Are you looking for the best all around micromobility device or personal electric vehicle (PEV)? While the definition of a portable PEV may vary, my simple definition is this:
- Lightweight enough that you can lift on your own: portable
- Small enough to fit in the trunk of a car: compact
- Will transport me from point A to point B: range
- Runs on electricity: electric
For the purposes of our discussion, I’ll be hitting what I think are the most popular and effective personal electric vehicles out there that can legitimately be used for transportation and recreation. So let’s get rolling.
Types of Personal Electric Mobility Devices
I will be giving an overview of the most popular personal electric vehicles, going from most wheels to least wheels. Here are the criteria that I will be exploring in detail:
- Portability: size, weight, and easy of carry.
- Size: can you fit it in your trunk? Locker? Under your desk?
- Range: can you get where you need to go without range anxiety?
- Learning curve: how hard is it to master?
- Safety: am I going to get hurt riding this thing?
Electric Skateboard (e-skate)
Electric Skateboard: a skateboard, often a longboard, that has the electronic components attached to the bottom of the board and is controlled with a hand control.
Portability: Carrying the longboard style of most electric skateboards will be familiar and easy to carry.
Size: Skateboards and longboards have been around for ages so stowing it away in your locker or under a desk should be no problem. Just don’t misplace the hand controller!
Range: The range depends on the type and model of e-skate that you get which can vary from 10-20 miles. If you run out of batteries, you can ride it like a normal skateboard.
Learning curve: Those familiar with riding skateboards will have no problems picking it up. If you’ve never been on a skateboard, the learning curve is moderate but have no fear. Most people who buy eskate have never been on a skateboard and the hand control is pretty easy to learn.
Safety: The small wheels makes the ride more harsh on rough roads and beware cracks and debris on the pavement that can send you flying. In some ways riding an electric skateboard can feel safer than riding a normal longboard because with eskate you have a breaking system with your hand control.
Fun: Electric skateboards have a cool and fun factor that comes with riding skateboards. Carving on smooth pavement will get you feeling like a kid again!
Electric Bicycle (e-bike)
Electric Bicycle: a bicycle with an electric motor. The electric motor may be small for pedal assistance while riding or the motor may be powerful enough to ride like a moped or motorcycle.
Portability: Electric bicycles tend to be larger and more unwieldy when compared to most other micromobility devices. If weight is important to you, lighter e-bikes with carbon fiber frames are available but will cost you.
Size: Most e-bikes won’t fit in the trunk of your car unless you have a foldable electric bike at which point you start sacrificing performance and comfort for size and portability.
Range: Range with each model varies but in many models the motor is mainly used as a pedal assist to make the ride easier on your body so you don’t have to show up to work or class sweaty and out of breath. Even when you run out of batteries, you can still ride e-bikes as a regular bike.
Learning curve: The e-bike learning curse is super easy, assuming you know how to ride a bike.
Safety: Riding an ebike is like riding a regular bicycle, only with a powerful electric motor. Respect the power and understand how to use your e-bike so you don’t end up like Simon Cowell.
Fun: People who enjoy riding bicycles will absolutely love riding e-bikes. E-bikes open a whole new world allowing folks to do things and go places that they otherwise wouldn’t. Folding e-bikes tend to be less comfortable and have lower performance and therefore tend to be less fun and more for commuting.
Electric Scooter (e-scooter)
Electric Scooter: the classic kids scooter has grown up, now with an electric motor and often with pneumatic tires and sometime suspension.
Portability: Most commuter electric scooters are highly portable. They fold nicely and most are easy to lift.
Size: Once folded, electric scooters can easily be put away in the trunk of your car or stowed away under your desk.
Range: Again, range will vary wildly depending on the make and model of your e-scooter. Get one that fits your range requirements.
Learning curve: The scooter learning curve is the easiest of the personal electric mobility devices. The handle bars, standing position, and feet close to the ground gives riders a sense of security that allows just about anyone to learn how to ride very quickly.
Safety: The sense of security of the scooter and easy learning curve can lead to a false sense of security that may lead to reckless riding. Electric scooters, like all PEV, need to be ridden responsibly.
Fun: Electric scooters are surprisingly fun. Mainly because it’s always been considered a form of transportation and recreation for children. If 10 years ago you would have told me that in the future a bunch of adults would be riding scooters to get around, I would have giggled. Today, many adults are commuting on their electric scooters, giggling the entire way.
E-scooters come in all forms from slim and portable commuting scooters to big and powerful off road speed electric scooters. For a great slim, portable, and POWERFUL electric scooter, check out my review on the E-Twow GT!
Onewheel: a skateboard style device but with only one big wheel in the center which has gyroscopics and other dark magic to help keep you upright while you ride. The Onewheel is made by Future Motion and they currently have 2 models, the Pint and the XR.
