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Electric Scooter Comparison: Ninebot Segway ES2 vs ZERO 8

April 09, 2019

Electric Scooter Comparison: Ninebot Segway ES2 vs ZERO 8

For riders thinking about getting an entry level electric scooter, the Segway ES2 and the ZERO8 will unavoidably come up as potential choices. Both are in the same price range, but they have very different features.

In this post, we are going to compare them, and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each so you can make your own judgement about which model is more suitable for you.

The Ninebot Segway ES2 is one of the most popular electric scooters in the world. They are a common sight in East coast and West coast cities in the USA and many major cities in Europe. It is a relatively new maker in the electric scooter market. Segway’s legacy as a mobility innovator and the model’s fore-running distinctive design has made it very recognizable. The adoption of the ES2’s body-plan by leading scooter sharing companies like Lime and Bird also helped to increase the visibility of the model.

The ZERO 8 is a new-comer. Produced in 2018, this economical electric scooter is seeing very fast adoption in emerging electric scooter markets in the Asia Pacific, it has been gaining ground in cities in Europe and is newly released in the USA. It is design based on industry-proven body plans and offers excellent value.

We will compare them across size/portability, performance, safety and ride quality.

 

Different in Nature

To make a fair comparison, we have to first recognize that the two scooters are different in nature. The Segway ES2 is a light-to-medium weight scooter intended for first and last mile travel. While the ZERO8 is configured to be an all-purpose medium sized electric scooter for both short and long rides. If the Segway ES2 is a compact car, the ZERO8 will be a standard sedan.

Let’s start with the specs. The numbers that win out are highlighted in GREEN.

 

 

Size & Portability

Both scooters are about the same size. Wheel diameter is a generally used to classify scooter size. The Segway ES2 has 8-inch wheels, the ZERO8 has 8.5-inch front wheels and 8 inch rear wheels. The Segway ES2, at 44.5in (from the ground to the top of the handlebars), is significantly shorter than the ZERO8 when upright (47in). The shorter handlebar still allows all but the tallest riders to ride without having to fully outstretch their arms so it’s not a big problem.

 

The ES2 is significantly longer when folded down at 44.5in, while the ZERO8 is just over 39in. However, folded size of the ES2 is much slimmer than the ZERO8.

 

The Segway ES2 has a very convenient “trolley mode” which allows it to be pulled along like a piece of luggage when folded up. This ties in with the main purpose the ES2 is designed for: multi-mode commutes which may require the scooter to be carried aboard trains or buses. At 27.5lbs (12.5kg) it is still easy to haul up a flight of stairs or lift up for the car boot.

 

 In contrast, the compact ZERO8 is very heavy for its size. At 39.5lbs (18kg) it is heavier than many larger scooters. The weight has a lot to do with the very tough body casing made of a single piece of extruded aluminum as well as the larger battery capacity. 

The ES2 sheds weight by using more plastics than metal. The main steering column and the belly of the deck is made from aircraft aluminum, and the fork is made from steel. Most other parts are plastic. This has led to rider feedback of hollow “plasticky” rattle when riding. But it is probably a good compromise to make the ES2 portable.

Weight did not appear to be a concern in the design of the ZERO8. This is good because the components are likely to be durable. However the hefty chunk of scooter is a pain to move around by any means other than by riding it.

From the viewpoint of portability, the Segway ES2 is the clear winner. On the other hand, the ZERO8 is certainly the more rugged scooter.

 

Performance

Performance refers to torque, maximum speed and range. These are a function of the battery capacity and motor power output.

The ZERO8 clearly has superior torque because it is a 48V system with a motor output rated at 500W. This provides much more acceleration than the 36V x 300W specification on the Segway ES2.

The battery capacity on an electric scooter is analogous to the size of the fuel tank in a car. So the larger battery capacity of 10ah on the ZERO8 offers a range of 20miles (35km) while the 5.2ah on the ES2 gives about 15 miles (25km). This isn’t surprising.

For top speed, the international version of the ZERO8 can sustain a cruising speed of 24 mph (40km/h), the Segway ES2 maxes out at 15 mph (25km/h). Again, no surprises there based on the specs of both scooters.

It is easy to see that ZERO8 outperforms the Segway ES2. To put things in context, we must remember the ES2 is designed as a versatile multi-mode and first-mile/last-mile commuting scooter so it prioritizes portability at the expense of performance as an intended compromise.

 

SAFETY

Safety on an electric scooter is generally judged by the stability of the scooter at speed, its traction on unpredictable surfaces and the effectiveness of its brakes. Let’s compare them one by one.

The Segway ES2 has a wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels where they touch the ground) of 33 inches, while the ZERO8 is an inch longer at 34. The longer the wheelbase, the more stable the scooter will be at speed (everything else being equal). A one-inch difference is small enough to ignore. But it is large enough to know the Segway ES2 will be more maneuverable in tight spaces.

The deck of the ZERO8 is 7 inches off the ground while the Segway ES2 is just 5 inches. Generally, lower deck height is more stable because it keeps the rider’s center of mass that little bit closer to the ground. This means the ES2 is more stable in this respect (everything else being equal). The ZERO8 needs the higher clearance in order to accommodate its longer suspension travel. Also, we find the lower ground clearance negated by the weight balance of the Segway ES2. See more details in the brake system discussion to follow.

