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  • Comparing Crocs Classic Clogs to Crocs LiteRide 360 Clogs

    Comparing Crocs Classic Clogs to Crocs LiteRide 360 Clogs

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    Crocs. Perhaps the most divisive shoe of modern times. Hated by many due to their famously ugly appearance, and loved by even more due to their toe-spreading, foot-pain-curing magic.

    The shoe that can be restored to new with a spot of dish soap, the shoe that dries in a moment, the shoe that can be worn as a clog or a strapped-on recovery sneaker.

    I originally bought into Crocs because I have ceramic floors at home and I walk thousands of steps over these floors every day, which would be murder on aged bare feet. Wearing shoes inside the house is kapu, or taboo, in Hawai’i, so a dedicated indoor slipper is the only option.

    I’m on my fourth pair of Crocs Classic Clogs because I actually wear them down to smooth inside and out, even as mere house slippers.

    So I picked up a pair of Crocs LiteRide 360 Marbled Clogs for a change and this is my view on which I personally prefer, and why.

    I actually bought my LiteRide 360s to see if they could be used as the sole shoe (pun) or only shoe taken along on a ten day tour of Japan. Can I walk for hours in Crocs, or do I need walking shoes, which might be sneakers or a casual shoe with a good aftermarket insole?

    Well of course I could, and in the past I’ve done similar and sockless adventures, traveling light, with only the very shoes on my feet. I’ve done it with Sperry Topsiders, which have no cushioning to speak of, and I’ve done it with Crocs LiteRide sneakers, which are not foot-shaped like the clogs and therefore extremely different in feel.

    As one ages, the ability to survive without cushioning underfoot is diminished. I’ve aged out of the barefoot shoe craze because it became like a hammer to the soles for me. And now I’ve also aged out of Sperry Topsiders, but besides that I am moving away from owning anything made of leather, having made a deal with the cattle. (I still have my final pair of leather dress shoes, two old wallets, and my last ever car with so-called “leather” seating areas).

    I was dissatisfied with my Crocs LiteRide sneakers, which I used sockless on a trip to multiple world cities. They hurt, mostly from the uppers. Yes a thin sock would have helped, but I wanted to pack as light as possible. But again those were not foot shaped, but rather standard sneaker shaped. Therefore the Crocs LiteRide 360 Clogs cannot be compared to the sneakers.

    I began with wearing my new LiteRide clogs in the house, where I normally wear my Classics. The LiteRide clogs are spongier and absorb more impact with the tiles. But they are also less wide so there is not as much toe spread as there can be in the very roomy Classics. But they are still wide, and a more roomy shape than almost any running shoe outside of select Altra or Topo models.

    But then weight comes into play. Classics weigh less than LiteRides. The Classics are formed from one piece of the same material, Croslite™. Whereas the LiteRides feature three variations of it, one for the sole, one for the permanent integrated footbed, and a third for the thin upper.

    The weight difference is very noticeable. It is close to 3:2, or 50% more for the LiteRides. Not long into my side by side comparison, I started to feel that I preferred my Originals while wandering around the tile floored house without socks. I then went for some walks in the street wearing the LiteRides. I took a sockless walk, which brought back the discomfort I felt from the uppers of my old LiteRide sneakers, then I wore a thin nylon dress sock, and finally a cotton running sock. (I have not tried outdoor street walking in my exclusively indoor Originals).

    The cotton running sock won for street walking, although it took away most of the toe-spreading space in the LiteRides. But as cushy and squishy as they are, it was plainly obvious that Crocs LiteRide Crocs are certainly not a replacement for a good walking sneaker or running shoe, not that they make any promises as-such.

    LiteRide Crocs are great for standing around and taking a couple of hundred steps here and there. Great for shopping, kitchen work, etc., but after twenty minutes of walking, they let you know it is not time to give up your real sneakers. 

    In either case, Crocs clogs are a far healthier alternative to rubber flip-flops, known as “Sleepahs” in Hawai’i. Constantly employing the toes to keep your footwear on is proven to be bad for your back.

    For me, (and your own opinion may differ), Crocs Classic Clogs are better than Crocs LiteRide 360 Crocs for:

    • House slippers
    • Water shoes (use that heel strap)
    • Toe spreading (a physical ability worth cultivating)
    • Easy on and off
    • Cool feet, sweat-free days
    • Sockless comfort
    • Weightless feel

    LiteRides are perhaps better for:

    • Standing in one spot for hours
    • Moderate jumping
    • Acceptable appearance in public
    • Short sauntering walks (e.g. shopping)

    Neither is particularly good for:

    • Long walks (in my opinion)
    • Running
    • Cold wet days

    Of course a quick glance on YouTube will tell you that adventurous people have hiked hundreds of miles in Crocs of various types, and have even run for long distances in them. But I would never advise that you try running in them! Save them for your after run recovery.

    Since this magazine is so full of scooting articles, I should say that I had no issues scooting in the LiteRides, obviously with the heel strap flipped to the back. I could still twist to switch feet, although some riders keep too much unnecessary grip tape onboard for this important technique.

    So if you have the money, space, and curiosity, pick up a pair of each, (on clearance sale if possible), and try them out to find your own preference. If you can only manage one pair, get the Classics.

    It is also worth mentioning that Classic and LiteRide Crocs clogs are just two of many varieties these days. Some are designed for prolonged outdoor use, and some are work specific, beyond just kitchens and hospitals, and there are new designs coming out all the time. And now there are also big name-brand imitators riding the foam wave, albeit late to Crocs original game.

    Crocs, LiteRide, LiteRide 360, Crocs Classic Clogs etc. are trademarks of Crocs. Most pictures above are (c) Crocs.

    Jeffrey the Barak has, at the time of writing, 66 year old feet, tired soles, tiled floors, straight and naturally fanned-out toes, diminishing fashion sense, mild insanity, and a host of other things.

  • Jalousies, or louvered windows. The best way to clean them (Revised)

    Jalousies, or louvered windows. The best way to clean them (Revised)

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    This is the fifth rewrite of this old article, because research is ongoing.

    I have hundreds of jalousie panes to clean at home. I live in Hawai’i where they are very popular, as they are good for allowing the trade winds keep the house cool.

    Cleaning these multiple panes of glass is hard work, so over the last few years I have tried as many different ways as I could think of to make it a less than diabolical job.

    I will start with the conclusion, so you do not have to read this whole article if you don’t want to.

    (1) The first best way: Denatured Alcohol, mixed 1:1 with water in a spray bottle, and some microfiber towels

    Known in some parts of the world as methylated spirits, denatured alcohol is a very inexpensive alcohol, poisonous to ingest, sold by the gallon at hardware stores, without any of the taxes that you would get on whiskey or wine.

    Don’t worry if you see a metal can or plastic jug that says “clean burning fuel” as opposed to “cleans glass”. It is the same stuff.

    It is basically 70% alcohol, mostly ethyl alcohol, plus some methyl alcohol and carbonol, with additives that make it taste terrible, including the very poisonous propylene glycol, and around 30% water.

    The exact formula varies across different brands, but we can simplify the description and call it a can of 70% ethyl alcohol.

    For windows you mix this in equal parts with water, making it 35% alcohol. This water slows the evaporation from your towel so it can work its magic on the glass jalousies.

    Why is it so good?

    Because it dries with no cloudy hazing or streaking. No other method does this so well, so quickly or so easily.

    Spray your 1:1 onto a microfiber towel, wipe the jalousie panes clean and that’s it! No matter if they are quite clean or completely filthy, the result is the same, extremely fast and perfect.

    Remember to change the quadrant of the towel once it looks dirty. Bring several towels if cleaning a lot of panes.

    Thanks Ethyl!

    (2) Another best way: very hot water on a wet microfiber towel, followed by drying with a dry and clean microfiber towel.

