Electric Scooters

Electric Scooter Throttles: A Technical Beginner's Guide

In this guide we take a beginner-friendly yet technical look at electric scooter throttle types, ergonomics, and pros and cons.

Closeup of a half twist throttle on the NIU KQi Air electric Scooter
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The throttle is vital to your electric scooter as it helps you control your speed. In this guide, we'll explore different types of throttles, how they work, and the pros and cons of each.

Basics of Electric Scooter Throttles

What is a Throttle?

The throttle is the component that controls the speed of your electric scooter by regulating the amount of electrical power sent to the motors.

It acts as the interface between the rider's input and the scooter's acceleration, allowing the rider to manage the speed by adjusting the pressure or position of the throttle.

Your throttle isn't just about speed; it's also about having a smooth and safe ride. A good throttle is comfortable, latency-free, and easy to control.

Throttles come in four main types:

Good & Bad Options In Each Type

Having rigorously tested over 100 electric scooters since 2019, I've encountered a broad spectrum of thumb throttles—some highly responsive, while others were laggy with a significant dead zone.

This principle applies to all throttle types. Regardless of your choice, there will be good and bad options.

Thorough research is crucial before making a purchase, instead of solely basing your decision on the throttle type. If possible, a test ride of the scooter is highly recommended before buying.

Different Types of Throttles

Electric scooter throttles come in various forms, each providing its own way for riders to control speed.

While they serve the same purpose, they operate differently. Their main thing in common is that they're placed on the right handlebar almost exclusively.

Let's get an overview of each throttle type.

Electric Scooter Throttle Comparison Table by ERideHero

1. Trigger (Index) Throttle

Closeup of a trigger throttle on an electric scooter
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  • How it works: You control the speed by pulling a trigger with your index finger.
  • Common in: A wide range of scooters, especially performance-oriented models.
  • Notable features: Often integrated with the scooter display (e.g., EY3, QS-S4)
  • Ease Of Use: 4/5

Examples of trigger throttle scooters include Splach Twin, Varla Eagle One, and Kaabo Mantis V2.

2. Thumb Throttle

Closeup of operating a thumb throttle on an electric scooter
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  • How it works: You press down with your thumb to control speed.
  • Common in: A wide range of scooters, especially entry-level models and newer performance models.
  • Notable features: Considered the most intuitive, used in most fleet models, rarely integrated with the display.
  • Ease Of Use: 5/5

Examples of thumb-throttle scooters include the NIU KQi2 Pro, Segway Ninebot Max G30P, and Apollo City Pro.

3. Full-Twist Throttle

Electric scooter full twist throttle
  • How it works: You twist the entire handle to control speed.
  • Common in: Few models, but in various price classes
  • Notable features: Low-profile design with fewer components, reminiscent of motorcycle throttles
  • Ease Of Use: 3/5

Examples of full-twist throttle scooters include Emove Cruiser S, and Emove Touring.

4. Half-Twist Throttle

Closeup of a half twist throttle on the NIU KQi Air electric Scooter
  • How it works: You twist part of the handle to control speed.
  • Common in: A few newer performance models.
  • Notable features: It shares the low-profile nature of full-twist throttles but is easier to control.
  • Ease Of Use: 4/5

Examples of half-twist throttle scooters include Segway GT1, Segway GT2, and Inmotion RS.

Which throttle type do scooter riders prefer?

Which throttle type to electric scooter riders prefer - survey by ERideHero 2023

In a recent poll, we asked our readers about their preferred throttle type for electric scooters.

With 542 participants chiming in, the preferences were distributed as follows:

  • Thumb Throttle: 282 votes (52%)
  • Trigger Throttle: 179 votes (33%)
  • Half-Twist Throttle: 51 votes (9%)
  • Full-Twist Throttle: 30 votes (6%)

The majority, over half, leaned towards thumb throttles. Trigger throttles were the choice for about a third. Roughly one in ten prefer half-twist throttles, while full-twist throttles are the least popular.

