Current Coasters in a full-court press

Current founder holding scooter pic

Bentley Kerr of Irvine shows off his Current Coaster, a scooter for hip adults and teens that comes in eye-popping colors. (Mindy Schauer, the Orange County Register)

The guys behind the good-looking but heavy Current Coasters are pressing forward with a PR campaign – they’re fighting the good fight and I hope to see the bikes become popular. Mainstream news publicity for the other two American-distributed large-wheel scooters has been fitful, but if any one gains traction with the public, its long tail is bound to pull the others, and the sport, along, too. This is from the Orange County Register:

If California’s real estate industry hadn’t tanked so badly in recent years, Irvine resident Bentley Kerr probably wouldn’t be talking about self-propelled scooters.

As it is, an adult version of a traditional child’s riding toy consumes Kerr’s waking hours and fills his midnight dreams.

Tell me about it.

“Initially we didn’t think of this as a business, but (after two years) it has evolved from a part-time planning exercise to a full-time venture,” said Kerr, who remains a principal in the Southern California land development firm Bluestone Communities. “I’ll probably always be involved in real estate, but it became clear to me that real estate wouldn’t have a soft landing in the recession.”

It’s a good, interesting backroom article on the methodical founding of a business; of course, the business’ subject makes it compelling for kickers, too.

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

The scooter manifesto, or why scoot?

Scooting family pic

Relaxation for the whole family.

Dave Riley, at Kickbike & Kettlebell, directs us to this article at Yedoo.eu, saying Why scoot when you can pedal?, and adding some reasons of his own:

On a scooter I’m an opportunistic rider. I use both road and footpath depending on the typography, surface and traffic conditions. When riding on footpaths I’m often jumping on and off the scooter to negotiate around people and over bumps, gutters and tree roots at a speed just above jogging pace.

I also expect that people who can’t learn a bicycle must be able to master scooting, although I’ll never forget the magical feeling I had, at about seven years of age, of completing my first bicycle ride on my Dad’s step-through WWII-era paratroop bike. Still, my favorite ride for a long time remained my homemade scooter. Boy, if I had had a Kickbike™ or a Mibo or Yedoo, or even a BMX scooter, none of which had been yet invented. Although one of these would have been available…

Scooters of the rich and famous

Ed Burns on Xootr pic

Ed Burns knows how to suffer in style

Well, if there is a “scooter war” between Xootrsand KickPeds, we now know how the beautiful people are coping with the downtown Manhattan Hurricane Sandy mess (at least until they can get to an airport):

Actor-director Ed Burns was also spotted out and about in his Tribeca neighborhood with his Xootr scooter shouldering a yellow backpack full of supplies for him, his model-wife Christy Turlington and their two kids.

Posted by Pete (Proud to be a prole) Hummers.

The birth of the SportPed

SportPed pic

Recently I set out to customize a GoPed KnowPed into an ersatz KickPed, such as were being sold by NYCEWheels on Manhattan. As nice as the result was, it had a problem (shared by the actual KickPed): I had cut down the wide footboard to approximately the width of a Kickbike® deck, but with the non-slip material on top it was impossible to pivot my foot for a leg change, though it looks good.

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Footbiking still resists dilettantes

Kohler ad screenshot

In this age of social media, any fool with a Twitter account (or do I repeat myself?) can see without effort what the cool people are up to, and if they have more money than brains (also not a rare occurrence), can join right in.

When I raced bicycles, in the ‘eighties, those who showed up had learned the considerable minuitiae of the sport from mentors over years, so that by the time most reached the starting line they had been learning about bicycles and the sport for at least a decade, and subsequently devoted most of their resources and time to the sport. Many traveled just to find foreign magazines at international newsstands (I was fortunate to live near Hotalings in Manhattan where I bought Miroir du Cyclisme and the British newsprint mag Cycling) and struggled to learn enough of their languages to make sense of them.

Now the growing presence of serious cyclists I see on our Beach Road are posers on expensive cognoscenti bikes (Cervelos seem especially popular) wearing their superman pyjamas replica pro cycling jerseys and frowning like Lance Armstrong. They especially never even acknowledge the presence of our many local utility cyclists, who ride around on perfectly appropriate beach cruisers – for transportation.

Footbiking, in the USA, has resisted this corruption, maybe because the term kickbike has already been stolen and now refers to nasty parties. And in the footbike-sporting countries of Europe and the South Pacific there is a strong and traditional family-oriented racing culture, which seems to be growing in spite of the easy availability of trendy static.

This rant was set off by a national Kohler commercial about a city yuppie who, kicked out of his apartment by a girlfriend, collects his most precious possessions to crash with a friend. These possessions comprise mostly Kohler appliances and fixtures – and his trusty hipster fixed-wheel bike complete with bullhorn handlebars and colored rims. That inclusion into today’s shallow zeitgeist would be enough to cure me of fixie bikes even had I not found (through the internet, I must confess) footbiking, which, thankfully, still resists dilettantism.

This must be a fun place to work

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