Voltage, watts, nominal power, peak power…there’s a lot to know when it comes to electric scooter motors.
To help you understand how motor power is measured, as well as the factors that affect performance, and how to control and adjust power delivery, we’ve created this guide.
We also outline the different types of motors, explain how they work, and share the key things to look for during motor maintenance and replacement.
How Motor Power is Measured
Voltage, commonly referred to as electric pressure, is the measured strength of electricity flowing through a circuit.
The amount of voltage is indicated by a unit known as volts (V). This rating tells you the intensity at which electricity will be pushed through an electric scooter motor.
Typically, electric scooter motors fall into one of these six buckets: 36V, 48V, 52V, 60V, 72V, and 84V.
Motors with higher voltage result in greater torque, faster acceleration, and higher top speeds.
Watts are a measurement of how much power a motor can deliver. Not only do they indicate the size of a motor, but they also affect the maximum power output.
Electric scooter motors range from 150W to 2000W. Some scooters rely on single motors, while others are kitted out with dual motors to double their power.
The larger the number of watts, the bigger the motor will be and the faster the scooter can go.
Nominal (Continuous) Power
Measured in watts, nominal power refers to the power that a motor can continuously produce without incurring damage.
The higher the nominal power figure, the higher the continuous speed.
For example, a motor with a nominal power of 1000W will be able to produce 1000W of power continuously for as long as there is enough charge in the battery. For context, this amount of power would result in a top speed of approximately 28 mph.
Measured in watts, peak power refers to the power that a motor can instantaneously generate for short periods before overheating.
The higher the peak power figure, the higher the instantaneous speed.
In practice, peak power is what you rely on for an extra boost of torque to propel an electric scooter when you need to accelerate fast, hit top speeds, or ride uphill.
For example, a motor with a nominal power of 1000W may be able to produce 1600W of peak power for a short burst. For context, this amount of power would result in a top speed of approximately 33 mph.
Single vs Dual-Motor
Single Motor Models
Single-motor electric scooters are generally cheaper, lighter, and more portable than dual-motor models. They have less power, lower top speeds, and slower acceleration rates, but if they have big batteries they can outperform dual-motor models where range is concerned.
For example, a scooter that has a single 52V 1000W motor and a 30Ah battery can keep the wheels rolling for approximately 60 miles. But, if it were to have two 1000W motors, its range would immediately be cut in half since the battery needs to power both motors. There is a caveat, though. If the dual-motor version was only ridden in single-motor mode, then it would also be able to achieve the 60-mile range.
In most cases, dual-motor electric scooters are heavier and more expensive than single-motor models. However, they have more power, higher top speeds, faster acceleration rates, and are better at scaling differing terrain including off-road tracks and hilly areas.
Also, because the scooter’s power is distributed evenly across both wheels, they have better traction and stability.
Dual-motor models are a great option for riders that have some experience and want to go fast. They can also be a great choice for beginners since you can cap the top speed using different riding modes. By controlling the motor power you can ease into the ride and build your confidence.
How to Control & Adjust Motor Power
Single/Dual Motor Buttons
All dual-motor scooters come with single/dual motor buttons. They allow you to switch from using a single motor to using two simultaneously.
Using one motor will conserve your battery power and is ideal for smooth flat surfaces when you’re not in a hurry. Using both motors will burn through your battery power quicker, but you’ll be able to reach higher speeds, as well as take on steeper slopes and rougher terrain.
Scooters that come with eco/turbo buttons allow you to choose what your priority is for your journey.
If you want to prioritize efficiency, the eco mode will limit your top speed, slow your acceleration, and conserve your battery life.
However, if speed is the name of the game, the turbo mode will unleash your scooter’s full capabilities, giving you access to its top speed and fastest acceleration. In turbo mode, you will deplete the batter power quicker, meaning a shorter range.
Most scooters come with a range of riding modes to let you choose the speed that best matches your capabilities.
Budget, commuter, and performance scooters tend to come equipped with 3 riding modes, while high and ultra-performance models come with 6.
A low mode will give you slow speed and acceleration, while a high mode lets you unleash the full power of your scooter. This is ideal for inexperienced riders who don’t yet feel ready to use the full power capacity of their new scooter.
Almost all scooters come with a display that shows key information such as speed, battery power, and distance traveled, but some have displays that allow you to access the scooter’s P-settings and customize its performance. This can include:
Capping Top Speeds
Capping a scooter’s top speed is great for nervous riders but is also an excellent way to guarantee you won’t exceed a local scooter speed restriction.
Adjust Acceleration Strength
Reducing the intensity of your scooter’s acceleration can make it easier to control for new riders, as well as better suited for busy pedestrian-filled areas. On the other hand, increasing acceleration strength means you can burn rubber and make the most of the motor power of offer.