Trigger Throttles

Index throttle on Kugoo Kirin M4 Pro

Basic Operation

As the name suggests, this throttle operates like a trigger. It is operated by pulling a lever with your index finger (though some riders use their middle finger too). The more you pull, the faster the scooter goes.

Pros

Intuitive: Many riders are familiar with this mechanism, making it intuitive.

Adjustability: Often integrated with the display, the trigger throttle can almost always be angled to accommodate variable rider height.

Easy To Replace: As most brands use the same trigger throttle components, replacement parts are widely accessible. Typically, replacement is as simple as connecting/disconnecting a single 6-pin connector.

Control When Shaking: A fair share of riders have noted better control with trigger throttles over thumb throttles when navigating bumpy terrains.

Cons

Diminished Grip Strength: A 2014 study highlighted that the index finger holds more sway in grip strength than the thumb, contributing 22% instead of the thumb's 17%. This implies a less sturdy grip on the handlebar when using trigger throttles compared to thumb throttles.

Brake Obstruction: Trigger throttles tend to add more clutter on the handlebars, which can impede access to the right brake lever (if present), particularly for riders with smaller hands.

Finger Fatigue: Rider feedback suggests a higher degree of finger fatigue during extended use compared to the experiences with thumb and twist throttles.

Suitable Rider Profile

The trigger throttle is suitable for the majority of riders. Riders with normal to large hands may find it more comfortable over time, whereas riders with small hands may find it straining.

Position in the Market

For years, the trigger throttle was the most popular type. Its popularity can partially be attributed to its default integration in the popular EY3, and QS-S4 displays that have been used industry-wide by leading brands for years.

In recent years, we've seen a trend of brands designing all components in-house move away from trigger throttles, opting for thumb throttles instead. However, the trigger throttle remains an integral part of the market.

They are rarely seen on entry-level scooters, but many performance models utilize them.

Thumb Throttles

Thumb throttle on NIU KQi3 Max

Basic Operation

This throttle type is operated by pressing down your thumb. It is typically found right next to the right handlebar. The more pressure you apply, the faster the scooter accelerates.

Pros

Optimal Grip Strength: Drawing from the previously mentioned study, utilizing a thumb throttle configuration enables riders to sustain the most secure and stable grip.

For All Sizes: Contrary to the potential challenges posed by trigger throttles for individuals with smaller hands, thumb throttles present a hand position that is both comfortable and ergonomically friendly for riders of all hand sizes.

No Brake Obstruction: Given the inward-facing orientation of the thumb throttle, it ensures no obstruction to the brake lever, facilitating smooth and unimpeded access to braking controls.

Cons

Accidental Acceleration: Some riders report struggling to keep their thumb steady when the road gets bumpy, leading to unintentional fluctuations in speed.

Less Refined Control: Some riders find it less precise in controlling speed than other throttle types.

Suitable Rider Profile

The thumb throttle is a versatile choice, accommodating riders of all hand sizes and particularly offering comfort for those with smaller hands.

E-scooter fleet services predominantly utilize thumb throttles for a reason - they provide a comfortable, intuitive, and cater to the masses.

Position in the Market

Historically, thumb throttles were predominantly featured on entry-level scooters and within fleet services.

However, in recent times, numerous high-performance brands that engage in in-house scooter design have adopted the thumb throttle design.

The trajectory suggests that thumb throttles are on a path to becoming the most popular choice as the industry continues to renew itself.

Full-Twist Throttles

Basic Operation

The full-twist thumb throttle operates similarly to a motorcycle throttle, where the rider twists the entire grip to control acceleration.

Pros

No Finger Strain: Full-twists promote a natural hand posture, preventing the individual finger strain that other throttle types can induce.

Strong Grip: With all your fingers encircling the handlebar, your grip is at optimal strength.

Good For Limited Motion: Full-twist throttles are good for riders with restricted finger dexterity due to injuries or conditions like arthritis.

