Intro: What I Learned From Building Three Kick-Bikes
A kick-bike is sometimes called an adult scooter. It usually has bicycle wheels, a kickboard-like platform to stand on and bicycle handlebars. Kick-bikes are low to the ground and quite stable to ride.
The three kick-bikes described in this IBL are my first attempts to find the optimum design for me. I have learned quite a bit about what I want in my "ultimate kick-bike" which has not yet been built.
This is a welding project. I have a MIG wirefeed welder and use .025 wire for all my bike projects.
Please remember to ride responsibly. Use a helmet, add reflectors before you go out into the world and be sure you have lights if you ride at dusk.
Step 1: Tools and Parts
Cut off saw
Harvest these from scrap bikes:
Top and bottom tubes
Rear forks? (Now I use all front forks)
Step 2: Version One - a Testbed for Ideas
My first kick-bike was a testbed for some ideas I dreamed up before I started this project. The kick-bike ended up way too heavy (about 30 pounds) but actually rode pretty well. here are the specs on it and some notes.
- Vertical (almost) front fork with a 24" front wheel (Pic 1)
- Three-tube platform was nice and long (Pic 2)
- 16" rear wheel in a salvaged rear triangle
- Foot brake (Pic 3)
The foot brake or heel brake was OK but not great. When you pushed down on the lever with your heel it pressed a plastic pad against the tread of the rear wheel. It was better than nothing but heavy for what it did.
- Anti-reverse ("hill stopper") chain (Pic 4)
The hill stopper kept the kick-bike from rolling backwards. It was just a piece of chain fixed at each end to one of the stays. The idea was that you wouldn't lose ground kicking up a hill. It was not worth the trouble to build.
Overall I liked the large front wheel and the easy steering with the vertical front fork. The platform was about the right size and the ground clearance was OK. It was great excercise because it was so heavy.
Step 3: Version Two - a Good Ride
- Weighs 19.5 pounds
- Two front forks used for the 26" front wheel and 16" rear wheel (Pic 1)
Using salvaged front forks for both the front and the back wheel significantly reduces the weight.
- Chopper style (sharp angle) front fork angle
Chopper steering takes some getting used to. The sharp angle of the wheel amplifies all your turning actions. The bike tends to oversteer and you have to stay alert to keep from losing control.
- Front brake
As with a bicycle this tends to roll you up and over the front wheel as you brake.
- Smaller platform made from 1" X 3" tubular steel (Pic 2)
Some riders complained about inadequate foot room especially when shifting sides for kicking. I got used to it and didn't find it to be a problem.
- Rear fork angled up to give a lower platform (Pic 3)
This proved to be significant. I like the platform to be as low as possible to make kicking easier. This platform clears the ground by about 2".
Step 4: Version Three - Too High
- Weighs 20 pounds
- Two front forks with a 26" front wheel and a 16" rear wheel (Pic 1)
The same as version 2.
- Chopper style front fork angle
The same as version 2.
- High-lift handlebars (Pic 2)
I like the feel of a higher handlebar. This one with the upward extension was nice and easy to ride with.
- Larger platform on a single tube
There was some added weight in the wood platform, but probably is worth it for the riding comfort.
- Rear brake
This is a big improvement and makes the ride much safer. I would not add a second brake on the front.
- Rear fork in line with platform tubes forced a higher platform (Pic 3)
The higher platform made this kick-bike surprisingly uncomfortable to ride. The ground clearance is equal to the rear wheel radius (8"). Stepping up and down as you kick is very tiring.
Step 5: My Ideal Design Will Include
- 18-19# riding weight
- 20" front and rear wheels
- A front fork with a small forward slant like a bicycle
- A high-lift handlebar
- A 6" X 24" platform on a single bottom tube
- 2" ground clearance
- A rear brake
And then there is this idea.
- And (maybe) an electric assist motor!
This would add about 5-10# to the total weight and require using a rear fork for the rear wheel.