Kick scooters are a fun and surprisingly quick way to get around. But our perception of speed isn’t always that accurate.
So just how fast do kick scooters actually go, and what determines it?
Here’s how fast you’ll go on a kick scooter
Kick scooters can reach running speed on smooth and flat ground. This may be over 15 mph depending on your size, strength, and fitness. For most riders, 6-7 mph is sustainable. That’s roughly double walking speed and half cycling speed with similar exertion. Naturally, you’ll go far slower uphill and far faster downhill due to gravity.
As you might guess, the terrain and the scooter itself both play huge roles in how fast you can ride. What’s more, they determine how enjoyable (or unnerving) it can be.
Wheel size and type are important
In theory, wheels size doesn’t make much of a difference. After all, a wheel that’s half the diameter can just spin twice as quickly, then voilà: the same speed.
But in reality, the ground isn’t perfectly smooth. Even tiny imperfections in the pavement will interrupt your momentum, which means less speed.
Larger wheels are less easily disturbed, so they’ll maintain higher speeds in real-world settings than smaller wheels. For example, think of rollerblades versus bicycles over gravel. The former would completely stop but the latter would keep on rolling.
The tire material is another important factor.
Softer materials, especially pneumatic (air-filled) tires, create a lot more rolling resistance. That’s because the tire is pliable enough to deform to the ground ever so slightly and rebound back into shape. You know how an air tire bulges a little bit when it’s bearing weight? That’s exactly what happens as you’re riding, too, and it slows you down just a bit.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re a bad idea. In fact, on rough terrain, air tires may actually be faster because they’re pliable enough to absorb vibrations and small bumps. Just like larger wheels maintain their speed better over rough terrain, so do slightly softer ones. The end result is gliding faster and farther with each kick
What’s more, it gets fatiguing to feel road vibrations for a long time. Smooth-riding pneumatic tires can also preserve your energy by reducing that fatigue.
The upshot is that larger wheels and softer tires sap energy on perfect surfaces, but preserve momentum on choppy ones.
Hills are a major factor
Going uphill, kick scooters are usually reduced to walking speed–and sometimes even less. If the hill is so steep that you come to a halt between kicks, then it’s usually faster just to walk.
That’s largely because scooters don’t let you apply continual torque, like you would by steadily pedaling a bicycle, for example. Consequently, each uphill kick is accelerating from (almost) zero. That’s slow, tiring, or both.
Heading down a steep hill, you can easily exceed 20-25 mph on a kick scooter. I’d strongly advise going slower, however, since small wheels aren’t meant for those speeds. But we’ll cover safety concerns farther below.
What, exactly, is the upper limit?
It’s hard to say, but this daring rider reached a rather crazy 69 km/h (43 mph) on a Swifty kick scooter with 16″ air tires. It’s nothing like your typical Razor, so check out my hands-on Swifty review if you’re curious.
How fast is fast enough?
On level ground, kick scooter speed is a matter of fitness and technique. It’s no different from running speed, in that respect.
Athletic riders on larger-wheeled models can easily exceed 15 mph. For instance, watch this man briefly reach 30 km/h (about 19 mph) on a Boardy kick scooter with 12″ pneumatic tires. The ground looks to be flat and smooth, just like many city streets and paths.
The only catch is the “sprinting” on a kick scooter is just as tiring as sprinting on foot!
When you scoot for transportation, it’s a balancing act between saving time and conserving energy. You might want to get a good workout, or you might want to arrive at work without breaking a sweat.
How long does one mile take on a kick scooter?
One mile is a reasonable and common distance to travel on a kick scooter, and many people often travel farther.
You’ll undoubtedly save time versus walking, but exactly how long depends on how hard you’d like to work.