    Yes the water should be hot, and therefore thick rubber gloves are needed to protect the hands. But for most types of dirt, no detergent is needed if the water is hot.

    A variation here is to use a steam cleaner, however the majority of affordable steam cleaners are not very good at producing a lot of hot steam. Only the expensive, very expensive, types are worth the trouble of bringing it out and setting it up. If you have an expensive steam cleaner, give this a try. If you have a budget one that costs under $100, don’t waste your time because a bucket of hot water is faster and better.

    (3) The best waterless way: Waterless car wash, a microfiber towel and a light touch.

    This is fast. It may leave some haze at the left and right edges sometimes but fast is a good thing. Spray a mist of waterless car wash or airplane wash onto a microfiber towel. The towel may be damp or dry. Wipe the windows using a very light touch. Rubbing the glass hard does not work as well! The idea is this substance lifts dirt off the jalousie and deposits it in the fibers of the towel, hence the light touch.

    Fold and re-fold the towel to use a clean section after 2 or 3 panes are cleaned.

    (4) Equally effective if you can stand the smell, “Dawnegar”.

    I dislike the smell of vinegar, but this works. There is a home recipe known as Dawnegar, a blend of water, white vinegar and Dawn dish soap. It is normally used to cut through calcium deposits on shower doors, and so if your jalousies have whitish dirt that never completely rubs off, a fine mist spray with Dawnegar, wiped away with a damp microfiber towel, might be what you need to cut through it.

    It does not dry as streak-free as the alcohol, and it smells like fish and chips, but if calcium is your foe, acetic acid, a.k.a. vinegar, works.

    (5) The previous best, and now fourth best way: damp Magic Eraser followed by dry microfiber towel.

    This method is fast and easy, makes no mess, and uses no soap or window cleaning products. It is great for certain types of dirt that have a texture.

    Method: Open the jalousies and use a melamine pad, (either a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or generic equivalent). Wet the pad under the tap, wring it out and then wipe the top of a pane with circular motions, rubbing until the sound of dirt abrasion fades away. This top side is the outside side and will be the dirtier side. Quickly wipe the bottom (inside side) with a brief left and right motion with the same eraser, and then dry both sides with a dry and clean microfiber towel.

    Repeat for every pane. You will need to rinse, squeeze and re-wet the eraser pad after a few panes. The result is no smears, no haze, and no excess water. It is reasonably quick, clean and easy. Use no pressure, just a light touch is all you need during both stages.

    A variation of this is to use a clay bar, real or synthetic, and clay bar lubricant. Use as directed on the packages.

    Other ways to do it, and I’ve tried all of these plus a couple more:

    Pressure washer or garden hose from the outside.

    Okay this sounds like fun, but if you’ve ever observed jalousies in a hurricane, you will know that water under force will simply come right inside the house. You have to have a second person inside with a big towel. The only good thing about this method is you wash the screens in place, but really, it is a lot of effort and you will never have enough towels to dry up the mess.

    The results are unfortunately disappointing. There will be haze.

    Windex brand or similar window cleaning product, or car windshield wash, wet application, followed by a squeegee and towel, or just towels.

    These window cleaners may or may not work better than plain water or soapy water, but only if the glass is cold to the touch, which is unlikely in Hawai’i. The windshield fluid is actually much better and much less expensive than the window cleaner, but the squeegee is not really suited to multiple tiny panes held at each end with a clip, and in practice, this method always results in hazy glass. Using newspaper rather than towels creates an even bigger mess as jalousies tend to shred up paper.

    As above with a barely damp towel application.

    Sadly this still results in haze, and unlike melamine pads, stubborn dirt does not always get dislodged. After a few panes, the towel will deposit as much mess as it removes, and the glass will dry hazy.

    I have tried other methods, too ridiculous to share here, but the bottom line is, the ethyl spray and microfiber towel has a slight edge over the other methods for this potentially miserable job.

    Jeffrey the Barak is a professional idiot who wasted a thousand hours failing to clean jalousies before ethyl alcohol arrived to save the day.

  • Scooter Figure 8 Labyrinth

    Scooter Figure 8 Labyrinth

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    Our kick scooters can be used for vigorous exercise, or for essential transportation, or for leisurely cruising, but there is something else we can use them for. Meditation!

    Okay don’t panic, I am not writing anything spiritual here, nor would I, but there is something about spending ten minutes or an hour, in a repetitive figure 8, on a human-powered kick scooter, that makes the rider feel great.

    A Labyrinth is a type of Mandala, and in Buddhism, walking along such a path is a tool for reaching a meditative state. Similarly, if you happen to have a kick scooter of any size and type, and a level open space to trace a figure 8 loop for a while, the experience can be very relaxing, and really lift your mood.

    In a figure 8, you don’t have to be in anyone’s way. You are usually going slowly enough and are far enough away from any obstructions or pitfalls, that the risk of a dangerous fall is practically none. Therefore you may forgo your usual safety gear and optionally wear earbuds or headphones to set a musical mood, and within minutes you need not think about where to go, when to turn, when to switch feet, or how to do anything. The figure 8 itself takes control and you can enjoy the movement of the scooter almost as if you were merely a passenger.

    As long as the scooter has good tires and bearings, it usually only takes one left kick and one right kick to make the double loop. In fact, plot your course so that this is the case. Put down two cones if you feel you need to. You never get dizzy because there is one left turn, followed by one right turn, ad infinitum. Use your inside leg to kick; left when leaning left for the left turn, and right when leaning right for the right turn.

    It sounds silly until you try it, but within a few minutes, you will undoubtedly feel the effects of scooting your figure 8 and time will fly by.

    Surfskate riders do something similar in a very small space, and call it the Infinity Loop. This is very difficult to master and is very physically demanding, but requires no kicks as the falling towards the center of each loop propels the board via the trucks. Carving into a turn on a scooter can also add slightly to forward momentum, but not enough that you can omit the input of a shoe on the ground.

    I have been doing this almost daily for a year and a half, since an accident made me want to avoid riding anywhere that shares space with motor vehicles, and it has become my favorite use of my scooters. Of course I still take a scooter to a riding destination, or saunter around my quiet neighborhood, but that figure 8 calls to me as the cooler evening starts to replace the hotter day. Only the rain keeps me off the course, since I do not enjoy riding in rain.

    Let me know in the comments if you yourself come to appreciate the figure 8.

    Jeffrey the Barak has been scooting for six decades.

  • Yedoo S2020 Scooter Review

    Yedoo S2020 Scooter Review

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    Before buying the S2020, and based on my usage, I had decided that a modest Yedoo City (a 1612 BMX style scooter) or one of its limited edition variants would be perfect for me, but with more expensive shipping from other sources,  it would have cost more than the considerably more expensive and upmarket S2020 purchased via Stepshop. Of course all of this applies to the world situation in mid 2022, and so if you are reading this years later it may all be ancient news.

    • Ordered on Stepshop.nl on May 23
    • Shipped From the Netherlands on May 24
    • Arrived at home in Hawai’i on May 27

    Condition was perfect, and clean, but not detailed clean. My hands did get dirty when touching and adjusting the scooter. I looked forward to my usual obsessive cleaning.

    Assembly was quite easy, especially since I have assembled a few scooters in my time. There were a few missteps, such as not noticing that the front forks had rotated themselves when I wasn’t looking, meaning I had to reverse the stem, and then reconnect the brake levers to the cables.The hardest part was getting the back brakes set up. That took considerable wrangling of the various noodles, elbows, boots and routings of a quick release cable V-brake.

    Upon testing the front and rear brakes later, I was a bit shocked at how powerful they each were. I will be braking with caution and wondering why some buyers might be choosing the S2016 Disc version from Yedoo’s steel line.

    Yedoo’s Steel line includes:

    • S2620,
    • S2020,
    • S2016,
    • S2016 Disc,
    • S1616,

    with these numbers referring to tire size in inches.

