Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The @NYCeWheels KickPed: Early Impressions

I've had my NYCeWheels KickPed for a couple of weeks now and have been scooting around my town of Issaquah, WA. I also folded my scooter, hopped on the bus and scooted around Seattle one day last week. As Christine or my coworkers can tell you, I like this little vehicle. I've been riding it every chance I get. Next month I'll be scooting every day and doing daily #30DaysofScooting posts to this blog, but I can already tell you one result of my scooting experiment: It's a keeper. Scooting is super fun. It can also be a good, low impact workout if you push hard and it's a surprisingly practical mode of transport. As a fifty-four year old man on a scooter, I do get some looks as I scoot about. I assume people are thinking "man, that guy's cool!" but my son tells me I might be mistaken on that score.

The KickPed is very well designed and solidly constructed. Custom built in the USA for NYCeWheels by Patmont Motor Werks (they also make motorized scooters and the Know-Ped and Grow-Ped kickscooters), the KickPed features a trim marine plywood deck, a raw lacquered steel frame and flat free natural rubber tires that are 6 inches in diameter and are a whopping 2.5 inches wide.

In researching scooters, this article by Jeffrey the Barak strongly swayed me in favor of the KickPed. I live in a part of the world that is often damp so I figured a weatherproof deck and tires that grip well in the wet are essential. When I got my scooter I spent a few minutes waxing the unfinished edges of the plywood deck to further weather-proof it.

The wide tires give the scooter a very good ride and while I do ride more cautiously in the rain I can report that they do work well. I wouldn't want to ride a scooter with narrow urethane tires in the rain. My one complaint with the rubber tires on the KickPed is the smell. I work in a bike shop, I'm used to the smell of tires but the KickPed's rubber tires (especially when it was new) REALLY smell like rubber. Like Akron in August. When the KickPed got delivered to the shop had gotten a small hole punched in it in shipping. When the delivery guy dropped the box off he actually asked if there was something dead in there. After a couple of weeks, the smell is better but I still notice it when I fold the scooter and sling it over my shoulder to carry it into a store or onto the bus.

As you can see, when I do the shoulder carry, the scooter's rear wheel is inches from my nose.

I have a nice little folding bike, a Dahon Curve D3, and while I can fold it up in about a minute, it's still a kind of awkward 20-something pound package to lug around. My KickPed folds in one second (really!) and is a narrower 12-pound package that fits into a lot more places. It fits easily beside me on the bus, under a table at a restaurant and I've gotten really good at walking around with it slung over my shoulder or carried like a very odd briefcase.

Because the scooter folds so quickly, I don't need to carry a lock. I just take the scooter in with me any place I go. Also because the tires are solid, I never worry about pumping them up and I don't have to carry a spare tube, pump or patch kit.

The scooter is clearly not as fast as a bike, but I've found it fits a really nice niche in my life. For trips under a couple of miles, it's less hassle than locking and unlocking a bike, but it's faster and more fun than walking. I've discovered that when I walk around town, I go average about 3 miles per hour. When I scoot my average is about 7 miles per hour. When I bike in town my average speed is about 12 miles per hour.

Scooting also has what I call instantaneous mode-switch. I can go from scooting to walking in a second. I walk through tight crowds. I stop to chat with friends or to take pictures of McNugget the Rooster.

I've added two bits of gear to my KickPed, a little bell and a head light. I wear a helmet when I ride because I'm not 100% confident in my scooting skills and I can build up some speed on this thing. 12 mph is about as fast as I go on a downhill before I start riding the brake. I also have a tail light on the back of my helmet and one on my backpack.

With my backpack I can scoot to the store and pick up groceries. If I'm getting a lot or going far I'll take the bike, but the scooter is proving very useful for the short trips.

And it's super fun.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA
Post a Comment