(August 2012 UPDATE: A comparison of the companies’ customer service. Unlike the scooters, it’s a clear call. Click here.)
Those who snoot at folding scooters should recall that not long ago, riding bikes was hardly a serious transportation option in the USA. People rode them for health or fun, but rarely while trying to get anywhere. Today, the huge market for fancy helmets and bikes trumpets their mainstream acceptance.
Folding scooters have yet to get there. In 2000 it was all you could do to avoid being hit by, or running over, children on Razors, and since then the market has changed—struggling to shake off the stigma of irritating flimsy toy rides.
Xootr has done much to mature the image. Its award-winning scooter design is magnificent and a pleasure to ride, fleet and strong. Its machined sexiness is the choice of celebrities (e.g. Leguizamo, Thurman, Jackman). I’ve loved my MG for several years, and appreciate Xootr’s great service.
But when I sent it to Pennsylvania for repairs, my eye wandered to other f-scooters. Because without it, I can’t run errands in New York City when I go in for work; in fact my life is structured around its portable efficiency. I visited the fine folks of NYCEWheels to test-drive different f-scooters and after a lot of reading, riding and talking, bought a KickPed. I can’t say I like the name. It’s practical, affordable transportation that’s sturdy but prosaic…they should rename it the Proller.
It’s been a couple months of daily riding now, and I’ve decided it’s exactly on par with the Xootr MG. Here’s why.
The KickPed is well designed, but with less regard for style than the Xootr MG. It’s more functional, but its planning was guided by NYCEWheels in collaboration with Patmont Motor Werks (of Goped fame)—so it replies to criticisms of the Xootr as well as other makes the ‘Wheels team has sold and serviced.
The Xootr’s biggest flaw is its atrocious shock absorption. Its hard polyurethane wheels cut friction, but transmit so much impact you could read braille by driving over it. Consequently it goes very fast (2-3 mph faster than the KickPed) but with no mean discomfort on rough roads. With roads going unrepaired in the U.S. and colder winters from climate change busting up New York’s roads for the foreseeable, I’ve come to prefer comfort.
Taking the KickPed and Xootr past “YOUR SPEED IS…” traffic scanners, I get 14-15 mph on the Xootr and 12-13 on the KickPed riding full tilt. But the KickPed can hit anything and lose little speed.
The Xootr’s linchpin is prone to encrustation and jamming; with time, opening or closing requires tugging or hammering . It’s taken me up to 30 seconds to free it. Conversely, the KickPed’s spring-loaded axle shaft locks it open once it’s at a 90° angle, in less than a second. It makes a hollow “TOCK” sound somewhat like a shell being chambered. But the only thing holding the KickPed closed is a nylon strap, and a few times it’s come loose to drop the deck like an axe, sometimes near people. On impact, it would probably cause more alarm than harm.
Carrying the Xootr requires a strap, but the KickPed is designed with a big gap between board and axle to rest on even the bulkiest shoulder. This gap also makes it impossible to neatly stow under a subway bench; I have to prop it between my legs where everyone can stare at the prosaic deck hardware. With some practice you can balance a book off it and have a place to hang your helmet.
With fewer moving parts and a simpler design, it’s easy to see why the KickPed has a lifetime warranty. But Xootr has always replaced everything except worn-out brake pads without charge. Even with their benighted eX3 electric scooter of the early ’00s (run by Nova Cruz’s faulty elecs), they’ve always been honorable.
The KickPed’s traction is superior, with its fat (slow) rubber tires, particularly in rain. Xootr expressly tells you not to ride the MG in rain, because the brakes don’t work and if you lean while turning on slick roads, it will skip out from under you. Neither brakes particularly well in rain, however, so the utmost caution must be used in traffic. It probably takes twenty feet to stop from full speed, and more if the oil from the asphalt has surfaced and sheens your works.
UPDATE: It’s been four months, and I am still very pleased despite a new complaint about the KickPed. The bearings in the Xootr’s wheels have been through all kinds of weather in all seasons, and have remained slick and silent. The ones in the KickPed have more friction and are poorly sealed, so every time I ride it through the rain it squeaks for a day or two. That’s a shame because it’s velvet ninja silent otherwise, unlike the Xootr which clatters with its hard tires and jarring frame.
On balance, they are both extraordinary vehicles, worth the money considering I save 20 minutes on my commute with an f-scooter each day (it saves you 66% of your walking time). Laugh all you want, walkers. You’ve time to during your quaint post-primate ambulations.