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Big Wheel, Off-Road, Folding, Ski - Types of Scooters Explained

What types of scooters are there for adults? What’s a kick bike? Are a scooter and a footbike the same? Is this a scooter with bicycle wheels? We hear a lot of questions like this at Swifty, and it’s not surprising.

As micromobility experiences a boom and people are trying their best to move away from cars there are tons of variations on personal transport solutions and scooters cropping up, each with design intricacies that separate them from what else is around. As a result, it can be hard to differentiate all the various names, models and brands being talked about.

So, we’ve compiled a quick rundown of all the types of scooter available for you to get your head around, from dirt scooters to stunt scooters, foot bikes to ski scooters and everything in between!

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What is an Adult Scooter?

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Let’s start simple. A scooter is a 2 or 3 wheeled vehicle ‘consisting of a footboard mounted on two wheels and a long steering handle, propelled by resting one foot on the footboard and pushing the other against the ground.’ Adult scooters are exactly this, generally, 2 wheeled versions that are designed and engineered in order for fully grown adults to ride safely.

The most common way adult scooters are used is as commuter scooters. They are mostly present in urban areas and cities, as they give riders to the opportunity to get around the gridlock congestion that is synonymous with rush hour, without putting you in as much danger as on a bicycle.

‘Adult scooter’ tends to be the umbrella term that a lot of these other variations will come under. Push scooter, kick scooter, human-powered scooter, foot scooter; these are all adult scooters under a different guise. As such, there is a lot of variation on designs and how people interpret ‘adult scooters’ to best fit their riders. Some fold, some have different wheel sizes and some are powered by electric motors. Whatever you’re considering getting one for there will be a type of adult scooter that will fit your needs!

Learn why Swifty chose to design our adult scooters the way we did in Episode #5 of The Swifty Podcast

What is an E-Scooter?

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E-scooters in their simplest form are the same as adult scooters albeit with an electric motor to propel them. Motors come in many forms, the most popular are standard electric motors that you push a button or turn a throttle to start, some are kick assist motors where the kicking motion generates the energy for the motor to run, and there are plenty of other variations.

While on the outside the design looks much the same as a standard adult scooter the electric aspect of it generally means there are a number of prominent design changes in e-scooters. Batteries required to power them add considerable weight to the frame and make components like the headtube larger. Most are designed without the need to the rider to kick to propel, so the decks are wider to accommodate both feet. 

Of course within the term ’E-scooter’ there are again lots of variations in style and design, we won’t dive into too much detail here. 

E-scooters are typically classed as PLEVs (Personal Light Electric Vehicle) or 'Powered Transporters'. PLEV is a generic term that also encompasses things such as hoverboards, electric skateboards, monowheels etc. 

Most people living in European countries or America will know e-scooters predominantly as sharing scooters. Companies like Bird, Lime, Uber, Dott etc have fleets of electric scooters available for people to hire through an app for a fixed fee. You’ll be charged either for the distance you travel, or the time you rent the scooter for, depending on the company.

Swifty’s electric scooter options vary from the 'standard'. Our electric-powered versions are in the form of a kit that you can fix onto your pre-existing SwiftyOur scooters benefit from the fact they’re kick-assist too. Utilising a brushless motor in their design means you can use them as a normal kick scooter when the motor is turned being used, but also as an electrically-propelled scooter when the throttle is being used. You get the benefits of active and electric travel! Rather than relying on power to take you your whole journey you can use the electric motor for a little boost when you most need it!

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What is a Foot Bike?

A foot bike is typically a scooter with much larger wheels, often a similar size to that of a bicycle (hence the name). They have the same componentry as bicycles - big spoked wheels with pneumatic tyres and brakes at both the front and the rear. They’re also often known as kick bikes, however, this is a brand rather than a type of scooter.

As with adult scooters, foot bikes tend to have a lot of different varieties. Some have a large front wheel and small back, similar to the idea of a penny farthing, some have 2 large wheels. There are designs intended for fitness, off-road riding, dog mushing and more.

By adding a much larger wheel it allows the rider to maintain a good pace for longer distances once they’re up to speed. As a result, kick bikes are often used for long-distance endurance rides and to take on big hills that you otherwise could not with a small wheel scooter.

They’re a popular type of scooter to use for fitness purposes. The low impact, full-body and high-intensity nature of scooting really come into its own when you’re utilising them for cardio. It works a whole host of muscles at the same time that can easily be missed out in other workouts.

To put it in perspective a bit Swifty Scooters fall into the gap between kick bike and scooter. Our premium adult scooters utilise the componentry of a bike and have large 16’’ wheels. This gives you the best performance when it comes to travelling distance but allowing you to weave around city obstructions, easily hop up and down curbs and not to mention how easy it is to fold it up small for storage.

What is a Push Scooter?

