Not all scooters are created equal.
Electric scooters have become a staple means of transportation for commuters worldwide. They’re efficient, affordable, and environmentally friendly. Plus, riding around on an electric scooter is simply fun.
Most electric scooters that fall in the budget e-scooter category are recommended for minimal or light recreational use.
So, what happens if you want more oomph, but the current vehicle can’t provide it? Is there anything you can do to make your scooter go faster, increase range or climb higher?
Well, the truth is not all scooters are created equal. Depending on the model, you may be able to upgrade your existing scooter to deliver bare-knuckle speeds, climb higher, and provide a more comfy ride quality, among others.
To customise your e-scooter, it’ll be essential to shop for the right electric scooter accessories that match what you need to adjust.
Upgrading electric scooters from the ground up can be confusing. That’s why we’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you through the process.
Ready? Let’s dive straight in!
Electric scooters come with two varieties of tyres: solid (airless) tyres and pneumatic (air-filled) tyres. Both of these options have their respective pros and cons.
Airless tyres are hard and cannot go flat. Since they’re impervious, you never have to worry about a flat tyre when riding on roads laced with glass, thorns or nails. Airless tyres also require generally lower maintenance.
On the negative side, these ttyres are slippery on dirt or wet surfaces and are not the best at absorbing shocks on the road. Often, they’re small wheels that do not offer a smooth ride quality. Expect to feel every bump or even lose control when riding on solid tyres.
Pneumatic tyres are inflated with air. They are more comprehensive and lighter than solid tyres, meaning they absorb bumps and ridges effectively. When inflated as required, pneumatic tyres guarantee a smoother ride than their solid counterparts.
Even without good suspension, air-filled tyres still significantly improve ride quality. They roll evenly in adverse road conditions, smoothing out vibrations that would make your feet and legs uncomfortable.
Also, to a lesser extent, upgrading to off-road pneumatic tyres can enhance the scooter’s hill-climbing ability. Off-road, wide tyres provide better traction on the road and will slip less.
The only tradeoff to pneumatic tyres is that they require more maintenance than solid tyres. These tyres are prone to punctures and need to be refilled when they have low pressure.
But that shouldn’t discourage you from upgrading your e-scooter with pneumatic tyres.
In most cases, you can prevent flat tyres by applying puncture protection fluid. Try using this fluid before your first ride, and you may never need to refill or change your tyres again.
Priming pneumatic tyres with sealants is another excellent way to prevent flat tyres. Sealants like Armor-Dilloz, Slime, or FlatOut can do the job perfectly.
Suspension on a decent electric scooter works the same way as a car. It helps smooth out bumps and shocks in the road for improved ride quality.
In most scooters, suspension works in conjunction with the type of tire. E-scooters with large, pneumatic tyres can dampen vibrations without any suspension system.
However, if you have solid tyres and ride off-road most of the time, upgrading to a higher-quality suspension might make sense. Otherwise, you might feel every vibration in the handlebars, which could make you uncomfortable over long rides.
An electric scooter can be upgraded with three types of suspension systems: spring, hydraulic or air piston, and rubber suspension.
Although it adds unnecessary weight to your scooter, the most comfortable dual-spring suspension, rubber suspension is extremely lightweight and portable. However, it’s vulnerable to temperature, oil, sunlight, chemical solvents, corrosion and ageing.
Quality suspension is one with a combination of spring and piston. This combination is known as coil-over hydraulic or coil-over hair. It consists of a spring wrapped around a shock absorber to help with absorbing impact on the road.
An electric scooter with this combo sails smoothly over rough terrains and is suitable for proper off-road riding. Besides, it can dramatically improve hill climbing for electric scooters.
Good suspenders distribute the rider weight better, so they’re more efficient in climbing hills. Note that improving suspension alone will have a minor effect on hill climbing.
Safety should be a priority when riding an electric scooter. Upgrading to a crisp and familiar braking system is essential for staying out of harm’s way.
There are two main categories of electric scooter brakes: mechanical and electronic.
Mechanical brakes slow the electric scooter down through a physical mechanism. Examples of mechanical brake systems include:
Drum or Disc Brakes
Drum brakes feature an all-in-one, enclosed design with most components held inside the wheel hub. They provide consistent performance in wet conditions. Moreover, drum brakes are generally easier to maintain than other braking systems.
On the other hand, disc brakes are lighter than drum brakes and have the most stopping power. You’ll typically find disc brakes on high-performance premium commuter scooters.
