Mini-scooters were a marketing phenomenon last year. Every-body seemed to have one, from Richard Branson to Kylie Minogue, Prince Harry to Robbie Williams. One brand, the Micro, proved so popular it became the generic term for the hundreds that could be seen tucked under arms or zipping down high streets.
This year, a new wave of designs has evolved. CityBug, the company who gave us the original Micro, now have 11 different models. Where once the simple, silver two-wheeled aluminium scooter was the order of the day, it is now being chased by a colourful pack of plastic, wood and metal composites, often with three, or even four, wheels.
When choosing the right scooter, there are a number of key considerations, not leastweight. Lighter boards tend to be easier to control, and, of course, easier to carry when folded. Many also offer suspension on the front wheel, which should make for a smoother ride, and a selection of differing brake systems.
At one end of the spectrum, the mini-scooter was Woolworth's biggest-selling toy of 2000, and they report sales are still high. At the other end, companies like K2 have sought to bridge the gap between skateboards and scooters with their range of kickboards. Built for tricks, the kickboards can "carve" like snowboards, and tend to feature three or more wheels. Controlled by a giant joystick without handlebars, they tend to be more expens-ive, but also more modish. Those with total confidence can even detach the joystick and ride the board on its own.
CityBug'sHango features two leg-spars branching out in a V shape from the vertical steering column, has a brake on both wheels, and is designed to utilise the entire body for propulsion easier said than done. Perhaps the most novel of CityBug's products is the battery-powered Razor Eco, which can propel its rider at speeds of up to 10mph. However, it is in a grey legal area. Under current road legislation, it may be viewed as a motor vehicle, which means it cannot be ridden on public highways without the necessary documents, including insurance and a license.
For stockists: CityBug (0118 9736222, www.citybug.co.uk); K2 UK (01527 510 570); Olop Leisure (01803 201 972)
One of the best on the market. Sleek design, curvaceous wooden deck, fluent ride, superb cornering. Adjustable carry-strap a useful addition. Stylish twist on traditional theme.
Excellent value for money. Handles smoothly, turns well. Light, plastic deck and extra suspension on front wheel means it's ideal for most tricks, and snap-in 'quick-release' system makes assembly swift and simple.
Won't get you fit, but it's a lot of fun. Battery powered, comes in range of colours and can travel up to six miles on one charge, reaching speeds of 10mph. Hard to carry when disassembled.
Pro Kick 2001
Closer to a skateboard than a scooter, good for tricks and jumps. Two large front wheels help speed and comfort, but make sharp turns difficult. 'Power-Stic' control is surprisingly easy to use.
Brave attempt at bike-scooter hybrid, but is far from practical. The idea is to power it by shifting body weight from side to side, ski-style. Great once you're going, but hard to gain early momentum.