E-Scooter Hacks- Remove the Speed Limiter
This article chronicles my adventures in hacking a budget-priced e-scooter to make it even more fun and practical. Note: this post is for educational and informational purposes only. Proceed at your own risk! You may wreck a perfectly fine e-scooter if you are not careful.
I am a fan and owner of both e-bikes and e-scooters. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. E-scooters, in particular, are very handy when traveling on public transport, in my case, on a train as they fold down nice and compact. E-bikes are great for longer distances and getting moderate exercise.
And no, this article isn’t about stealing a Lime, Spin, or Bird e-scooter (or any other ridesharing service e-scooter for that matter), or for getting free rides. This is about hacking an e-scooter that I already own and how you can do it too
Video form of this guide: I purchased an e-scooter some time ago from Lidl. The e-scooter model is the “Doc Green EWA 6000“, and it cost €290 (350) delivered, due to a limited-time deal. This was even cheaper than the similar Xiaomi M365 (the most popular e-scooter perhaps ever) which retails for about €350-400 at the time of writing. Check the Lidl product page here (page in German).
From what I can gather, this e-scooter is steeped in irony. It appears to be a German clone of a Chinese product. Yes, let that sink in for a moment. If you can think of another recent German product that is a clone of a Chinese product, I’m all ears. Why on earth would “Doc Green” (a brand owned by a German manufacturer called KSR Group GmbH) make a copy of the highly-popular Xiaomi M365?
I can think of two reasons: the German regulations not allowing standard M365s on the street, and Lidl offering them volume sales to make a street-legal copy of a popular e-scooter. In order to make a street-legal e-scooter, it must contain certain features which the M365 doesn’t. Lidl is a discounter supermarket with enormous buying power that operates at a massive scale.
Limited Speed, Limited Functionality
Limited Top Speed
After my initial excitement of zipping around on the new toy wore off, I noticed some frustrations with my new purchase. The 20 km/h (about 12.4 mph) speed limit, imposed electronically from the factory, is simply not fast enough to be practical. This is due to the fact that in Germany the law states that e-scooters must be limited to 20 km/h or less in order to be certified for public roads. Cyclists going at a moderate pace are comfortably faster than this. When traveling on the flat or downhill, in particular, the 20 km/h limit feels like moving through treacle. Something had to be done.
Another frustration that quickly became evident is the limited range. The manufacturer claims an estimated range of 22km (about 13.7 miles), but in cold weather that gets cut dramatically.
No Bluetooth Connectivity
Additionally, this particular e-scooter model did not have any Bluetooth connectivity from the factory, so it could not connect with a smartphone app [link to apps]. If you google ‘e-scooter hacking’, there are a lot of mentions of using smartphone apps to re-configure settings on popular e-scooters like the Xiaomi M365 or M365 Pro, which offer Bluetooth connectivity as standard. It’s quite amazing what these apps can do- apart from the obvious like display the current speed and charge level they can do things like setting cruise control (useful for sparing your thumb on the uncomfortable throttle lever), change the start behavior from ‘kick start’ to start from zero, display the motor and controller temperatures, show distance traveled, and even log routes via GPS. Very nifty indeed!
How can you hack an e-scooter?
In this case, I took my e-scooter and pulled out some standard-issued components, namely the controller and the digital display, and replaced them with upgraded versions that are compatible with the e-scooter. I am not too experienced with hardware hacking, so figuring some things out on the fly was necessary. All credit for these instructions must go to user ‘Tobias’ from the eScooter Treff forum (link in German, paste the URL into google translate to read it in English) who originally figured out how to replace the parts and posted instructions and photos. The forum also contains links to the replacement parts needed.
The e-scooter controller and the default display needed to be removed. The new controller removed the 20 km/h speed limit, and the new display unit added Bluetooth functionality, similar to the M365. This means many Android apps and some iOS apps now can connect to the e-scooter.
Replacing the Speed Controller
The trickiest part of the process was figuring out how to get the old controller out and inserting the new one. The space was extremely tight and the new controller was too wide. Luckily, there was an additional front metal plate on the new controller, held in place with two small screws. Off it came, and it fits into the slot from the old controller – just barely! In the photos below you can see the new controller slotted into a plastic box, which was the position of the old controller.
The product gallery below chronicles the process. Excuse the vertical photos – their purpose was to document the order of what connects to what, in case of problems when reassembling everything.
