As of the time of writing, despite record sales, electric scooters remain illegal to ride anywhere in the UK other than on private land.
After the nation was told to get back to work BUT avoid public transport, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed that plans to evaluate electric scooters use had been brought forward to June 2020. Originally the trial, part of a wider ‘transport revolution’ was going to be in four regions, but this has been scrapped, with the roll out being nationwide, although it is worth stressing that these initial trials are for hire schemes, not private scooters.
A relatively safe, emission-free and extremely convenient way to travel, electric scooters can be used by a wide cross section of the population who may not be able to cycle, and will reduce cars on the road, cutting air pollution. So given all that, we have high hopes for private legalisation soon.
What’s the best electric scooter in 2020?
Xiaomi’s M356 Pro (£550) is the best e-scooter currently available, thanks to the combination of large battery, impressive range and power management. It’s comfortable to ride and the app connectivity offers great rider insight, but don’t plan on carrying it for more than a few minutes.
View the Xiaomi M356 Pro for £550 on Pure Electric
The Turboant X7 (€349) is the best value e-scooter available with Xiaomi styling and impressive features, range and power, plus the convenience of having a removable battery slotted into the steering column.
View the Turboant X7 for €349 on Turboant
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Xiaomi M356 Pro
WIRED Recommends: The Xiaomi M356 Pro is the best all-round scooter for 2020
Range: 27miles (45km) | Speed: 15.5mph | Charge time: 5hrs | Weight: 14.2kg
The original M356 was a game changer for electric scooter fans, boasting sleek looks, decent range and a not ridiculous price point, but after a couple of years dominating the global market Xiaomi has upgraded it and the M356 Pro (£550) now boasts more power, improved range and a more comfortable ride. It costs a bit more, but the extra is more than worth it if you’re planning on using it for your daily commute.
The motor has also been upgraded from 250W to 300W to give better hill climbing ability, which, in practice, means you won’t grind to a halt halfway, although you will be able to watch the battery drain if you’re going uphill for more than a few hundred metres.
Obviously, we wouldn’t expect it to hit its maximum speed of 15mph up hill, but it has no problems at all in Speed mode, where a slight incline got us closer to 20mph, before the override kicks in and slows us down again. It’s a super fun speed to cruise around at, but if you need the M365 Pro to squeeze out more than 25 miles on a single charge, you’ll need to spend plenty of time using Eco Mode, which caps out at 15kmph (9.3mph), and Driving mode, 20kmph (12.4mph).
Driven sensibly however and you’ll be delighted with the extended range offered by the 12800mAh/474Wh battery, although your leg and lower back muscles will be screaming by the end of it and do remember to plug it in as it will take most the day to fully recharge.
Despite the clever folding mechanism, at 14.2kg it’s simply too heavy to carry for longer than a few minutes, but it is impressively built and with a large 45 x 15cm foot deck appreciably more comfortable to ride than most. As with all the other designs we’ve tested, there’s no way to chain the scooter up like a bike, but the app does let you immobilise the wheels and alarm the M356 Pro.
Speaking of the app, if you like to nerd out on statistics, you’re well served by Xiaomi here, with reliable Bluetooth connectivity offering the ability to track your journey, speed, and battery life as well as customise the front and rear lights, toggle cruise control and set the alarm. While not exactly illegal, we know it’s also perfectly possible to jailbreak the scooter to override speed limiters.
Our review sample was supplied by Pure Electric, who offer a free 2-year UK warranty plus have injected puncture prevention fluid into the tyres to minimise the need to repair, which, in their words, ‘can take hours, even with the right tools!’
Pros: Long range; wide foot deck; control panel; great appCons: Heavy; slow charging; difficult maintenance
Price: £550 | Check price on Pure Electric | Amazon | Halfords
A budget e-scooter for beginners (and big bones)
Range: 16mile | Speed: 20mph | Charge time: 4.5hrs | Weight: 13.5kg
With a low price and stylish looks the Turboant X7 (€349) looks every bit as inviting as the hugely popular Xiaomi M365, and with a removable battery and 350W of power, that can handle riders weighing up to 275lbs (124kg), it’s a versatile option for the bigger boned commuter.
Based around a folding aluminium alloy frame, the extra thick steering column hooks into the rear mud guard to create a handle for (relatively) easy carrying, but at 13.5kg, your big bones will need to be coated in muscle if you plan on carrying it for more than a few minutes.
But with 8.5” tubeless pneumatic tyres offering plenty of cushioning against the tarmac it’s a really smooth ride, and being inflatable, you can adjust the pressure to suit the road surfaces you use most.
The battery is stored in the upright of the handlebars and is easy to remove and recharge if needed. You can also plug the scooter directly into the mains, but we appreciate the ability to take the battery inside and leave dirty scooters outside. The extra power on offer means quoted speeds of 20mph and a 16mile range, which is pretty impressive, although we never quite made that far or fast before the battery started to complain. In several head-to-head races the X7 was never the hare, but often the tortoise, which isn’t great at traffic lights, but might still get you there first.
