How To Ride An Electric Scooter
- Read Time: 14 min
Why should I read the checklist? Says the beginners pilot.
Well, if you want to learn how to fly a plane, you will need to read and learn a lot of stuff before even moving an inch forward.
No, we are not saying that riding electric scooters is as complicated as flying a plane, but....it might save you a lot of pain to do some research and go through a checklist of sorts before gunning the throttle down the nearest bike lane and hope for the best.
E scooters are not complicated to ride but, they do have their "idiosyncrasies", as have all types of moving vehicles. Knowing how to ride an electric scooter will help you first time out.
Before You Start Riding Your Electric Scooter
We will go through some of the things that are essential to know and do before you venture off on your electric vehicle.
This is a topic very close to my heart and honestly, one that can raise my pulse rapidly when I watch other scooter riders.
It is unbelievable to me, how people can ride electric scooters without any protective gear. And especially...the most important one...THE HELMET!
Think about it, the same people, would never ever consider riding a skateboard without a helmet. Or snowboard or ski down a mountain with their head bare and exposed.
Even a modestly powered e scooter will reach a top speed of 15 mph (24 kph). Imagine jumping out of a car at that speed without any protection. Volunteers anyone?
There are simply no excuses for not wearing a helmet.It can be the difference between life and death. Is it really worth not considering? Get a helmet and make sure to never ever ride without one.
Most likely, it will be mandatory by law once the lawmakers catch up as they will. Scooter riding is here to stay and will only ever grow in popularity. With that, laws will most likely follow dictating how and where one can ride.
And safety for the rider will be on the agenda. Get used to the helmet. Elbow pads and knee pads are also recommended. Especially for kids and younger riders. They tend to play around a bit more and the likelihood of falling is quite high. It might be a good idea to also think about some type of protective clothing. Even if you live in a very warm climate. Even a small tumble can scrape you up badly if you are riding in t-shirts and shorts. Long sleeves and trousers, proper shoes (not flip flops) are all a smart choice.
Gloves are also recommended. A pair of MTB gloves will do the trick. Should you have even a small fall, the gloves will be great for protecting your hands from getting all scraped up as we tend to try to protect ourselves with our hands when we lose our balance.
Find an Open and Safe Place
The first time out on your e scooter should be somewhere with no traffic and no cars or other cyclists/pedestrians to consider. An empty parking lot is ideal. This way you can focus on learning about your new friend and how to ride it in a safe environment.
Much like first time riding a bike, or more accurately learning how to drive on the parking lot to get a feel for how the scooter operates. Remember, just like with any vehicle, one electric scooter is not comparable to another. If you have had a chance to try and learn how to ride an electric scooter that's relatively small and lightweight and move to purchase a 2000w model that's 3 times as heavy and much more powerful we still recommend you take it somewhere open and safe to get a feel for the model, even if you are an experienced rider.
Know your scooter
Getting to know your kick scooter and how it behaves is crucial. The first thing will be the acceleration and getting used to it. Some scooters are "kick to start", meaning you have to manually push off before the motor engages.
Each e scooter behaves differently and the acceleration can be smooth or more of a kick. Some almost yank forward, and holding on to the handlebars is crucial.
Throttle sensitivity varies. Index finger trigger style throttle, thumb throttle, or handlebar twist throttle, like on a motorcycle, are the ones in use. Getting used to your specific e scooters version is best done in a controlled environment.
The next thing will be the brakes. They also vary in bite and power and brake levers might need to be adjusted to your preference. Most have a handbrake system and some have a foot brake as well. Either on the rear fender as a step on version or it might even be a mechanical one. If you have a rear fender step on brake, you will probably want to practice a couple of times before commuting to work at full tilt.
Regardless of which, you do want to know your brakes and what they are capable of since being able to stop effectively is more important than anything else.
Getting acquainted with your dashboard and what info you might get from it will make sure you are up to date on your battery life and where to quickly turn on your lights if you need to etc.
How To Ride An Electric Scooter - The Steps
Riding an e scooter is not complicated, but there are some steps to go through.
- Unscrew or unbolt the latch to get the stem up.
- Start it up. It might be a key or a button.
- Make sure it's fully charged.
- Raise the kickstand if it has one.
- Step on it and get a feel for the weight and balance of it. Length of stem and handlebars vary so you will want to find your optimal riding position.
- One foot in front of the other on the deck, snowboard style, not parallel. It gives maximum balance and control. Your strongest foot in front of the other. The same as you would step on a skateboard.
- Easy on the throttle and get to know the power range and how fast it accelerates.
- Easy on the brakes. The first time you brake, get to know your brake levers and where the "bite" is.
