Electric vehicles are a relatively new phenomenon, and most people don’t really understand the fundamentals of how they work.
We wrote this guide because we believe it’s important to know the basics of how electric scooter brakes work, especially before you make a buying choice.
Almost every electric scooter these days comes with a powerful electric motor, meaning that you can travel at a speed of 20 miles per hour, at the very minimum. Higher-priced electric scooters are capable of anywhere between 40-65mph.
As thrilling as it is to reach your office before other people do, it’s even more important to reach your destination in one piece, and brakes are what help you stay safe.
The brakes on any vehicle are essential, but especially so when you’re riding an electric scooter. Brakes keep you from injury if you need to stop abruptly, and they prevent you from hurting other people if you accidentally lose control of your scooter. Brakes help you start and stop your electric scooter safely, take you on unsmooth terrain without any hitches, and determine your stopping distance.
This guide will take a closer look at electric scooter brakes, from the different types of brakes to maintenance and everyday mechanical care.
We also recommend taking a look at our electric scooter motor technical guide (internal link), to understand how your brakes and electric motor work together for the electric scooter performance.
How do you brake on an electric scooter?
Before we get into the specifics of electric scooter brakes, let’s take a quick look at how braking works on an electric scooter.
It’s important to remember the way you stand on the scooter when riding affects your stopping power. Instead of standing with your feet slightly parallel to each other, stand with your feet one in front of the other. By standing this way, you can maintain a better sense of balance when riding and when you use the brakes to stop.
When you hit the brake levers, be mindful of your body. Extend both arms and bend your knees a little bit. Lean back slightly with the rest of your body, allowing your body weight to shift, and pull the brake lever back. It’s also important to note that a significant portion of an electric scooter’s braking power is generated in the front wheel. By leaning back, you’re ensuring that you maintain proper balance while keeping the scooter level and preventing yourself from being thrust forward over the handlebars.
It would be best to familiarize yourself with the model of the electric scooter you’re interested in buying before you take it out for a spin. Every model’s braking system differs! Therefore, you could risk your health and safety if you aren’t familiar with the braking system.
Types of Braking Systems
Before comparing the different brake types, let’s take a quick look at the types of braking systems.
Every electric scooter has a different braking system. While some scooters have front brakes or rear brakes, others have a dual braking system.
A dual braking system is much safer and more effective than an independent brake on one of the wheels. This type of braking system gives you more control over your scooter, making your riding experience much safer and more efficient.
Single brakes make it difficult to stop abruptly. For instance, if your scooter has only a front wheel brake, you must remember that your stopping power is much lower, and you could be prone to slipping if the road is wet. Since the stopping force comes from only one wheel, as opposed to both, you could get injured more easily. Additionally, if the weather or traffic conditions aren’t favorable, there’s a good chance that you might accidentally lose control of your scooter and get into an accident.
Thankfully, many scooter electric scooter brakes have excellent braking power today. They often come with electronic brakes on the front wheels and mechanical brakes on the rear wheel.
How your brakes perform depends mainly on the type of braking system your scooter is equipped with.
Mechanical brakes have different subtypes, but after testing out multiple scooter brakes, we’ve concluded that they are the best types of brakes. They have excellent stopping power in all kinds of weather conditions, not to mention that they are lightweight, extremely reliable, and very easy for electric scooter novices to adjust!
On the other hand, electric scooter brakes perform more poorly than their mechanical counterparts. They require you to stand in an uncomfortable position when riding your scooter. They also perform badly in wet and bad weather conditions. They have a braking distance of about 35 feet, meaning that if you brake suddenly in a traffic jam, the force that electric scooter brakes exert could cause you to become injured if you can’t stop fast enough.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the different brakes and their subtypes. `
Brake Type Comparison
In the same way that there are several types of electric scooters, there are multiple types of electric scooter brakes, each with its subcategories! It might sound intimidating now, but we’re going to break it down.
