Segway Ninebot Kickscooter ES2
Top Speed: 25km/h (15.5mph)
Range: 25km (15.5 miles)
From £549, segway.com
It’s hard to say exactly why, but there’s just something horribly conspicuous about a grown man on an electric scooter. Even in Bristol, where we’ve seen people going to work on unicycles and penny-farthings. But if you can put your vanity to one side, the Ninebot by Segway is actually a fine way to get around.
The motor kicks in after a push and manages a reasonable top speed of 25km/h (15.5mph). Large wheels and shock absorbers help the Ninebot skip over most surfaces, and the LED headlight makes it visible enough to ride at night. It’s a brilliant piece of kit, albeit one that’s perhaps, like other Segways before it, just a little ahead of its time.
Top Speed: 25km/h (15.5mph)
Range: 40-80km (25-50 miles)
From £2,595, brompton.com
The designers of the new Brompton Electric have retained the classic Brompton geometry here, but added a motor to the front hub and a battery pack over the front wheel. That battery pack tips the scales at 2.9kg and needs to be removed when you’re carrying the bike – even without it, the bike weighs 13.4kg.
Still, the Brompton is a lot of fun. When accelerating, the motor kicked in with gusto, sending us flying along the flat with very little effort. On hills, the initial acceleration was great, but it wasn’t as powerful as we’d have liked on longer climbs. That said, the bike still folds and stores easily, so if your commute mixes in trains or buses, it’s a great option.
Boosted Board Stealth
Top Speed: 38km/h (24mph)
Range: 22.5km (14 miles)
From £1,499, boostedboards.com
For normal skateboards you want empty roads, good weather, smooth tarmac and, ideally, a hill to roll down. This makes them pretty useless as far as commuting goes (I’ve tried), but the Stealth blasts through these limitations with a 2,100W motor that propelled my weary frame uphill, over cobbles and even past traffic.
The accompanying app and hand remote give you intuitive control over your speed and let you brake quickly or slow your descent down a hill. The Stealth is heavy, awkward to carry, and demands you wear a helmet (at top speed you’re toeing the line between fun and dangerous) – but it will also inject pure, childish joy into any journey.
COBOC ONE Soho
Top Speed: 25kM/h (15.5mph)
Range: 80km (50 miles)
From £3,715, coboc.biz
The Coboc ONE Soho looks like a vintage single-speed from 1960s London, complete with retro bars and a Brooks saddle. Its electronics are well hidden in the slim frame, and it retains a sleek look with no visible evidence of a motor or battery.
The bike’s power becomes obvious, however, as soon as you start riding. The motor assists pedalling in a smooth, consistent manner, and makes you feel like an exceptionally strong cyclist, rather than someone who’s being pushed along. It’s also very light for a full-sized electric bike, weighing in at 13.7kg. If you like the convenience of e-bikes but still want to look like a hipster, this exceptionally comfortable and stylish commuter is the one for you.
In the UK, e-bikes can be used everywhere normal bikes can, as long as they don’t provide any assistance over 25km/h (15.5mph). Powered skateboards and scooters technically aren’t legal on roads, cycle paths or footpaths, but this is rarely enforced. You’ve been warned.
This is an extract from issue 326 of BBC Focus magazine.
Subscribe and get the full article delivered to your door, or download the BBC Focus app to read it on your smartphone or tablet. Find out more