KickPed versus Xootr, a scooter review
The KickPed is a custom Know-Ped, manufactured in the same factory in California, Patmont Motor Werks, but made to a lean and mean customized set of specifications, exclusively for one retail store, NYCeWheels in New York City. In some ways it is less of a scooter than the Know-Ped but the customizers, the people at NYCeWheels, think that what has been taken away from it, improve it.
The four differences between a Know-Ped and a KickPed are:
- The deck is shaved down to a narrow width, making it easier to scoot without having to trace a wide arc around the side of the board, or steer in a wavy line to get the board out of the way of the pushing foot.
- The entire front brake assembly has been omitted, leaving only the rear fender “spoon brake”.
- The simplified folding handlebars come in a choice of two fixed heights, 36 inches and 42 inches, the longer of which allows riders taller than about five feet ten inches to ride comfortably upright without having to hunch over the bars and subject their palms to the forces of the road.
- Instead of the choice of several exceptionally attractive powder-coated colors of the original Know-Ped, the KickPed’s frame comes in clear lacquer coat only, so you can see the steel and the welds.
Now despite these changes representing things that have been taken away, the KickPed costs (at time of writing) $229 plus $34 shipping, a total of $263, whereas a new Know-Ped in any of the four colors can be had for about a hundred dollars less including free shipping if you know how to do a good web-search. But you won’t be spending an extra wad of small bills for nothing. The sellers are very clever people when it comes to knowing what works in an urban scooter, and of course they ride in New York City, meaning we should take note of what they advise.
The deck is narrow because the original deck was designed for a pair of side by side feet. The original wide Know-Ped deck is from the motorized Go-Ped, and therefore it makes scooting inefficient because to get the ankle of your propelling foot around the footboard. or to swerve the vehicle around your propelling foot, you really have to bend your supporting leg too much, and that is the most tiring physical action in a kick. I’m sure you have noticed that if you scoot a while and don’t switch feet, it is the supporting leg up on the deck that gets tired, not the one you were scooting with.
The original wide Know-Ped deck is beautiful, especially with the bright powder-coated frame protruding at each end, but it’s extra width very much reduces the efficiency of the ride in terms of simple physics. Also the KickPed uses marine plywood, less likely to delaminate if you accidentally get it wet.
The front brake is gone from the KickPed because it was the one thing that frequently needed adjustment on the Know-Ped, and it was too aggressive when those metal calipers grabbed the grooved tire-walls, Remember, the Know-Ped is a Go-Ped without the engine, and it’s brakes can stop you from a high speed with a heavy load. The rear brake that spoons around the top of that fat back tire is simply good enough on it’s own, for a human-powered scooter and much less likely to lead to a sudden unintended dismount (accident). NYCeWheels are so frustrated with front brake maintenance that they warn you not to add one to a KickPed or it will void the warranty.
The handlebars come in a choice of two non-adjustable heights, and in the case of the custom taller bar option, it allows taller riders to stand upright and watch where they are going, which is less uncomfortable than bending forward to face the road like a road racer, and then bending your neck back so you can see the road ahead through your eyebrows. Remember, an urban kick scooter is not for breaking speed records at the velodrome, it’s from getting to A to B efficiently, comfortably and safely. But don’t make the mistake of choosing the tall model if you are shorter than 5″ 11″. Your hands should be lower than your elbows for good stance.
And the clear lacquer coat looks okay also. Very industrial and strong looking.
Since I currently own one of each, I will compare the KickPed to the Xootr Mg. (I had a Know-Ped once but it was stolen before I had a chance to ride it much)
Rolling resistance on smooth concrete, hardwood, vinyl.
If you are able to ride your scooter on a smooth surface, then the Xootr will live up to it’s reputation as the smoothest, most energy-efficient, fastest, easiest scooter in the world. It is second to none. On a perfectly smooth level surface, one kick will take a Xootr an unbelievably long way, whereas a KickPed may require an extra kick or two to make it quite as far. But the difference is not as great as other reviewers have written. It’s practically negligible based on my own comparison, switching back and forth from one scooter to the other. However…..
Rolling resistance in the real world.
In my normal scootering environment, there are uneven, un-repaired sidewalks, with large gaps and ridges caused by tree roots, lack of maintenance and general disrepair. The roadways, where the cars go, are often almost as bad, and the alleys are extremely degraded and have no hope of being repaired any time soon due to city finances.
In this environment, the slightly superior rolling resistance of the Xootr is completely lost to energy-robbing vibration and necessary slowing and stoppages, and the rubber-tired KickPed rolls just as far, even further when surfaces get really bad. I am assuming that most people who use a scooter for errands and commuting, as opposed to taking it to a specific place for a pre-planned pleasure ride, will find the same rough surfaces to some degree. The KickPed can often be ridden when the Xootr needs to be walked.
The KickPed’s deck is half an inch higher (3.5 inches) off the ground than the deck of the Xootr Mg (3 inches). If you ride all day, this makes a difference to how tired your supporting leg gets, as you have to flex that standing leg to put your other foot down to scoot. But it’s only half an inch and most riders will never notice, nor will they ride for hours at a time. Some of the large European-style kick bikes have very high decks that really cause this fatigue, but the KickPed deck is low enough, narrow enough and the grip tape will keep you secure.
Ground clearance and wheelbase.
