Tyre Choice

Unlike your average bicycle where just about all the component parts can be changed or upgraded, a Swifty scooter, with its more limited range of components, does not have that ability. Other than changing the handlebar grips and fitting a few accessories, there’s not really much you can do, other than the tyres, that is.

At present, and no doubt things will change in the future, my Swifty Zero is fitted with Kenda Kwest 16″ x 1.50″ tyres, in my opinion, a reasonable size for urban use, offering low rolling resistance, and therefor faster speeds and less kicking effort. With this model of tyre pay attention to the direction of the drive arrow marking on the tyre sidewall. It should point forwards when at the top of the tyre.

My Swifty Air started with a set of the larger Maxxis Hookworm 16″ x 1.95″ tyres, the larger footprint is better for loose and soft surfaces, such as off-road trails. They do take more effort to push but do offer a more comfortable ride, even when kept inflated to the upper range of their maximum 110 PSI. I tend to run mine around 90 PSI. I plan to have a look at what the maximum tyres size I can fit on a Swifty, perhaps getting hold of a pair of Schwalbe Big Apple 16″ x 2.00″ tyres. Note, when purchasing tyres make sure they are ETRTO 305 mm and will fit the wheels on your Scooter. Originally, the Swifty Air came with Ares Bikes A-class 16″ x 1.75″ tyres.

There isn’t a huge range of good quality tyres available for the 16″ ETRTO 305mm rims used on the Swifty scooters range but there’s enough to choose from:

  • Aresbikes A-class 16″ x 1.75″
  • Continental Ride Tour 16″ x 1.75″
  • Kenda Kwest K193 16″ x 1.25″
  • Kenda Kwest K193 16″ x 1.50″
  • Maxxis Hookworm 16″ x 1.95″
  • Schwalbe Big Apple 16″ x 2.00″
  • Schwalbe Marathon 16″ x 1.75″
  • Schwalbe Marathon Racer 16″ x 1.50″
  • Schwalbe Road Cruiser 16″ x 1.75″
  • Schwalbe Black Jack Tyre 16 x 1.90″

Of course, this is just a few and many more are available, including some with knobbly off-road treads, as used on 16″ wheeled BMX bicycles. I’ve not listed many here as I’m not sure there are any real benefits to using them on kick scooters for general use.

Knobby tyres are designed to improve traction but when kick scooting we are not applying drive to the wheels themselves, traction is provided by the kicking action. I can see a benefit when going downhill, particularly when changing direction, as the tread will grip the surface and help prevent the wheel slipping sideways. I’ve encountered this is some woodland paths where there was a slight slope to the path and found a tendency for the wheels to slip to the side in wet mud.

Increasing the tread size also adds to rolling resistance, something which is readily apparent when I jump from the 1.5″ tyres on the Swifty Zero to the 1.95″ tyres on the Swifty Air. Adding a set of big knobblies to a Swifty scooter might look really cool but will likely make scooting considerably harder. Okay for downhill but possibly not good for anything else. However, Swifty Scooters now list a knobbly tyre on their website, offering Schwalbe Black Jack Tyre 16 x 1.90″ tyres for £25.00 each which I will purchase just to see what difference they might make on a kick scooter.

Trials of the Black Jack Tyre on tarmac more or less proved my initial thoughts. There is an obvious increase in rolling resistance and the Swifty does not glide as far, even with the tyre pressures at maximum. They are also noisy when compared to normal treaded tyres and do not inspire confidence when cornering, feeling most unstable even a low speeds. On grass, they do feel much better but not any better than my usual Schwalbe Big Apple tyres. Further off-road tests to follow.

Copyright ©2020 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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