By Jeffrey the Barak
I recently gave up scooting electric. I suddenly felt that being out in the street with the traffic and riding at anywhere between 12 and 27 miles per hour (19 to 44 kilometers per hour) was too risky for a man my age. In fact on one of my last rides, I tripped over my scooter, and ended up with the side of my full-face helmet on the road, and I gave myself a considerable road rash on my naked left knee. That occurred at between zero and two miles per hour, yet the helmet still saved my life, and my face, and my teeth.
While this could also have happened with a kick scooter, it brought my high speed behavior into focus and a decision was made, in the interests of self-preservation.
As many of you regular readers know I have owned five electric scooters and seventeen kick scooters, so I have lot of different versions of the scooter to compare.
So as criteria and expectations change, so does the ideal scooter for the job. I decided it was finally time to own the only type of scooter than has never been in my stable, a pro-scooter, sometimes known as a trick or stunt scooter.
Let me immediately explain that under no circumstances will I ever do any trick or stunt, other than hopping up or down the curb while safely crossing the street at a quiet suburban intersection without ramped corners.
The point of choosing a pro-scooter in order to get off the street, slow down, and cruise the sidewalk, is to take advantage of the strength and quality that a pro-scooter can provide.
You may wonder, why not get an adult scooter, with more foot room, higher bars, a hand brake, and larger diameter wheels? Well I have had very many of these, and besides the Know-Peds and KickPeds, which were fairly quiet, all the others produced a loud rattly racket that I find unpleasant.
Some folding adult scooters make less noise, according to online reviews, but they are an unsightly bunch and I like to enjoy a tidy looking scooter.
The higher-spec pro-scooters are virtually silent on smooth concrete and very quiet on rougher asphalt. They do not rattle and merely produce a pleasing ring when bounced onto a hard floor. My intended use is to go very slowly, on the sidewalk, not in the roadway, and keep the speed at between three and six miles per hour, (five to ten kilometers per hour).
I have always tended to go too fast on scooters, quickly becoming tired, sweaty and out of breath and energy. Full speed at all times has been my tendency. So I am trying my hardest to control this, and to learn how to control my speed instinct and saunter along on the sidewalk in a relaxed manner, stepping off the footboard to yield to others, walking when the surface gets too rough, etc.
By having slightly smaller wheels than the typical adult scooter, I am forced into taking more care to avoid big holes and obstacles etc.
The scooter I have chosen for my new scooting life is called an Envy Prodigy S8 Street Edition. Outside of the USA and Australia it is branded Blunt rather than Envy, but it’s the same scooter.
Most pro-scooters have bars that are too low for comfortable, slow, stand-upright cruising, and I did not want to be hunched over all the time, so I made bar height my main criteria. I am 5’7” (1.7 meters) tall so these bars barely meet this requirement, but at 35.5” (0.9 meters) above ground they are high enough to reach down to from the 700 mm above ground deck.
This scooter also has a slightly larger than average deck, so it has a little more foot room than your average skatepark scooter. The 120mm X 24mm hollow-core metal scooter wheels have ABEC 9 bearings and everything is machined to such precise tolerances that the results are a strong, silent, smooth, almost magical platform that easily converts the slightest effort into a forward glide. And the brake works fine. I think the scooter weighs under four kilograms, which is lighter than a pair of skates.
For anyone taller than myself, even taller custom bars would be needed, but for someone my height, this works fine right out the box.
If you really read the-vu a lot, you will know that as recently as a year and a half ago I wrote a piece called Stepping Off The Footboard, announcing that kick-scooters had become too exhausting and I was sticking with electrics. This latest switch is not really so much a reversal, as it is a major change in intended use. Going very slowly on the sidewalk is not something I have been doing in recent years, and there is a just as much pleasure to be found in ever-so-slowly navigating the cracks and seams as there is in racing against bicycles out on the street. My large Kickbikes were not suitable to be sidewalk scooters, and they needed to have a high input of physical energy out on the road with the cars.
I am planning to master reducing my speed even more, from my current initial average six miles per hour to perhaps average three. My relaxed walking speed is two miles per hour, so three is fine. It really is a different way of looking at scooting, and at this early stage, alien to me. But I’m in no hurry.
So would I recommend one of these for any adult scooter rider? Yes, for very short distances or just noodling around for the pleasure of the ride, unless you are very tall and cannot find a pro-scooter shop that will sell you some longer bars, or if you need to fold up your scooter to take it on a bus or train or place it in a locker. All those folding and telescoping parts rattle and absorb precious energy, and in most cases the wheels on adult folding scooters are weak plastic. Those featuring rubber tires require a much greater energy input and at slow speeds are not really necessary, and no adult scooter wheels will roll as easily or as silently as those on a Pro-Scooter.
Do I look silly? Yes I do if I wear my full-face downhill mountain bike helmet and my skate knee-pads. I’m in my sixties, and riding on the sidewalk, using something tough enough for stunts to simply glide gently along. That is pretty silly looking, but I don’t care. If I wanted to look cool I’d just walk.
Jeffrey the Barak has owned and used at least seventeen kick-scooters and five electrics. the-vu features many articles about most of them.