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Push scooters are scooters than can only be propelled by the rider pushing it. The name is derived from the moving action rather than the design of the scooter itself. As a result, a lot of the scooters in this list could also be classed as push scooters.

The name is often synonymous with other general terms like a kick scooter, standing scooter etc. In the Safe Micromobility report, they define standing scooters as ones that are ‘propelled by a rider pushing off the ground. Models exist with two, three or four wheels. Standing scooters can be distinguished from skateboards by the presence of a central control column and a set of handlebars.’

What is a Folding Scooter?

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Folding scooters are what the name would suggest, either a kick power or electric scooter that is able to fold down into a smaller shape when you're not riding it. This is intended to help in a number of ways; firstly it makes them much easier to store when you're at home or if you're taking you scooter into the office. 

Foldability also means you're able to take your scooter onto public transport, a great asset if you're using it for a scoot-commute. This is one of the reasons scooters have been hailed as such a good 'last mile' solution to commuters.

There is a wide array of folding scooters available each with their own individual folding mechanisms. Typically the headtube and handlebars fold down to be parallel with the deck, but there are some more advanced folding mechanisms too.

SwiftyONE utilises a different folding mechanism to the 'basic' one mentioned above because the geometry of the scooter is different from the bog-standard scooters that are around. When folded SwiftyONE can be either carried or rolled on its front wheel.

Moreover pretty much every part of the ONE's folding mechanism is adjustable to fit around the way you like to ride. You can learn all about how to fold and unfold your SwiftyONE HERE.

Learn more about the history of iconic UK folding designs

What is a Stunt Scooter?

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A stunt scooter is a scooter typically used (but not limited to) older children and teenagers. Stunt scooters, as the name would suggest, are intended to do tricks and stunts with. They are also sometimes known as BMX scooters, pro scooters or trick scooters.

It’s this type of scooter you’ll typically see people on in skate parks flipping them around every which way over a jump. They are characterised by simple componentry; long thin metal deck, small hard plastic wheels, T shape handlebars and a rear foot brake.

Typically, stunt scooters are aimed at younger ages around 12-16 but there is a growing trend of them being used among adults, especially pushed on by millennials. These types of scooter are used in freestyle scooting events.

Due to their relatively simple design, there are tons of variants of a stunt scooter available varying in price from as little as £20 up to around the £300 mark.

A lot of customers we talk to at Swifty fondly remember the days of playing around on stunt scooters, hopping off homemade ramps and bombing down their nearest hill. This goes some of the way to creating the stigma that some people have towards adult scooters, if their memories of scooters are like this then why would an adult want to be seen on one?

A common question regarding scooters is ‘What is the difference between a kick scooter and a stunt scooter?’. The answer is basically that stunt scooters are a type of kick scooter specifically designed to do stunts on.

This isn’t to say that large wheel scooters can’t be used for tricks and in stake parks though! See Leon Coleman above putting a SwiftyAIR through its paces at an indoor skate park, it can easily keep up with what a stunt scooter can offer!

What is a Big Wheel Scooter?

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A big wheel scooter is not necessarily a specified model of scooter, it’s more of a design choice. You could put kick or foot bikes into this category, but there are also stunt scooters billed as big-wheeled too.

There seem to be no direct rules of what wheel size a big wheel or large wheel scooter is, rather it depends on the type of scooter. For example, on stunt scooter websites they define a ‘big wheel’ as 200mm, whereas we at Swifty call our models big wheel with our 16’’ pneumatic wheels, and of course, the size increases further when you look at kick-bikes.

The size of the wheels tends to be based on what the purpose of the scooter is. A lot of dirt scooters (see below) will have big wheels in order to help them handle tougher terrains. Footbikes adopt bigger wheels so they can go further distances and maintain high speeds.

We chose to make our kick scooters with large 16’’ pneumatic wheels for a number of reasons, each of which help our specific models fulfil their intended purpose. The SwiftyAIR benefits from big wheels because it can handle rough and mixed terrain easily, which is essential for off-road kick scooters. The SwityONE adult commuter scooter utilises the big wheels to help you safely travel over typical potholes found in cities without issue and means you can hop up on curbs easily.

Swifty has concerns about the safety of small wheel scooters. As a result of the smaller wheels, there is a much larger chance of crashes when faced with typical obstacles on the road, like potholes. To highlight our concerns we put a big and small wheel scooter through a 'Pothole Test'.

See the results of our Big vs Small wheel pothole test HERE

What is an Off-Road / Dirt Scooter?

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Off-road scooters, sometimes also referred to as dirt scooters or all-terrain scooters are for exactly what the name would suggest; a scooter that has been designed to tackle tougher terrains, dirt tracks and offroad trails.

Generally, an off-road scooter will have more of a rugged setup. Larger wheels to not get caught in grass, tough frame and componentry to deal with rough terrain and chunky gripped tyres to find grip when travelling on loose paths.

