Review: Which is better? Lime or Bird Electric Scooters? (Updated 9-19-19)

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Lime vs. Bird? Who is the electric scooter king? I have tested both Lime and Bird scooters in Silicon Valley to Minnesota to Paris. Please read on to learn more! I also created an infographic below to share some quick facts about these competitors.


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A group of Lime-S and Bird electric scooters in San Jose, CA. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

The invasion of the electric scooters

It's been over a year now, since the inception of the two major electric scooter companies: Lime and Bird. I was finally able to check out both company's scooters over a recent weekend in downtown San Jose, California. They both cost the same, which is $1.00 to start however, their prices per minute vary depending on which city you are operating them. When they first started out as new companies the prices were a flat 15 cents per minute, but now that they've re-analyzed their business models, it's time for them to start making some money.

Download the Lime app

The first thing you need to do is download the Lime app onto your phone.


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After you download the app, make sure you associate your account with your mobile phone number and a method of payment like your credit card before you find your first electric scooter to save you some time and so you aren't pulling out your credit card in public.

Screengrab of Lime-S scooters in San Jose, CA. (Screengrab by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Searching for and starting up the Lime-S

After downloading the app on your phone, open up the app. You'll see a map with a lime green shade which indicates the area of coverage. Depending on the availability of electric scooters, electric bikes or bikes, you may or may not have any icons. The icons are all limes, but each one will be different. You'll see a scooter icon, which is the Lime-S and a lime icon with or without a blue lighting bolt icon, which is their Lime-E electric bike.

Screengrab of a Lime-E electric bikes in Mountain View, California. (Screengrab by Digital Nomad Foodie)

My first time using the app, I saw a Lime-S just one block away from my house using their GPS technology.

I walked towards the apartment complex where I saw the electric scooter parked. I excitedly opened the app and scanned the QR code on the scooter.

*If you are having a hard time finding the scooter and you are fairly close to it, you can use the built-in ring feature, which you'll see on the app. Press the bell "Ring" icon and the Lime-S scooter should make a loud sound to help you pinpoint it.

Please be aware that if you try to move the scooter without unlocking it first, it will emit some loud noises and if you move it enough, you'll hear a warning about the police being called. This should be enough of a deterrent for any would-be thieves because it's very annoying and you'll sure have many heads looking at you.

You'll have to read some disclaimers and have to manually check about 6 boxes agreeing to the terms and safety precautions.

A screengrab from the Lime app requiring you to wear a helmet. (Screengrab by Digital Nomad Foodie)

*Make sure you bring a helmet with you because it's required by law in California. You can also get a free helmet if you have a balance of at least $10.

LED display

After you unlock the electric scooter, you'll notice the LED display on top of the handle bars. You'll be able to monitor the battery life and speed. The brake is on the left handle bar and the throttle is located on the right handle bar where your thumb sits.

LED headlight

If you start the Lime-S when the sun comes down or at night the LED headlight will automatically emit, which I thought was pretty cool. The only drawback is the light didn't seem eye-level and seemed to be pointed up a little too high of an angle. At least it provides some safety at night so vehicles and pedestrians can see.

Braking and acceleration

You should start off slowly because what I noticed after riding several Lime-S electric scooters were that each one rides different. Some have good brakes and some have very worn down brakes. So test it out slowly. The acceleration also varied after riding several. I found that the average speed was about 15 MPH (miles per hour) with a top speed just over 16 MPH.

After you get used to the brakes and acceleration, your balance should get fairly comfortable and you'll adjust quickly.

Battery life and range

Another important caveat to check is the battery life of each electric scooter. You can check the battery life of any available Lime-S from your app while you are searching for ones nearby. You'll be able to see the battery life along with the remaining miles. So be smart and ensure you find one that has enough juice to get you to where you want to go.

*A good idea is that if you find a Lime-S scooter that is fairly close to you but has little battery remaining, you could take it and then find another one that has full power and switch out.