Different ways of making your electric scooter faster
To make things easier to understand and apply, the ways to make your scooter faster are divided into three types:
These methods are all safe ways to get maximum speed from your scooter. They don’t require messing with its internals, don’t pose any risk of defects to it, and will not void your warranty.
However, they will typically just remove some obstacles that prevent your scooter from reaching the maximum advertised speed. If you want speeds higher than those, you will have to play around with your scooter’s internals and dig a bit deeper. Before you do that, make sure you’ve gone through all of the risk-free methods and you can get at least the maximum speed that you should be getting without risking messing up some of the mechanical parts.
If you are determined to modify your scooter in order to speed it up, you should know what you’re getting yourself into first.
All the modifying methods serve one purpose – to enable you to go faster than the scooter manufacturer intends. If you’re really after getting the most out of your performance, you will first have to remove the speed limiters.
If you want to go even further, you will have to do some additional battery optimizations, either upgrading the battery to a more powerful one, adding an extra battery, or both.
How to make every escooter faster | remove the Speed limiter
All of those processes may void your warranty and damage your scooter.
Finally, there are a few other mechanical methods to get a little more power out of your scooter. They also include opening up your scooter and doing serious changes to its internals, so they should only be considered as a last resort.
Tips to make your electric scooter faster
These are all the ways you can increase the speed of your scooter.
Make sure your scooter is fully unlocked and you are in the fastest mode (risk-free)
To the more experienced rider, this one will be obvious.
But I’m still surprised by the number of people that keep complaining that their scooter was slow, only to later find out that they’ve either not done the setup properly, or are not in the fastest possible mode.
If your scooter has been unusually slow from the beginning, it is likely that you are facing one of these issues.
Some scooters start in a sort of a locked mode, most often to comply with local laws and regulations for scooters.
Most often, you need to connect the scooter to the mobile app and create your profile there. You should then be able to unlock the maximum speeds.
Also, almost every electric scooter has more than one driving mode, usually three. To be able to go at the maximum speed, make sure your scooter is in the fastest mode. The modes in the modern scooters are usually toggled by double or triple pressing the power button on the screen.
Go through your manual or a tutorial about your specific scooter. The instructions are usually very simple to follow.
Charge your battery to 100% (risk-free)
Your speed will greatly depend on your battery.
While the power of the motor itself, and the power of the battery will be the primary factors, the battery charge level often plays an important role too.
The voltage of a battery drops as its charge drops, and the drop in voltage is directly causing a drop in performance. This is true for both lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, but especially so for the latter. Luckily, most modern scooters have lithium-ion batteries, so this will not be as pronounced as with scooters from 10 years ago, for example.
Many scooters enter power-saving mode when the battery is getting close to being empty. To save power, they often limit performance and the maximum speed at which you can go.
For some scooters, there might be a drop in top speed even if the battery level drops below 90%.
People have reported this over and over again – when their batteries are near empty, or sometimes even half full, their scooters just don’t perform as well.
Charging your battery to the fullest will make sure your scooter gives you the maximum speed it is capable of. If you can’t find the exact charging time for your scooter, see the scooter charge time guide, or the scooter charge time calculator.
Turn off the lights and other components that drain the battery (risk-free)
Related to the above, you want to make sure that your battery can be used for your performance as much as possible, and for auxiliary functions as little as possible.
I’ve noticed this myself, and seen countless reviews and Комментарии и мнения владельцев online that confirm it as well. For a lot of models, the maximum speed will suffer when the lights are turned on. This is true even for cars, as lights are one of the biggest consumers of batteries, and cars usually have even bigger batteries.
Now, a warning: safety must come first! If you’re driving at night, especially in areas that are not well lit, don’t turn off your lights. Those few extra kilometers per hour are not worth risking your safety.
For maximum speed, just make sure your scooter’s lights are turned off during the day, or potentially turned off if you’re riding in a very well-lit area.
The same applies to the other resources that require energy in your scooter.
Reduce the load (risk-free)
It is a fact of physics – the less weight your scooter needs to pull, the faster it can go. If you lose unnecessary weight, you can expect your max speed to go up.
Another safety warning – never get rid of your helmet or other safety equipment just for the sake of going faster! Again, really not worth it, and it won’t do much anyway.
