Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Razor A5 Scooter: Some Observations and Modifications

While my NYCeWheels KickPed is a terrific scooter and well worth it's current $260 price tag, I've been wondering how well a less expensive scooter would perform. While many scooters are sized for kids and have tiny wheels, the Razor A5 is rated for riders up to 220 pounds and it features large, 200mm wheels. This scooter is currently selling for well under $100 on Amazon, so I figured "what the hell" and ordered one for myself.

The warning sticker on the A5 amused me.

At full extension, the A5's handlebar height is the same as my K ickPed's. Note, I have the "short rider" version of the KickPed, recommended for riders 5'7" and under. Riders above 5'10" or so are probably going to be too cramped on an A5.

The A5 bars are narrow and the grips are tiny. Too narrow and tiny for my tastes, but I have some ideas about that.

The Razor's deck is smaller than the KickPed's. This could be problematic for folks with big feet.

The Razor A5 is smaller and lighter than the KickPed and it folds smaller. The folding handlebars let it become a really thin package, but in day to day use, I found myself lowering the stem and folding the scooter, but not folding the bars.

The aluminum Razor A5 has hard polyurethane wheels and it has a harsher, louder ride than the KickPed. In terms of speed and kicking effort, the two scooters seem about the same to me.

The narrow bars made the A5's handling too twitchy for my tastes. I found a Youtube video of a guy who added 18" wide bars to his Razor. I thought this looked like a good idea. While he used aluminum for his bars, I decided to try using an oak dowel instead. The oak is inexpensive (I got a 36" long 7/8" diameter dowel for under $5 at my local hardware store) and I figured the wood would provide some natural vibration damping. Wood, after all, is nature's original carbon fiber.

I removed the stock bars. The oak dowel was a snug fit into the aluminum collar, so I cut two nine inch lengths off the dowel, sanded them smooth and finished them with Danish Oil and then gently pounded each one into the collar. I drilled pilot holes and secured the dowels with brass screws.

The A5 still folds into a fairly compact package, but it's not as quite as small as before.

While the wood bars looked great with just the Danish Oil finish, I did add grips and a bell and a light for practical reasons.

This is still a pretty handsome scooter cockpit.

Another view of the fold. The Razor folds pretty quickly. There is one toggle for the hinge and one quick release to lower the bars.

Out of the box, the Razor A5 is rather noisy. Most of the noise comes from metal on metal interfaces at the hinge. I applied a bit of Velox cloth rim tape to a couple of the surfaces and now my A5 is much quieter.

The rear fender of the A5 serves as a brake and it seems quite effective. With the larger, harder wheels the fender braking on the A5 is quicker than the fender braking on my rubber-tired KickPed. While I added a hand brake to my KickPed, in the month or so I've used it, I haven't found it to be a "must have". I have no plans to add a hand brake to the A5.

The deck of the A5 is just big enough for my size 9 feet (with a little bit of creative footwork when I switch off which foot is kicking). The ride of the A5 is harsher than that of the steel-framed, wood-decked KickPed.

It's obviously unfair to expect a sub-$100 scooter to perform like a machine costing several times as much and I have to say I'm impressed with how good the A5 actually is. The build-quality and finish of the scooter is very nice and with these few adjustments and modifications, it's a very fun, solid feeling scooter.

I am toying with the idea of sawing the deck in half and extending the length of the scooter by several inches. I'd have to bridge the two halves with either strong wood or metal, but the added foot space would be welcome and the longer wheelbase could improve the comfort of the ride. I'm not sure that I'll do this, I want to ride the A5 a bit more before I decide.

I feel the stock A5 is well worth its selling price. And as a platform for tinkering, it's first rate. My main complaint with my KickPed has been that it really didn't need any changes!