Here’s a very rough guide to exertion it takes to reach reasonable speeds on a kick scooter, and how long a one-mile trip would take at each of them.
|Speed||Effort On Flat Ground||Approx. Time To Travel 1 Mile||Comparable Speed|
|3-4 mph||Low||15-20 min||Brisk walking|
|5-6 mph||Moderate||10-12 min||Jogging|
|7-8 mph||Brisk but sustainable||8-9 min||Running|
|9-11 mph||Significant||6-7 min||Fast running or leisurely cycling|
|12-15 mph||Strenuous||4-5 min||City/commute cycling|
|16+ mph||Sprint||< 4 min||Athletic cycling|
This table does not account for stoplights, rough terrain, or other common delays. For instance, frequent crosswalks may add about 5 minutes per mile.
Safety concerns at high speeds
We’ve seen that fit riders can kick-scooter at least as fast as a runner. And when you’re coasting down a steep hill, it’s not hard to approach car speeds.
But that’s a classic example of why “can” doesn’t mean “should.” Here’s why it’s not wise to push your luck at high speeds–even if it’s fun to try.
Small wheels are unsteady
Some scooters, like the ones in the videos above, do have relatively large wheels with bicycle tires.
But those are expensive and uncommon scooters that most of us can’t easily get hold of.
More typical models have only 8″ wheels with very hard, urethane tires. A rare few, like the excellent Razor A6, have 10″ wheels. That makes for a rough ride at low speeds, and a bone-rattling one at high speeds.
It’s simply too easy for a pebble or pinecone to throw you off course. That might be manageable at 8 mph, but it’s another story at 18.
Speaking of which…
Handling is twitchy
Most kick scooters are designed to feel nimble at low speeds, often in tight spaces. But as your speed increases, handling that initially felt responsive starts to feel twitchy and unpredictable.
Add in the susceptibility of small wheels to obstacles, and you’ve got a recipe for a nasty crash.
Brakes are weak
Finally, there’s the question of stopping. Kick scooters typically use fender brakes, where you simply stomp on the rear fender to slow down.
It’s a cheap and reliable design, but not a powerful one. Compared to even fairly bad bicycle brakes, a scooter’s fender brake does very little. It’s best to use as a speed-checker, not a whoa-stop-me-now! device.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re on a typical adult scooter (with hard 8″-10″ wheels and a fender brake), then simply avoid speeds at which bailing from the scooter would be unnecessarily dangerous.
The simple secret to riding faster on a kick scooter
With that very important warning about high speeds in mind, you might still want to pick it up a notch. Nothing crazy, of course, but perhaps just to save a few minutes on errands or getting to transit stops.
Fitness is an obvious factor. Any sort of cardiovascular exercise, on a scooter or off, will ultimately let your body do more work for a longer period.
But that’s not quite the whole story. In fact, there’s a sort of secret that some folks figure out intuitively, but some overlook.
Fortunately, it’s simple: experiment with how deep to bend your resting leg while you kick. You’ll find that a deeper, squat-like position lets you kick powerfully, but it’s also extremely fatiguing. On the other hand, keeping your resting leg nearly straight will be relaxing but result in slow travel.
Somewhere in between is a happy medium of efficiency, where you’re clipping along but not getting too tired, too quickly. It varies from person to person, partly due to height and partly due to shoe size (which affects your “reach” to the ground).
You’ve probably found the right balance if crouching deeper is tiring but not much faster, yet standing up straighter feels noticeably slower.
Which kick scooter will be fastest for you?
If you have the luxury of perfectly smooth pavement, then an ultra-hard-tired scooter like the Xootr MG (Amazon link) will be fastest thanks to its minimal rolling resistance.
For more typical terrain, or a lower budget, I’d opt for the Razor A6 (Amazon link). It’s similar to most of the A5 models, as compared here, but with slightly larger wheels for a quicker, smoother ride.
On rough or wet pavement, the Razor A5 Air (Amazon link) is my go-to recommendation. The pneumatic tires feel sluggish on smooth and dry ground, but are fast and safe when the going gets rough.
Finally, if you want to ride rough terrain or blaze down steep hills with confidence, then Swifty makes what I consider the best kick scooter on the market. They’re quite pricey, and closer in design to a small bicycle, but well worth it for the right person. I’ve also reviewed one here in detail.