Last updated: January 15th, 2024
Most people can sustain about 6–7 mph (or ~10 minutes per mile) on smooth, flat ground. That is:
- Similar to running speed
- About twice the speed of a brisk walk
- About half the speed of city cycling
…all at the same level of exertion.
This speed range makes kick scooters good for commuting as well as leisure. Think of them as a faster alternative to walking!
Very fit scooter riders can exceed 15 mph for a short burst on flat ground. Naturally, you’ll go far slower uphill and far faster downhill due to gravity.
For context, here’s how kick-scooting stacks up against other ways of traveling one mile.
|Kick Scooter Effort (Flat Ground)
|Approx. Time To Travel 1 Mile
|Brisk but sustainable
|Fast running or leisurely cycling
|< 4 min
This table does not account for stoplights, rough terrain, or other common delays. For instance, frequent crosswalks may add about 5 minutes per mile.
Choose bigger wheels for more momentum
Larger-diameter wheels preserve momentum better on any surface. Every surface has imperfections, and larger wheels are more able to keep rolling over them.
For example, an adult Razor scooter with 8″ wheels could roll over bumps that would stop a stunt scooter with 4″ wheels in its tracks.
Harder tires are faster…but there’s a BIG catch
All tires compress and rebound some amount under the rider’s weight.
That saps speed, but it also provides traction and absorbs bumps.
Harder tires compress and rebound less, so they feel quick but cause a rough ride. That means they’re fastest on very smooth ground, where there aren’t any bumps to slow you down.
Softer tires (especially air-filled ones) compress and rebound far more, so they’re smooth and grippy but relatively slow. They’re faster on rough pavement or dirt, where hard tires would simply be impossible to ride safely.
Keep in mind that road vibrations get extremely fatiguing after a long time. Tires that are slower but dampen vibrations may ultimately prove faster!
Hills: the obvious variable
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.
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.
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 that sprinting on a kick scooter is just as tiring as sprinting on foot. Needless to say, you won’t ride this fast for errands or commuting!
Safety concerns at high speeds
When you’re coasting down a steep hill, your kick scooter can approach the speed of a car.
But “can” doesn’t mean “should.” 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.
That brake design is cheap and reliable, but not powerful. 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! emergency brake.
All in all, kick scooters are not dangerous.
But 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 will be fastest thanks to its minimal rolling resistance.
Xootr makes the most compact, portable scooter for big riders. Its hard wheels are extremely fast, but best suited to smooth, dry terrain. It's a terrific choice for combining with bus/train trips, in particular.
For more typical terrain, or a lower budget, I’d opt for the Razor A6. It’s similar to most of the A5 models, as compared here, but with slightly larger wheels for a quicker, smoother ride.
The Razor A6's large wheels and vibration dampening make for a speedy ride on smooth terrain. Sized for taller youth and adult riders, it's a great way to cover short distances in a hurry.
On rough or wet pavement, the Razor A5 Air 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.
The A5 Air is the smoothest, most surefooted scooter in the Razor line. That's at the cost of some weight and speed, but it remains a terrific choice on rougher ground.
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.