Also, don’t expect the X7 to power up hills. You’ll get there in the end, especially if you hit the ascent at full power, but you may get passed by the odd power walking pedestrian.
Three speed modes and cruise control give ample options, the bright display is easy to read and the inclusion of a proper disc brake, as well as an emergency back foot brake give confidence when riding than inexperienced users will appreciate.
There’s no kinetic energy recovery system and the battery indicator is quite vague, offering basic bars rather than a percentage, or time remaining indicator, but given the low cost, solid build quality and quicker-than-most top speed, we had few real complaints.Pros: Removable battery; pneumatic tyres; speed; value; loud bellCons: Heavy; spare battery costs $200+; slow acceleration
Price: €349 | Check price on Turboant
The best e-scooter for repairability and maintenance
Range: up to 15 miles | Speed: 15mph | Charge time: 3hrs | Weight: 11kg
The go to scooter brand for any self-respecting six-year-old, Micro have enjoyed phenomenal success with their lightweight folding, push scooters and, as well as owning the market share for kids, do a wide selection of grown-up commuter designs. The Micro Merlin (£800) is their only e-scooter, but like the rest of the collection, it collapses small and promises portability, but can it keep pace with the likes of Xiaomi?
Compared to the sleek lines elsewhere, the Micro Merlin looks decidedly practical. It’s not ugly, but it definitely looks more like a push scooter with power than the future of urban transportation. It’s an aesthetic you might like, and there is method to the clunky madness, because, and again, this echoes the push scooter ranges available, you can buy spare parts for the Merlin, even book it in for a service. Oddly, given the antiquated aesthetic, it could actually be the most future proof design available.
Impressively, the battery fully charges in just three hours, and this is topped up helpfully regenerative braking in front and back brakes, that pump energy into the battery as you brake. A 15mile range is a little short these days, but at just 11kg in weight, you can at least lump it onto the bus without slipping a disc, if disaster does strike.
But what’s it like to ride? It’s fun, the suspension has an appreciable amount of bounce, but it does feel a bit rattly, partly due to the solid wheels. It doesn’t feel like it will fall to pieces on a towpath and happily keeps pace with the best of them, boasting four speeds, cruise control and a decent enough display, but we can’t shake a utilitarian feeling we get when buzzing about on it. A Ford to Ninebot’s Audi
Pros: Replaceable parts; adjustable; four speedsCons: Clunky; meagre mileage
Price: £800 | Check price on Pure Electric | Amazon | Micro Scooters
The best e-scooter for tackling anything
Range: 20miles (32km) | Speed: 27mph | Charge time: 5.5hrs | Weight: 23kg
The AER 557 (£2,199) came about because the UK-based company wanted to design a “high-performance e-scooter” that works, feels and rides differently to any other electric scooter on the market. This has been achieved mainly thanks to a 500W hub motor and the thumping great 20in wheels on the front and back set between an extra wide bamboo board.
Anyone who has ridden a normal scooter (read Vespa) has been charmed by the dinky small wheels, but then rued their design on hitting the merest hint of a pothole or dent in the road. Small wheels make for a bumpy ride. This is why the 557 is such a pleasure to zip around on. Holes and bumps are absorbed respectably while the extra size also makes for more assured cornering.
In our test prototype, the AER’s motor was 350W with 40Nm of torque. This comfortably got to a nippy 18mph on the flat and only struggled on the steepest of hills. The final production model will sport a 500W motor with 50Nm of torque. This results in a top speed of 27mph – not for the faint-hearted.
The build is quality, from that bamboo deck to the aluminium hydroformed frame, which flexes to act as the scooter’s suspension. The tyres are designed specifically for e-bike use (the Schwalbe compound can handle the large torque produced by the motor). You get front and back dual piston hydraulic brakes (which, trust us, you will need), a high-power headlight and rear light, top-spec handlebars and grips.
A small detachable screen on the handlebars offers up all the info you need on speed, charge and whether the regeneration system is kicking in. You can see which of the four power settings you are on, from pootle to “hold-tight”, and distance travelled, GPS etc (an app is coming next year). There’s no built-in lock, but when you remove the screen it immobilises the 557.
What’s not to like? Well, although this e-scooter folds it does so requiring tools and is meant to do so for storage. This is not a ride to be taking on the train – and AER says as much. After a long ride, we did experience some vibration numbness in the hands and we also discovered that the 557 has limited ground clearance as the foot deck drops down between the wheels: AER has fitted a skid plate for the production version.
Despite these niggles, the AER 557 is enormously enjoyable to ride, with a smooth feel on tarmac and the power to cope with just about anything, even off-roading to a limited degree. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s packed with the finest components available and is built to last. In short, you get what you pay for.
Pros: Big wheels equals smooth ride; design; range; wide foot deck; speedCons: Weight; price; folds only for storage; low ground clearance (despite the big wheels)
Price: £2,199 | Check price on AER | Ride and Glide
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