Here's the challenge: How do you adjust your kickbike to optimize your kicking experience?
First, let me admit up front, I have no idea what the correct answer is - I don't even have a good idea of what a reasonable answer might be. On the one hand, I'm admitting my ignorance of the subject, but on the other hand, I'm starting out with no specific bias or bad habits to unlearn.
I have had a lot of experience with bicycles, especially with the fact that most people don't have a clue how to pick the best frame setup, and even less of an idea about how to set it up to beable to ride comfortably once they take it home from the shop. I suffered with a bicycle frame that was way to small for years before I decided that enough is enough, and finally went to the effort of finding out what could be done about it. I bought bikes with larger frames and different geometry, and I set them up differently to match my own body dimensions and riding style. From that point on, cycling became a pleasure, something that I would look forward to. I found that I could spend literally hours on a bike, sometimes riding from sun-up until after sun-down, and not be stiff and sore at the end of my ride. Life was good...
Now I'm really enthusiastic about kickbiking. I loved the Xootr that I used for a couple of years. It was a real blast - lots of fun to ride. The only drawback was that I couldn't ride it at night because of the small wheels and my enability to see potholes in the local roads lying in wait to swallow my tasty Xootr wheels. A footbike, or kick scooter with regular size bicycle wheels seemed like the perfect solution, and the original Kickbike from Finland is definitely the footbike of choice.
The Kickbike was originally designed for cross-training by Hannu Vierikko based on a traditional nordic kicksled. Naturally enough, the basic dimensions seem to be a perfect fit for his body and style. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's exactly what I would do if I was designing a piece of sports equipment for my own, personal use. And, I am not suggesting that there is a need for larger or smaller versions of the Kickbike. The basic Kickbike, as marketed by Hannu's company, Kickbike Worldwide, seems to have lots of ways that it can be easily adjusted to fit a wide range of riders, big and small, tall and short.
For example, there is a built-in adjustment, including very handy degree markings, so that you can easily tilt the handlebar positioning. Some Kickbike users have replaced the factory supplied handlebar with other standard bicycle handlebars to get more height or depth. Of course you have to be careful not to go too far overboard. It's really important that you preserve the handling characteristics. Still, making this type of adjustment to a Kickbike is much, much simplier than trying to adjust a regular bicycle - no pedals and no seat to worry about ...
Getting back to the problem of the best or optimimum adjustment, I decided to spend some time studying photos of people using their kickbike. Luckily there are lots of photos readily availble via the internet. After quite a few hours (days) of looking at photos, I realized that all the images were taken at different angles and scales, and they were visually cluttered by colors and background activity that kept drawing my attention away from the dynamics of the kickbike and rider.
The one dimensional constant across all of the images turned out to be the size of the front wheel (700 mm). My solution was to scale the images so that the front wheels and the size of the kickbike matched each other, then I did a quick line tracing to eliminate all the distractions. Here's what it looks like:
- All of the riders are adults - I deliberately avoided using any images with children.
- Only one (C) is a woman.
- All of the images were scaled to match the dimensions of the bikes, so the body sizes scaled by the same factors. Notice the wide range of sizes, and styles.
- Many of the riders have changed their handlebar setup.
- Some of the riders are competitive kickbikers and have installed the lowering kit on their bikes.
Right now, my positioning and style is pretty close to (E) but I want to be more like (F). Obviously, I need to adjust my handlebar setup, and more importantly work on the way I hold my body, flex my arms - especially my forearms and elbows, and bend my knees. It's going to take some experimenting, study, thinking, followed by more experimentation.
It's a good thing that I enjoy experimenting and solving problems like this.