Buying a scooter in China is a decision that many people weigh in their minds during their time in the country. For the negative aspects, a scooter is a financial investment costing anywhere from 2000-4000 RMB by the time you buy the scooter, bike locks, helmet, and any other accessories. Also, there is always the possibility of the scooter getting stolen, which while rare, does happen.
On the other hand, having a scooter in China will bring all sorts of conveniences to your life. You can commute to work or school faster, long walks to the grocery store are turned into a quick ride, and generally, your area and mobility are greatly increased.
The 5 things you NEED to consider when buying a scooter in China:
1. Battery type This is the most important factor, because it will determine what types of scooters you can buy. It shouldnt come as a surprise that, because scooters are electric, they need to be recharged after a certain number of uses. The batteries will either be removable or they will be built-in (built into the bike body). To charge built-in batteries, you will have to park your scooter near an electrical outlet and run the supplied cord from your bike directly to the outlet. For removable batteries, you will take the batteries out of the bike, carry them to your apartment, and charge them there (also using the supplied recharging cord). I should note that with the removable batteries, it is also often possible to charge them directly from the bike to the power outlet (similar to built-in batteries).
So, you will only be able to own a bike with built-in batteries if your apartment complex has a parking area with working electrical outlets, or if your scooter is small enough to somehow take into your apartment.
When looking at a bike with removable batteries, also check how heavy the batteries are. My last scooter had two batteries that were over 40 lbs (18 kg) each. Try to lift and carry the scooter batteries before you buy. If you cant carry them more than a few steps, you should choose a scooter with lighter batteries.
2. Scooter Size – How big or small is the scooter? Will you be giving other people rides on it very often? If youre planning on scootering around with your girlfriend or boyfriend, youll want to get a bit larger scooter. Small ones with weaker batteries will slow down significantly when another person is added on the back.
Also, try maneuvering the scooter by the handlebars when it is not running. Oftentimes youll need to do this to get it into parking spaces. If the scooter is too big and awkward for you to handle by yourself, think about getting one a bit smaller.
3. Storage – Scooters in China will often have 2 storage spaces: one under the seat, and one storage container behind the seat. I am always baffled by scooters that have no storage space. Things I often store inside my scooter include: helmet, rain poncho, city map, small towel to wipe a dirty or wet seat, and sometimes my battery charging cord. The most important thing here is the helmet. I always recommend wearing a helmet, and youll want to store your helmet in the bike, unless you want to be carrying it under your arm everywhere you go.
4. Speed – How fast do you want to go? Scooters typically enjoy speeds upward from 30 km/h. My previous scooter could go pretty fast compared to most, and would top out at 60 km/h when it had a full charge. I always prefer a faster scooter, just in case you need to go fast. Be sure to ask the salesperson about the scooters top speed.
5. Theft potential As I mentioned before, there is always the possibility of your scooter getting stolen. The nicer, shinier, more pimped-out your scooter is, the more likely it is to get snatched. This is not to say that if you have a nice scooter that it will get stolen. I had my first scooter for nearly 2 years, and it never got stolen, because I