooter range on this post.

How Much Effort?

It is safe to say that an e-scooter will be a lot less effort than riding a bike. The hardest thing is maybe putting your backpack on. Unless you forget to charge your scooter one day. Then you will be using effort to get around, although you could just fold the scooter and carry it on to a bus, but you would incur an extra expense that way.

A bike though will require effort, unless you have a really flat route and a tailwind. In which case lucky you. You could though take the time to understand your gears, and you can make cycling a lot less effort.

You don’t want to be in to low a low gear or a too high a gear. Both will cause you extra exertion even if you do not realize it. Your legs should be spinning nicely if they feel like they are going to fly off you are probably in too low a gear. If they feel like you have to jump on the pedals to push them down, then you are in too high a gear.

Getting Fitter

So the bike will make you fitter, and the e-scooter will save you time and energy. Only you and your own life goals can decide which one is your priority here. Both though will not leave damaging exhaust fumes behind you.

We can be led on to thinking here of how an e-scooter mixes the best of both cars and bikes. You have a motor like your car, so you do not have to get hot and sweaty like on a bike. Like a bike though you can cut through traffic or go down routes with no congestion. You don’t have to sit there getting frustrated in traffic like you would in a car. You have freedom and at the end of the day who does not like freedom?

There is also one more advantage. The chances are with your bike you will have to lock it outside of your work. Your e-scooter can fold up and be safely hidden away in a small space inside your work. You will then never have that sinking feeling of going outside and only seeing a space where your bike

How Long Does a Bike or E-scooter Commute Take?

Electric scooters in the $350-500 price range will be capable of around ten mph. So if you are commuting for 5 miles, we can reasonably expect you to be at work in 30 mins, unless you stop for a coffee and after all why wouldn’t you?

Bikes are great for working out how long it will take you to get anywhere. I have found people tend to be split into two camps here. We have the guys who will tell you that they can effortlessly ride at 30mph and you will have people who presume they can only ride at 5mph.

Both will be wrong. The biggest factor will be your fitness and how far your commute is. The good news is that the more you cycle, the better your fitness will be and the faster your commute will be. On average though a new rider can look at around 10mph and we would be looking at getting to around 15mph on average.

If you stick with cycling and become a road cyclist, we would expect that speed to climb to 20mph. The issue with hitting 20mph is that you will be using a lot more energy and effort and you may just arrive at work a heaving sweaty mess. Between 10 and 15mph you should arrive at work feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead, perhaps not on your first attempt at commuting though.

You will probably still be slightly sweatier than if you used an e-scooter though. An e-scooter may then be the perfect sustainable transport idea if you do not have showers at your work. A bike may be a better idea if you do have showers at work.

What Are My local Laws?

One thing you will have to remember and look at is your local laws. Bikes should already have fairly defined rules of where you can and can’t ride and whether or not you need to wear a helmet. People will also be paying attention to avoid bikes.

E-scooters are new to the world and laws are trying to play catch up. Some cities have gone with a blanket ban until they worked out what to and then created legislation that allows the use of e-scooters. For instance in Singapore you can ride an e-scooter anywhere but only if you already have a drivers license. You might find they will be allowed on certain cycle paths but not on others, so always check signs.

One of the funnier aspects of riding an e-scooter at the moment is that people don’t expect to see them. Which leads to them having an inability to see you coming down a path. As e-scooters don’t yet exist for them, then you don’t exist. Your best bet is not to alienate those people as that will lead to e-scooters getting banned, always be polite and courteous.

An interesting fact here is that some people have reported that they feel more likely to respect traffic laws on an e-scooter compared to a bike. The reason for this is fairly simple on a bike you are propelling it; you do not want to give up on your fought for momentum. On the e-scooter, you just press a throttle button, so you are more likely to stop or slow down.

Always follow your own local laws.

Conclusion

Now you know the ins and outs and differences between an e-scooter and a bike. Both as you can see would make a great form of sustainable transport. I would personally go for the e-scooter for short commutes and a bike for longer commutes.

The beauty is though that you can completely ignore me and buy whichever one you want and know that you are doing the earth a favor.

Leave us a comment telling us what you would pick and why, or even why I am wrong.