Tire pressure plays a crucial role in the performance of your electric scooter. But just how much does it affect range? We conducted several tests to find out.
It is easy to overlook electric scooter tires. In most cases, they are durable and require limited maintenance. But when your range starts to drop, the solution may be as simple as fixing your tire pressure rather than attributing it to inevitable battery degradation.
We set out to discover how big an effect tire pressure has on the range of your electric scooter.
Quick conclusion: Based on our tests, we found that every 1 drop in PSI resulted in about 3% less mileage.
Using pro-grade GPS performance tracking gear, we rode an electric scooter from 100% battery to a complete 0% stop eight times at varying tire pressure.
To get comparable data, we used the same electric scooter (Turboant V8) for all eight runs. All the test runs were done with a day between each, at 14°C-16°C and on the exact same route by the same rider. Additionally, we rode with cruise control enabled to maintain a constant speed throughout our testing.
The only major deviance between each test was tire pressure. We did two runs at the manufacturer-recommended tire pressure (34.8 PSI), four with under-inflated tires and two with over-inflated tires.
The following are our results from the eight tests at four different tire pressure levels.
If we take the average of each tire pressure group, the results are as follows.
Based on these results, we've found:
While the data set is limited, we see a clear correlation between electric scooters' range and tire pressure.
These results follow the science and data patterns we know from dozens of credible range studies conducted on gas cars and electric cars - but to a more exaggerated extent.
Not surprisingly, under-inflation increases your tires' rolling resistance. This means it takes more effort (motor power and battery) to propel the electric scooter forward.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "Under-inflated tires can lower the gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires".
From our data, every 1 PSI drop equated to a drop of about 3% in the range - so while it follows the same drop pattern, its effect is much more pronounced.
The reason tire pressure has a bigger effect on electric scooters is likely due to their much lower speed and less air resistance.
Air resistance is negligible in electric scooters, but in cars at higher speeds, most energy is spent to overcome aerodynamic forces.
Some may be surprised to see an increase in range from over-inflation. However, several credible studies conclude the same in gas cars.
Based on our data, the extra range that you stand to win is minimal, however. While it may seem like a good idea to overinflate just by looking at the numbers, there's an array of reasons we'd advise against it. We'll discuss those in the following chapter.
Using the recommended tire pressure is essential for several reasons. While checking before riding may be inconvenient, improper tire inflation has significant negative effects beyond just range.
Riding an electric scooter with wrongly inflated tires can compromise your safety. Underinflation and overinflation can lead to poor handling, braking performance, and traction.
Overinflated and underinflated tires provide less stability and make it more difficult to steer, particularly in emergency situations. It also results in longer stopping distances, increasing the rolling resistance and making it harder for the tires to grip the road.
Properly inflated tires ensure evenly distributed wear to the tread.
On underinflated tires, you'll often see the edges wear faster, while the center wears faster on overinflated tires.
Uneven wear patterns can negatively impact performance and longevity, potentially leading to premature flats.
While some people like the fact that underinflated tires absorb more road vibrations, it comes at the expense of all of the above.
Overinflated tires will give you a very harsh ride where all road vibrations and bumps are felt.
Poor ride comfort will lead to early fatigue, which can negatively impact concentration and reaction times.
As shown above, the range is greatly affected by tire pressure. In our tests, the effects were as much as a 3% drop in range for every 1 PSI we dropped tire pressure.
Underinflated tires have increased rolling resistance, which puts more strain on the motors. In turn, it consumes more battery to maintain the same speed.
Even though there is a chance you can get a tiny increase in the range of overinflation, its downsides greatly outweigh its benefits.
Let's answer some of the most common questions on tire pressure on electric scooters.
The correct tire pressure for your electric scooter depends on which tires it uses. While most electric scooters should be inflated to somewhere between 30 and 50 PSI, it varies greatly.
The correct tire pressure for your specific scooter tires can typically be found on either the tires themselves, in the scooter manual, or on the manufacturer's website.
Inflating an electric scooter tire is simple. We recommend you use either an electric or manual pump with an accurate pressure gauge to ensure you do not over/under-inflate the tire.
The nozzle is where we inflate our tire. It is typically located at the side of a tire. Most electric scooters use the same standard nozzles, while a few exceptions exist.
Most nozzles have a cap on - place it back on after tire inflation.
Next, you must attach your pump nozzles to the tire nozzle. Screw the two nozzles together (there's typically tread on both) until they're firmly connected, and the pressure gauge shows the current PSI.
Inflate the tire according to the recommended tire pressure for your specific model and the readings on your pressure gauge.
Once complete, detach the nozzles from one another and place the cap back on the tire nozzle.
While many electric pumps will allow you to decrease the tire pressure easily, it can be more of a hassle with a manual one.
To let out air, we recommend using a screwdriver that can fit inside the tire nozzle. Inside the tire nozzle, there is a pin. When pressed down, air will shoot out from the valve when you apply pressure. To stop the process, remove the screwdriver.
If the tire pressure is too low, begin the inflation process.