Arguably one of the most important decisions to make before purchasing an electric scooter, dependent on what conditions you intend to ride in can have a huge impact on your judgement. Throughout this blog we will wheel you through the advantages and disadvantages of both electric scooter tyres, so you can make the most informed choice that accommodates your needs as a rider.
We also offer a comprehensive buyer's guide on our website, should you like to inform yourself of the other elements of an electric scooter: Electric Scooter Buyers Guide
For now, lets discuss the difference between pneumatic and solid electric scooter tyres. Pneumatic tyres are typically preferred among electric scooter users, providing a more comfortable ride than solid tyres. Generally speaking, they also offer more stability, better suspension, better climbing and offer faster speeds etc. You may be thinking, I don't need to hear anymore, the endless list of pros is confirming pneumatic tyres are for me. I urge you to read on, despite the numerous positive attributes to these specific tyres, there are still factors to take into consideration. For example, your location and where you intend to be riding the scooter plays a huge part in this decision. Solid scooter tyres are more capable on poor road conditions and are actually less maintenance than pneumatic tyres. But before we skip ahead, lets break down the key features of these tyres and really see what they are made of...
What exactly are pneumatic tyres? Pneumatic tyres are air filled and usually made out of rubber. The inflation of these tyres plays an important role in their performance. For example, when the tyre has higher air pressure (more inflated), then it will be less malleable, creating less friction on the surface it's moving on, which results in the electric scooter being able to move faster and climb hills more easily. Something to be aware of when inflating your tyres, is that the decrease in friction means that you will take longer to stop on the scooter when brakes are applied. To combat this issue during the winter periods or rainy days, riders will often deflate their tyres. Although this can impact your riding experience as the shock absorption will be lower, making the ride feel shakier and bumpier.
When selecting pneumatic tyres checking the air pressure will become a regular part of your maintenance routine. Ensuring you check the air pressure before setting off on your electric scooter at least once per month, a diligent rider may check once per week. In light of this it is important to have access to the correct tyre pressure. We recommend referring to the manual that came with the scooter, researching online or examining the tyres closely, as they often detail the favoured tyre pressure. You can also use a tyre pressure gauge to do the job.
Another thing to consider is that there are two main types of air-filled tyres, those that come with an inner tube and those that come without. Similar to a bike, tyres that come fitted with an inner tube will need replacing or fixing in the incident of a flat. Flat tyres are more common on tyres with an inner tube, the reasons behind this can be a puncture, an unsuited tyre fitting, or ultimately it is due to friction between the inner and outer tyre. Fortunately they are relatively easy to repair, requiring a basic bike repair tool kit to get the job done.
It is currently still quite uncommon for pneumatic tyres to come without a fitted tube, as this is a new approach for vehicles. In these tubeless tyres the air is situated between the tyre and the wheel itself, the tyre being sealed to the wheel. If you get a flat with a tubeless tyre it is likely that you will need to go to a repair shop as this requires replacing with specialised kit, including sealant.
Within pneumatic tyres, it is usually the inner tube that breaks down, so with tubeless tyres this is one less component that can become defective. When a tubeless tyre gets punctured, it slowly releases air and gets deflated. So despite having to take greater care of maintaining a tubeless tyre, the chances of having a flat are usually minimal and less frequent.
What are the key advantages of pneumatic tyres?
- More comfortable rides.
- Better traction.
- Ability to easily control air pressure, enabling adjustable rides.
- Better off road.
Pneumatic tyres offer enhanced shock absorption. This is excellent on uneven terrain, particularly as the rider is cushioned from excessive shock by the tyres' suspension effect. This is definitely an essential advantage of using air-filled tyres.
The pressure that comes from your weight is likely to deform and even flatten the tyre, this means that the surface area of the tyre touching the road is greater, providing better traction. This is crucial for enhancing braking and overall control of your scooter. This also makes the scooter less susceptible to slipping. You can choose to increase the effect of this by deflating your tyres slightly.
Greater Efficiency and Control
The ability to deflate or inflate your tyres with ease provides a range of different riding experiences that are suitable for various conditions. You can achieve higher speeds by inflating your tyres, as the electric scooter’s ability to climb hilly terrain increases, it becomes more efficient in it's power use in general. Furthermore, this in turn improves your scooter's climbing ability and battery functionality, allowing longer range.