Motorcycle-Friendly: If you come from a motorcycle background, you'll find this mechanism highly intuitive.

Less Clutter: The handlebar setup is less cluttered, with no external components involved.

Cons

Compromised Balance: You rely on your grip for balance on a stand-up scooter. Having to twist your entire wrist can compromise that.

Accidental Acceleration: Similarly, if you're jolted off balance and need to reposition, there's a chance you might inadvertently accelerate.

Difficult Braking: Operating a brake lever with your wrist in motion or a flexed position can be difficult.

Rare: This mechanism is rare and is often an after-sales addition to your ride. Replacement parts can be hard to find.

Wrist Strain: Although full-twist throttles are gentler on the fingers, they may lead to wrist strain during extended rides.

Suitable Rider Profile

Full-twist throttles suit riders familiar with motorcycle throttles and those with limited finger dexterity due to conditions like arthritis.

Position In The Market

Full-twist throttles are a rare find in the market. The Emove RoadRunner Pro is one of the few models that uses it. While catering to a niche audience, a handful of models like the Emove Cruiser S and Emove Touring offer it as an upgrade.

Half-Twist Throttles

Basic Operation

Half-twist throttles are operated by twisting a portion of the handlebar grip to control the scooter's acceleration.

Unlike the full-twist throttle, where the entire grip is twisted, the half-twist throttle involves turning only a section of the grip, balancing steady control and ergonomic comfort.

Pros

Strong Grip: Having all your fingers wrapped around the handlebar ensures maximal grip strength.

Less Wrist Strain: The lesser degree of twisting required can reduce wrist strain, resulting in better control and less fatigue over long rides.

Reduced Accidental Acceleration: The likelihood of unintended acceleration during rough rides or unforeseen conditions is minimized with half-twist throttles, as most of your hand is secured around a fixed grip.

Good For Limited Motion: With all fingers kept in a natural, relaxed position, half-twist throttles are ideal for riders who have a limited range of motion in their fingers.

Less Clutter: Being integrated directly into the handlebar, this throttle type cuts down on clutter and components that could interfere with each other.

Cons

Compromised Balance: Your grip is crucial for maintaining stability and balance. Moving and twisting your hand to accelerate can compromise balance, although this issue is less notable than with full-twist throttles.

Difficult Braking: It is difficult to control a brake lever and half-twist throttle simultaneously.

Rare: Although we see brands like Segway utilizing this mechanism, it is still rare in the market. Not many riders are familiar with it, and replacement parts can be hard to find and more expensive.

Suitable Rider Profile

Half-twist throttles are a viable choice for many riders, especially those facing challenges with finger dexterity.

They solve some of the safety issues associated with full-twist throttles without introducing new problems.

Motorcycle riders yearning for the twisting experience might find half-twist throttles to be the perfect practical middle ground.

Position in the Market

While rare in the industry, half-twist throttles are more prevalent than full-twist throttles.

In 2022, their adoption by Segway on the GT series hinted at a potential trend. This might signify a growing presence of half-twist throttles on performance scooters moving forward.

Throttle Issues & Troubleshooting

1. Unresponsive Throttle

There are several possible causes for an unresponsive throttle.

If the display of your electric scooter still turns on but shows an error code, always refer to the product manual or manufacturer's website for a quick diagnosis and troubleshooting steps related to that specific code.

However, if the display doesn't turn on or shows no error codes, here are some common issues that might be at play:

Loose/Damaged Connections

An internal cable connects the accelerator and the controller (occasionally via the display). If this connection becomes compromised, it may result in an unresponsive throttle.

To inspect and potentially resolve this issue on most scooter models, you'll typically need to:

  1. Access the Internal Cable:
    • Unscrew and gently lift the cockpit or handlebar from the stem tube, ensuring you do so carefully to avoid causing any additional damage or disconnections.
  2. Inspect the Connection:
    • Identify the cable that extends from the display and/or throttle, running towards the base of the stem tube.
    • Thoroughly inspect for any signs of disconnection or damage along this cable.
  3. Address Disconnections:
    • If wires are disconnected yet appear to be in good condition, attempt to reconnect them.
  4. Handle Damaged Wires:
    • If you observe wire damage, avoid attempting a DIY fix, especially if you're unfamiliar with electric scooter repair.
    • Contact your point of purchase or a professional technician for replacement parts or further assistance.