Control the Flow of Power to Motors Independently
Most of the time, electric scooters with dual motors will use the same wattage to perform equally. However, some scooters like the NAMI Burn-e 2 allow you to control the flow of power to each of its motors independently.
This is useful since you can customize the power profile for your environment. For example, if you live in a hilly area, you may want to funnel more power to the front motor to pull you up the hill as opposed to pushing you up it from the rear.
Factors That Affect Motor Power
Motor Placement: Front or Rear
Just like with cars, a rear-wheel-drive electric scooter of the same weight, power, and tire size will accelerate quicker than its front-wheel-drive counterpart. This is because as the scooter pushes forwards, there’s a slight shift in weight toward the back. This pushes down on the rear tire giving it better traction.
However, the most effective implementation of motors for maximum torque, acceleration, and speed, is to equip an electric scooter with a motor in each wheel hub.
Batteries always have the same voltage as the motors they are supplying power to, however, they can vary in size.
The size of a battery is determined by Amp-hours. As the name suggests it refers to how many amps a battery can deliver in an hour.
By multiplying Voltage and Amp-Hours together, we get Watt-Hours (Wh). Watt-Hours is used to measure a battery’s power capacity.
The higher the Watt-hours, the more energy a battery can store and the further an electric scooter can go.
In practice, Watt-hours are what you rely on for an electric scooter's maximum mileage.
For example, a battery rated at 36V and 10Ah, stores 360Wh. This equates to a maximum range of approximately 25-30 miles. However, if you were to ride fast and draw lots of power to the motor, a realistic range of 14-16 miles would be achieved.
Ultimately, the size of your battery and the power it holds will determine the length of time for which a motor can run.
Controllers (Square Wave vs Sine Wave)
Controllers are electronic circuits that control the speed of a scooter by regulating the flow of electricity from the battery to the motor. When the throttle is pressed, the controller determines how quickly the motor responds and how fast the scooter can accelerate. More powerful controllers (rated between 30A and 50A) respond faster, resulting in lightning-quick acceleration.
The two main types of controllers are Square Wave and Sine Wave.
A Square Wave controller switches on the flow of electricity immediately, similar to a tap going from off to fully on in an instant. This quick response from the motor can feel abrupt, making you jerk back and forth as the scooter surges forward.
A Sine Wave controller smoothes out the power delivery process by using a consistent flow of current. Instead of the sudden surge of power, it’s similar to a tap being turned on and steadily increasing the flow of water. This results in a smooth acceleration, preventing jerky movements.
The more contact a tire has with the ground, the more traction it can generate. This can either slow your scooter or aid its accelerative capabilities. Getting the right amount of contact is dependent on tire pressure.
If your tires are pumped up to their recommended pressure, they will be perfectly primed to grip the road and take full advantage of the motor power. However, if the pressure is too low, it will bring more surface area of the tire into contact with the road, thereby increasing traction and causing drag which will slow the scooter.
The best tire profile to accommodate motor power are those that are pumped up their recommended pressure, have wide surface areas that come into contact with the road, and sport a tread pattern designed to grip and propel the scooter forward.
When you ride up a hill your center of gravity shifts to the rear of the scooter. This makes it harder for the motor/s to pull the scooter forward, and as a result, slows the rate at which they can operate.
Most performance scooters with powerful dual motors can climb inclines with no significant deterioration in their motor power or speed, but if you attempt to scale a hill that is too steep or you’re riding a scooter that has a small single motor, then you will experience a loss of power almost immediately.
The type of terrain you ride over affects how well your tires make contact with the ground. Flat, well-maintained roads will provide the maximum level of contact and let your scooter reach its full power potential. However, rough terrain with bumps and loose material will prevent the scooter from getting firm contact.
Under these circumstances, challenging terrain can require the scooter to deliver short bursts of instantaneous power (peak power) as it attempts to ride over unforgiving surfaces (i.e. wet mud). However, continually doing so can cause the motors to overheat and potentially become damaged.
One way to avoid this and to ensure that you make the most of the continuous power (nominal power) that your motors can produce is to equip your scooter with the correct tires.
The vast majority of performance scooters can be fitted with off-road tires. These sport a knobby three-dimensional tread pattern that aids their ability to grip loose terrain.
Features like adjustable suspension are also extremely useful when responding to the irregularities of rough terrain since they arrow you to maintain greater contact between the tires and the ground.
The performance of electric scooter motors and batteries can be affected by changes in temperature. If the battery gets too cold, the chemical reactions that produce electricity can slow down or stop, this, in turn, can result in less power being sent to the motor.
Alternatively, if the motor gets too hot, it can prevent components from working correctly, reducing the speed and power it can produce.