    The reason I chose the S2020 rather than the S2016 or S1616 was purely my desire to get these particular tires and experience 100 PSI pressures for the first time in many years. But the reason I chose anything from the S for Steel line after having my mind set on a City, was availability. Stepshop.nl offered a shipping price that was about half as much as anyone else. It is one thing putting money into a new scooter, but you don’t really get any lasting value from the price paid for one instance of shipping. 

    S2020

    • Tyres (front/rear)
    • KENDA  KWICK ROLLER SPORT K1029.  20×1,5 / 20×1,5 (60TPI, kevlar guard)
    • Max. inflation (front/rear)
    • 7 bar / 7 bar. (101 PSI)

    S2016

    • Tyres (front/rear)
    • KENDA KONTACT ELITE K841 (BMX)
    • Max. inflation (front/rear)
    • 4,6 bar / 4,6 bar. (67 PSI)

    S1616

    • Tyres (front/rear)
    • KENDA KONTACT ELITE K841 (BMX)
    • Max. inflation (front/rear)
    • 4,6 bar / 4,6 bar. (67 PSI)
    S1616-S2016-S2020

    So while the S2020 is bump up in size from the S2016 and smaller, it is still not so large that small space maneuverability suffers a great deal.

    Before my first long ride began, I could already tell that I would eventually be upgrading the hand grips. The included foam grips are hard, and I have some very nice ribbed rubber ones looking for some bars to live on. But besides those grips, absolutely everything else seems to be a very high quality component.

    The first run was delayed by work and weather, but that gave me time to clean it. Finally I ran a familiar route and was pleased to average 6 MPH with no fuss and no noise, and little effort. Of course, when you start and end in one place you have an equal amount of uphill and downhill. As with most foot bike class scooters with high pressure smooth tires, the mere hint of downhill sends it off and running like a spooked horse.

    After owning around 28 scooters, how would I describe the experience of the Yedoo S2020?

    Yedoo describes the S2020 as a compact all-rounder, capable of high speed on an oval track as well as low speed cruising. I will say that it is compact as compared to anything with a full size road wheel up front, as in 700c or approximately 28 inches. With the high pressure tires on the S2020 the 20 inch wheels take on the characteristics of a larger wheel, but the scooter remains a mid-size maneuverable ride that can politely share a sidewalk with pedestrians when the roadway has fast-moving cars that you want to keep well away from.

    As I have mentioned, what sets the S2020 apart from the S1616 and S2016, is not so much  the size of the tires, but the type of tire. It is small enough to be similar to a 12 incher, and fast enough to be similar to a racer. A true in-between type of scooter.

    Update: June 16th 2022 (17 days)

    Since adding this Yedoo S2020 to the fleet, it has been a challenge to select any of my other available scooters. I like it that much. Adjustments are ongoing. I personally enjoy standing up vertically straight and cruising, as opposed to the more normal, arms forward, constant power stroke kind of ride. At my height, 5′ 7″ (170 cm) this Yedoo only just allows that. I have the stem at top safe height and I have rotated the bars back in the clamp a little to bring them closer, so I can stand up and coast along. My bars may be a bit too far back because they are now very close to my knee if and when I do switch to racing power stroking, close enough for the bell to ring if I am not standing at the back end of the long footboard, but this is my chosen compromise. The point I wish to convey here is, if you are taller than I am, then the S2020 may not have high enough bar height for you to cruise upright.

    As I begin to meld with the scooter, which almost starts over each time I adjust anything, my main impression is, it is very silent, due to the road tires described above. The shoe on the ground and even my own breathing, are many times louder than any audible sound from the scooter. (Hence the necessary addition of a bell). The input to output ratio is excellent, meaning I can go further and/or faster with less effort. This is a tires and bearings dependent characteristic and the S2020 excels.

    Jeffrey the Barak has owned at least 28 scooters and tested even more. He has written about them for 22 years so far. He now lives in Kailua, O’ahu, Hawai’i, where scooters are still uncommon.

  • Six Decades of Scooting

    Six Decades of Scooting

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    Towards the end of this ever-expanding article I have added edits updating to this year, but the article was first published in 2015 under the original title “Half a Century of Scooting”. Edits are ongoing, so this article is like a blog in itself.

    Written in 2015:

    I may have a few decades of life left, but with my 58th birthday coming this week I thought it would be fun to direct via the keyboard some reflections of riding scooters. This a hardcore scooter fanatic ramble that will only appeal to our splendid scooterholic minority, but here goes anyway. 

    I have had bicycles and in-line skates, and I have had electric scooters, but nothing has ever approached the satisfaction that comes from the simplicity of a kick scooter. Scooters may be inefficient and exhausting at times, unless you adjust your expectations, but something about two wheels and not much else provides a purity of movement that no other conveyance can provide, with the possible exception of a surfboard. In fact a skimmer board is the epitome of a simple vehicle, and there is now a version of these with a scooter handle on top!

    As I have written before, there are certain classifications of scooters and I made an attempt at defining these in my 2012 article here. Looking at that article in 2020 I think the categories have changed a little bit, but still it’s worth a look today.

    Depending on your intended speed, intended use and intended terrain, one or more types of scooter may be more appropriate. But in this article I want to reflect on what I personally have had, and what the scooter did for me.

    Growing up in the Sixties, I was in the rare position of having a father who owned part of an amusement park, The Spanish City, in Whitley Bay, England. I liked rides, especially since I didn’t have to pay to ride, and so I had electric racing cars, an electric train and various riding machines at my disposal. I acquired a bizarre appreciation for wheels, rubber tires, and machines that moved people in various ways.

    My first scooter was the standard three-wheeled Triang toy that most kids of that era in England will be familiar with. It was a metal toy. There were better scooters around, similar to today’s 12.5 inch adult street scooters, but I actually never had one.

    Jeffrey on an old scooter in England
    The old English scooter

    Something about the simplicity of the scooter, the absence of gears, chain, pedals and saddle, made the concept fascinating. As an adult I bought an antique off someone (above). The white rubber tires were full of Fix-A-Flat and the wheel bearings were probably as inefficient and under-maintained as any on the planet, but I did manage to go a long distance on it a couple of times. And this was in the early eighties when the appearance of urethane wheels and cartridge bearings had brought back roller skating and skateboarding in such a big way.

    1988 $50 scooter
    The Fifty Dollar Dream Scooter

    It was after moving to Los Angeles in the Eighties and landing squarely in the Venice Beach bike-path and boardwalk environment that I realized the time was right for a good scooter. Not that there were any others down there. The introduction of the Razor scooter was still in the distant future (1999) and the old BMX scooting scene was in its death throes.

    I will guess it was in January 1988 when I purchased my new scooter from a bike store on La Brea Avenue for $50. A Chromed 12.5” white-walled street scooter. I have recently identified it as a “Ninja Scootech GT Zoot Scoot”. And this became my highest mileage scooter to this day. I lived near Venice Beach in Marina del Rey and almost every day I went up and down Venice on my scooter. People started calling me the scooter guy. I never saw another person on a scooter for years.

    I had to go to Europe for a little while so I gave it away, but by then it was quite worn out. Loose and creaky with shot tires and bearings.

    Back in L.A. again I at first did not buy another scooter for years, and observed the post 1999 scooter craze without ever buying a Razor. It amazes me that when you say scooter, most people in 2015  will only have the image of a Razor A1 in their head. It must have seemed like a new invention to most people because scooters had been so rare prior to the Razor age. The Razor started a new class of scooter made possible by urethane in-line skate wheels and smooth spinning bearings. As long as the concrete is smooth and dry, the Razor gives a good smooth ride. It’s descendants are the many excellent brands of Pro-Scooters, high quality and quite expensive. The Pro-Scooters do not fold so they do not rattle, and they roll even better on high-quality bearings, but the trick riders like their bars low so you cannot exactly stand up straight and take a slow cruise unless you have really long arms for some reason.

    scootlounge02
    Zappy left, Phat Flyer right

    I tried electric scooters, getting a Zappy and then a Currie Phat Flyer. The Currie made it into the-vu in July 2000.  Then in 2001, I was finally drawn back to human-powered scooters where I still remain today. I started with the first of three blue Know-Peds. Sadly a burglar took that away.