 

In terms of traction, the softer and broader wheels on the ZERO8 achieves a larger contact patch (the actual area in contact with the ground) compared to the solid tires on the Segway ES2. When making a turn in wet or sandy conditions, the ZERO8 grips the ground better and has a higher chance of staying on the curve without skidding out. On the flip side, the the smaller contact patch on the ES2 results in lower drag and better rolling efficiency when riding in a straight line. This reduces energy consumption.

 

Perhaps the most critical to safety is the effectiveness of the braking system. The two scooters use very different systems.

 

The Segway ES2 uses an electronic brake system which means, when you press the brake lever, the motor consumes power to resists its own rotation to slow down or stop.

This is a common system used in lightweight scooters because the weight is saved by not having to mount brake levers cables. The system works very well except for a simple fact: it needs the power to work. Electronics can fail and when there is no power, the brakes don’t work. Fortunately, the designers have the foresight to include a backup braking system. The rear fender can be pressed down with the back foot to apply friction to the wheels, slowing the scooter down similar to a non-electric kick scooter. How effective this is at high speeds is another matter.

The ZERO8, being a more powerful scooter, is appropriately fitted with a bicycle-style brake lever with a physical steel cable connected to the brake. This old-school system is much more reliable and sensitive. The downside is added weight.

Aside from different brake systems, the position of the brakes also makes a huge difference. The Segway ES2 is front-wheel driven AND brakes using the front wheel. It’s conventional wisdom that a front wheel brake is less safe than a rear wheel brake because there is a higher chance of the rider flipping forward in a sudden stop from high speed.

This risk is compounded on the ES2 because of the weight distribution on the scooter itself. The heaviest part of the scooter is in the vertical steering column. It houses the heavy lithium-ion batteries. In comparison, the deck is very light. It is accurate to say the ES2 is top-heavy.

 

For the ZERO8, the drum brakes are applied to the rear wheel. Batteries are housed in the deck, keeping the heavy part of the scooter low and close to the ground. These two differences make the ZERO8 much more stable when braking at high speeds.

All in all, the ZERO8 is a safer machine than the ES2 when it comes to the position and reliability of the brakes and the weight distribution on the scooter itself.

 

Ride Quality

Ride quality is experienced over these major areas: shock absorption, throttle power response, brake response, and riding posture.

Both scooters sport front and rear shock absorbers. The front suspension on both scooters are telescopic single spring systems.

 

The rear shock absorbers are quite different. The Segway ES2 uses a discreetly concealed spring suspension system attached to a hinged tail section which mounts the rear wheel. The artfully designed system maintains a sleek, lightweight look on the scooter.

In comparison, the ZERO8 uses twin coil springs mounted directly onto the rear axle. The suspension system on the ZERO8 has more “travel” (range of movement), which allows it to absorb larger and harder bumps.

 

The nature of the wheels completes the picture for a suspension system. The Segway ES2 is mounted with solid wheels, while the ZERO8 has a pneumatic front wheel and solid rear wheel. As a rule, pneumatic wheels always perform better than solid wheels for shock absorption. While both scooters have solid tires on the rear, the one on the ZERO8 has a significantly thicker thread and softer material than that on the ES2.

The travel on the suspension and wheel type combine to make the ZERO8 perform better in terms of shock absorption and thus better ride comfort.

 

Power and brake response

The throttle and brake calibration on the Segway ES2 is finely calibrated, making for surprisingly smooth and linear response. When throttled, power comes gently but steadily as the throttle lever is pressed more and more deeply. The brake response is also reassuring, going from mild to firm predictably based on the extent of the lever-press. The sophistication of Segway’s onboard electronics shines through.


The ZERO8 in comparison has a more sporty feel. Power comes eagerly and increases steeply as the finger throttle is pulled. This response allows fast acceleration and quick changes in speed. But it may come across as aggressive or even intimidating for some riders. The single brake lever works predictably like that on a bicycle. However, the brake lever can feel stiff and hard to squeeze for the drum brakes to engage fully.

In terms of control comfort, the Segway ES2 has a familiar thumb throttle which is generally regarded as more comfortable than the index finger throttle found on the ZERO 8.

 

It is hard to say which scooter offers better ride quality because this varies widely depending on both the rider and the terrain/journey. We can only say that the two scooters have very different personalities. So it is a tie in this section.

 

CONCLUSION

The Segway ES2 excels in portability, looks, and ease of use. The ZERO8 has a clear upper hand on performance and safety. Technically speaking, we will call the ZERO8 the safer scooter simply because of better brake reliability and more sensible weight distribution. Both scooters should be considered safe as safety is more dependent on the sensibility and responsibility of the rider.

This comparison isn’t written to declare which scooter is better, but to highlight the differences and features between them. These scooters serve different rider profiles.

The Segway ES2 is best for the rider making short to mid range trips. Its features will be appreciated by the commuter who needs to get on or off public transport or in and out of buildings. The ZERO8 will excel for the rider who intends to complete the entire commute on the escooter, riding from point A to B and back.

As always, pick the scooter for how it matches your journey, not for the sake of the features themselves.




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