- Get to know the wheels and tires' behaviors. And if you have a suspension system. Get a feel for the travel and stiffness of the suspension as well. This will help to know what kind of imperfections in the road you can ride over without getting a wobble.
Tires can be air filled or solid ones. The grip will be better with air filled tires whereas solid ones will tend to slide more. Best to get to know the limits on an empty parking lot instead of in a panicky red light stop situation in mid traffic.
- Try some smaller turns to see what the turning ratio is and how it feels to maneuver at low speeds.
Pro Tip 1: Go Slow First, And Take it Easy
Sure... we get it...it is tempting to go flat out and scoot of as fast as possible. But for the beginner, we recommend another method.
Build up to speed. This is a mantra and advice used by some of the best race car drivers on the planet. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for us.
What it means is this; they don't throw themselves out on the track and go full tilt all guns blazing from the first second. Getting a feel for the equipment, riding conditions, and track surface to then slowly go faster once comfortable, is the modus operandi of the pros.
If you have bought a more powerful e scooter as your first venture, it might be a good idea to try a less powered rental one before you hop on your own.
If you want to work your way up with your own e scooters, the Cityrider would be a good choice as a first step. Once comfortable with that, the WideWheel is a brilliant option for intermediate riders. And for the more advanced riders, the Mantis will be enough. All these are available on FluidFreeRides website.
Pro Tip 2: Ride with a Partner
A fun way of getting to know what riding an e scooter is all about, is to have a more experienced friend guiding you through the process. Like we said before.
It is not complicated to ride them but...there is always something to be learned that is new and that can save you from a lot of hassle and maybe even pain. Even on such an uncomplicated vehicle.
Know The General Road Rules
Make sure you find out the traffic laws in your specific area. They vary from state to state and country to country.
If you don't have a driver's license, it is important to understand the general rules or it might be costly. In Sweden for instance, as a bicyclist, running a stop sign can render in a revoked car driver's license.
Imagine the tears if that happens and you didn't know and thought you were safe because you were riding a bike.
Common Mistakes To Avoid
There is no denying that part of the electric scooters overall success has been how easy they are to use and how quickly you can learn to use them properly - especially the rental ones which are limited both when it comes to power, speed, and features.
However, here are some common mistakes you can avoid as a potential electric scooter buyer that will help you manage a more powerful scooter and some tips that will make your scooter last longer and have less wear and tear over time.
Twisting Throttle Too Hard
Twisting or yanking the throttle too hard. A battery driven vehicle has a lot of torque from basically zero. It takes some time to get used to and if you are not careful, you might lose your balance and tip backward. The WideWheel Pro f.e. spins its front wheel easily if you go full power too fast.
It is quite unnerving the first time it happens. Leaning forward and again, knowing your specific e scooters behavior is adamant. Smooth adjustments are the key.
Braking Too Hard
Braking too hard or in a panic. Many e scooters have small wheels but still quite powerful disc brakes. This is an interesting combination. If you don't want to fly over the handlebars, it is a very good idea therefore to be smooth on the brakes.
Apply more pressure gradually as it slows down and lean slightly backward. The small wheels might lock up very quickly and you don't want to drift out onto a busy road with locked up wheels to the tune of Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" in your head.
Leaning The Scooter
Leaning the e scooter in turns will feel natural in the same way as it does on a bike. The same principle for cornering on two wheels applies here, even though the lower center of gravity makes falling less of a risk.
Lean too much though, and you might catch some gravel, or lose overall grip and take a spill.
Turning Handlebars Too Far
Because of the small wheels, it is easy to turn the handlebars. Too quick and violent might result in a dead stop though, as the front wheel will be acting as an instant brake. Careful with violent steering movements.
On a Bad Day...
Motorcycle riders have a saying: "There are two types of motorcycle riders in the world, the ones who have fallen, and the ones who have not fallen yet". If you ride anything on two wheels, be it a bicycle, or an electric scooter, there is a chance you will eventually fall.
The question is how bad it will be and how prepared you are for it. Riding responsibly and using protective gear will minimize the risk, but....even the best ones get caught out. Or maybe someone else will hit you. A pedestrian steps out in your way, or a bike or car, and so on.If the accident happens, make sure you are ok first. Check for damages. Don't worry about your scooter. They can be replaced. Head injuries are the biggest worry. If there are any signs of even the smallest injury to the head, better to get checked out asap.
In short. E scooters are fun and easy to ride. If you follow our "checklist" here, you will be a much safer commuter than if you don't.
Riding with a helmet and other protective gear is the most important factor.
Riding within your limits and knowing your e scooters behavior will make sure you are not unpleasantly surprised and get caught out.Build up to speed.
Resist the temptation to "fly" immediately even if you have a fast one.