At the time of the writing of this review, I have been a KickPed owner for about one year. In this review I will begin with a description of why I began the search for the perfect kick scooter for traversing a college campus. Then, I will present a detailed presentation of my thoughts and experiences with the KickPed scooter. Lastly, I will explain how the KickPed integrates into campus life.
Why a kick scooter? Last year was my second year at the great University of Texas at Austin and my first year to live off campus in an apartment instead of on campus in a dorm room. While I was excited to finally be free of less than ideal dorm life, I was nervous about the extra distance between my new home and my classes. I began to think about what kind of transportation device would make this uncomfortable feeling go away (bike, longboard, kick scooter).
First, I considered bikes. At least in Austin (and Texas for the most part) bikes are considered street vehicles, and you can be ticketed for riding them on the sidewalk. I had no desire to join the cars of high/drunk/inexperienced drivers on the busy streets of Austin, and many of my classes are located on more internal parts of campus that are much easier to access by using the sidewalks. This is not to say that bikes are not popular in Austin (they are much more popular than kick scooters) or on campus, because they absolutely are. Many people ride them on sidewalks and through crowds of people which causes quite a problem occasionally. I did not want to be that kid that almost hit four fellow students on the way to class. What really killed the idea of a bike though was the notion of having to store it in my apartment and lock it up when I get places. I did not have room to comfortably store a bike, and I did not want to worry about finding a place to lock up my bike/or that someone might steal it.
Second, I considered longboards. A rising trend, longboards are very popular on campus and among people of my age group in general. Like bikes, longboards have their own weird legal problems. Unlike bikes they are not street legal, but unlike kick scooters they are also not allowed on the sidewalks. Campus police constantly ticket/warn longboard/skateboard riders. This is not the biggest problem, but the last thing I want to do after staying up all night studying is have a problem with a police officer on the way to class. Longboards also do not have any accessible way of checking speed or braking without higher skill levels or, more importantly, large amounts of space to carve in order to control your descent of a hill. This amount of space is just not always there at a crowded university and longboarders often end up getting in trouble when they have to come to a stop or slow down unexpectedly. While I already owned a longboard, I was in search of something I could feel more confident about on the busy sidewalks of Austin/UT. This search brought me back to memories of my Razor scooter from back when that was the thing every kid had to have.
I remembered that my Razor kick scooter had been easy to control in crowded spaces and easy to stop when it was necessary. This got me thinking. I googled the legal status of riding a kick scooter on sidewalks, and sure enough Texas law allows it. I was very happy to find this out, but I had a few concerns. First, my Razor kick scooter of the past was too small for my now 5 foot 11 inches 200+ pound self. Second, the overall durability needed be better than the Razor to make it a good campus commuter/good use of money. Razor scooters have too many moving parts that can break and too many parts (like foam hand grips) that wear out too quickly. Lastly, a campus kick scooter would need to be able to go over the miserable aging sidewalks of a city commute. It would have to go over stone covered ground and twigs on the way down a hill without a disastrous losses of traction/control. This means no polyurethane wheels like the Razor. The size problem was an easy fix. I searched for "Adult kick scooters" and quickly found the NYCeWheels.com website and their lineup of folding adult kick scooters. (Also, I looked at some electric scooters, but quickly ruled them out on account of their weight, maintenance, and price).
Two of the Adult kick scooters stood out to me. The Xootr and the KickPed. Both scooters could hold my weight and accommodate my height. The Xootr was eliminated for me because it still had polyurethane wheels and many moving parts that could break. Things like a pin that comes out in order to fold the scooter and a brake cord/assembly on the handlebar. A front brake is an unnecessary feature on a kick scooter in my opinion, and a brake lever/cord can get caught on all kinds of things. Brakes with tensioned cords like this can also fail or need adjustment. The KickPed just seems to be on the same page with my needs. It has few moving parts, more durable handle grips, is made out of stronger alloys, has a simplistic folding mechanism (more on this later), and the best possible wheels for a scooter (more on this as well).
When I received the KickPed kick scooter from NYCeWheels I was surprised by how nice it looked and how well it was built. The clear coat on the frame allows you to be able to see the welds on the steel frame which is a cool touch. I really like the dark shade of the wood deck which blends into the fake wood floor of my apartment. The only problem I had with the KickPed kick scooter out of the box was that the folding mechanism was not working properly, because the metal part of the handlebars that slides over the hinge was not in perfect alignment. I called the people at NYCeWheels and they told me to hit the metal sliding mechanism with a shoe. This did the trick and I have not had any problems with the folding mechanism of the KickPed since. I was immediately happy with my purchase and took the KickPed out for a spin around the suburban neighborhood surrounding my parents' house. That was the first of many fun afternoons on my KickPed.
