Your Ultimate Guide to Electric Kick Scooters
Before we start, this article will focus more on the Philippines. If you’re someone from outside of the country, most of the points are still applicable but models and regulations would vary. Got it? Let’s go!
One day, you saw someone riding an Electric Kick Scooter (EKS). You felt amazed that you suddenly wanted your own. Traffic is getting worse, schedules changing and you want to control more your time. As things couldn’t get any worse, there’s no perfect time to buy a scooter. As you were doing your research, the internet made you feel confused and you have no clue where to start. We know that feeling and with that, this article shall serve as your guiding light to help you get started from day one up to maintenance.
An EKS is a kick scooter powered by electricity. EKS can sometimes be referred to as “electric scooter” or just simply “scooter”. “Kick” was added so it would explicitly be distinguished between a (motor) scooter. Compared to a normal kick scooter, EKS requires little to no effort in order to accelerate. It also offers a quicker and more portable way to travel at a very low cost. The majority of scooters can be folded and its dimensions make it practical to carry to places. Due to its convenience, it can be brought to places like establishments, inside malls, schools, and even on trains (even without folding). Although most EKS are ridden while standing, users can optionally add seats. Still, most would prefer standing as it’s hassle to fold and gives you more control over impeding paths.
In the Philippines, there’s growing popularity on EKS. Car owners, motoriders, cyclists, and even company executives are now making the shift. The growing popularity has lead to new brands which allowed people to have more options. More shops have opened and more solutions were introduced as the community grew. Due to the small width of scooters, it’s easy to traverse traffic. Others make it as advocacy towards micro-mobility. Having that said, there’s a great potential for the Philippines in the EKS space.
Every rider has their own purpose. We’ve defined it into three types: Leisure, Commuter, and Hobbyist.
Leisure riders mostly do it out of fun for no exact reason. Ride in the park, go to a friend, play in the area, just share a smile and have a good laugh about it. Typically, leisure riders own entry-level scooters. These are commonly labeled with speeds that don’t exceed 25kph, equipped with solid tires and its weight light enough to be carried by one hand
Commuter riders are the ones ride for a practical reason. Most EKS commuters ride to work. Some to school and some for their own agenda. Collectively, these riders use this as an advantage to save time and money. “Scooter as an investment”, they say.
Hobbyist riders have great enthusiasm towards scooters. They spend a lot on beautification, upgrades, or other units out of love. They can be both a commuter or leisure riders. Hobbyist do more than rides and explore into technical details
Given all that, it’s best to determine which type are you so you’d narrow down your purpose.
This is the most asked question in the EKS community. We all have our reasons and there are plenty of factors as to what you'd consider. Of course, there is no perfect formula in doing so but we’ll guide you to make your own “gut” decision.
The first step is to determine your type as enumerated the previous section. Next, determine your (1) budget, (2) distance, (3) route, (4) how often will you use it and (5) even weight. Before we forget, if it's used for commute purposes, determine as well if you’ll go for bi-modal transport (e.g. carry it on train/bus then last mile scoot) or full ride. A lot right? But we have to narrow down your preference. It’s okay not to know all at first. Ballpark figures are fine at this point.
To determine your distance, use Google Maps. We’d prefer you use the browser version so you can freely alter routes. Check your route from point A to B and make sure it leads you to a decent path. That means not going through the main and bad roads. If you’re more nitty-gritty, you can use Strava or adjust Google Maps to acquire elevation. Roads may look straight but little did you know you are already going uphill. That contributes to power too you know!
If you’re worried about elevation specifics, you don’t need the exact measurements. Simply getting the distance from A to B is fine. Once you become experienced, you’ll become more aware of elevations.
If you haven’t checked your weight, it’s the best time to do so. Weight plays a big role in battery and torque. If you weigh more than 100KG, you’ll need to get a more powerful unit with better torque to keep up as well as more battery to compensate torque. Typically, manufacturers use 75KG as the baseline. Anything above would consume more.
