One of the most common questions I get asked is, why would I choose a folding scooter over a folding bike for my daily commute to work? Why choose a city scooter like the SwiftyONE over, say, a Brompton?
Let’s get one thing straight first. Swifty does not consider bike brands as competitors, we love cycling! In fact, we've cycled a lot. We've cycled around London, and we both came off a few times too. After cycling accidents, we began asking the question, perhaps there is an alternative? Perhaps there is something equally fun, but something different and new.
We also didn’t define ourselves as cyclists. Sometimes the tribalism within the cycling world can be off-putting. For both Jason and I, it’s not in our nature to follow a tribe, we do things our way. I guess that’s just how we are.
This blog aims to give people an idea of why we have adopted scooting as our primary mode - obviously, we’re totally converted, but what is it about commuter scooters that we love so much? We've compared cycling with scooting in this blog post; now we're looking specifically at folding bikes and folding scooters, as normally used for commuting.
Folding commuter bike vs SwiftyONE folding commuter scooter
1. The Ride
The ride is similarly smooth, and with an excellent free-wheel wind-in-the-hair feeling. The ride is fun for both. The difference is the posture; you’re standing on a scooter, so no saddle issues. Think skiing, but in the streets! Some might argue that a folding bike compromises on form factor (i.e. heavier, small wheels, shorter wheelbase) and this is something that isn’t appreciated by some cyclists. But since we love cycling, the bike still gets a 5.
Folding bike 5 - SwiftyONE 5
2. The Fitness
Both are excellent ways to keep fit. Both offer variable cardio (you can choose how hard to work). The difference is the posture, and the kicking action of the legs offers a more holistic lower body workout. As you stand on a scooter, you use all lower-body muscles from foot muscles, calf, quads hip-flexors and glutes as the kicking leg sweeps forwards and back. The core is engaged as you stand on the standing leg. Whereas with cycling, you are sitting and the knees are in front of the body, the core only becoming engaged when standing on the pedals. Cycling has a mechanical advantage over scooting, scooting is harder work, so you burn more calories by scooting the same distance.
Folding bike 4.5 - SwiftyONE 5
Find out more about scooter fitness in our blog exploring how scooting is great Multi-planar exercise
3. The Practicality - your journey
For me, this is where a city scooter starts to shine over a bike. A scooter is easier to fit into your lifestyle without changing your routine. You don’t need special clothing or to invest in many kits, and if you scoot on the pavement, you won’t need hi-vis or lycra. You won’t need to plan changing outfits before and after work, and you won’t need to research the best bike lanes along the route. You can use the pavement, canal routes, short-cuts through parks, and even some of the cycle lanes or quiet roads. A scooter really does allow more freedom in what route you take. Often you can find a more direct route too, as you’re not confined to the road. A scooter is also super nimble, and easy to step on and off, for example at a junction or simply walking it through a gateway or doorway. The step-on-and-go nature of a scooter is super practical.
Folding bike 4 - SwiftyONE 5
4. The Practicality – foldability
Both equally nifty to fold and easy to fit onto a train, so both are brilliant in combining active travel with public transit. A folding bike is often quite a bit heavier than a folding-scooter, so when you have to carry it up and down steps at the station the bike is more cumbersome (for example, a Brompton weighs 11.8kg, a SwiftyONE 8.3kg). The advantage of a SwiftyONE is that you don’t have to carry it much either because it’s super easy to roll along the station platform when folded. I love the foldability of the bike, so neat. But I also love the slim-line fold of the Swifty – it’s only 16cm wide when folded, so can just rest against a wall, or hang on the wall bracket without getting in the way at all.
Folding bike 4 – SwiftyONE 5
I feel a lot safer on a scooter, and some of the roads are just a no-go because I just can’t trust drivers. It’s true, I didn’t always feel this way about cycling, but maybe now that I have responsibilities in the name of young children and employees, I don’t want to take the risk of cycling on busy roads. I always end up switching to the pavement! I have also come to realise that I like the speed of a scooter, it’s maybe 25% slower, and that feels safer.
Folding bike 3 – SwiftyONE 5
I average about 8mph on my Swifty commute, which is about 25% slower than my cycling speed. So of course cycling is faster. I have found in the past that as you can take a more direct route on the scooter, it ends up evening out time-wise for your door-to-door journey. Cycling is often the fastest way to navigate the city, so cycling gets a 5 from me.
Folding bike 5 - SwiftyONE 4
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A scooter is fractionally easier to maintain, as it has fewer moving parts. It’s altogether a more minimalist machine. But with a bike, a little care of your gears and chain won’t take up too much of your time in the long run. All scooters from Swifty use standard bicycle parts, so it's easy to find replacement parts or customise them in the future. All perishable parts are standard sizes, which you don’t always get on some smaller scooters. For both a little maintenance of tyres and brakes is not too much hassle, and any bike shop can help if needed.
Folding bike 5 - SwiftyONE 5
8. Price and Customer Service
Prices do vary between brands, models and specifications, meaning it's tough to compare. But if you take the most popular folding commuter bike in the UK (the Brompton) and compare it to our best selling model (the SwiftyONE), the scooter is more affordable at £599 compared to the Brompton's £1,095. Swifty also offers the option to buy in monthly instalments from £49/month, with free shipping.
Swifty Scooters is rated 4.9 out of 5 on Trustpilot.
To see more about the benefits of a using a folding scooter on your commute, read our blog 5 Unexpected Outcomes After a Year of the Scoot-Commute