Note that when you deflate your tyres, you will inevitably lose some of these advantages. On the other hand, you will achieve a more comfortable ride with less vibration. This technique also provides you with better control the electric scooter, easier steering, and will make the scooter less likely to slip when riding over wet or icy terrain.
Solid tyres are made out of solid materials that do not have air inside of them. The common materials used to create solid tyres are either silicone or rubber, but we are seeing uses of other materials start to emerge as well.
The most compelling selling point for solid tyres is that they don’t get flats. They also require minimal maintenance. Unlike pneumatic tyres you don't have to worry about tyre pressure, although they have potential to get worn down over time, but unless you are deciding to replace them then you don't need to be concerned about maintenance.
Typically electric scooters with solid tyres also come with suspension, the rides are often shakier and less stable as the tyres are very hard.
The 3 main types of solid tyres:
- Fully solid.
Fully solid tyres:
One of the most common and cheapest types of tyre on the market, due to it being considered a low-tech product (outdated materials), usually made out of silicone or rubber.
They are also the hardest tyres out there, which results in the least stable rides of all. On top of this, fully solid tyres tend to get worn out faster due to their robust design.
Advantages of Solid Tyres:
- Do not suffer from flats.
- Are relatively cheaper.
- Require less maintenance.
- Less stable rides.
- More slippery.
- Can be worn down faster.
Honeycomb (Air-Pocket) Tyres:
A clever approach to combat shakiness, although honeycomb tyres are not to dissimilar from solid tyres in their use of materials of silicone or rubber. It is the design element of incorporating air-pockets that provides a greater level of shock absorption while riding. The aim of honeycomb tyres is to provide riders with a tyre that offers considerable comfort that cannot be punctured.
A drawback of using honeycomb tyres is that they’re more expensive. Furthermore, this is still relatively new technology that is often not found in electric scooters.
Overall Honeycomb Tyre Advantages:
- They offer a cushioning effect.
- Are resilient.
- Are puncture-proof.
- Cannot be adjusted.
- Come with increased resistance.
- Are pricier or more expensive.
Foam filled tyres attempt to solve the limitations of solid tyres, that being their instability and shakiness. As the name indicates, foam-filled tyres are filled with a special foam that feels almost soft when injected. Making the ride more comfortable since the foam fills the tyre. However, these tyres require more maintenance and must be refilled periodically. There will be an additional expense for the foam chemical used.
Can you use a mix of both solid and pneumatic tyres?
You will discover that, you usually have no choice but to remain with the (original) tyre that the scooter originally came with. It is possible to change the tyres on select scooter models and some riders have successfully changed their tyres to match their preferences. You can however simply buy electric scooters that already mix the use of pneumatic and solid tyres, for example the decent range we stock use this combination.
If you are considering making lots of changes to your scooter, you have to question are such changes really worthwhile. Typically modern models are designed to suit various needs of a rider and do not require modifying unless you are after something quite specific.
To make changes to your scooter, the main requirement is make sure that the scooter’s tyre fits perfectly with the wheels. Be vigilant, there could be other factors at play that can trigger unexpected consequences should you take on this task yourself.
If you have already made your desired changes, remember to take precaution afterwards, as you might find that the scooter’s performance has been considerably affected.
This is because the electric scooter was designed to work only with the original tyre. The manufacturers never intended for the tyres to be changed. But users of electric scooters are always going to experiment, so if you’re curious about the advantages of a tyre change, there are a few things you can try out. However, while doing this, avoid forcing a ill fitting tyre onto your electric scooter.
Most people recommend the pneumatic tyre as the best option, as you can customise the tyre with ease by deflating or inflating to suit various terrain, the rider's weight and for your own personal preference / comfort.
To decide upon the most suitable tyre for your electric scooter consider this factor: Your location, where you intend to be riding the electric scooter, what is the terrain like? This will allow you to access what tyres you require. For example, should the surface be uneven with many potholes, solid tyres are your best bet to avoid punctures and much maintenance.
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