Here is a table looking at the different types of brakes on an electric scooter and comparing them.
Next, let’s look at the different types of electric scooter brakes.
Types of Brakes
The two main electric scooter brake types are mechanical and electronic brakes.
First, let’s examine mechanical brakes.
- Mechanical Brakes
Mechanical brakes generate a friction force because two surfaces rub against each other. A brake’s stopping power largely depends on the frictional surfaces and their surface area. The friction that’s applied resists the wheel rotation and stops the scooter from moving forward.
There are different types of mechanical brakes, as listed below.
- Disc Brake
A Disc brake is pretty straightforward. Any electric scooter with a disc brake has a metal disc attached to the scooter’s wheel. This metal disc, called a rotor, spins with the wheel when riding the scooter and the wheel is moving.
Nowadays, most electric scooters come with hand levers, similar to the lever you find on ordinary bicycle brakes. You pull on the brake lever when you want to control the disc brake and stop the scooter from moving. It activates the brake calipers, which surround the rotor. The calipers then use brake pads to pinch the spinning rotor. This process creates friction and slows the wheel down, thus preventing you from moving forward.
There are three types of disc brakes, as listed below.
a) Hydraulic Disc Brakes
While mechanical disc brakes work well, hydraulic disc brakes are much more efficient, particularly in wet weather and on wet roads.
Every hydraulic brake uses hydraulic lines to control the process of activating the brake calipers. The hydraulic lines are filled with hydraulic fluid and are connected to the brake calipers. When you press on the brake lever, pressure increases in the hydraulic lines. As the pressure increases in each brake caliper, a piston moves and uses brake pads to pinch the rotor. It creates friction and slowly brings the electric scooter to a stop.
b) Semi-hydraulic Disc Brakes
Semi hydraulic disc brakes are quite similar to hydraulic brakes. However, unlike hydraulic brakes, semi-hydraulic brakes use a cable that runs from the lever to a caliper. When the brake lever is activated, it moves a hydraulic piston. Semi hydraulic brakes provide users with a consistent amount of braking power and are also low maintenance!
c) Cable-controlled disc brakes
Cable-controlled disc brakes are a good example of how mechanical disc brakes work. Since most electric scooters have a mechanical brake system, we know that the mechanical disc brakes use a cable to activate a caliper when the rider pulls the scooter brakes down. Pulling the lever down shortens the brake cable and exerts a force that makes the brake pads pinch the rotor and stop the electric scooters from moving.
Unlike an electric scooter with a hydraulic braking system, cable brakes allow riders to feel high amounts of electrical resistance and conductance because there is usually more friction.
A bike with this type of disc brake system is good for users searching for electric scooters that are cheap and easy to maintain, and effective.
Advantages of Disc Brakes
- They are very easy to replace.
- They offer experienced and novice riders a wonderful braking experience.
- They work well in all kinds of weather conditions.
- They are much lighter than drum brakes.
- They are very easy to adjust and maintain.
Disadvantages of disc brakes
- You need to apply larger amounts of pressure to stop your scooter from moving.
- They are significantly more expensive than drum brakes.
- Drum Brakes
Drum brakes are another kind of mechanical brake, and their difference lies in their complexity.
Drum brakes are hidden inside the wheel hub and have a brake pad that pushes against the braking surface, creating friction that slows the wheel and stops the electric scooter from moving.
The fact that the drum brakes are enclosed is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Being enclosed means that the brakes are protected from the elements, but since drum brakes tend to overheat, their effectiveness is lowered. However, it’s worth noting that overheating is not a significant issue and is unlikely to put your life at risk.
Electric scooters that have drum brakes work by mechanically activating the cables by pushing down on the brake levers. When braking in this scenario, a piston cylinder uses hydraulic pressure and pushes brake shoes into the drum.
Advantages of Drum Brakes
- The average drum brake performs well in wet conditions.
- They are very low maintenance.
- Every drum brake is wholly enclosed in the wheel hub, meaning it is protected from dust and water.
