Electric Scooter Brakes – The Ultimate Guide
The most important skill you can learn, when learning to ride an electric scooter, is not acceleration, turning, or doing backflips: it's braking, the number one ability that can save your skin in an accident and keep those around you safe as well.
To learn how to brake effectively, and to properly keep your all-important braking system at its best, you need to know a little bit about electric scooter brakes. How do they work, what kinds of braking systems are there, which are the most effective, and why?
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In this ultimate guide to electric scooter brakes for beginners, we'll go over the various kinds of brakes you'll encounter on electric scooters and discuss some of their significant differences. We'll also talk about tips for keeping your brakes in good condition.
Although they might not be the most glamorous part of an electric scooter, and they don’t help you go faster, you won't want to hit the throttle without a reliable set of brakes to slow you down safely or bring your scooter to a stop before an accident happens.
The Different Types of Electric Scooter Brakes
Want to know what kind of brakes your electric scooter has? Or are you shopping for a scooter and wondering why it matters if you get drum brakes, disc brakes, hydraulic brakes, regenerative brakes, etcetera?
Not all braking systems are equal, and not all electric scooter brake types are designed for the same kind of riding. So the kind of riding you will usually determine the braking system you need for your electric scooter. Nonetheless, it’s good to understand the different types.
Electronic and Regenerative Brakes
All of the other types of braking systems we’ll discuss in this guide can be found on most other kinds of vehicles, from trucks and cars to bicycles.
Electronic and regenerative brakes are only found on electric vehicles because they work by reversing the electric motor, generating drag instead of torque.
Regenerative brakes take the heat energy dissipated from electric braking and convert it to electricity, which is then stored in the battery for added battery life.
All regenerative brakes are electronic (or electric) brakes but not all electronic brakes are regenerative.
Take a look at our video to find out more about regenerative braking.
Variable regenerative braking
Variable regen brakes are electronic braking systems that are designed to modulate the amount of regenerative braking the scooter uses, intelligently providing more or less braking power as needed when combined with other types of braking.
Mechanical Drum Brakes
Mechanical drum brakes are a common type of braking system for electric scooters. They work by pressing brake shoes against the inside of a drum attached to the wheel, creating friction and slowing or stopping the scooter.
Drum brakes are generally less expensive than other types of brakes and are reliable in most situations, but can have somewhat reduced stopping power in wet conditions.
The 2023 Apollo Pro
Drum brakes are best when combined with variable regenerative braking systems, a combination that yields excellent braking power and requires little to no maintenance.
Apollo uses sealed drum brakes combined with variable regenerative, electronic brakes on several models, including the Apollo Air, the Apollo City, and the 2023 Apollo Pro. Apollo's regenerative braking system is called Power RBS.
Mechanical Disc Brakes
Next, mechanical disc brakes are another common type of braking system for electric scooters. They work by pressing brake pads against a rotating metal disc (rotor) attached to the wheel, creating friction and slowing or stopping the scooter.
The Apollo Phantom V3 Mechanical Disc Brake Version
Disc brakes can be more expensive than drum brakes but offer more stopping power on their own and are more effective in wet conditions.
Disc brakes are much more subject to wear and tear than drum brakes because the pads, rotors, and brake calipers are exposed to the elements, whereas a drum brake tends to be sealed.
Mechanical brakes are cable-actuated, meaning that they use long, braided steel cables to physically pull the brake caliper arm, which presses one or both brake pads against the rotor.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Finally, hydraulic disc brakes are the most advanced and powerful type of braking system for electric scooters. They work similarly to mechanical disc brakes but use hydraulic fluid instead of cables to amplify the force applied to the brake pads, resulting in even greater stopping power.
The hydraulic brake caliper of a Kaabo Wolf Warrior X GT electric scooter
Hydraulic disc brakes are the most expensive type of braking system but offer the best in braking performance and are ideal for high-speed and heavy-duty riding.
Semi hydraulic disc brakes
Semi hydraulic brakes are rare but can be found on some electric scooters. These are partly cable-actuated (mechanical), but they are assisted by hydraulic pistons in the calipers.
Emergency Foot Brakes
In addition to the electric scooter's primary braking system, many models also come equipped with an emergency foot brake. This is a simple mechanical brake that can be engaged by pressing down on a pedal over the rear tire with your foot.
The Unagi Model One has an emergency fender brake over its rear wheel
A foot brake is a useful backup in case your primary braking system fails or if you need to come to a sudden stop. Remember to test your emergency foot brake periodically to ensure that it's in good working condition.
Hybrid and Dual Braking Systems
Most electric scooters combine more than one type of braking system, such as the combined drum or disc brake with variable regen brake systems on Apollo's scooters.
Some of the most popular combinations you'll find on budget scooter brakes include a front or rear wheel regenerative brake and a rear wheel disc brake, often combined in a single lever.
These simple but effective systems help extend range and ensure that you'll still have braking power if you lose power.
The Apollo Air combines sealed drum brakes with regenerative braking
Tips for Maintaining Your Electric Scooter Brakes
When storing your electric scooter for an extended period, it is crucial to apply the brakes several times to prevent the brake pads from sticking to the disc or drum. This can happen due to the humidity in the atmosphere, and it can cause the brake pads to fuse with the disc or drum, leading to reduced stopping power and even brake failure.
In addition, it is essential to store your electric scooter in a dry and cool place to prevent any moisture from affecting its components.
Overall, properly maintaining your electric scooter's braking system is critical for ensuring your safety and the safety of those around you. However, most drum brake and electric scooter braking systems do not need regular maintenance. For other types of brakes, see the tips below:
- Regularly check your brake pads for wear and tear and replace them if they are worn down.
- Keep your brake system clean and free of dirt, debris, and oil.
- Adjust your brake cables or hydraulic lines as needed to ensure that your brakes are working properly.
- Use your brakes properly and avoid sudden or harsh braking, which can cause excessive wear on your brake system.
- Check your brake fluid level if you have hydraulic disc brakes and top it up if necessary.
- Practice using your brakes regularly to maintain muscle memory and ensure that you can stop quickly in an emergency situation.
- Avoid riding your electric scooter in wet conditions whenever possible, as this can reduce the effectiveness of your brakes.
- If you notice any issues with your braking system, such as strange noises or reduced stopping power, have it inspected by a professional or an Apollo service center as soon as possible.
Electric scooter brakes are a critical component that every rider should understand. Each type of brake has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it's essential to choose the right type of braking system for your riding needs.
Most electric scooters come equipped with some kind of electronic brake, which is often controlled by its own brake lever. Electric brakes are not always regenerative brakes, however, and regenerative brakes are not always variable regenerative brakes.
Mechanical drum brakes are reliable in most situations, but they can have reduced stopping power and require a longer braking distance in wet conditions unless combined with other reliable braking systems such as Apollo's Power RBS.
Mechanical disc brakes create friction between a rotor attached to the wheel and disc brake pads inside brake calipers.
Hydraulic disc brakes are the most advanced and powerful type of braking system but also the most expensive and labor intensive. They are essential for off-road riding, however.
Nearly all scooters come equipped with additional mechanical brakes for making emergency stops if you lose power, even if these are only redundant fender brakes.
By understanding how electric scooter brakes work and maintaining them properly, you can ride with confidence and enjoy hitting his speeds without worrying about accidents or injuries.