If you’d like to go more technical, consider suspension as well. Roads in the Philippines are not always smooth and you’ll use this capability to fight the rigged pass. A lot of entry-level scooters don’t have powerful suspensions so if you plan to stick with it, it might be detrimental to your parts in the long run.
Still confused? We got you covered! To help you decide better, we have created a tool to give you recommendations based on your preference. Click here and know our recommendations in a few seconds!
If you’re new to EKS, it's an unspoken rule to buy safety gears along with your scoot.
Your safety is as important as your scooter. Let’s face it, sticking alone with stock accessories isn’t enough. This is especially true when riding out at night. It’s recommended that when you buy a scooter, always allot an extra budget for safety gear and maintenance. If you think that hurts your budget, wait ‘till you pay for your injuries (we would never wish it would happen to anyone). Prevention is better than cure!
Helmets are the most fundamental equipment for safety. The EKSPH community has been constantly reminding everyone of this protocol. In cases where you make a (front) fall, the first thing that hits you is your chin or nose. You don’t want damages on those parts, right? That’s why it’s highly recommended to wear a full-face helmet. For starters, this might make you feel awkward but your safety is more important than public ridicule. There are several helmets available on the market.
*The following prices are for brand new helmets. Second-hand ones are normally 40% less.
Price ranges around PHP2,000 - PHP6,000
Pricy but lighter and more ventilation. This is the status quo for experienced EKS riders. Price ranges around PHP5,500 - PHP30,000
A common entry-level helmet typically used with light scoots. Protection is only limited on most of your skull. Heavy but serves its purpose.
They are designed that way to accommodate intense aerobic activity from cycling. Due to the riding nature of scooters, this helmet is not recommended as EKS don’t require intense amount of kinetic energy for acceleration thus air regulation is unnecessary. The air blows relatively during the ride so that adds up to the reason. A bicycle helmet is fragile and has only limited protection to the top. If you wish to own an EKS, skip this and make a nutshell helmet as your entry-level.
We also don’t recommend buying cheap knock-offs around the corner. They do not provide the needed protection as it’s built with cheap materials. Don’t buy a helmet simply because of compliance. Still not satisfied? Watch this video stress testing the types of helmets.
Adding more lights to your scooter provides better visibility to the road. “What if we have daylight?”, You ask. Others still open their lights as a defense mechanism to signal upcoming drivers. Regardless if you ride night or day, it’s important to be visible. Use the lights accordingly.
Lights are attached usually to your handlebar. You can also add adapters on the rear to accommodate rear lights. A great practice would be getting 2 on the front: one pointing straight and one pointing at the road (high beam and low beam) and add another one for the back.
Alerting cars/pedestrians ahead of time is very important. It has saved a lot of people from accidents. Given that, we’d recommend you invest on a horn that’s loud enough to be heard at least 15 meters (70 dB). Given the nature of scooters, we tend to side sweep several times and you can’t avoid the fact that there are also motorcycles doing the same. Other adversaries on the road don’t have enough peripheral vision to see you pass through so if you know that a motorcycle ahead of you makes a sudden sweep, be one step ahead by hitting that horn. Similarly, it applies to pedestrians and bicycles too.
Knee and elbow pads add extra protection. You won’t see a lot wearing this but the more protection, the better!
There are times that you will go to places and park your scooter in an open area. Scooters are usually parked on a bike rack so it’s no surprise that anyone can tamper with your scoot. It is essential to invest in a sturdy bike lock. Here are its types and what should you get:
Some scooters have the capability to enable/disable power via key ignition. For advanced scoots, they can use a fingerprint unlock (only for EY3 controllers). If you have these features, the better.
EY3 Throttle for advanced scooters
If you’re the type of person who goes to places, it is important to plan ahead and check if your destination has decent parking. Scooters can be lenient on establishments however, there are times that you’ll need to leave it outdoors. Do not park your scoot under the sun for a very long time. That will cause your battery to deteriorate. If you know it's going to rain, park it in a covered area.
