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The best electric scooter, e-bike and rideable tech options for 2020

These e-bikes and electric scooters will help you navigate near-empty streets of New York, San Francisco or wherever you are.

Now that people have been urged to stay at home as much as possible and public transit systems everywhere are operating on limited routes and schedules, having an e-bike or electric scooter might make sense for your essential shopping needs -- it's an easy way to drop needed goods off with vulnerable family and friends as safely and quickly as possible. Perhaps you want to cover longish distances quicker than just walking or maybe you have been looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

What follows is what I learned from testing different types of battery operated rideables, some tested before the coronavirus outbreak, others more recently, on a commute through sections of midtown Manhattan, around Central Park or down the West Side Highway bike path. With the exception of the Swagtron EB5 E-Bike, all of the products on this list come with variable ride modes, meaning they have different gears or levels of electric assistance. In most cases, the top ride speed for each device will increase with more advanced settings, at the cost of battery life -- it's essential to keep an eye on the battery.

I've included water resistance (IP) ratings when available for each electric scooter. IP ratings, which stands for ingress protection, lets you know how dust- or water-resistant a product is. For example, if something has an IP54 rating, the first number after the letters refers to resistance to solids while the second refers to moisture. Read more in our IP rating explainer

Also, let's not make a big deal of it, but I exceed the weight capacity for most of these products. For the most part, they all still performed as expected, though maybe with a little less range or speed. No devices were harmed during this roundup. 

Lastly, if you plan on getting into rideables, be safe about it. Leave enough space between yourself and both cars and riders on plain old human-powered bikes and scooters. Remember you're able to go a lot faster, so ride and pass with caution. Make sure to charge your battery and check on your tires. And, most important, always wear a helmet when you ride. 

Note that CNET may get a share of the revenue from the sale of some of the products in this guide.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Premium scooter manufacturer Unagi adds new color customization options and a dual 250-watt motor to this update to last year's E450 model, our previous pick for the best all-around electric scooter. Why call this one the E500? Because that's the new total motor output wattage. 

Due to the dual 250-watt motors, the E500 required a slightly larger battery (28.8 volts) than the E450 to maintain the same travel distance. It makes the carbon fiber and aluminum body about two pounds heavier, at just a hair under 27 pounds.

The display is bright and easy to see in sunlight and instead of sticking a bell on the scooter, they've put on an electric horn that's loud enough to be heard through a closed car window. 

The electric scooter can support riders up to 270 pounds, hit a top speed of 18 mph, and a travel distance of 15 miles. To stop the scooter just use the ABS electric brake or put a little pressure on the rear spoiler brake for those steep hills. 

For a closer look at this electric scooter, check out our gallery of the Unagi E500

Right now you can save 25% with a special CNET code. Read more on the Unagi E500.

Sarah Tew

The Levy Electric Scooter slides into this list due to its price-to-practicality ratio. An electric scooter that can hit 18 mph, costs around $500, weighs just under 30 pounds and has a removable battery is a pretty good all-around deal. Levy also has scooters available for rent through its iOS and Android app. 

The Levy has air-filled tires that make for a comfortable ride. The battery is located in the steering tube, unlike a lot of other scooters, so you get some body flexibility similar to a longboard for those bumpy roads. I really appreciate that the battery is removable as well. Anyone with a yard or stairs can leave it locked, and remove the battery to take into charge. 

The Levy is rated to travel about 15 miles on a full charge but that's not at top speed. I would say most riders would get realistically about 7-10 miles. But because it is removable, you can buy a second battery for $139 and carry it with you.

For a closer look at this electric scooter, check out our gallery of the Levy Electric Scooter

Sarah Tew/CNET

Out of all the scooters in this lineup, this is the one that can most closely replace your car. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Apollo Pro made running errands and checking on the family the fastest and safest way to get around NYC. 

This is a comfortable ride, due to its dual 10-inch air-filled tires and spring suspension, which you really need for a scooter that can hit 40mph. 

The Pro can travel close to 50 miles on a full charge and is powered by two 1,000-watt motors. You can ride the electric scooter in single- or dual-motor mode (balancing longer life versus more power), or get extra green with an eco mode. Read our Apollo Pro Scooter hands-on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Segway Max is a reliable electric scooter that can take you very far. It's rated to go 40 miles on a full charge (if you're driving slower and on flat ground), which is a bold claim by Segway. In real-world conditions, I was able to go 7 miles (my daily commute before working from home) at top speed using 45% of the battery. That's still pretty good considering the scooter itself is a hefty, weighing 41 pounds and I frequently got it up to 18mph. 