    Shortly thereafter I bought two footbike class scooters at the same time. A big Sidewalker City, and a Kickbike Millennium Racer. My plan was to test and review both then sell one. The review was published in the-vu in September 2003 here.

    That Kickbike Millennium Racer stayed with me for four or five years. It was not really a high mileage relationship, but it was and is the fastest scooter I have had.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Sidewalker City (blue) and Kickbike Millennium Racer.

    While I had this Kickbike I also bought a Xootr Mg, my first scooter that lacked rubber tires. That Xootr was so fast on smooth concrete, but it vibrated in an extreme manner on any surface with rough texture and it was much easier to fall off that Xootr than anything else I had ridden to date. The racket it produced was alarming from half a block away so it did not need a bell. The deck was nice and low but the magnesium rail along the bottom became an instant brake that would grab uneven pavement and toss you over the bars. I will also never again take a polyurethane tire onto a damp surface of any kind. With that bottom rail and those hard tires, the Xootr Mg is an exceptionally risky thing to ride. I have recently learned that the reason Xootrs are are so fast is mostly due to excellent wheel bearings, and you can throw fairly affordable fast bearings into any small scooter and get even faster rolling results. (I do not intend to discourage people from experiencing the popular and excellent Xootr, but just be very aware and careful because it is a bit accident-prone).

    KickPed-vs-Xootr
    Xootr MG (left) and a Tall KickPed

    The Xootr was replaced by a KickPed. This was of higher quality than the first Know-Ped I had in 2003, but I made the mistake of following the store’s advice and getting the tall bar version, which was a shame as I am only 5” 7”.

    Peds1
    Two matching Know-Peds

    I added a Know-Ped and then sold the Kickped and got another Know-Ped.  I had hoped my wife would ride the other one but she did not take to it. I have a deep appreciation for the visual design of the Know-Ped and it’s cousin the KickPed. Those wheels with their slick rubber tires remind me of racing car wheels.

    P1020332
    Mibo Gepard

    And then in 2013 I imported a Mibo Gepard from the Czech Republic. This was  a happy return to 12.5 inch tires. I have always had nostalgia for the format of two twelve inch tires. That is what scooters are supposed to look like. As a minimalist, this meant I felt forced to sell the Know-Peds (I shouldn’t have), and the Mibo got center stage. After less than two years I decided to let a second owner experience the Mibo and it left me at the beginning of 2015. I am such a gear flipper, partly due to a minimalist bent. I feel uncomfortable keeping ownership of more than one of anything at the same time. I cannot collect things.

    The Mibo Gepard was a great scooter but I was getting physically tired out on the street. Perhaps my Gepard did not freewheel as much as others, or perhaps my performance expectations were too high. Or maybe the sticky slick tires I put on slowed it down and I was too lazy to put the original Kendas back on.

    I added a couple of Razors, just for low-speed noodling around on my indoor hardwood floors, and underground concrete garage, an A5 and an A4. Then I went back to electrics, acquiring a remarkably fast Zumaround Zum for a few months.

    Zumaround Zum

    Kickbike CruiseMax 20

    Finally I had a clean start with a Kickbike CruiseMax 20 in 2015, which as my sole scooter relocated with me from Los Angeles to O’ahu Hawai’i. It was for a while my all-time favorite human-powered scooter. The only issue I had was my inability to ride it slowly, so I still used all my energy up after a short ride. As much as I tried, I could not control my impatience and my tendency to ride it too fast.

    Written in 2018:

    OJO Electric Commuter Scooter

    In 2018 I bought an OJO Electric Commuter Scooter which shared the garage with the Kickbike. They made a versatile pair.

    2019.

    As noted in another article Stepping off the Footboard, in September 2019 I sold my last human-powered scooter, the Kickbike CruiseMax, and at that time had no plans to get any more kick scooters. (I can hardly believe I felt that way), I also sold my OjO Electric and immediately replaced it with another electric, a Turbowheel Dart, reviewed here.

    My Turbowheel Dart (same as a Zero 9)

    2020.

    I was sure that I would not return to the exhaustion of kick scooting and would happily scoot electric instead. If one never has accidents, one starts to feel invincible.

    But then in September 2020 I fell-off / tripped-over the Turbowheel Dart at about 2 MPH and skinned my knee. The cause was taking my left hand off the grip to wave at a friend and accidentally grabbing the front brake with my right hand, My full-face downhill bike helmet saved my life, my face and my teeth, but as someone who usually never gets it wrong, I suddenly felt that at age 63 it was pushing my luck to keep flying along the road alongside the cars at well over 20 MPH. After the knee was gauzed up, I took one last, final decision-making, electric ride, then sold my fifth electric scooter.

    Getting older.

    I decided to consciously change my scooting modus operandi from going fast down the road, to slowly and safely sauntering along the sidewalk, and bought into the only category I had never owned, a pro-scooter, an Envy Prodigy S8 Street Edition, reviewed here. This was mainly because I wanted precision engineering and no rattles.

    S8 Street

    And shortly thereafter I fell off that, at 5 MPH, on the uneven sidewalk. By the time I realized I was going down, I was already down. So maybe my balance has gone, or more likely I just need bigger wheels for sidewalk excursions. Despite everything being so small and low and weighless, it is all riding above the axles. Even if that line between the axles is just 60 mm above ground. there is no deck supporting the entire body’s weight hanging below the axle line. So instead of it being a self-righting ride, it’s a self-falling ride! But it’s not so bad as long as you are moving, which of course you are. It took a while to grow on me, but I do love the Prodigy on a smooth closed course.

    Shortly thereafter I bought a Razor A6 with 254 mm (10 inch) wheels, but after test riding that on clean indoor hard floors, I returned it because it just felt too rattle-prone. It was certainly ready to run away fast and smoothly, and I liked the huge urethane tires, and it was amazing how small it was when folded up, but despite glowing and loving reviews online, it felt a bit cheap to me, and it also felt reluctant to hop and reluctant to allow me to pull up the front wheel for curbs and humps. More on the A6 here. The main thing though was how calm and solid the pro-scooter felt when switching back and forth.

    Envy Prodigy S8 Street Edition beside a Razor A6

    After my very brief A6 ownership, I bought Scooter number nineteen, and for the first time I bought a used one. Why? Because I thought the last one had most likely already rolled off the very old production line. I picked up a lightly used KickPed, with the lower bars this time. To recap, I’ve had three Know-Peds with the low bars, and one KickPed with the far too high bars, so I was happy to get back onto a Ped, my fifth! Yes, the deck height is higher than ideal at around 90 mm, but there is something great about KickPeds and Know-Peds.

    A standard height KickPed

    The unlikely Know-Ped, and its Kickped variant, are accidental hits, having been adapted from a noisy and smelly petroleum-powered monster called a GoPed, which I saw being tested as a prototype in Venice, probably in the late 80s. While the GoPed has all but vanished, and good-riddance, the Know-Ped keeps going, under new ownership.

    Despite having had less than favorable opinions about Razor A4, A5 and A6, my 20th kick scooter is actually a Razor. A Razor A5 Air, with eight inch (200mm) air tires.

    Razor A5 Air, with decals and griptape removed and ODI grips.

    The Razor A5 Air is very different to the A5 I had years ago. Anti-rattle developments and an extremely low deck make a huge difference. I knew going in what a nightmare a 200 mm pneumatic tire can be. My electric Turbowheel Dart was an awful thing to get a puncture on. But the A5 Air has split rims front and rear, so no tire spoons are needed when the inevitable happens.

