What’s harder, and easier, to use than a bicycle?

Kids on scootersI exchanged a few words with a pedestrian on my breakfast run this morning.

“Looks like a bit of work,” he observed.

“Yes, it’s a bit of work – but a lot of fun,” I countered. “It’s like being a kid again.”

That turns out to be the nut of the footbike vs. bicycle debate, with both points a solid win for the scooter.

The footbike takes more energy to propel than a bicycle. I had gotten good enough at the bicycle that my measly 8-mile commute was no longer keeping my weight down. On the kickbike that’s a snap. My first hard kickbike rides tore me up, and only the knowledge that I could train up to the effort kept me going. Sure enough, now I look forward to my commute and usually add around 30 miles on the weekend.

I have heard anecdotally that the footbike takes about 33% more effort than a bike to cover a similar distance, which is roughly borne out by my observations. So (and this is proved by my bathroom scale), I get a better workout with the same mileage.

The fun part may be obvious to passersby, too, not least from my habitual grin. While harder to propel through time and space than a bicycle (which is one of the most efficient means of transportation on earth[^]), it’s easier to actually ride. Step on, step off or cruise at a walking pace, no special clothes are needed – and your nether regions will never suffer. There are no gears to choose; though at the same time, it has a continuously variable transmission. The means of propulsion are your very legs, pushing on the ground without the intervention of machinery of any kind. On the bicycle now I feel unnecessarily constrained while precariously perched up on the seat (a place where I used to feel absolutely at home).

I’m currently looking for a 700c coaster-brake wheel to further simplify my singlespeed bicycle, so that it might approach my footbikes in ease of use, but I’m afraid it won’t make much difference. I may need to go ahead and find a home for it, poor thing.


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