Rehab, training, and fun on a kick scooter.

hercule
Posts: 1021
Joined: 5 Feb 2011, 5:18pm

Rehab, training, and fun on a kick scooter.

Postby hercule » 7 Jul 2020, 11:41am

Last year I posted a query in "Does anyone know...?" having spotted a folding Swifty kick scooter out in the wild (or John Lewis to be precise). I'd no idea that such a thing existed but it did set me on a trail of exploration and discovery , I thought it might be worth sharing as I suspect others may be interested.

Besides cycling I am a keen runner and have been for nearly 40 injury free years. Injury free, that is, until 2 years ago where I damaged a knee lifting something I shouldn't have and shortly after got piriformis syndrome which seemed to be brought on by a very long car journey. I found myself laid up and frustrated, unable to go running and (to my surprise) unable to go cycling either - it seemed to particularly aggravate my knee and on a few trial turbo sessions I could almost see my knee swelling as the minutes ticked by. It wasn't particularly the physical deconditioning that bothered me but the lack of mental destressing that exercise and running in particular gives me. After an hour out in the woods and I can face just about anything, but without it...

I looked around for alternatives. Walking just didn't give me enough physical effort. When my knee did recover sufficiently to get back on the bike again I had to be careful and cycling for me has always had the issue that to get the benefits of exertion that running gives me I have to be out 3-4 times as long, or ride at an effort that I feel barely under control. I was looking for something that would give me the same sort physical workout in about the same time as running.

I looked at elliptical bikes, and stand up pedalling bikes, and dismissed them as being too heavy, too expensive, and probably not forest-track friendly. Plus, dare I say it, too weird? And this comes from someone who rides a recumbent! The chance spotting of a Swifty in JL led me down the track of investigating kick bikes and finally the purchase of a Yedoo Trexx.

Kickbikes/ foot bikes/ kick scooters - whatever you want to call them - seem popular elsewhere in Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic (where most of the major manufacturers are). They seem to have developed to a fairly mature stage since the first one was devised by a Finnish doctor in the 1990s looking for a summer alternative to cross-country skiing. They differ from the micro scooters in that they have bigger wheels (>12", up to dual 700C racing models), pneumatic tyres, and tend to use standard bike components. In Europe they tend to be used for competition (there are European and World championships), leisure and touring (several people have taken major journeys on them, most notably Blandine who up until covid was going round the world on a 4 year expedition). The PBP has been completed on one (comfortably within the time limit) by the Finnish rider Alpo. (Kick scooters have since been banned from the PBP...). There seems to very little information on them in English on the web, instead turn to Google translate to get some lyrical reports and reviews from Czech riders (I suspect the lyricism comes from the idiosyncratic machine translations from Czech to English but it reads like modern poetry at times)

Although they are bicycle-like in appearance, that initial impression is misleading. They are nothing like bikes other than having two wheels and handlebars. The scooting action is far more like running (in fact, it's very close to the classic cross-country skiing style), and there is much more involvement of the upper body and core back muscles. The "working" leg, I quickly found out, isn't the one doing the kicking but the one still on the foot platform which is essentially doing squats. You can either do a slow cadence or a fast one - like cycling and running the fast cadence is probably the more efficient. Perhaps because of the weight bearing and the greater involvement of other muscle groups I find my heart rate goes up much higher than cycling and is much more akin to running levels. The lack of impact on the joints however has helped my knee, and the flexion/extension of the hip has definitely helped the piriformis syndrome as well. I struggle to ride upright bikes because of back and neck problems but surprisingly this hasn't proved to be an issue for scooting.

As a very uncertain, slow, and unskilled MTB rider I have never really been happy riding my MTB on more technical trails... usually I end up toppling over at some point. However on the Yedoo I'm happy to go anywhere - pretty much the same places that I run. I can put a foot down immediately and jump off and run if necessary. The scooter's 8kg weight makes it easy to carry for any distance. One potential limiting factor is clearance under the footboard but after a bit of practice this has become a minor issue - I'm much more adept at picking out a path that will avoid grounding and for really rough stuff I can jump off start running and carry the scooter over the terrain, without stopping.

What about hills? A minor gradient on one of my first rides nearly floored me but with a bit of technique and developing the appropriate fitness I've found few road hills that have defeated me. Round here the forest trails climb about 200 ft per mile on average, for a 10 mile circuit that makes 1000 ft climb in 5 miles then 1000 ft down. After avoiding all hills religiously at first I don't any more. If it gets too steep again you just jump off and run. Or walk.

As to the Yedoo itself, I am happy with the choice I made. It's very light but also very rigid. It's got adjustable ground clearance so you can move the footboard up a couple of centimetres if you are anticipating rough terrain. The steering is slightly twitchy - they've addressed that in the current model with a fork with more rake, but this is something I've got used to. Other than switching the handlebar grips for Ergons and tyres to Marathons (both personal preference) it's pretty much as stock, though I have added mudguards and - after much though - a kickstand (the dynamics of a kick scooter seem to be that it doesn't like being leaned against things and will inevitably fall over!) The underside has taken some scrapes which is inevitable with a kick scooter but actually surprising few. The paint has worn off the footboard - not an issue as the frame is aluminium, the issue seems to be the abrasive material on the grip tape wearing off and removing the paint. Another alteration the company has made for current models, but it does add a patina of personality. It's extremely low maintenance - hose off the mud when you get home and that's it. No picking out grass from cassettes and jockey wheels, no gunky chains.