    My first use of the A5 Air was in my controlled environment, a figure 8 course through my driveway and garage. I rotated between the new A5 Air, the KickPed and the Envy Prodigy S8 Street, which was a great way to evaluate the new scooter.

    I loved the A5 Air right away. It is smooth, and rolls surprisingly well on the stock bearings. It really is a perfect little folding scooter to have around and I recommend all scooter enthusiasts try one.

    The most astounding thing is the deck height. It is a mere 58mm off the ground (including the unneeded grip tape). You barely have to dip the standing leg to get a nice push. Ground clearance is accordingly small also at just 39 mm, but the bottom of the deck is smooth metal that will not become a strong brake, like the bottom of a Xootr Mg for example.

    I am enjoying the very affordable Razor A5 Air. It is safely rideable over surfaces that I feel nervous about taking urethane wheels over. I have removed the funny little kickstand, the unnecessary grip tape and all of the decals, to make it a matte black mean-looking ride, and upgraded the grips, although the stock grips were not bad. I also later upgraded the bearings to Bones® REDS®.

    January 2021

    Never immune to a poorly considered idea, I tried making a scooter out of a longboard using a helper handlebar type device bolted over the front trucks. I decided that with all my scooter experience, I should try some sort of skateboard, but I really did not want to fall off a skateboard, even once, so this bad idea was tried.

    As long as you don’t need to turn sharply!

    However, having chosen a drop down deck longboard to make it close to the ground, I quickly surmised that the turning radius on such a beast was absolutely enormous, and I would not be able to ride around my fairly tight regular route without picking it up incrementally just to steer around a curve. So that didn’t work! Yes a cruiser or surf-skate board can turn on a dime, but then the added bar would be over the spot where I’d have to stand and it would swing far over to the inside of the turn and be out of reach! As I said, a terrible idea.

    September 2021

    Despite it being very difficult to buy and sell used scooters when based in Hawai’i, I decided to let my 5th Ped, the customised KickPed, go to a new owner after ten months of it mostly sitting on the wall rack getting dusty. The ultra-low deck of the humble Razor A5 Air was the ultimate cause. When going to grab a scooter and seeing the KickPed and the A5 Air, the Razor always ended up in my hands.

    March 2022

    Razor A5 DLX

    To replace the KickPed I bought a Razor A5 DLX. A very different scooter to the original A5 Red/Blue/Lux, this DLX shares the rattle-free closure and very low deck features of the A5 Air, except that it comes with the 200mm urethane wheels. Another $100 bargain from Razor. It is excellent and fast, and I discovered that removing the grip tape made foot switching easier, and removing the ineffective stomp brake made stopping many times easier, using the sole of a sneaker directly on the wheel.

    April 2022

    An opportunity arose to acquire an Oxelo Town 9EF, version 1, a very popular European folding scooter that is not available in Hawai’i. It has some miles on it but I got a good deal buying used. A comparison between this and the Razor DLX is here on the-vu. It is designed to be the perfect folding commuter, but it is a little heavy, high up and slow for me. In addition I think I have worn out my tolerance for urethane wheels now and am developing an obsessive appreciation for a nice-looking air tire.

    Oxelo Town 9 EF

    Thinning the herd. I sold my Prodigy S8 Street at a considerable loss to a kid who frequents the skate park, and I sold the Oxelo that did not please me. Then I ordered a heavily discounted open box Mongoose Expo, fully knowing it is not a great scooter, but I was feeling nostalgic for my old 80s BMX and it is about the same in spec. This Mongoose arrived with many issues and missing hardware pieces so I had to return it, but I did get an opportunity to loose-fit the bars and wheels and I determined it was big enough for a 170 cm or 5’7″ lunatic to play on in comfort.

    So after returning the Mongoose I bought the only other thing resembling an eighties-style scooter, a Razor Flashback. Sadly, while this was engineered to a surprisingly high level of excellence and was high quality throughout, I did not keep it because the bars were about 5 inches lower than I would have liked, and it was really slow due to the low maximum pressure tires.

    Razor Flashback BMX, perfect unless rider is taller than 5′ 2″

    My most recent acquisition is a Yedoo S2020. A compact sport scooter with high pressure road tires. I look forward to a long relationship with this one, as it has the best features of all my former larger wheeled foot bikes, plus the compact size that allows its use in smaller areas.

    Remembering

    I sometimes wonder, If I had never sold any, and still had every single one of these to compare side by side in the same space and on the same course, how would I rate them? I might still end up with the same compulsive favorite, the inexpensive Razor A5 Air. It is the combination of air tires and low deck that makes it such a winner. But I most likely only feel this way because my usage has changed. I no longer go very far nor very fast, and I keep away from the streets where the cars are.

    For pure nostalgia, my 1988 Ninja Scootech GT Zoot Scoot would take the prize.

    The big conclusion

    Unlike bicycles, which are machines, kick scooters can be slow and tiring to ride, unless you are a foot bike athlete capable of sustained high speeds. For recreational scooter use, slowly sauntering along for a shorter distance on a smooth surface may be the epitome of the scooting experience, and anyone can do it.

    Jeffrey the Barak is the publisher of the-vu and as of 2022 has bought and sold, or kept, at least twenty-three kick-scooters and five electrics.

    Triang toy
    Antique balloon tyre
    Ninja Scootech GT Zoot Scoot 12 inch BMX
    Zappy
    Currie Phat Flyer
    1st Blue Know-Ped
    Sidewalker City
    Kickbike Millennium Racer
    Xootr Mg
    1st KickPed (tall)
    2nd Blue Know-Ped
    3rd Blue Know-Ped
    Mibo Gepard
    Razor A5
    Razor A4
    Zumaround Zum
    Kickbike CruiseMax 20
    OJO Electric
    Turbowheel Dart
    Envy Prodigy S8 Street Edition
    Razor A6 254 mm
    2nd KickPed, (standard height)
    Razor A5 Air. (Still have this)
    Yocaher drop down longboard with Swerv-Stick handlebar
    Razor A5 DLX. (Still have this)
    Oxelo Town 9 EF (V1)
    Mongoose Expo 12″ BMX
    Razor Flashback 12″
    Yedoo S2020

    Plus a few editorial loaners between 1997 and 2020

  • Razor Flashback BMX Style Scooter

    Razor Flashback BMX Style Scooter

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    Wanting a twelve-inch BMX style scooter was like having an itch I needed to scratch. I had one 35 years ago and I often remember it fondly.

    Myself on my 1988 Ninja Scootech GT Zoot Scoot, photographed when new, by Kip Rano.

    Yes, the bars are always a bit low, and yes, 12.5”, 35 P.S.I. tires cannot sustain speeds as well as high pressure 16”, 20” or larger tires, and yes the decks are a bit high, but it is that nostalgic 12 inch ride that I wanted to feel again.

    I almost have the same hovering glide with my beloved little Razor A5 Air, but despite the deck being deliciously low and other advantages, it is not the same ride. Only the pneumatic element is common between the two.

    In early May of 2022 I bought an open-box special on Amazon, a Mongoose Expo in matte gray with lime accents. Let’s just say, don’t buy an open-box special, unless you have access to a bike shop with an array of parts bins. And definitely don’t buy an open-box special and gift it to a child unless you want grateful appreciation to turn into devastating sadness. I returned mine the same day I received it.

    The steel Mongoose scooters, Expo and Trace, and the new Chromoly-framed Miniscoot II, are the only true BMX scooters around now, complete with the rotor/gyro system that allows you to spin the bars or whip the tail without the brake cables tangling. Tricks that I have no desire to ever try.