Nonetheless, even better quality budget commuter scooters can have them as well.
Foot brakes slow down the electric scooter when you push your foot down on the rear fender. The electric scooter slows down and ultimately stops as the brakes rub against the rear tire.
Foot brakes have slightly more stopping power than other braking systems. However, they’re not as effective or comfortable as disc or drum brakes.
Another category of electric scooter brakes is electronic braking systems. These braking systems use the motor’s power to slow down and stop the electric scooter.
Electronic braking systems can be strictly electric or regenerative braking systems. While electronic systems do not require periodic maintenance or adjustments, they are the weakest.
If you’re cruising at 15+mph top speed and need to stop instantly, electronic brakes alone may not work. The typical 15 mph stopping distance for electronic braking systems alone is 30 to 40 feet.
In the case of mechanical brake systems, the typical 24 kph stopping distance is around 6 meters. The absolute best mechanical braking systems have a stopping distance under 3 meters.
Generally speaking, upgrading your e-scooter with a mechanical braking system might be a good idea. However, make sure you service your drum and disc brakes regularly as they wear out over time.
Tip: You can opt to upgrade your electric scooter with a combination of both mechanical and electronic braking systems. Having at least two braking systems ensures you are safe even if one fails.
Indeed, the scooter’s battery is responsible for supplying power to the motor. This means the battery power determines how fast the scooter can go.
An e-scooter won’t move as quickly if there is an insufficient battery charge. Also, you may experience substantially slower speeds until the scooter grinds to a halt.
Upgrading the battery is a great way to enhance the e-scooter speed. You can approach this in two ways: replacing it with a better version and adding a second battery.
Replace with a Bigger Battery
With this approach, all you need to do is enhance the size of your battery. Scooter batteries can be available in 24-48 volts. Many scooters come with the 24-volt battery as standard.
In that case, you can replace the current battery with a more powerful version with a more substantial charge. Be careful not to switch to a too strong battery for your motor, though.
You should purchase a battery that is compatible with the wattage of your motor. Otherwise, you risk overloading the controller, which in turn could burn out the engine.
Ideally, powerful batteries need equally powerful motors. If you must connect a more powerful battery than the motor, make sure you remove the controller first.
Alternatively, re-program the controller to feed the motor with a larger voltage. Again, be careful while trying to do this.
Without enough cooling to the motor, the scooter could heat up and burn out. You might want to hire a technician to perform this upgrade.
Add a Second Battery
You may have noticed that your electric scooter moves faster at the start of the ride and then begins to slow down during the ride itself. This is normal for most scooters.
By and large, this happens when the scooter’s battery gets depleted. Instead of replacing your existing battery, you can simply add a second battery to enhance the speeds of your electric scooter.
Some electric scooters include a slot for holding an extra battery. Others come with a bag for carrying additional batteries.
A second battery allows the electric scooter to maintain its higher speed for a longer time. If needed, you can even connect the two batteries so that the machine can be powered immensely.
Connecting two batteries is much safer than upgrading the existing one. But there are some disadvantages you might have to put up with.
For one, two batteries will take longer to reach a full charge. The scooter might also become heavier and less portable to carry around. So think twice before choosing this option.
Just like the batteries, motors influence how fast the scooter can travel. Underpowered motors deliver slower speeds compared to powerful motors.
Depending on your budget, you may choose to upgrade your motors or rewind them to improve the speeds of your electric scooter.
Upgrading Your Motors
There are several types of e-scooter motors to choose from, with capacities ranging from 200 watts to 8000 watts. Motors topping out at 2000 watts provide enough speeds without being too overbearing.
Improving the motors and batteries will also contribute to the higher hill-climbing abilities of the electric scooter. A more extended battery range, combined with greater motor power and torque, improves hill-climbing abilities.
Be that as it may, you should go for motors on an equal level with batteries. Adding an underpowered motor to your current rig is a bad idea.
First, the batteries might burn out when the scooter kicks in. And secondly, you run the risk of fire hazards. That’s why the batteries and motors should be on an equal level.
Rewind Your Motors
Rewinding the hub motors allows for a higher power capability. It increases the torque, which results in faster spins and higher RPMs.
For example, increasing your hub motor windings by 50% can increase the scooter speed up to 75%. Many riders prefer this method because it’s highly effective in improving electric scooter speeds.
However, rewinding hub motors is a complex and challenging task. Not everyone has the expertise to rewind a hub motor.
