The consensus is that electric scooters are better off with suspension.
That’s no surprise: their small wheels transmit every imperfection in the ground, so a little cushioning makes a big difference.
But suspension also adds to the price tag, and potentially the weight. This poses a problem if price or portability are major factors in your decision.
What’s more, not all suspension is created equal. It’s generally simplistic and non-adjustable, but as we’ll see below, some systems are still better than others.
First, let’s tackle the obvious question.
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Do electric scooters even have suspension?
Most electric scooters above the entry level have front suspension. Rear suspension is widely available, but less common than front.
The goal is twofold.
Firstly, it absorbs impact that the rider would otherwise feel. It won’t totally eliminate bumps, of course, but it takes the edge off quite nicely.
Secondly, it improves traction by keeping the tires more firmly in contact with the ground. A bump that might jolt you upward or through you off course gets (mostly) absorbed instead.
However, not all suspension is created equal. It runs the gamut from cheap elastomers to highly tunable shocks. We’ll take a closer look a bit farther down the page.
So, does your electric scooter need suspension?
Suspension is ideal but not necessary on an electric scooter. It reduces fatigue over small, repeated bumps and takes the edge off of larger ones. But suspension adds cost and weight, so prioritize pneumatic tires over suspension if you have to choose.
Naturally, it’s best to have both pneumatic e-scooter tires and suspension.
But if your budget or other constraints don’t permit it, then air-filled tires are arguably more important since they maximize traction (and do help mute the bumps, too). It’s no accident that most of the best commuting scooters have inflatable tires, regardless of suspension.
Keep in mind that suspension is no substitute for prudent riding and modest speeds. Yes, it’s fun to soar over rough ground on an e-scooter with long-travel, hydraulically dampened suspension…but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea!
The main types of electric scooter suspension
Plain spring or block
The simplest suspension is a steel spring (perhaps with an elastomer block inside it). It’s found mostly on lightweight and/or entry-level scooters, but some premium models also use a variation on this concept.
There’s no rebound dampening, so it the farther it compresses, the harder it bounces back. It’s usually tuned quite soft to compensate for this, and prevent a pogo-stick feeling.
Hydraulically dampened spring or air shock
Many higher-end scooters use mountain bike-style coil or air shocks. These perform the best, by far, and have been standard on mountain bikes and motor vehicles for decades.
Inside, the spring or air chamber surrounds a piston filled with oil. When an impact compresses the shock, it pushes oil through valves that provide some resistance in both directions. This is known as hydraulic dampening, and it governs both compression and rebound speed.
Dampening is adjustable via one or two simple fingertip-sized screws, and firmness is adjustable via spring preload or air pressure.
In my opinion, this is the best option if weight and price aren’t major constraints.
Polyurethane cartridges (Dualtron)
Somewhere in the middle is Dualtron’s system, which, to my knowledge, no other brand uses. It consists of blade-like axle attachments that fit between polyurethane blocks. As the axle pivots under impact, the blocks provide resistance.
It’s not directly adjustable, but riders can swap the blocks with a firmer and faster-rebounding or softer and slower-rebounding set.
Is electric scooter suspension adjustable?
Suspension is probably adjustable if your e-scooter has bicycle-style coil or air shocks. This allow for preload (firmness), rebound, and sometimes compression adjustment.
Most other scooter suspension is not adjustable, but it might be possible to swap the entire spring/cartridge for a different feel.available at several different levels of firmness.
Suspension might keep you slightly safer
Suspension can improve traction, and absorb unexpected impacts that would otherwise throw you off course. That doesn’t prevent accidents, but it reduces the chance that unseen obstacles will cause a crash.
The biggest challenge with electric scooters is their small wheel size. They aren’t wide enough to “bridge” gaps or roll over abrupt obstacles of more than a couple inches.
When you hit one of these unexpectedly, the equal and opposite force (remember physics class?) can be jarring enough to push you off track or even knock your hands or feet out of position. That’s highly like to result in a crash.
If suspension absorbs some of that force for you, it’s easier to retain control. It also keeps the wheels more firmly in contact with the ground, thus helping you maintain traction.
You still can’t safely ram into curbs or plow through potholes, but you worry less about the effect of imperfections in your path.
Electric scooter suspension in brief
Many electric scooters have suspension, but by no means all. Suspension quality also varies considerably, so look for coil-over or air shocks for optimal ride quality and adjustability.
As for safety, traction is even more important than smoothness. Pneumatic (air-filled) tires are the biggest factor in traction, so choose them over suspension if you can’t have both.