    The wheel bearings are notoriously awful on the Expo and Trace, two scooters that Mongoose does not even acknowledge in its own webstore, but the new Miniscoot II has traditional BMX plastic wheels and sealed bearings. As does the scooter I’m about to introduce below.

    Razor Flashback

    Likely inspired by these hangers-on still being made by Mongoose, Razor has introduced the Flashback. They aimed it at non-tall people, a.k.a. children, but the bars are just high enough for some adults to reach down to. And since it is essentially a clamp-on bar from a small polyurethane-wheeled stunt scooter, you could possibly source a taller one and get some longer brake cables. There is no gyro system to make that a difficult conversion. 

    So a few hours after receiving and returning that Mongoose I bought a Flashback, with local pickup, at the nearby Target store.

    I was a little concerned that my carton had clearly been opened, after so-recently being let down by the Amazon open-box Mongoose, but I was soon relieved to find that nothing was missing or damaged, or even out of place.

    2022 Razor Flashback BMX-Style Kick Scooter for ages 8 and up.

    Bar Height

    The bar height above ground is 885mm and the deck height is 89mm, so riding on deck, the bars will reach 785mm up your body. If you are 5’ 2” or 157 cm tall this is fine. Any taller and you have to hunch and bend to keep your hands around the grips.

    Originally here in this article I was pondering changing to longer bars somehow, but a fellow scooter enthusiast, Christoph Seiler suggested that there is a device that can make existing scooter bars higher. That device is a quill extender. So one of those and some longer brake cables would make this scooter grow up.

    People who are not tall will have a much easier time with a Flashback, right out of the box, as it was designed to be. By marketing this scooter toward Children, Razor have revealed that they never imagined that a taller person would find it attractive.

    Assembly

    Assembly was very easy, and it was a pleasure to work with pristine, precisely machined parts. All the needed tools were included but if you have nicer wrenches and a longer Allen wrench it will be even more comfortable.

    Tires

    At the maximum recommended inflation pressure of 35 PSI or 241 kPa, the tires remain soft enough to squeeze with thumb and fingers. This contributes to the slow feel of the scooter.

    But here is a shocker, the tires that come with the Flashback do not visually resemble the very handsome tires shown on the Razor website. I think those ones may even be generated computer graphics. What we get are very soft 35 PSI or 241 kPa tires that do not sustain speed well, but what they do provide is a soft floating ride.

    Rear tire as depicted on Razor’s website

    Actual tire from the Razor Flashback

    The tires will look out of round and off-center on the first spin, but simply riding for a while will solve that. There is not very much air pressure so they can settle in, and even themselves out, when ridden.

    Silent 

    I have been riding folding scooters lately despite having no reason to fold, and it has been about three years since I sold my last Kickbike. So the resounding silence of the Flashback is delightful. You kick, you go, and you hear nothing. Not a creak, nor a squeak, not a rattle, nor a roar. Just nothing.

    Turning

    The steering has a safety stop so you cannot jackknife. Very different from the Mongoose that has a gyro, or rotor, or detangler, to encourage bar spins and tail spins. This maximum turn makes extremely tight turns unlikely. At the stop point you can turn the front wheel just over 45 degrees.

    Speed

    It is slow. Even slower than the Razor A5 Air. But it stays upright at speeds close to fully stopped.

    Razor A5 Air, left, with Razor Flashback, right.

    Braking

    The brakes are not strong, but they slow you down.

    The angle of the tailkick on the footboard allows for safe application of shoe sole to the top of the rear tire, which stops the scooter very effectively. This last statement is controversial. A rider has their own choices to make regarding sole braking on a moving tire.

    But unless you find yourself reaching high speeds on a hill, you can just step off and walk to a stop or drag a shoe on the ground to slow down first. No braking required.

    Attack of the Chromed Nut

    Kicking while turning does make it possible to bang your ankle on the rear wheel nut (either side), but once suffered, it is something you get spatially aware of.

    More Air

    Despite the tires having a recommended maximum PSI of 35, I risked a brief spell of 45 PSI to see if the extreme slowness would be relieved, and it was, This scooter needs higher pressure and/or stiffer tires in order to open up and take advantage of the very nice sealed bearings.

    However, switching back and forth between this beautiful BMX-styled scooter and its little cousin, the Razor A5 Air was a revelation. The A5 Air is twice as fast, or half the effort, whichever way you want to view it. 

    Buy to try

    I took photos to remind me of the order of unpacking and unwrapping, and so when I decided to return the scooter to the store, it appeared as if it were never opened. I even took great care not to mar the shiny wheel nuts with the wrenches. And of course the tires got a nice soapy towel bath after the testing.

    The Verdict

    Razor had a very good idea to offer something in the 12 inch class. Since all their scooters have compression clamp bars, it was also smart to carry that technology over to the Flashback. However, by setting a permanent bar height at even lower than the Mongoose and the classic BMX scooters from the eighties, they have limited ridership to people under a certain height. With either adjustable bars, or an array of bar heights to select from, and with higher pressure tires, this beautifully and precisely manufactured scooter could have been a high-quailty ride that many more people might have wanted to own.

    Writer Jeffrey the Barak has been writing about scooters for twenty-two years, has owned 27, and tested several more.

  • Oxelo Town 9 EF vs Razor A5 DLX

    Oxelo Town 9 EF vs Razor A5 DLX

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    You can’t get Oxelo scooters in Hawai’i, but someone had a set of three up on Facebook Marketplace, which they had brought from Italy to a US military base here. I announced my intention to buy this used Oxelo Town 9EF on the Facebook Group “Let’s Kick Scoot” and fellow member Angus Law of Hong Kong was the first to identify the exact model from the photo that I shared from the local ad. Then member Ken Breeze from the U.K. correctly predicted it would feel heavy after jumping off my DLX. Not only is it heavy, but it is also high.

    “Slower – heavier – higher”.

    Oxelo Town 9EF (version 1)
    Deck Height: 78 mm. Weight: 7kg
    $150 in the lower 48 States only

    Razor A5 DLX
    Deck Height: 62 mm. Weight: 4kg
    $95 to $108 on Amazon Prime

    The considerable height difference.

    The Oxelo Town 9EF’s height of 78 mm is in its uncompressed state. There is front-only suspension on the version 1, plus a rear axle vibration damper. (v2 has a rear suspension system also) and this front spring does compress during the ride, however it is up during the ground contact phase of a kick so the uncompressed measurement is more relevant. Yet that little amount of front suspension is very effective at ironing out the vibrations of asphalt and concrete. It feels a bit like having a very high pressure front rubber tire, except without the sure footed grip.

    My Razor A5 DLX is nicely tightened up and has both the stomp brake and the overly aggressive grip tape removed. With the brake rattle eliminated it is a very quiet ride, and the finned rubber Envy hand grips that I added do a fairly good job of taking all vibration away from the hands. With the original stock bearings still installed, it is a fast, easy to move scooter.

    The Oxelo Town 9EF is slower, heavier, higher from the ground and emits a louder roar or hollow howl, which sounds like ceramic bearings or a plastic toy ride-along. Does it have ceramic bearings? I don’t know, but the wheels spin for a very long time when the heavy scooter is hauled up onto the wall rack. It is a very stable ride at a very low speed, even around half of walking speed.

    The Oxelo Town 9EF has an impressive design, with the way it quickly folds and unfolds, the trolley function that helps you avoid having to pick up and carry the 7 kg heft, and the ability to stand up partly folded. It is a great commuter design. It has a hand operated rear brake that stops the rear wheel more efficiently than the also included stomp fender brake.

    The Razor A5 DLX is a very bare-bones scooter, especially when you remove the same parts that I did, but when the rattles are tightened away it is exceptionally quiet and efficient, and light in weight. Note that removing the spoon brake is actually an improvement as a rubber sneaker sole applied to that rear wheel is much more effective than the original aluminum fender.

