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


Divers and Sundry said...

i am an adult considering a scooter and am looking forward to further posts about your experiences. thx for devoting some space to the topic :)

Cam said...

It looks like a lot of fun, and it might be perfect for my 3 mile commute, but I'm wondering -- my balance is not superb, and the times I've tried riding a skateboard have been ignominious failures. Is it significantly easier to ride than a skateboard?

Kent Peterson said...


Like you, I have trouble with skateboards but I have no problem with the KickPed. Having a handle really helps with the balance issues, I think.

Kat said...

Great post, Kent! Looking forward to following your month-of-scooting. Thanks, too, for your previous posts on the KickPed which helped sway my decision to get one. Had my first ScootCommute today, and hope to keep up with it! Have a great night.

J.D. said...

I've thought of the scooter as fun to play around on once in a while but never as a serious trasportation mode. However you have me thinking now... thank you.

BBR said...

Hi Kent.

I have spend several hours mesmerized reading about the Kickped. Thank you for sharing. Please tell me more about 'waxing the Kickped's unfinished deck to further weather-proof it'. I'm intrigued please tell me what kind of wax did you use. Oh, I am awaiting delivery of Kickped.

Kent Peterson said...


I just used some SnoSeal I had laying around here (used for waterproofing leather). It pretty much soaked into the wood edges. You could use darn near anything. Linseed oil would probably be perfect. I haven't had to reapply the stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this, it was a fun read! I actually just purchased my KickPed a couple days ago and I can't wait to get it in the mail! This post just solidified my decision to get the KickPed. I was contemplating getting this one or the Xootr for the longest time and my intent for the scooter was for short city/bumpy commutes in all weather conditions. I am not going to lie, it was a tough decision to make but I do not regret my final decision at all! I am looking forward to reading your future posts!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! I'm wondering why you carry the scooter with the tire in front instead of the tire on the back as seen in other reviews on the web? Do you have the shorter version of the scooter and is that the reason? I'm interested because i'm 5'6" and only the shorter scooter will work for me. Lastly, how do you find the height of the deck? Too high, too low, just about right?

Kent Peterson said...

Hi Rishi O,

I carry the scooter the way I do because the curve of the frame by the headtube works as a natural handgrip that way. I'm 5'6", like you, and have the shorter option. I find both the bar height and the deck height to be fine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks - I ordered it! I read as many reviews as I can online but unfortunately that's the best I can do and now hope I like it. I had a xootr years back but I sold it because it was too bumpy. I hope this one does better. I am also nervous about one guy who reported issues with the bearings, the rear break, and the loose handle bar. Have you faced any issues regarding these items? I feel uncomfortable that the rear brake supports the whole scooter when you strap it on your shoulder. I'm also wondering if the bearings are replaceable with better quality bearings. It's an easy thing to do with rollerblades. Thanks for your very helpful reviews for those of us who are unable to try them out before we buy.

Kent Peterson said...

Rishi O,

The handlebar has a little wiggle in it due to the folding mechanism. This is normal and doesn't affect the ride of the scooter at all, but it's not rock solid like a non-folding handle would be.

I've had no problems with the rear brake or the strap. I did lube the bearings a bit with TriFlo and adjusted the rear bolt slightly when it was making the rear bearings bind a bit. It looks like you could drop in a replacement cartridge bearings easily, but I haven't had any cause to do that. I also think it's the grippy tires that limit the speed more than any bearing drag.

The tires are really good. The scooter rolls very smoothly and isn't upset by sidewalk cracks and irregularities. And I find it fast enough for my purposes.