Kickbikes, or an adult push scooter

Ever had a scooter when you were a kid? You know, two wheels, handlebars, and a running board you stood on. You pushed with your foot and rolled along. Well, now there's an increasing number of adult versions of this.

I had come across a kid's scooter a few years ago at the thrift store, and got it because it seemed interesting. It had a 14" front wheel and 12.5" back wheel, and was actually big enough for an adult. I'm still not sure if the 14" was standard, or if someone added it on after the fact. I fixed it up and tried it a little, but it never seemed too impressive.

However, it occurred to me that it might roll better and faster if it had even larger wheels on it. I eventually found such a device on the internet, or actually two of them. One is called a Kickbike (http://www.kickbike.com/), and another one is called a Sidewalker (http://www.sidewalkerscooters.com/). In fact, at Sidewalker scooters, they have a 26" model, a 20" model, and the more traditional 12" model, while the Kickbike models are all 26" or 28".

It took me a while, because of my limited budget, but I just recently got a Kickbike from Kickbike America, the City Cruiser model, with fenders and a basket. Frankly, I really wanted a model with wider, mountain bike tires (because city streets around here aren't all that good), but I still wanted the fenders and basket as well. I just ended up getting the cheaper model.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with my purchase. It really is fun to ride, although I must stress that it's not quite as fast as a regular bicycle, and not quite as easy--it takes more effort, which is probably why the sites advertise it as a good way to get exercise. Other factors that I like are no gears, no chain, and no pedals. This simplifies the mechanical operation and the maintenance on it--you only have to worry about the wheels, tires, and brakes.

There is apparently a certain following for these in Europe, but there also seems to be an increasing interest in the US, although certainly not enough for any local place to sell these. I got mine from Kickbike America (http://www.kickbikeamerica.com/), or the Sidewalkers are available from http://www.sidewalkerusa.com/. More recently, a third brand of these scooters is now available at http://www.footbikeusa.com/.

I've taken mine to the local parks, including Tulsa's River Parks trail, and the occasional back lot or street with a good hill. Mostly, though, I've started commuting to work on it. Fortunately, my current job is only a little over a mile away from my home, and only takes about ten minutes to travel. I've certainly gotten my fair share of stares, smiles, and questions from people about it. I suspect that I'm the first person in Tulsa to get one. Okay, sometimes I feel a little silly on it, but I usually get over that by enjoying the ride. There's nothing like getting on a downhill slope, even a gradual one, and just coasting all the way down it.

As I said, these can't quite match up to a good bike in speed or distance, so don't expect to zip past any but the slower bicyclists or kid's bikes. However, the kickbike is certainly much faster than walking. It's good for shorter trips (less than five miles), and is especially good where you might make frequent stops, like window shopping, at a park, or scenic viewpoints.

I especially got the City Cruiser because it came with a basket, but the basket is slightly smaller than a standard bike basket. I'll probably end up replacing it with a standard bike basket, or the Bell removable basket. You could conceivably put a front rack on it, like a bike, but a back rack would be harder to do, and could interfere with your legs when kicking.

I was worried about locking the kickbike up when going somewhere, because from the pictures, it didn't look like there was any good way to run a chain through it except for the wheels. In fact, there is a loop in the frame right near the back wheel, so I run my cable through that as well as through the rear wheel (the front is too far away) to lock it up.

Last, but not least, I'd like to get a second one, or actually, I'd like to get a Footbike, because they have a nice pearl blue color option that I really like. Plus, I'd like to be able to go scootering with a friend or companion, and not just by myself.