A kick scooter or just scooter is a human-powered street vehicle with a handlebar, deck, and wheels propelled by a rider pushing off the ground with their leg.
Today, the most common scooters are made of aluminum, titanium, and steel. Some kick scooters made for younger children have 3 to 4 wheels (but most common ones have 2 wheels) and are made of plastic and don’t fold. High-performance kickbikes also are made.
Motorized scooters, historically powered by gas engines, and more recently electric motors, are self-propelled kick scooters capable of speeds sometimes exceeding 30 km/h (19 mph).
Recently, e-scooters have grown in popularity with the introduction of scooter-sharing systems that use apps allowing users to rent the scooters by the minute.
Scooters were first invented in Germany in 1817 when Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun created a two-wheeled ride.
The Autoped was an early motor scooter or motorized scooter manufactured by the Autoped Company of Long Island City, New York from 1915 to 1922. The driver stood on a platform with 10-inch tires and operated the machine using only the handlebars and steering column, pushing them forward to engage the clutch, using a lever on the handlebar to control the throttle, and pulling the handlebars and column back to disengage the clutch and apply the brake. After riding, the steering column would be folded onto the platform to store the scooter more easily. The engine was an air-cooled, 4-stroke, 155 cc engine over the front wheel. The bike came with a headlamp and tail lamp, a Klaxon horn, and a toolbox. Developed during wartime and gasoline rationing, it was quite efficient, but was not widely distributed.
In 1919, the British built the ABC Skootamota that boasted a seat! The first scooter that we’d recognise as something similar to today’s scooter was the 1921 Unibus. It was produced by the Gloucester Aircraft Company. It boasted legshields and bodywork protecting the rider from road dirt and the engine.
The next scooter boom took place in USA during the 1930s. In the United States, scooters first enjoyed wide popularity during the Great Depression. At that time, many children built their own scooters from recycled wood. This promoted a level of freedom and mobility for those who can’t afford to buy cars.
In 1939, the motorized scooter started booming in the USA. Even the heavy industry manufacturers, like Honda and Fuji, begin scooter production in Japan. Scooters had a small surge of popularity in the 1950s and were trendy off and on until pretty much being replaced by skateboards in the 1980s.
Before bicycles became popular among children, steel scooters with two small bicycle wheels were more common. Around 1987, many BMX manufacturers produced BMX-like scooters, such as Scoot.
The development of the kickbike in Finland in 1994 changed the way scooters are viewed. The Kickbike has a large standard size bicycle front wheel and a much smaller rear wheel, which allows for a much faster ride. The Footbike Eurocup has been held since 2001.
Electric kick scooters have surpassed internal combustion-engined scooters in popularity since 2000. The use of an electric motor makes gears unnecessary, and may support energy recovery by regenerative braking. Range may be from 5 to 50 km (3 to 31 mi) on a full battery charge, and maximum speed may be about 30 km/h (19 mph), unless regulations require a lower speed.
Kick scooters used for extreme sport stunts and tricks and made to withstand stresses and frustrations, are called pro scooters. Numerous brands specialize in stunt scooters and accessories including helmets, pegs, grind wax, griptape clamps, and clothing.
The fastest mile on a kick scooter is 6 min 15.81 sec and was achieved by Christian Roberto López Rodríguez (Spain) in Torrijos, Toledo, Spain, on 21 November 2020.
Daniel Nielsen (US) crossed the USA on a kick scooter in 21 days 9 hr 57 min, leaving San Diego, California, on 1 November and arriving at Jekyl Island near Brunswick, Georgia, on 22 November 2001. Nielsen averaged 174 km (108 miles) per day during the 3,827 km (2,378 mile) journey. His first day was his most productive at 222 km (138 miles). The journey was in aid of the Red Cross.
The longest journey on a kick scooter is 7,100.7 km (4411 miles) and was achieved by Kosuke Takizawa aka Rake from 1 July 2019 to 21 April 2020.
The largest parade of kick scooters involved 802 kick scooters and was achieved by the Lions Club of Shatin Hong Kong (Hong Kong) and Luofu Mountain (China) at Luofu Mountain in Huizhou, Guangdong, China, on 26 May 2019.
The largest kick scooter is 4.16 m (13 ft 7.9in) tall and 3.13 m (10 ft 3.6 in) long, and was achieved by Oliver Tree (USA) in Los Angeles, California, USA, on 19 May 2020.