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How to Select the Best Electric Scooter for San Francisco

With so many to choose from, we help you find what's right for you

Ridepanda was created in San Francisco, co-founded by two electric scooter experts who came from Lime and Bird. In other words, it’s safe to say that we know electric scooters and we know San Francisco very well.

The first commercial electric scooter was released in 1996 and since then there have been millions of dollars poured into creating all sorts of e-scooters.

Some are tiny mini-scooters, others are three wheeled beasts, and somewhere in the middle are countless other models in just about every other shape and size.

At first, the staggering amount of choices can make a lot of people start based on the aesthetics: “I like how it looks” is a very common phrase we hear.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s great to like how it looks... but if it can’t climb up that massive hill on your daily commute, it might not be the right choice for you. Or if you are only rolling around somewhere flat like the Embarcadero, perhaps it’s the right choice after all.

In this guide we are going to examine what makes San Francisco’s terrain so unique and examine a few of the most popular e-scooters we carry. We will also explain what makes one better than another in different parts of the city.

Challenges for E-Scooter Riders in San Francisco

There’s almost nothing better than zipping around the city on 2-wheels. The wind in your face, the view of the world around you, and freedom to get where you want to go without having to wait in traffic.

Like most cities, SF has a lot of vehicle traffic. Hopefully more people will start riding around on 2 wheels and there will be less cars/trucks/SUVs on the road. But until that happens, all these vehicles on the road are a safety risk for scooter riders.

To avoid the traffic, you can ride in the bike lane all throughout the city. But as may know already, the infrastructure doesn’t exist everywhere or on every street.

So this brings up our first point about what to consider. Lights are on an e-scooter for visibility and for rider safety. In other words, if the driver of a vehicle can see your e-scooter, you are safer than if they didn’t notice you.

Brake lights and headlights are standard on most of the e-scooters we sell, but some models like the Segway Ninebot ES4 have additional lights under the platform and others like the Segway Ninebot Max have outfitted the wheels and platform with highly reflective material.

We recommend that if you do ride in the bike lane and at dusk/night that you wear a helmet with a light and reflective vest.

Long or Short Range?

Rider visibility isn’t the only thing to consider for the city. One very important thing to consider is how far you will need to travel.

Of course, if you do run out of power, one of the great things about electric scooters is the ability to use it as a kick scooter for the duration of your ride. But, let’s try to avoid that by matching you up with a scooter that has the right range for you.

The longest range electric scooter is the Segway Ninebot Max. According to the OEM, it will go 40 miles on a single charge.

However, in reality, to achieve that range for the Segway or any other OEM, you would have to ride around at about half throttle on flat ground. So keep that in mind if range is important to you.

Another factor to consider for the range is if you have to go up hills. The bigger the hill, either in how steep it is or how long you have to travel up it, will greatly reduce the range.

Consider the Terrain

Another challenge with the hills of San Francisco, not every e-scooter can climb hills. To make it up to the top, many e-scooters require the rider to kick it up the hill or get off and push it up.

However, powerful electric scooters like the Mercane Widewheel Pro and the Dualtron Mini have more than enough power to tackle the steepest of hills in SF (which is Filbert Street with a whopping 31.8% incline).

The 3 Best Electric Scooters for San Francisco

  • Dualtron Mini. Quick stats: 1,450 watts, 34 mile range, 32mph top speed, max 37% slope. Price: $1,499
  • Mercane Widewheel Pro. Quick stats: 1,000 watts, 28 mile range, 26mph top speed, max 40% slope. Price: $999
  • Segway Ninebot Max. Quick stats: 800 watts, 40 mile range, 18.6mph top speed, max 20% slope. Price: $799

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