The arrival of electric scooters on Portland's streets raises many significant questions. But one stands out as the most critical: How fast can you make them go?

WW found out. We raced them.

On a steaming afternoon last week, three bold volunteers from our newsroom rented e-scooters from Bird, Lime and Skip, strapped on motorcycle helmets, and gunned the little motors.

(Sam Gehrke)
(Sam Gehrke)

Our racetrack was the parking lot of nearby freight company XPO Logistics, which owns a large stretch of blacktop in a Slabtown neighborhood now crowded with high-end apartments. That gave us enough asphalt to push down the throttle (it's a button on the handlebars) and race side by side, until a security guard kicked us off the lot.

Following the example of Portland's surly teenage drag racers, we then took over a block of Northwest Savier Street and instructed our most talented scooter operator to go as fast as she could—while clocking her speed.

The result of both experiments was the same: If you want to really fly on a scooter, rent from Skip. You can travel nearly as fast as a golf cart.

(Sam Gehrke)
(Sam Gehrke)

Test 1: The Race

Two clear lessons emerged. First, Skip scooters are significantly faster than the competition's. Second, one of our contestants—staff writer Katie Shepherd—was a superior scooter driver. "I used to race dirt bikes," she explained.

The results

Race 1 winner: Katie Shepherd on a Skip scooter (Lime second, Bird last)

Race 2 winner: Katie Shepherd on a Lime scooter (Skip second, Bird last)

Race 3 winner: Rosie Struve on a Skip scooter (Lime second, Bird last)

Test 2: The Speedometer

We spent two days trying to rent a radar gun that would clock the speed of each scooter. This proved difficult—in part because the velocity radars used by batting cages don't measure speeds as slow as scooters. So Katie downloaded a phone app—Speedometer Simple—stuck her smartphone in her pocket, and took off.

(Sam Gehrke)
(Sam Gehrke)

The results

Skip: 19.3 mph

Lime: 16.2 mph

Bird: 14.9 mph

Graph by Ryan Opiela-Young
Graph by Ryan Opiela-Young

Test 3: The Commute

Racetrack records are one thing, but piloting a scooter through Portland traffic is another. We took three forms of transportation on the same route across town—from Stepping Stone Cafe (2390 NW Quimby St.) to Rerun consignment shop (707 NE Fremont St.)—during rush hour.

The results

Lime scooter: 26 minutes, 20 seconds

Bicycle: 16 minutes, 36 seconds

TriMet bus: 38 minutes, 10 seconds