I've done about 400 miles over the last year on mine. Rather than miles subtracted from cycling, that's miles that I would otherwise have run. I reckon on 10 miles by kick scooter as being equivalent to 7-8 miles running on similar terrain, which translates to about 9.5-10 mph. I'm not much faster on my MTB to be honest, though obviously I can go (a lot) further for a similar effort. Despite a corresponding reduction in my running mileage I'm able to run at the same sort of speeds and up until lockdown have been turning out similar sorts of times in races.

Finally - and most importantly - it's fantastic fun. Uphills are obviously hard work but in a rewarding way, downhills are sublime. On the flat you just glide. I can highly recommend it. I'm lucky enough to live in a rural area with miles of forest tracks to choose from but they are - unsuprisingly - very able on the road, and on my tarmac forays I am faster than in the woods. I remain perplexed that there aren't more out there but since I got mine I have seen a couple of Swifty scooters in the neighbourhood. I'm seriously considering adding a dual big-wheel machine to the stable but finding it hard to convince myself that it will add much to what the Trexx can do. It's a very versatile little machine.

mac
Posts: 6
Joined: 30 Jun 2013, 6:15pm

Re: Rehab, training, and fun on a kick scooter.

Postby mac » 4 Aug 2020, 6:14pm

I got myself a Swifty Zero at the end of June, took it on a gravel fire road for a first outing, that was hard going, but I'm getting a little fitter, & have, just this morning, completed a proper little journey of about 5 miles, up & down some pretty steep hills, & on unmade roads, with loose gravel! :)

I'm loving it :D - (I lost all my fitness, & am looking to regain some with these machines) - I like it so much that a second real Kickbike is on order, (Kickbike Cross Fix), that should increase my enjoyment no end! 8)

Elizabeth_S
Posts: 184
Joined: 27 May 2013, 3:18pm
Location: Dunblane

Re: Rehab, training, and fun on a kick scooter.

Postby Elizabeth_S » 5 Aug 2020, 2:21pm

Kick bikes are quite popular in the canicross world, as a kind of bridge between canicross and bikejor, I haven't tried it yet, I've had the offer of the use of a kick bike and I'm sure Jess would be up for it (canicrossing with Jess is like being tied to a train), just too many crowds around at the mo. But that was interesting, thanks, particularly on technique. (I have pulled a hip flexor and it's aggravated my knee so I'm taking it easy right now also.)

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foxyrider
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Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 10:25am
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Re: Rehab, training, and fun on a kick scooter.

Postby foxyrider » 5 Aug 2020, 5:53pm

Elizabeth_S wrote:Kick bikes are quite popular in the canicross world, as a kind of bridge between canicross and bikejor, I haven't tried it yet, I've had the offer of the use of a kick bike and I'm sure Jess would be up for it (canicrossing with Jess is like being tied to a train), just too many crowds around at the mo. But that was interesting, thanks, particularly on technique. (I have pulled a hip flexor and it's aggravated my knee so I'm taking it easy right now also.)


You will need to do a translation please, what are canicross and bikejor? i've never heard the terms before and i'm betting i'm not the only one! :roll:
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

Elizabeth_S
Posts: 184
Joined: 27 May 2013, 3:18pm
Location: Dunblane

Re: Rehab, training, and fun on a kick scooter.

Postby Elizabeth_S » 6 Aug 2020, 10:24am

So here is a brief description of canicross, scootering and bikejoring, the dogs are very well cared for and trained (my dogs know their right and left, slow, and a few other commands), and can be all sizes not just big huskies, greysters, and eurohounds; small dogs can nip along quite quickly.
Canicross is the sport of running with your dog, so basically you train your dog to run in front of you, you wear a harness like a belt at hip level with leg hoops and the dog wears a harness that allows it to pull safely (these are carefully fitted harnesses) and then there is a bungee line between you and the dog, 2 m race, 1.2 m parkrun. We train and run with our dogs, the big dogs will of course pull you along, but you actually have to be able to run at those speeds. Ben Robinson is the British, European & World Champion of canicross, and Duncan Robinson (no relation) is the junior World Champion, so we have 2 world champions.
Scootering here you attach the dog to the scooter or kick bike, and there is a kind of metal fixing to the front of the scooter to keep the line out of the wheels, it has some popularity and is good for training.
Bikejor is a bit more insane, you attach the dog to a bike (mountain bike with good brakes), think they use a 2.6 or 3 m bungee, and then have a metal piece to keep the line out of the bike wheels and quick release fixings, and you basically do a cross country course with your dog pulling out in front.
I'm debating whether to get a kick bike (obviously for rough terrain and with good brakes) or a mountain bike (good brakes, and not too expensive) as my dog Jess would love it, she loves canicross and is very fast (she's a whippet collie cross).
These are all what's known dryland sports, it's spin off sled dog racing, mostly in the winter as you need lower temperatures. Lots of competitions (mostly they are technically time trials).
Of course in the Nordic countries (which is kind of how canicross started) they do the same as canicross but on skis, there are big competitions.