Cycling has increased significantly across the U.S. in recent years. With compounding factors like public health concerns and rising gas prices, the cycling boom shows no signs of waning. For many, biking has served as the gateway to other forms of alternative transportation broadly dubbed “micromobility”, or more specifically, “electric mobility.” For the micromobility-curious among you, let’s dive in to all the fun new ways to get around that don’t involve a gas pump.
Micromobility refers to lightweight personal vehicles, generally used to travel shorter distances. More often than not, micromobility refers to electric motor-powered personal vehicles such as e-bikes or e-scooters, but also includes traditional bikes, scooters, and even skateboards.
As the name suggests, electric mobility (or e-mobility) includes electric powered vehicles such as e-bikes, e-mopeds, e-scooters such as those found at RideSWFT, and even passenger vehicles like electric cars and buses. For our purposes, we’re focusing specifically on personal electric mobility.
Also known as e-bikes, electric bikes make a great alternative to public transportation or even cars or traditional biking when you’d rather not show up in a sweat. Equipped with rechargeable batteries, e-bikes are ridden like traditional bicycles, with the bonus power of a motor that activates while you pedal to help you along - aka pedal-assist. Some e-bikes like SWFT’s also feature a throttle function to keep you going, which means you can forgo pedaling all together if you choose. Their low-profile means you can easily park alongside other bicycles or store it inside. E-bikes are typically designated as Class 1, 2, or 3 according to available features and maximum speeds. For example, SWFT e-bikes fall under the Class 2 category meaning they feature both pedal assist and throttle with a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
Officially, a moped is a low-power lightweight motorized bicycle - hence the “mo” for motor and “ped” for pedals. However, the meaning has evolved colloquially to what we sometimes also refer to as scooters (think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday). The terms can generally be used interchangeably, but a good rule of thumb is that the smaller lightweight personal vehicle that sometimes folds is a scooter and never a moped. E-mopeds typically have a step-through design with a seat and enclosed motor and a floorbed for your feet. They are more compact and easy to maneuver than a motorcycle, and more robust than bicycles, usually with an extended seat for another passenger and hidden storage for your belongings.
While the term “e-scooter” can also refer to mopeds (confusing we know), the familiar childhood personal vehicle with two small wheels and floorboard to stand on that often folds for storage or carrying is always a scooter - just ask Google image search. If you’re a sucker for nostalgia you’re in luck; the familiar toy is all grown up. The humble scooter has transformed into an increasingly popular transportation alternative with brands like SWFT creating sturdier motorized scooter models for teens and adults that feature air-filled high-tread tires, rechargeable batteries, and speeds up to 20 mph.
Whatever your preference, electric mobility offers new fun and efficient ways to get around and it’s rise in popularity signals hope for the e-movement and our collective power to curb carbon emissions and have fun doing it.