The Rise Of Personal Electric Transport: What You Can And Can’t Use
How you navigate the confines of your own city is completely up to interpretation; still, getting places is made easier when you add a personal electric transport vehicle to the mix.
Yes, you could simply get the bus — or invest in an electric car of some kind, but not everyone can afford one of those or be bothered to get on public transport each day.
No, personal electric transport will be the way forward for a lot of you reading this.
Now has never been a better time to invest in these types of rides. After all, battery technology has come a long way in the past decade or so.
Take any early 00s e scooter, for example.
These pale in comparison to the electric scooters we have available today; just look at what scooter brands like Pure Air and Xiaomi offer to see that in real-time.
Today we help you discover the best electric personal transport ride, one that meets your own needs/budget.
Let’s get into it.
Different Types Of Personal Electric Transport
Understand that whenever we say ‘personal electric transport,’ we’re actually referring to multiple types of motorised rides.
And this applies to kids too, adults aren’t the only ones.
You see, these electric riding vehicles are grouped differently compared to electric cars, although in some cases, you will need an in-date UK driving license to ride them (depending on what you buy).
The likelihood that you’ve seen these personal transporters out in the open is pretty high given the rising popularity of electric bikes and segways.
Not every electric transporter was created equal; remember that.
Meaning some are faster and offer better range. You should have a better idea of which is faster/more powerful once you’ve read this page in full.
So, what personal electric vehicles are out there?
Here, we’ll list them:
- Electric bicycles
- Electric scooters
- Electric skateboards
- Electric mopeds
- Electric tricycles
- Electric hoverboards
- Electric unicycle
There are variations to all personal electric transport mentioned above, but we’ll get into all that as we break each down one by one.
Skill-wise, some are harder to control than others, requiring a certain level of balance if you’re to control it correctly.
In other words, don’t go buying a one wheel Segway if you’re the uncoordinated type.
An electric bike let’s you travel just about anywhere
An Electric Bike Is Range Personified
A contender for the most popular personal electric vehicle, electric bicycles have changed the way riders tackle the daily commute and then some.
Think about it.
An electric bike is basically a standard two-wheeler complete with pedal assistance, allowing the rider to travel further and with little effort.
Most electric bicycles offer between 30 to 50 miles of range between charges — although some models can top 100 miles (expect to pay a premium for one of those).
In short: e bikes are built for stamina.
Speed, on the other hand, is capped in most cases at 20mph — e bikes like these are referred to as Class 1/Class 2 types.
The electric bike is seen as the perfect alternative to anything on four wheels because of how easy it is to charge, and ultimately, store.
Folding electric bikes, in particular, are great for that.
Once folded, these two-wheelers are easily carried, meaning you can take them with you on the go, like on public transport or the boot of another vehicle.
Range is limited compared to an electric mountain bike. Still, this was expected given the size difference.
Price-wise, electric bicycles are also a lot cheaper in comparison, ranging from a few hundred to several thousands of pounds (electric mountain bikes top the bill as the most expensive).
- Looking for a cheap electric bike under £1000? Check out our guide here.
- Prices of electric bicycles are pretty reasonable given the power these personal transporters possess.
- Range is guaranteed, allowing you to travel far between charges (up to 100 miles in some cases).
- Some e bikes can be quite heavy to lug around — this applies to some folding two-wheelers too.
Rental e scooters have proven popular in certain countries
E Scooters Rule The Streets
Try not to write these electric transporters off as simply a toy; they’ve far outgrown this title.
Like other motorised transporters, an e scooter is the evolution of the classic kick scooters we all owned as kids.
The only difference is the electric scooter has already gone through a mini boom back in the early 00s. These scooters were bulky as hell and took way too long to charge for the amount of time you got out of them.
Modern electric scooters are a different kind of beast; it’s partly the reason why they’re technically illegal to ride in public in the UK.
If caught riding an e scooter in public, you could face fines and even have your motorised two-wheeler taken off you.
Our advice would be to read up on UK e scooter laws beforehand to know what you’re getting yourself in for.
In the UK, you need a driving license to rent any electric scooter that is part of government-backed trials. Renting an e scooter will cost between £3 to £4 for 15 minutes of riding on average, but prices can vary.
In a way, electric scooters are far more accessible to buyers when you compare them to e bikes or electric skateboards.
We mean this from a price standpoint and because of how easy they are to use.
- Cheap electric scooters are easy to find when you look in the right places. Check out our guide here to find out more.
If safety is of some concern when it comes to personal electric transport rides, then there’s no better companion than an e scooter.
- Transportable, an electric scooter can be carried/stored just about anywhere.
