By Jeffrey the Barak
I have been waffling on in recent articles about kick-scooters about how much I miss pneumatic tires. Yes, the small solid tired folding scooters are convenient and portable, and in the cases of the Know-Ped and the KickPed are also reasonably comfortable at slower speeds on slightly rougher surfaces, but it takes air tires to properly isolate the rider from the tiring vibrations of the road.
I was not perfectly happy racing around hunched over my large wheeled Kickbike during the mid to late Naughties, but have fond memories of standing up straighter and cruising around on an old 12.5 inch scooter back in the late Eighties. It is not completely impossible to buy such a scooter in the USA but a really efficient ride with a low to the ground deck, which is of vital importance, currently requires an importation.
I Imported my Mibo Gepard from a Czech store that accepted PayPal. This was easier than messing around with a bank wire transfer. The store was Hopsej.cz. A rider in Canada had bought the same scooter from the same store and he pointed the way for me. Thanks Samokat! From purchase to receiving was nineteen days and my total cost was $426 USD. Assembly was easy, taking just five minutes or so using a 15 mm wrench to put the front wheel on, a 6 mm Allen wrench for the handlebar stem adjustment and a 5 mm Allen wrench for the V-brake cable adjustment and the rotation of the brake handles and bar ends.
My first five mile test drive was a delight. I did not intend it to be a sprint but in my excitement I averaged 10 MPH without it feeling like an exhausting ride. To a cyclist, that may sound slow but it is quite fast for a scooter. It was comfortable and fun and engaged my whole body without undue impact.
Not since my BMX style scooter in the Eighties and my briefly owned Sidewalker City in the Naughties, have I had a kick-scooter that so easily retained stability when riding one handed. This is due to the combination of a wide air tire and wide handlebars. I have no reason to ride one handed but it is nice to know I can wave at someone or signal a turn without falling over.
The Mibo Gepard is reasonably lightweight and easy to pick up and carry. It officially weighs eighteen pounds, although mine seems to tip the scale at nineteen pounds, which is about as much as one and a half Know-Peds, but somehow it feels much lighter than that, and it does not drag you back on a moderate incline. The handlebars adjust up to a yard high if you rotate the bars back to straight up rather than raking them forward of the wheel, and this allows a five foot eight inch rider like myself to cruise upright without having to crouch in a racing position. Taller owners can always buy higher handlebars and longer brake cables from a local bike shop so that they can stand straight also.
I cannot criticize the comfort of the ride in any way, however the Mibo deck’s narrow width means you do initially have to careful switching feet until you get used to it. My running shoe is wider than the deck. It is probably better to wear a more minimal shoe than an inhumanly large, bloated modern running shoe, as long as there is some forefoot protection and grip for the pushing foot. People upgrading from Razors will not find this deck narrow, and scooter riders who stand diagonally across their decks like they do on skateboards will still be comfortable and stable as long as they focus their weight on the forefoot.
The front and rear Shimano V-brakes, designed to stop an adult on a fast-moving heavy bicycle are strong enough for any scooter situation on any gradient.
The only accessory is the bell, quite handy for politely signaling wandering pedestrians (without earbuds) of your imminent arrival from behind. No kick-stand, but typical spring loaded kick stands are usually more of a nuisance during riding than a convenience when stopped, and contribute to weight and rattling.
Rather than get too far into statistics and comparisons, I will simply say that this scooter is light, stable, fast, efficient, safe and portable and is therefore better for most situations than a large-wheeled foot bike, or a hard-wheeled folder. I am personally a passionate fanatic of two 12.5 inch wheels, perhaps mainly due to nostalgia, but the best selling Mibo, the Mibo Mastr, is probably the better choice for most Americans as it folds, (an important feature for sedan owners or bus riders), has an extra four inches of bar height, and has a sixteen inch front wheel.
Deck Height, or lack thereof
The feature that contributes the most to the Mibo’s ride is the low deck. As a deck gets higher, the ride gets more tiring. I cannot overstate how important a low deck is to the efficiency of a scooter, and am constantly surprised by the number of overly high decks that come out on scooters from Belize, Sidewalker, Swifty and others. The designers of such high-decked scooters obviously never ride scooters very far themselves or they would immediately realize their mistake on their first long ride.
The Czech Republic is clearly the scooter capital of the world. Finland, The Netherlands, Germany and other countries contribute some, but there are many excellent brands in the Czech Republic, besides Mibo. One Czech brand, Yedoo, is launching in the USA this year, meaning that no personal import will be needed, but Yedoo does not bring their decks down as low as Mibo and the others. In fact the Yedoo Ox and the Yedoo Three are very much like my fondly remembered 12.5 inch Eighties scooter, but it is worth the trouble to try to obtain a Mibo, Kostka, Kolobrndy, K-Bike or similar Czech scooter if you can. Dipping down to scoot from upstairs will wear you out after a mile or so.
My older article on the-vu, Kick Scooter Classifications, will explain the available choices if you are reading this review first. For me, I am happiest in the small pneumatic tire class. It seems to have all the advantages of compact folders and larger foot bikes. I am very pleased with my new Mibo Gepard.
Hardly anything at all. Except that when it is time to change tires, I will go for a less knobby model than the Kenda tires that come as standard. They are smooth enough going straight but get knobby when you lean and turn. Perhaps the Schwalbe City Jet or a V-Groove or even a slick. And bent-valve inner tubes would make it easier to attach a tire pump also.
Jeffrey the Barak has been riding scooters since the cretaceous era, but sometimes he likes to have a bunch of grapes while admiring trombones.