Bob Dymond on an American original

Amish scooter pic

Footbiking form follows function forever!

I think they’re just beautiful. Built mostly of steel, with an elegant form-follows-function ethos, by craftsmen who use them, Amish scooters to me represent a sort of pinnacle of the footbiking art. And Bob Dymond owns one.

It’s not too easy to see some of the details in the pictures on the Internet from the Pennsylvania and Ohio merchants that sell these beautiful bikes, so for one who is going to pull the trigger sooner or later on buying one, it’s nice to have some fine details about what’s in store. Here’s Bob’s review:

Yodercycle pic

Bob’s ‘Yodercycle’

I’m currently “involved” with an Amish-built scooter, by the Groffdale Machine Co. If you’ve seen them on websites, most of them have an odd stem design, where the gooseneck points aft, toward the rider. The quill and stem are all one piece and can’t be reversed, which effects a somewhat vertical riding posture. This is probably deemed quite proper by the folks that use these scooters. It wasn’t long before I was looking around for a more conventional arrangement. I had several stems already in my inventory. I found that they were all the wrong diameter for the headset/steerer tube. It takes a 21.1 mm quill, found in older, ’60s vintage bikes like Schwinn and Columbia. I did manage to find one, and matched it up with a set of Avenir “North Road” handlebars that came on Raleigh 3-speeds. Man – what a difference!

My Amish “yodercycle” is now one of my favorite rides. The 20-in. (451×1-3/8) wheels are built up on hubs that roll with exceptional smoothness. I’ve never before seen them; like the stem, they might been made for bikes that have long disappeared from the market. No quick-release anything. The fork dropouts are cut into the flatted fork ends for the solid-axle hubs. If you remove the front fender, it’s not a chore to loosen up the axle nuts and pull the front wheel for transport. Though the fenders add a lot of weight to the unit, they are very effective in watery conditions. My feet stay much drier than on my Kickbike; I’ll ignore the added weight in favor of dry feet. The wheel rims are alloy. Everything else is heavy-gauge steel – including the full-size fenders. The front brake is a Weinmann knockoff from Vietnam, a single-bolt side-pull, and a spoon brake is on the rear tire. I ditched the front brake shoes for some Shimano Deore numbers that slow the rig down nicely.

It’s a sturdy little beast, weighing in at about 25 lbs. The thing rolls so well the added weight is almost an asset. Deck height is super-low, which is alarming at first glance. But when you look at the steel that they made the frame out of, you’re not too concerned about scrape damage. The foot plate is just that: a plate tack-welded on top of the two horizontal frame members. It forms a box, in effect. Ground clearance inside this “box” is substantial, so you may not scrape on every high obstacle you go over.

If anyone decides to spring for oneof these scooters, the hub bearings should be checked and adjusted. The bearings on mine were a tad too tight. When these hubs are set up right, they roll like old Campag NR – honest!

If it weren’t for the necessary stem replacement, these scooters really could compete with the European jobs. I think they are the only really roadworthy American foot scooter. They aren’t in the same category as Xootr or KickPed, but if you want an air-tire road scooter that’s a true American original, the Amish scooter is a very solid value. ~Bob Dymond


4 Responses

  1. Since kick-scooters have neither pedals nor gears, they are not machines, and are therefore approved as conveyances by the adherents of the Amish philosophy. The lack of a saddle also makes them modest. I have not ridden one of these, but I do appreciate the efficiency of an extremely low footboard, which will make up for the extra effort required to propel the extra weight. My old Sidewalker City weighted 26 lbs and the footboard was way up in the air at 4 inches, so the Amish Scooter is not the boat-anchor you might assume it is. For the non-Amish, a garage and possibly a pickup truck or van to take it to a ride site might be needed in order to take full advantage of this sizable vehicle, which appears to be about 6 feet long.

  2. The example in the photo is probably a 24-incher; it’s the only pic I could find online with the stem as Bob described; but his is a 20-incher, which would be a little smaller. I want a 24-er myself; as to ride sites, I would ride it to a ride site, as I do my Kickbike and pedal-bikes, though a roof-rack might come in handy for vacations etc.

  3. A few more details that, in my haste, I didn’t mention in my original post. Wheelbase for my 20-inch “Amish” is 37 inches, total length is 58 inches. I wear a size 12 shoe, which just barely fits between the down-tube and the pedal of the rear foot brake. I estimate the 24-inch frame may have a slightly longer foot board, though I did not measure the one I saw at the store. Of the three most popular sizes (24,20, 16 inch) I presume the 24 is the adult male choice, 20 for the ladies and kids ride the 16 inch. I went for twenty as it offered wheels with the best rolling potential, yet would fit in the back of my small hatchback. After removing the wire basket (and front seat headrest) I can slide the scooter on its side, rear wheel first, into my little car. What really impressed me was the depth and durable appearance of the paint. I think it’s powder-coated, and I’ll bet it contributes mightily to the scooter’s weight. The colors most popular in their market are dark green, black and sky blue. I have seen them offered in an array of bright, sinfully prideful colors on some sites. The frame consists of a head tube, a single down-tube, tig welded to the top of a U-shape of solid bar stock. The deck is a box that is placed over the two frame members Everything is typical Amish build quality: Clean and even. Oh! The tires are Primo Comet, that pump to 85 lbs psi. Overall, you could do a lot worse for $242.00 USD.

  4. Sounds like a great deal. It took me a few seconds to grasp that the “front seat headrest” was part of the car! I hope to see it in use on YouTube.

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