I will now present a more detailed review of the KickPed itself, and how it fits into my campus life. To sum it up, the KickPed is the perfect campus vehicle. Most of its greatness comes from its ingenious wheels. The reason most scooters like the Xootr and the Razor have polyurethane wheel is that they offer lower rolling resistance than the air filled tire on a bike. The idea is that your scooter will be most efficient with the traditional plastic wheels along with junky foam handle grips to dampen the ride. This may be true on a perfectly paved surface (like a parking garage or tennis court), but in the real world these plastic wheels lose traction and control (and therefore efficiency) when the pavement gets messy. Air filled tires of the size you find on a folding kick scooter like the KickPed or Xootr would offer too much rolling resistance and make pushing inefficient and exhausting even though they would yield bike like grip and feel.
The KickPed solid rubber wheels are the perfect compromise. The solid rubber does a great job of providing grip and making the ride smoother without adding too much rolling resistance. The ability to go over twigs and debris and the softer ride provides a feeling of confidence that makes using the KickPed that much more fun and relaxing. The width of the tire is also a fantastic addition. Having a significant amount of rubber on the road means that you have more traction and that when you really put your weight on the KickPed it becomes more stable than any other two-wheeled kick scooter out there in my experience. This means it is much easier to put your weight and power into your kicks, because you have to worry less about stabilizing the scooter. The KickPed also made it easier to learn to kick with my non-dominant foot which you will need to do if you are going to be riding long distances (so you can switch back and forth between legs as they get tired).
The other cool thing is that there is a significant difference in the feel when you are riding on the flat part of the tire than when you lean into the edges of the tire on a turn. This gives it a fun carving ability, because the speed will pick up when you lean onto the edges of the tire and then translate back into the mellow ride on the flat part of the tire. It also makes it easy to ride at slower speeds because of the added stability. The wheels wear exceptionally well, I have had all kinds of recreational type vehicles with replaceable solid wheels (longboards and inline skates) and none have been able to go a year without significant wear like the KickPed. Even over some of the roughest and oldest sidewalks of a college campus the KickPed wheels do not wear quickly or unevenly (see picture for a year of use).
This is great, because as you ride a traditional polyurethane wheeled scooter the wheels wear unevenly in favor of your dominant foot which makes it harder to feel confident when switching over to your non-dominant foot for kicking. What might be my favorite part of the wheels is that they allow for the handle grips to be a high quality rubber (because the rubber wheels are absorbing the vibrations of the road) rather than the foam grips needed for vibration absorption on the Xootr and Razor scooters. These grips are durable and do not deteriorate the way the other ones do. They also have some extra rubber on the edges of the handle grips that help the KickPed to lean against a wall and stick there without getting damaged or causing damage to the wall.
Another thing I love about the KickPed is how minimalistic it is. This means that there is no unnecessary front brake, no long and obnoxious carry strap, no folding pins, or adjustable parts. All of these things can be useful in a recreational scooter (where I think the Xootr would shine), but they become a liability and a hassle on a transportation geared kick scooter. The fender brake on the KickPed provides plenty of stopping power, and it is extremely durable. One of the things I asked NYCeWheels when I called about the folding alignment problem was whether or not using the strap that attached to the breaking mechanism would damage the brake.
They said no and that it was designed to be sturdy enough to take the abuse, and so far it seems that it is. I have noticed that when I go down a bumpy sidewalk the fender will vibrate around a bit and make some noise, but this can be expected seeing as it is a moving part. The scooter folds in a beautifully simple way. Unlike other folding kick scooters like the Razor and the Xootr, the front fork on the KickPed is a fixed part of the frame, leaving the handlebars to be the only folding part of the scooter. While this does make the KickPed take up a bit more space while folded, it means that the frame of the KickPed is rock-solid and it feels that way when you ride it.
The handlebars fold by pulling up on a spring loaded mechanism that blocks a nice fat hinge from engaging and allowing the handlebars to fold. The black spring is high quality and gives the scooter a cool mechanical look. Once the mechanism is down it makes the handlebars feel solid. When you pull up on the mechanism and allow the hinge to engage the handlebars will fall freely to the desired place. There is a small fabric loop attached to the handlebars that can be slid under the break so that you can hold the kick scooter over your shoulder by putting your arm through the space between the handlebars and the deck. This folding mechanism is great, because it allows you to carry the scooter without having to have a cumbersome strap.
When you store the KickPed you will probably lean it against a wall unfolded, because without gravity tugging down on the KickPed while you hold it, it can be a bit messy and cumbersome on the floor or in a storage spot. When unfolded, It can easily slide behind an open door or lean up against a coffee table.
