Budget Electric Scooter vs. Expensive Electric Scooter

Budget Electric Scooter vs. Expensive Electric Scooter

Introduction

As shoppers we all like to save some money, but when buying a scooter you may be asking if it’s alright to buy a budget electric scooter. Expensive scooters look a little flashier, have more impressive raw stats, and can look appealing, but do you really need all that? In this article we’re going to compare two scooters, one budget and one expensive, to evaluate what different price points get you. Our budget option is going to be represented by the GoTrax XR Elite, while our expensive option will be represented by the Unagi Model One. Let’s take a look.

GoTrax XR Elite
GoTrax XR Elite
Unagi Model One
Unagi Model One

The Features

Handlebars & Display

GoTrax XR Elite Handlebars
Unagi Model One Handlebars

On the left we can see the handlebars of our budget scooter. In my opinion, these are perfectly fine. The handlebars themselves have a nice texturing that makes them easy to grip. We also have a traditional brake, which is likely intuitive for most people. On the right we see the handlebars of our expensive option. These both look and feel nicer, as the material provides noticeably more traction. That throttle on the left side of the handlebars is actually an electric brake, and this thing has a lot of power to slow you down quickly. It also deaccelerates the scooter in a gentler manner, while a traditional disc brake can wear down the scooter. Overall the handlebars are definitely better on our expensive scooter, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those offered on our budget option.

GoTrax XR Elite Display
Unagi Model One Display

Now moving to the middle of our handlebars we find the displays. The budget XR elite on the left offers a great visual. It shows our speed and battery life in a tidy circular area. The more expensive Unagi Model One comes with a bit of a flashier display that is almost reminiscent of a phone screen. It looks nicer and provides additional information and settings. We can change the gear and choose how many motors we’d like to use. Again, as we’d expect, the expensive scooter is superior, but the budget scooter isn’t missing anything crucial.

Folding

GoTrax XR Elite Folding
Unagi Model One Folding

Starting with out budget electric scooter, the folding is not great. Two touch points provide some friction in the process, forcing the user to be a little more thoughtful. This isn’t a huge issue, but it’s certainly noticeable if you’ve ever used another scooter. Our expensive scooter has elegant, one touch folding. The Unagi Model one offers some of the best folding I’ve ever experienced, and it really does elevate the portability and usability. Another check for our expensive scooter.

Deck & Wheels

GoTrax XR Elite Deck
Unagi Model One Deck

Our last stop is the bottom of each scooter. The GoTrax XR Elite has a generously wide deck which leaves plenty of room for your feet. It also comes with nice texturing that helps you feel stable during your ride. Surprisingly, the Unagi Model One has a smaller deck. After testing it, though, I never noticed any issue with fitting comfortably on the board. The Model One also has a superior material on the base. Here we’re starting to see the budget scooter be comparable, or maybe even better, than the expensive scooter.

GoTrax XR Elite Tire
Unagi Model One Tire

Lastly we find our wheels, which are really just different rather than better or worse. So, I’ll discuss the advantages of each. The budget electric scooter offers 8.5 in. pneumatic tires. These air filled tires provide a smoother ride, but are susceptible to popping and piercing. On the right our expensive scooter comes with 7.5 in. solid tires. These solid tires are low maintenance and resistant to getting poked, but they do little to soften any bumps you’ll encounter. Tire choice comes down to preference, but I personally prefer solid. I do need to be a little more watchful or rough roads, but I love the peace of mind that I won’t need to replace my tires.

What Really Matters

After looking at the physical characteristics of our scooter we saw that the expensive scooter is nicer, but the budget scooter hangs in just fine. What really matters, though, is something that can’t be captured in a picture. It’s how the scooter feels. Let’s go through the factors that give scooters their personality.

The Motor

The motor will determine your acceleration and hill climbing ability. If you want to feel the rush of quick acceleration or encounter hilly areas, then a stronger motor is right for you.

The Speed

Speed is also affected by the motor, but the limit is often set by the manufacturer. Commuter scooters generally range from 15 mph to 20 mph. 15 is the average speed of a bike and is plenty fast to get you around a neighborhood. 20 mph is only 5 mph more, but on a scooter this is a noticeable difference. Because you’re on a relatively small vehicle and are exposed to the elements, 20 mph feels fast. 20mph will also make you feel a little more at home when riding in the streets or bike lanes that are street adjacent.

The Range

Range is pretty simple. How far do you need to go? A quick note, range is often a big factor in price. So, if you can be realistic about how far you need a scooter to go, then you can save a good amount of money.

The Ride

The ride is impacted by everything above, and it’s also impacted by the physical build. Large, pneumatic tires with a suspension will provide a smooth ride that makes you feel like you’re floating on the pavement. Small, solid tires feel fine on smooth roads, but bumpy trails will definitely be felt.

Ryan’s Takeaways

The real point of this article was to say that a budget electric scooter performs just fine, and you don’t have to spend a ton to get the ride that’s right for you. To find it you should overlook all the flashy features or tempting stats and focus on what matters. Pick the speed that feels right for you, identify the range you need, and opt for the tires that fit your preference. If you’d like to read more about either scooter you can find my review of the GoTrax XR Elite here, and my review of the Unagi Model One here.