If you need to know available bike parking spaces, check out Bisikleta Spaces, available for Android and iOS.
A great app to help you look for bike parking spaces in the Philippines
The biggest weakness of an EKS is getting wet. No scooter has ever been waterproofed. While that innovation might take some time, it is advised to take precautions if the weather is bad.
In the Philippines, the rainy season occurs from mid-June to early October. The country at times experiences a phenomenon called “El Niño”. That means experiencing heavy drought throughout the country, which lessens the occurrence of rainy days. Since the weather can be unpredictable, it’s best to look at weather forecasts before riding. We recommend Accuweather as it’s so far the most accurate and it also gives you a satellite view for more info.
“Cling-wrapping” is a technique that EKS owners do to protect themselves from water. Basically, you wrap the parts prone to water ingress using a stretch film. Do note that this is not fool-proof and water could still get in. This is only good for one ride coming from a wet environment. Once you arrive at your destination, cut it, dispose, and wipe your scoot. If you don't, the moist could get through ingress spots. Best if you could inspect inside the deck after traveling from the wet road. Also, do note that cling-wrapping decreases friction from your feet so be careful with your stance.
Maintaining an EKS is easier compared to its motorcycle counterpart. It has fewer components and parts can be used from bicycles and motorcycles. Some things you have to constantly check are your tires, stem, and your batteries.
Take periodic maintenance for every 1000KM. Go to your service center and have your scooter checked. Ensure all is well.
If taking things by yourself, look for noisy areas in your stem upon shaking. Maybe you need to tighten it up or have your headset replaced. Check brakes if it’s calibrated properly and if it still performs well. Maybe you already need a brake pad replacement or have the grips adjusted.
Tires depend on your model together with its corresponding pressure (PSI - Pounds per Square Inch). You either have solid, pneumatic, or tubeless tires. In a nutshell, solid tires never get flat but are more prone to slipping since it’s built with less friction. Pneumatic tires are the most common in which is filled with air through the tube. Lastly, tubeless tires are the same as pneumatic but with no inner tube to pump. Instead, they have ribs attached to the tire and the air is contained inside.
You will also need to bring a first-aid kit for your scooter. This would include at least a set of Allen tools, a vulcanizing kit, and a tire pump. While we won’t go deep on these tools, what you’re bringing should be enough for a short-term repair. If you can pass through your service center afterward, have it inspected to see further damage.
Since you are bringing first-aid to your scoot, might as well bring for yourself. You wouldn’t know when an injury could happen. You can get a compact first-aid kit from your local pharmacy which includes bandages, cotton, band-aids, and Betadine.
EDSA, one of the roads you should avoid passing through
Anywhere you go, there are rules you’ll have to follow. Stop on red light, respect pedestrians, follow traffic signs and such. These are made to keep the road in order. Even if scooters are outside the law, we’re still not exempted to follow the rules. It’s a good practice to obey our laws regardless as it shows how well-cultured you are.
Now for the ultimate question, are electric kick scooters regulated by the Philippine government?
The short answer is no, but getting there.
Lately, there’s been some footage circulating around the internet that got the government's attention. Mostly they are riding in EDSA. Since it’s inevitable in a growing community to have lawbreakers, there will come a time that the government has to enforce laws to create discipline. While we certainly don’t want a lot of bureaucracy, our job as users is to be good citizens by showing discipline at all times. After all, you just wanted to ride your scooter and have fun right? Why do you have to go through registration and spend all that money? If you don’t want that to happen, everyone must behave otherwise we all get affected.
We should set the example of being a law-abiding citizen. We are all given the free-will to enjoy our privilege but once abused, we could lose all that. Just like what happened to Singapore, a lot of regulation got into the scooting community due to lack of discipline. As a result, they are only limited to some spaces with a very limited speed. We don’t want that to happen in the Philippines.