    Imagine a Xootr Mg with 95% less noise, much better traction, much less vibration, a quarter less footboard height, a fifth less weight, and costing a third of the price. That’s the DLX. Sorry Xootr fans.

    I can see why the more complex Oxelo Town 9EF is so popular around the world, especially for train commuters, campus-crossing students etc., but the ride is not nearly as effortless as the ride on a well tuned DTX. Switching back and forth between the two scooters on my closed course at home did not make me very happy to have just bought the used Oxelo Town 9EF. I don’t dislike it, and it is better than most adult folding scooters, but it is not better than what I personally already had on my wall racks.

    Despite the impressive design features, the above observations give the Oxelo a distant second place in this particular match.

    Jeffrey the Barak is the publisher of the-vu and as of 2022 has bought and sold, or kept, at least twenty-one kick-scooters and five electrics.

  • Kick Scooter Classifications

    Kick Scooter Classifications

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    This article was written in 2012 but has been revised and shortened in 2022, because while ten years has brought new categories and new considerations, the original article had a little too much detail. As I begin this rewrite, I am also moderator and admin on a Facebook group called Let’s Kick Scoot, where enthusiasts from around the world share happy posts about human-powered scooting.

    As you may have gathered from the-vu.com, I am very enthusiastic about the simple and wonderful human-powered vehicle that we call a scooter, and far less enamored with the machines we call bicycles.

    Even today, in the United States, scooters are so rare you hardly ever see any. However, there are many types of scooter out there in the world. This article is intended to be an introduction to the world of scooters and to help you make that decision to start using one or more on a regular basis.

    Before the appearance of the Razor scooter in 1999 there were almost no scooters in the US, despite the brief BMX scooter craze of the 1980s. It was the introduction of electric scooters to the public streets that gave a boost to the acceptance and popularity of non-electric kick scooters in the US.

    There are no official classifications for scooters, and some may fit into more than one category, but this is just my own personal impression of what is available. I have come up with several classes of non-electric human-powered scooters.

    1. Folding scooters with inline skate wheels
    2. Pro-Scooters for use in skate parks
    3. Scooters with small solid urethane wheels
    4. As above but with mechanical suspension
    5. Scooters with small wheels and pneumatic tires
    6. Scooters with medium or large sized wheels and pneumatic tires, for cruising or racing
    7. Downhill scooters
    8. Dog Scooters 

    1) Folding scooters with inline skate wheels

    Razor model A4

    The brand name Razor typifies this type of scooter and due to a worldwide craze at the end of the 20th century. They are ubiquitous. The origins of this scooter led to two of the top world brands, Razor (USA) and Micro (Switzerland). It was the availability of the inline skate wheel that made the first tiny folding scooters a possibility. Over the years various sizes have appeared and we put the larger-wheeled varieties into a separate class

    2) Pro-Scooters for use in skate parks

    Envy Prodigy S8

    After it became clear that scooters are good for tricks, something stronger was needed and so the multi-million dollar pro-scooter industry appeared. With strong, rigid, non-folding frames and very strong components, these small tools can withstand the pressure without immediately being destroyed. Not really practical for a long slow scoot along the road, but this is actually by far the biggest category for adult human-powered scooters. Despite their strength, smooth concrete is needed to get the best out of them, and they cannot be ridden on rough or degraded surfaces. The standard wheel size seems to have evolved to become 120 mm but there are smaller wheels still out there.

    3) Scooters with small solid urethane wheels, or adult folding scooters.

    Razor A5 DLX

    We can also call these adult folding scooters, or commuter scooters, although many a child uses them daily. Solid here means there is no air tire (tire US, tyre UK). Examples are Razor A5, Xootr, Micro Black etc. These are commuter scooters ideal for the last mile. You can fold them up and carry them into work, school, train, bus etc., and unfold for that distance between home and station, or bus stop and work.

    In the same size category, but with different wheels there are anomalies such as the Razor A5 Air with 200mm air tires, and the Know-Ped with solid rubber 6 inch tires.

    Once a hard urethane wheel grows to 180 mm, 200m, 230 mm etc it becomes less dangerous in a micro terrain of cracks, pebbles and bumps. These scooters are very usable on sidewalks and streets, but they have very poor grip on damp or wet surfaces.

    Compared to air tires, urethane tires need a fairly dry and smooth road, and they lose much less energy due to the compression of an air tire, so they can be faster or easier over the same course, as long as it remains smooth and dry.

    Convenience is the key to their success. They are light weight and easy to fold, so you are more likely to have one with you and therefore use one.

    4) As above, but with mechanical suspension.

    Oxelo Town 9 EF v2

    Usually achieved with a sprung front fork and a lever arm rear fork, this heaver and more complex variation uses the frame to spare the rider from some of the vibrations of the hard wheels. A popular example is the Oxelo Town 9. With extra weight and complications, there is a price to pay, and also some deck heights are too high.

    Perhaps with less vibration a rider gets less tired, so they can use that saved energy to squat further for a more tiresome kick.

    5) Scooters with small wheels and pneumatic tires

    A typical 12.5″ BMX Scooter

    I mentioned earlier the 1980s BMX scooter craze. With 12.5 inch standard air tires, this class of scooter remains popular. Ranging from notoriously poor quality cheap examples from Mongoose, Kent, and similar to high-end, well-engineered shrunk-down Czech foot bikes, the 12.5 incher is a great class of scooter. One interesting variation recently was the Boardy, which uses a flexible plywood board to completely replace the steel frame which would normally link the front and back ends.

    6) Scooters with medium or large-sized wheels for cruising or racing, or foot bikes

    Mibo Universe
    Amish 24 inch

    Once we go up to 14″, 16″ tires and above, we have the foot bike class. Some are for lower speed errands and jaunts, like the American Amish scooters, some are for general recreation, some are for distance touring, and others are for high speed racing.

    At first glance something in the larger end of this class may seem like too much to kick, but for those who prefer scooting to cycling, these vehicles are like magic carpets. The perfect conveyance.

    Many have a larger front tire and smaller back tire, making them less unwieldy, but high mileage riders will tell you that two large wheels, eg 26″, are the most efficient.

    Foot bike racing is quite a thing in Europe, and this sport evolved from kicksleds or snow scooters.

    7) Downhill scooters

    Gravity downhill scooter

    This is our first niche category. Using one of these to ride along a bike path or down the street would be very tiring with extra weight and a deck that is so high that the road can feel out of reach after half an exhausting mile. 

    But this extreme clearance and angled deck makes bombing down a ski run in summer less dangerous. As long as you don’t have to ride uphill, this is a fun ride.

    This is the class of scooters that can benefit from mud tires, which are an energy liability on street scooters.

    8) Dog scooters

    Pawtrekker suspension disc-brake dog scooter

    For mushing. Your dog can be your engine if your large scooter features the right harness. To bring your best friend into your scooter passion, this is the category for you.

    Other types of human-powered scooters

    There are of course other things, not any of these eight types, that we might still call scooters. Some have skate-truck based front or rear steering, and are hybrids of scooters and skateboards, eg. Micro Kickboard. Some have levers and pedals that make them like scooters, but are not propelled with a kick as are scooters, so are they even scooters?

    Above are my own eight scooter classifications, heavily edited from the original version of this article. Different types for different functions. It is a scooter world after all.

    Author Jeffrey the Barak is the publisher of the-vu and has had around 26 scooters at the time of this last edit in 2022.

  • Razor A5 Air vs Razor A5 DLX

    Razor A5 Air vs Razor A5 DLX

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    The main difference between these two equally priced, and readily available scooters is the wheels.

    The A5 Air has nice little split rim wheels with 200 mm X 50 mm pneumatic tires with inner tubes, resulting in a quiet, soft, impact and vibration absorbing, slower ride.

    The A5 DLX has 200 mm polyurethane wheels that transfer more vibration to the rider, but preserve much more energy as forward motion.

