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The BBC's Jane Hughes in New York
"If you're an adult riding a scooter, you're going to look dorky"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Scooter chic? Push the other one!

Next time you ask an annoyingly trendy young thing to push off, they may do just that. Scooters, of the unmotorised kind, have become the last word in urban cool.

Singer Robbie Williams has one. TV presenter Gail Porter boasts one too. As does actor Jude Law. What is it?

A reputation for trend-setting that outstrips their true cultural impact? No. A metal skateboard on a stick? Yes.
Jude Law
Jude Law: Said to ride a scooter

The Swiss designers of the aluminium Micro Skate Scooter have hit the jackpot, with their product becoming a sensation around the world, seemingly overnight.

The already crowded streets of Tokyo are said to be awash with some 150,000 of the silver gadgets.

In Germany, the corridors of the Reichstag reverberate with the rumble of tiny polyurethane wheels, as the nation's political elite take to their Micros.

Craze daze

Pokémon aside, the New York Times is seriously asking of the US scooter craze: "Could this be the first big fad of 2000?"

More than 30,000 of the spindly contraptions have trundled out of UK shops since their launch last October. They shift for £100 each.
Man on scooter
Easy rider: A skateboard with a stick

The scooter's British importer, Citybug, claims sales have rocketed to 5,000 per week.

This success has taken the Berkshire company by surprise, says spokesman Jonathan Seward.

"Just seven months ago we were calling shops, trying to convince them to buy two bikes - one for the window, one for the shop."

Board game

Originally aimed at the hip surf and skate market, the shiny scooters have been embraced by, well everyone and his dog.

"There's been an amazing reaction. They seem to have a broad appeal, from children of four to gents in their three-piece suits going around the City on them," says Mr Seward.
TE Lawrence on a motorcycle
"No, it doesn't fold in two."

The Micro Scooter has been lauded as the way for smart commuters to get about.

While the idea of furiously propelling oneself around the streets with one leg may not be everyone's cup of latté, scooters have at least one advantage over the good old bike.

Weighing in at less than 3kg, the aluminium frame can be neatly folded away and carried into shops, pubs or the office.

In the frame

While collapsible bikes have long been strangers to street style, this latest generation of fold-away scooters have bridged the gap between skateboard and Zimmer frame.
Chinese boy and his bike
Skate scooters adjust to any height

Mr Seward assures potential customers the scooters are very easy to ride, certainly more so than notoriously tricky skateboards and in-line skates.

Although the makers intriguingly describe their product as "absolutely reduced to the max", larger riders are catered for.

Unlike the shoddy scooters of your youth, the Micro Scooter is made of sturdy "aircraft-grade" aluminium and comes complete with extendible handlebars.

Old skool cool

Still not convinced any scooter short of a Vespa can be cool?

That's all part of the act for some American fans - foot powered scooters are at the forefront of "geek chic".
Micro Skate Scooter
Metal mickey: Don't mock scooters

But while shops in the Big Apple are shifting scooters by the truck load, New York toy industry analyst David Liebowitz says the autumn rains will stop the party.

In the UK, Jonathan Seward also sees an end to the craze.

"Scooters are fashionable and fashions end, but we're going to keep them as fresh as we can with new designs and accessories."

What's next, you ask? Scooters with bells on?

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