By the way, this is created by us in Scooterdex and not referenced from an existing dogma
Next question, are we required to register our EKS at the LTO (Land Transportation Office) and add an extra restriction category on our license?
Nope, at least not yet. With respect to the previous question, we believe it’s already in the process. While this can be a double-edged sword, the advantage of being regulated is getting your unit tracked and have insurance for damages.
What if in theory, the registration process will go like on cars and motorcycles? A common requirement would be the OR (official receipt). For second-hand sales, you’ll need to add up a notarized deed of sale. If the process does go the same, make sure you keep these documents.
While the idea of getting registered is still a grey area, just keep on using your scoot. We could assume if registration pushes through, the law could be lenient (at least on the initial implementation) especially on second-hand ownership. Just to be clear, we’re NOT making any official statements. We’re just playing around with that idea.
What happens when you are apprehended by an enforcer?
Don’t fret, they are just making sure you comply with the rules. Apprehension could either mean you’ve done something wrong or they want to ask questions. Normally, they’ll just ask about your unit. Enforcers get interested in scoots too you know! What if worse comes to worst? Your scooter is about to get impounded and all your hard work gone in a snap? Do take note that if your vehicle is capable of propelling manually or through muscular motion (e.g. kicking to gain acceleration), you are not required to register as per LTO guidelines meaning, they cannot apprehend you. That also includes e-bikes with pedals.
If the enforcer doesn’t buy it, here are steps you could follow:
Let’s get down to the math, shall we? Let’s say you are buying a scooter worth PHP40,000 and your one-way commute is worth PHP60 equivalent to 15KM. Your total daily commute is PHP120 worth 30KM. Say your full charge cost PHP6 and we’ll assume you always max out your battery from 100% to 0%. There are 20 working days in a month so PHP120 x 20 days is PHP2400, minus charging the cost of PHP120 (because 6 x 20 days) equals PHP2280 (2400 - 120) as the cost saved per month.
PHP40,000 divide by PHP2280 is equivalent 17.5 months (1 year 5 months).
Given that formula, let’s evaluate with the following price tag:
Do note that your expenses may vary. This is just a ballpark assumption on what it would look like if taken to perspective.
Note that this does not include the price you could’ve saved from potential Grab rides, side trips, and weekend trips (commute). Also, if your commute is more expensive, the earlier you get the return of investment (ROI). Your battery is assumed not to always go from 100 to 0 so whatever is the remainder is another cost saved. Let’s not forget about your lifestyle when you were still riding a car. Imagine the gas, parking fees, maintenance, and toll (if any), so making a shift could speed up your ROI. Having these considered would return your investment faster.
To be fair, we have not added up your expenditures for accessories, maintenance costs, and the days you won’t be using your scooter (e.g. rainy days, abroad, etc). Add all that to the forecasted cost minus all things saved.
“Hey, so does that mean I have to wait for 5 years when I buy a high-end scooter? Looks like it’s not practical then!”, says you. Remember that EKS is not just about the money but the time saved as well. Your 2.5 hours of commute can be dropped to 30 mins.
Let’s take that into perspective:
In one day, your average commute one way is 2.5 hours but an EKS gives you 30 mins. Making that two-way becomes 5 hours commute versus 1 hour on EKS. Multiply those in 20 working days becomes 100 hours (commute) vs 20 hours (EKS) in a month. In a year, multiply that by 12 becomes 1200 hours (commute) versus 240 hours (EKS). Get the difference becomes 960 hours = 40 days.
Imagine saving 40 days in a year! You can use that time for your family, de-stressing, earning more money and such. They say time is the most precious asset on earth. An EKS can save all those precious time, which is the biggest ROI of all.
An EKS has its own advantage and disadvantage. We hope that this shed a light to your EKS journey. Was that a lot of information? We sure do. If you still feel lost, you can always revisit this guide. Even professionals go back to the instruction manual from time to time. The community is there to help too. You can join the Facebook group for more informative discussions and join your local chapter to gain more place-specific insights.
Here are useful tools you could use moving forward: