Mibo-Express-20_20_02

Kick Scooter Classifications

mibo courage scooter

A Mibo Courage street scooter from the Czech Republic (c) Mibo

By Jeffrey the Barak.

As you may have gathered from visiting the-vu.com, I am very enthusiastic about the simple and wonderful human-powered vehicle that we call a scooter, and far less enamored with the machines we call bicycles.

But despite appearances to residents of the United States, where scooters are so rare you almost never see any, there are many types of scooter out there in the world. This article is intended to be an introduction to the world of scooters and to help you make that decision to start using one or more on a regular basis.

There are no official classifications for scooters, and some may fit into more than one category, but this is just my own personal impression of what is available. I have come up with seven classes.

  1. Scooters with inline skate wheels
  2. Scooters with small wheels and solid tires
  3. Scooters with small wheels and pneumatic tires
  4. Scooters with medium sized wheels, for cruising or racing
  5. Scooters with at least one large wheel for racing and high-speed cruising
  6. Scooters that are hard to push, but great for downhill runs
  7. Scooters that are intended to be pulled along by your pet dogs

Scooter Links:

I do not own many scooters and I also do not own many photographs of scooters, but image searches can help you visualize most of the catalogues of most of the manufacturers. I will throw a few pictures into this article though!

Scooters with inline skate wheels

The original Razor scooter

The original Razor model A from 2000. (c) Razor

The brand name Razor typifies this type of scooter and due to a worldwide craze at the turn of the century, they are ubiquitous. Grown adults hunch over these small wonders to do acrobatic tricks in skate parks and they even feature in professional sports. Like skateboards, they are just as likely to be used for tricks, as for transportation from point A to point B. For very small children, they are a good first vehicle and can be easier to master than a bike, or even a trike. Aftermarket parts make them extra strong for the tricks and the skate wheels have grown in size from the first models, making them more forgiving on uneven pavement.

These scooters are not very practical for long rides, or rides on broken asphalt or uneven concrete or damp pavement, or for very tall riders. Most types can fold up to a small size that is easily carried around or placed into a locker. With good wheel bearings and a very smooth riding surface, they can go alarmingly quickly.

Scooters with small wheels and solid tires

Know-ped

A Know-Ped folding scooter (c) Go-Ped

These scooters are very handy because they allow you to take longer and more comfortable rides than inline scooters, but usually fold up into a portable and lightweight object that is easy to carry and store. In the United States, the Xootr and the Know-Ped and the customized Know-Ped called the KickPed take the top spots for general ride-ability. The Micro Black and White and the Razor A5 also fit into this class.

Hard tires have a lower rolling resistance than pneumatic tires, but as the name suggests, give a harder ride also. In general rubber tires give a ride somewhere in-between air tires and urethane. Rubber tires like those on the Know-Ped and KickPed are more forgiving and more grippy than hard urethane tires, which can throw you off just for spite, but they are not as soft as pneumatic tires.

The main advantage of this class of scooter is you are much more likely to use it. You can take one that has not been ridden for ages and use it right away, with no tires to inflate. And you can keep one in the trunk of any small car so that you can always ride it when you find yourself in a good spot. Also, if your ride includes a combination of public transportation and scooting, these are easy to fold and take with you to your seat on that bus or train. And there is no need to lock it and park outside of a business establishment. You just take it inside with you.

For these reasons, a good folding hard tired scooter is something that can be recommend for everyone, even if you also have larger scooters in your stable.

Scooters with small wheels and pneumatic tires

Mibo Basic

A Mibo brand Basic scooter from the Czech Republic (c) Mibo

This may be my favorite type of scooter, but they are hard to find in the United States and those that you can find, often suffer from their footboards being too high off the ground, and from excessive weight. There is a sweet spot for deck height. Too low and you can bottom out and scrape to a halt, causing a spill, but too high and your standing leg quickly becomes tired from too much dipping and squatting.

 

1980s scooter

A 1980s style BMX scooter

For a brief period in the Nineteen-Eighties, these scooters where everywhere and today we call those 80s classics BMX scooters, even if they had the smooth road tires. (Knobbly dirt tires are not much use on a scooter, which has no chain powered drive-wheels, but they can increase safety if you descend muddy trails. Of course not many scooter riders ever do that so the low-friction more-efficient smooth tires are best).

Yedoo (Czech Republic) still sell the 1980s type of scooter today and they are still great to ride. But they and several others, notably Mibo, also bring newer designs into the small pneumatic tires class.

If the scooter is not unnecessarily heavy, and if you do not have a great distance to travel or a need for high speed, this type of scooter with a 12.5″ (approx) tire provides a stable and easy ride with hardly any vibration, and will not stumble on almost any sidewalk hazard. They are great fun for a casual ride out and about, and can still fly down a gradient like a larger Footbike. This is an overlooked category, perhaps because it evokes a period when scooters were losing money for their manufacturers, and manufacturers that do cover it often give us too much weight and a deck that is too far above the road, making a potentially efficient vehicle a pain in the leg.

Perhaps the biggest blow to this class of scooter was ironically the success of inline scooters in 2000. But I think this class will have a resurgence.

At the time of writing, I am looking for a scooter in this class that will meet that sweet spot of weight, height and portability. If I find it, I’ll be writing! Those with a 14″ or larger front tire may fit better into the next category.

Scooters with medium sized wheels, for cruising or racing

current coaster

A 2013 Current Coaster (c) Ridecurrent

Once the wheel diameter goes over 12.5″ we have a heavier class of scooter that is great for long smooth rides, despite the inevitable rise in weight. Some of these resemble our traditional 12″ scooter and others look like bicycles that are missing their upper frames, seats and drivetrains. With the extra weight we really benefit from anything that helps us save energy, so a low to the ground footboard makes any scooter of a given weight, far less tiring to ride. Some manufacturers set their board height at over five inches, and then go on to proclaim it is better due to the ground clearance, but in my opinion they are completely wrong because of the wasted energy that the rider expends by flexing the standing leg to a larger extent.

A K-Bike K7

A model K7 K-Bike from the Czech Republic (c) Kolobezka

In this large and varied class we see sporty racers that can almost keep up with the footbikes, and cruising scooters such as those sold by the Amish in the United States, which look like something from decades ago, but have spectacularly low decks. My personal experience of this class was with my briefly owned Sidewalker City. The deck was too high, but it was so wonderful for low-speed cruising. The gyroscopic effect of the larger wheels just made it so stable that virtually no input was required for balance correction, which actually saved a lot of energy and represented a hidden efficiency advantage. But as my 2003 article in the-vu showed, when directly compared to a Kickbike racer, it was inefficient to the point of being exhausting.

Medium scooters can be found from Toucan (Canada), Mission (UK), Sidewalker (Austria), Worker (Czech Republic), Current Coasters (USA), K-Bike (Czech Republic), and many more manufacturers.

Personally I think that besides the gyroscopic balancing advantage of a larger rear wheel, it is not needed for a smooth ride and a smaller back wheel would save weight, so the big-and-little design shown in the beautiful K7 above may make more sense.

Scooters with at least one large wheel for racing and high-speed cruising

KickBike Racemax 20

A Kickbike Racemax 20 from Finland (c) Kickbike

Footbike racing is a considerably large sport in Europe and it is growing. Even some Americans are finally catching on and there is a global association called the IKSA that organizes races. These scooters are similar to kicksleds, a form of snow scooter, except they of course have wheels. I owned a Kickbike brand footbike for many years and it was very fast and very efficient. In the USA you can easily buy one from Kickbike USA or Footbike USA (with a capital F). In Europe there are at least eleven brands that I know of and they originate in the Czech Republic, Finland, Holland, France, Germany, and Austria. Yes a lot of Europeans ride and race these elegant extensions to the human body. As far as any non mechanical conveyance is concerned, the racing footbike is probably the fastest way a person can travel on level ground.

Some footbikes (with a small f) are less racy and have higher bars for less of a forward bending stance and mudguards, shopping baskets, bells etc. Most have a reasonably low deck to make the ride less tiring and most have high-end bicycle components to make the glide as effortless as possible.

Scooters that are hard to push, but great for downhill runs

Diggler Alpha Disk

A Diggler Alpha Disk scooter from Canada (c) Diggler

Mountain scooters and gravity scooters. Scooters in this class will wear you out pretty quickly if you use them for street riding. The decks are high, the frames are very strong (meaning extra weight) and some even have a front or front and rear suspension system and disk brakes. They are designed for bombing downhill. Now you may be wondering, how do you get up the hill? Normally riders are driven up to the start, or they ride ski-lifts in the summer and ride down the dry mountain trails with gravity at their backs. We can see lots of videos of riders enjoying a nice off-road downhill drop, but they never show anyone pushing the scooter up a hill!

The Candiian Diggler brand specializes in downhill scooters and they are joined by Belize (Canada), Footbike (France), Kickbike (Finland), Kostka (Czech Republic), Mibo (Czech Republic), Sidewalker (Austria), XH (Germany), and perhaps several more that I have yet to find online!

This is the class of scooters that can benefit from mud tires, which are an energy liability on street scooters.

 

Scooters that are intended to be pulled along by your pet dogs

Pawtrekker Full Suspension Dog Scooter

A Pawtrekker Full Suspension Dog Scooter from the UK (c) Pawtrekker

Scooter mushing clearly evolved from dog-sledding, but you can do it on a hot night in suburbia if you want. Lets get one thing straight. There is no evidence that this is cruel to dogs. All indications are, dogs in this business absolutely love to pull a person along on a scooter. It rewards their inner instinct that is in their DNA. It is running with the pack, even when it is just one dog and one rider.

Besides specialty vehicles that place the dog in a harness to the side of the scooter, sidecar-style, as covered in the-vu and on most other scooter-friendly websites in 2003 or since, most dog scooters look pretty much the same as downhill scooters. Some have special tie-up points along the front fender or riser, but any scooter can be used for this. All you need is the right dog or dogs. Some dogs will never be into it no matter what you do. And some riders prefer to harness themselves to their dog and not tie up to the actual scooter at all.

In Europe, dog-scooter races follow forest trails for miles and it too is a growing sport. All of the aforementioned mountain or downhill scooters are great for this but a few are actually specialized dog scooters complete with the harness points. Pawtrekker (UK) specialize in dog scooters.

So these are my own scooter classifications. Different types for different functions. Its a scooter world after all.

Author Jeffrey the Barak is the publisher of the-vu and he may actually be turning into a scooter. And he likes talking to water.

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “Kick Scooter Classifications”

  1. A great article, until the part about talking to water. People who talk to water are seriously deranged. I’m sending the police right now. I have a great Kickbike but will probably also buy a smaller folder after reading this. Its just what I need actually.
    Fergus.

  2. I started out looking for an e-bike for commuting via our public transit system which has special cars on all the trains that allow you to roll your bike onto the train (The platform has ramps that match the floor height of the bike-car’s floor.

    But after looking at the weight and complexity of these e-bikes, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to go with a scooter, which then led me to foot bikes.

    After reading your EXCELLENT explanation of the various types, I decided that I want to buy a foot bike.

    Unfortunately, in Dallas, TX, I’ve never seen a single scooter commuter or a foot bike at all.

    I’m wanting something I can ride 0.5 miles to the train station, and then 1 to 3 miles on the destination end – Or, 1.0 miles each way to the grocery store. Or, maybe out for some cruising (but that’s least important). Given my description above of our public transit system, the size of the scooter isn’t a big issue (within reason).

    So, I have a few additional questions for your:

    1. Once you get up into to the larger wheel sizes, how much difference does the wheel size make? I’m guessing that from a safety standpoint (getting thrown over the handlebars), it doesn’t make much difference. I’m not as concerned about speed as I am about the ease of pushing it with my kicking foot.

    2. What about the models that have two large wheels as opposed to one large wheel and one small wheel? Is there a significant difference between the one-big/one-small models and those with two big wheels? Would there be any advantage to a model with a big front wheel and a medium rear wheel?

    3. What about the weight of the foot bike? I’ve seen the Footbike Express which is very cheap ($130), but weighs 20lbs compared to their lighter model which is 15 pounds. The Footbike Express is so cheap, I’m tempted to buy one just to see how I like using a foot bike, but I don’t want to buy something that discourages me because it isn’t very functional.

    4. If I’m going to be riding it on the street and on sidewalks that have the ramps at the corners for wheel chairs, etc., do I have worry about the deck being too low, or should I simply look for a foot bike with the lowest possible deck?

    5. What about brakes? Are rear brakes important? What are the safety considerations for the various brake types? What about the foot-operated rear brakes?

  3. Hi Geoff.

    Firstly I am delighted that this article has helped you decide to get into scooting. Your distances and situations are just about perfect for a scooter. Secondly I hope that other readers will also reply with advice and experiences.

    For wheel size, larger is smoother, but honestly even with a 12.5 inch smooth tire, as in non-knobby tire, I have never really found a need for anything bigger. But if I was going to import one of the European options then a 14″ front would be appealing.

    As for two large wheels, as I said, I had that Sidewalker City for a while, and people with Amish scooters really love them, but only the large front wheel is important and having a smaller back wheel seems to be no problem for the world’s scooter racing athletes.

    The weight of a footbike can be higher than that for a folder because they just seem to want to go go go. But they will remind you how heavy they are when you get to a hill. If that bargain Footbike brand footbike is only 20 pounds, don’t worry, it is light enough. I would say go for it. They may even be losing money at $130.

    No you do not have to worry about the deck being too low. You just have to watch where you are going and remember that if you miss noticing a step down, you could plant the frame and suddenly stop. But much better to keep your eyes open and scan ahead than to have to suffer the pain of a high deck.

    On a footbike class scooter you definitely need front and rear brakes because at times you will be traveling very fast and that crazy dog is just waiting to step in front of you for the insurance money. Foot brakes are more for cruisers like the Amish or the Ride Current, or for small rides with solid tires.

  4. Wow! That was a really fast response.

    After reading your response and thinking about it, what I want is something for cruising – which seems to me would be ideal for the short commutes I do. (I actually have my office in my home and only occasionally go to a client location – although for the next three months, I’ll be going to a client site 2 days per week. It’s less than a mile to the train station and less than a mile to their office from the train station on the other end.)

    Seems like I need something that will allow me to stand upright, with relaxed shoulders, a little bit of cargo capacity, and a low enough deck for a comfortable and easy kick.

    It looks to me like the Footbike Express (and maybe the Kickbike City) may not allow me to stand in a more relaxed posture – but I’m not sure how to measure it and I’m having to do all of this from research and speculation because no one around here has even heard of these things, much less seen one. I’ve found a dealer that sells both Kickbikes and Footbikes, so I’m going to phone them Monday.

    The only thing sold in Dallas that I can put my hands on are the Razors and the 16″ or smaller Toucan.

    I’m 5′ 8″ tall and weigh about 200lbs. (I know, but I weighed 240 before I sold my car!).

    MY CONCLUSION AT THIS POINT: I looked at the websites you listed and found all kinds of beautiful and interesting foot bikes and scooters. My conclusion is that none of them comes close to the deal on the Footbike Express for $150 including shipping. It’s so cheap, that I think I could buy it, assemble it, and then sell it for what I paid if I didn’t like it.

    If I don’t like the standing position, I can get another headset easily enough.

    I’ll keep in touch as I progress down this path.

    Thanks, again for your time and interest.

    Geoff

  5. Geoff,

    As long as the bars can be 36 inches high, you will not be hunched over like a racer. You need to have your hands lower than your elbows for the best ride. See what deal you can get when you call that dealer, but first check Amazon etc. so you can compare. You probably will not need a bike-shop assembly and tune up. There is not much to either scooter and there are videos online. And its not much of a risk because you can always turn around and resell them for a small loss if you feel its not the right solution for you.

  6. Okay so I want to ride a scooter now. Have not had one since I was a little kiddie, but I’ve been browsing, and now I have read this and I can’t think about anything else. Why did I ever stop? Damn you bicycle seductress. I need one scooter from each category right now! Santa?

  7. Dude, this article rocks. I have tried a foot bike and it was a great ride, but it is as big as a pedal bike and that’s the problem. You have to hitch it, carry it, store it, load it. I ride a Know-Ped and I can hop switch and outrace many bikers without ever having rough ground issues.

    The Know-Ped is perfect, lightweight, and portable. Portable Portable Portable.That’s the main point here. If I could make a bigger scooter disappear and then reappear when I needed it, well then its better, but since I can’t, the Know-Ped is la bomba baby. Even the manufacturer under-appreciates the Know-Ped. They are gasser and zapper heads man. They don’t even respond to customer service calls for the lowly Know-Ped. Its like they make one and spit the taste out. Fools I say.

    the-vu is cool man. Keep ‘em comin’.

  8. I do ride a GopedKnowped and it does the job, and I know that Razors are no good. So I am now tempted to find something with a larger wheel and air tire. Thanks for this article. It is very helpful. Like you, I am very uncomfortable riding bicycles. I’d rather walk for two hours than sit in one fixed position on a saddle for 20 minutes.

