The rental electric scooter market is dominated by two key competitors, Bird vs. Lime. Both hit the scene in 2017 and its hard to say who came first. Now that they’ve been on the streets and sidewalks for sometime it’s time to decide which one is better. If your city only offers one brand then you haven’t got a choice, but if you have access to both its worth looking into. I know some people who are committed to one, simply because its the app they already have, while others have both apps and just hop on whatever scooter is closer. The best option is always to buy an electric scooter, but rentals are still a good option. The scooter you ride, whether it’s Bird, Lime, or another brand, is going to have a compounding effect over time (especially with price) so let’s find the better rental scooter.
For our first comparison of Bird vs. Lime let’s look at the chart above where we can see similar, but slightly different pricing for the rental scooters. Something to note here is that this is the price structure for Charlotte, NC. The prices shift slightly in each state and city, so make sure to find what the price is like in your area. In my area though there’s benefit to both. Since Bird costs less upfront but has a higher price per min, it’s less expensive to ride for shorter rides. So if you usually ride a rental scooter for 5 minutes or less, the Bird is the better value. Lime is the opposite. The Lime costs more upfront but is cheaper per min, so it’s less expensive in the long run. So if you’re rides are more than 5 minutes Lime will save you some money.
Getting into the real competition of Bird. Vs. Lime, lets start with the handlebars. On the left we see Bird, which has disappointing grips. They do have a nice rubbery material, but the lack of texturing is apparent when holding on. The lime on the right has less ergonomic grips, but the texturing gives them a better feel and helps you hold on. Back to the Bird, the throttle is a large pad. For me it feels awkwardly large and awkward to push down. The size doesn’t line up with the size of a thumb. Looking to the Lime we see a traditional throttle that feels great. Coming to the middle of the Bird we see a tiny display that I forgot was there when I was riding. I honestly didn’t look at it so I’m not really sure what it does. The Lime has a nice sized display, but is still smaller than the displays most consumer scooters have. So far, the Lime is my clear winner. It feels and acts like a normal scooter, while Lime deviates from tradition and doesn’t stick the landing.
Both scooters do come equipped with a bell, but Lime opts for a spinning gear type design. I don’t think one is really better than the other, but the gear is fun to turn. The Bird and Lime also both have to breaks, one for the front tire and one for the back. This is a nice addition as dual breaking gives you a feeling of more control. This is especially nice for people who may not own a scooter and be riding it all the time.
The Wheels & Suspension
Moving on in our evaluation of Bird vs. Lime, let’s take a look at the wheels. Right off the bat you can see that the Bird’s wheel is noticeably smaller than the Lime’s. Bird sports 7.4 Inch wheels while Lime offers huge 10 Inch wheels. You can definitely feel this when you ride, with the Lime making you feel higher off the ground. Both wheels are pneumatic, but it’ll be interesting to see if either changes to a more resistant solid design. Moving up a bit you can see that the Bird has no suspension. This coupled with the smaller tires makes for a bumpier ride. Conversely the Lime not only has a suspension but has a pretty versatile one. It features a forked suspension which, coupled with the tires, made for a much smoother ride. I hit bumps and cracks, which I did feel, but they didn’t really jolt me. The Lime does a good job of creating an effortless ride. Again, point to the Lime.
Our last stop in the battle of Bird vs. Lime is the deck. The Bird has a narrower but longer deck, giving ample room for your feet. It also offers a slanted portion on the back with allows you to rest your back foot. The Lime has a shorter deck but is a bit wider. This still is plenty of space for your feet, you just have to position yourself a little differently. The back wheel doesn’t allow you (tells you not to) step on it, which is a small minus. Because these are rental scooters I imagine most riders ignore that, which causes the Lime’s to be degraded over time. So, I give this one to the Bird. It’s design allows for a more natural stance and ride.
Something I had to call out, and this may seem minor, is the kickstand. The Bird has a large kickstands the spans the width of the deck, and it functions very poorly. It does help the scooter stay upright, but actually putting it down or kicking it up is extremely awkward. You have to lift the entire scooter up so that the kickstand can swing, or you have to aggressively push the scooter backwards or forwards. Because of this unique design I see a lot more Bird’s lying down on the ground. People don’t want to take the time to figure it out, so they just let them go. So, I’d suggest Bird implement an easier design or they’re going to find a lot of scooters with dents in the side. The Lime has a normal, but beefy kickstand. Simple.
The Verdict of Bird Vs. Lime
Bird vs. Lime has a clear winner and it’s the Lime. It’s cheaper for rides over 5 minutes and almost every part of it is superior. It has better grips, a nicer screen, and a smoother ride thanks to its big wheels and forked suspension. The Lime keeps it simple and sticks to the fundamentals. The Bird deviates from the norm and goes for a more futuristic design, but it misses in a lot of places. Though they sought to innovate, their time would’ve been better spent making the scooter simply function better for the rider. At the end of the day both scooters are fine to ride, but if I had to pick one I’d go with the Lime.