By Jeffrey the Barak
Some people love bicycles, but many cyclists have a love-hate relationship with them. The phrase Pain In The Butt is perfect for describing it. A soft saddle hurts your butt. A large saddle hurts your butt. A gel saddle is hard as a rock. A narrow leather racing saddle hurts a lot until you just become insensitive to it during repeated nerve abuse. Basically, sitting on a bicycle is not pleasant. Each bump in the road translates to a couple of hammers bashing you in the same spots over and over again.
And yet the bicycle is a machine. Using gears, one gear or twenty-one gears, the bicycle can take you many miles with the amount of effort needed to walk a much shorter distance. But if the highest speeds and longest distances are not your objective, and you want to discover a comfortable way to get down the road in a manner less efficient than cycling, but many times more efficient than walking, then there is something ideal.
Any awareness of large scooters, known as foot bikes, in the United States is so minimal, that it is practically non-existent. And yet anyone who has experienced such a ride, always loves it. Scooters were unknown in America, besides in toys, until the Razor Scooter craze of 1999. But that separate class of scooters was very different, because the really useful scooters, that take you from point to point with a great deal of pleasure, stability, and safety, have been all but invisible in the US.
The most widespread brand of foot bikes in the US is Kickbike. They are also some of the best in the world, and various models fulfill various modes of use. Because they are still so rare, most people have to buy before they try, and it is a leap of faith to do so. But almost everyone who does so, loves them and uses them for the rest of their lives. The wheels, bearings, brakes and other components are all high-end bicycle equipment, but of course what you don’t get is the machinery. There are no saddles, no pedals, no chains, no gears, no sprockets. Just the simplicity of a frame and wheels, ready to smoothly and quickly transport you with a mere push of the foot.
In Europe, people race these things, and they ride faster around the track than most of us could ever propel a bike. They also ride far. The Tour de France course has been run by a team of foot bikers. Riding a Kickbike or any type of foot bike or large scooter with pneumatic tires involves your whole body. You don’t get sore in the posterior, in the foot or in the back. The work is shared. If anything, it is the quadriceps of your standing leg that work hardest as you dip and elevate on the deck to push with the other foot, but overall you get an evenly distributed workout. more balanced than any exercise you can get from walking, running, climbing etc. If you do it right, and switch feet every few strokes, nothing hurts, and your tummy eventually becomes smaller as a reward.
Kickbike America is the company that is risking all on an unaware American public, and today they offer the full Kickbike range from Finland where they were designed and developed, at prices that seem very low. At time of writing, they sell their Kickbikes on their own site and also on Amazon. They are taking a risk in order to try their best to get Americans to finally realize how great it is to ride a Kickbike. There are models for casual and easy city riding, cruising in style, racing and sport, off-road and on the trails etc. Each specializes in something, but all can be used across the board.
The most popular model of Kickbike is for casual use, and perfect for most people who want to get into riding a Kickbike. This is the City G4. With it’s higher handlebars, you can stand up straight, not have to get into the forward-leaning racing position, and not have to bend your head back to see ahead. But of course people’s elbows can flex and handlebars can be adjusted lower, so the City G4 can also be used for speed runs. For moving around town or a nice slow full day on the bike path, the City G4 is very comfortable and even has a handy basket for your stuff.
To show off a little, you could also cruise the streets and bike paths on the Kickbike Cruise Max 20. It’s rigid aluminum frame reduces the weight so it weighs about the same as the slimmer G4, but it has the look of a big boardwalk cruiser. The fatter tires add back a lot of spring that you would have had from a heavier steel frame.
If you are the athletic type and you want to go very fast, there are Kickbike models that will serve you better. Starting with the Sport G4, an affordable speedy scooter, and going up to the fastest and lightest scooters in the world, the amazing Race Max 20 and Race Max 28.
Now to some, the thought of going very fast on a scooter is hard to envision, after all, where are the pedals and gears? A few minutes spent browsing on YouTube will quickly reveal just what the best scooter racers in the world are capable of. Some of the 400 meter times are just unbelievably fast and it is interesting to see how these athletes use their entire body to move forward at these unbelievable speeds.
If off-road is your preference, then a Kickbike is much safer than a mountain bike when you are flying downhill and suddenly face an obstruction or pitfall, or a cliff of death. The two Cross Max models will make you appreciate those trails more than any bicycle could. Remember, you are standing, and your legs and your whole body can dip and bend to provide shock absorption. You are not limited to standing up on the tiny pivoting pedals of a bike or taking hammer hits to your tender saddle area. And just as important, quickly dismounting and remounting is as easy as taking one step. The Cross Max scooters have front fork suspension that can be locked in the down position, and grippy “small block” tires. The Cross Max 20V has regular caliper brakes, and the Cross Max 20D+ has disk brakes.
Current models of Kickbike have two dropout positions at the back axle, so you can choose between having a lower deck, which makes scooting on asphalt much less tiring and more efficient, or a higher position to maximize ground clearance on the trail or over broken pavement. I would suggest taking advantage of this and riding low all the time unless you experience bottom frame scraping on a regular basis. The lower your deck, the easier it is to ride.
An entry level Kickbike, the Freeride, is priced low and features smaller wheels (20 inch at the front and 12.5 inch in the rear). This great for smaller adults and also perfect for kids aged 7 and up.
New models appear regularly and eventually find their way to the U.S. Soon we can expect to see the Clix, a foldable scooter with smaller wheels, more models with hydraulic disc brakes, and the Fat Max which has massive low-pressure tires that will take you down a snowy ski slope. Aluminum frames and carbon forks are making an appearance in the lineup and each year we can expect more choices.
So America, are you ready to trade in your bruised, painful sit bones for a fit and toned body, and say goodbye to chains, derailleurs, cranks, gears, pedals, and saddles? Take a look at the new Kickbikes and add one to your stable. Kickbike America has many in stock and ready to ship. Just be warned, you may feel like selling off all your old bicycles after trying the perfect scooter.