The hub motor upgrade winding task involves upgrading batteries and controllers to withstand a higher voltage. A less experienced person might trigger a series of short circuits that could harm the electric scooter.
To avoid such costly blunders, it’s best to hire a technician. Spending a little money to hire a technician will save your machine.
Upgrading the controller or electronic speed controller (ESC) is another way to increase your e scooter’s top speed and acceleration. Electric scooter controllers are electronic circuits that regulate power flow from the batteries to the motors.
More specifically, the controller receives input from the throttle and guides the current flow from the scooter’s battery to the motor. It works on an I/O system, meaning the throttle commands how much power the controller should send to each motor.
Most electric scooters come with a single controller for driving a single electric motor. However, electric scooters with dual motors will have two controllers sharing the same throttle output.
Controllers are rated in voltage (measured in volts) and current (measured in amps). Controller outputs range from as low as tens of volts and a few amps up to 100 volts and 400 amps.
Ideally, upgrading to higher-voltage, higher-current controllers ensures better speeds and acceleration. Smarter speed controllers include a feature known as “bursts”.
This feature allows for a higher AMP output to increase acceleration and overall power output to the motor. You might also want to consider the controllers that provide regenerative braking capabilities.
Such controllers can route power back from the motor into the battery for storage when activated. By storing energy back in the battery, they can provide a more extended battery range.
Upgrading the speed controller isn’t something you want to attempt –especially if you are less experienced. The process can be complex as some electric scooter controllers require the battery to be upgraded.
Worse still, finding a compatible aftermarket controller for your electric scooter can be confusing. You better leave this job to the pros.
An electric scooter can reach maximum top speeds if you remove or alter its speed limiter. Surprisingly, at least 40% of electric scooters sold globally between 2020 and 2021 were limited with a speed-limiting cable.
Electric scooter manufacturers embed the speed limiting cable into their machines to prevent them from reaching their maximum speed limits. Doing so enables them to sell their vehicles in different geographic regions legally.
In France, the maximum speed an e scooter can travel is 15.5mph. The exact speed is allowed in the UK under the rental scheme. But in most US states, electric scooters cannot exceed 20mph top speed.
Because various countries have different speed limit requirements, the manufacturers ship their e-scooters with limiters on them. Removing the speed limiting cable allows you to travel at top speeds without anything holding you back.
The instructions for removing the speed limiter will vary depending on your specific electric scooter model. There are two types of speed limiters: hard-wired and firmware speed limiters.
Hard Wired Speed Limiter
A hard-wired speed limiter comprises a wire connecting the scooter’s throttle and the speed controller. It reduces the amount of power the controller can send into the motors.
Keep in mind that each scooter model will have different implementations. But, most manufacturers make it reasonably easy to detach the wire and unlock extra speed.
You can remove the wire via a plug or clip that, when unplugged, deactivates all power limitations from the speed controller. Check your vehicle’s instructions manual to see whether it has a hard-wired speed limiter.
Firmware Speed Limiter
Many scooter manufacturers implement the firmware speed limiter at a control panel level. However, it’s not surprising to find scooters with a firmware limiter in the controller. Firmware speed limiters can limit power output using either the LCD control panel or controllers software.
Speed and power output settings are usually accessible through “P SETTINGS” for some scooters with LCD control panels. On others, you may need to connect over the APP interface (via Bluetooth) to update the scooter’s firmware.
Some electronic scooters also allow you to alter the magnet in the scooter’s computer sensor. Doing so “confuses” the computer to sense a false reading.
Thus, the sensor reads that you’re travelling at a lower speed when cruising at maximum speed. Upgrading your e-scooter by removing or altering the speed limiter makes it possible to move the scooter faster.
Caution: Moving the scooter faster will drain the machine’s battery quickly. Try and upgrade the battery before removing the scooter’s speed limiter.
Time To Upgrade Your Electric Scooter?
Unsurprisingly, the methods we highlighted here are some of the most inexpensive ways to upgrade your existing electric scooter. However, be careful because some of them are intrusive and can compromise the performance of your electric scooter.
If you are not mechanically inclined, go for the non-intrusive, risk-free methods, such as adding a second battery to the e-scooter to deliver a reasonable range and speed.
Alternatively, seek the help of a professional to perform the most advanced customisations. Good luck!
Nely is an adrenaline junkie and one of her life goals is to sky dive, but until that day she gets her kicks from testing fast electric scooters. Part time scooter fanatic & part time SEO analyst. Nely’s favourite scooter is the Dualtron X.