While kick scooters have been around in some form or another for more than a century, the latest craze of sleek silver fold-up kick scooters have introduced a new generation of kids to the convenience and fun that a scooter can deliver. More compact than a bike and more convenient than roller blades, kick scooters can be used to get to school or work and have emerged as a fun toy to play with and use with stunts.
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A kick scooter consists of a small platform supported by two to four wheels and handles that the rider grasps to steer. The scooter is propelled by the rider kicking off the ground, hence the name. Many modern scooters are made of aluminium and feature a convenient fold-up option, however, there are larger scooters used for racing that feature bigger wheels and a more durable frame.
Homemade kick scooters began appearing in urban communities a little more than a century ago. Most were made by children and teens by fastening roller skate wheels to boards. Handles were usually made of wood or pipe and lashed to a wooden handlebar support. Because wood didn't weather well and metal skate wheels rusted easily, manufacturers soon turned to versatile aluminium bodies and rubber and plastic wheels. Scooters dropped in popularity as the demand for bicycles grew dramatically. In Switzerland in 1990 an inventor named Wim Oubother perfected new designs for kick scooters that also folded up for convenience. Other companies copied the idea and marketed the scooters worldwide, where the demand grew rapidly. Today popular brands include Micro and Razor and the target consumers are kids and teens.
Besides the obvious benefits to children by getting them outdoors and exercising, kick scooters made for adults are popular around the world for a variety of purposes. Many people use scooters to move around in dense urban areas because they are an affordable and convenient alternative to walking. There are various organisations dedicated to scooter racing and stunts. There is even a sport known as dog scootering, in which sled dogs pull a rider on a scooter. Kick bikes are a version of kick scooters, with bike-sized front wheels and moderately sized back wheels and a low slung platform in between. Kick bikes allow riders to enjoy an off-road or mountain trail experience similar to mountain biking.
Scooters are often compared to bikes. Portability is an issue, with bikes being heavier and bulkier than scooters. Scooters are easier to guide and manipulate in crowds and can be stopped and started much quicker than a bicycle. A scooter is lower to the ground, so the feet are in a better position to catch a rider if falling. It also allows the rider to decide instantly between walking or pushing the scooter; a bicyclist has to dismount and remount repeatedly. Kicking a scooter is easier on the knee joints than pedalling a bike.
The first man to use a kick bike (a variation of the kick scooter) to cross the United States was Jim Delzer. Delzer crossed the country in 35 days, 4 hours and 44 minutes in the Great American Kickbike Challenge in 2001. He averaged more than 100 miles per day and the trip was entered into the Guiness Book of World Records. Delzer has since organised many kick bike events to raise awareness for charitable causes.
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