Portability: The Onewheel Pint weighs 23 lbs and the Onewheel XR weighs 27 lbs. The weight is densely compacted into the small size of the device which can make it feel heavier than it looks. Carrying it for long distances can be awkward because of the big wheel in the middle.
Size: The compact size of the Onewheel makes it an easy PEV to store away in your car trunk or in an office. If you are thinking about using the Onewheel to commute to school, the Onewheel’s width makes it a little too large for most lockers. If you plan on keeping it in your car trunk, the propensity of the device to roll around is high so get one of these.
Range: The Onewheel Pint range is advertised at 8 miles and the Onewheel XR range is about 18 miles. Results will vary depending on the terrain, rider weight, and speed. While 8 miles on the Pint may seem like it would be enough, once you experience the floaty feeling of riding a Onewheel, you never want to get off and you will find yourself craving more range.
Learning curve: The Onewheel is moderately easy to figure out how to get on and ride. If you have an experience with board sports, the Onewheel will be easy to figure out. Just watch a few YouTube videos on how to ride and you’ll be off in no time. I’ve taught people how to ride and they’ve figured it out in less than 5 minutes. Just make sure you know how to ride safely as most serious injuries happen to beginners in the first few weeks of riding.
Safety: The Onewheel is the most dangerous of the portable electric vehicles. Why? Because it is so easy to learn and grow overconfident, it has very few safety features to warn the rider when they are coming close to overpowering the motor, and the physics of the fulcrum design along with the relatively small motor makes it easy to overpower and cause a nosedive. From my observation, in the hands of beginners within the first 100 miles of ownership, the Onewheel has more injuries per mile than any other PEV. In my first week I had bumps, bruises, abrasions, and sprains. Make sure to wear safety gear and to understand these rules before riding. There are some nuances of the board that beginner riders can really get in trouble with which often results in head injuries, broken clavicles, and trips to the ER. Be sure to understand the Onewheel fully and to respect its limitations.
Fun: While the Onewheel may be dangerous, it sure is fun! Once you figure out how to comfortably ride, the hands free, nimble, intuitive and effortless floaty feeling you will understand why so many people call the Onewheel the funnest PEV around. Whether it be just messing around in your driveway, cruising around town, or shredding off road trails, the Onewheel is a great way to destroy boredom.
Electric Unicycle (EUC)
Electric Unicycle: similar to the Onewheel, the EUC is a single wheeled device that uses gyroscopes to keep you upright. The stance is more like a snow skier or water skier and the EUCs are made and produced in all shapes and sizes by several companies.
Portability: EUCs are extremely portable. Most have trolley handles that extend up to roll the EUC around while you walk, just as if it were a piece of luggage. The Gotway Mten3 weighs 23 lbs while the Veteran Sherman weighs 77 lbs and there is everything in between; so some EUCs are more portable than others.
Size: The size and handle of most EUCs make carrying it up and down stairs fairly easy. The trolly handle makes walking with your EUC for those times when you can’t ride, super simple. EUCs fit great in your trunk and you can lay it flat so there’s no rolling around like with the Onewheel.
Range: The range is amazing on mid to high tier EUCs. An extreme example is the Veteran Sherman which boasts over 100 miles of range on a single charge. Very few people need that type of range. Even mid tier EUCs have ranges well over 20 to 30 miles on a single charge. With most of the modern EUCs, it is nice to be able to ride more and spend less time charging.
Learning curve: The EUC has the steepest learning curve of any PEV but don’t let that dissuade you. If you are motivated and are willing to spend the time to learn, the EUC will quickly become the most rewarding PEV to ride.
Safety: Because of the steep learning curve of the EUC, riders usually understand to respect the device once they have learned how to ride. This helps to keep riders safe as opposed to the Onewheel which is so easy to learn and grow overconfident that most serious Onewheel injuries occur within the first few weeks of ownership. Another reason EUCs tend to be safe is the more powerful motor which makes overpowering the device very difficult. There are also other built in safety measures like audible alerts and tilt back to notify the rider when they are pushing the EUC too hard.
Fun: The EUC is tough to learn, but once you figure it out you will realize that it is the most rewarding PEV to ride. Amazing hands free speed and range that is unmatched by any other PEV. Competition between EUC companies has resulted in the release of multiple new models each year with new innovations like suspension to make your ride buttery smooth. On road or off road, fast or slow, long distance or short rides, the EUC is great fun!
EUC Comparison Tool
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the EUC options, so we made an interactive EUC Comparison Tool. You can sort, filter, and include or exclude data as you see fit. I hope you find this tool helpful!
The best PEV for you will vary by budget and intended use. We love all our PEVs from our Onewheel to our e-skate and EUCs and each has its strengths and weaknesses.
If I could only have one PEV, it would have to be my EUC because I love being able to ride hands free and it has the best range and speed for the price.