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This guide covers everything from the different types of e-scooter tyres, different treads on scooter tyres, and the maintenance of e-scooter tyres.
While they are often overlooked, electric scooter tyres are one of the most critical components of an e-scooter. They play an integral role in determining the overall ride experience, durability, and, most importantly, safety. An electric scooter cannot move from one point to another without tyres.
An important consideration when buying an electric scooter is the type of tyres. E-scooters come with two primary types of tyres: air-filled or solid tyres, as well as different tyre configurations. The two main types of tyres have merits and demerits, and it can be challenging to work out which tyres are best for you, depending on your specific needs. Selecting tyres can have an enormous influence on which electric scooter you’ll buy, as brands tend to provide particular kinds of tyres in their models.
Read on to learn more about the different types of tyres and essentially everything you need to know about e-scooter tyres.
Read on to learn more about the different types of tyres and essentially everything you need to know about e-scooter tyres.
Types of E-scooter Tyres
There are two primary types of electric scooter tyres: pneumatic (air-filled) and solid (non-pneumatic/ airless) tyres. Pneumatic tyres can either be tubeless or have an inner tube. On the other hand, solid tyres are categorised into either rubber-filled tyres or honeycomb tyres with air pockets.
Each of these tyres has its strong points and downsides. Overall, pneumatic tyres are more efficient and offer better cushioning and traction than their solid counterparts. However, they are susceptible to punctures and require great attention and maintenance for optimum functioning. On the other hand, solid tyres require zero maintenance as they don’t get flats. However, this doesn’t mean that solid tyres are more durable than pneumatic ones- both tyres wear out over time based on the riding intensity, terrain, maintenance, and other factors.
Pneumatic (Air-Filled) Tyres
Pneumatic or air-filled tyres are common on cars, bikes, and bicycles. These tyres are constructed from supple rubber and are filled with air to give pressure to maintain their solid structure. A unique feature of pneumatic tyres is the valve stem that sticks out from the centre or the side of the tyre.
The valve stem functions as a gateway to fill or empty air from the tyre and check air pressure. Pneumatic tyres offer excellent ride quality as you’re essentially riding on a cushion of air that absorbs shocks making the ride less bumpy.
Pneumatic tyres are available in two forms: tubeless and inner tubes.
Tubeless Pneumatic Tyres
As the name conveys, tubeless pneumatic tyres lack the inner tube, which holds air. These tyres consist of an air-tight solid outer covering that holds air around the rim. The valve stem is housed in the rim rather than the inner tube.
Pneumatic tubeless tyres are standard on cars and bikes. They tend to be pretty heavy, resistant to puncture (with the provision to use tyre sealant to fix punctures), plus offer high performance. With such properties, tubeless pneumatic tyres are relatively expensive and mostly found on high-performance, premium e-scooters such as the EMOVE Cruiser. And, although they are not that expensive, some people find pneumatic tubeless tyres far too pricey, especially when they could buy cheaper and equally functional alternatives like tubed pneumatics. Pneumatic tubeless tyres are incredibly comfortable to ride on, more puncture-resistant, and more resistant to wear and tear.
However, they have a trade-off of being quite heavy, compromising on portability. They are also pretty challenging to exchange when you get a flat. On some scooters, you’ll need expert skill or even a tyre removal machine to remove and replace the tyre in case of a flat tyre. However, fixing a puncture is relatively more straightforward than tubed tyres. A thing to note is that a puncture on a pneumatic tubeless tyre means that the electric scooter tyre releases air gradually, giving you time to find a repair shop. Alternatively, tubed pneumatics lose all their pressure instantly when a puncture occurs.
Another con is that although many people believe it’s an advantage, these tyres do actually weigh more than regular tyres meaning that if you’re buying a set for your scooter, I would 100% recommend getting ones with light rims as well to keep everything balanced as this will reduce weight; but on the downside, also reduce grip too. These tyres weigh more because they weigh down on the rim, ensuring that they stay in place significantly when accelerating quickly at high speeds.
Inner Tube Pneumatic Tyres
Inner tube pneumatic tyres are ubiquitous on e-scooters and bicycles. These inner tube tyres take after the conventional tyre design featuring a solid outer cover and an inner tube that holds air. The heavy-duty outer tyre is in contact with the road surface and has treads to gain traction. The inner tube houses air to offer the required pressure and features a valve stem to either pump in or empty air.
Inner tube pneumatic tyres are prone to punctures, and this is because there is a higher incidence of tube pinching (flat tyre caused by friction between the tube and rim, or tube and tyre wall). However, if the outer tyre or inner tube is punctured, the inner tube can easily be patched or replaced based on the severity of the puncture. Like their counterparts, the tubeless, inner tube tyres are incredibly comfortable to ride with, providing excellent shock absorption and traction.
Advantages of Pneumatic Tyres
- Excellent traction- Pneumatic tyres offer outstanding traction even in wet conditions, thanks to their unique construction. These tyres are constructed with supple rubber hence have a higher static coefficient of friction, meaning that they are less likely to skid as they ride on the road. They allow for better braking performance and offer excellent traction even in wet conditions.
- Outstanding Shock Cushioning- Pneumatic tyres offer better ride cushioning than solid tyres since they are filled with air. They offer a more comfortable, less bumpy ride afforded by the air pressure inside the tyres. These tyres can stand in for the lack of suspensions in some electric scooters with excellent shock absorption.
- Enhanced Performance- Considering that pneumatic tyres have a lower rolling coefficient of friction, they are more energy-efficient than solid tyres. As a result, they improve a scooter’s range and top speed performance. Electric scooters fitted with pneumatic tyres usually have higher top speed and better range than those equipped with solid tyres despite having similar specifications.
- The best feature of running tyres with tubes is to pump up your tyre pressure to any level you want. This means you can adjust the PSI to match rider weight, cushioning levels, and the riding environment (e.g., a lower PSI increases grip in wet conditions.)
Other benefits of pneumatic tyres include less resistance and ease of finding a replacement.
Disadvantages of Pneumatic Tyres
While they offer excellent ride quality and traction, pneumatic tyres have several weaknesses.
- The primary downsides of pneumatic tyres are that they are susceptible to flats and require constant monitoring and maintenance of the specified pressure for optimal performance and durability.
- Pneumatic tyres also cost significantly more than their solid counterparts.
- They are more susceptible to temperature changes, leading to poor handling.
- Tubeless pneumatic tyres are also quite challenging to replace in the case of a flat tyre. To reduce the chances of a pneumatic tyre getting flat, it’s recommended to maintain the correct pressure and use a tyre sealant. A tyre sealant, also called slime, is placed into the inner tube or tyre via the valve to prevent flats. Also, consider pneumatic tyres with split rims to facilitate easier tyre changes.
Solid tyres consist of solid polyurethane foam filling or hard rubber to give them their structure rather than air pressure. Unlike pneumatic tyres, solid tyres are immune to flats and require minimal maintenance. These are the major selling points of solid tyres.
Being filled with foam material or hard rubber, solid tyres cannot be easily deformed or bent. They are also heavier than their pneumatic counterparts, resulting in a heavier scooter with reduced portability.
Besides being pretty bulky, solid rubber tyres are also tricky to change. E-scooter models with solid tyres require the whole wheel and motor to be exchanged if the tyre is worn out or damaged. This can be pretty expensive, especially if you had not budgeted for it.
Solid tyres offer reduced shock absorption and traction resulting in less comfortable and bumpy rides. While they are immune to puncture, they are not necessarily more durable than their pneumatic counterparts. Solid tyres constructed with solid polyurethane foam filling tend to wear out quickly owing to higher rolling friction.
There are two primary forms of solid tyres: honeycomb and foam-filled solid tyres.
Honeycomb Tyres (Air Pocket Tyres)
A honeycomb solid rubber tyre is a hybrid between air-filled tyres and solid tyres featuring “honeycomb” or “air pocket tyres” construction for increased cushioning. Some honeycomb tyres feature sophisticated lattices for enhanced shock absorption, resulting in better ride quality.
In honeycomb tyres, air pressure has been replaced with solid rubber filling for structural integrity, while the air pockets make the tyres lucid and keep the weight at a minimum. The air pockets inside the tyres enhance shock absorption for comfortable, traction-filled rides. The weight is low thanks to reduced rubber fillings; however, they are not as light as pneumatic tyres.
Essentially, honeycomb tyres combine the advantages and downsides of both pneumatic and solid tyres, giving you a taste of both worlds. While they are immune to flats and offer good cushioning, they are relatively bulkier than pneumatic tyres and are moderately expensive compared to both solid and pneumatic tyres.
Honeycomb tyres are still new in the scooter world thus are the least common types of tyres. They are still evolving, and you should expect better quality and more innovation in the years to come.
Foam Filled (Solid Tyres) Tyres
Foam-filled tyres are packed with foam, rubber, or other solid, flexible polymer filling, making them heavy and stiff. While these durable materials, filled tyres tend to wear and tear relatively faster than pneumatic tyres. Fully solid tyres are also difficult to replace for the same reasons as the honeycomb version.
Advantages of Solid Tyres
- Immune to flats
- Robust and requires minimal maintenance
- Honeycomb tyres offer better cushioning and ride quality than foam-filled solid counterparts.
- Solid tyres are less expensive than pneumatic tyres in terms of overall cost and maintenance expenses.
Downsides of Solid Tyres
- Less comfortable rides due to less cushioning
- They wear off relatively fast
- Poor traction, especially on wet or icy terrain
- Heavier than pneumatic tyres since it’s filled with foam rubber
- Challenging to replace
Tyre Treads Patterns
Tyres feature treads on their surface, which come in different designs with specific purposes. Tyres treads are a series of grooves cut into the tyre to provide traction on wet roads and dry, sunny days. Tread patterns may be shallow or deep, wide or narrow, and with or without continuous features of transverse grooves.
The way a tyre is designed can affect its ability to provide traction on wet and dry surfaces. Tread patterns have evolved because tyres have started featuring advanced designs, especially if they need to be more efficient or possess better capabilities than ordinary tyres. Many factors determine how a tyre should be designed, including speed limits, road conditions, and other things.
Tyre treads can be either:
- Directional/ Asymmetrical
Without the grooves in a tyre tread, the tyre would have poor traction in varying road conditions and become unstable.
The other purpose of tyre tread patterns also referred to as grooves include:
- To provide traction in different terrains and weather conditions
- To facilitate force and directional control
- To disperse heat generated by friction so as not to melt or scorch the material of the tyre itself during braking operations at high speeds.
- To evacuate water, slush and dirt
- To facilitate the tyre’s flexing to conform to the road surface and provide maximum traction in the constantly changing conditions.
- To provide a means by which scooter owners can determine the right time to replace their tyres.
- Tread patterns add an artistic element to the tyres, making them aesthetically appealing to riders based on their style and taste.
The traction on the tyre depends on the ratio of rubber to air space. As such, tyres with more treads and deeper patterns offer higher traction, are more resistant to flats, and provide better control for increased riding safety. However, more treads make tyres thicker, heavier, and clunkier to ride on. The end result is that the ride is more uncomfortable to ride, plus the miles per charge (range) is reduced.
Tyre Types Based on Different Terrain
We look at three different types of tyres adapted for diverse terrain, i.e., knobby off-road tyres, city/sport tyres, and dual-purpose tyres.
Knobby Off-Road Tyres
As the name implies, knobby off-road tyres have knobs (large protrusions around the tyre’s perimeter) with a smaller surface area than city/sport tyres. The knobs can be square, round, triangular, or any geometric shape and arranged in unique patterns or simple rows with either blunt or sharp tips. The knobs are spaced far apart for maximum traction on off-road terrains consisting of sand, dirt, loose terrain, and dirt.
Knobby tyres are specially designed for off-roading on forest trails or mountainous terrains. The significant gaps between knobs allow the tyre to grasp larger rocks and stones to provide maximum traction. Riding a scooter fitted with knobby off-road tyres on tarmac terrain feels wonky owing to reduced contact patch on the tarmac, limiting traction.
- Designed with knobs and textured treads to offer the ultimate traction on rough terrain consisting of loose material
- Safer to use to hazardous terrain
- The risk of flat tyres is low since the knobs protect the tube from puncture due to protrusions of sharp objects.