- Practically anyone can ride an e scooter with no real experience needed.
- Range is lacking compared to other rides.
Electric longboards give daredevils something new to chase
Tricked Out: Electric Skateboards Are A Vibe
Consider yourself more of a thrill-seeker with electric on the brain?
A powered skateboard could be right up your alley as long as you find the right board.
Experts in this particular field will all tell you the same thing: motorised longboards are excellent at manoeuvrability, just not as equipped to deal with tricks.
You see, these boards are built for transport — for getting you from A to B a lot faster.
This is the case for the majority of personal transporters; you’ll rarely see anyone performing kickflips or grinds on anything with a battery pack.
Speaking of batteries, you can usually locate the pack underneath the board, thus distributing the weight of the board.
How does an electric skateboard work exactly?
Most come with a controller of some kind that you hold in your hands as you travel; all you need to do is steer and let the board do the rest.
We can thank YouTuber Casey Neistat for raising the profile of Boosted and electric skateboards in general. That being said, e boards have been around for many years now, only now they’re riding the personal electric transport wave.
Like e scooters, electric skateboards are illegal in the UK, so ride at your own risk.
Evolve Skateboards is a great place to start if you’re looking at skating in on the ground floor.
And then you can always look into buying an electric skateboard conversion kit. This lets you turn just about any four-wheel board into a motorised monster.
- Great at navigating hills and steep terrain in quick bursts (they look very cool doing so too).
- Controlled through a wireless handset, giving riders complete control over the board.
- A certain skill level is required if you’re going to buy an electric skateboard.
Can’t afford an electric motorbike? See a moped instead
Can’t Afford An E Motorbike? Try An Electric Moped Instead
Look halfway between an e bike and electric scooter, and you’ll find the electric moped.
The benefits of owning one of these personal electric transport two-wheelers are pretty obvious. They’re almost essential as far as transporting groceries/luggage is concerned.
Moreover, some electric mopeds have room for a passenger, which puts this transporter in a league of its own when you put it up against some of the other rides mentioned.
The kicker is top speed is limited compared to bigger/bolder gas-powered scooters.
Most UK electric mopeds lack the speed needed to compete with its non-eco counterparts. You’ll be lucky if you get around 30mph out of these two-wheelers.
Furthermore, drivers will need to register any moped they buy if they want to use it on UK roads. This means you’ll need a driving license and will need to wear a helmet when in use.
Easily the biggest appeal of an electric moped is how much it costs.
You can pick up the Super Soco CUx for £2,249. For reference, you can pick up a decent electric mountain bike for the same price.
This is a hell of a lot cheaper than some of the best electric motorbikes available at the moment too.
- Some electric mopeds can handle an additional passenger.
- These two-wheelers can carry luggage thanks to storage compartments.
- A driving license is required to ride this electric personal transporter — you also need to have license plates installed.
The future of electric trikes? All 3D Printed © Credit to EOOS
The Electric Tricycle: Compact And Ready To Go
Having an electric tricycle adds an additional level of safety to your journeys.
Two-wheel transport is grand and all, but having that extra wheel can make a massive difference.
Electric tricycles and electric bicycles have a lot in common.
For example, both can come with a folding version for easy transport and are based on existing non-electric transporters.
The minimalist look of some folding electric tricycles have helped push them beyond the stereotype — you see, trikes are commonly associated with older folk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but young riders have often gone for a two-wheeler instead.
There’s plenty of reasons to own an electric trike, and one of them is all about hauling.
An electric tricycle is the closest you’ll get to the carry capacity of an electric moped without needing a license.
Look to the rear of most trikes, and you’ll find a decently sized luggage rack, perfect for carrying shopping or other items.
As far as price goes, you’re probably looking at paying anywhere between £900 to £3000 for a quality motorised three-wheeler.
Did we mention electric trike concepts leave every other personal electric transport vehicle in the dust too?
Feast your eyes on the ZUV electric trike above; you’ll see.
Companies clearly see the benefits of owning something practical with a fair amount of space for hauling goods.
There’s commercial viability here.
- You have a lot of room to transport goods with an electric tricycle (some can handle an additional passenger).
- A third wheel goes a long way in giving riders more control no matter how much weight is applied.
- Steering an electric trike can be jarring/take some getting used to.
Hoverboards are big in the streets
Like Floating On Thin Air: Electric Hoverboards
Hoverboards, segways, self-balancing scooters; whatever you want to call them.
All have a place in the world of personal electric transporters, regardless of whether you like them or not.
We say that because all have established a reputation for being far too flashy and a damn-near death sentence given how unstable some can seem.
Transporters or circus act; take your pick, which is it?