The air-filled tires make for a more comfortable ride than the ES series from Segway. One feature I really appreciated was the charging cable. It's a generic power cord with no brick, making it easy to carry around or replace. The 551-watt-hour battery can be fully charged in 6 hours. 

To stop, riders can just use the handbrake. There's also a bell built into the handlebar to alert pedestrians you're coming. And if you've got big feet, like me, I loved the long riding deck, which gave me plenty of room to get comfortable. See our Segway Ninebot KickScooter Max gallery.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Boosted is best known for its motorized skateboards, but it's now getting into the e-scooter market with the battery-powered Rev, the best electric scooter for the sophisticated set. This smooth ride has a powerful dual 1,500-watt motor and air-filled 9-inch pneumatic tires for a top ride speed of 24 mph. Due to its motor power and speed, it's best as an electric scooter for adults and not exactly a scooter for kids -- though if you're looking for an electric scooter for kids, there are plenty of options out there.

The $1,599 Rev (and its pneumatic tires) supports riders weighing up to 250 pounds, which is 30 more pounds more in weight capacity than some other scooters in this list, which makes it the best electric scooter as far as weight capacity. Bonus: For those with larger feet, the board is wide enough to get them side by side.

For a closer look at the electric scooter, check out our gallery of the Boosted Rev. Read our Boosted Rev hands-on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Swagtron Swagger 5 Elite is the least expensive product on this list, and that's its greatest feature. This folding e-scooter doesn't outperform any of the products mentioned here, but at $299 it's hard to complain about it not being the best electric scooter in the overall marketplace. It has a single 250-watt motor that doesn't put out much torque but can reach a smooth ride speed of 14 to 16 mph. The listed travel distance is approximately 11 miles on a fully charged battery, with a lithium-ion battery will charge in 3.5 hours. The maximum weight supported is 320 pounds and the e-scooter weighs 26 pounds. Although it supports larger riders, due to its low powered motor, you may get a slower takeoff and slowdowns on inclines. It may also drain the charge faster. See our gallery of the Swagtron Swagger 5 Elite.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The ES4 Kick Scooter sits atop the Segway consumer scooter chain, with a secondary battery to make a long distance ride or a lengthy ride time a breeze. It can travel an estimated 28 miles on a single battery charge and the electric motor allows for a top speed of 18 mph (which I was able to hit). The folding point on this e-scooter is different from the others in this roundup. The entire front post folds down, wheel and all. While braking, I would shift my weight back over the rear wheel, pushing down on the spoiler brake along with hitting the handlebar brake (which is an antilock brake), but without much of the front headtube flex you'd feel in some other scooters. There are also shock absorbers that help with shock absorption when you ride over bumpy surfaces. 

The dual-battery model weighs just over 30 pounds, and it supports riders weighing up to 220 pounds. The scooter has some good power and can put out 300 to 800 watts depending on the riding mode. Single charge time is longer than the average, about 7 hours. If you run out of battery life and don't have time to charge, it can also work as an old-fashioned kick-and-go scooter. It also sports some customizable LED lights under the deck between the tires. Those and some other settings can be adjusted in the iOS and Android apps. See our Ninebot by Segway ES4 gallery.

Sarah Tew

The Mercane Widewheel scooter is the best electric scooter when it comes to motor power in this lineup. Powered by dual 500-watt motors, it has some serious takeoff power and torque. 

Most models are locked to a top ride speed of 15 mph, but there's an advanced mode where you can unlock its full battery power and ride it to 25 mph (but do so at your own risk). It has a dual suspension and weighs a whopping 50 pounds. The range is up to 20 miles on a single battery charge, and it support riders weighing 220 pounds. The riding deck is longer and wider than your average scooter, making it easy to get both feet on the board comfortably. It has an IPX4 rating.

