BikeBiz speaks to distributor iSkute's Dan Maker...
The kick scooter is enjoying a renaissance, to put it mildly. From the street to the skate park, the phenomenon is becoming more widely seen than ever before.
To the uninitiated the appeal of kick scooters may seem a bit of a mystery. So let’s start with some history.
Scooters have been around for decades, but about 11 or 12 years ago the kick scooter market was booming. Dan Maker was a significant player in the market back then, being sole distributor for the Micro Scooter brand into the cycle market. He tells BikeBiz:
“Back then scooters were high value and great quality, used by adults and kids. Initially they were used as commuting tools because they were lightweight and folded easily so you could carry them on the train or put them in the car. As the market grew, more kids started using them, because of the ease of use enabling kids some independence on a product that was easier to ride than a bike. We had about 16 months where we could not hang on to the demand. It was amazing.”
But the burgeoning sector was soon to take a turn for the worse. Maker explains: “As the popularity of the sector grew, ever greater numbers of companies flooded the market with scooters – particularly at the toy end of the market – and many were cheap, poor quality and badly marketed. Some guys stuck around, but the margin had been destroyed and many independent stores got out.”
The flood of product led Maker’s firm to exit the sector. Despite the market saturation back then, major players – like JD Bug, Razor and Micro Scooter – remained, diversifying their portfolio to weather the storm while producing quality scooters. Maker explains: “Kids started to use scooters in skate parks. There was a surge in using them for tricks and high performance.”
The shift to trick-orientated performance led to manufacturers altering their product to stand up to the rigours of jumps and the like. A number of new brands emerged to take advantage of that changing use, initially making robust P&A for the rigours of the emerging sport. Those new players have since moved to offer complete scooters.
“There are a couple of brands doing a great job now. Grit, Madd Gear and Dogg Scooters are among some of the best,” Maker says. Many brands serving the sector are anticipating healthy sales over the coming months. “We expect kick scooters to be very strong through summer and Christmas.”
THE NITTY GRITTY
Globally the skate park kick scooter movement started in the USA and has since been picked up in Australia and the UK. Firmly placed in that market is Grit. Two year old Grit is owned by Australian Brett Varga and is arguably among the leading brands there.
“Grit has developed its product as the sport has developed. From what the kids have been doing in the skate parks, Grit has matched its products accordingly with great feedback from the team and listening to the users via Facebook and the forums. Grit continues to listen to the users and continues to push its production team to the limits.”
One of Grit’s USPs is its readiness for the after-market market for upgrades. While other smaller brands offer certain OEM components, Grit offers the full gamut of parts. Maker says: “Almost all of the Grit parts can be used on any other scooter in the market for that complete custom set up. For retailers they offer phenomenal value and great margin.
“The lower-end kick scooters might be selling well, but we don’t see the market like that. We see it as high end, high quality. That’s what we’re aiming for. Instead of the price being driven down, like in the old days, it is the complete opposite. The better quality and design is driving the price up.”
iSkute is the exclusive European distributor for Grit Performance Scooters. iSkute has appointed TKC as a sub-distributor working only in the skate market, leaving iSkute to concentrate fully on bringing Grit to the bike biz. “We have good stocks now, but our biggest challenge is keeping up with demand. We have more stock arriving, but it is often sold before it arrives. We are advising dealers to reserve the stock they need,” Maker tells BikeBiz.
“The market is in its infancy, but you can’t deny how popular it is. The learning curve is much easier than on a BMX or skateboard. That is why the sector is expanding so quickly,” Maker concludes.