Most scooter motors are designed to work correctly in a broad range of temperatures and have enough ventilation to prevent overheating.
The more weight on a scooter, the harder the motor/s must work and the slower it will go.
Consequently, lighter riders will find that their scooter will achieve better speed and acceleration than those that are heavier. However, if you choose a scooter that has a load-bearing capacity that is at least 30 lbs beyond your weight, then in most cases you’ll be able to achieve the best levels of performance.
Rider Posture (Aerodynamics)
The position you stand in when you ride produces wind resistance that drags on your scooter.
Scooters are designed with this in mind, so unless you’re riding directly into a strong wind, you’ll likely not notice much difference. However, if you are facing the wind or want to reach the highest speed possible, crouching slightly and keeping your arms tucked into your body will give you a small increase in power.
Types of Motors
When you hit the throttle on your scooter, it sends a signal to the controller. The controller then draws the correct amount of power from the battery and funnels it to the motor. However, depending on the type of motor, there are a few differences.
Brushed DC (BDC) Motors
A brushed DC motor consists of a stator (a stationary outside ring) and a rotor (the central spindle that rotates when the motor is running). Here, a system of brushes is used to pass electricity between the outer stator and the moving rotor.
This is a simple and effective way of regulating the current in each part of the motor. The downside is that the rotor and the brushes constantly rub against each other. This causes friction, heat, and occasionally even sparks. As a result, brushed motors are generally cheaper to make, but they don’t last long because the brushes quickly erode or become damaged.
Brushless DC (BLDC) Motors
Brushless DC motors also have a stationary stator and rotating rotor but use a system of sensors and magnets instead of brushes. This means that there is no contact between the two parts, removing any friction and increasing the motor’s lifespan.
These are the most common type of motors in electric scooters because they’re highly efficient and low maintenance. The only drawback is they require more complex components, so are generally more expensive.
Geared or Gearless
Most electric scooters use a brushless DC gearless drive (aka direct drive) motor that immediately turns the wheel.
Geared drive motors, however, have a simple system of gears between the motor and the wheel, altering the speed of the rotation.
While both systems have their advantages, in general, a direct drive motor is capable of providing large amounts of torque and power. This makes them especially well-suited for higher-performing electric scooters.
Hub Mounted or Chain Driven
A hub-mounted motor is located inside the scooter’s wheel.
A chain-driven motor is mounted under the deck, and its rotation is transferred to the wheel via a chain, similar to a bicycle.
The vast majority of electric scooters use self-contained hub-mounted systems. This is because power output isn’t lost through the transmission system. They are also simpler and more accessible in terms of functionality and don’t come with any of the issues that chain-driven systems are riddled with, such as the chain becoming damaged or detached.
Hub-mounted motors are, however, heavier which increases the weight of an electric scooter significantly. This can be seen as a positive, though. The added weight gives the scooter additional stability.
How to Repair and Fix Electric Scooter Motors
When it comes to repairing and fixing electric scooter motors, you should first consult the troubleshooting section of your user manual. This will give model-specific instructions as to how best to solve any problems.
For anything that involves taking the motor apart, it’s always best to leave it to the professionals and contact the scooter manufacturer. This will prevent you from accidentally voiding the warranty or permanently damaging the scooter.
However, before contacting the professionals, here are a few steps that will help you identify any issues:
Check the motor – Look for disconnected wires or anything that looks out of place.
Check the battery – The battery supplies the power to run the motor, so if the motor isn’t running correctly, it could be an issue with the battery. If you’re able to turn your scooter on and see that it has battery power via a display or voltmeter, then it’s likely that the issue is with the motor.
Inspect the throttle – Turn the scooter on and get ready to ride it. Use the throttle as you would normally and see if it works. If the scooter doesn’t respond, it could be that the wire connecting the throttle to the controller has become detached.
Check fuses and circuit breakers – The user manual will direct you to your scooter’s fuses and circuit breakers. You should check these to see if they have been tripped or damaged.
How to Cool Electric Scooter Motors
All motors produce heat when they’re in use, particularly when you push them to their peak power output. The best way to prevent this is to turn the motor off and give it enough time to cool down in a well-ventilated area.
Some manufacturers have accounted for this by including additional features designed to cool the motors when they get hot. These include:
A heat sink is a system that draws the heat away from mechanical components by transferring it into a liquid coolant or air.
Some scooters, such as the Dualtron Thunder 2 have achieved this by positioning heat-sensitive components like the controllers on the underside of the deck, where the heat can quickly dissipate in the air.
Others, like the Dualtron Storm, have specialist heat sinks surrounding the battery and controllers to keep them cool. The Apollo Phantom even has a set of heat sinks surrounding the motor itself and these catch air as the motor rotates, allowing heat to escape quickly.