The scooter gets its name from its 8-inch wide tires. The tires are great for staying upright during a ride, but turns take some getting used to with the tires. Unlike most of the honor-system devices here, this one needs a key to start. See our Mercane Widewheel gallery.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Great for a commuter with limited storage space. The Swagtron EB5 Pro is a folding pedal-assist bicycle with an electric motor that also has its own throttle (so you don't really have to pedal at all). With a full battery, it can travel up to 15 miles at a speed of 15 mph. This folding electric bicycle is a single speed and you can even turn all the powered features off and use it like a regular bike. It weighs a solid 37 pounds and the seat supports riders up to 264 pounds, but when the seat is folded down, this ride is surprisingly small. See our Swagtron EB5 Pro gallery.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I decided to put the Trek Super Commuter Plus 8S to the test during the 2019 TD 5 Boro Bike Tour. First, I wanted to see how it performed as a normal seat bike. It's heavy at 54 pounds, and I had to see how it would fare against some of the sleeker bicycles. The 11 speeds made it easy to maintain a comfortable pace. When I came across a few inclines, the pedal assist (Bosch Performance Speed, 350 watt motor, integrated into the frame) worked perfectly. 

Eco was my preferred assist mode. It gives the least assistance of the four settings, so it has the best battery life ideal for long distances. The bicycle does not have a throttle; it is strictly pedal assist. Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo each progressively give you a more spice in your ride, and the estimated distance that the battery will let you travel in each mode shows on the display. Pedal assistance on the Trek coincides with rpm -- the faster you get the cranks around, the more the Bosch system will progressively increase your speed to get those tires moving.

During my daily commute around the city, I found myself riding in the streets more so than the bike lane. I was coming up too quickly behind other cyclists, and battery-powered delivery bikes too. Fortunately, the Trek SC+8 comes equipped with a bell, reflectors and rear as well as front lights, so hopefully they'll see (or hear) you coming on your commute. For those instances where they don't, the S8 comes with 180-centimeter hydraulic disc brakes that stop on a dime, and the wider tires make bumps on the ride hardly noticeable. The S8 has an IP54 rating. See our gallery of the Trek Super Commuter Plus 8S.

Mark Licea

The Onewheel Pint is $950, practically half the price of the bigger Onewheel Plus XR, which costs $1,799. It weighs 26 pounds and supports riders up to 250 pounds. The Pint can travel six to eight miles on a full battery charge with the motor allowing a top speed of 16 mph. It is more maneuverable than any previous Onewheel and most other rideables. It handles inclines with ease and sports rear along with front lights for night riding. The board is operated by shifting your weight forward and back to move forward and back, and heel to toe to steer. Once you get the hang of it, it's like riding a skateboard, and you'll be tempted to pull off some tricks (which we do not officially endorse). 

For a closer look, see our gallery of the Onewheel Pint. Read our OneWheel Pint hands-on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Of all the products on this list, the Kiwano KO1 Plus was the hardest for me to get the hang of. It's a bit like a unicycle with a motor, and has a high natural learning curve. On a single battery charge, the KO1 Plus can travel up to 12 mph with a distance of 12 miles. It is definitely an interesting ride and a well-built solid product, with a weight capacity up to 250 pounds, but geared more to the adventurous rider rather than your average daily commuter. 

With the KO1 Plus, pressing forward on the handlebars will move you forward and pulling back will send you in reverse, and you keep your balance by using your feet. Yes, it's self-balancing, but once mounted by the rider some serious skills are needed to maintain, to prevent it from tilting side to side. I've seen some really interesting things done on it, but it's going to take a lot more practice. The KO1 Plus has an IP54 rating. See our Kiwano KO1 Plus gallery.

Best hands-free premium experience

Future Motion Onewheel Plus XR: $1,799

The Onewheel Plus XR is the bigger and older brother to the Pint. Still one of my favorites, due to the all-around freedom you feel when riding. That along with the ability to travel 12 to 18 miles on a full charge of the battery, plus the motor lets you hit a top speed of 19 mph. 

A nice feature found in the app, for iOS and Android, is while riding you'll get a notification once the battery is at 50% so you can make it back home from wherever you may roam. The app offers a bunch of other settings from social to board riding customization. It's not the most travel-friendly in terms of carrying around, it weighs about 30 pounds, but is easy to store. In addition, it only takes about two hours to fully charge the battery. 

For a closer look, see our gallery of the Onewheel Plus XR. Read our Onewheel Plus XR hands-on.

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