When you have to fold it for storage, like when I take it home in my car for the summer, it is a good idea to secure it from moving around with some blankets between the handlebar and the deck. When unfolding the scooter you knock the fabric loop off of the brake and gravity does the rest. It makes an awesome noise and takes less than a second (unfolding the KickPed might be my favorite part).
I can usually carry the KickPed on my shoulder for about a half hour to an hour. It gets uncomfortable, but I think it is better than having a strap or more frame invasive folding mechanism. The one downside is that when the scooter is folded the exposed hinge is greased and this grease can get on your clothes and hands. It is not that big of a problem though, because it is a graphite based grease and easily washes off hands and clothes. I definitely prefer this folding mechanism to others.
The frame is a solid piece of steel tube that has a very minimalistic approach. It offers a slightly higher ride height than some of the competitors like the Xootr mg, but this gives you better ground clearance and some good squat like exercise. I personally don't mind the extra knee bending and would prefer it to scraping the ground or getting stuck on something and losing control, but I understand that this might make some look for other options (like the Xootr). When something does scrape the steel tube that makes up the bottom of the KickPed it leaves minimum marking and does surprisingly little damage. I once undershot a hop off of a curb and the frame landed on some rough concrete (see picture for a years worth of curb scrapes). This event caused very minimal damage compared to how thrashed an aluminum frame scooter like a Razor would have gotten from a similar event.
The wood deck is more durable and water resistant than I thought it would be, well surpassing the durability of wooden skateboards/longboards I have used in the past. The shape of the deck is also well thought out. It is wide enough for you to stand on in a variety of different ways without it being overly wide for a kick scooter and getting in the way. Though the KickPed video shows someone riding the scooter with both feet facing forward I normally put my left foot parallel with the scooter starting with my toes against the front end of the deck, and I put my right foot perpendicular to the KickPed so I can easily hit the break or stabilize myself if I need to.
The round cuts into the middle of the board allow you to stand on either side of the KickPed when you stop to talk to someone.
Also, they shape to your body when you are holding the KickPed on your shoulder. This keeps the sides of the scooter deck from digging into the side of your stomach.
The deck is well secured to the frame. Also, did I mention that the KickPed is made in America and even says so on a nice decal, that's always a nice plus. These design advantages help the KickPed to integrate well into my campus travels.
I normally use the KickPed when I want to get somewhere faster than walking. Most mornings I walk for 20-25 minutes to class, but when I need to finish up an assignment or if I wake up late I will ride my KickPed. The KickPed is not overly awkward to take into a classroom as long as you remember that you are holding it, and you make sure it does not hit anything. I will either unfold the KickPed and tuck it away between the wall and my desk or set it folded on the floor next to me.
What the KickPed really excels at for me, and one of the reasons I bought it, is covering the distance between my apartment and the dorm where my two good friends still live. I can make a 45 minute walk in 15 minutes on the KickPed and I personally think it is very entertaining to ride. When I get to my friends room I can lean the scooter against a wall and it is like it is not there. No locks and no worries. I also use it to ride to the campus grocery store and other shopping trips.
The KickPed can be easily controlled, and it is not intimidating to ride on the bumpy sidewalk where people are walking. The KickPed gives a wonderfully confident ride because of the wheels. It can be very challenging to go up a steep hill, but it is light enough that you can pick it up and walk up the hill and then ride it down the steepest hill without losing control of your speed. At high speeds the KickPed still feels remarkably stable, probably drawing off its electric scooter cousins that share similar frames. Most people who see it passing by either don't think twice (its not the weirdest thing in Austin I promise) or think that it is cool. The darker colors of the KickPed keep it low profile and don't scream for attention. I really enjoy this quality, but if you ride at night you should pick up some reflective bands and/or lights. Kick scooters in general leave you at the right ride height to have good visibility in a crowd and allow you to have a comfortable conversation with someone if you ride slowly. The KickPed is no different in either of those areas.
So, is the KickPed the ultimate campus transportation companion? I would say yes. They might not be advertising kick scooters on Saturday morning cartoon programs as the coolest thing since sliced bread anymore, and you might not be the coolest cat if you choose one over an outlawed longboard, but you would be fooling yourself to ignore the potential utility of a great kick scooter like the KickPed. The guys over at NYCeWheels had the KickPed custom made for them, and I would say they marked all the right boxes. If you are looking for a campus commuter or a fun and safe way to get a workout in in the neighborhood, I would say give a KickPed a good look. It is far less expensive than a quality bicycle (especially a folding bike) and competitively priced when compared to a similar scooter or quality longboard.