E-Scooters are right on trend. More and more people are discovering the small electric scooters for themselves. What should you consider when buying these devices with electric motor?
Since June 2019, electrically powered scooters have been permitted in Germany and are offered in large quantities as rental equipment. Matching the Christmas business, e-scooters for private use are now also available.
For carefree enjoyment, the e-scooter must first be insured and the license plate obtained must be affixed. This is because anyone who goes into public traffic without insurance is committing a criminal offence for driving without insurance cover. Furthermore, the driver must be at least 14 years old.
Experts at the Allianz Center for Technology have looked into the question of what to look out for when making a choice. The focus was on safe installation and operational safety, but the legal regulations governing the operation of e-scooters were also taken into account. The AZT experts provide the following advice and information:
E-scooters are motor vehicles, not toys, and two people may not ride on the device.
A General Operating License (ABE) with type plate, vehicle identification number and a factory plate must be available.
The insurance must be taken out by the owner.
E-scooters are limited to 20 km/h and may only be driven from the age of 14.
An alcohol per mille limit of 0.3 ‰ and 0.5 ‰ applies as for the car. Since e-scooters are motor vehicles, the driving licence can be withdrawn if the limit is exceeded, as with a car.
E-scooters must be driven on the cycle path or, if this is not available, on the roadway.
E-scooters must not be used on sidewalks and in pedestrian zones, even with the engine off.
E-scooters may not be used in public parks, unlike the bicycle/pedelec.
So that you can travel safely with your e-scooter and enjoy it for a long time, the technical construction should meet certain requirements, some of which go beyond the legal requirements:
Watch out for large wheels, smaller wheels have more unstable driving characteristics.
Pneumatic tyres are preferable because of their better handling characteristics.
Make sure that one of the two prescribed brakes is on the front wheel, because the rear brake increases the braking value considerably.
Energy recovery (recuperation) cannot be considered as a brake as it may not be available when the battery is fully charged.
All folding mechanisms should be robust and free from play and should not be able to release while driving - ensure that they are securely locked.
Eliminate additionally attached lights from the bicycle accessories. An integrated light can be switched centrally and can be powered from the drive battery at any time.
While observing the maximum load, also consider your backpack.
For theft protection, there should be a fixed eyelet for locking.
After purchase, most e-scooters still need to be assembled. This should definitely be done by a specialist to ensure safe operation. "At the AZT, we found defects in the e-scooters under consideration which clearly required expert rework, for example, axles mounted at an angle and fittings which were not engaged, tensioned brakes, non-adjusted folding mechanisms and unsecured screw connections on the handlebar grips as well as incorrect air pressure," says Reinkemeyer.
However, even as a user, you should regularly check all externally accessible screws for tightness - these can come loose during normal riding, as the test samples of the AZT showed. As the name e-scooter suggests, electrical safety also plays a major role. Many models are operated with the common Li-Ion batteries, which react sensitively to incorrect handling and mechanical stress and can then also catch fire. Therefore the following safety rules apply:
Li-Ion batteries may only be charged with the supplied charger!
Special care must be taken after hard blows to the battery housing or after its deformation. Then the e-scooter may no longer be used or charged and should be checked at a specialist dealer.
Damaged cables must be repaired or replaced immediately, including the charger.
Totally important: Always use the dust cover of the charger connection, or replace it immediately after loss to avoid short circuits when charging!
Watch for a sturdy design with big wheels and front brakes.
Let a professional install the e-scooter.
Check the condition of your e-scooter and charger regularly.
Respect the safety rules for handling the charger and battery.
Practise driving and manoeuvring before driving in traffic.
Drive only with lights and helmet.
This information can also be found in our press release (in German language only).