One thing that is often overlooked when it comes to electric scooters and how they work are its tires. There are 3 different types of tires used for electric scooters, pneumatic, solid, and honeycomb The tires are the only contact your scooter has to the ground, meaning they are what prevents you from falling.
That should be a good enough reason to continue reading in order to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of the different electric scooter tire types.
The different types of electric scooter tires
There are mainly 3 different types of tires that can be used on your electric scooter and those are:
- Honeycomb(a combination of air pockets and solid rubber)
Pneumatic tires are tires filled with air. Overall they provide for a far better riding experience by providing good suspension and grip, while at the same time having less rolling resistance than a solid or honeycomb tires. That’s why I always prefer the use of pneumatic tires over others.
Solid rubber tires on the other hand are harder and heavier. They also prevent you from ever getting a flat tire. They are often called zero-maintenance or maintenance-free, but the hard rubber can still wear off and they are often harder to replace. Sometimes near impossible without disassembling the entire motor, like on some Segway/Ninebot scooters. Luckily the tires often last for years.
Honeycomb tires are an emerging market and even though big tire companies like Michelin already launched some for use on cars the ones available for electric scooters so far are not as advanced. I believe that this is the feature of tires, but unfortunately, the ones that are available for electric scooters haven’t reached that point yet.
All three tires are viable options and they all have their advantages, as well as disadvantages.
Also note that there are various models of the above mentioned tires depending on where you’re going to be riding. If you are going to be riding in the woods, or on dirt then having an off-road enabled scooter with the appropriate off-road tires is a must. Likewise if you have one of the faster scooters, then a pair of slick pneumatic tires should be your preferred choice.
Pneumatic, or air-filled, tires are the most commonly used tire for any type of vehicle today. They are made up of an airtight inner core of pressurized air.
The pressurized air inside the tire makes the tire resistant to outside forces trying to deform the tire. However, to a certain degree, it also allows the tire to deform a little. This provides the tire with a cushioning effect as it hits bumps in the road.
Here are a couple of popular pneumatic tires you can buy on Amazon right now.
Different types of pneumatic tires
An inner tube tire means that the tire has an inner tube that will be inflated with air in order to prevent the tire from deforming. In order to get a flat one must puncture both the outer tire as well as the inner tube. These types of flats can easily be fixed with an old-fashioned bike tube repair kit or by replacing the tube altogether.
A tubeless tire doesn’t have the inner tube, it only consists of the outer tire that are air-sealed against the rim. These types of tires are commonly used on cars. Tubeless tires are mainly more heavy-duty, wear-resistant and more resistant to flats but are often much more complicated to fix. It’s not uncommon that you have to take the entire tire and rim to a professional tire mechanic to get it fixed. I used to work as one and let me say this, the smaller the tire the harder it was to change.
Advantages of pneumatic tires on electric scooters?
- Shock absorbing
- Low resistance
- Better grip
One of the biggest advantages of using pneumatic tires is their ability to absorb unevenness from the terrain underneath you. This provides you with a smoother and less bumpy scooter ride.
If the tires use the correct manufacturer’s recommended PSI(air pressure) they are superior to solid rubber tires in the way that they create less friction between the tire and the road.
Correct pressure also provides the rider with superior grip due to the fact that the tire deforms to keep good traction against the terrain.
Disadvantages of pneumatic tires
- Prone to flats
- Tire pressure
The obvious and most common problem with using a pneumatic tire is that they are susceptible to flats. Most of the time getting a flat isn’t the end of the world and they can often easily be fixed. However, there are circumstances where getting a flat or blowing a tire can be very dangerous and that is at high speed. Blowing a tire can cause you to lose control of the scooter.
Having good and accurate tire pressure can be the difference between having, good riding experience or a bad one. If you’re not using the correct tire pressure, perhaps lower than recommended, you are increasing the comfort of the ride at the cost of grip. If you use too much pressure you get reduced resistance at the cost of grip. That’s why it’s crucial that you inflate the tires to the manufacturer’s recommended psi.
Solid, airless, tires are just that, solid. They are either made out of hard rubber entirely or tires filled with polyurethane foam. Both types allow for little to no play in their ability to deform. Solid tires are sometimes called indestructible tires just because they aren’t susceptible to get a flat. But that doesn’t mean they are immune to other types of tire damage such as losing a chip of rubber. The positive thing with these types of problems is that they rarely render the scooter unusable as would be the case of a flat tire.
Here are some popular solid tires on Amazon.
The advantages of solid tires
- Immune to flats
- Less maintenance
You can ride unforgiving terrain without having to worry about getting a flat. You also don’t have to bother with inflating your tires or keeping the correct air pressure so these tires requires less maintenance.
Disadvantages of solid tires on an electric scooter
- Heavier weight
- Shaky and bumpy
- Less traction
Solid tires are heavier due to the increased amount of material used. Their solid more robust form makes them very bad at absorbing unevenness in the terrain which will, on rough roads, give you a very shaky ride.
Due to their hardness, there are less tire that meets the road. This negatively effect the tires grip against the surface.
The goal with honeycomb tires is to have a tire, just as the solid rubber one, that cannot be punctured while at the same time being able to provide that cushioning effect. Honeycomb tires utilize the same type of rubber as solid tires, but they are built in a way where air pockets are left open in the tire making them less stiff.
We are still in a very early stage when it comes to honeycomb tires but my guess is they will be widely used in the near future. However, as of right now the ones I’ve tested for electric scooters looks more like a solid tire with drilled out holes in them. This doesn’t give the tire that suspension effect that we’re looking for in a honeycomb tire. But military and companies have started experimenting with these types of tires and I expect better-designed tires to hit the e-scooter market very soon.
Benefits of honeycomb tires on a scooter
- Cushioning effect
- More resilient
Honeycomb tires will provide you with the peace of mind that flats cannot occur. At the same time, they will give you a smoother ride than solid tires will and you don’t have to exchange them as often as a pneumatic tire.
Disadvantages of honeycomb tires
- No adjustment
- Increased resistant
With a honeycomb tire you cannot adjust them to your liking as you can with a pneumatic tire. Since they need more material to be created they are often heavier and more expensive than a normal tire. Honeycomb tires have less resistance than a solid rubber tire, but still more resistant than a pneumatic tire.
Conclusion – What tires are best for electric scooters
I have always recommended pneumatic tires as the best solution for an electric scooter. This due to their ability to have their pressure customized depending on the rider’s weight, type of terrain, and preference.
However, I do see the need for other types of tires and I would say it depends on the what type of terrain you will be using your scooter on. I had a horrible road going to the store from the last apartment we stayed at. A pneumatic tire here would probably have given me a flat 50% of the time, so I chose to go with a solid tire instead. I didn’t have a single issue except that the riding experience was a bit bumpier, but nothing major.
I think we’ll see an explosion in the evolution of honeycomb tires over the coming years. You can already see lots of electric scooters coming out with honeycomb as standard. They will get used more widely and I would love to test a scooter mounted with a set of good ones.
My conclusion is that I will choose a pneumatic tires 8 out of 10 times.