The minimalist-chic Scrooser, an electric-powered, fat-tired conveyance designed for urban cruising, is, as its maker succinctly describes it, a “mini Harley-Davidson for the sidewalk”.

It’s for people who thought the Segway was cool, but felt they looked ridiculous on one.

The creation springs from inventor Jens Thieme and IFPE, a mobility-solutions firm  established by Thieme in Dresden, Germany, in 2011. On the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, the Scrooser drummed up nearly $187,000 in funding – about $67,000 more than its goal ­– from just 224 backers.

“We think that means there’s a lot of market potential; that people believe in the Scrooser without even touching it,” says Red Mike, co-owner of Manicx, a multi-media marketing agency, based near Dresden, that represents IFPE.

“It’s for people who thought the Segway was cool, but felt they looked ridiculous on one,” adds Robert Fisher, the agency’s other co-owner. “This is the anti-Segway. And once people can test drive one and start seeing them on the streets, they’ll want one.”

Thieme and company are optimistic that urban commuters, weary of burning fuel as they sit in traffic jams and circle round blocks seeking parking spots, will jump at the chance to weave through the urban obstacle course and park hassle-free on sidewalks and plazas – and unlike riding a bicycle, do it without fatigue.

The Scrooser’s DNA stems from the old Deutsch Democratic Republic (DDR) push-scooters popular in East Germany from the 1960s through the ‘80s. But it brings decidedly modern technology to the table in the form of distinctive, specially made fat tires (457mm/18in in diameter by 241mm/9.5in width, with 203mm/8in rims) and an electric, rear-wheel hub motor.

Thieme designed the tires, inspired by those found on agricultural machines. Along with adding eye-catching style, the tires also offer a smoother, more stable ride. In fact, the tires are wide enough that the Scrooser can stand up on its own – although a spring-loaded double kickstand, tucked away under the footboard, is available for more stable parking on uneven terrain.

The electric motor maxes out at 1,000w, but is curbed at 250w so riders cannot exceed local speed limits for motorised vehicles. A Scrooser at full chat scoots along at a serviceable 25kph (about 15mph). Riders can elect to use impulse-drive mode for intermittent coasting and electric power, which kicks in whenever a driver pushes off by foot and exceeds a speed of 3.2kph. Or they can keep the Scrooser in direct electric-drive mode by pressing a throttle button on the handlebars, which maintains steady electric power. Impulse-drive mode provides a longer range, 55km (34 miles), compared to 35km with direct-drive power, Fischer explains.

A 36v lithium-ion battery – a specification favoured by many producers of pedal-assist ebikes – powers the motor. The battery is located amidships, under the footboard, and can be recharged in about three hours via the included standard charger unit (though plans are afoot to develop a quick-charger that would cut that charge time in half). Users can remove the battery for charging inside a home or office without bringing the machine itself indoors, Fischer explains.

The curved frame is made of a high-strength aluminium alloy. The Scrooser weighs a not inconsiderable 28kg (61lbs) and measures about 1,750mm long, 750mm wide and 1,100mm tall.

Concerned about thieves? Remove the key and an ignition lock kicks in that prevents the tires from rolling. And for extra security, users can also employ a pull-out, steel-cable lock embedded in the frame. Moreover, an integrated GPS unit makes it easy to track a stolen Scrooser via a smartphone.

Beta-testing of Scrooser prototypes will begin in January 2015, and IFPE plans to start production shortly after that, with a pricetag of about $4,000 (roughly 3,200 euro). It enters a somewhat crowded market for eclectic, electric-powered scooters, including the Erector-Set-like, foldable URB-E, the funky Zümaround and the elegant Unu. But Manicx principal Mike believes the Scrooser’s style sensibilities can win the day.

“It’s going to get a lot of attention because people have never seen anything like this before,” he says. “It’s going to appeal to tastemakers who aren’t afraid to stand out.”

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