However, you can reduce some of the load if you plan your trips. I’ve noticed that I can’t hit my all-time highs on my Xiaomi M365 Pro if I have an 8 kg backpack on me and I’m pulling full grocery bags.
Also, I noticed that when I was heavier, my scooter performed worse in general. It moved slower, the battery got drained faster, and even the rides were less stable. Just for reference, I was about 210 lbs / 95 kg, and when I dropped down to 181 lbs / 82 kg, it seemed like my scooter has been brought back to life.
Finally, you can replace some parts with lighter ones. Removing some metal parts and replacing them with plastic ones will take off some weight, although that’s not something I would advise, as it may also reduce the stability and the overall robustness and structural integrity of the scooter.
How much can faster can I make my electric scooter?
For most scooters, the increase in top speed will be between 3 to 9 mph / 5 to 15 kmh. However, some owners have managed to increase their speeds by 15 mph / 25 kmh, and in certain cases even more.
As we saw, there are a few downsides to trying to increase the cap on your scooter’s speed.
It is possible that there are legal limitations in your region, and you should always take that into account.
Apart from that, there are some safety issues as well. Some scooters have really powerful specs, and you should be at least somewhat experienced to handle their maximum speeds. With great speed comes great responsibility!
Finally, there is always the ever-present risk of damaging your scooter if you go with the riskier methods. As mentioned, the companies don’t like you to poke around their products too much and will void your warranty if you modify the scooter in any meaningful way. Meaning, you might end up with a broken scooter, and one without a warranty.
However, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Millions of people all over the world have successfully increased their speed limits without any consequences and are now happy users.
My advice: go for the non-intrusive, risk-free methods first, and only go for the customizations if that’s not enough. Avoid the most advanced customizations, they will probably not be worth the trouble. If you want a fast scooter that bad, you’re better off looking at fast scooters that come prepared for high speeds out-of-the-box.
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The Art and Science of Building a Faster Electric Scooter—That Won’t Kill You
Electric scooters can be big fun if you know how to mod them safely and properly.
Electric scooters can be a convenient and low-stakes way to get around. Out of the box, most are fairly slow and tepid in performance. They’re usually built to be safe and simple transport, not for hooning and tomfoolery. However, there’s nothing stopping you from building a performance electric scooter; often it takes just a few simple mods to go from mild to wild.
I’ve been building and modding electric scooters for over a decade, melting wheels and burning out motors along the way. Today, I’ll teach you the basic anatomy of the modern electric scooter, and how you can make them faster—much faster. Then you can shoot epic montages while blasting around at high speed. It’s amazing fun.
But before we get to tinkering, heed this warning: Scooters come from the factory rated at certain speeds for safety reasons, and increasing a scooter’s power also increases the risk of danger and injury, both while building and riding it, so be extremely mindful of that. You are working with batteries and electricity, after all. Always wear the appropriate safety gear, abide by local road laws, and be mindful of others’ well-being.
Read that paragraph again. Internalize it. Got it? Good.
Basics of Electric Scooter Drivetrains
Before we get to pulling anything apart, it’s good to know what, exactly, drives an electric scooter.
At their heart, electric scooter drivetrains are very simple and consist of four major components. There’s a motor to drive the wheel and a battery that supplies power. There’s also an electronic speed controller (ESC) which varies the flow of power from the battery to the motor to control its speed, and some kind of throttle to send commands to the speed controller.
The speed controller is the thing that gives you throttle control over the scooter. The more power it allows to flow to the motor, the faster you go.
Speed controllers typically look something like this, but come in several shapes and sizes. The heatsink makes up part of the exterior housing in this case and helps keep the transistors inside cool. YouTube/What Up TK Here
Some scooters get fancier about things, of course. Some will have a proprietary speed controller, which also drives a dashboard display, showing information about battery levels and speed. Others will have a special dual-speed controller capable of driving two motors, one front, and one rear. Most scooters make do with just driving one or the other, though. Cheap hub motor models may just drive the front wheel, while higher-end scooters tend towards driving the rear wheel or both.
The motors themselves can come in several forms, too. Old-school brushed DC motors aren’t commonly seen outside of toy-brand scooters like those from Razor. Brushless motors are far more popular these days for their greater efficiency, though they require fancier speed controllers to drive them. Hub motors, which fit entirely into the wheel itself, are a popular form of brushless motor. These are typically used in modern electric scooters, as they make it easy for manufacturers to build two-wheel-drive models.
