Here are some lower-cost options to get you around town faster.
E-scooters and e-bikes have come a long way in the last few years. What used to be a fairly niche and expensive market has become far more mainstream. Because of their popularity, the prices have dropped too. Most of the selections for around $500 may be slower or have a shorter range than their $1,000-plus counterparts, but they will get you where you need to be easily enough.
You'll find e-bikes, electric scooters and unicycles on this list. Most of them are designed for short-distance trips, like getting you through that last mile of your commute or a quick errand. They aren't meant for a long-distance traveler nor for any speed demons.
Because of their popularity right now and production slowdowns due to COVID-19, availability can be hit or miss. I've listed the prices they normally sell for, too, so you can keep an eye out for price gougers. In spite of all this, you might be able to hunt down a sale or two. These are still some of the best e-scooters and e-bikes you can buy, they just won't break the bank.
Many of us have seen people zipping around on electric single-wheel contraptions and thought, "I could never do that." The InMotion V5 electric unicycle (EUC) can erase that doubt. It's specifically designed both in size and price to make getting into EUCs safer and cost-effective.
The V5 is fitted with a 14-inch, air-filled tire and low-foot pedals to make it easier to mount and dismount. Due to the low profile of the pedals, they are slightly tilted upwards so as not to scrape the ground when turning. The device has a 450-watt motor which is tame compared to other EUCs. It has a top speed of just under 13 mph and a soft acceleration. The V5 weight is 25 pounds making it easier to carry. The build quality is solid; considering how light the wheel is, it can support a rider weight of 260 pounds.
When I received the review sample, I planned on my teenage son doing most of the hands-on. But the weight capacity allowed testing to be a family affair. I've ridden larger EUCs, so the power and size felt a little off to me. I am used to larger wheels that fit better between my legs, so I was a little more knock-kneed on the V5 and, with my size and weight being close to the limit, takeoffs and acceleration were slow. The foot pedals are also smaller on the V5 than other inMotion wheels. Still, I find it a great gateway wheel to get people interested in learning and get the confidence needed to progress to the next level.
The V5 is a beginner wheel powered by a small 160-watt-hour battery. It helps cut down on the V5's weight and cost. But it also reduces travel distance, making the V5 unsuitable for long commutes. It can be fully charged in 3.5 hours, though. It's also not as intimidating as other EUCs. I convinced my girlfriend to try it out, and she would never touch the larger, more powerful InMotion V11.
The best way to get familiar with riding the V5 -- or any EUC -- is to find an area with a long handrail and stand upright while holding the rail and rock back and forth to get comfortable with the sensitivity of the pads and how they respond. Once you get a feel for it, you can ride up and down with your hand gliding over the rail, and before you know it, you'll be going the length of the rail without reaching for it. No, it's not as easy to start with as an electric scooter or bike, but I find EUCs ideal for getting around because they leave your hands free and never need to be locked outside like a bicycle.
The V5 can also provide voice support, such as "be careful," and connects to the InMotion iPhone and Android app via Bluetooth 4.0. From the app, you can see the battery life, the estimated distance that can be traveled, current speed, toggle front and rear lights on and off, run diagnostics, and a social tab where you can share photos and check out personal achievements. The V5 is rated IP55, which means you can get caught in the rain, but no submerging it in puddles.
Like always, when learning something new, users should protect themselves and, at the very least, wear a helmet. If possible, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads. And with no handlebars or seat, you'll probably need these with the V5 more than a bike or scooter. Still, once you get the hang of it, the InMotion V5 is an excellent way to get around.
I've been using the Turboant X7 Max as my main e-scooter for the past month or so, and I am impressed with the range and speed it seems to be able to maintain. I tested it on the same 3-mile ride with both me, a 270-pound man, and my 150-pound son, and we could reach the top speed of 20mph. The only difference is the range; when I ride it can do between 14-16 miles, but when he rides it is much closer to 24 plus. Turboant says it will do 32 miles on a charge, but in the real world somewhere in the 20s is much more likely.
Comfort-wise, it is excellent for the price and it feels very stable, even at high speeds. I have big feet and a tall frame, but the TurboAnt X7 handles it very well. My only gripe is the lack of an anchor point that I can use for a lock, but if you are taking it into your office, that isn't much of an issue.
-- James Bricknell
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 that 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 lose its charge faster. See our gallery of the Swagtron Swagger 5 Elite.
The Mongoose React E4 electric scooter -- one of three it currently offers -- is designed specifically for kids 13 years and older and supports riders up to 176 pounds. The specs are good for its $230 price, including a travel distance of up to 6 miles with a top speed of 15 mph. It has a single hub motor powered by a lithium battery that takes around 3 hours to charge or you can use it as a kick scooter. The rubber wheels on the E4 are a hair under 6 inches (152 mm), so steer clear of any potholes.
Even though this scooter is recommended for teens, my 7-year-old handled testing for this one; I am well beyond the recommended weight for this product. She's tested out others with me though, and its height-adjustable handlebars made it easy for her to ride.
The take-off was smooth and, with her being so light, the battery life lasted longer than Mongoose's claims for heavier riders. The one area she needed to be careful was with the electric brakes: They were extremely responsive for her size and weight. The rear spoiler brake was a safer choice since both braking options cut the motor.
The scooter has a kickstand but can be folded down for storage and weighs just under 19 pounds. It is built from aluminum and feels very sturdy. My only knock would be the plastic throttle and thumb tabs for the brakes. Being a device aimed at teens, I would like something as kid-proof as possible.
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 seven to 10 miles. But because it's removable, you can buy a second battery for $139 and carry it with you.
For a closer look, check out our gallery of the Levy Electric Scooter.
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.
If you're in an area where riding year-round isn't an option, Unagi offers a subscription service for its E500 scooter which happens to be one of our favorite last-mile scooters.
Equipped with dual, 250-watt motors, the E500 is carbon fiber and aluminum, weighing a hair under 27 pounds. The scooter retails for $990 but will cost $39 when paying month-to-month or $34 a month if you pay annually. It's currently available in New York and Los Angeles with more cities to be announced. There is a one-time setup fee of $50 and the scooter will be hand-delivered within 24 hours of signing up along with a basic tutorial of how to safely operate it. And if you ever encounter any performance issues, Unagi can have a replacement ready within a 24-hour 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.
Other nice features include the bright display that's 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. For a closer look at this electric scooter, check out our gallery of the Unagi E500. Read more on the Unagi E500.