Many people are turning to the affordability and simplicity of a street legal motorized scooter. Being able to weave through traffic or legally remain in your city’s bike lanes can make commuting more comfortable and even fun.
We’ll be looking at some of the most popular electric scooters, before walking you through a few of the essential definitions and terminology you need to know when buying one.
Afterwards, we’ll be answering some of the most commonly asked questions when deciding to switch to using a scooter for work or travel.
- 1 Six Scooters, Six Options
- 2 Street Legal Electric Scooters —An Explanation
- 3 What to Consider When Buying A Street Legal Motorized Scooter
- 4 Tips for Riding A Street Legal Scooter
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Street Legal Electric Scooters
Six Scooters, Six Options
Not sure where to start? Take a look at just six of the Best Street Legal Electric Scooters on the market today.
The OjO commuter scooter was developed by OjO Electric—a subsidy of the Ford Motor Company, and a startup based in Santa Monica.
The OjO commuter scooter was built from the ground up to live and thrive in America’s most congested cities. The scooter features an aluminum chassis, allowing the entire product to weigh less than 65 pounds . Are you looking for a scooter that you can carry around when not in use? This scooter may be a great place to start looking.
The scooter is bike lane approved and comes with a 500w rear hub motor that can move riders around town with a top speed of 20 miles per hour . Other features include rear suspension for bumps in the road, an onboard wall charger, and LED lights throughout.
The scooter is also available in three colors and will vary in price dependent upon your choice.
If you’re looking for an electric scooter that has room for more than just you, the TaoTao ATE-501 scooter may be an excellent option.
The ATE-501 is a heavier model than the OjO commuter scooter and comes in at around 220 pounds . However, you’re not trading portability without a reward—as the ATE-501 includes a trunk to place valuables or other materials you need to keep with you throughout your travels .
Like many of the other scooters on our list, the ATE-501 includes a 500w battery and can be started up with the push of a button. Other features of the ATE-501 includes front and rear suspension, a twist throttle, and headlights for nighttime and inclement weather.
And of course, the ATE-501 is perfectly street legal .
Commuters that are looking for many of the features found on the ATE-501 but also want a vehicle classified as an electric bicycle may find a happy medium in the X-Treme XB-504.
The XB-504 comes with optional pedals on the rear wheel which allows it to be classified as an electric bicycle. This distinction is essential for commuters that live in a district or principality that places stricter limits on mopeds, motorbikes, and the like .
Other than its classification, the XB-504 comes with many features that can be found on electric scooters like the ATE-501. The XB-504 boasts a large trunk in the rear, alongside a smaller compartment for a wallet or keys .
The XB-504 also includes and features a 500w motor, front and rear brakes, speedometer, and a battery indicator. The electric bicycle is also capable of speeds upwards of 20 miles per hour and can last for about 25 miles of travel .Power and style are just two of the words that describe GigaByke’s offering to electric scooter and moped consumers.
The GigaByke Groove stands out from the competition by including a stronger motor than most—750w as opposed to the standard 500w . That means that you can expect to be able to travel up to 35 miles on a single charge —and even farther if you choose to pedal.
The GigaByke Groove also features a unique and retro look, headlights, turn signals, and doesn’t require registration in most American municipalities. But, as always, be sure to check with your local DMV before making a purchase—as no two areas have the same rules for what is and isn not registration-worthy.
One look at the SEEV-800, and you’ll understand why it’s unlike many of the other electric scooters on our list. That’s because the SEEV-800 is a different type of scooter—instead of relying on thin tires and a sharper turn radius to navigate curves in the road, the SEEV-800 is a flat tire scooter.
By leaning into turns and shifting your body weight, moving around town is possible without hardly ever having to turn the front wheel physically. In fact, the wheels are so large that the scooter balances itself with any assistance from you.
Due to the extra strength needed to rotate the larger wheels, the SEEV-800 features an 800w motor, which can power the scooter to speeds of up to 15 miles per hour . While it’s slower than many of the other scooters on the list, it more than makes up for it in range. You can expect to travel up to 50 miles on a single charge .
The SEEV-800 is marketed as a lifestyle scooter and is intended for use in daily life and travel beyond a work commute. So, features geared explicitly towards commuters, such as turn signals or a trunk, are nixed in favor of a more balanced frame and ease of use.
The final street legal motorized scooter for commuting on our list is the eDrift UH-ES295 electric scooter.
Much like the SEEV-800, the eDrift electric scooter is a scooter with larger tires, which requires the use of bodyweight to complete those sharper turns. The difference between the two electric scooters lies not in shape, but in power.
With an engine that boasts 1500w of power, the eDrift Electric Scooter is easily the most powerful scooter on our list—and with a top speed of 27 miles per hour, it is also the fastest .
The eDrift Electric Scooter also features an LED front light, keyed ignition, and a digital gauge. You can expect to travel up to 25 miles on a single charge and transport the vehicle with relative ease, as the eDrift Electric Scooter weighs in at about 100 pounds.
Street Legal Electric Scooters —An Explanation
Any of these six electric scooters and electric bicycles are an excellent option for those looking to commute or travel around town, but what exactly does it mean to have a street legal vehicle?
When purchasing a scooter, it is important to know the legalese behind what is allowing you to share the road with larger vehicles. This knowledge is also exceedingly helpful when explaining to your local law enforcement that you’re following the rules, and not skirting the law.
Federally, electric bicycles are held to Public Law 107-219, which was passed by Congress back in 2002. The definition of an electric bicycle includes the following:
- A two or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals
- A motor of less than 750 watts
- A maximum speed on a level road of less than 20 miles per hour
Alongside a few other stipulations (such as weight), these are the primary tenants that allow you to move around town without registering at the DMV or paying excessive taxes and fees like the rest of the vehicles on the road.