Battery Damage

If your battery is damaged, it is unlikely the scooter will turn on at all. It can be difficult to determine if the battery is the issue, but common indicators include:

  1. Physical Inspection:
    • Examine the battery for visible damage, corrosion at the terminals, a blown fuse, or loose connections, which could disrupt power flow to the throttle.
  2. Check Charging:
    • Charge your electric scooter. All chargers have a red/green indicator diode. If the diode is red, it means the scooter is actively charging. If it is green, it means charging is idle. If the scooter isn't fully charged, this could indicate an underlying issue with the battery pack.
  3. Battery Health Check:
    • If you're technical, you may use a Volt meter/multimeter to check the battery's voltage. Does it match the charge level stated in the scooter manual?
  4. Test With A Replacement Battery:
    • If you're lucky enough to have access to a replacement battery or another scooter of the same model, you may try swapping the battery to see if it solves the issue.

Water Damage

Both the display, throttle, and controller could be subject to water damage. It can be hard to determine which is the culprit without having fresh parts to test it against.

If the connections and battery checks didn't solve your issue, we recommend contacting you for professional help. Contact the place of purchase. They likely have plenty of spare parts that'll allow them to fix the issue.

2. Sticking or Hard to Move Throttle

If a throttle isn't operating smoothly, cleaning and lubrication can typically resolve the issue.

Start with cleaning:

  1. Remove Dirt: Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove dirt or debris around the throttle.
  2. Clean Internally: If comfortable doing so, disassemble the throttle and clean the internal components using a mild cleaner and a soft cloth.

If that doesn't fix the issue, you may try lubrication:

  1. Apply Lubricant: Apply a tiny amount of silicone lube to the moving parts of the throttle. One drop at a time.
  2. Ensure Smooth Movement: Press the throttle multiple times to allow the lubricant to distribute itself for optimal performance.

If lubrication doesn't work, check for any misaligned components. Otherwise, we recommend reaching out to the manufacturer for a replacement throttle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Change the Throttle Type on An Electric Scooter?

In most cases, you can not change the throttle type on your electric scooter. Throttles are intricately linked with other hardware components, such as the controller and display, all of which are calibrated to operate harmoniously together.

Switching throttle types often means replacing the controller as well, introducing an additional layer of compatibility considerations with the battery and motor.

However, a few exceptions (e.g., the Emove Cruiser S and Touring) have easily replaceable after-market throttle upgrades.

Can I Customize the Sensitivity of A Throttle?

Some advanced scooters allow for throttle sensitivity adjustments, but it is rare on entry-level scooters. For scooters that allow this, it is typically done via a settings menu on the display or a Bluetooth app.

Refer to your scooter's manual or consult the manufacturer.

Is it Normal for My Thumb to Feel Fatigued with a Thumb Throttle?

Yes, experiencing thumb fatigue when using a thumb throttle on an electric scooter, especially for beginners, is quite common and generally considered normal.

When you're new to using an electric scooter, your thumb engages in repetitive motion and exerts consistent pressure that it may not be used to, which can lead to fatigue or soreness.

If your scooter has cruise control functionality, this can greatly relieve thumb fatigue during long commutes.

Can I Upgrade My Electric Scooter's Throttle for Better Performance?

No, you can not upgrade your electric scooter's throttle for better performance. The throttle merely interprets the rider's input and sends a signal to the controller(s). Performance is determined by the motor(s), battery, and controller(s).

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Rasmus is the founder of ERideHero. Through half a decade, he has tested more than 110 electric rides across more than 6,400 miles. He handles the review process, content creation, and all things web and video.
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