You won’t see many dirt scooters that have the small hard wheels typical to that of a stunt scooter, rather they will have 12’+ wheels.

The best example of this would be our very own SwiftyAIR. With its heavy-duty setup, high spec wheelsets, front and rear V-brakes it’s a kick scooter that’s ready to face whatever you can throw at it. There aren’t many scooters that could handle being taken down mountains!

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What is an Amish Scooter?

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Amish Scooters designs are typically similar to that of a foot bike in terms of wheel size and general design. They’re manufactured in Amish communities and are one of the most popular ways for Amish people to get around! Generally the Amish tend to avoid certain technologies and modern 'conveniences' so their scooters are always human-powered and avoid any motorised componentry. 

A key design feature is that there is an integrated basket on the front of the frame, and a rear foot brake. Models tend to come in 16’’ wheels (designed for children) 20’’ wheels (for both children and adults) and 24’’ wheels (for adults), with options that have a 24’’ on the front and 20’’ at the back.

What is a Ski Scooter?

We’re getting into the really niche scooters versions now! A Ski scooter, or ‘snow scooter’ is a type of amalgamation between a snowboard and a kick scooter. They trade wheels for blades or board so you’re able to carve your way down snowy tracks. The setup is typical to that of a normal scooter, with handlebars on the front and a platform for you to stand on behind. There are also, of course, no brakes integrated into the frame.

They’re typically designed for children but there is a selection of adult models around too. Like wheeled scooters, there are differing designs whether you’re looking for something to have a bit of fun with or try tackling the sloped in a new way.

Again this is territory Swifty have ventured into with our SwiftySKI special edition scooter! Based on our classic Swifty design we added a front 20inch suspension fork and a set of snow blades to the front and rear of the deck. You’re able to control your speed by carving with the rear blade and the front fork absorbs the bumps of the mountain so it’s easy on your knees.

Many customers have told us how turning to scooting has helped them recover from injuries and operations - LEARN MORE

What is a Step Scooter?

People tend to use the term ’step scooter’ when talking about a standard kick or push scooter as it is all the same motion to get you going. There is, however, a specific type of ‘Step Scooter’ too.

Typically, Step Scooters are powered by a mechanism or lever that you step down on, which in turn spins a chain and propels the scooter forward without you needing push on the floor. They can sometimes be referred to as pump scooters (or seesaw scooter) on account of the foot pumping action required to get yourself moving.

There are a lot of different variations on this style of scooter, some have two single foot pedals that you push down on one at a time, similar to a stepping machine at a gym. Others use a lever at the back that you lean back on to push down and create the movement.

This type of scooter is less common nowadays but you do see them around from time to time. They grew to popularity as children’s toys, the most famous example (for the older generations among us) would be the Honda Kick-n-Go.

They’re, again, mostly a children’s toy; the closest adult equivalent we can find would be an elliptical bicycle, or a ‘cross trainer scooter’ as they can sometimes be known.

What is a Pedal Scooter?

The term ‘Pedal Scooter’ seems to be used to describe a lot of step scooters too. The idea tends to be that they’re human-powered but through the use of a chain and without you needing to make contact with the ground for the duration of your journey. By pushing down, or rocking on the pedals you create your thrust to get you going.

There are a couple of scooter models that do use bike-like pedals on an otherwise ‘scooter’ frame, that also go by the name ‘pedal scooter’. When it gets to direct pedal power on a scooter it tends to be somewhat of a scooter/bike hybrid. There’s a debate to be had on where they fit in more, but we’ll leave it to you to make your mind up on that.

We are witnessing a micromobility revolution, but what exactly is micromobility? LEARN MORE

What is a Flicker Scooter?

Flicker scooters – also known as V scooters – are 3 wheeled scooters that differ from typical scooter design by the shape of their footplate. Rather than being a straight footplate that you put one foot behind the other on, with a flicker scooter, you have a foot on both of the two footplates with no need to touch the ground when you’re moving. The shape of the scooter resembles a V when looking at it from top-down, hence the name V scooter.

The two back wheels are on a slant so you get your movement by twisting your hips or wiggling your legs from side to side, generating the thrust. They’re almost exclusively children’s scooters and are good for children to work on their balance and coordination. Due to the motion to get moving, they’re also known as ‘wobble scooters’.

What is a Trampoline Scooter?

One of the most unusual types of scooter we could find is a Trampoline scooter! This is essentially the same layout as a children’s ski-scooter but intended for use on a trampoline. They don’t have any wheels so you can stand on the footplate and bounce stably. The footplate is also made of a softer material so it won’t hurt if it hits you or spins into your legs and they’re very light so as not to cause any injuries if they fall on you.

Trampoline scooters are typically for practising stunts and flips that you’d be hoping to do in the skate park with your stunt scooter.

Can you think of any other types of scooter we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments!

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