The Difference between an Electric Bike and a Scooter

Given the increased interest these days in both scooters and electric bikes, it’s important to understand that the two terms are definitely not interchangeable. In fact, an electric bike often bears little resemblance to a scooter and will actually have a very different feel in the ride and in the uses for the vehicle. Here’s what you need to know:

Electric Bike is a Bike

In essence, an electric bike is first and foremost, a bicycle. It’s got pedals and those pedals are attached to gears which turn the wheels. The key thing that separates an electric bike from a scooter is that you can use an electric bike even if it doesn’t have an ounce of power in the battery. However, a scooter with an empty battery will be as useless as a car with no gasoline. You can sit on it. You can wheel it from place to place, but unless you’re going downhill and relying on gravity (and very good brakes), you can’t ride the thing like you could with an electric bike.

Most Electric Bikes are Pedal Assist

Another big distinguishing feature of an electric bike is that they work based on a technology known as “pedal assist.” What this means is that you won’t be able to use the electric bike completely under its own power. Instead, you need to pedal first and then the bike’s motor will kick in and make the pedaling easier. It feels kind of like having someone standing beside you, holding the bike and pushing it forward for you rather than having to do everything under your own power.

You Don’t Need a License

The reason that an electric bike is most likely to be pedal assist also brings us to another big difference between a scooter and an electric bike: you don’t need a license. In most cases, local laws regarding powered conveyances, be they an electric bike, a scooter or a car, require that they operate exclusively under their own power. This means that the scooter doesn’t require you to do anything but turn the key and push the gas pedal. An electric bike by comparison is considered street legal in most locals without a license simply because of the fact that you must power it with your own energy.

When You Wouldn’t Want an Electric Bike

Now that we’ve established the basic difference between an electric bike and a scooter, let’s look at when you wouldn’t want to use an electric bike. In essence, you wouldn’t want to use an electric bike if you hate to pedal, because you almost certainly will have to pedal an electric bike. More important however, when you don’t want to feel as if you are riding a bicycle, you don’t want to be riding an electric bike.

For example, when riding along the highway, you generally will not find anyone riding a regular bicycle because it’s extremely dangerous (unless they’ve made special arrangements, for example, for a race of some kind, though in that case, you would need to check with the race organizers to make sure that you can legally use your electric bike).

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