- Vibrate on tarmacked or concrete terrains
- Slower speeds
City/ Sport tyres
City or sport tyres are designed to safely get you from one point to another in a city. Unlike knobby tyres, city tyres have minimal tread and lack knobs. The tyres surface is smooth, but you can notice some patterns or logos on the rubber. The patterns may appear as treads, but they are only for aesthetic purposes.
The smooth surface of sport tyres makes them grip tarmacked or paved terrains for maximum traction. These tyres benefit from better traction and less rolling resistance, thus are preferred for speed-focused e-scooters. With improved traction and less rolling resistance, you can attain faster speeds while exerting less energy for maximum performance and increased range.
City/Sport tyres are 10 to 15% more efficient than knobby tyres in terms of performance on typical urban terrains. They are the preferred choice for riding on tarmacked, paved, or concrete terrains.
- Better traction on typical urban terrains
- Faster speeds thanks to less rolling resistance
- Enhanced efficiency and economical, i.e., high-range
- Good handling and stability
- Increased chances of puncture
- Higher chances of aquaplaning in wet conditions
- Wear out quickly
- Lack any off-road capability
Dual-Purpose tyres are a hybrid between sport tyres and off-road tyres. These tyres feature knobs with a relatively larger surface area. The knobs are formed as a result of intersecting grooves. Dual-Purpose tyres have both on-road and off-road capabilities. Since the grooves are more expansive, the knobs latch onto uneven surfaces, providing the tyres with some off-road capabilities.
With standard tyres, you can ride your electric scooter on urban terrains most of the time and occasionally take it off-road. Alternatively, some dual-purpose tyres have been customised to offer better off-road performance, with some on-road capabilities. Essentially, dual-purpose tyres allow you to ride on any terrain, whether off-road terrains with loose surfaces, tarmacked roads, paved surfaces, or concrete sidewalks.
- Decent off-road and on-road performance
- Good traction for riding on smooth surfaces and in loose material
- Ideal for use both in wet and dry conditions
- Knobby tyres perform better than standard tyres on off-road terrains
- Sport tyres are better for urban environments
What’s the Best Tyre Tread for Me?
Your proper tyre tread depends on where you plan to ride the scooter. If you want to ride your scooter on typical urban terrains, city/sport tyres are the best choice. These tyres will offer you better range, faster speeds, and better traction for enhanced riding stability and safety. On the contrary, choose knobby tyres for serious off-road scooters.
These tyres offer enhanced grip and better manoeuvring in off-road terrains with loose or rough surfaces. Dual-Purpose tyres provide you with the best of both worlds, allowing you to manoeuvre both urban and uneven terrain environments.
Can you have Different Tyre Types on the Front and Back?
Scooters manufacturers are increasingly pairing pneumatic tyres with solid tyres to achieve various benefits. Today, several electric scooters in the market, such as Vsett 8, Apollo Light, and the Swagtron Swagger 5, have mixed tyre configurations consisting of air-filled tyres and solid tyres.
The rear wheel is solid in most such tyre configurations, while the front tyre is air-filled. Solid tyres are often preferred in the rear since rear tyres are 10X more susceptible to puncture than front tyres.
Pneumatic tyres are best placed at the front, where most ride comfort and control are achieved to enhance damping and improve ride quality. By using mixed tyre configurations, manufacturers exploit the full benefits of pneumatic tyres while significantly reducing the odds of getting a puncture and cutting down on the maintenance costs. However, always ensure to retain the exact tyre size for retained stability.
Advantage of Tyre Pairings
Electric scooters with mixed tyre pairing offer an outstanding balance between ride comfort, maintenance, and convenience. The pneumatic tyres are great at soaking up impacts to provide a comfortable ride experience, while the solid tyres are not susceptible to puncture plus require minimal maintenance.
Disadvantage of Tyre Pairing
While it’s perfectly fine to have different types of tyres on an electric scooter, such tyre pairings have one major downside. The tyres will have different wear rates, leading to riders replacing the tyres at different times, against experts’ advice. Usually, the solid rear tyre wears out faster than the front one, as it weighs most. The different wear and tear rates mean you’ll rarely replace the tyres uniformly, resulting in compromised performance.