    The Razor brand urethane wheels are quite soft and forgiving compared to those found on other scooters, but they are still very hard compared to any air-filled rubber tires.

    Another difference of note is the deck height. The A5 Air has the lowest deck around at a mere 58 mm, whereas the A5 DLX has a slightly higher, but still impressively low, 62 mm deck height.

    In case you don’t know, lower decks make scooting easier, because the standing leg is the one that gets tired, not the kicking leg. The dipping down to push is where your energy gets sapped, so the lower the better.

    I have been comparing these two for a week on my own closed course figure-eight, but in order to get a more meaningful comparison, I donned my helmet and pads and rode along a neighborhood sidewalk and street run, taking the same route on each scooter.

    Customizations

    I will add here that each of my scooters here have had a nice handgrip upgrade, and good grips take vibration away from the hands. The original rubber grips of the A5 Air were not bad though. The original grips on the A5 DLX are foam, which does soak up the knocks and bumps, but these were contoured for children’s hands, so they had to come off.

    In the special case of my A5 Air, a scooter of which I have to admit I am very fond, it also benefits from a bearings upgrade, using Bones Reds, and the removal of the unnecessary grip tape from the deck.

    The A5 DLX I rode here still has the aggressive grip tape making the twist and switch very much harder, and it has the original stock bearings. Actually I will be grabbing a hair dryer and removing that grip tape very soon as it really ruins the scooter. And I suppose I should also set aside another ten or fifteen minutes to put the Bones Reds bearings in, since I have four more in a box.

    Issues and Adjustments

    Neither scooter is great when it first comes in the “frustration-free packing”. You absolutely have to adjust and tighten and tune up each one. The worst thing about the A5 DLX is the infamous Razor clatter from the rear fender brake. That brake really needs frequent tightening using a wrench and square driver. Since I would not ride it in the wet, I might remove it altogether and use only the sneaker sole brake and stepping off methods to slow and stop. Oddly after about 2,500 rides on the A5 Air, that much broader rear stomp brake has never rattled at all.

    Whenever a handlebar is height adjustable, there is a tube inside a tube, so you have to really tighten the clamp, which in the case of Razor scooters, is actually only a bicycle seat post clamp. But it does clamp tightly, and there is no urgent need to go and buy a 31.8 mm quad or triple clamp from the pro-scooter store. The unnecessarily detachable, short handlebars may also make a noise if you take a hand off when riding. A bit of PTFE or vinyl tape will shut those up.

    The Comparison

    So without further ado I will state the obvious, air tires are a good deal slower than urethane wheels, so if your only interest is speed, you have your winner.

    But there is more to enjoying a scoot than speed, and the A5 Air is much more pleasant ride under most circumstances, and this is on dry surfaces. If the roads are wet then perhaps out of the two, only the A5 Air is usable with any degree of safety.

    However another area where the A5 DLX shines is on a (slight) uphill incline. These barely noticeable hills quickly slow the A5 Air down. If that is something you don’t like the sound of then maybe you should lean towards the A5 DLX.

    There is quite a noticeable weight difference. The A5 Air weighs 5 kg whereas the A5 DLX only weighs 4 kg. Besides the tire characteristics, this also contributes to the speed difference below.

    Neither scooter is intended to be a long distance tool, but if you do go out for longer rides, or all day rides, all of these advantages and disadvantages of each become amplified. For the occasional noodle around, either one is okay.

    The real choice is between more speed or distance output from your input, (The A5 DLX), versus ride smoothness and comfort, (The A5 Air). After all, vibration induces fatigue so the tortoise can potentially beat the hare here.

    Speed Comparison

    I am a bit shocked by this. Over the same course, scooting at a very leisurely pace on a hot morning, on very smooth asphalt, and trying hard to input about the same energy on each, the A5 DLX averaged 6.75 MPH whereas the A5 Air averaged 4.5 MPH. Neither run was long enough for the vibration induced fatigue to set in from riding upon urethane, so a longer distance comparison, which I did not undertake, might possibly show less of a difference. It could be an inverted U-curve.

    Of course if the asphalt had been less smooth, the A5 Air might have come out as a faster ride than the A5 DLX. And if the asphalt had been very rough, then only one scooter might have been rideable at all, and that would be the A5 Air.

    Subjective feelings

    It may be a slowcoach, but the Razor A5 Air is one of my favorite scooters out of the twenty-six or so that have passed through my hands. I bought the A5 DLX just for a fun contrast, and when I finish improving it, it will be a worthy stablemate to it’s cousin, and occasionally better under certain circumstances. Both are very affordable, easy to obtain in the USA, and do the job.

    Jeffrey the Barak has owned 26 scooters, human-powered or electric, and ridden many more. The first scooter articles in the-vu began to appear in 2000. YouTube video reviews may have superseded articles such as this, but they may not contain the information you need to decide.

  • Instant Coffee is no longer horrible

    Instant Coffee is no longer horrible

    By Jeffrey the Barak.

    The mega-villain of the coffee world is not necessarily that jar of instant coffee, its that metal or plastic canister of ground filter coffee.

    Some Overlap:

    We have always assumed that instant coffee is the worst, and pre-ground, a generally stale filter coffee, is a little better. But surprisingly there are now close to a dozen instant coffees that will all make a nicer cup than what most people taste after they reach for the glass carafe in that coffee machine.

    The problem with drip coffee is, in most cases, people buy a fairly large can or bag, which may have a hilariously misleading “sell-by” date but no “roasted-on” date, and the grind within was roasted, ground and packaged a very long time ago, and after the first moderately pleasant whiff of the best compounds when the seal is broken, the first scoop is already long past its ideal date, and the last scoop might as well go straight into the trash can.

    Good drip:

    Of course it is not all bad. A coffee connoisseur would get freshly roasted beans, roasted within the last two weeks, grind just enough for the pot, right before the brew, and serve the whole pot immediately, without leaving it on the warming plate. Or they would use the pour over method, manually assuming the role of the drip machine.

    Bad Drip:

    But that is not what you see. In most workplaces and many homes, it is a can of e.g. Folgers, Maxwell House, or similar mass-produced ground coffee, stale before you start, and further ruined by the brewing and serving procedure.

    Instant:

    This is when a teaspoon of good instant coffee, a mug, and a kettle can stand up to the ground filter coffee. After decades of awfulness, there are now some instant coffees that are able to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best of filter grinds.

    Yes there are still many unpleasant instants on the shelves, but you might be surprised at how nice some of the newer varieties taste. You honestly would never know it was instant coffee!

    And since your only required equipment is a spoon and a cup, plus boiling water, the clean up is barely any trouble.

    Delusional:

    Many people buy a reputable brand of coffee beans to use for their home espresso setups, or home brewing setups, without realizing how old, stale and degassed it is. Even online companies with YouTube channels full of instruction and guidance sell countless large bags of alarmingly old coffee every day, and customers struggle to find any deliciousness for their money.

    Bitter, burnt, or sour tastes result, and home-made espresso cannot get a decent crema if the CO2 is long gone from the bean. A lot of money is spent on making bad coffee.

    Get a teaspoon, mug, and kettle and try these:

    If you are mismanaging a fortune’s worth of equipment and beans, and not getting a nice cup of coffee, perhaps you should get rid of it all and just find a nice instant coffee. A couple of easy-to-find and affordable nice instant coffees (in the U.S.) include:


    Starbucks Premium Instant Coffee, Dark Roast (This is bold)
    Mount Hagen Organic Freeze Dried Instant Coffee (This is mild)

    Jeffrey the Barak usually performs a very manual process of making an espresso shot with very recently roasted beans, freshly and manually ground ,and weighed for one beverage, and then a Cafelat Robot, completely manual espresso machine, pulling a perfect shot into a warm and thick porcelain demitasse. However, occasionally a mug of excellent instant is a nice change.