  9. Hi the-vu.

    I’ve been riding a scooter lately in Miami. Its an old 1980s style 12 incher and it looks a bit silly, and the tires keep going flat, but I would have to say I prefer it to cycling. I might import one of those Czech 12 or 14 inchers and make this a permanent transportation choice. Nice article by the way, and what an interesting magazine you have here.

    Flyhat.

  10. Amazing. I rode a scooter as a child, big, metal, white rubber tyres that always went flat, but something about it stayed with me and I always hankered after such a thing. Well this article has revealed to me that scooters are alive and well. Since I never see any I assumed they were history. Now I have followed the links in this article and am regularly browsing those sites and forums, as well as this one!

    Thank you so much.

  11. In the USA, Amazon.com has the widest selection today. Look at the Grow-Ped or the Kickboard for solid tires scooters or the Toucan for air tires. Very soon there will be YedooUSA.com but it is not open at time of writing. That will be worth your wait.

  12. I fancy a brightly colored Current Coaster or maybe an Amish for the beach path. Low, slow and sexy, like me.

  13. Which scooter would you recommend as far as the deck height is concerned? Kickbike, Footbike, Mibo? I currently have Belize Toucan 16″, and the 6.5″ deck height is killing my knees, while small wheel size increases jolting on uneven sidewalks. So I am looking for something with 26″-28″ front wheel and relatively low deck, with about 2″ ground clearance… Thanks!

  14. Anna, for recommendations please visit and participate in this excellent discussion group: http://forums.letskickscoot.com/. The one that comes to my mind is the Mibo Geroy, and some people will advise you on how to lower the Toucan if you are the engineering type.

  15. I’m going to enjoy reading this post on scooter classifications, but back about 1950 I had a “Skeeter”. It had four small wheels–two in front and two in back. The foot-board was a thick aluminum casting with grooved cross-hatching for traction. The steering guide was a long vertical tube in front which you tilted to the right or left for turns. Kind of a scooter with training wheels, I guess.

  16. Hello!
    I’ve just started thinking about buying a scooter for short distances commute combined with other transports.
    I see that the sidewalks I would ride on are pretty inconsistent and it would be common that I would have to go uphill some parts.
    Would you say that a scooter can still be suitable for me?
    Would it be possible to find a light weight, foldable, reasonable sized wheels with not so high deck, all that for $200 max?
    Also, I’m an adult weighing about 70kg and 1.70 meters high.
    I think I’m looking for a unicorn scooter. haha

    Any help would be appreciated, thanks a lot.

  17. Debora. Yes any small folding scooter is good for scooting between bus and train rides. Larger wheels are better for sidewalks but you need to be able to fold and carry quickly so KickPed, Know-Ped, Xootr, Razor A5 etc. are all okay, assuming you are in the USA. Whenever a hill gets too steep, you just step off and walk.

  18. So it looks like you are in the U.K. Yes that one has great reviews. Not available here in the U.S.

  19. Yes, I am in the UK. But I would even consider buying from abroad if it was really worth it.

    It does have good reviews, but I’ve also stuck in my mind that I would prefer pneumatic wheels to feel really safe on the sidewalks and when needed to ride on the street.
    I’ve looked at the Razor and the Xootr, and while the wheels are good in diameter, I feel like I would feel safer with wider ones (fatter), you know?
    How does changing the wheels work? Are they standard fitting for any scooter or would I have to buy from the same brand?

  20. I would not plan on customization, especially changing to wheels that the frame was not designed to work with. No way to put a real tyre in the same room as a Xootr! It is true the ride on 12.5″ pneumatic tyres is infinitely better than any small solid tire, but to find a lightweight folding scooter will be difficult. The Mibo Tiny Top may be the one you want to invest in. Spend some time on letskickscoot.com’s forums and in their reviews to hear many voices. The Czech Republic is where most of the best choices come from.

  21. You’re right, I just thought about that afterwards. Nuisance getting a wheel for which the scooter wasn’t designed.

    That’s why I said I’m looking for a scooter that doesn’t exist. With pneumatic tires they become heavier models…and pricier. Well, I’ll just have to compromise something.

    I’ll keep researching more, I’m bound to be satisfied with one of them.
    Thanks a lot for your help!

  22. Great article about scooters Jeffery.

    The right competition for the Sidewalker, would of been the Kickbike sport G4, not the racer.

    Earl

  23. Thanks Earl.

    Not sure if there was a G4 at time of writing. But the article is comparing whole classes as opposed to individual models.

    Jeffrey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>