Tyre maintenance is mandatory for every rider to ensure the optimal functionality of the tyres, plus ensure enhanced durability. While solid tyres are pretty challenging to replace compared to their pneumatic counterparts, they require minimal maintenance. Pneumatic tyres are maintenance-intensive, requiring you to constantly monitor and maintain the recommended pressure for optimal functionality and durability.
Some of the maintenance practices you ought to undertake on your scooter tyres include:
- Always inflate or deflate your tyres to the recommended PSI (correct air pressure) before every ride.
- Routinely check out for tyre wear and tear by looking at the treads. If you notice the treads are diminishing and the tyre is becoming smooth (bald), it may be time to replace them.
- If you sustain a puncture or a sudden loss of pressure while riding, don’t wait too long to repair the puncture. For the case of pneumatic tyres with an inner tube, you can patch it for the time being as you look for a permanent solution.
- Add tyre sealant or slime to both the front and rear tyres to prevent punctures. The tyre sealant is pumped via the tyre’s valve stem. In case of a puncture, the sealant will dry up and seal the puncture, effectively preventing air leakage.
- Tyre maintenance calls for riding responsibly. If your scooter tyres aren’t made for off-road terrains, don’t push it to tackle off-road environments as it will quickly wear out or get a puncture.
Proper tyre maintenance will not only make your tyres durable but also guarantee optimal scooter performance with smooth rides and maximum safety.
Recommended Tyre Pressure and PSI
When it comes to pneumatic (air-filled) tyres, the correct tyre pressure is vital for optimum functionality, durability, and safety. Tyre pressure is measured in PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). In some countries, the tyre pressure is measured in kPa or bar. In such situations, you can use an online PSI/kPa/bar converter to help you get your preferred unit.
It’s crucial to ensure your scooter tyres have the correct PSI before every ride to provide comfortable and safe rides and prevent premature wear-outs and damages. While most people consider a higher PSI to mean that you have more air concentration in the inner tube or tyre shell, this is usually not the case. A higher PSI essentially means that filled air is exerting more pressure from within the tyre.
The perfect PSI enables the scooter to achieve its maximum range, top speed and ensures maximum traction for outstanding control and stability. Always inflate or deflate based on the recommended PSI, which is usually either indicated in your electric scooter manual or at the side of the tyres themselves. Depending on the model, most electric scooters have a recommended PSI of between 40 to 55 PSI. Over Inflating or underinflating your scooter’s tyres comes with several consequences as below:
Determining the Correct tyre Pressure
With the hefty consequences of overinflating or underinflating, you’ll surely want to stick to the recommended PSI. It is straightforward to determine whether the tyres are correctly inflated by just looking at them. Put your scooter on a raised, flat surface and look at the tyres head-on to determine proper inflation. The tyres are adequately inflated if only the bottom of each tyre is flat at the point of contact between the tyre and the ground. Any bulging either inwards or outwards means that the tyre is under or under-inflated.
Sometimes, you cannot find the recommended PSI- maybe you don’t have the user manual, and the correct tyre pressure is not indicated on the side of the tyre. In such cases, you can determine the correct PSI yourself, using a trial and error procedure.
You should be able to feel whether the tyres are properly inflated. Start by inflating the tyres to a minimum pressure, usually 35PSI, and take it for a test ride. Add an additional 5 PSI to both tyres, then go for a ride. Establish the point where the tyres perform optimally and determine the PSI as that point- that will be the correct tyre pressure.
If you’re not akin to this trial and error method, you can always contact the scooter manufacturer to inquire about the recommended PSI. Even so, most scooter models have an online manual, and you can access it to determine the recommended tyre pressure.
Signs of High/Low tyre Pressure
Whether you’re riding on low or high tyre pressure, you can quickly notice that something is just not right. Here are the signs of riding on either high or low pressure.
Signs of Low tyre Pressure
Riding a scooter with low tyre pressure significantly impacts the ride quality plus puts you at significant risk. Low tyre pressure can cause less comfortable rides, a reduction in range, and hinder braking performance. To keep your scooter running efficiently and smoothly, you ought to know the signs of low tyre pressure, which include:
- Spongy drive with hard hits over road cracks, potholes, and bumps resulting in less cushion and bumpy rides.