We tend to lean on the latter, but only because we’re quite jealous of those who can control these things.
It’s an obvious thing to say, but electric hoverboards are like electric skateboards in that they require a specific type of rider; they aren’t for everyone.
However, there are still exceptions to the rule — like Segway-style hoverboards that come with handlebars.
If you’ve seen Arrested Development before, then you should know of Gob’s personal electric transport vehicle; he uses it to get just about everywhere.
Yeah, those tend to be pretty useful in a day-to-day capacity.
Segway, the company behind the infamous floating podium, actually discontinued its revolutionary transporter back in 2015, now focusing on electric scooters above all else.
It’s partly the reason why you don’t see them anymore and why these self-balancing scooters are so popular.
That and the fact that they’re very cheap to own.
Be careful, though…
Hoverboards are illegal to use in the UK in 2021 and have been for a while now.
- Easily the most affordable personal electric transporter available to buyers at this moment in time.
- LED lights allow you to navigate dark spaces with little to no worry.
- Illegal to use in public and quite dangerous to ride if you have never stepped on one before.
An electric unicycle will take some getting used to
Behold, The Electric Unicycle
One wheel balancing has never been so…
Again, this transporter is a dangerous game, but if you’re willing to play, then you can get a lot out of it in terms of commuting.
You’re basically buying a single wheel with a motor/battery equipped, which is all it really needs to go.
Wheel size s range from 12” up to 16.” Still, some sport larger wheels depending on the size of the rider.
We’ve seen a few electric unicycles in our time, and they never cease to amaze us, given how fast they can go and how odd they look.
From afar, it can look like someone is flying, only vertical.
Speed-wise, an electric unicycle can normally travel 12mph. A pricier one wheeler can travel a little faster; just expect to pay more upfront for one.
Those of you expecting fantastic range, prepare to be amazed/disappointed (again, this depends on price/quality).
Cheap electric unicycles will only carry you for 6 miles before conking out.
Pay more, and you can get up to 25 miles out of each charge.
Some might think otherwise, but we consider the Onewheel an electric unicycle.
Yes, we know; it looks more like an electric longboard minus three wheels, but it still requires a better understanding of balance.
In a way, the Onewheel is easier to ride than any electric unicycle if you’re used to riding a skateboard, given the stance of the person on board.
Then again, this is just our opinion.
Maybe you think differently?
- Leaning forwards/backwards causes the electric transporter to move/slow down meaning no riding device is required.
- Most electric unicycles are waterproof, allowing riders to move around in wet conditions.
- Difficult to control at first and somewhat of a learning curve overall.
Before You Go Buying A Personal Electric Transport Vehicle…
Understanding the different types of personal transporters is simply step one in finding the right ride for you.
Still, you can identify what you’re looking for by asking yourself how much you’re willing to spend and where you’re currently at in terms of skill level.
As far as what you can/can’t use in the UK is concerned, practically every one of the transporters mentioned above are illegal to use out in public — aside from electric bikes, which are considered ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs) by the UK gov.
This means you don’t need to register these personal transporters, pay tax on them, or insure them.
Power is all but guaranteed no matter which personal electric transport vehicle you choose, but some are better than others.
E bicycles are easily the best all-rounder out of the list above. Decent range and speed that will get you places in no time; the only thing that lets them down is the price of high-end electric bikes.
If money is an issue for you, then you might be better off looking at an electric scooter — or an electric hoverboard.
Know that you don’t need to fork out hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on a new electric personal transporter, as there are plenty of electric conversion kits worth looking at first.
A Swytch Kit, for example, lets you keep your old bicycle and enjoy the freedom that comes with owning a pedal-assisted transporter.
And then, you can simply uninstall the kit whenever you like, allowing you to switch between modes at will.
Don’t settle for an electric hoverboard because it’s cheap. Choose one because you can actually ride it successfully and not fall flat on your face.
The Rise Of Personal Electric Transport: What You Can And Can’t Use
Transporters aside, let’s just sit and appreciate/reflect on the number of options buyers (such as yourselves) have these days.
Rewind the clock a few years, and all you really had were expensive Segways, the odd electric bicycle and a bulky e scooter.
Options are cheaper these days and a lot more diverse when it comes to the types of personal electric transport vehicles you have at your disposal.
We know; it sucks that most transporters are illegal to use in the UK. Still, this hasn’t stopped manufacturers/brands from releasing new models.
As mentioned, we’re seeing more interest in concepts for future versions of these rides.
BMW, for example, just came out with its own take on the modern e scooter/electric bike.
So, which electric transporter will you choose?
Our money’s on an e bike, but we could be wrong.