Brushed motors, like this large unit seen here, are old technology now. Brushless motors pack more power into a smaller package and are a more typical choice for performance builds these days. YouTube/What Up TK Here
As for batteries, the vast majority of scooters rely on lithium-ion cells similar to those used in modern electric cars. Other battery technologies exist, but most of them are heavier and store less energy, which makes for an incredibly slow, heavy scooter that can’t drive very far. If you’ve got a scooter that runs heavy lead-acid batteries, often a lithium-ion battery upgrade is a great mod to make.
Most scooters ship with pretty weedy power in stock form. Many countries limit electric scooters and other similar ride-on vehicles to a maximum power output of just 200 watts, which equates to a minuscule 0.26 horsepower. This is normally good for 15 mph at a maximum. Scooters for kids often have even less power.
Lithium batteries are the key to building a high-performance scooter. I’ve used packs for RC planes in the past, but these days, e-bike packs are readily available online. YouTube/What Up TK Here
You can build or modify a scooter to have way more power than that pretty easily. However, just beware: It’s often illegal to ride more powerful scooters on public thoroughfares in many jurisdictions—for the safety of both riders and everyone else. Keep that in mind before you go crazy building some high-powered monster.
Going Faster With What You’ve Got
So, now that you understand the basic elements of a scooter, you want to know how to make yours faster.
The most straightforward method is to work with what you’ve got in order to eke out as much performance from the stock components as possible. There are a few ways to go about this, and it’s typically the cheapest way to get more performance.
A few points of caution, however: There’s also a lower ceiling for what you can achieve if you do choose this path. You also run the risk of blowing up what you have. It’s not dissimilar to the car world. Yes, you can chuck a dinner plate-sized turbo on your mum’s Chevy Sonic, but you’ll blow the head off well before you get to 1,000 HP at the front wheels.
Additionally, some scooters come with speed restrictions baked in from the factory. These can often be lifted or removed with a firmware upgrade. Though, flashing your scooter with a different firmware risks bricking the device, making the scooter not work at all anymore. (Also, speed gains from firmware flashes are typically pretty minor. Manufacturers don’t leave a whole lot of performance gains on the table from stock.)
Upping the Current
But, depending on your scooter, getting a little more pep can be as easy as messing with the in-built current limit. Without getting into the physics behind it all, more current means more power, so that limit on current is what’s limiting your fun.
Typically, the ESC contains what’s called a “current shunt.” It’s a fat piece of wire of a known resistance, and all the current going to the motor travels through it. The ESC uses this to measure the amount of current going to the motor and will cut power to the motor over a given limit to protect it and the battery from damage.
If you’re a rebel, though, you don’t give a damn about no damage! You can trick the scooter by adding metal onto the current shunt, which reduces its resistance. This is typically done by soldering an additional wire in parallel with the current shunt, thus fattening it up. This reduces the resistance and messes with the calibration. It makes the ESC think less current is flowing so it doesn’t trigger a limit condition.
This mod can give you more acceleration and sometimes more top speed. Just note you risk setting your ESC, batteries, or motor on fire if they can’t handle it.
On a speed controller, a current shunt looks like this—the fat wire link indicated by the end of the screwdriver (first image). Soldering additional wire onto the current shunt reduces its resistance, which fools the speed controller into thinking less current is flowing. This can circumvent current limits and get you more power, but it also risks blowing up your ESC. YouTube/What Up TK Here
How do you know if your parts can handle it? Well, much like engine tuners working on a car, you try it and see. Eventually, you’ll push it so hard that it breaks, and you’ll get a better idea of just what those stock parts can do before popping.
Do it outside and away from people and things in case it all catches fire, and be careful when you’re riding, too. Brushed speed controllers that fail can short circuit, supplying full battery power to the motor and sending you hurtling down the road at maximum speed. Alternatively, brushless controllers can make a motor stop dead or jerk suddenly when they fail, hurling you into a bush, a car, or an unlucky pedestrian.
I got about four miles out of this stock Razor E300 motor when I pushed it too hard. It burnt up pretty bad. YouTube/What Up TK Here
As I said above, it’s a dangerous business. Building a modified scooter comes with risks, so you need to be careful. Wear protective gear and only ride where it’s safe. Plus, if you’re new to tinkering with electricity, do your research and get advice from someone that knows what’s safe.