- Reduced road range. The mileage per charge is below average despite the battery being fully charged and not having any issues.
- Flapping noise. If you’re riding a scooter and then you hear a “whomp-whomp” noise, it could be the sound of underinflated tyres slapping against the road.
- Handling and controlling difficulties. Difficulties in steering and manoeuvrability, increased wobbling, challenges in negotiating corners, and change in handling could point to low tyre pressure.
If you notice any of these signs, you should pull over immediately, inspect the tyres to ascertain the pressure, and decide on the next course of action.
Signs of High tyre Pressure
Excessive tyre pressure reduces its contact with the ground resulting in the scooter bouncing instead of remaining firmly rooted. This comes with several consequences, such as reduced traction and increased stopping distance. The signs of high tyre pressure include:
- Reduced handling and control- the scooter doesn’t just feel right
- Uneven tyre wear with excessive wear on centre treads
- Extremely uncomfortable rides
- Long braking distance
Electric Scooters Tyre Types Advice on Them-Closing Words
Conclusively, tyres are one of the most critical components in an electric scooter. Pneumatic tyres are better than solid tyres in terms of performance and ride quality but require strict maintenance for optimal functionality. Solid tyres require minimal maintenance, making them ideal for busy riders who may not find time to maintain the tyres. They are also suitable for young or novice riders who may not know how to repair a puncture or undertake routine maintenance practices. Overall, both solid and pneumatic tyres have their strong points and weaknesses. Your decision should therefore be based on what you need in a scooter.
Do Electric Scooters have Pneumatic tyres?
Yes! Pneumatic tyres are the most common type of tyres on electric scooters. These tyres are preferred for their immense benefits, including better traction and smoother ride quality owing to substantial shock absorption.
What is a Honeycomb Tyre?
A solid honeycomb tyre is a hybrid between pneumatic and solid tyres featuring “honeycomb” or “air pocket” construction for increased cushioning. Some honeycomb tyres feature sophisticated lattices for enhanced shock-absorbing, resulting in better ride quality.
Can I Swap the Manufacturer-Designated Tyre Type?
Yes! It’s possible to swap the manufacturer-designated tyre type. For instance, you can swap out solid tyres for pneumatic tyres. However, this is mainly dependent on the scooter models. Some e-scooters will require you to carry out significant modifications, which can be challenging.
What Tyres are Best for Off-road Riding?
Knobby tyres are best for off-roading, thanks to the outstanding traction. A combination of pneumatic and knobby tyres offers outstanding dampening from beneath, ensuring smooth rides and excellent traction.
Are Scooter Tyres Tubeless?
Not all scooter tyres are tubeless, but tubeless pneumatic tyres lack the inner tube to hold air.
What is a Tyre Sealant?
A tyre sealant, also referred to as a slime, is a thick liquid you put into the tyre or innertube via the valve to prevent air loss in case of puncture or as a measure to avoid punctures.
What Tyres are Best for Electric Scooters?
Pneumatic tyres are the best for electric scooters because they offer substantial impact dampening for smooth and comfortable rides. Pneumatic tyres also have other benefits, including lower rolling resistance, better traction, and easy fitting and removal.
How Long Do Scooter Tyres Last?
Scooter tyres can last up to 2 000- 3 000 miles (3,200-4,800 kilometres) based on the brand and the care given to the tyres. Note that solid tyres wear out much faster than their pneumatic counterparts.
What does PSI mean?
Tyre pressure is measured in PSI (Pounds per Square Inch).
What PSI is Recommended for Electric Scooter tyres?
The recommended PSI for most electric scooter tyres is 40-60. However, the ideal PSI should be based on the rider’s weight, type of tyres, and manufacturer’s recommendations.
How Long do Solid tyres Last?
Solid tyres wear out much faster than pneumatic tyres. As such, you should expect them to last a little bit less than their pneumatic counterparts. Solid tyres last up to 1000-2000 miles, depending on how they are maintained and cared for.
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.