Thanks to Rishio for the headsup in the comments of “Xootr vs. KickPed: Folding Scooter Throwdown”! I hadn’t heard of the Swifty. They look keen. Here are a few thoughts from looking at the pictures:
1) Tires: huge, and inflatable. The urethane or rubber tires of the Xootr and KickPed absorb less shock, but require no service and last forever. Moreover, the larger tires of the Swifty mean portability issues and a larger turning radius—the latter is important because kickscooters lack the speed of bikes, which often try to crowd us out of bikelanes. Zombie pedestrians with ears and eyes wired to glowing rectangles (see: “walker, urban”) also appear from behind stopped/parked vehicles suddenly, requiring sharp movements in confined areas. It’s key to be able to get out of their way, and big lumpy tires on a craft that moves at ~6mph less than a bike is asking to get mashup. However Swifty’s website promo photos suggest the scooter is at home in southern California, where it will be thrown in the trunk when you’re done, not walked through a meatpacked train station or sidewalk. In L.A. its storage would also be less of a problem, where apartments are larger and, in my experience, people aren’t living five deep
2) Weight: even weighing less than 10 lbs., the Xootr and Kickped can become burdensome. The Swifty’s weakest point is its preposterous weight: just over 17 pounds! That kind of mass requires a car to carry it at rest, obviating the green ownsteam (self-transport) virtue. If you’re going to have something so bulky and heavy, just get a folding bike (the Birdy is 25 lbs), a much more effective mode of transport than a scooter will ever be.
3) Folding configuration: The Swifty folds at two points? BAD. The Xootr folds at one and collapses at another, and both are subject to seizing when corroded. (The collapsing handlebar stem also wanders in its shaft, which can be deadly.) Even with inflatable tires to buffer shock, those two points are going to get beat on U.S. roads, and when they get some road grit or salt in them to boot forget it. The KickPed is the clear winner: its springloaded stem+shaft are simple, sturdy and have forgiving tolerances that preclude corrosion or jamming. Maybe tolerances are too loose as mine is getting wobbly and I can’t figure out how to shim it up.
4) Price: “handmade in England” or no, at ~USD $750, the only people who can afford the Swifty in austerity times are celebrities. Maybe Huge Grunt Hugh Grant will ride one around Notting Hill. The Xootr and KickPed come in at a more real pricepoint, below ~USD $300, which in my experience is about as much as most regular schmos will pay for “a grownup’s Razor”. Moreover, both companies manage to produce a premium product in the USA, albeit in KickPed’s case using some Taiwanese components AFAIK. Must be labor costs of English unions; would that Maggie had finished them off.
5) Handlebar stem (Honorable Mention): note from the below illustration that Swifty has milled a groove into its handlebar stem, which meets a tooth in the tube collar that will keep it from working loose while riding. Xootr, take note: the stem on my Xootr has so much play now that it can twist as much as two or three degrees without warning. In rain, this could mean a sudden absence of traction and change in angle, with instantaneous horizontality resulting in loss of life.
English design of portacraft has yet to impress me. Even my folding bike is a German Birdy, not an English Brompton—to be fair, the Birdy is made in Taiwan.
These criticisms are, of course, subject to trying a Swifty and examining it in person. The many readers of these scooter posts prove that deciding based on web photos is very difficult. Though I doubt NYCeWheels will ever stock the massive Swifty unless they buy out the other stores on their block (their available space is compromised by very expensive electric bikes), if I see one on NYC’s streets I will hail its owner for a closer inspection—that is, if I can catch them on a KickPed.