Lime Scooter Summary:

  • Lime has two products, which are the Lime-S (electric scooters) and Lime-E (electric bikes)

  • Download the Lime app to your phone

  • Connect your email address/verify email address and phone number to your profile

  • Connect your payment method to your profile

  • Use the app to search for nearby scooters or bikes

  • Use the built-in "Ring" bell icon on the app to help you pinpoint the scooter audibly

  • Bring a helmet, it's required by law

  • Use the app to unlock the scooter or bike

  • Hop on and push forward, then press down on the throttle

  • When finished, park in a location that doesn't impede the flow of traffic or on private property, then lock the scooter or bike

Download the Bird app

Just like Lime, you'll first want to download the Bird app to your phone.


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After downloading the app, open it up and you'll have to get it connected to your phone number. You will also need to connect your profile to your email address and then you'll verify your email address using the verification email that Bird sends.

Scan your driver's license

Unlike Lime, Bird requires you to scan your driver's license prior to your first ride. You will use the app's built-in scanner and scan the front and back of your driver's license. This ensure that only riders 18 years and older can ride their scooters.

Screengrab of the Bird app showing available electric scooters in downtown San Jose, CA. (Screengrab by Digital Nomad Foodie)

Searching for Birds

Open up the Bird app and you'll see a map of your area. Look for the Bird icons to see if there are any electric scooters nearby. If you live in downtown San Jose you're very lucky. There are currently over 200 Bird scooters scattered around town. You're able to preview any available Bird scooter by click on the Bird icon. Doing so allows you to check the battery life, chirp it's alarm in case you need some audible help locating it or you can report it lost. I like both of these features compared to Lime because their scooters do not have this option. Once you find one close by walk towards it and then open your Bird app.

Ride the Bird

To start the Bird electric scooter, open up the Bird app and press the ride button on the bottom of your screen. Remember to add your driver's license and payment information prior to your first ride. You don't want to be doing all this in public because you'll be distracted and vulnerable.

Once you start your ride, just push forward and press down on the throttle on the right handle bar by your thumb. Bird scooters are the same set-up as Lime-S, the brake is on the left handle bar.

The brakes are on the left, along with a bell and the throttle on the right of a Bird scooter. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)

You'll notice that there is no LED display on Bird scooters, so you won't know how fast you're going or see your battery life. To check your battery life you'll need to stop in a safe place and then open the Bird app to check.

You'll also notice the speed differential compared to Lime-S scooters, Birds seem a tad bit slower.

If your phone runs out of battery

I bring this up because my wife's phone ran out of power during our ride. If this happens to you don't worry. As soon as you're done riding, just give a call to Bird's customer service phone number (866) 205-2442. If no one picks up, like what happened when we first called, just call again until someone does. They will ask you for the four-digit number located under the QR code on top of the handlebar. The customer service agent will be able to shutoff your ride session. Once that happens park the Bird in a suitable location and make sure it's turned off.

Bird Scooter Summary:

  • Download the Bird app to your phone

  • Scan your valid driver's license using the app's built-in scanner

  • Connect your payment method to your profile

  • Use the app to search for nearby Bird scooters

  • Use the built-in chirp alarm function from the app to help you search for it audibly

  • Bring a helmet, it's required by law

  • Use the app to ride the scooter by scanning the QR code on the handlebar

  • Hop on and push forward, then press down on the throttle

  • When finished, park in a location that doesn't impede the flow of traffic or on private property, then stop your ride

Lime vs. Bird which is better?

The answer to your question really depends on a variety of factors. One of the most important is the city that you live in. You might live in a city where "last-mile" scooters are dominated only by Lime. You also might live in a city where Bird scooters out number Lime scooters.

If you live in a city where these scooters get used a lot, you might notice a lot of physical damage. The damage and high-usage can factor in and reduce the speed of the Bird or Lime scooter.

Luckily, I live in Silicon Valley where we have many Lime and Bird scooters at our disposal. There are literally scooters on every corner in downtown San Jose.

So the winner is to me is Lime since they outnumber the Bird scooters 2 to 1. I like the availability of Lime so there's little to no wait or hassle looking for one.

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments from your own experience using these cool electric scooters, please feel free to comment below.


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About Digital Nomad Foodie

Digital Nomad Foodie is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.  He was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and has lived all over the world.  In addition to blogging, he is also a digital nomad working in healthcare.  He writes about his experiences and recommendations in various locations around the world.  His photos and reviews have helped over 79 million people learn about local & exotic destinations plus delicious food and can be seen on InstagramGoogle Maps and Yelp.


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