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Kicking Gas

The Great Commuter-Scooter Road Test

October 01, 2000|DARCY RICE

The recent boom in kick-scooters has added yet another option for commuters to avoid sky-high gas prices, gridlocked traffic and expensive parking garages. While clearly unsuitable for long commutes, they may be a viable option for those who spend their workdays moving around a downtown area. * We asked three veteran L.A. commuters--Tom Booker, a bank senior vice president, Ellen Wright, a commercial architect and a senior associate for Gensler, and Tim Dang, producing artistic director of East West Players--to test-ride several popular scooters from the steps of the Music Center down Grand Avenue, past the county courthouse to MOCA. They had the opportunity to ride each scooter and evaluate its potential as a short-hop downtown commuting vehicle.

Razor MS-130 A1

Price: $99

Unfolded size: 26" x 14" x 35"

Folded size: 23" x 5" x 7"

Weight: 6 pounds

Rider weight limit: 220 pounds

Wheels: Two 100mm (4") in-line skate wheels

Braking system: Foot-operated friction plate over rear wheel

Unique features: Frame and deck are made of aircraft-grade aluminum.

Comments: Wright: "Very light, very easy to carry. But the handle is a little short, so when I try to go fast, it pulls up in the front." Dang: "Very sleek. The design is elegant." Note: The 6-foot-5 Booker was unable to test-ride the Razor because of his size.

Xootr Cruz

Price: $269

Unfolded size: 35" x 13" x 38"

Folded size: 31" x 13" x 9"

Weight: 10 pounds

Rider weight limit: 250 pounds

Wheels: Two 180mm (7.1") diameter wheels; race-grade polyurethane on aluminum centers

Braking system: Hand brake; the rider can also use direct foot friction on the rear wheel

Unique features: The nine-ply Baltic birch polyurethane clear-coated deck is wide enough for both feet.

Comments: Booker: "More adult-looking, finely engineered. This looks like an upscale mode of transportation. Very smooth and maneuverable. It coasts very well. I feel safe on it." Wright: "The Xootr is more stable, the handle is taller. I find this one the most comfortable of the three." Dang: "It has a wider base; I can balance both my feet on it. I also can use less foot power than on the Razor. The braking system needs a little work."

California Grand Chariot

Price: $250

Unfolded size: 51" x 22" x 38"

Folded size: Non-collapsible

Weight: 30 pounds

Rider weight limit: None

Wheels: One 20-inch bicycle-type front wheel and two 78mm (3.12") urethane rear wheels

Braking system: Hand brake

Unique features: Three-wheeled design with a deck for each foot and bicycle-style handlebars.

Comments: Booker: "The ultimate in stability. I have a very high center of gravity, so that stability is required." Wright: "Stylistically, it's a little frumpy. It reminds me of a three-wheeled bicycle." Dang: "More control and more balance, and a smoother ride. But artistically, it's a bit gauche to ride around downtown. It's just a little too Ben-Hur."

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