For anyone not familiar with the Xootr kick scooters, their defining feature is definitely the ultra low-resistance polyurethane tires mounted on lightweight but rugged die-cast aluminum rims, a real difference from, say, a KickPed which features a much beefier but slower-rolling rubber wheel.
Because of these Xootr wheels – and the sealed bearings within them – the Xootr is pretty much the fastest kick scooter available (before you start getting into Kick Bikes, with their full-size pneumatic tires, truly the liger of the kick scooter/bicycle world).
The Xootr’s fast-rolling wheels, however, also come with a few tradeoffs. Somewhat less stability on uneven surfaces, for one. More road vibration, another. Neither of which are a real problem under ideal kick scooter conditions – on a dry summer day, for instance, when the roads are clear and you have 14+ hours of dazzling sunlight. But on a dark winter night, the road peppered with chunks of ice and dustings of salt and sand, one is best advised to use caution.
So when I grabbed a Xootr MG kick scooter after work last Wednesday – snowbound again and feeling more than just a little antsy – I thought it best to do my scooting in Central Park. Here the roads were clear and smooth, the streetlights bright, the traffic minimal. In other words the conditions were ideal for a little winter scooting on a Xootr kick scooter.
Entering at 90th Street on the east side I built up my momentum on the long, flat straightaway which runs alongside the old reservoir. Whizzing by the snow-blanketed woods and fields on the Xootr kick scooter, I only slowed when I reached the big hill at the north end of the park. Here a slight incline leads to what feels (on a kick scooter anyway) like a genuine precipice – a drop from a rocky overlook all the way down to the swimming pool-cum-hockey rink. Approaching that hill felt a little like disembarking a chairlift at the summit of a ski mountain – the surroundings suddenly altered and eerily calm, the challenging descent to come both thrilling and a touch nerve wracking. I had never gone down anything so steep on a kick scooter.
But the Xootr handled the downhill – more than handled it. This was like running a luge, or a slalom course. This was a lot of fun. Coming around the first bend I rode my brake (both of them), as for safety and splash protection I’d grabbed a Xootr with a fender brake attached) but soon I found a better way to moderate my speed, by doing a slight snowboard-like weave on the kick scooter.
Except for those occasional exhilarating downhills of course, riding a kick scooter really is less like downhill and more like cross country skiing. This is an endurance sport. What thrills you get you really work for. And on the back side of the park – the west side heading south, with its rolling hills one after another – I certainly found this to be true. What keeps you going up each hill on the kick scooter is the thought of a downhill of an equal length and steepness lying somewhere just over the crest.
When I reached the bottom of the park, at Columbus Circle, I had pretty much had it. This part of town – with its jam-packed sidewalks and streets full of jockeying cabs – is no place for a kick scooter, not during rush hour. Plus I was tired. I had just ridden the Xootr kick scooter approximately 5 miles. I had earned a metro-card swipe and a lift home.
Fortunately the Xootr MG had a carrying strap attached. I opened the quick-release and dropped the handlebars, then pulled the pin on the bottom of the kick scooter and folded it down. That was it, the fold complete, simple and easy. I slung the Xootr carrying strap over my shoulder and the whole thing was no more burdensome than a messenger bag, even on a packed rush hour E-Train.