For many people across the country, mini micro scooters have revolutionised how they get to work or school, with the zippy aluminium scooters now a firm favourite with everyone from toddlers to stockbrokers.
Like so many other inventions, the idea for the mini micro scooters according to the inventor, was born out of “necessity”. Or so he claims. In the early 1990s, Wim Ouboter, a 30-year-old Swiss banker, found the distance from his home in Zurich to his favourite fast-food stand too far to walk. However, it was also too short a distance to merit the hassle of getting his car or bicycle out of the garage. It was, according to Ouboter, “a micro-distance”.
As children in Switzerland, Ouboter had loved being out and about with his family. However, Ouboter’s sister had a disability which meant that one of her legs was substantially shorter than the other. She couldn’t ride a bicycle properly, but was great on her scooter, so their parents encouraged both children to play more with scooters than with bikes.
Later, to get to his fast-food place, Ouboter was inspired to construct a simple scooter in his garage from basic materials and some wheels scavenged from a pair of inline skates. While his wife praised the idea, his initial prototype drew laughter on the streets of Zurich. He decided to modify his initial design to make it foldable, allowing him to stow it in a rucksack. Several prototypes later, and the micro-scooter was ready for production. And cool.
Ouboter outsourced production to China to reduce production costs, and the product quickly became a hit with commuters in Japan, with the rest of the world soon joining the trend. Indeed, the aluminium scooters became something of a symbol of the Dot.com boom of the late 1990s, selling millions of units. The fate of the scooter business took a similar path to many Dot.com companies in subsequent years, however, and a rash of cheap knock-offs from China almost spelled the end for the micro-scooter. Sales have since stabilised, and enthusiasts all over the world have made the scooters a feature of skate parks too.
The company went on to flourish again by improving quality and introducing new products, including three-wheeled scooters called mini micro-scooters, which can be fitted with raised seats and o-shaped handlebars to allow toddlers to scoot along. The mini-micro scooters can also grow with the child through a change of handlebars. Other developments included collaboration with luggage manufacturer Samsonite to produce the ‘Micro Luggage’ or suitcase micro-scooter, and even a kit-carrier for the Swiss army.
Today the company produces stunt scooters beloved by the young and not-so-young across the world, with a loyal body of enthusiasts. The three-wheeled kickboard scooter is also available, either with T-bar handlebars or a so-called ‘joy-stick’ steering pole for those looking for more stability. A wide range of accessories and equipment rounds out the micro-scooter portfolio, while spare parts and service also play an important part in the business. Indeed, the scooters are screwed and bolted together, ensuring that owners can repair the scooters themselves.