Intelligent Temperature Control
Some advanced scooters, such as the NAMI Burn-e 2, have intelligent systems that monitor the temperature of the motors and show it on the display unit.
When they get too hot, the system will automatically reduce power output to let them cool. Once cooled, the power output will increase.
You can also set the temperature at which the motor will switch to eco mode to reduce heat and prevent damage.
Use the Correct Motor Settings to Avoid Damage
To ensure that your scooter always performs at its best and avoids damage, it’s essential that you use the correct settings for each ride. For example, sticking to eco mode for longer, steady rides and only using turbo for high-speed dashes.
It’s also vital that you don’t switch to a slower setting while traveling at high speed. This will abruptly slow the scooter, severely damage the motor, and forcibly eject you over the handlebars. Instead, slow down first using the brakes, then adjust the motor settings or riding mode.
Replacing & Upgrading Motors
Wheel Size and Motor Power: Can You Add a Faster Motor?
It's not possible to add a faster or more powerful motor to a scooter because the frame and wheelbase have been specifically designed to accommodate the size and power of the motor that it came with.
As power increases, so too does the size of the motor, and as a result, sturdier frames, reinforced rims, and larger wheels are needed.
Because more powerful motors require larger wheels to give them enough space in the hub, people often refer to scooters by their wheel size since this is an indication of their power and a quick way to categorize them for performance. For example, a 10-inch model can hit top speeds of between 20 and 40 mph, while an 11-inch scooter can exceed speeds of 50 mph.
Can You Add a Second Motor?
Scooters that are sold with a single motor cannot be upgraded to support a second one.
This is because they only have the capability and internal components to support one motor. The second motor would need additional controllers, extra connectors, and you’d likely have to upgrade your battery to ensure it had enough power, too.
Also, the frame, deck, and suspension are all designed to behave correctly under a certain amount of torque. If you add more power, you could have less control at higher speeds.
Can You Tune-Up a Motor to Improve Performance?
It’s not possible to physically tune up an electric scooter motor; however, there are several ways in which you can optimize its performance:
1) Remove Speed Limiters
Some scooters come with speed limiters applied. We’ve received one or two models that despite having top speeds of 45 mph, could only get up to 15 mph. This was a result of speed limiters.
These are added so that the scooter can be ridden legally in areas that put restrictions on the speed at which you can travel.
Removing them is a simple case of unplugging two opposing connectors. Once detached, you’ll be able to experience the full motor power on offer.
2) Adjust the Top Speed and Acceleration
Some scooters will let you finetune the motor’s performance via the display or a compatible mobile app. Here, you can choose to select the top speed at which you want to ride.
For instance, the INOKIM OxO has a top speed of 40 mph but arrives set at 15 mph. You can use its display to change this setting.
Similarly, many Apollo scooters – including the Air – now come with mobile app compatibility that allows you to not only choose your top speed but also set the speed at which each riding mode can achieve.
As with speed alterations, you may also be able to customize the strength of your acceleration. Most scooter displays will give you five settings to choose from with each increasing the intensity, while some mobile apps allow you to make even finer adjustments to find the perfect accelerative strength.
3) Swap Old Parts and Components For New Ones
If you’ve had your scooter for a while, one or more of the components may have seen better days. If you get a professional to update some of the parts, such as the controller, throttle, or even the motors, this will have a positive effect on performance.
4) Check Tire Pressure / Get New Tires
The contact between your tires and the ground plays a pivotal role in your scooter’s performance.
By ensuring you have the correct tire pressure or by updating worn-out tires, you’ll notice a boost in your scooter’s performance.
For instance, we had our NAMI Burn-e 2 fitted with specialist PMT tires and the performance that these delivered compared to the stock nylon tires was night and day. We saw faster acceleration, significantly better braking, and enhanced handling.
When Should You Replace an Electric Scooter Motor?
An electric scooter motor will need replacing if its performance declines significantly or if it stops working. If this happens, you should contact the manufacturer and follow their procedure to diagnose the fault. This will help you determine if it’s the motor that’s at fault or another component.
How Much Do Electric Scooter Motors Cost?
Most replacement electric scooter motors cost between $50 and $500, with the cost reflecting the power of the motor.
They are usually available to buy from scooter manufacturers or trusted retailers. To provide context of how much different types of motors cost, see below:
- Budget Model – A 36V 360W motor costs $70 (Example: GoTrax Apex)
- Commuter Model – A 48V 500W motor costs $250 (Example: Horizon)
- Performance Model – A 52V 1200W motor costs $280 (Example: Apollo Phantom)
- High-Performance Model – A 72V 1000W motor costs $290 (Example: NAMI Burn-e 2)
- Ultra-Performance Model – A 72V 2000W motor costs $490 (Example: Wolf King GT)