Some people think The Flintstones invented the kick scooters. Others believe they were brought to us by aliens. While we don’t want to spoil anybody’s imagination we have decided to shed a little light on the matter by conducting a brief study on the origins and history of the electric scooters.
We hope you’ll find it helpful and your respect for those who chose this means of transportation will increase. And, why not, you will become a rider yourself.
It seems everything began in Germany in 1817 when some children used pieces of wood and steel ball bearings to assemble a play item to roam the streets. Imagine the loud noise these objects would make on the road!
After some time, when roller skate wheels were available, people attached them to wood planks with some kind of handle made of steel pipe. No steering, no brakes – extremely fun and dangerous to ride, especially downhill.
The official German Archives (Bundesarchiv) reveal that these first kick scooters were both homemade and manufactured for children and that races took place in Paris, Berlin, and Leipzig in 1930, 1948 and 1951. The Europeans began to love them and made room for them in their culture. They soon reached Australia and other parts of the world.
A Kid’s Scooter Race at the Paddy’s Markets” by Frank Burke. Sydney, Australia Sydney, 1956
On the other side of the Atlantic, kick scooters first enjoyed wide popularity during the Great Depression when children built their own from recycled wood. A period of up and down trends followed until the skateboards gained popularity among teenagers in the 1980s.
We can say that a notable moment in the history of the electric scooter was the arrival of the first motorized kick scooter made by Autoped, a New-York based manufacturer. This was a powerful, first-ever folding machine, with an air-cooled, 4-stroke, 155-cc front-wheel engine, front and rear lighting, a Klaxon horn, and a toolbox. The steering column, which contained all operating controls, was folded down over the platform for compact storage. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, it was not suitable for carrying, weighing around 90 lbs. Nevertheless, these rides must have been really hot when they passed by.
It was produced between 1916 and 1922, and it had a global yet limited adoption from all walks of life – commuters, policemen, gangs, postmen, pilots and progressive feminists.
The Autoped, the first motorized scooter, and English socialite and political activist Florence Priscilla, Lady Norman, CBE was given this Autoped as a birthday present by her husband, the journalist and Liberal politician Sir Henry Norman. She used it to travel to her office in central London, 1916.
In 1974, the Honda company made the Kick’n Go, a scooter propelled by a pedal on a lever. It seemed to be as much effort to “kick” as a regular scooter so the novelty of it caught on and it became quite popular.
As the bicycles gained attention, there were some manufacturers who decided to make a sort of mix breed between the kick scooter and the bicycle and created BMX-like scooters, with small bicycle wheels and pneumatic tires. This was a separate niche that continued to evolve in time and still exists today. The present kick-bike concept that features a smaller rear wheel was established in 1994 in Finland and an official competition called Foot Bike Europe is held since 2001. Kick Bike America brought the sport of dryland mushing to America maintaining this type of kick scooter in the game so much that we have lately seen some versions of electric kick bikes on the market.
In 1996 a man named Wim Ouboter of Micro Mobility Systems in Switzerland ventured to create a new foldable aluminum scooter with inline skates wheels. His idea came out of laziness since he considered he lived too far away from his favorite restaurant to go by foot and yet too close to use a bike or a car. His scooter was small, two-wheeled and it could be easily folded and placed in a backpack. It was sold as the “Micro Skate Scooter”, “Razor” and “JDBUG/JDRAZOR MS-130A” and reignited the public interest for the old kick scooter.
In 1999 the Razor scooter was introduced to Japan where many young people in Tokyo began to use it as a portable means of transportation helping it gain attention and popularity all around the world. In 2001 the Razor kick scooter was declared the number one toy of the year.
Wim Ouboten was also the one who envisioned an electric kick scooter featuring an electric motor with a rechargeable battery mounted on the rear wheel. In 2003 his dream became reality when RazorUSA introduced the first electric Razor scooter. Since then electric scooters became a popular way to travel longer distances than one might with a traditional kick scooter, yet distances shorter enough using a bike would be exhausting.
Today, the battle for electric scooters is a fierce one. Some of the top electric scooters on the market now can reach speeds up to 35 mph and range of up to 60 miles per charge, like this one.
As they gain more popularity each day, the manufacturers strive to design and create better versions with stronger but lighter frames, longer-range motors, higher speeds and smart technology incorporated.
Watching the evolution of the kick scooters in general and the electric scooters in particular, we can say with confidence that there are high chances for them to become an ever-present item in every home. Just like the pcs and smartphones, they will win their place in every heart and make our lives easier and our commutes less boring.