Now, you may notice that a few of the vehicles on our list have pushed the boundaries or outright exceeded the limitations placed on electric bicycles by Public Law 107-219. That variation is why it is always important to double check with your local municipality before attempting to use your new scooter in the wild.
What to Consider When Buying A Street Legal Motorized Scooter
After you’ve determined whether or not your prospective scooter is legal to operate in the city you’re in, it can be difficult to determine which of the many options available is right for you.
Electric scooter reviews can be helpful in a limited capacity, but it can be difficult to tell if the reviews come from a city that matches yours. For instance, those in hilly towns may be partial to a more powerful electric scooter with a slower speed. If your city is flat, a lot of that power is going to waste, and a much faster scooter could serve your needs better.
Also consider your need for other features, such as signal lights or a trunk. In cities with darker or rainier climates, those signals could mean the difference between a commute and a car accident. In particularly dreary cities, your important papers and documents would be much safer in a trunk than on your lap or in a backpack.
The critical factor at play here is your personal experience—and no review knows your needs better than you do.
Electric scooters come in many shapes and sizes, and not all of them are going to be helpful for your specific needs. Taking the time to consider all of your options will allow you to purchase the best electric scooter for you and save you time and heartbreak for when you discover other features that you wish your scooter came with.
Tips for Riding A Street Legal Scooter
Riding a street legal scooter isn’t like other forms of transportation. Electric scooters do not require the manual operation that a bicycle does, nor do they have the horsepower and speed you can expect when purchasing a motorcycle.
The truth is, electric scooters are their own breed of transportation and should be treated as such before taking your newfound purchase on the road. The worst thing a new owner can do is dive headfirst into rush hour traffic without taking proper precaution.
Remember that you are operating a vehicle—and while you don’t have to wear a seatbelt, you are legally required in America and in many other countries to wear a helmet while the vehicle is in operation.
Don’t skip out on this rule—as law enforcement usually doesn’t let this one slide. Remember that the helmet requirement is for your safety, more than anyone else’s. Don’t skirt road safety guidelines to protect your hair or look cooler on the road.
Be sure to look into storage and safety options for your scooter when arriving at your destination. Electric scooters are light and often easily transportable, so not taking proper precaution of your investment may lure thieves and result in the loss of your scooter.
Invest in a bike lock or similar deterrents when leaving your scooter on the streets or in the parking lot. When possible, utilize bike parking and leave the car spots open for larger vehicles.
Another way to protect your investment is to see if your place of business or destination has a place inside for you to stow away your scooter. The small and easy-to-carry nature of street legal electric scooters will allow you greater mobility and options when finding a place to park.
Learn the rules of the road before venturing out onto the asphalt. Most bikes and electric scooters are permitted only in bike lanes. If maneuvering through highly trafficked areas or parts of town without a bike lane, most jurisdictions prohibit electric scooters and similar vehicles when the speed limit is greater than 25 miles per hour.
Keep aware of other drivers, clearly signal when making a turn, and keep as close to the curb as possible. Practicing safe driving techniques will keep you safe just as much as it will protect those who choose to walk or drive to work.
Finally, don’t forget that riding a scooter leaves you unprotected to the elements, and traveling at higher speeds will feel a little different than walking down the street. Invest in more rugged travel gear, such as jackets, sunglasses, or boots, and be sure to look at the forecast before heading out for the day.
Low visibility weather such as rain or snow can impair the vision of other drivers, so remaining vigilant and visible will be vital to traveling around town without incident.
Frequently Asked Questions About Street Legal Electric Scooters
Q: How do I know if my electric scooter is street legal?
A: There are many ways to uncover whether or not your investment is legally permitted to operate.
Take a look at the FAQ section of the electric scooter or bicycle you wish to purchase. Many American distributors and companies know the difficulty in following United States laws, so will take care to advertise if their electric scooter is street legal. Often, it’s a major selling point for them.
It may be worth bringing in your electric scooter to your local DMV. Explain the specifications of your vehicle, and what you can do to meet the requirements of your local municipality—which may be different than federal law.
Q: Which street legal motorized scooter is right for me?
A: Compare the specifications of each electric scooter to each other, as well as consider what personal needs you may have. Is your city filled with hills and potholes? Is your city typically cold and rainy?
No two electric scooters are created equal and keeping in mind the specific challenges of your town will help you narrow down your options to electric scooters that best serve your individual needs.
Also, take some time to read through the reviews of your prospective scooters. Complaints that appear across multiple reviews may signal vital warning signs that can help you eliminate scooters that aren’t a good match.
Talking to friends and family that own or have operated an electric scooter will also help you gain peace of mind when making your purchase.
Q: What’s the difference between an electric scooter and an electric bicycle? Or a moped?
These terms refer to many different things—even though many companies use the terms interchangeably.
All electric bicycles will have either optional or permanently mounted pedals. These serve to continue operation after the battery dies or provide extra horsepower to the engine. Electric bicycles are typically the most immune to governmental restrictions.
An electric scooter is powered by an engine alone and is more likely to require registration and a driver’s license to operate it. However, this requirement can vary, dependent upon Public Law 109-217, as well as rules implemented by your town or state.
A moped is often powered by gas and will certainly require a driver’s license to operate due to an increase in power and speed. However, requiring a title or registration will depend upon the make and model.
Buying a street legal electric scooter can be an exhaustive task, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one.
There are many options available to prospective buyers regarding storage capabilities, raw power, speed, and versatility. With a host of different colors, shapes, and prices, there is most certainly an electric scooter out there for you.
Good luck, stay safe, and we’ll see you on the road.