The Xootr Mg has 1.5 inches ground clearance and the KickPed has 1.75 inches. Of course it’s impossible to have both a low deck and high ground clearance, but the extra quarter inch under the KickPed will come in handy on the streets. Also, the bottom of the KickPed is a steel tube. The Xootr’s magnesium rail can behave like a brake pad on concrete and unexpectedly stop you dead if the front wheel drops down onto lower pavement. The KickPed’s wheelbase is about an inch shorter, measured from axle to axle but it does not seem to negatively affect anything.
Tires, grip dry and wet.
Well this is the big one. If the pavement is wet or even slightly damp, the Xootr can skid and cause an accident. No such issue with the rubber tire of the KickPed. In dry conditions, the polyurethane tires on the Xootr will not let you down, but dampness is all it takes to ruin your day. Polyurethane and water add up to falling down painfully.
Not all Xootrs are as noisy as the Mg, but the Mg with a rear fender brake makes one heck of a racket. Constant loud noise comes from the rear brake rattling and also from the area of the “Ergo” quick-release push button ball pin at the front. The loud clatter that the Xootr Mg makes on the street is well beyond reasonable.
Other Xootrs, like the old ones with the wooden decks, no rear brake and no Ergo pin are quieter but not as quiet as the KickPed. Even in a smooth concrete garage, the Xootr creates this other sound, hard to describe, but most likely from the polyurethane rolling on the concrete. Not a bad noise by any means, but in a comparison test with a super-quiet KickPed, it’s definitely there.
The KickPed will rattle a little bit if you deliberately pull and push on the folding handlebar, but for the most part it softly and quietly rolls along without disturbing the wildlife. Be ready to have to warn pedestrians that you are behind them and approaching because they will probably not hear you coming.
Riding the Xootr on a rough surface is exhausting. Your teeth rattle and your vision can even blur. This makes it extra hard to avoid a mishap and it’s no fun. The ride on the KickPed is many times smoother. Let’s not get carried away though, the KickPed’s tires are solid rubber and there is no suspension, so it’s hardly ice skating, but compared to the Xootr, the KickPed’s ride does not suffer from undue vibration.
My KickPed Tall model has a nylon strap that hooks around the rear fender. Once folded the scooter is small and easy to carry and can be stowed in any car’s trunk etc. The scooter can also be slung over one shoulder and carried hands-free
The folded Mg weighs a tiny bit less, (hardly noticeable) and is easy to carry in one hand.
The folded Xootr Mg can be stood on one end if the handlebar is adjusted to the right height. This allows it to be stored with a small footprint. The folded KickPed cannot stand up on it’s own.
Ease of folding
Both are easy to fold, but the KickPed is much easier. You just slide the tube that sleeves around the handlebar hinge, fold or unfold and allow the sleeve to spring back down . With the Xootr, the pin is depressed, removed and replaced after the fold, and the handlebars adjusted. It can be hard to line up the pin with the hole if you are holding the Xootr in one hand. But it is not difficult, just less simple than the KickPed, which can be deployed and ridden within one or two seconds of being carried folded up!
Both are super durable. Eventually after hundreds of miles, the brakes, tires, bearings etc. may need replacing or at least servicing, but the KickPed is designed to be maintenance-free for life and only very heavy use will require service of any kind. In fact the omission of the Know-Ped front brake is the main improvement here as that was something that required adjustment from time to time.
I really think highly of my Xootr but I have to be honest, it is potentially dangerous. Almost every ride includes a scary moment or two where I almost fall or crash or I come to a sudden unexpected stop due to a twig or pebble or bump in the sidewalk. It can also skid sideways on damp pavement and it really is a constant worry that spoils the enjoyment of the ride. Furthermore even on a smooth surface, high speed cornering on the Xootr’s skinny polyurethane tires does not inspire confidence, but they will keep you onboard if it’s dry.
In each of these situations, the KickPed just plows through without a moment’s hesitation, without a wobble, and without causing a scare. Any extra input effort required to cover the same distance is well worth it for the peaceful bliss of a smooth and uneventful ride. And on a speedy downhill in a parking garage, the KickPed feels very stable in banked turns. Not so the Xootr.
It should be noted here that I generally ride scooters with care from point A to point B, and never attempt tricks besides the occasional cautious downhill speed run.
The KickPed wins on safety and on quietness, so these factors alone make it a clear winner for me. Having fallen off my Xootr at low speed due to practically invisible cracks, uneven slabs and debris such as twigs, I am always worried about what might happen on my next Xootr ride. At 54 I cannot recover from an accident like a twenty year old would, and accident avoidance is very high on my list of criteria. And the considerable noise generated by the rattling Xootr only has one advantage, it signals pedestrians ahead to step aside, otherwise the rattling negates all of the brilliant design that went into one of the most widely acclaimed scooters ever made. The KickPed is quiet and rolls right over most objects that would upset the Xootr.
The original Know-Ped
So what if you own a shiny new Know-Ped and you wish you had found a KickPed first? Simply find a woodworker and shave down the sides of the plywood deck, and then consider removing the entire front brake assembly from caliper to handle, and then you basically have a KickPed in a fabulous frame color, but with the stock 36 inch handlebars. If you are five foot ten or below, you’ll be just fine, and the vehicle’s efficiency will get a big kick.
Jeffrey the Barak has owned many types of human-powered and electric scooters. These are the two smallest he has owned, and two of his favorites also. Search for scooter to see other reviews on the-vu.com