Disadvantages of drum brakes
- They are much heavier than disc brakes.
- They overheat quickly.
- They aren’t as strong as disc brakes.
- Electric Brakes
Electric scooter brakes are another type of scooter brakes. There are three different types, as listed below.
- Foot Brakes
Every foot brake is a fender that pushes into the rear tire. Pushing into it creates friction that slows the scooter wheel down and prevents it from moving any further. If you want to activate the foot brakes, you need to use your heel and push down on the fender. Since you’re pressing on the rear wheel, you need to keep your back foot ready to stop the scooter from moving.
It’s important to note even the slightest movement could make you lose your balance, particularly if your scooter has smaller tires.
Advantages of foot brakes
- Their design is simple, making them easy to use.
- It is a lightweight braking system.
- They don’t require any maintenance.
Disadvantages of Foot brakes
- They perform poorly in wet and extreme weather.
- They require riders to stand in uncomfortable and unsafe positions.
- Activating the brake system by foot is not always effective.
- Regenerative braking
Regenerative brakes are generally activated by a switch that creates resistance to motor rotation by combining the electric motor into the charging system. The idea behind regenerative braking systems is that riders can recover energy when they brake and extend the electric scooter’s range.
Regenerative braking differs by scooter. In some scooters, regenerative brakes are active when the rider lifts off the throttle, but in other scooters, the brake lever activates it.
While manufacturing companies like to promote regenerative brakes to consumers because of the system’s range extension abilities, it’s important to note that choosing an electric scooter with a different type of brakes would be best. The average regenerative brake may not work properly when the scooter’s battery is fully charged, and they do not always brake effectively.
- Electronic brakes
Electronic brakes work more or less the same as regenerative brakes on an electric scooter, but the difference is that electronic brakes do not recharge the electric battery. When the switch engages, it generates resistance to motor rotation and shorts the terminals to the motor. Brake levers then activate the terminals.
You’ll know that the electronic brakes are working because you’ll feel the scooter decelerate slightly. Electronic braking systems are low maintenance and lightweight, but their braking performance can be low quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can you replace the scooter brakes?
The answer to this question depends on the type of brakes your electric scooter has. If your scooter has disc or foot brakes, you can replace them since they are exposed and easier to remove. However, if your scooter has drum brakes, removing them is difficult because they are located inside the wheel hub.
It is also hard to remove an electronic brake or a regenerative brake because those types of brakes are attached to the scooter’s internal electric system. If you feel uncomfortable replacing the brakes yourself, your warranty might cover the replacement.
- Are hydraulic brakes easy to maintain?
Yes, they are. Fully hydraulic brakes are easy to maintain because the brake systems self-adjust. They don’t require regular or constant cleaning because the brake system is sealed, meaning that dirt and grim stay out.
- How long do brakes last?
Many factors contribute to the lifespan of the brakes on your scooter, but the average set lasts for 200 to 600 miles. Factors like brake pad quality or electric scooter brake defects can cause your brakes to wear out quickly or even overuse your electric scooter.
- How to fix squeaky brakes?
Look closely at the scooter’s rims; if they are dirty, use a degreaser and clean them. Next, check the brake pads to ensure they aren’t completely worn out. If they’re unevenly worn, they could make a squeaky sound. If you have disc brakes, check them to see if any dust is clogging them. If you have drum brakes, disassemble the system and clean the drum. Lubricate the brake line, not lubricating any other brake system part.
In this article, we walked you through a detailed explanation of all things motorized scooter brake-related.
Brake controls are essential components in electric scooters. They make the process of riding a scooter more effective and much safer! When you’re in the market to buy electric scooters, remember that you must choose a scooter whose brakes are in proper working condition. As you’ve learned, some brake types work better than others.
It would be best to choose a scooter with multiple brake systems for brake redundancy.
We’d also recommend buying a scooter whose weight and brake system are designed with braking distance in mind!