The ‘Overvolt’ Mod
Going further, you can do an “overvolt” mod. Running more voltage through a motor gives more top speed and tends to boost acceleration across the board, too. This is typically achieved by replacing the scooter’s battery with one of a higher voltage. Or, in the quickest, dirtiest version, simply running a second battery in series with the first to double the voltage.
The gains from overvolting aren’t linear, but they can be darn close. You can easily boost your scooter’s top speed by 50 percent or more with this hack, but it comes at a price. The components in your scooter’s ESC are only rated to deal with so much voltage, and can easily fail when overvolted. The more you increase the voltage over stock, the more likely this can happen, and the quicker it’s likely to occur. The motor itself can also fail thanks to the excess heat melting insulation off the windings inside.
I’ve used Ryobi’s power tool batteries to do overvolt mods before. However, it typically pays to use a proper pack designed for e-bike or scooter use. It’s just easier to wire up. YouTube/What Up TK Here
Total Drivetrain Swaps
If you want to go really fast in an old Miata, you’re often better off dumping the stock economy-car engine for something with real performance. It’s the same with electric scooters. If you want big performance, don’t bother trying to mod the gear you already have. Rip out the existing ESC and batteries and replace them with more powerful gear. You’ll probably want to replace the motor, too—a new high-power battery and ESC will likely deliver so much power that your motor will simply melt into an anchor in a matter of minutes. That smells really bad (ask me how I know), so chuck it out as well.
Let’s say you’ve got a scooter with a 250-watt motor running off a 36-volt battery. You can rip all that out and buy yourself a higher-voltage battery, a higher-power motor, and an ESC to suit. They’re readily available on sites like eBay or Aliexpress. Typically, a roadgoing scooter would be plenty thrilling with a 48-volt battery and a 500- to 1,500-watt motor. However, 60-volt and 84-volt builds with motors in the 5,000-plus-watt range aren’t uncommon, particularly in larger off-road scooters with more space for batteries.
The challenge then is to fit all these new components in or on your scooter. Thankfully, wheels with higher-power hub motors are readily available, so the hardest part is often finding somewhere to stash a bigger, more powerful battery. Generally, an upgraded speed controller is small enough to lash onto the frame somewhere if you can’t install it internally. You’ll probably find you need a new throttle, too, to interface with your replacement ESC.
However, if you’re working with a scooter with a chain drive or belt drive, you might have to get more creative. This often involves building your own mounts to fit a larger, more powerful motor. Chain drives offer some flexibility in gearing that can be useful, too. You can gear the scooter down for better hillclimbing performance, or go the other way to get a higher top speed.
A little faster, a little more powerful
Beyond putting stickers, a zippered case or indestructible wheels, the true customization of Xiaomi’s scooter is in the software. The firmware of the scooter can be modified, and with this action comes the new functions. Some enhanced features that a custom firmware can offer are:
- brake improvement
- Activation of KERS (engine brake when not accelerating)
- Increased top speed
- Power boost
- Always start in ECO mode
- Change the minimum speed at which the motor starts (start with a boost)
- Modify the time in which the cruise control is activated
- Modify the battery voltage limit
How to hack / derestrict your ebike for free
All these improvements sound pretty good, however, many of them hide a common danger that many users are unaware of or try to ignore: battery tampering.
A time bomb
That the scooter runs more is something that many will see as an impossible improvement to avoid, however, behind that game of Firmware update, custom settings and tricks, hides a serious handicap that could lead to very serious problems. Has anyone thought about battery life?
Changing the parameters that come from the factory means exposing the battery to moments of stress for which it is not prepared. The increase in power and prolonged activation of turbo mode cause the battery cells to degrade more quickly, and this can cause internal problems that show up when charging the device.
Because the battery degrades, it could simply affect the scooter not lasting so long in operation or that finally that power you were looking for ends up degrading. You could accept that, the problem is that other causes could cause very important risks.
fire caused by scooter
Surely you have read the occasional case of a fire caused by a scooter. These accidents are not very common, but they do happen, and in almost 100% of cases they are caused by a bad battery condition. All this degradation can occur after years of using the scooter, but the consequences are usually reduced range and loss of power. Electrical failures are usually common to us, and if they do occur, the most frequent cause is the modification of the skates.
That is one of the main reasons why you should think about changing the firmware. Scooters are normally charged at night while we sleep, and a power failure (with a battery of that capacity) during those hours can be fatal.